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.


Art of Beer: Drew Millward/Northern Monk

ART OF BEER: DREW MILLWARD/ NORTHERN MONK

Drew Millward’s artwork for Northern Monk caught our attention for its vibrant illustrations for a special series

It started as so many collaborations do, through a beer. Drew Millward was dropping off a portrait of John and Jane Marshall. John Marshall was responsible for the building Temple Mill, Leeds, and by extension of that, building the flax store, home to Northern Monk. A bond was formed. Here we speak to Drew about his remarkable artwork for the new Northern Monk Northern Tropics series and his other work for clients including Bundobust, BrewDog and 21st Amendment.

What was the brief you were given from Northern Monk?

There really wasn’t one. In fact, it was almost the other way around. We drank beer, we discussed what we like about beer, I told them that my ‘holy grail’, in beer terms, is basically to find something that tastes like a hoppy Um Bongo. They went away and concocted ideas for what sort of beers might fit that bill, and I just got to work drawing pictures that combined Leeds’ industrial landscape and a load of tropical nonsense. It was pretty much a dream project really. Like having a suit tailor-made. The Northern Tropics series have genuinely been some of my favourite beers I’ve had in years and to play a part in how those are presented to the world has been an absolute pleasure. Long may it continue.

How did you first get into illustrating in the first place?

Somewhere, in the mists of time, I started making posters for gigs that myself and some friends were booking. We needed to advertise the shows, so myself, and my buddy Luke Drozd took turns in designing flyers and poster for the stuff we were putting on. That friendly rivalry between us probably spurred us on to do better things as time progressed. From that, people saw the work and started asking me to make posters and such like for them. I think someone offered me about £35 to make a poster for a show in London, shortly after which I quit my job. That was about 14 years ago. Since that point, I’ve more or less, kept the lights on by drawing pictures. I suppose I fell into it, as it was never a goal or ambition to do this, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

You have such a distinct style, where does your inspiration come from?

Anywhere and everywhere. I suppose my roots in posters and screen printing plays a massive part in the way I work, and the work I make, and certainly the worlds of music, DIY and punk rock all play a part in what/why/how I operate. I would say, stylistically it’s probably a progression over the past 14 years of looking at design, illustration, art and ephemera, filtered through my own mind and limited capabilities.

You’ve done quite a bit for Bundobust, how did that come around?

Those folks are good people. Leeds is a small enough place that most people know of, if not know each other, certainly in more independently minded circles, so things often come about fairly organically. Marko Husak asked me to get involved with what they were doing, and since I drank (at The Sparrow) and ate (their street food before they got the bricks and mortar place) there, it was foolish not to. I love what they do and how they do it, so it’s not difficult to get behind working collaboratively with these people. I think a lot of people within the independent community, and you see it a lot in the smaller end brewing industry as well, have a great attitude and mind set about taking risks and working with artists or other like-minded people. It goes back to the principals that punk rock and the DIY music communities are built on. It’s a good way of going about things.

/ northernmonkbrewco.com

/ drewmillward.com


Beer Traveller: Catalonia transformed

BEER TRAVELLER: CATALONIA TRANSFORMED

Pete Brown celebrates and salivates over the Catalonia’s evolving beer transformation

It doesn’t work on everyone, but beer has the power to perform a kind of transformative magic. One minute you have an average interest in the impact of flavour on your palate, enjoying the odd glass of wine or pint of lager. The next, you’re on your way to jacking in your job to make, sell or communicate about beer and converting the cupboard under the stairs into a cellar space.

It happened to me in 2004 in Portland, Oregon, and I’ve seen it happen to a great many people since. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to witness the actual moment: a handful of times, I’ve been the perpetrator of it. I’ve seen it happen to men and women, close friends and strangers. And now, I think I’ve just seen it happen to an entire region.

Barcelona has always been one of my favourite cities to get drunk in. For a long time, the only beer available was Estrella, but that wasn’t the point: it was the manner of its drinking that was so appealing. In the Boqueria — the best food market in the world — Estrella was served ice-cold from the bar of a little kiosk where fresh langoustines wriggled on a hot plate a few feet away. In side-street bodegas, Estrella was served in tiny glasses — or cañas — to accompany plates of padron peppers, octopus or heroic portions of patatas bravas. And in the twisting warren of the old Bario Gotic quarter, Estrella was drunk in pints in a selection of randomly themed bars.

Four years ago, I was back in Barcelona and looked again for these bars. They’d all gone, replaced by generic craft beer bars from central casting. All sold beers from Meantime, Brooklyn and BrewDog, and all had stripped wooden floors, bare brick and a smattering of heavy metal sights and sounds. I could have been in London, Manchester, or Nottingham. Sitting on a bar stool sipping a pint of Punk IPA, the ghost of the Starsky & Hutch theme bar that had once stood here whispered in my ear, ‘This is what you wanted, isn’t it? I distinctly remember you complaining that it was just Estrella last time you were here’.

If this was victory, it felt hollow.

In March 2018, I’m back for the seventh annual Barcelona Beer Festival, in a vast convention centre reminiscent of the Great American and Great British Beer Festivals. There are brewers and drinkers here from both those countries. I suspect they’ve not come all this way to try beers from Brooklyn and BrewDog.  

‘There are now 100 craft breweries in Catalonia,’ says festival organiser Mikel Rius. ‘This is not about a movement from the city. It’s all around the rural area of Catalonia.’

The day after the festival, we’re driving up into the hills through stunted, winter-pruned vines. At one chilly peak in the centre of a region most famous for Cava, Tempranillo and Grenache, we meet Carlos and Montse Rodriguez. They quit the city for an almost ruined former winery around the turn of the millennium. In a cool stone room that smells of cats and has a bar that looks like it was stolen from a Devon country pub, Carlos serves us some of the best traditional British cask pale ale I’ve tasted in many months. In the cellars next door, this self-taught brewer is re-fermenting his beers in local red wine barrels with a wild Brettanomyces yeast he isolated and cultivated from the air around us.

Catalonia has lots of wine barrels. That’s why at least a third of the breweries here have a barrel ageing programme. But it doesn’t have much in the way of hops and barley.

That’s why Oscar Mogilnicki Tomas and Quiònia Pujol Sabaté have put together the ‘Full Circle Project’, with the aim of growing everything they need to produce a beer not just in, but entirely of the region. He’s an engineer, she’s a biologist, and together they’ve built the Lo Vilot brewery by hand. The number of different skills they possess between them defies comprehension, as does the consistency of their range of beers including sour fruit beers, IPAs, Pilsner, wheat and Belgian-style ales.

Back down in Barcelona, over a bourbon barrel-aged Belgian-style dubbel, someone asks the American-born head brewer of Edge Brewing what attracted him to the idea of working in the one of the world’s most beautiful cities.  

‘You’re from a scene from the US — which had lost its beer culture — brewing in a country that never had a beer culture to start with. So, you’re doubly removed in terms of creative freedom,’ he replied.

Days later, after gorging ourselves on homemade salami, barbecued spring onions dipped in romesco sauce and the simple brilliance of rustic bread rubbed with garlic and ripe, fresh tomatoes before being drizzled with olive oil and salt, all offered at every one of the dozen or so breweries we visit, I decide this creative freedom is one half of an explosive combination.

Catalonia may have never had a beer culture, but it’s always possessed a proud sense of gastronomic independence, a genuine love of food that is as amazing as it is simple and democratic. Craft beer was a perfect foil, a natural fit. After that initial wide-eyed genuflection to the global titans of craft, the Catalonians simply got on with the job of making beer their own.

They’ve only just started, and already they don’t seem to be able to brew a bad or mediocre beer. On my next visit, I suspect it may be my turn to have my original beer epiphany all over again.

This article was written after a trip organised and paid for by the Catalan Tourist Board. You can find out more about Catalonia’s gastronomic heritage at www.catalunya.com        


The 6 pack: barrel-aged beers

THE 6 PACK: BARREL-AGED BEERS

Adrian Tierney-Jones uncorks the finest beers that have slumbered in wood

This is how we should think of barrelageing: the long sleep; a beer brewed and then enclosed within a wooden tomb on a par with a Pharaoh whose retinue is certain he will resurrect and rule once again; time floating by, like lilies on a stream, with only the imagined scurries and scratchings of creatures we call lactobacillus, pediococcus and brettanomyces disturbing what seems an eternal sleep.

Then there is a rude awakening, a tap against the wood, almost like a cry for help, the emergence into sunlight. The beer is filled with a new sense of vigour, ready to start off on its own journey or happy to merge with another beer or be taken to another barrel whose wood is a different story.

During the great porter days of the 18th and 19th century beer was routinely aged in barrels, sometimes for up to a year or more. It ripened and was renewed by its time in barrels the size of modest hotels in modest seaside towns. Then as the brand new century dawned and world wars churned their weary way, brewers forgot what they used to do, they lost the art of ageing beer, they dismissed from their minds, memories of how they used to blend old and new, how they let the right microbes in, kept the wrong ones out; they forgot that beers could grow old and elegant, ready to be embraced by a younger generation of beer.

Time passes and retinues of practice return. Many breweries now have their own barrel farm, an odd phrases that’s crossed from the Atlantic and sounds more Big Mac than Old MacDonald had a farm. I was recently in BrewDog’s new sour beer facility, Overworks, where racks of barrels stood silently ready to do the brewer’s bidding. And if that wasn’t enough, there was an amphora, a direct descendant of those vessels that the Romans used to fill with wine (or even fish sauce). For beer, sleep it seems can take many forms. ATJ

 

 

/ Founders Brewing Co., Backwoods Bastard, 11.1%

Trust the US masters of the barrel aging process to make one of the most complex beers here. Dark fruits shine through smacking Scotch. Masterfully balanced and effortlessly drinkable.

/ Duchesse de Bourgogne, Verhae Vichte, 6.2%

In Flanders, wood aging has endured for several beer styles, including the vinous red ales.

/ Wild Beer Co, Beyond Modus IV, 8%

This is perhaps the best expression of Wild Beer Co’s passion for wood. It’s a blend of the flagship wood-aged beer Modus Operandi, and aged again. Expect sour cherries and balsamic.

/ Burning Sky, Monolith Vintage, 8%

In rural East Sussex is a brewery full of wood. Monolith, a dark, almost stout beer, has vatted on oak for two years, bringing an astonishing complexity.

/ Buxton Brewery, Highlander, 10.5%

Perhaps some of the БТ8.49 went on the gorgeous label, but most (it’s not cheap aging beer) it’s time spent swilling around Scotch whisky barrels. But wow, this is as complex as a single malt.

/ Siren Craft Brew, Barrel Aged Shattered Dream, 9.1%

Broken Dream is Siren’s highly rated breakfast stout. This version has lingered in the copious amounts of barrels at the brewery. An expressive bourbon is tempered with a savoury woodiness.


When beer meets bikes

WHEN BEER MEETS BIKES

Budvar and BOLT motorcycles are teaming up to create a custom ‘Budvar Bike’. We hear from BOLT’s Andrew Almond

What was the idea behind BOLT?
Motorcycling is an ever-evolving culture and I wanted to create a new type of store that resonated with the current scene of motorcyclists emerging in London. At the time there was a new wave of custom culture taking shape using relatively affordable vintage motorcycles and along with it came new types of riders. What appealed to me was the accessibility and creativity it inspired. The scene grew globally and at that time there was not a place for it in London. Traditional motorcycle stores held little interest for me; they essentially stocked practical garments that lacked the style and quality. I wanted to curate a store that brought together items that reflect the styles of clothing I wanted to wear, proper leather jackets, vintage inspired helmets and independent motorcycle owned brands. There was also a need for a social space as riding bikes is as much about hanging out with friends and building communities. I wanted to create a space the progressed the scene, to host events and exhibitions and champion the scene as well as the rich cultural heritage that preceded it.

Were you a Budvar drinker before the project came about?
Yes. My favourite has long been the Budvar Dark, which balances the strong flavour typically associated with stouts with the freshness and lightness of lager.

Why did you choose the Jawa bike?
There was really only one option for the Budvar Bike, it had to be a JAWA, a classic Czech design. Originating from Prague and starting production in 1929 they grew to exert a huge influence in the motorcycle world. By the 50s they were exporting to over 120 countries and new overseas factory were introduced in India. With typically small capacity engines, they reflected the economies of their time providing an affordable means of transport. They really stood out in racing though, coming into their own in Motorcross and Speedway.

What are your plans?
I really want to showcase the range of crafts that are at the heart of everything we do at BOLT. It is a great opportunity to utilise our network of collaborators for each aspect of the build, from a hand-fabricated frame to hand-painted design and hand-tooled leather seat. I’m not sure if I have ever seen a JAWA exhibited in a custom motorcycle show, so I really want to build something that changes people’s perceptions. It’s the ugly duckling story! The JAWA we have is a very utilitarian design but there is real beauty hidden within elements of its design, we want to showcase these aspects and create something truly original and stunning.

We’re really only keeping the engine (which will be overhauled) and the wheels. The frame will be chopped and remade to a hard-tail design – this means removing the rear suspension in favour of a rigid rear-end. Being 6′ 4 we need to adapt the frame to fit my proportions, stretching it out while being careful not to dwarf the engine which is just 250cc. We will custom make a tank, fenders and seat pan to fit, using vintage parts and following the styles of the 1930s JAWAs. The overall design however will be very contemporary, referencing the past but looking to the future.

What are the main challenges with the build?
Time is the challenge as this involves managing many different people working on different parts and ensuring it is all brought together on deadline. The other main challenge is building a bike that is both a show bike but which will handle a 1000-mile road trip, this is especially the case considering the small capacity two-stroke engine. Anyone with experiences of JAWAs will tell you they are best ridden with a tool roll in hand, so it will really be a test of our skills to make this bike fit for the journey.

Who are you using for the specialist fabrication and sign writing?
We work with some of the best crafts people in their fields and this bike will really be a joint effort involving many of the BOLT Family. This is the fun part for me, involving lots of friends in one project, bringing together different elements in a distinct vision. Jake Robbins who traditionally fabricates impossible to find parts for early motorcycles will be handling the fabrication work. I always like to give Jake projects that differ from his day-to-day work; he is real creative at heart and has a great balance of form and function. We work with Jake Collier for our leather work and he manages the costumes for major films, making everything from hand-carved centurion breast pieces to the latest Marvel character costumes. Dapper Signs is a traditional sign writer with a distinct style who will hand-paint the bike.

You visited South Bohemia and the Budvar Brewer recently for some inspiration of the build. What did you take from the trip?
It was great to get a sense of the area and the brewery. We took a chairlift up in the snow to the top of a mountain overlooking a medieval town. The landscape there is beautiful; the castles and architecture give South Bohemia this amazing timeless feel. Visiting the brewery was really enlightening too – far from the big commercial operation that you might expect. It felt more like a family business. I was surprised to find the things used to brew the beer, like the huge copper brew kettles, were actually incredibly beautiful. All these things come from an approach to brewing that hasn’t wavered over the centuries, a belief in staying true to principles and techniques and in doing what it takes to create a beer of the best quality. I often feel that I put business interests aside in order to do things that I am truly passionate about, and it was inspiring to see that ethos at work in a large brewery too.

And what about the beer? How was drinking Budvar straight from the tank in the cellars in Budweis?
The experience of tasting the beer from the tank was a real surprise. I genuinely did not conceive that beer could taste that good. While the flavours came alive, it was the freshness that really amazed me. It was like drinking spring water! You could literally throw a pint down in one. During what I am sure will be a gruelling journey, the idea of the running down to that cellar for a celebratory pint will be a big inspiration.

Finally, you’re riding the finished Budvar bike through Europe to the Budvar Brewery in the Czech Republic. Where are you going and what are the challenges going to be?
We’re planning a route that avoids any major roads or motorways as the bike will not be able to cope with the high speeds. This is the exciting part: the road less travelled. I’m looking forward to passing through the towns and countryside as we ride our way across the different countries. Motorcycling for me is very much about friendships and I plan to stop off and show off the bike as we go. We will drop into fellow motorcycle stores Hermanus in Bruges and Rusty Gold in Amsterdam and hopefully pick up a few riders who will join us too. The main challenge will be not to blow the engine, running at high speeds for long times can be fatal for two strokes which prefer a more varied tempo. I expect the journey to be a real challenging but that is the adventure! It will not be easy, by any means, but the harder it is the better the first beer will taste once we arrive!


A pub table and a beer

A pub table and a beer

The pub is a mediator to the events life can often throw in your way. By Jessica Mason

 

It is a setting where we can unravel as people — where we can laugh and where we can cry without judgement. And it can, on some occasions, nurse our hearts and minds back to health.

I didn’t know my real father. He was Indian-Malay and I only met him a handful of times. Even though my mum had a court order to keep him away, if he showed up on our doorstep he’d be welcomed in. Sometimes, he would bring stories. Other times, new siblings.

By the time I was a teenager, the man with the leather trousers who I had seen approximately five times in my life had completely disappeared.

When I was 20 and the internet was just getting going, a friend and I tracked down my old surname and found an uncle of mine living in Germany. He’d been the best man at my parents’ wedding. He didn’t know where my father was either, but he asked me to visit. It was the first time I had ever been in an aeroplane and flying out to meet him and his son, a cousin of mine, I felt a deep surge of hopefulness. I was going to discover a family I had never known.

Two days later, after running barefoot down the streets of Dortmund at night, flagging down a car and spending time in a police station, I was flown back to the UK chaperoned, for safety reasons, by the British Consulate. My uncle, after telling me rather a lot about his brother, “the person whom everyone liked,” took away my naivety and replaced it with a fear I had never known.

My university pals, who had helped in my escape, took me to the pub and, within the walls of the Mash Tun and the Black Boy in Winchester, they nursed me back to life with love and beer and the unspoken familiarity of friendship that bound us like a family of our own.

At age 26, to my bewilderment I became a parent myself. So when an out-of-the-blue phone call led to information on my real father’s whereabouts, I was wary. I greeted the event not as the animated optimist, but as a protective, yet numb sage. I suggested meeting on neutral territory – a pub.

I knew I had mere hours with a man I didn’t know. But with a hundred questions in my head none of which could be answered by someone intent on impressing me, I would need to put my questions aside and make him feel at ease enough to remove his veneer. But how would I do that? Strangely enough, I did know. I needed just two simple props: a pub table and some beer.

I recognised him immediately. Not because the crumpled wedding photograph of the smiling man I’d been carrying around for years resembled the homeless man in front of me, but because we shared the same eyes. Two deep dark pools of despair looked back at me like a foreboding reflection. His carrier bag of possessions was at his feet and he was wearing a suit at least three sizes too big for his frame and a red baseball cap. He told me he had taken the day off of work especially to meet me and that he was “a business consultant”. I smiled and bought him a pint, saying I hoped he wasn’t going to be missed at the office that day.

That evening, he introduced me to his friends and I bought the rounds. His friends, who also had their work bags or kitbags stowed beneath the table, regaled me with proud stories of my father’s cheekiness, his humour and willingness to help others. Traits I’d never personally been privy to, but nor could I dismiss as non-existent. The man had nothing, but he clearly still had mates.

When I took the train back home that evening, I thought about the dimly-lit pub and the things I had learnt on the premises. It had only taken an hour to deduce that the man before me was, quite possibly, the worst man I had ever met in my entire life. He wanted to be admired, only the version of himself he had conjured didn’t really exist. He was the Moon Under Water, personified. He was not the father of which anyone might dream. Yet, in his presence, while my heart silently moved from my throat to the pit of my stomach, hopefulness was replaced by avid fascination. He was a performer and the pub was his stage. I didn’t need to like him; I didn’t need to know him. He was the jester in his court and I was simply his audience for the night.

And there is no remorse. Because we are all kinds of people, drifting through life and some of us are better at getting things right than others – these hostelries we have in Britain taught me that. They strip us down to the bare souls of the people we are and they bind friendships and relationships. They make us people of mirth and they remind us that being ourselves is enough. They are there for the good days and the bad, because life does that – it just keeps throwing things our way.

And even when things don’t go our way, there’s something we can do about it. We can reset our perspective and, within mine, there’s always a pub table and a beer.

R.I.P. The man who gave me my eyes.

/ @drinksmaven


Anatomy of: Barley Wine

Anatomy of barley wine

The barley wine, one of the strongest tipples of the beer canon, is designed for cold days barley lit by the winter sun. Here’s all you need to know about it and three of the best. Image: The British Library

 

A barley wine is a contemplative beer, the kind of beer that you pour out in small measures, a beer that has rich fruity overtones, luscious maltiness and a fiery booziness. It’s usually dark amber in colour, but there are also pale barley wines, and it’s strong enough to make a cat speak.

Because of its strength it has always been a minority pursuit, but sustained study of its attributes reveals a beautiful beer that could be seen as the height of the brewer’s art. British brewers got there first but now barley wine is produced all over the world with North American riffs on the style invariably more hop forward. Drink deeply and study hard this style.  ATJ

STRENGTH
Some start at the relatively light strength of 7.5%, while others stretch out their limbs towards 12 or 13%. So far no one has claimed a session barley wine.

FLAVOUR
Lush is the word you might be looking for on the first sip, with rich notes of dark or dried fruit, smooth chocolate, caramel, vanilla and occasionally a bracing bitterness.

APPEARANCE
Dark mysterious amber or a well-polished mahogany though some barley wines can also be reddish gold in colour. Dive into an enticing tan-coloured head of foam.

HISTORY
‘The barley wine of the English Rhine’ was a slogan used by a brewery in the 1880s, though it wasn’t until the early 1900s after Bass’ No1 Burton Ale was called a barley wine that it was more commonly used.

AKA
Some would say that barley wine is also interchangeable with a Burton ale or even an old ale. Best to keep things simple though.

FOOD
It’s an end-of-dinner drink so eschew the port for the barley wine, especially if it’s accompanied by a slab of creamy, pungent Stilton — that way heaven lies.

WHERE TO DRINK
Because of its strength, it’s either a seasonal or brewed intermittently. Scour your local bottle shop

WEIRD FACT
British barley wine drinkers used to call the style a ‘sitting down beer’, because they had less distance to fall if they’d imbibed too deeply of it. Honest.

THREE OF THE BEST

/  Cameron’s, Where the Buffalo Roam, 11.2%
Time well spent in bourbon barrels gives this Canadian barley wine a sleek and warming character with delicate waves of vanilla, dried fruit and rich malt.

/  Arbor, Barley Davidson, 9.7%
Citra, Simcoe and Mosaic combine with nine months of barrel ageing to create a luscious and potent, fruity and caramel-smooth
palate-pleaser.

/  Harvey’s, Christmas Ale, 7.5%
If you left this burnished mahogany hued and richly malty beauty out for Santa on Christmas Eve he’d be reluctant to leave and demand more.


Beer Moment of the Year: Daniel Neilson

Beer Moment of the Year: Daniel Neilson

The pub. The wonderful, cosy, convivial pub made the beer moment of the year for Original Gravity’s publisher Daniel Neilson

 

Life is too short to be indulgent when it comes to writing about beer, but as the year seems certain to immolate itself once more, Original Gravity has decided that its self-imposed rule about indulgence can be broken for once — here, then, is the team’s beer moment (s) of the year. We’ll see you in 2018, we’ve got a few things we going to do that we think we will like (you might as well, but we certainly will).

For our next moment, it’s the founder Daniel Neilson

Daniel Neilson, Original Gravity’s Founder

I’ve been very lucky this year to meet a great many people in the beer industry who I deeply admire. Meeting Jamie in the lovely Highland setting of his brewery Fyne Ales was a highlight. Other visits, including Siren, Burning Sky, Wiper and True, Lost & Grounded, Thornbridge and many more, were all united by one thing: the unerring, relentless passion of beer. 

My beer moment of the year, however, was a little closer to home. 

They call it the Cathedral, Harvey’s Brewery in Lewes. I was there on an ‘away day’ with Pete Brown, Adrian Tierney-Jones and the designer Adam McNaught-Davis. After a  planning session and a tour of the ‘Cathedral’ we all retired to the John Harvey Tavern for lunch. And it was there, as I took a long draught on Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter and looked around the table, that I marvelled the power of a humble drink in a humble pub. Beer had brought together great brewers, great beer writers and great friends. I sat down again and the banter continued.  


Beer Moment of the Year: Pete Brown

Beer Moment of the Year: Pete Brown

That was the year that was. And for Original Gravity’s Editor at Large Pete Brown, the great beer moments of the year happened on a trip to America

 

Life is too short to be indulgent when it comes to writing about beer, but as the year seems certain to immolate itself once more, Original Gravity has decided that its self-imposed rule about indulgence can be broken for once — here, then, is the team’s beer moment (s) of the year. We’ll see you in 2018, we’ve got a few things we going to do that we think we will like (you might as well, but we certainly will).

For our second moment, it’s our Editor-at-Large Pete Brown

Pete Brown, Original Gravity Editor-at-large

My beer moment of the year has to be the mini-book tour of North America I undertook to promote my new book, Miracle Brew. Most of my events took place in breweries, and my publisher is in Vermont, so, apart from flogging a few books, I got to visit some of the most exciting breweries around right now.

I kicked off with a talk at the Brooklyn Brewery, after which Brooklyn brewmaster Garrett Oliver dragged out some of his ‘ghost bottles’ for us to taste — strong, experimental beers aged in wood with a variety of different yeast and microorganisms that start to blur the boundary between beer and wine.

A few days later I was at Hill Farmstead in Vermont, watching the queue for growler fills of their New England IPAs and Belgian style beers grow outside an hour before the taproom doors opened. And then up to Toronto, a city I’ve loved for a long time, that’s now starting to transcend its beery influences and excel in styles that are different from what you might find in bars elsewhere. In 2018, keep an eye out for the Canadians.

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Tomorrow evening Original Gravity’s Publisher Daniel Neilson picks his moment of the year.


Beer Moment of the Year: Adrian Tierney-Jones

Beer Moment of the Year: Adrian Tierney-Jones

What was that? Oh, it was only 2017 passing by. Still, Original Gravity’s Editor and Beer Writer of the Year 2017, Adrian Tierney-Jones, picks out one great moment of the year

 

Life is too short to be indulgent when it comes to writing about beer, but as the year seems certain to immolate itself once more, Original Gravity has decided that its self-imposed rule about indulgence can be broken for once — here, then, is the team’s beer moment (s) of the year. We’ll see you in 2018, we’ve got a few things we going to do that we think we will like (you might as well, but we certainly will).

First up, it’s Editor Adrian Tierney-Jones

Adrian Tierney-Jones, Original Gravity Editor (and Beer Writer of the Year, I thought I’d just get that in)

No notepad, no laptop, no pen or pencil, no smartphone snapping away, no blog post or deadline, and certainly no Tweet suggesting that this is the life, but the evening that I and fellow journalist Joe Stange spent at Foerster Feine Biere in the south of Berlin lingers long in the memory. A neighbourhood bar (was it on a corner?), popular, unremarkable in its looks, but a home from home for beers with a Franconian heart. No notes were taken, just the simple pleasure of beer and conversation with a friend, and the rich honeyed tones of draft Schönramer Saphir Bock, to which I tried to return to the following evening, but was told with a smile by the barman that we’d drunk it all up the night before. Such is the simple pleasure of a beer moment well won.

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Tomorrow evening Original Gravity’s Editor at Large (and 2016’s Beer Writer of the Year) Pete Brown picks his moment of the year.