Monday, 23 February 2015

Weird Beard and Brodie’s Collaborative Brew “WEIRD BROdMANCE”

There is a lot of talk about what makes "craft beer", craft. The lack of definition and the daunting challenge of doing so means any way of epitomising it is vague, contrived and often controversial. Something that is evident amongst people in the industry however, is that when it comes to the craft beer scene, everyone inspires respects and collaborates with those deserving of it. In the macro-beer world and between The Beer Giants, sadly there isn’t that same camaraderie. Stone Brewing has quite beautifully described the relationship between compatriots in the craft field as “a ‘collaboration not competition’ mindset, a constant alliance and source of inspiration”. When we were met with an opportunity to work with Brodie’s, we obviously did not say no. Besides, head brewer Jonny Bright, from Brodie’s and our Bryan have known each other from before they were making beer. It was only a matter of time that they would cross paths over a mash tun to brew together. Here’s the story...

On a mid December morning, Bryan tweeted Jonny: “I can’t see you mate” to which Jonny replied: “I’m in a van outside opposite Yeoman” and on that congenial note the brewday had begun. 

Come 9.30am, we had mashed in and both Bryan and Jonny enthusiastically mixed the grains into water for our East-meets-West collab brew. 

The day was a fairly long one but in the company of brewers, friends and beer it was thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying. Indeed, collaborations tend to be really great experiences for everyone involved. They offer opportunities for bouncing ideas and learning from one another, these are important and necessary for developing skills and generating concepts or altering perspectives. Ideas and the beers born from just get better! This is particularly ‘eye-opening’ as a brewer in the confines of his own kit. Then there is the fun aspect. Brewers simply love to brew and getting two of them together on a brewday, well, there’s a kind of romance you can’t knock and so this inspired the name of our beer.

So what was it that we made? Between us, we decided on a strong beer: one to savour and one to share. In some ways this transcends our attitude towards the industry we work in where brewers strive, independently but also together to increase awareness and accessibility of quality beer out there. Good beer is best enjoyed in good company and that spirit is then passed on. For example we have "Whale Wednesdays" at Weird Beard, which involves the team collecting after work midweek, each contributing a beer from their personal bottle collections, sharing, reviewing and having a whale of a time! The beer we made is one for that sort of occasion. 

Our beer was a mash-up of some of our own favourite recipes: think Weird Beard’s Sadako and all the best traits of a Brodie’s impy stout. This means it is big on the hops, big on sweetness and deliciously more-ish. In light of the festive season, we chose maple syrup instead of molasses to thicken the brew. With the maple syrup added to the boil and during fermentation, we emphasised the candied sugar qualities of the chocolate, amber and crystal malts used. You can also expect caramel, spice and some vanilla from it. 

Since we dictated the malt ingredients, we had Jonny decide on the hops. He suggested Galena, an American hop that rises to the occasion when used for bittering in bolder or darker beers. Together we came up with a hop schedule that ensured the beer would have a sufficiently crisp pine and wood essence to cleanly contrast, but also balance the sweetness of the malt backbone. To smoothen it up even more, we added lactose. We needn’t say it, but a lot of thought was put into brewing this lavishing imperial stout and it was made ardently, with passion from both sides.  

We made the beer, now for you to indulge in WEIRD BROdMANCE! Wwill be launching our collaborative beer on cask, keg and in bottle at the Hop & Berry, London in March. Limited stock will be available thereafter for your enjoyment.