This Wednesday, we were lucky enough to host Weird Beard at our shop in Balham as part of our ongoing “We Brought…” series. Gregg, one of the two co-founders, and Chris, a part time brewer at Weird Beard, came across from their Acton base in west London to join us. We have had their beers in the shop from the day we opened, for very good reasons. These guys are consistently putting out some of the most exciting beers in the London beer scene – whether it is a 2.5% hopped milk stout or the soon to be released triple IPA. Having started in 2013, they quickly established themselves as a genuinely excellent brewery, being ranked as the fifth best new brewery in the world by the RateBeer website. This was no mean feat considering over 600 breweries opened that year in the US and UK alone!
In front of a packed out crowd and standing upon an upturned Delirium Tremens case, Gregg talked us through the first two beers we had drunk that evening. The first was Little Things That Kill, a punchy 3.4% session IPA that belies its low ABV. In a cool twist, we learnt that the hop profile for each batch is created by different members of the brewery. We were told that this was one of their best batches – and it just so happened to have been designed by Gregg himself. Instead of attempting to replicate a full on 7 or 8% ABV IPA, they’ve gone for the body and balance of a 5.5% beer. The aroma is very bold and could easily be coming off regular IPA. It is replicated in the flavour of the beer, with the familiar juicy tropical fruit flavours bursting in the mouth. Perhaps the only hint of the low alcohol is in the slightly thinner body and a touch of sweetness. Nevertheless, this beer was the perfect way to kickstart the night.
Next up was Marianna Trench
, by far and away their most popular beer. A 5.3% pale that uses kiwi and American hops, it’s sessionable enough for people to get through a few pints of it, and interesting enough for them to want to. Originally an all kiwi hopped beer, the recipe had to be changed after BrewDog laid claim to almost all the Nelson Sauvin coming into the country for their Punk IPA. Turning to the American hop, Citra, this beer was given just enough of a malt profile to provide a backbone for the beer, but ultimately it is all about the hops. Mango, passionfruit and grapefruit all show themselves in the flavour and aroma profile of this beer. A big citrusy finish leaves you wanting another swig.
At this point, Gregg stepped down to rest his voice and give us a chance to hand out the next beer, their American IPA, 5 O’Clock Shadow. Whilst the Little Things tries to come across as stronger than it is, the 5 O’Clock Shadow definitely falls into the category or what my dad calls “dangerous juice”. You could happily have a few of these and not notice that it’s weighing in at 7.0%! Despite its lack of booziness, all the intense traits you could want from an IPA are present – as soon as it is poured you get a pronounced tropical fruits aroma, a pithy bitterness hitting the back of your mouth. At this point in the tasting, we were taking on a little diversion from the beers at hand to find out about the beer brewed in Gregg’s honour, Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja. Since opening, Gregg has had to become less hands on with the brewing to concentrate on growing the business. This beer was named to celebrate those who work behind the scenes to keep a brewery running. Despite not having this particular beer present, I’m sure we would have all raised a glass of it to him and those like him.
So far, all the beers we had enjoyed had been from the taps, so it was time for the first bottle of the night, Saison 14. A Belgian/French beer style, saisons were originally brewed for farmworkers to drink when working in the fields because of the unsanitary nature of water in ye olden days. Plus, yaknow, who doesn’t like some beer at work! This beer style is brewed to show of the yeasts profile, with only a very gentle hopping regime. As a result you get far more of a funky aroma and flavour coming from the beer, along with a sweet, dry finish. Perfect for a hot summers day, this is a very moorish and quaffable beer.