As feature Black Isle’s first two seasonal beers of 2020 in our Beer of the Month, Aidy Fenwick gives us an insight into the organics brewery’s approach to limited-edition brews…
At Black Isle Brewery we brew great organic beer – and have done for 21 years – but even now there’s still a lot of confusion as to what this means. It’s simple really; we only use organic ingredients, grown on farms without chemicals, as nature intended. In fact, since we opened, we’ve bought over 125 acres of land around our brewery and turned it into a working organic farm, so you could say we take this pretty seriously!
So, when we decided to add limited edition brews to our core line-up, we knew we had planned these beers around seasonal organic ingredients. But we don’t see this as a limitation. The seasonal program allows us to flex our innovative muscles and learn new techniques, it’s an exciting process for us!
The initial recipe concepts are a collaborative effort between the brew team and sales and marketing; however, we leave the recipe development to the professionals. We’re very lucky to have two amazing brewers, Morgan and Thorsten, who have very different brewing backgrounds, so we have a wealth of knowledge to draw from.
Ultimately, our aim is to create beers that enable us to reach new customers who are looking for something different, and also engender a sense of anticipation within our existing customer base.
When we’ve got our beer line-up ready our wonderful in-house designer will create label artwork that reflects the story and flavours of the beer; it’s always fun to see what she’ll come up with.
This year we will be releasing six new beers, starting with 2020 Vision which is currently available. We designed this to be the perfect beer to ease you into the new year. It’s a 2.8% Clementine Grissette, low abv, but packed full of flavour – and we’re really happy with how it turned out.
In March we launch Morocco, which is a white IPA. Our test batches have been beautifully balanced, with big aromatic hops, fresh orange peel and coriander. With a gentle nod to a Witbier, it’s an IPA for those who are looking for a wee bit of variety in their hoppy beers.
Across the rest of the year you’ll see us release a Gooseberry Sour, a New England IPA (back by popular demand), a Blackcurrant Porter and a Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch Ale as part of our Colonel Custard series.
2020 is also going to be a big year for us with some great collaborations in the works. We’ve just had the team from Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes (BFM) at the brewery, bringing their unique Saison yeast culture with them for use in the secondary fermentation of our collab. In addition to this we currently have a portion of the Schwarzbier we brewed with Salt Beer in 2019 ageing in Heaven Hill barrels – and this is just the tip of the iceberg!