They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Next Step

Home brewing is all the rage at the moment. That's certainly the case if last night was anything to go by. The Leeds Homebrewers meet up at Mr Foleys the other day seemed to be an upmost hit, and all the beers I tried were on fantastic form, a true success of a night, and great fun was had by all.

Dave from @broadfordbrewer infamy has just posted an interesting piece about where he thinks he could or may take his home brewing in the future. It got me thinking and it fits in quite nicely, because this week I've been drinking quite a few beers from a 'basement brewer' who's poised to take his beers 'into the light' so to speak, and go mainstream with his creations. It's what could be seen as the 'next step' of a homebrewer to commercial brewer.

Nigel Poustie makes Sunbeam Ales.

He's been making them, developing recipes, and coming up with a whole range of beers for about two and a half years now. He still brews from home, producing 25l batches every 2 or 3 weeks, and is currently procuring equipment to be able to produce 50l batches.

Once 50l is attainable he wishes to register as an official brewery and start paying duty so he can start properly selling his wares. In the first five years he told me he wants to establish a good name, become an established Yorkshire brewery, and start selling his beers to specialist beer shops like Beer Ritz. Until then, and while his beers are not legally sellable, you can get any information or pose any questions to Nigel himself by emailing; (until he goes official)

He's a man with ambition, but what about the beers themselves? Well you may have noticed that the labels claim these beers are award winning. And in fact they are! In October of last year, Nigel entered 5 of his ales into the UK National Homebrewer competition, 3 of which won rosettes. The Honey and Lavender Ale won second place in the Speciality Category, and the judges even gave it 'world class beer' points. His Pale Ale won second place in the Blond Ale Category, and his Wheaty blonde was prized third place in the same category.

I received 6 of the ales Nigel makes, and below are a few quick tasting notes on each:

Extra Special Ale 5.2% - A ruby brown coloured ale with an inviting caramel/toffee malt aroma. It's smooth and robust. It reminds me quite a bit of some Thwaites beer. A great marmalade, toffee and dried malt flavour is complemented by some spice creeping in the finish.

Honey & Lavander 4.9% - A pale gold beer with a lively carbonation. Lemon, dry straw and a hint of honeycomb come through in the aroma. It's a soft beer, floral and really fruity. Quite drying and rather refreshing. Superbly moorish!

Wheaty Blonde 4.2% - Another pale gold beer. Big on fruits in the aroma, I'm getting grapefruit, orange and lemon aromas. The flavour is full of floral zest and a long drying peppery finish. Some banana and bubblegum in the body. Light but packed with flavour.

Best Bitter 4.5% - Dark amber in colour. A nice caramel malt aroma with fruity overtones; lemon and orange zest is quite prominent. It's bitter indeed in the flavour. Dry straw and similar flavours to the aroma, it's a perfectly balanced and easy drinking beer.

IPA 5.3% - A fantastic dark amber appearance. An intense fruity aroma, you get lots of mangos, peaches and lychees, but you can sense a good underlying malt bill here. Really rich on the fruity malt flavour, and it has a very nice balance of bitter sweet with a long lasting, almost peppery, drying finish.

Stout 3.6% - I don't think I've ever had a stout at this strength, but it beats quite a few commercial ones I've had! It's perfect darkness. Aromas of coffee, biscuit malts, chocolate orange and a little hazelnut flow from the glass. It's got a great roasted, and almost dairy quality for such a weak Stout. It's light in body, but full on in flavour.

Those were the six beers I was given, and to be completely honest, if someone gave me them blind I'd have no idea that they were made by someone in their own home. The whole range is of an excellent and truly eye opening quality. This is the closest I've come to trying a homebrew that's fully fit for commercial release, fact.
    When will Nigel present his wares for public scrutiny? Only time will tell, but I can guarantee you that when he does, his name will be one to watch. I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors, in this current climate with small brewers popping up all over the place, it can be hard to make a name for yourself. If you can make consistently high quality beers though, people will become loyal to your brand and the beers you make.

Share your passion with others, make the beers you want, persevere through adversity and create a name for yourself, but most of all; just have fun doing what you love - making beer.

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