There is an awful lot of talk about sustainability in beer and brewing, and that’s a very good thing. Not just because all industries need to find ways to reduce the impact of their operations on the environment, but because the sustainability drive creates new challenges. When breweries are challenged, the good ones get creative, and when the creative juices get flowing, you know that very often great beer is not far behind. As a result, we see an increasing range of special beers coming to market that have a sustainability story as their inspiration.
Hand Brew Co. in their typical no-nonsense style took this thinking to the next level and rather than simply develop a new one-off beer they made the brave decision to experiment with one of their popular core range recipes instead.
Brook House Hops worked alongside Production Manager Kate Hyde to support this bold brewing initiative and in this article she tells us how they got on;
What was the inspiration behind this collab?
“Initially the 795 project started with a conversation internally about how we could reduce the Carbon Footprint and air miles on our beers – certainly our core range.
We’d recently switched our house bittering hop from an imported Magnum to a local Pilgrim. We have a fair few New World dry hopped Pales in our range and there’s not much we could do about that but we wondered if it might be able to bring our Pilsner closer to home without compromising on the flavour.
That involved consulting with Brook House on hops, Crisp on malts and striking up a relationship with WHC Labs through Brook House too.
The name 795 refers to the collective mileage of all the ingredients in the 2000 ltr batch we brewed with Brook House. Apart from the yeast, everything came from mainland Britain and used road transport only. I guess we’ve drawn ourselves a line in the sand and maybe the next iteration of this beer will be 695!
Which hops were used and how did you use them?
After consulting with the Brook House team we settled on Progress and Goldings with a view to recreating the noble earthy and spicy characters of the Saaz and Hersbrucker that we might normally use.
We layered up various additions towards the end of boil and added a pop in the Whirlpool to boost both flavour and aroma and we were really pleased with the complex profile we ended up with, really bringing the best out of these varieties.
Specifically, we’ve picked up on the crispness and clean herbal notes that complimented the bready malt character, finishing with just a kiss of honey.
How did you choose your malt and yeast?
To focus on bringing down the air miles we wanted to use a British malt, but have been underwhelmed with some UK Pilsner malts in the past so we decided to stick with what we know! This product uses no proanthocyanidins (polyphenols) – and generally makes for a much milder flavour and clearer wort with sweet honey notes – pretty perfect for a Pilsner I’d say!
For yeast we went back to WHC Labs. We used one of their liquid strains in our Women’s Day Hopfenweisse and were really pleased with the results. This time we used their Einstein German Lager Yeast. We finished off by carbonating naturally using the spunding valve and were rewarded with a really rich, nourishing product with a luxurious head
Should all brewers be trying to use more British hops in their beer?
I think brewers should use the best ingredients they can for the product they want to make. There will always be times when British hops are just not appropriate for the style of the beer you’re after, but we’ve been integrating them more and more into our recipes recently, with really pleasing results. What’s been nice has been shaking up our idea of what we ‘should’ be using to elicit a certain beer style or quality. I’m definitely excited to use more in the future.
Are the quality of British hops good enough for the modern craft brewer/ drinker?
Quality-wise I believe we’ve seen some really great products come in from Brook House. Are they good enough for the modern drinker? That’s very subjective, but what’s nice about the modern craft beer scene is that it’s not just Hazy IPAs, there’s a real interest in a diverse range of styles and the British hops we’ve been using have definitely held their head up in that evolved brewing and drinking landscape.
What has been the customer reaction to Sustainable Pils 795?
Really great, so much so that we are already discussing a rebrew! I think it’s a touch softer than our German Pils with a slightly more aromatic quality and the reduced bitterness has resonated with palates that have maybe become accustomed to the lower IBUs in the newer style of Pales and IPAs.
What has been your experience of Brook House Hops?
We’re really happy with our relationship with Brook House Hops. They’ve got us out of a hole or too with the odd spot order here and there and their range of home-grown varieties is really interesting. On top of that we’ve got a lot of technical advice and support in the past that we’ve put to good use.
Hand Brew Co. brewery is based in Worthing, West Sussex. Their state-of-the-art high quality, steam-heated brewery also demonstrates their focus on sustainability and energy-efficient brewing. They are deeply embedded in and passionate supporters of their local communities. Their popular on-site taproom opens on Friday and Saturday, they also own pubs in Worthing (Toad in the Hole) and nearby Brighton (Hand in Hand), where you can go to sample their magnificent beers.