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The Evolution of the Brew York Core Range
As many of you will know Wayne and I come from a Homebrew background. We both caught the bug quite some time ago and our lives became more and more consumed with visiting beer festivals, day trips to breweries and ever increasingly expensive equipment purchases as we pursued the holy grail of homebrew to surpass commercially produced beer.
The reason I’ve started this blog talking about home-brew is that when we made the leap up to commercial brewing we were quick frankly stunned by how few of our homebrew recipes we were able to bring with us. In our core range of six beers only our Smoked Porter, Viking DNA and our American IPA, Big Eagle remain from those days. The simple fact of the matter is that all those ultra sexy hops we’d spent years developing recipes with (Amarillo, Centennial, Citra’s, Nelson Sauvin, Motueka, Simcoe to name a few) simply were not accessible to someone new to the commercial brewing world. Multiple forces had conspired (bad harvest conditions in the US and New Zealand, increasing competition and big-brew moving into pseudo-craft) to ensure that such hops were (probably quite rightly) reserved for those that were already using them and had made a contractual commitment to their hop merchant for their supply.
At the time we were naturally quite gutted. We had some brilliant recipes founded on those hops that could now not see the light of day. We soon however began to see this as a positive. If those hops had been available to us might we not have just knocked out an American Pale based on Citra or an IPA rammed with Centennial? Now I’m sure both would have been great beers, but would they have allowed us to stand out as doing something a little different?
The beer world you see is not so different from the fashion world. Things come in and out of vogue. That might be hops or it might be specific styles (New England IPA anyone?). Thus, what might have been our Achilles heel we came to see as one of greatest strengths. We were going to have to take hops that whilst still amazing weren’t currently ‘on trend’ and make something a little more unique.
I think our biggest success from this has been our American Pale Ale, Brew York, Brew York which features the stalwart US hop Columbus, German Brewers Gold and a personal favourite in the US dwarf hop variety Summit. With this we have created a very unique and very quaffable US Pale, which is both Wayne, and I’s go to beer in our core range.
Being sensitive to the fact that hop availability, specifically for those sexier breeds was going to be tricky we therefore set about developing a core range that firstly contained hops we confidently believed we’d be able to still get well into the future and where each recipe contained at least three hop varieties so should we have supply issues or should one hop’s pricing rise prohibitively we’d still be able to adapt the recipe without the flavour morphing substantially. I have to be honest in saying we thought we were being pretty smart in doing this, but it would seem not smart enough!
Now I don’t want this blog to become a rant about Brexit or the benefits of appointing a Fascist as the leader of the ‘free-world’ but put quite simply an unusual political landscape has lead to some pretty turbulent economic times for breweries, particularly those like ourselves that are heavily dependent on imported US hops or speciality malts from Belgium or Germany.
These forces have meant that despite our aforementioned best endeavours with our recipe development we’ve had to review our core range and one beer in particular is no longer viable as a Cask Beer. The hops within Little Eagle increased in price by an average of 55% in the last year with one increasing by 93%. Passing on this cost is not possible due to the long held and out-dated view in the UK (particularly with Cask beer) that price must correlate with beer strength irrespective of the quantity or quality of the ingredients used. I could happily labour this point further, but a certain brewery the other side of the Pennine’s has already done this more justice than I ever could!
Little Eagle is therefore to be replaced in the core range with ‘X-Panda’ which will still be a Session IPA at 4.5%, but to keep up with the modern consumers insatiable demand (this includes me) for ever increasing variety it will be a hop-changing IPA where every time we brew it, we’ll throw in a new and interesting hop combination. This year we have been able to get some of the ‘sexier hops’ so this beer will also present a great opportunity to bring a broader and bolder flavour profile to our core range. The 1st edition of X-Panda will feature Chinook, Citra and Simcoe as we at last bring back another recipe from our pre-Brew York portfolio. For fans of Little Eagle, don’t despair, we will continue to produce it in Can and it will make occasional appearances in cask.
Along similar lines another beer in our core range will shortly undergo a metamorphosis. JARSA, our 3.7% Session Strength American Pale Ale contains a hop that we love that has the endearing name of ADHA529. As you might guess from it’s name it’s an experimental variety, but as much as we loved it we would appear to be in the minority as this hop has not sold well enough to go forward into wider-scale planting. We are therefore taking the opportunity to change JARSA into an hop-changing Session Pale Ale, where we will mix-up the hop combos each time we brew it.
Our Core Range moving forward will therefore be as follows:
Big Eagle – 6.5% American IPA (Keg only)
Brew York, Brew York – 4.9% American Pale Ale (Cask & Keg)
X-Panda – 4.5% (Morphing) American Session IPA (Cask & Keg)
JARSA – 3.7% (Morphing) American Session Pale Ale (Cask & Keg)
Viking DNA – 5.0% Smoked Porter (Cask only)
Maris the Otter – 3.9% English Bitter (Cask only)
We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the various exciting versions of X-Panda and JARSA that we have lined up for you in the next few months.
Our bird is cooked! Long live the Panda!