For those who have been shopping with us for the past year, you might remember that back in December 2014 we headed down to local brewery Belleville and collaborated on our very own shop beer, launched just in time for Christmas. You can read up about this brew on our blog here.

Now we had a great time brewing (despite the fact it was a freezing cold December day) and we always intended to collaborate with someone else in the new year, however this kind of got pushed back somewhat due to how busy you lot of lovely customers were keeping us in the shop. However, we’re delighted to say that we finally pulled our fingers out and last week we headed down to London Beer Lab’s brewery in Loughborough Junction to brew up a big bold hoppy red IPA.

We chose to work with London Beer Lab not only because we’ve been pretty impressed with the beers they’re making but also because they originally setup with their raison d’être being to encourage people to learn to brew. Indeed this makes up a significant part of what they do, putting on brewing schools at their arch in Brixton every weekend and we’d definitely recommend them if you are keen to try your hand at making some beer. We like their ethos plus they’re a pretty decent bunch of people so it seemed like a good fit.

So it was that we found ourselves rocking up to their (commercial size) brewery which they actually share with Clarkshaws Brewery, making them one of a very small number of co-operative brewing companies. The mash tun & kettle are shared but each brewery has their own fermenting vessels into which they put their respective brews. All this makes for a busy arch space but busy beats quiet any day so we were happy to get stuck in from the off by helping out mashing in the grains that would provide the canvas, colour & body of our beer.

The muscles got a good work out as we got stuck into stirring the mash, contributing to a broken paddle (sorry London Beer Lab). After an hour we were ready to watch as our beautiful deep red wort (pronounced ‘wurt’) very slowly transferred in to the kettle. We tasted it straight out of the mash tun, a very sweet yet undeniably malty liquid, not unpleasant by any means but not something you’d want too much of, at least not at this stage of the process.
Next up was getting the hops together ready for the boil, always a fun process for hopheads who get to dip their heads into bags of fresh hops and take themselves off to hop heaven. We chose to go with an all American hop bill of Simcoe, Mosaic & Citra which will give us plenty of pine, citrus and tropical fruits in the aroma and a decent level of bitterness suitable for the 6.5% ABV that we’re shooting for with this beer.
We added the hops at the appropriate times and watched (and smelt) as our brew went from sweet sticky liquid to began transforming into something much more akin to the beers we love. Despite the rain outside, the brewery was warm and alive with the steam & beautiful aroma of hops & malt being boiled together in a beautiful fusion. The liquid we transferred into fermenters is now transforming into beer as the yeast work their little hearts out transforming the fermentable sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

We’re now just working on the name and label design to finish off the beer – if you have any name suggestions then we’d love to hear them.

All in all it was a great day spent brewing with London Beer Lab, thanks to those guys for hosting us. The beer will be available in both keg and bottle in the shop in the coming weeks so watch this space.