Our brand-new collaboration beer with McColl’s Brewery is a malt-forward, British Heritage IPA that pays tribute to our wee island’s rich brewing tradition and puts the emphasis not on hops but malt for a change. Danny McColl tells us its story…
First of all, how have things been at McColl’s Brewery since we last spoke? You guys seem to have been busy releasing plenty of exciting new beers…
We are well, thank you; it’s been an interesting year to say the least. We’ve learnt a hell of a lot, both skills wise and about ourselves, all of which are helping us improve our beers, the way we do business, and our plans for the future.
During lockdown we launched a successful Crowdfunder campaign to renovate, expand and relaunch our taproom, which now has eight taps, a full drinks menu and scran (all from small indie producers from the North East).
We also took the time to get creative during lockdown which resulted in some great beers being brewed that weren’t on our schedule and we have a hell of a lot planned for this winter too.
Onto what we’re here for: End of October, our brand-new collaboration beer. Before we jump into some of the incredible ingredients showcased in there, where did the idea to brew a Heritage IPA come from?
The idea had been floating around the brewery for a very long time, probably 2 or 3 years now, but the opportunity never presented itself and, especially with lockdown happening, it was firmly put on the shelf. Then, through numerous (and long) conversations with your man Rob (Flavourly’s Head Buyer) we found out that we both share an equal passion for the more subtle flavours beer can deliver, and especially those offered up by malt. From there, the idea developed from a ‘malt-forward’ beer on to specifically using Chevallier malt and the rest just fell into place.
Moving to the recipe, we’ll start with the malt. You’ve included Crisp Maltings’ Chevallier Heritage Malt, which we’ve featured in the magazine previously; how did you decide on using that, and what will it bring to beer?
It was really the only choice; we almost designed the beer to fit around Crisp’s Chevallier Heritage Malt to be honest. It offered the sweetness and body that we both love in beers but more importantly the flavour the malt brings to this beer is right at the centre.
Expect to notice the malt in this beer, its not a blank canvas for the hops or yeast. Its very malty, with a bready and almost stone fruits aroma plus a sweet, deep fruit flavour.
The yeast in this beer, Hammond’s Edwardian Yeast Strain, is something I’ve never encountered before? How did you get a hold of it and what can you tell us about it?
The yeast was supplied by BrewLab, Sunderland, due to their continued work to retain these traditional strains. Hammond’s Brewery was based in Bradford around 1900 and produced a variety of different beers. The yeast appears to be their house strain, used across different styles and ABV’s within the brewery, and with a relatively neutral flavour profile and its less efficient ability to convert sugars in to alcohol it will let the malt shine through even more.
Finally, on the recipe, you’ve opted for a all British hop bill, which is quite unusual in a modern craft beer. How did you land on Endeavour, Fuggles, and East Kent Goldings, and what do they bring to the beer?
Obviously we wanted to retain a level of authenticity to the beer so British varieties were the first choice, and with Fuggles and EKG you get a a much softer, rounder bitterness plus very underrated spicy, earthy flavours that will interact with the malt character brilliantly.
As for Endeavour it’s a great hop with a slightly more contemporary aroma of grapefruit and lime, but which wouldn’t run riot over the malt.
And lastly, what does the future hold for McColl’s Brewery? Any more releases we should be watching out for?
We have a load of new releases this winter, most notably our Rioja Barrel Aged Beer series in mid-November, including a tarte Best Bitter (5.7%), our seasonal Beetroot Biere de Garde (7.7%) and an ultra-complex Botanical Belgian Quadruple. Plus, two very alternative collaborations (eyes peeled) and a few more surprises too.
Interview by Kevin O’Donnell