Welcome to our first ever newsletter. Luke writing here. This might be a bit lengthy since it is the first ‘edition’.
Brewing activities moved at an unhurried pace the first part of 2023 but with two festivals in August and Christmas markets to brew for, things are picking back up. We consciously slowed things down after a flurry of markets in 2021 & 2022, which left us rather exhausted whilst trying to keep up with paperwork, brewing itself, and our day jobs in the background.
Introducing ‘the three H’s’ – a concise way to share Highlights, Headaches and Horizons:
- Our online shop appears quite functional! We hope brew selection and check-out experience is straight forward but please let me know if there any glitches.
- Rachel started an entirely new career in Financial Planning in 2022 and keeps busy with many modules and exams. I started a new job back in 2022 too, although staying within the scientific field. I work for a small start-up who spun out from the University of Cambridge. We make biodegradable materials from natural sources which replace single-use plastic. There are three other brewers in the company and so there is much talk about beer.
- Greene King brewery tour: I arranged a visit with work colleagues, some of whom weren’t familiar with the lovely town of Bury St. Edmunds. Some find the business practices of GK controversial. I focussed on the educational experience and thoroughly enjoyed the tour. I must admit, GK IPA fresh on cask was delicious. It’s interesting to see how GK’s newer releases are relating to a changing market and to learn that the majority of GK revenue is from food sales. GK are a food business first, and a brewery second.
- Royal Society of Chemistry webinar: Rachel and I gave a talk to the Royal Society and members of the public regarding business background and future plans. You can watch the recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwAnz4dFSlw
- Seeing the unseeable with microscopes: I used the microscope at work to view wild microbes in our batch of Laxton apple cider continuously cultured from the 2022 season. Yeasts were easily visible, but the small sizes of bacteria are at the limits of what a light microscope can clearly discern – some pictures embedded here. The descendants of these microbes made our batch of wild Laxton cider, which is available to buy in our online shop. In the meantime, the culture has been inoculated into the occasional leftover wort. A wild brown ale awaits taste-testing.
- West Highlands Way hike: We completed the 96-mile (actually, over 100!) walk over 6 days and had a few opportunities to sample some Scottish beer along the way. I am primarily a lager drinker and found WEST’s St. Mungo Helles, poured on home turf, absolutely bang on. The gentle sweet maltiness and low hop character was harmonious to my buds. Not a single hazy IPA was in sight at the brewery.
- Mentoring a biochemistry student in brewing: Lucy is about to start her second year on an MSc Biochemistry course at UEA and joined me for a brewday making our next Experimental Series. Look out for a Sumac and Enigma pale.
- Overcarbonation: After a few months in the can, our brown ale tends to pour a glass of foam first, and beer second. The dark art of can-conditioning and the behaviours of different yeasts over time is keeping me on my toes and is a phenomenon I am more fully characterising over time. I have a couple cases of brown ale I cannot sell without pissing off customers . . . . . so here’s to many beef & brown ale stews!
- A headache, literally. We’ve both got COVID at the time of writing – third time’s a charm!
- We are switching up bedrooms to do more business! To make the most of space in our home, we’ve turned our master bedroom into a double office, facilitating work-from-home days and, most importantly, a comfortable and productive space to grow the business online. And sleeping now happens in our smallest bedroom/closet!
- More Experimental Series. There are too many ideas for new brews so it’s a case of prioritising. Saison fermentations have proven extremely robust, especially in light of can-conditioning, so expect more of them generally. I’ve found that fermenting cold supresses the typical ‘funk’ associated with saison fermentations, providing a more neutral canvas to layer in additional flavours, such as fruit or spice additions. Also, discussions with my grandad regarding old times in India has inspired me to make a beer with tea. My homework is to investigate sourcing leaves from Jharkhand province.
Thanks for reading. If you have any thoughts on the above, I would love to hear from you. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Luke & Rachel