Kommen sie bitte, und drink Fallen Acorn

A few months back a thick smell of leathery wingback chair and a shadow fell over the tap room door as a heavy set chap approached, donning a waxed moustache and a pipe with a stern look on his face. He wasn’t a HMRC Excise & Customs Officer like we initially thought, but a member of the South Hampshire Gentlefolk’s Motorcycle Club. He was after a brewery, having established he was in the right place, we got chatting about the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, and the Solent ride specifically, needing foaming pints of English Ale to be served to thirsty motorcycle riders at the end of their charity ride from Winchester to Brockenhurst. After a tea, a pipe smoke, a beer, a pipe smoke and pointing at many things with the end of a pipe, we deliberated that we could serve beer at said event. Then on a mild September morning we donned our best tweed, tamped our pipes and drained some casks into the glasses of Gentleman bikers on everything from Honda Cubs, to classic Royal Enfields, right up to spiffy new Triumphs. A pilot brew was on offer in Pin and bottle called Piston Broke, a lovely English Bitter at 4.0%, alongside Dark Light, our 3.8% Session Black IPA and Mumby’s, our 3.9% Ginger Pale Ale. It was a prodigious day, and a great amount of money was raised for charity. 20% of beer sales went to the cause, and over £28,000 from the Solent Ride went to the Movember Foundation.

We’ve been a bit slack with controlling our Nutty Ale seasonal beers of recent, truth be told; the cold store room has become rather hectic since brewing Crimea River. We’ve had special beers for single pubs dripping out, along with the addition of Mumby’s Ginger Pale to our Session Range and have been repeatedly brewing Pompey Royal due to demand. So with the Oktoberfest season upon us, we threw caution to the wind and brewed two Bavarian favourites; A Wheat Beer and a Marzen. The Wheat Beer some of you will remember from our Hole Hearted 20th Anniversary event, it is a Weiss spin off of Hole Hearted called White Hearted - however we’ve deutsched it up with the new name; Weiss Herzig. Then the Marzen, which was lagered for 5 weeks in tank is called Leben Auf Marzen, or Life on Marzen for those of you who don’t speak Deutshe-Böwie. As well as getting these brews out to the pubs, we put on an Oktoberfest in the Brewery. Bratwurst, Lederhosen, Ompah music, Live Kraftwerk covers, Steins and a couple of pilot brews of a Schwarzbier and a Dunkelweiss. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did, a big thanks goes to Portsmouth Oktoberfest for lending us their steins! If you missed out, fear not, there is plenty of the Weiss and Marzen still pouring in our Tap Room on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

We’ve been to a traditional Real Ale event for cask ale week and a craft beer tasting evening in trendy Southsea of recent. Two contrasting events, with very different but equally lovely people. It has been really interesting engaging with brewers, publicans and customers regarding the differences between Real Ale and Craft Beer. I’m not focusing on cask vs keg again here, we’ve done that - I’ve been interested in other aspects. We’ve spoken to brewers who stand more on the traditional Real Ale side of the fence, like us, have produced beers that appeal to craft beer drinkers, and just like us they’ve seen good feedback - but most of the places these beers go into don’t want it again, they want the next new one. This makes perfect sense, I love variety and always want to try a new beer. But, having said that I love having a session on traditional beer that is great in its style - and that is what a number of brewers in Hampshire are trading and relying on for their business to work. Even the biggest Craft Beer lovers can’t deny the session beers of Hampshire such as Flowerpots Goodens Gold, our Hole Hearted, Bowmans Wallops Wood or Redcat’s Mr M are great and great because they are balanced and repeatable. There was an article of recent in the Morning Advertiser shunning Craft Beer’s repeat-ability, the journalist spoke about sitting in a craft beer bar and watching people not finishing the beer they’d ordered, and the number of half finished drinks left on tables. I can’t say I’ve seen this, however, what I think is common in the Craft Micropubs we are lucky to have oodles of on the South Coast, is drinkers tend to tour amongst them and stop for 1 or 2 halves or pints , then move on. However, in the Micropubs that stock some high quality traditional ales, you see people staying for a session. So what am I saying here? Well, I think Craft Beer definitely has its place and some distinct styles have emerged from the scene. It’s here to stay, its inspiring traditional brewers to experiment, us very much included, and although its not exclusively about cask, it is helping cask survive and it is changing Real Ale drinkers perception about keg. I guess we just have too many breweries trying too hard to make uber-hoppy beer or poorly made traditional beer that get all then attention from the opposing cultures. This brings me back to trendy Southsea, where we provided a pilot brew for Southsea Ale Club’s tasting sessions just recently. We decided to brew a Hazy Pale, following in the footsteps of our super juicy New England IPA, just at a more approachable ABV. Unlike our New England, we thought it would be interesting to bring some balance to the style and add a tiny bit of bittering hop to balance out those ultra sweet fruity flavours. On the night our beer was mainly up against a range of modern, fruity sweet, unfined IPAs and Pales - people seemed to enjoy our beer, deeming it as interesting due to the initial bitterness, however it didn’t score well probably mostly due to the ‘rate the design’ scoring, which we had nothing for - having provided a cask with not even a pumpclip! We have since brewed the beer on pilot again and this time removed the bittering all together and tweaked the yeast processes, meaning this will be a super fruity, sweet, golden, hazy, hop bomb at 4.5%. We’re looking forward to comparing the V1 and V2 in our tap room soon. Keep an eye on our Facebook events and we hope you can join us. We want to nail this style and then revisit Sour Power, our New England Sour as well as looking at new upcoming craft styles such as Brut IPA going into 2019.

Christmas is just around the corner and we’re currently preparing for it. Out in trade you will see Hoptimus Prime return, we’ve had a great year with this - it got up to GBBF, got some great reviews on Untappd and you asked for bottles of it… We listened, expect it in 500ml ready for Christmas. We’re also looking forward to Mumby’s Ginger Pale debuting in bottle for Christmas gift packs also. We have taken our 9% Whisky Barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout, Crimea River, out of barrel and into 750ml bottle - this will be a super special offering from us, not only will the wax sealed limited edition bottle look great, but the beer is even more amazing thanks to the aging. Then tying in nicely, we will be filling the whisky barrels back up with a Milk Stout and releasing the rest out in cask and keg for the Christmas period. We have produced 3 milk stouts to date; Safe As Milk, Quiet Beer and Egg Nog Stout…. Safe As Milk has been by far the best received. We added a lovely peaty single malt Islay Whisky, dark roast coffee and oats to the grist and this is what we’ll be doing again this Christmas, just probably with a new name.

This weekend we have the Queens Hotel Beer Festival in Gosport, which we will be attending on the evening of Friday 26th. Our Crimea River is on the bar amongst a great range of beers from all over the country. Then on Sunday we are at Whiteley Fireworks serving pints, should be a blast.

Matt Curd