The craft beer boom is in full swing in the UK, and despite some wild theories it’s about to burst, there are plenty of new breweries arriving on the scene. 2018 is set to be another great year for the industry and these are the ones to watch.
I’ve compiled this round-up not just based on breweries that are launching in 2018, but also ones that are gaining a lot of respect and momentum. The latter being ones I think will have a breakthrough year.
With so many young and new breweries on the scene it’s hard to pick just a few so this is by no means an exhaustive list. And I’d like to shout out a few that deserve it including Lost & Grounded, Twisted Barrel, Canopy and Wilde Child. It’s not that they don’t deserve a place but they seem to be doing just fine without being highlighted in a piece like this.
Justifications aside, here they are (in no particular order):
Mike and Luci, based in Reading, are Double-Barrelled and the name comes from their surname rather than ageing beers in barrels (although watch this space). They ditched their jobs, traveled for 11 months visiting 29 countries doing research.
“We launched at CBR18 (to an amazing response) with what we’re currently brewing on, which is a 100L commercial pilot kit, currently in our garage! We are in the process of finalising a lease for a much bigger site in Reading – with enough room for our new 15BBL kit, multiple fermenters, as well as a tap room, canning line & lots of lots of barrels. We are jumping in with two feet & there really is no looking back.”
The couple plan on “brewing what we love to drink” which means rich stouts and mouth twitching sours. You can look out for them at various pubs around Reading and occasionally at the Hop Locker in London.
“We really want to get into barrel aging & with our name definitely some double-barrel aging too which all takes time & patience. In the meantime we’ll be playing around with kettle souring & experimenting with recipes we want to put into barrels, as well as more hop forward juicy pales, because they are always great to drink!”
It’s all very exciting.
Little Earth Project
Nestled in the Suffolk countryside, Little Earth Project used to be a small cask brewery making beer mostly for a nearby pub. In 2015, the pub changed ownership and were no longer interested so Tom and the team changed things dramatically.
“The focus is in using wild yeast in at least some form in all our beers. We also use as much local ingredients as possible. We grow our own barley and hops and forage for hedgerow fruit and flowers. Most of what we produce has been oak aged as well and we love the complexity various oak vessels can bring to the beer.”
These wild beers, often farmhouse style but also darker ones too, have been getting rave reviews and are getting more and more in demand.
In 2018, “We are taking on the pub next door in June so that is obviously really exciting. We want it to remain a great local pub but selling amazing beers, not just from ourselves but from some of the other amazing craft breweries popping up locally. We have also recently reorganised the brewery so we can fit in more barrels. This will allow us to produce up to three times more beer and allow us to start blending batches together to create a more refined product.”
Sticking in East Anglia and Duration will be a farmhouse brewery set idyllically in the ruins of an old priory in Norfolk. It’s the brainchild of Bates, formerly of Brew by Numbers and Meat Liquor, and Miranda who want to re-connect beer back to it’s farm origins.
“Our vision is to build a destination farmhouse brewery that is pioneering in both WHAT we create and what we GIVE back to the land and the people that help us today and in the future ,” says Bates.
The brewery will focus on an output including hoppy pales, saisons (classic and agriculturally driven), a traditional pilsner as well as spontaneous and mixed fermentation beers.
While preparations for the 20hL German brew house are made – including a koelschip, foeders and barrels – Duration is travelling the length of the country (and abroad) to brew collaborations with many top breweries including Cloudwater, Gipsy Hill and Amundsen.
Those will wind up as things get moving in Norfolk. “One idea we are toying with for the second half of the year is to release a foundation range of just our own beers, we’ve been scoping out how we might go about this. It would just be one or two and there are lot of conditions that need to be met for us to favour making a small range ourselves before our build out is done – the right facility, the right kit and of course us having full involvement making the beer from brew day to pack day, not just phoning it in.”
Brewer Justin describes the brewery as “bringing other Tribes from different creative industries into the brewing process.” You might know Two Tribes as the brewery behind the Island Records beer, but they’re much more than that.
Two Tribes, in a similar vain to Signature, is about more than just beer. The brewery is influenced by the creativity of music, food and art. “It is essentially what inspires us to do what we do,” says Justin.
Most recent and notable is that Two Tribes opened up its own taproom in London’s Kings Cross which contains a micro-brewery. The cool and compact space sits in the Tileyard Studios, an apt place since it’s a creative hub.
Venture to the hidden treasure and you’ll find a range of beers including IPAs, lagers, goses and more (including a range of guest beers). My personal favourite is the Urban Rye IPA. Justin says to expect DJs, bands, art exhibitions and food trucks.
Breweries don’t get much smaller than Boxcar, which consists of just two people. Sam runs the brewery in terms of operation and Stephen handles the business side. Boxcar started off the radar in 2016 but didn’t start pushing beers out until the summer of 2017 thanks to Mother Kelly’s distribution.
Now past it’s official first year, Boxcar doesn’t have a core line-up and may never do.
“The recipes are always evolving, with different ingredients being explored. We make a lot of pale, hoppy beers – mainly because we love drinking them – but we’ll putting out stouts, fresh saisons and wits as well,” said Sam.
Recent success came at Craft Beer Rising where feedback, from both punters and peers, was “unbelievably positive”. The range included a NEIPA called Muse made with Gipsy Hill and BIG-001 a Mosaic and vanilla tripel made with Solvay Society – both of which I featured in a round-up of the best beers at CBR.
Now moved up from a 50- to 250 litre kit, the guys are struggling to meet demand but a big jump to 1,800 litres is coming so you can expect to see the beers around more.
“Expect more hoppy pale beers and a few other styles until the brewpub is operational. After we’re set up, we’ll aim to brew a wider range of styles so everyone visiting the site has something to appeal to them,” says Sam.
The sad news is that the distinctive stubby bottles used have been discontinued so cans might be the solution.
Those in the know are excited about Earth Project, which is the brainchild of Jenn Merrick – formerly head brewer at Beavertown and previously from Dark Star and Meantime.
Jenn says, “Earth Station is a project designed to bring craft beer to an as-yet-untapped part of East London, to serve a social mission and create a beautiful quality of life for myself and my neighbours.”
The brewery will be in Royal Docks and is part of the Mayor of London’s regeneration plans for the area. Create London has commissioned a building which will house the brewery as well as community events, youth groups, education and more.
The name comes from the array of communication satellites that previously sat on the site.
As well as delivering world class beers, Earth Station aims to nurture its staff and the local community. A social enterprise company (CIC) will “deliver education, apprenticeships and job opportunities to local people as well”.
Building work is still in progress and brewing won’t start properly until autumn. However, “We have got a few beers up our sleeves though and will be showing up at few summer festivals, keen to give people the opportunity to try them and start making connections,” teased Jenn.
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