Ghana’s incredible microbrewery

GHANA’S INCREDIBLE MICROBREWERY

Do you know what sorghum is? Daniel Neilson does and he meets a man who’s making beer with it

On a large plastic sheet weighed down with bricks, a thin layer of a reddish grain is drying under the intense West African heat. Clement Djameh picks it up and plants it in my hand. The tiny red grains have a little tadpole-like tail. The grain is sorghum, a grass crop that grows abundantly across large parts of Africa. It is used for making porridges, couscous and, in this case, beer.

Accra, Ghana. It’s a place full of life and excitement. It’s a tropical jumble that assaults all five senses. The shattering heat, the pulsing music, the smoking grills, the spic’n’span malls, the crashing surf, the cocktail terraces, the chugging exhausts, the pavement hawkers and swish hotels; it all combines to create a frenetic and thrillingly unpredictable city. The unexpected is to be expected so that there is a guy in Accra who is starting a microbrewery using only sorghum I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I had to see it.

We meet at a petrol station on the very outskirts of Accra, beyond the posh bits and beyond the shanty towns. We hop into Clement’s old 4×4 and bounce along the rough roads to an old house with a large garden. There’s an old car, a large metal container about the same size as the car, and some greenery. At the house, he opens up a large wooden door to reveal the small brewery. Corny kegs that would be recognised by homebrewers are stacked up on one side. On the kegs are tied little labels: “IPA”,  “Trial beer, Belgian type”, “sorghum lager” and “pito”, a local alcoholic drink. There’s a large refrigerator and a bottling unit and I reckon the brewhouse has a 100-litre capacity. He pours a spectacular wheat beer and we walk into the garden.

“This is sorghum,” he says clasping a leafy eight-foot-high plant. He picks apart the grain head and isolates a little seed. “All of our beer is made from sorghum.” I’m noticeably taken aback. Taking another sip of my wheat beer, I don’t note any discernible difference. I try the lager, again no difference, I try the IPA, same. “You have to use what you have available,” Clement tells me. Sorghum beer is also naturally gluten-free. The potential is astounding.

Sorghum is malted in a similar way to barley: soaking and then drying. Clement malts his own in the metal container in the garden and then dries it under the hot equatorial sun. The whole set-up embodies the adaptable and positive Ghanaian spirit I’ve come to love over the eight annual visits I’ve made.  

The real skill is brewing with it, however. The husk on barley acts as a natural filter when draining the sugary liquid during sparging. Sorghum has no husk, and it is very glutinous. Clement, who trained at Weihenstephaner, is a pioneer in the use of sorghum. Pointing welders in the right direction, he adapted the brewery equipment to deal with this difficult grain and will have to do so again, when his much larger brewhouse arrives later in the year.

I look again at the beer in my glass and delve into its smooth bubbles. This is a beer 40 years in the making. A beer that could tell of trial after trial, set back after set back. It tells of brewing in a country without a constant electricity supply, with no hop merchants, with almost no barley. It reflects the heat of the sun, the torrential downpours of the rainy season, the ground that nurtures the sorghum plant. It tells of the farmers in the north that send the sorghum to Clement, bought for a steady price. It tells of overcoming great adversity, and of love for beer. Forty long years. This beer I have in my hand is bursting with more than hop aromas, it is alive with the spirit of an unassuming man who is quite remarkable.

For more details go to Inland Microbrewery.


Read Issue 17 for free here

READ ISSUE 17 FOR FREE HERE

 Magic/realism… where beer meets the netherworld

Tommy Cooper did magic, though like many a duff brewery’s beers his tricks usually went wrong; David Copperfield also dabbles in magic, glitzed up and given the gift of the gab — if he was a brewery, he’d have tripped over himself in the rush to get to the door when Mr Anheuser-Busch knocked.

Then there is Merlin, who probably never existed but some (probably monastic) scribe, in the wake of the Romans leaving, managed to weave a magic spell that has lasted down the centuries (a bit like one of the small group of family breweries still surviving).

As you might have guessed from this preamble, this is our magic issue, though we’re aiming more towards Gabriel García Marquéz than Paul Daniels.

When we talk about magic in brewing and beer, it often comes down to the process of fermentation, when yeast in the pre-Pasteur time, as Pete Brown recollects (not from personal memory), was known as ‘godisgoode’, because nobody had a clue about where that foam on top of the fermenting beer came from — and given the grip of religion in this period there was only — thing that could explain it.

Then there is the magic and fantasy that threads its way through Belgian beer like a vein of gold in a mine overseen by the Nibelung. Our very own master of magical writing, Joe Stange, is just the person to investigate this sense of the fantastic.

We also look at ritual in beer and the myths that hold sway, while elsewhere Emma Inch has written a fantastic essay on how some pubs can be safe havens and others not.

There’s also our usual round of reviews, a bit of a q&a with masterful Czech brewer Adam Matuška, barrel-aged beer and Pilsner going under the microscope and a general sense of magical realism. Do enjoy (in the company of a magical beer, naturally).

Adrian Tierney-Jones, Editor 

 

 


Read Issue 16 for free here

READ ISSUE 16 FOR FREE HERE

 The heroes of beer… are not where you expect them

We wanted to celebrate heroes, but in true OG fashion we didn’t want to be obvious, so there’ll be no profiles of various hops or barley strains; celebrities and the brewing world’s famous have been avoided; we wanted the idea of heroes to be understated, not thwacked out of the ground or bugled parade ground-style, we hoped for subtlety and longed for the silent hero or maybe the forgotten one, or just perhaps the odd one.

In contemporary life, the idea of a hero has become so broad that it’s hard to know what or who is one, which is perhaps the underlying concept of Pete Brown’s fascinating tale of beer as a hero. Before he became an award-winning beer writer, Pete was embedded deep in the world of advertising, working on Stella and Heineken, and here he offers an overview of how the advertising of beer has changed since his playground days.

For some, parents are the heroes of their life, but Jessica Mason takes a totally different view in her searingly honest and compulsively readable tale of a pub table and a beer; this is perhaps one of the most powerful pieces we have published. Some of it might not make for easy reading, but if you just want jolly tales about beer, sorry.

Do you know who Jack Payne was? We didn’t and if you don’t know either then go onto to read Katrien Bruyland’s excellent story of how a British soldier at the end of the Great War stayed on in Belgium and had a hand in developing one of the country’s most enduring beers, as well as introducing a new style.

Original Gravity’s founder and publisher Daniel Neilson travels often to Ghana – here he meet Clement Djameh and tastes his sorghum beers that burst with flavour and exemplify their maker’s brewing expertise. Elsewhere, we have a tale of a Prague pub and what constitutes a lost beer, while English-style IPAs and bocks are celebrated, beer meets love and all get on swimmingly. We hope you enjoy the issue.

Adrian Tierney-Jones, Editor  

 


Fourpure launch nationwide Continental Collaboration tour

FOURPURE LAUNCH NATIONWIDE  CONTINENTAL COLLABORATION TOUR

Fourpure has launched its first Continental Collaboration, creating beers in partnership with six breweries each from a different major continent

Fourpure Brewing Co. has announced its most exciting and challenging brewing project to date. Combining its passion for beer and adventure, Fourpure has launched its first Continental Collaboration, creating beers in partnership with six breweries each from a different major continent, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. The partner brewers are Devils Peak in South Africa, Kyoto Brewing in Japan, Two Birds Brewing in Australia, Brasserie de la Senne in Belgium, Bear Republic Brewing Co in California, USA, and Sunset Brewery in Brazil. Each beer will be released in a limited edition 500ml can and 30 litre keg, with a small run of mixed six-packs available as well as individual cans.

The beers have already been brewed and full details of each beer will be announced in June ahead of a roadshow of events taking the series to consumers in 21 cities across the UK throughout the month (see full list below).

Co-founder of Fourpure Daniel Lowe commented: “Over the last few decades, brewing has changed significantly across the globe. It’s an industry that transcends language or geography, that brings people together professionally and socially and increasingly it’s an industry that loves to share, teach and collaborate. The Continental Collaboration series of beers will explore the unique stories born from history, heritage and a sense of adventure that has led to innovation in brewing, spanning every major continent on Earth.”

For more information visit www.fourpure.com or follow the brand on Instagram and Facebook at @Fourpure and on Twitter at @fourpurebrewing.

Continental Collaboration events list:
Sun 17/06/18 | The Craftsman Company, Aberdeen
Mon 18/06/18 | Shilling Brewing Co., Glasgow
Tue 19/06/18 | The Fat Gadgie, Carlisle
Wed 20/06/18 | The Free Trade Inn, Newcastle
Thurs 21/06/18 | Manchester, The Pilcrow
Fri 22/06/18 | The Turks Head, Leeds
Sat 23/06/18 | The Dead Crafty Beer Co., Liverpool
Sun 24/06/18 | Against The Grain, Dublin
Mon 25/06/18 | The Sunflower, Belfast
Tue 26/06/18 | The Wolf, Birmingham
Wed 27/06/18 | Stoneworks, Peterborough
Fri 29/06/18 | Pint Shop, Oxford
Sat 30/06/18 | Small Bar, Cardiff
Sun 01/07/18 | Wild Beer at Wapping Wharf, Bristol
Mon 02/07/18 | The Three Johns, North London
Tue 03/07/18 | Fuggles Hop Café, Tunbridge Wells
Wed 04/07/18 | Brighton Beer Dispensary, Brighton
Thurs 05/07/18 | HAND, Falmouth
Fri 06/07/18 | Kaapse Brouwers, Rotterdam
Sat 07/07/18 | TBC, Antwerp
Sun 08/07/18 | Fourpure Taproom, South London


British hops celebrated in new BritHop Series

 BRITISH HOPS CELEBRATED IN NEW BRITHOP SERIES

Five of the UK’s best breweries will be launching a line-up of exceptional beers using new progressive British hops in new project named BritHop that is due to launch this summer

The BritHop Series, pioneered by Drinks Maven, has been initiated in conjunction with hop merchant Charles Faram and the British Hop Association [BHA] and aims for a supergroup of new and exciting British beers to be brewed by some of the nation’s top brewers. Each beer will also be aligned with a music track from a British band or artist that suits the beer.

Breweries involved in the project include: Burning Sky, The Kernel, Cloudwater, The Wild Beer Co and North Brewing Co.

“Great beer and great music should go hand-in-hand. In Britain, we are lucky enough to have both. The new progressive hop varieties we now have available to us in the UK are at the heart of this series and will be used to create some exciting new beers. This is the start of a journey into the next generation of flavour for British beer – an exciting step towards growing an appreciation for all of the nuances and subtleties of what British hops have to offer whilst also giving a nod to some decent music at the same time,” said Drinks Maven founder Jessica Mason.

Breweries and their selected tracks are as follows:

Burning Sky: The Astronauts – Typically English Day

The Kernel: The Slits – Heard It Through The Grapevine

Cloudwater: Kate Tempest – Europe Is Lost

The Wild Beer Co: David Bowie – Changes

North Brewing Co: Longpigs – Lost Myself

Mark Tranter, Head Brewer and Founder at Burning Sky Brewery, who is crafting a 5.6% abv pale ale for The BritHop Series, said: “To showcase new British hops, we paired the delightfully citrusy experimental CF185 and CF218 hops with some light spices to create a quietly contemplative and refreshing pale ale. Set to the backdrop of The Astonauts, Typically English Day, there is hope, love and friendship – despite the government and their schemes.”

Paul Jones, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Cloudwater Brew Company said: “We’re using Pioneer hops in a small or not so small IPL. Song pairing is Europe Is Lost by Kate Tempest.”

Jasper Tupman, Technical Brewer at Wild Beer Co, who is making a 5% abv beer that can adapt and change with age, said: “We were invited by our good friend Jessica ‘Drinks Maven’ Mason to get involved in the BritHop project, a celebration of the finest progressive UK hops married with classic British music in honour of Beer Day Britain. Our take was to brew a beer with 100% UK yeast, malt and hops and the spirit of the Thin White Duke himself – David Bowie. We have used copious amounts of new experimental Jester and Godiva hops that combine the tang of gooseberry and grapefruit, with the alluring sweetness of white grape, lychees and blackcurrant.100% fermented with the super attenuating yeast Brettanomyces means it will let the juicy hop character shine through whilst drunk fresh, or choose to cellar and let the Brett do its Funky (Dory) thing. This is a beer that allows for exceptional ageing and flavour development. Chchchchanges!”

 

 

Christian Townsley, Co-Founder at North Brewing Co said: “Our song choice is Lost Myself by Longpigs. Often an overlooked song when talking about Brit pop in the same way that British hops get forgotten. We’re brewing a 4.8% abv pale ale with Godiva, Jester and CF 162 hops.”

Evin O’Riordan, Head Brewer and Founder of The Kernel Brewery said: We are using a hop called CF160.  A daughter of Jester. The hops smelled great, so signs are promising.”

The limited line-up of beers from the BritHop Series will be available to taste during Beer Day Britain on the evening of 15th June 2018 at Mother Kelly’s Paradise Row, Bethnal Green, London. A playlist of music from British bands and artists, including the selected music tracks, will be playing throughout the night.

BritHop is an independent project and a way for beer and music fans to also show support for local industry. The BritHop Series will launch aligned with Beer Day Britain and the limited line-up of beers will be available to taste at a party at Mother Kelly’s in Bethnal Green London on the evening of 15th June, 2018.