Our story begins in 2011 when 2 award winning home brewers, Gregg Irwin and Bryan Spooner, met at the Euston Tap for a launch event for Brewdog IPA is Dead. They bonded over a mutual love of the Sorachi Ace hop, which I have to admit is a personal favourite. So just over 4 years ago they decided to start a brewery, and after a fairly long gestation period they began brewing in 2013. They began with a 10 barrel kit and 2 fermenters which increased to 6 after 8 months and by the beginning of this year they were 5 times bigger than 2 and half years ago. I think it’s fair to say their beer got popular pretty fast.
So once again on Mon 2nd November it was a gentle stroll up Upper Gough St to the Craven to listen to Gregg talk whilst drinking some fine Weird Beard beers. There was a fine selection of 8 cask and 6 keg, including the latest version of Little Things That Kill and No More Bright Ideas, a hoppy brown ale which tasted much better than I remember Newcastle Brown tasting in my dim and distant youth. And although I had had many of these it was great to see both 5 O’clock Shadow, one of their core range and quite rare on cask, and Mariana Trench, their flagship ale and best seller, on hand pull. As is usual in this fine pub the beer quality was superb, and both were a pleasure to drink. It was interesting to hear that they ferment all the beer completely before deciding whether it is going in cask or keg with the former just having a bit of sugar and yeast added. The range of keg styles was very good as well and included a Saison, Stout, IPA, and a Pilsner.
Gregg regaled us with a few anecdotes as well inc the story behind the naming of Frog is Fired. This came about when they were asked to do a collaboration for the IndyMan festival which they weren’t too sure about until they discovered it was with the fine Norwegian brewery Lervig. They decided to do a gooseberry ale and one of the assistant brewers mentioned he had some wild gooseberries growing in his garden. So to stop the birds attacking them they decided to use a plastic frog to ward them off. Unfortunately it wasn’t up to the task, the birds ate them and puree was used instead, hence The Frog is Fired. And the beer itself was very nice, lovely, slightly tart pale ale, really got the taste of the Nelson out of it. It was also interesting to hear how sometimes a little screw up can create a new beer such as mixing Holy Hopping Hell being mixed with a batch of Sorachi Face Punch that wasn’t working to create Sorachi Face Plant, an 8.1% imperial IPA bursting with lemon and spice from the hops. For the future there is the possibility of a Brett barrel aged project based on one of Gregg’s last homebrew recipes, and the return of Lord Nelson. I hope this collaboration with Elusive comes to the pass because it was one of my favourite beers of the 2014 Birmingham Beer Bash. It’s great that they don’t want to compromise on quality ingredients and getting the maximum flavour from their beer, so I think we’ll all be enjoying a degree of excellence from this brewery in the years to come.