2016, a year that so many people have loathed. The year of celebrity deaths – although these happen every year, but we’ve lost a few greats – Brexit, Donald Trump, more craft breweries being snapped up by big beer, Toblerone’s getting smaller, gorillas being shot, and…well lots of other stuff. We’re sure the internet will gladly remind you of why 2016 was so awful.
But you know what, we’ve had a pretty great year in 2016. We loved 2016, and we’re not afraid to go against the grain by shouting it from the rooftops. We’ve already had our serious blog about packaging and production and sales and whatever else, so we feel like having a bit of fun.
In 2016 we brewed 15 new beers, travelled to 5 different countries for events, attended 17 different festivals, hosted our own festival, attended or hosted about 20 other events, hired 4 new people, and won 12 different awards. So, we’ve got a lot to celebrate, and a lot to talk about. Doug, our wonderfully talented Head Brewer, is going to talk through some of the beers we made this year, then pass over to Graeme, our globe-trotting Events & Ops Manager, to reminisce about the events he’s attended, and finally Shannon’s going to gush about how warm and fuzzy it makes us feel winning awards.
Beers – Doug
From chilli to oysters to mango to everything in between, 2016 was a bit of a mad one in terms of what beers we wanted to brew. Not going to lie, we still struggle for space to brew our special beers never mind our core range, but we always find a way to get some brilliant beers out into the world and bring something new to the table.
These had to be some of the most popular beers among us lot this year, perfect during the summer. Possibly not so popular in the accounting department as we really didn’t hold back on ingredients. Things like high quality mango or passionfruit and about the best hops we had at the time played a big part in these beers.
Every beer produced needs to be balanced and that’s especially true for our interpretation of this style where acidity can vary quite a lot across the board. Gavin, James and I all agreed that an eyewatering level of acidity is detrimental to the beer so a terminal ph was chosen carefully to bring a tart, clean and refreshing acidity that sits really nicely with the fruit and dry hops.
The Holy Trinity
One of the things we got to do in 2016 was play around with different kinds of chilli, and it resulted in our “Holy Trinity” – Ancho Dark Lager, Dios Mio, and Mexicake. Three totally different styles of beer, using completely different types of chilli.
Ancho Dark Lager
This one is a great winter lager. We wanted to use a high-quality chili here so as to impart great flavour and not just heat which is usually what chilli beers lean towards. Instead of purely heat, you get a complexity coming from the hint of chili because Ancho peppers are low heat and big on flavour.
Then with the way we brewed it, the cultured lager fermentation is all about giving the beer drinkability which I think we’ve succeeded at. It’s also a beer that works very well with food, the burnt chocolate flavours pair well with grilled meats.
I think we’re fairly satisfied that chilis tie in very well with dark beer and for this we wanted to try something on the opposite end of the spectrum – fresh, zesty, hoppy.
To get a nice pepper flavour into the beer we opted for fresh jalapenos which were oven roasted and then infused in tank with the lime juice and dry hops. The real challenge in this beer was to infuse the jalapeño flavour into the beer without excessive heat. We decided for dry hops using New Zealand’s Motueka which has a nice lime characteristic and perfect for this beer, USA Citra added a nice ripe juiciness which also helped steer the beer into IPA territory.
This beer has been all about creating a marriage of flavour – balancing cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla and chili which are all very big flavours in their own right. We’ve been surprised in some way by its popularity and I think it’s because people can strongly identify with all of these big impact flavours.
As a result, we’ve now pretty much got a permanent 11% stout! The base beer is also important too – rich, smooth, having the right amount of sweetness with balance is whats important.
This is a beautiful beer with a load of complexity but it’s actually just simple combination of two great flavours – orange and bourbon.
Of course, there’s a lot more to it that that with the base beer (which is one of our favourites in its own right) providing lots of malt/fruit/spice flavour and then everything that comes with maturation in a quality bourbon barrel.
It’s got a great resemblance to the actual cocktail and for a concept beer like this, that’s exactly what we’re looking for – flavours which the customer can strongly associate with the basic concept/theme/name of the beer.
Events – Graeme
We kicked off the year with some great Burns related events down in London. Did some haggis tossing and ate Tunnock’s teacakes at Beer Boutique in Putney before heading over to BrewDog Soho and Camden for a couple of tap takeovers and more haggis chat…
February saw us back down in London for Craft Beer Rising at The Old Truman Brewery in London.
One of the busiest beer festivals in the UK, it can be a bit of a zoo at times with so much going on. It is however a great networking event and an opportunity to talk A LOT about Tempest. I had no voice left whatsoever by the last day, and didn’t fully get it back till nearly a month later.
March saw our first North Hop of the year at Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. Then it was off to Glasgow for Hippo Beers’ Great Scottish Beer Celebration at BAaD.
This is one of my favourite events to work. I like the simple format of having beer, food and music all in the one room. I think the fact the tickets were reasonably priced allowed for people to check it out, even if they weren’t that into beer yet.
Later in the month, we had a fantastic beer dinner at The Feathers Inn, Northumberland. Hard to pick a favourite from the night but the Double Shuck braised beef and oyster pie was exceptional!
April was fairly quiet on the festival front, except we did head up to Aberdeen for another North Hop. Highlights here included hanging round the bus stop like a bunch of teenagers, and downing pints of Tennents in the Holiday Inn between sessions. The dance off between Chappy from Cromarty and Matt from Fyne Ales was pretty epic. I also learned that BrewDog do a mean shot of Patron.
May was manic! We had the inaugural True North Tour in collaboration with Creedence Brewing of Northumberland and Cromarty Brewing of, like well up north. This series of joint tap takeovers / MTB’s saw us take in some of the very best pubs in Northumberland and Yorkshire. The aim being purely to showcase the brewing talents of the north. Every evening on the tour was a success and thanks to all who hosted us! A particular highlight was watching the sun set behind the Tyne bridges at The Free Trade Inn with a fresh pint (yes PINT) of BNW.
We were also delighted to be involved with the Shimano Tweedlove bike festival. We brewed and launched Totally Radler especially for the series of events. Tweedlove also included a first outing for our new beer tent on The Green in Peebles which I think made a welcome addition to Tweedlove International Expo, and should be seen at similar events in the future.
Almost immediately after this, it was time to get prepared for Hidden Door Festival. A mixed arts and culture event, last year was its second year at the abandoned (soon to be demolished) ex council lighting depot on Kings Stables Road in Edinburgh. Tempest stepped up our involvement with the festival last year by sponsoring a stage as well as providing the usual mix of core and bespoke beers for the event. The event which continued into early June seemed to be a great success! Really looking forward to seeing what they can do with an exciting new venue this year!
We attended North Hop Glasgow which was held at the cool and quirky SWG3. Highlights here definitely included Shannon’s mates chat after 3+ pints of Marmalade on Rye, and the look on Moriarty’s face when presented with a neon multi-coloured birthday cake.
By July, it was about time I got some sunshine. So, off to Barcelona!
“La Fira De Cerveses Del Poblenou” or “Poblenou Beer Festival” is an outdoor event held in pop up gazebos along a promenade off the beach in Barcelona. An invitational event featuring bars from around 40 craft breweries, the majority Spanish but others from all over Europe, held in 30+ degree sunshine was pretty much the perfect beer festival. (I do work sometimes, honest)
For pretty much anyone with connections to Edinburgh, August is always a busy month. So, I thought it’d be a great time to start planning a festival all of our own. We announced our first annual Oktoberfest was to be held on 25th September and started to get prepared.
We also attended our first brewers market at the spectacular new Wylam Brewery in Exhibition Park in Newcastle.
Early September saw a new format for the beer tent at Berwick Food and Drink festival with breweries running their own bars. Although the Friday evening wasn’t very busy, the rest of the weekend more than made up for this and I think everyone involved had a good event.
The following weekend, it was time to pack the van up again, this time for Leeds.
Having heard a lot of good things about Leeds International Beer Fest, I had been looking forward to this one for a while and it did not disappoint! Leeds town hall is a stunning venue to work in, and the layout and planning of the event was great for customers and traders alike.
The venue itself is interesting enough for people to enjoy, regardless of whether they are there for the beer. As it happened, the brewery list was superb and the food on offer was excellent too. Cheers to Maria and Darren for putting on a great weekend!
Then it was our turn to play host! Our first ever Oktoberfest was attended by over 500 thirsty drinkers from the local area, Edinburgh and some from much further afield.
We had 20+ taps pouring in our outdoor marquee with live music, food trucks and even cake and ice cream along with the obligatory brewery tours. A great time seemed to be had by all, and even the weather wasn’t that bad! We’re hoping to run similar events at the brewery in the near future so watch this space…
“So Graeme, how do you fancy going to Malaysia at the end of next week?” Er, OK!
So, with flights booked, I was off to Kuala Lumpur for the Better Beer Festival, organised by Tempest importers MyBeer. A similar style of event to the Poblenou Beer Fest, except this time held at an events space in one of Kuala Lumpur’s many upmarket shopping malls.
This was one of the more unusual settings for a beer fest that I’ve seen, but it certainly worked. It was really interesting to see how interest for fresh, quality beer is growing in Malaysia. It was great to see such high demand for beers like Red Eye Flight in such a hot climate, and I can’t say I was surprised to watch a keg of Passionfruit Berliner disappear in a couple of hours.
Next up was a last minute invitation to Craft Beer Calling 2016, also held at Wylam’s Palace of arts in Newcastle. This showcase event featured a carefully curated list of some of the best international breweries, all running their own bars within Wylam breweries fantastic new events space and within the brewery itself.
November, we must be done right? Nope. Next stop, Hong Kong!
Beertopia is another outdoor beer festival, held on Hong Kong’s waterfront, beneath the backdrop of skyscrapers. I was able to meet a couple of the people who have been pioneering craft beer in Hong Kong, as well as elsewhere around the Asia Pacific region. (Even bumped into a few friends from Malaysia!)
The beer scene in Hong Kong is already lively, with a good selection of draft outlets as well as independent bottle shops and wholesalers selling an array of foreign imports. There is undoubtedly an appetite for fresh, local beer too with around 35 breweries already producing in, and around the city. The scene in Hong Kong bears a lot of similarities to how things looked in London a couple of years ago. It’s going to be really interesting to see how this develops over the next couple of years.
Awards – Shannon
They say “write what you know”, so after having to prepare all our entry essays and forms and packing the samples and back and forth emails…it’s safe to say that I’m more than qualified to be writing about all the awards we’ve won this year!
As We mentioned earlier, we won 12 different awards this year which is something we are enormously proud of. What’s great about our team is that no one treats it like a 9 to 5 job; when Tempest wins an award, we all win it. And what’s brilliant about winning an award, as we’ve said before, is that it feels like all our hard work is being rewarded by our community, and that our way of doing things is validated. We’re all incredibly passionate about what we do and how we do things, but because we’re so caught up in the Tempest bubble day-to-day it’s easy to forget that you co-exist with hundreds and thousands of other breweries. So winning awards forces us to stop and look around and appreciate the brewing community and the craft beer industry that we’re a part of.
Anyway, enough rambling, let’s get down to business. I’m just going to talk through the awards we won, in the order we won them and chat a little bit about each one, let’s go!
Barcelona Beer Challenge
Back in March, we sent the brewers out to Barcelona Beer Festival – lucky them… – and part of that was the Barcelona Beer Challenge. They went to the ceremony, and as if a few days away in the sunshine wasn’t enough we picked up two Gold Awards! One for Saison Du Pommes for Mixed-Style Beer, and A Face With No Name for American Amber.
Funnily enough, the guys didn’t realise at first we’d won American Amber; the awards presentation displayed “Ambiguous Amber” which is what we usually describe the beer as and it took the guys a few moments to figure out it was us!
In May, Annika and I were supposed to go to the BII Scotland Awards dinner together…supposed to go. She ended up having to cancel last minute for some very important little people, so I went along myself. But we didn’t think we were going to win anyway so it was fine, I got to wear a nice dress and eat a fancy dinner.
We won Brewery of the Year! I was a bit taken aback, given I went alone – well, turns out my boyfriend was going too so not quite alone – and I did briefly consider pretending to be Annika…but I’m not confident enough I could do a convincing Kiwi accent.
Scottish Beer Awards
Well, everyone knows what went down here in September. We did put a LOT of effort into the entries for this one, entering 3 business award categories and 9 beers into the taste categories. We bought a table, the boys donned their kilts and we brought a ton of beer with us to see us through the ceremony.
In all honesty, we thought we might win a couple taste awards and we were pretty contented in that…
That is until we won 7 out of the 9 awards we applied for! I remember when they did the first award we won – Best Porter – we were sitting and as they were describing it I turned to Annika and started whisper shouting “THAT’S US THAT’S US” and she kept shaking her head saying it had to be someone else! To recap, we took home Best IPA, Best Porter, Best Speciality Beer, Best British Style, a silver for Best Pale Ale, Growth Business of the Year, and our crowning glory Scottish Brewery of the Year.
Scottish Borders Business Excellence Awards
And finally to top it all off, Annika presented to a panel and then collected a couple of awards for us in November!
We’ve always made a point of being proud to be based here in the Borders, so getting awards from our own business community here is a real honour and pleasure. We think the Scottish Borders has so much to offer in the businesses down here and we’re really proud to represent the region around the world.
We took home not only Food Producer of the Year, but also Exporter of the Year. That one is a definite point of pride, given how much effort the team – especially Annika! – puts into our export and how much it’s grown over even the last year.
I don’t know if we’re going to take home more awards in 2017, but I obviously hope we do. I have a feeling a lot of people will say 2016 was our year, but I think it was just the beginning; I know we have so much more potential and we’ve already got some insane stuff in store for 2017…so watch this space!