The festive season is over and the miserable weather is setting in, but fear not! As always, here at Kraft Werks we have big, bold and decadent beers to curl up in front of the fire and keep warm with, as well as some fantastically full flavoured alcohol-free beers to keep you steadfast in Dry January.
It’s that time again when it becomes necessary to eat, drink and be merry. We can’t help with the eating, but we can certainly help with the drinking and the merriment.
In this Christmas Kraft Werks guide to giving the gift of beer, some suggestions on which beers to enjoy with your Christmas dinner and even a recipe for mulled beer!
Hello and welcome once again to our irregular brews letter from your friendly local craft beer shop and bar. Well, it feels as if Autumn has finally crash landed after an insane summer heatwave. We find it fascinating how the weather can affect the beers we drink, and we had a big rush on our
lagers, wheat beers and pale sales over the summer. Now the nights will soon be drawing in and we look forward to bringing in some stronger and warming dark beers for our board.
We also are pleased to welcome 2 new members of staff, Luke and Alexa. Both join us with a wealth of experience working in Nottingham’s craft beer scene. Do make sure to introduce yourself next time you’re in!
Our new Kraft Werks eCommerce site will be going live soon! We have been working hard with our new digital agency over the summer months in preparation for the upcoming launch of a new Kraft Werks click and collect web store. This will allow you to view and buy all our in-stock beers at any
time, and we plan further along the line to expand this service to include delivery. Watch out Amazon! More to be announced soon…
We have a busy month of events coming up with our second beer and cheese event in partnership with the award-winning Delilah Fine Foods. This time we will be pairing beers with cheese as well as charcuterie. The tickets sold out very quickly for the last event so if you would like to join us we strongly advise to book early.
We will also be hosting our 3rd (can you believe it) Annual Kraft WerksOktoberfest! The kegs of Munich-brewed beers are on they’re way from Bavaria and the steins will be being filled from the 1st October onwards.
2018 Rainbow Project.
If you are not familiar with the Rainbow Project collaborations, it's where 7 of the best British breweries link up with 7 international breweries to collaborate on ideas and brew some very special beers.
Started in 2014, the international Rainbow Project proved so popular it has been a big annual event on the craft beer scene. So far, they have given us legendary beers like the Buxton/Omnipollo Yellow Belly and this year’s selection doesn’t disappoint. 2018’s link-ups are with some of the best US craft brewers and this year’s theme is barrel aged and/or barrel fermented beer. We have just a few boxes left, and they include an exclusive Rainbow Project glass.
Here's what you get in the box...
Wild Beer Co x Side Project Rosa Rouge (ABV 5.0%)
A sour saison with pomegranate and rose petals.
Hawkshead x Modern Times Yellow (ABV 5.3%)
A barrel aged saison with apricots brewed in San Diego. This collaboration was aged in red wine barrels before going through a secondary fermentation on over 3 lbs/gallon of Southern California apricots.
Beavertown Tempus Project Lapis Lazuli (ABV 8.2%)
Beavertown drew inspiration from natural winemaking to produce an amphora and barrel aged beer. For a fruit addition, they used Pinot Noir grape.
Magic Rock x Casita Cervecería Papillon (ABV 7.5%)
A barrel aged sour ale with blueberries, apricots and butterfly pea flowers. The foundation of this finale comes in the form of ageing in French oak barrels.
Burning Sky x Three Floyds Out From the Void (ABV 11.0%)
Burning Sky’s collaboration with legends Three Floyds comes in the form of a barrel aged barleywine. Fermented with Burning Sky’s house ale yeast and a Brettanomyces strain. The beer was then aged in Sauternes wine barrels with vanilla pods and cacao nibs to give a decadent chocolate orange flavour.
Partizan x New Belgium Phoenix (ABV 5.0%)
Phoenix is a “green” inspired wood aged saison that takes full advantage of the unique character of aged hops. The aim is to showcase green flavours from aged hops in the barrel.
Siren x Sante Adairius Equilibrium (ABV 5.8%)
A red-inspired, warm-pitched, red wine barrel fermented Saison delicate with intelligent complexity.
One of our most loved breweries of 2018 is the enigmatic Little Earth Project, a small sustainable brewery deep in the Suffolk countryside. Their beers are barrel aged and have their own in-house wild yeastiness. These brews often combine locally grown seasonal foraged ingredients.
Recently after many conversations, we secured a few bottles of very rareMills Brewing beers. Mills are tucked deep in the Cotswolds and all their beers are wild fermented with minimal modern intervention relying on local wild yeast cultures. The wort was left overnight in an open cool-ship to be inoculated then barrel aged, fermented and blended. Mills rare releases are hotly anticipated and we have just a few bottles of their Today Sour for you, a blend of three barrels of 2 years oak aged beer. We believe these small new sustainable, naturally fermented farmhouse brewers could provide a pointer to the future of craft beer in the UK.
That's all for this week, thanks for reading!
All the best,
Os & the Kraft Werks team.
Well as it's been very busy few weeks in craft beer land so we thought we’d send out one of our far too rare beer journals.
The first item we want to discuss is last weeks Nottingham Craft Beer Week. Kraft Werks have enjoyed helping and participating in this week-long event over the past 3 years. It was great to see even more venues in Nottingham get on board this year and we had some stellar events this year.
Some really big names and big beers came into Nottingham during the week which included authors Melissa Cole, Rodger Protz and Pete Brown. In addition, it seemed that all the venues involved really upped their game this year. For example, Brewdog showcased a rare Cantillon tap take over. At Kraft Werks we had a big think about what brewery we wanted to invite in, and Marble seemed to be winners all around. They have been quietly producing brilliant beers for 20 years now, both traditional, modern, cask and keg as well as collaborating with some of our favourite European craft brewers such as De Molen & Kees. They were kind enough to allow Kraft Werks to launch their new DIPA Full Guard.
The highlight of the week for us was Pete Brown's brilliant Beer & Music Matching evening, which was a fun and educational journey through the intertwining world of beer and music. It was also the first time we have fully closed Kraft Werks for a ticketed event and it was great to finally meet Pete, who is one of our beer heroes.
The Nottingham Craft Beer Week's biggest event was the first Nottingham Craft Beer festival at Sneinton Market, which was brilliantly organised by the LeftLion team. They brought together a wide variety of both new and established craft brewers from all over the country with a couple of great international bars. We’re already looking forward to 2019!
Big beer news announced last week has been the much anticipated and hotly debated Beavertown sale to Heineken. This follows Brixton Brewery's sale to Heineken last year. And as we said in the last beer journal, the big beer conglomerates will continue to buy up craft beer "brands” as it continues to increase in popularity. This decision by Beavertown has seemed to polarise opinion; on the one hand, we can understand and respect the individual brewery's personal business decision for the future of their brewery. However, we also understand the opinion that for many people, independent craft beer brewers are known for being small, meticulous operations that produce high-quality beer, the polar opposite to the corporate approach. What do you think?
Until next time,
2017 has shown that 'Big Beer' would like nothing more than to get its corporate hands on an ever growing piece of the fermented pie that is craft beer. What with Heineken purchasing the rest of Lagunitus, Wicked Weed ceding control to ABinbev, and even brewers like Founders being part owned by Inbev also it's becoming harder to tell what is and what isn't independent craft beer and that’s exactly what the global corps want.
Here in the UK we have also had a couple of big well known takeovers, Meantime and Camden, these two big London brewers sold for vast amounts, and their beer has subsequently been widely noted to have declined in quality. I did note whilst in a national pub chain that happens to do a good cheap breakfast that the Meantime bottles of old, thin and slender working down to a wide stout base have changed to a standard bottle, undoubtedly a cost cutting measure. All of a brands charm disappears in the blink of an eye when corporate attitudes of cost cutting over quality and individuality take over.
So it doesn't make any sense, right? The obvious business plan for such a buyout would go something like this:
1. Big brewery purchases smaller craft producer
2. Brewery allowed to continue brewing high quality beer whilst taking advantage of corporate giant's marketing and distribution network
3. Quality does not decline, sales increase, brand gets better recognition.
That’s probably how its is sold to the independents who sell up or sell out, but of course it can't work like that. Before long the accountants start brewing and it all goes to pot. The charm and quality of independent breweries is one of the reason that we love beer.
Quality is one thing but knowing that the beer you're drinking was made by people who care about beer as much as they do their bank balance is a brilliant feeling. Drinking independently produced beer in an independently owned bar, there's nothing better than that.
So hopefully we’ll see you soon.
There seems to be an awful lot of hype around the general 'Hype Machine' of Craft Beer at the moment. Is it a cynical marketing strategy or an irresponsible encouragement of drinking strong beer? Or is it simply the natural cause and effect of the “Gotta catch 'em all” Pokemon generation?
To me, the craft beer movement is an evolution of small cultural revolutions starting with the rise of the Teenager in the 1950's, moving on to mods, hippies, punks, new romantics etc. But whereas previously the only option was to pick up a guitar and make some noise, this time round rather than rattling the cage from the outside we've cut straight through the middle.
Not content to stand shouting from the side of the arena this batch of revolutionaries unhappy with modern business and capitalism have decided to create a new form of business which gives the consumer the alternative the bands of the past were pining for. A model in which collaboration and the sharing of ideas is encouraged and secrecy and cost-cutting is scorned. A business model where the customer comes first and communication between customer and producer is paramount. When you look at it like that, is the hype any more unhealthy than that for Oasis' Be Here Now, or at least beer has a best before date.
This week's playlist is designed to match Track Brew Co's Zoji. A 5.8% Black IPA. There is something about Black IPA's that screams Post Punk at me. The wall of noise rhythm section is echoed by the malt and the hops jump on and off the palate like the slightly unhinged lead guitars of the time.
So sit back in your favourite chair, pour yourself a bottle of Zoji and pop those headphones on.
Use the hashtag #BrewsListening to give us your feedback and recommendations.
Listen to Brews Listening Vol. 2 - Track Brew Co. - Zoji on Apple Music or Spotify.
A few weeks ago I went to a new kind of beer tasting event. 12 Noon, Friday Morning in the misty hills of Brecon Beacons Mr @PeteBrownBeer took me on a journey through the perceptions of taste with a Beer and Music Pairing event at Green Man festival matching the bands and the beers of Green Man, a selection of 99 local Cask conditioned and Kegged beers. All music festivals need a bar like this so those of you who know me will not be surprised to find out that beer and music are my two favourite things, and have listened to me going on about the parallels between Craft Beer and Pop bands for ages (Brew Dog and Blink 182 anyone?)
Anyway, I'm sort of doing my own spin on it now so every brewsletter I'll be selecting my Beer of the Fortnight and posting an Apple Music link to a 20 minute playlist designed specifically to complement said beer. Give it a go, let me know what you think. Why not try it with a beer style that's maybe not for you, don't like wheat beer, then try listening to Neil Young's Heart of Gold while supping a hoppy American Wheat, it might ease you in to a new style.
So starting off our new 'Brew's Listening' Beer & Music matching we've got Reuben's Gose from Seattle's fantastic Reuben's Brews and a playlist designed to bring out all of those lovely layered notes of lemon, coriander, salt and of course sourness. Let us know how you get on or why not post us a link to your own pairings using the hashtag #brewslistening
Listen to Brew's Listening Vol.1 Reuben's Gose on Apple Music (you'll need Apple Music membership to listen).
Well well well we seem to getting a new word mentioned in the beer world recently. 'Crask' for all you new to the word its craft beer served in a Cask (think of Wierd Beard and Wild Beer on cask and you'll catch our drift). Os likes the word but I loath it as good beer is good beer what ever the dispense method is but Os is an ex marketer so loves his buzz words!
So a 1⁄2 a pint from Siren served on handpull would be a “Crask” beer. There you have it (or not in my case).
CAMRA & Kegs
Craft beer fans, and the craft beer industry in general, have spent the last few years arguing with CAMRA that regardless of its serving method good beer is good beer, so beer should be served by whichever method the brewer believes its best for their product be that cask or keg. Now we're getting to get to a point where that is now generally accepted by CAMRA who have finally relented that KeyKeg conditioned beer is Real Beer so its good to see “Key Keg” bars now at CAMRA festivals this year.
It does frustrate that CAMRA find it still hard to acknowledge the wonderful new craft beer revolution simply because it comes out of a keg. Most of our customers are not bothered but we do get the odd one who'll just only drink from our lovely handpull.
"Bah" CAMRA say to beer forcibly ejected with gas from a steel keg! Unfortunately the old school CAMRA brigade still have lots of emotional baggage around the thought and 1960's flash backs to Watneys Red Barrel, god forbid, so it'll be a few more years before we see a UK craft steel keg at a CAMRA event and I think that is a real shame.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on Crask, the keg debate and all things beer related so make sure to get in touch on facebook or twitter.
At Kraft Werks we often get asked why is “craft beer” so strong in alcohol compared to so called “traditional ales”. I think we have all seen so called traditional ales such as bitters, golden beers and milds now tend to be around 3.8% these days well this wasn't always the case. Beer strengths in the UK were much higher traditionally prior to the 1970's, things started to change slowly from the 1930's through to the 1970's with increased taxation on beer alcohol levels, homogenization and mass production.
Having taken a look at the fascinating beer blog Barclay Perkins, we've seen that traditional XX & KKK beers were the very popular with British drinkers and these beers were often 8, 9, 10% or even stronger.
As one well beer-informed customer told recently me the Victorians would have given 3.5% to their children at the dinner table. Also, prior to the 1960's, we would have been drinking beer more commonly in half’s rather than pints (probably a refection of those higher ABVs and changing tastes) with pints of beer being requested and not given as a standard in pubs. Another interesting fact is a lot of British beers historically were barrel aged for up to a year before serving in pubs and prior to WW1 beers were often blended in the pub for the customer (interesting as we now associate blended beers purely with the Belgium brewers). So the next time you're in Kraft Werks and you see a 9% Barrel Aged Imperial Stout Beer on draught, when it's served in a half pint, remember that’s a true “traditional” ale. A fact overlooked is that craft beer really can often be a more genuine representation of the historical British beers.