April 22, 2020 8:00:49 AM
We may not be able to enjoy a hand-pulled pint down the local right now, but there couldn’t be a better time to tap into the craft beer scene, especially when you consider the fine array of seasonal lagers and artisan brews out there.
“Craft beer is a booming industry, with around 2,000 independent craft breweries operating across the UK, producing a dazzling array of IPAs, pale ales and lagers,” says Terry Francis, co-founder of craft beer and natural wine supplier Rebellious Goods.
“What the Covid-19 lockdown has done is bring craft beer to the masses, as millions of people are housebound, abiding by strict social distancing rules and looking to try something new to stop boredom setting in.
“When the bars and restaurants shut down, we expected to see craft beer orders drop off, but actually the opposite has been the case. Not only have orders from regulars increased, but we’ve seen a surprising and refreshing surge in orders from first-time craft beer drinkers,” says Francis.
Indeed, the network of independent beer suppliers such as Rebellious Goods, have adapted quickly to the new norm, and are able to deliver quality beers to our doorsteps quickly.
“Once the virus has been eradicated, the craft beer industry could well come out the other side with a new legion of fans,” says Francis.
“Smash Maibock (£3.60, 33cl, 6.3% abv, Rebellious Goods) is brewed by Braybrooke Beer Company on a farm in Market Harborough. The Smash was brewed in December alongside the brewery’s core range. It’s a high-alcohol lager that’s incredibly smooth and intense in flavour. The brewery had a single aim, to make the best lager there is, and has done a pretty good job in achieving that aim,” says Francis.
“Lost in Control (£6, 44cl, 8.2% abv, Rebellious Goods) is a collaboration between two top-class London breweries: Pressure Drop and Howling Hops. It’s a juicy, tropical pale ale bursting with flavour. Dry-hopped with no less than four different hops, the result is an intense, yet smooth-drinking fruit basket. Expect your taste buds to tingle with a blend of mango and coconut, while the addition of oats softens the intensity, and helps masquerade the high-alcohol content.”
“Baubles of Vanity (£5.10, 44cl, 5.2%, Rebellious Goods) is a complex, well-rounded west coast pale ale, brewed in the ruins of an old Norfolk priory. Soft fruit and peach come to the fore, followed by a dry pine-needle finish. Staying true to the style, the zesty, citrus aromas are balanced well, with an underlying smooth bitterness,” says Francis.
Elsewhere, Sainsbury’s have teamed up with craft beer experts Beer Hawk to encourage hop heads try exciting new flavour profiles from innovative breweries, such as Tiny Rebel in South Wales, and as far afield as Yeastie Boys, a cult classic brewery based in New Zealand.
“Cementing Sainsbury’s as the destination for distinctive, exciting drinks, our innovative partnership with Beer Hawk enables us to bring the best and brightest stars of the craft beer market to our customers,” says Jack Banks, beer buyer for Sainsbury’s.
“The first rotation of beers have surpassed expectations, as our customers continue to explore the breadth of our craft beer range. We can’t wait to hear what they think of our next rotation in September as we continue to look for interesting beers that tap into key trends and flavours,” he adds.
Tiny Rebel Shake Down Mango Vermont IPA (£2.20, 33cl, 4.5% abv, Sainsbury’s) is deliciously fruity and hop forward, with mango adding a twist to the Vermont Session IPA.
Yeastie Boys Digital IPA (£2.40, 33cl, 5.7%, Sainsbury’s) features clean malt and a medley of citrus and tropical hop flavours. A delicious, classic IPA, expect a bold, bitter finish.
Meanwhile, Fabal, The Artisan Lager (£18, case of 6, 33cl, 4% abv, Hiver) made its debut earlier this year and the brand’s creator, Hannah Rhodes (and brains behind honey-beer brand Hiver), does things differently by using pressed, as well as malt, barley to tempt beer geeks.
“Normally as brewers, we use ‘malted’ barley. This has been lightly roasted and gives the ‘malty’ sweet taste that we associate with beer,” says Rhodes.
“Pressed barley is the same base ingredient, but instead of roasting the grain, it has been steamed and rolled (or pressed) and looks and tastes a lot like porridge oats, contributing a soft dryness to the flavour of the beer. Fabal uses a blend of roasted and pressed barley, which gives us a totally unique and refreshing balance of the two flavours in a classic lager style.”
And we think you’ll love her take on this artisanal lager, which offers a delicate, apple blossom nose, grainy malty flavours and clean, refreshingly dry finish.
A sessionable pale ale to bring your taste buds one step closer to the seaside, Southwold-based brewer Adnams have joined forces with their London mates Camden Town (home of Hells Lager), and the result of their brewing bonanza is Camden-on-Sea (12 x 33cl cans, 4.6% abv, £22.99, Adnams), an India pale lager.
Combining the flavours of their bestselling Ghost Ship Pale Ale with Camden’s Hells Lager, expect light and crisp lager notes, combined with a citrusy hoppy bite.
“These collaborations give us the chance to work with breweries we respect and admire to create something new – the best of us all. We’re looking forward to seeing our popular Ghost Ship pale ale take different forms throughout the year as we celebrate its 10th anniversary,” says Fergus Fitzgerald, head brewer at Adnams.
Another brewer marking a milestone, the team at West Berkshire Brewery are celebrating their 25th anniversary with a new pale ale among the line-up for spring and summer sipping. Easy drinking Detour Pale Ale (12 x 33cl cans, 4.5% abv, £22.24, West Berkshire Brewery) is cited as being crammed full of tropical fruit and citrus flavours, with a crisp, balanced bitterness to quench the thirst. Time to cheer for a beer!