We’re inspired by many things here at the brewery, whether that’s by a single ingredient, or a concept, or a style of beer. Oftentimes, our limited edition beers will develop and change and evolve over the course of the production process. We might change an ingredient, or add one, or come up with a new idea.
Marmalade on Rye is one of our most well-loved seasonal beers, it’s the most commonly referred to beer that we make when people tell us what their favourite is. We’ve been making it for years now, and in the latter half of this year it too evolved into something new. The result, is The Old Fashioned.
The cocktail from which it gets its name is the original cocktail, concocted in the United States of America. Whiskey, bitters, sugar, and sometimes a twist of orange peel. Simple, as classics so often are. When we thought about what to create as our next experiment in barrel aging, this cocktail sprung to mind; what if we could re-imagine it in a beer? Could we use techniques with hopping and barrel aging to recreate that same flavour and enjoyment you would get from the drink? Picking such an iconic cocktail to recreate was definitely setting ourselves a major challenge in balancing flavours; people have certain expectations of what an Old Fashioned tastes like, and we can’t imagine the reviews would be particularly positive if the beer wasn’t at least faintly reminiscent of one.
But, our brewers are a talented lot, and through constant monitoring and taste testing throughout its aging process, we reckon we’ve cracked it.
With this being our last release of 2016, we wanted it to be something special. So that carried into how we were going to package it. First was the size, and we’ve went with our first limited release beer in our 660ml bomber bottles. A great size for sharing, much in the way you would a bottle of champagne and it’s certainly a celebratory beer.
Second, was the labelling. Over the course of the last year, we’ve made it part of our identity to have unique labels that reflect the beer that’s inside. We wanted this one to reflect the cocktail and how special the beer inside is, and so that brought us to the idea that we could do almost a bourbon style label as a nod to both the cocktail and the barrels it was aged in, but with some gold foiling and a nice, textured paper stock to show just by looking at it that it’s something a bit more special.
And third, you might notice, as well as it being our first cocktail inspired beer it’s also the first time we’ve ever wax dipped something. We loved the look of wax dipped bourbon bottles, and thought the pop of rich red would look brilliant against the off-white and gold on the label.
Plus every bottle is hand labelled and wax dipped by the very people who brewed it. Which may beg the question, if they were able to hand label every bottle…how many bottles are there?
With this being our last release of 2016, we wanted it to be something special. As a result, there are less than bottles, or 75 cases. That’s really not a lot of beer, so if you want to join us in drinking it you’ll need to act fast.
It was quite the process getting it to the stage where it was ready to be released. We actually expected to release it much sooner, but given our dedication to quality we couldn’t release it until it was just right. With it being bottle conditioned, and the brewery being so cold at this time of the year, all 900 bottles have been sitting in the toasty warmth of the brewers’ office for the last couple months to give them the temperature and time they need to carbonate and condition. We’ve been testing them now and again, and at long last they’re ready to go into the world.
This is 2016’s swansong to Tempest, a year that many will say they’re glad to see the back of. In a way, so are we. This year gave us see a glimpse of our true potential since moving here to our new brewery in 2015; we released more new beers than ever before, we hired new people, we hosted our own festival, we won a crazy amount of awards…but we’re ready to say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017 which will hopefully be even more successful.
But back to the beer.
The hard-and-fast details are that it’s a 9.5% ABV Rye Imperial Pale Ale aged in Heaven Hill bourbon casks. Choosing one of our double IPA’s to barrel age takes a bit of tinkering to do, as IPA doesn’t usually age well; the hops go stale so people don’t tend to attempt it, but we wanted to find a way to do it successfully. Therefore, we didn’t hop it before barrel aging, and instead focussed on the ginger and orange before it went in, and dry hopped it afterwards almost like adding bitters to a cocktail.
The best short-hand description of what it’s actually like comes from Gavin’s blurb on the label:
“Rich and smooth with intense vanilla and spice balanced with a twist of citrus fruit, ginger and a refreshing hop bitterness. We’ve taken this imperial pale ale to another level of complexity, and hopefully done justice to what is a fantastic combination of flavours”
Don’t reckon we need to say much more than that, you’ll just need to get yourself a bottle and judge for yourself whether or not we have done it justice.
From all of us here on the team, we hope you had a wonderful new year, and all the best for 2017.