Showing posts with label hardknott brewery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hardknott brewery. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Hardknott Decision

There was sad news this morning when I opened Facebook. Dave Bailey, once of the Woolpack Inn and more recently of Hardknott Brewing has decided to call it a day with the brewery.

In Dave's post he cites the saturation of the craft beer market in the UK as one reason for deciding to close down. By the sound of it, the market is exceptionally tight for small brewers without their own tied estate to guarantee a route to market. That coupled with the parsimony of some real ale drinkers can only make life very challenging.

I am not sure if Dave's beers made it to this side of the Pond but I am confident they would have been well received here. When I was home in 2014, I made a point to try as many as I could lay hands on, and thoroughly enjoyed them all.

I want to wish Dave all the best in whatever comes next and sincerely hope he remains involved in beer as it would be a shame to lose his knowledge, passion, and drive from the industry.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Homebrewer of the Week

The beginnng today of a new semi-regular series, in the spirit of my recent Brewer of the Week I introduce Homebrewer of the Week! First up is, well, me. So here goes.

Name: Velky Al

How did you get into home brewing?

My homebrewing was a result of my getting into beer more seriously than just chugging gallons of whatever industrial stuff was available while watching football in the pub. As much as I love Czech beer, which is predominantly pale lager, my first beer love has always been stout. My first legal beer was Guinness, I loved Murphy's and Beamish as well. I wanted to make my own because there is so little ale being made by commercial brewers in the Czech Republic.

Are you an all grain brewer or extract with grains?

I brew with extract and specialty grains. I don't have the space at the moment to go all grain, though I plan to eventually, the key word being eventually, I am in no rush.

What is the best beer you have ever brewed and why?

Difficult to say, I really enjoyed my imperial stout I brewed last winter as I did my Christmas beer. Having said that, a week or so ago I open a bottle of a barley wine I brewed last November in preparation for Thanksgiving to see if it was worth putting forward for the Dominion Cup. Well, simply put it was smooth, boozing and obscenely easy to drink for its 12%abv.

What is the worst, and why?

My first brew in the US was a total disaster. I wanted to make a pale ale with Amarillo hops, using White Labs' Burton yeast. For some reason the yeast didn't do its thing and the beer didn't ferment properly, so I had to pour 5 gallons down the sink. That was the reason I ditched the 5 gallon batches for 2.2 gallons and clear carboys rather than white buckets.

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

It has to be LimeLight, my lime and coriander witbier, which is also very popular with people who drink it. It is such a simple recipe and the results are consistently good. Without having to go through the hassle of all grain brewing, I am done with LimeLight in about 2 hours from start to finish.

Do you have any plans or ambitions to turn your hobby into your career?

I would love to, but I have to admit that as much as I enjoy brewing, I prefer seeing the enjoyment other people get from drinking it. Working in a brewery tasting room has taught me plenty about serving beer, keeping lines clean and the like, so I would like to have a pub at some point in the future, whether my own brewpub or taking on a tied house with one of Britain's regional brewers.

Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

My favourite to drink is my Scottish export ale, which I call Gael 80/-. It is very much a classic Scottish ale, more sweet than it is malty, lightly hopped and at only about 4.5% abv something I can drink plenty of. It was also the first beer I successfully conditioned in my polypin/cubitainor to replicate cask conditioning, and it was even better!

How do you decide on the kind of beer to brew and formulate the recipe?

As I said in the first question, it started out wanting to brew a stout. Otherwise I think about the kind of flavours I am looking for and then go from there, sometimes I want to brewing something as close “to style” as possible. For example at the moment I am planning a beer based on my favourite chocolate bar, the Twix. I am thinking about using Biscuit malt, Chocolate malt and one of the Caramel malts, and very lightly hop it.

What is the most unusual beer you have brewed?

In terms of ingredients, my Christmas beer was the most unusual, especially as I wasn't following a given style, just making it up. My initial idea was to make a beer that reminded me of the gingerbread houses my mother made at Christmas when we were kids. I started off with an amber DME base and added some Caramel 80 for colour and a touch of sweetness, for the hops I used French Strisselspalt, a very low alpha acid type. Nothing drastically unusual so far, but then came the spices I added to the boil, the classic Christmas spices of cloves, ginger, and cinnamon, as well as dried sweet orange peel. The result was essentially a very yummy liquid gingerbread, which I called Biere d'épices.

If you could do a pro-am brew, what would you brew and with which brewery?

A very difficult question, and I can think of several breweries I would like to do something with, all of them back in the UK. Everards would be an automatic choice as Mark there has given me tons of invaluable advice for my homebrewing, and I learnt a lot from his when we met up in Prague to tour some of the brewpubs there, not to mention the fact that I think Tiger is one of the nicest beers I had last time I was in England. Another brewer who has been a great source of knowledge and enthusiasm for beer, and whose beer I love drinking, is Jeff at . Finally would be Dave at the HardKnott Brewery because he seems to like doing random stuff, which kind of chimes with my own way of thinking about brewing. In an ideal world, we would all of get together to brew something, perhaps with one us choosing the malt, one the hops, one the yeast and the other the water!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Brewer of the Week

For this week's Brewer of the Week we head up to the North of England, to Cumbria in fact and to one of the youngest breweries in the UK, Hardknott, which is making the transition from a brewery in a pub to a stand alone microbrewery.

Name: Dave Bailey
Brewery: Hardknott

How did you get into brewing as a career?

We bought a pub and wondered how we could improve it. We had a spare bit of the building that we wanted to find an alternative use for. Several other pubs in the county had already started their own breweries and seemed to be doing better for it.

I researched what was required, sourced a second hand brewery, tried a brew on another brew pub's kit and then went for it.

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

I think running a microbrewery requires a whole host of characteristics from the brewer; if you like, he needs to be a Jack-of-all-Trades. An analytical mind is important for assessing how to improve the beer, but the ability to be able to think on his feet when a pump fails half way through a brew. A practical outlook, problem solving abilities, a high level of self critique and a good palate all help.

Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?

I think I made a couple of Boots kits many years ago, but I would never consider myself a home brewer.

With my current brew length of 2 barrels, brewing one-off experimental brews is not really a problem. Although at Hardknott we have some established products which we have confidence in, we will never be afraid of taking a risk and trying something new, possibly even ground breaking.

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

I'm not sure I have a favourite; the best beer depends on the moment. I prefer beers that are full flavoured and stronger, however, there is a time for a good thirst quenching session beer too.

If I could only brew one beer then I think I would choose Infra Red, my ruby red "IPA". It is 6.5% and with a good balance between hops and malt makes a very tasty beer that can still be drunk in pints, providing a level of caution is applied.

If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?

I have never worked in any other brewery. I've visited some and helped out, which is great fun. The most fascinating brewery I have helped at was the White Shield brewery, owned by Molson Coors. The brewer, Steve Wellington, is a great guy and he brews some classic beers which I would like to see made more available. I'd really like to help him brew P2 stout, that's what a stout should be.

Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

In a pub that would have to be Infra Red. At home probably Granite.

How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?

I'm more interested in exploring new techniques and flavours rather than replicating any authenticity. Quality ingredients and understanding the process are key to a finished beer. In developing and improving Hardknott beers we like to analyse the beer, take note of any changes we have made to the processes or ingredients and how that has impacted on flavours, aromas and mouthfeel and hone to what we hope will be perfection.

If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?

Since I have started brewing I have got to know so many different brewers that it is hard to answer such a question. The thing I love about all the craft brewers I have as good friends is the wealth of knowledge they freely share. The enthusiasm and friendliness of a good brewer is a treasure.

John Keeling should get a mention, partly because he said nice things about me on a previous Fuggled Brewer of the Week, also because I know Fuggled has high regard for Fullers Brewery, but most importantly because John knows that good beer comes from good people.

I have already agreed to go back and help out at the White Shield Brewery sometime in the future, hopefully I'll get a chance to see the old brewery working one last time before she is retired but also I hope to see the replacement working once it is commissioned.

Stuart Ross at Crown Brewery in the Hillsborough Hotel, Sheffield, is a progressive brewer and never afraid to try something new. He is a brewer who has no secrets and is very happy to share his knowledge with other people and so further the cause of good beer.

Phil Lowry from Saints and Sinners and Kelly Ryan from Thornbridge I'm sure could teach me something new and I don't ever think I'll finish learning about brewing beer. Indeed, any brewer who believes they know it all or thinks they can work in isolation will probably stagnate and the beer will be poor quality.

This final point is a criticism I would lay at the door of many regional "family" brewers but scarily, it also applies to one of the most progressive brewers around. As I say, good beer is brewed by good people and I would collaborate with any friendly brewer who likes to share knowledge.

Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?

There are so many. I love the estery flavours in Belgian beers and the recent trend of fusing Belgian style with American Hop Bombs is great, but I had a Raging Bitch last night, so it's fresh in my mind.

I love stronger beers; imperial stouts, barley wines and ridiculously hoppy strong IPAs. I wonder how far that can be pushed, without making the end result a silly one-up-manship race, as has unfortunately happened in some areas of brewing. It's great to see cutting edge brewing, but brewers need to be careful not to let style impinge on substance, just to grab headlines.

So really, the beer I wish I had invented, has not been invented yet, I hope that one day I'll have a hand in helping to invent it, perhaps with of some of the people named above.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...