Inside The Bears Den: Electric Bear Brewery

At Flavourly, we made a commitment a long time ago to bring the most creative of creative breweries right to your doorstep. The kind of beers that break boundaries, which strike electricity into the heart of the scene and which roar louder than a famished grizzly waking up in spring – and we think we might just have found the perfect mix.

Bath’s Electric Bear Brewery are only two years old but these fledgling brewers have already built their den, mothered their young and now they’re sharing the fruits of their labour with the world.

They’ve taken the traditional brewing culture of their natural habitat in Bath and merged it with the craft scene to get us more excited than Yogi Bear at a picnic basket. We’re excited and so should you be. Founder Chris Lewis explains:

“Before we came along in 2015, the breweries in and around Bath were brewing traditional real-ale for cask. What we wanted to do was to bring something new, fresh and different to Bath, and with the beers that we make, and our brewery taproom, I think we are succeeding in doing that. We basically wanted to get some of the magic fairy dust that has been sprinkled on Bristol where the brewing scene is very strong, and so many great, nationally recognised breweries have grown up in the past few months and years.

“We live in fortunate times where creativity and experimentation in brewing is greater and more adventurous than it has ever been. Beer is global and has been around for millennia, but it has never been as good, as available or as diverse as it is right now.

“As a brewery, to be a part of this evolving and unprecedented scene feels like a real privilege and is incredibly exciting.”

Electric Bear was founded in August 2015 off the back of Chris’ hobby-cum-obsession with home brewing. A beer-drinker’s brewer, Chris loves the culture and style of artisanal brewing, and combined with his striking ambition and humble character, he wanted to put something back into the scene he’d taken so much from. Chris cites the plethora of fellow brewers and breweries as his major inspirations in taking this leap, something which is as wonderfully refreshing and intriguing as the beer Electric Bear brews. There’s always going to be something rousing and honest about someone making a living out of a hobby, no matter the industry.

The name Electric Bear is also symbolic of the old meets new mantra which runs through the brewery. The Bear Brewery originally stood in Bath before becoming the victim of WWII Baedeker bombing raid in 1942, and the name stands as a proud tribute to their Somersetian roots. The Electric comes from how the brewery powers its brewhouse kettle (they use a ‘copper’ to boil the wort during brewing), but it’s not just their name, their beer or how they brew that makes this brewery unique.

“We are a small, independent, family-owned Bath-based brewery making fresh, natural, interesting, delicious, experimental beers, packaged in-house and sold nationally, and, though it’s early days for our exports, internationally,” explains Chris. “In this respect, we are unique. Though it’s tough to use the word ‘unique’ in a world where there are so many other breweries that we admire; in truth, every smaller brewery is unique in that the team, equipment, techniques, ideas, conversations, likes and dislikes, branding, etc. is different and it is the combination of these things that is ‘uniqueness.’”

Since launching two years ago, this ambitious and modest brewery has churned out an incredible 50 different beers. It’s somewhat indicative of their experimental and brave nature, using small-batch kits to trial recipes and create all kinds of crazy, crafty concoctions. Only two survived the hibernation of their experimental winter – Edison, a 4.8% British Pilsner and Livewire, a 5.4% American Pale Ale – which, given their emphasis on quality, speaks for them. Their biggest seller and flagship is 4.2% American Pale Ale Werrrd!, a “real quaffable, crushable, crisp thirst quencher of a beer” brewed with Centennial, Citra and Mosaic hops.

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Electric Bear are also establishing themselves as a leader in the production of dark beers, with some of them amongst the brewery’s biggest sellers. Mochachocolata Ya Ya!, Cherry Blackout, Split Milk and the recently canned porter Inspector Remorse continue to gain fans and acclaim across the country.

Their experimental edge is also backed up by a willingness and excitement to collaborate, with some of their small batch creations going out as limited edition collabs and other creations selling out within a week or two. This willingness to collaborate is borne from a love of the scene, and a determination to do beer right. Chris said: “The great thing about collab brewing, apart from the opportunities to chew the fat with fellow brewers, is the chance to see and use different kit and to see how other brewers think and use their kit. We love collabs, and will be doing as many of them as we can.

A culture of creativity and a passion for brewing is evident at Electric Bear.

Their four brewers all have huge input into the brews, with each brewer leading the brewing of a beer best suited to their tastes. Chris described the whole process as egalitarian. If you ask us, that’s the way it should be.

They’ve got their first barrelaged imperial stouts coming to market soon, they’ve shipped bears (sorry, beers) all over the UK and, as this is written, a whole boatload of Electric Bear beer is making its way to Oz. It’ll be a nightmare getting those bears through customs.

The next few months will see an upgrade in infrastructure as they invest in their future and the continued establishment of their brewpub in Bath, but most importantly, like a bear stocking up before hibernation, the brewery wants to continue to experiment with the range of beers and ingredients the good earth can provide.

“It goes without saying that we want to keep doing what we do, which is making beers that stand out from the crowd, beers that people love,” Chris said. “We want to be a brewery that people recognise and can depend on for producing great tasting, great quality beer but one that is always surprising and always creative. We will grow, but we will never become just another beer factory.”

So, sit back, relax, and open up one of these exciting modernmeets-traditional brews, and let their electrically-charged flavours roar right into your face. We are super excited to be bringing these beers to your door, and we hope this feature has you salivating harder than that same grizzly when he sees the sight of his first meal in spring. Enjoy it. We know we will be…

Originally published in Issue 8 of Flavourly’s Magazine. Written by Cameron Wills.

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