Hi everyone, Just a quick update from the Marble team.We are currently assessing the situation and working on a plan to safely reopen our venues, The Marble Arch and The Brewery Tap, (for those that don’t know, 57 Thomas Street is now in the safe hands of Fierce Beer). Last summer, as we were easing out of the first lockdown, we came up with a risk assessment and dedicated measures that in our opinion granted both our staff and our customers a safe environment. We were very pleased to welcome you back, and incredibly grateful for how all of you followed the rules we put in place for everyone’s safety. It’s been a tough year for us all, and reopening a venue with such restrictions has not been easy, but we’ve been blessed by the most amazing and respectful customers. We’re now back at it again, working on a plan to reopen both The Marble Arch and our Taproom in Salford, following the Government’s plan.
STAGE 1We are going to reopen our Salford Taproom first, as we have a big outside space. We’re aiming to reopen the Tap during the week of the 12th of April, most likely on Thursday 15th. We are working on both an update of the outside space and a new permanent food offer. A pizza oven is in the process of being installed, keep an eye on our social media for the next few weeks...we’re pretty excited about it! We don’t have definitive plans in place for our beer yard yet but are working with some local designers so that it can be more permanent than last year’s windy gazebos. If you’d like to start book a table, or for more info, get in touch at email@example.com. At this stage, we are not going to open the Marble Arch just yet.
STAGE 2With the easing of restrictions regarding inside drinking, we are going to open our flagship pub, The Marble Arch, from the 17th of May. We have already updated the Arch kitchen and are currently working with a local architecture practice in order to renovate our beer garden as well. We have some amazing plans that we hope you’ll love just as much as we do! If you’d like to book a table at the Arch or for more info, get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org. We will make sure our risk assessment and house rules will follow all guidelines to keep a safe environment for everyone, we won’t open if we don’t feel it is safe to do so but hope to see you soon.
Marble Mash-Up Series
It's 2019 and we're flinging ourselves headlong into a building a new brewery in Salford, we've already knocked out two new collabs in cans (I'm Only Karaoke-ing with Young Master & Anglo-Japanese Brewing and a re-brew of ALF but now in a can, with Amundsen Brewery), we have a lot on our plate to say the least. But you know us, not ones to shy away from keeping ourselves busy, we're releasing a new series of cask only beers.
Born from us being bored of hearing so much about lupulin powder, bbc, cryo-hops and all that gubbins (NOTE: we do love these tools for our creativity, but it's not ALL that good beer is) and wanting to further connect the Marble of the past with the Marble we're building for the future, we decided we're taking it back to how we used to do it for this series of beers. No more 'dry hopping' in the tank, instead we're going to dry hop in the cask (with whole cone hops) Yeah, that lovingly laborious but ultimately rewarding task of dry hopping each cask individually.
We'll be intensifying the FUN and creativity with this series, by basing all the new beers on current recipes either blended, de-constructed or highlighting different characteristics within the same beer. First up we'll be ramping up our aromatic, small IPA “Petite” and giving it similar but firmer malt base to handle a new, higher ABV, transforming it into “Grande Petite”. This is going to balance the delicate but powerful hop presence we're piling into it.
Our impending house move has encouraged us to look back through our old processes and ideas to see what we were doing back in the day, that we could adapt and update for our current beers. A move to organic hops led us to dry hopping in each cask, which meant a lot more [annoying] time spent on washing casks thoroughly, however it adds an even more personal and romantic idea to each of our beers sent out. These beers will be a limited run, and we'll be sending them to The Marble Arch, 57 Thomas Street, and selected outlets further afield. It's a fun way for us to delve into our past, experiment a bit more and rewrite our recipes to suit both cask and more recent advances in production techniques! Our full range of Mash Up cask beers is:
Grande Petite - 5.9% Our small IPA has all grown up. Aromatic hops is the order of the day, now with a bit more of a kick.
Baby Barley Wine - 4.9% All the balanced bitter sweetness of a classic English Barleywine, but in a more quaffable form.
M/cr Pint - 4.2% Pint at our Manchester Bitter ABV, and all hopped by hand (sorry brew team)
Differently Hopped Dobber - 6.5 % We can rebuild it. We have the technology. We can hop it, differently. Hand Hopped.
Session Bitter - 3.9% Bitter, but a different kind of bitter. Session strength.
Lagonda at 2.8% - 2.8% What it says on the tin/cask. Hopped by Hand
METRIC, MANCHESTER & MODERN BEER Or how you learned to love the old and the new
Here at Marble Beers, we've been thinking hard about our progress over the last 21 years (Yes, the 20th party was a year ago!) and our achievements throughout 2018. The past year has seen us push to get more of our classic core beers into cans, we've expanded our range to include even more barrel aging, our Hop Forward series, sour experimentations and more collaborations than you could shake a Nordic yeast stick at.
Throughout this, we've strived to respect our history and tradition, but bring our ranges in line with what today's drinker expects from a modern brewery. Brewing beers we like to, being aware of our traditions, but pushing forward with knowledge, technology, and passion. With this in mind, our classic core range of beers; Pint, Manchester Bitter, Lagonda, Earl Grey IPA, and our seasonal regulars; Barleywine & Decadence have all gone into cans. This move has been for a number of reasons, primarily because for small pack, cans are best (when done well) for keeping the beer as fresh as it possibly can, for longer. As well as this, we're regularly asked for our beer in more and more far-flung locations, where getting cask or keg beer is prohibitively expensive for the buyer, with this in mind we're as keen as the next brewery to get our great beer out to as many beer lovers as possible, so its been an obvious choice to move small pack production to canning.
“Firstly, as previously mentioned cans physically weigh less than bottles per volume of beer held. This makes sense for us when exporting, as well as delivering locally. It has less impact on overall weight, so we can ship more for less cost to everyone
When canning, we monitor continually through our packaging runs to ensure low TIPO (Total in Package Oxygen) levels. We usually start with DO (Dissolved Oxygen) levels in the tank of 8ppb to 15ppb with an average pick up of 25-30ppb. We stop packaging and destroy any cans that fall over 80ppb.* As brewing team we enjoy cans, we have occasionally received minor criticism for putting beers that are 7% and above in 500ml cans, and although we can see the argument that this is too much for some people, we see these beers as something you share or enjoy one or two responsibly, not take on a 6 pack in an hour. As we are all big handed in the brewing team, 500ml cans just feel comfortable to us.
We will still bottle beers we feel should be in bottle and can what we want to can. Like most things at Marble Towers we push for experimentation and trial and error, enjoying when it works, not shying away when it doesn’t, and always learning.” - Joe, Head of Production, Marble
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with this level of planning & forward thinking. You may remember we had to change the name of our iconic 'Pint' to a variety of names when it went into a can, finally settling on 'Metric', due to someone reporting us to trading standards (because it wasn't “a pint”). Fortunately, we're an amiable bunch here at Marble, and a potentially harmful kickback against progress was turned into a positive experience, whereby we could have some fun coming up with new names, let our designer Jan Barker have a riot with variant labels and gave us a good indication that even when you try your best to do what's best for customers, there's a singular one that isn't always ready for change!
The irony of the opposition to our long-standing core beers going into a can, or even keg for that matter, is that beers like Pint and Manchester Bitter were originally developed as experiments to expand and freshen up our range by the brew team at the time.
We collared Dom Driscoll, Production Manager for Thornbridge Brewery, Semi-pro farmer, Shop manager for the committee at Wingerworth village allotments (Derbyshire), and former brewer at Marble, for a few words. He had this to say about Pint: “Pint is a beer very close to my heart: it was brewed as part of public beer tastings to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the brewery. It was essentially to be a replacement for Gould Street Bitter (GSB), our 3.8%, 100% organic NZ Cascade, yellow session beer. It was around the time that we’d complained so much about being stuck with just organic hops, that Jan had just given us the go-ahead to use non-organic, so it was to be a vehicle for hop experimentation really. James [Campbell] and I came up with a basic recipe which involved US Liberty and some different NZ hops (which used to be really good, like as pungent as Mosaic/Citra etc but in a tropical, fresh way). The basic premise was yellow, very hoppy, solid bitterness and dry, so it had that moreishness we were looking for. Just low colour lager malt, a bit of wheat, massive aroma hop charge, T90s in the FV as a warm hop and then every cask was dry hopped. EVERY SINGLE ONE was at that time, a right pain in the arse (apart from Chocolate, but it totally worked.)
The hops were tweaked quite quickly, but they were NZ heavy. We could never brew enough of it because it was so hoppy for the time, people bloody loved it. Only after about a year, when the hop bill had been completely altered, did we decide we needed a new name for it and I think Jan suggested ‘Pint’. Because none of us could think of anything else and because we were completely oblivious to why marketing or branding was important in those days.”
As well as Pint, Dom went on to spill the beans on another stalwart of the Marble canon, Manchester Bitter; loosely based on the old Boddingtons recipe, it was originally the then Marble brew team respecting a grand, traditional, local style, but very much reinterpreting it with their own particular take. Dom recalls:
So the rumours were true, Manchester was based on something like the Boddies recipe. I don’t think anyone saw a recipe for it as historical recipes weren’t a thing then. Manchester was already being brewed when I got there, but the hops changed quite a lot, gradually and over time. When I arrived in 2005, the hop bill was organic Tettnanger and Hersbrucker. It had a rasping bitterness, was very florally hoppy and, like Pint, was super dry. Proper Boddies, pre-1970s Whitbread takeover, was notoriously pale, bitter and dry so it was these characteristics that James had gone for. It was also the sort of beer we both liked. We were really limited with the hops at the time but it was gloriously dry and bitter and had a real drink-ability. The hops have evolved over the years as they’re a very seasonable product and some years better than others, what we always wanted was a beer that was hoppier, more luxurious than the local family brewers bitters, but that struck a balance for both the beer enthusiasts as well as the Posties that came in the Arch – the idea was that it was a beer that you could drink a lot of.
The thing that makes the [Marble] beers special is the yeast – using a wet, proper British yeast strain is so important for these sorts of beers and Marble had/has a really good yeast (It’s a version of the Gales strain, which Fullers still have and use for making Gales beers) that is very tolerant of temperature fluctuations and very fruity. It’s this fruitiness when combined with the hops, that makes Marble beer so special…you can’t beat a pint of Marble cask beer.”
Since Dom's time with us, we've continued to cultivate and blended that very original strain with a couple of other strains, to produce the truly unique Marble wet yeast we use today in each and every brew we produce, whether it's destined for can, keg or cask.
Cask beer is something we are still very passionate about creating to a high standard, and despite recent proclamations that cask is “dying” or that it's suddenly “back”, in truth its never really gone away for Marble. Joe explains;
“It's truly an honour to continue to produce high-quality cask beer that respects tradition, yet also work with a team that isn't averse to experimentation with new styles. It's refreshing that we get to work with beer whether it's a traditional style, something new, or the many different ways of presenting a beer, whether it be cask, keg, bottle or can. As long as it's good, and we're passionate about it, we'll try it.”
This keenness to forge a new path from the beginning, and right through to the current day with Joe & the team, has seen us experiment with a variety of new ideas of what we can do with beer. Now we're choosing to focus in on certain attributes, and begin to experiment around those. The following is a choice selection of Joe's stand out beers of 2018 based on the spirit of experimentation;
Petite; our 2.8% small IPA, was an exercise in producing a beer that was both refreshing and moreish but that also, despite its very low ABV, would pack masses of hop character in the flavour and aroma. We, in this one beer, wanted to embody the huge hoppy hits that you would get from much bigger dry hopped beers, but for the drinker to be able to keep coming back for more, without the debilitating effects of gulping imperial sized beers.
Sunshine Radler; Our orange Radler, whose popularity from customers meant we virtually sold out of the initial brew within the first week of it going on sale, with people clamouring for more of it (that lovely hot weather probably helped a bit too). The aim, to make a low ABV blended beer that was enjoyable to drink, but more importantly cementing the stability of the beer, given that we were using real fruit juices in the mix (supplied by Manchester's very own Steep Soda, who we went on to brew Grape Soda with).
Agua De Jamaica; this hibiscus spiced Berliner Weiss was brewed in collaboration with our good friends at Slim Pickens Cider & Mead Brewery. The initial idea was to try and replicate the authentic Mexican hibiscus tea soft drink. The challenge was to transpose that into a beer, that was not only faithful to the style of drink but made sense as a beer in its own right.
North South; another of our smaller IPAs, with this beer we were looking to showcase the influence of modern American styles of IPAs, with big aromas, low bitterness and mellow hop characteristics, but put our own spin on it. As well as this, we were determined for it to work as a beer in whatever packaging format we put it out in. Initially, it was available in keg and can, but after a lot of valuable customer feedback, the next batch was also put into cask. We took on board what our drinkers were saying and how they wanted to see the beer presented.
How our range of beers sits together is incredibly important to us at Marble. We understand we now have a 21-year-old heritage, and loyal set of fans to respect. As well as this we have to compete in an increasingly crowded marketplace, to grab the attention of a diverse set of well informed, opinionated, knowledgeable new customers who simultaneously desire stability, consistency but also regularly want to try new things.
With that in mind, our aim throughout 2018 was simple; do what we have always done, brew beer to a consistently exacting standard, and never be afraid to try something new. Whether that's putting our core classics into a can, trying a cutting-edge style, or simply listening to impressions of our new beers from the seasoned experience of our regulars at The Marble Arch (the font of all knowledge, we're certain they'd say).
The plan for 2019 is going to be slightly more complicated, but more on that soon...
* For more information on TIPO/DO, please check out this interesting link: https://tapintohach.com/2014/03/18/dissolved-oxygen-in-beer-how-it-compares-to-total-package-oxygen/
Recently we’ve become quite taken with a new style of IPA, as part of our 2018 hop forward range. After some research and a few trials, we launched Guillotine Brut IPA during Manchester Beer Week. We were super happy with Guillotine; a beer we enjoyed brewing as much as we enjoyed the post package QA; and the pioneering techniques we used to create it, there is always room for improvement and as we are brewing our second standalone brand on Wednesday, Flying Triangle Brut IPA, we figure now is a great time to discuss this brand new style. You may have seen a few people talking about Brut IPA over the last few weeks as though there are about 5 or 6 currently in circulation on bars in the UK, the beer style is attributed to starting on the West Coast of the USA in the last year. So what is a Brut IPA? A step away from the pillowy mouthfeel of the aromatic NEIPAs, and measured bitterness of full-bodied dank West Coast IPAs, Brut IPA are beautifully aromatic; bone dry with an effervescent carbonation; and a super crisp finish, while still pushing interesting hop flavours, creating an incredibly rewarding and drinkable beverage. Taking their name and flavour profile from sparkling wines: Brut wines have between 0% and 12% residual sugars, while a Dry wine can have up to 32%, and are the second driest after Extra Brut. In this style of beer, we look to do pretty much the same thing and ferment out all the residual sugars we can, which is what leads to the crisp, lighter, effervescent beer. Drinkability is key to the style, delivering a beer that is super balanced between aroma, bitterness and body. If we look at the finishing gravity (density) of beer styles this becomes pretty clear: Water - 1.000 Saison – 1.002 – 1.005 British Bitter- 1.008 -1.012 Pilsner - 1.005 – 1.008 British IPA – 1.010 – 1.015 New England IPA – 1.010 – 1.025 Imperial Stout – 1.015 – 1.030 Brut IPA – 0.995 or lower. Sugars create smoothness and mouthfeel as well as laying a foundation for all other flavours and aromatics to sit on. This is a double edged sword as you gain drinkability, you begin to lose the base body the big, complex hop aromatics modern IPAs are known for. Brut IPAs are not massively different from other beers, the one exception being an additional enzyme used (more on that later). They still contain the base four ingredients that all beers share. Malt - For Guillotine Brut IPA we took our knowledge of IPA bases, looked at what we wanted achieve, and built a base around it containing a combination of extra pale and pils malt, to keep the colour and maltyness low, with a touch of wheat and malted oats to help with proteins and to build body without additional sugars. Yeast – Although we looked and trialled different yeasts for this, our house yeast performed very well. In terms of attenuation, it hits its numbers very well with general attenuation of about 85%. It also gave off the ester profile we wanted, and it works well with the hop combinations we have considered for Guillotine and other Brut IPAs going forward. Its an easy yeast for us to wrangle and we understand it very well. Beyond minor changes we are extremely happy with how the yeast and grist worked, and that they have given us a solid backbone to work with. Water – Water and water treatment is the most important key in designing a beer. The hardness and ions found in water will greatly dictate the profile of the beer. You only have to look to how beer has developed regionally around the world to see this – compare a Burton ale with a Dublin stout or Czech Pilsen. (While we haven’t really got the space here to go into full water treatment, for anyone interested I highly recommend the section on water in Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels, first published in 1996, and Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers by John J. Palmer and Colin Kaminski.) With our Brut IPAs we use salts to help create the mouthfeel and body that we lose from having no sugars, thus allowing our Bruts to be very dry and drinkable, yet still hold an enigmatic hop profile. Hops – Unlike the high IBU and incredibly balanced West Coast IPAs, Brut IPAs have no sugar to balance hops on. We’ve solved the problem of body by looking into the water profile, so we’re not ending up with a fizzy hopped water, but what about bitterness? How do we balance bitterness without sweetness an interesting question, and the solution was strangely simple, we don’t. We brew this like a New England IPA with high impact hops but no bitterness. A small aroma charge to give the lightest hint at bitterness and a foundation for later hops to stand on. With this in mind we added no bittering charge, a tiny aroma charge of very low alpha hops, and a huge dry hop charge, leading to great aroma with little bitterness. Adjuncts – To create a Brut IPA an additional enzyme (glucoamylase) is used to hydrolyse any complex sugars yeast cannot break down itself, thus allowing for complete fermentation. Different breweries will uses different brands of this enzyme and you can add it at various stages. This type of enzyme is nothing new to brewing: diastatic enzymes are present in barley and it’s the basis of mashing. And the application of extracted enzymes isn’t new either (think low carb beers) it is simply the application of it that is allowing the progression of this style. Extremely drinkable, like a crisp white wine, Guillotine, our 7.1% Brut IPA was first brewed for Manchester Beer Week’s Evolution of IPA event, and is bone dry with a density below that of water. With Huell Melon (DE) and Hallertau Blanc (DE) as dominant hops with a sprinkling of Nelson Sauvin (NZ) to bring them together, and to accentuate the blackcurrant, gooseberry, melon, and fresh herbal notes of New World wines. Moving forward we can’t wait experiment further with some of our favourite hop combinations, looking at influences from New England hop bills, to those that we use in our bitters, west coast beers, and beyond. Flying Triangle Brut IPA will be picking up where Guillotine left off, with a big hop aroma, crisp body, and sparkling drinkability.
Marble Beers Ltd announces the sale of Marble Beerhouse, M21
Marble Beers Ltd announces the sale of Marble Beerhouse, M21, to The Beer House (Chorlton) Ltd Marble Beers Ltd is pleased to announce the sale of Marble Beerhouse, M21, to The Beer House (Chorlton) Ltd on Friday 27th July 2018. The Marble Beerhouse has been an integral part of the Chorlton beer and pub community for many years, supplying great beer and a welcoming atmosphere to all who come to visit. Marble Beers Director Jan Rogers says “While we’re sad to see our time in Chorlton come to an end, we are happy to be able to introduce Alex and his team to the local beer community in their new venture, and we are excited for the future.” Alex Price of The Beer House, Chorlton Ltd says “We are excited to continue promoting everything that makes the Beerhouse such a great place to be, focussing on great hospitality, a fantastic selection of beers, and being an inclusive and welcoming part of the local community.” Marble Beers Ltd will be working together with Alex to ensure a seamless transition over the coming months, supporting the work of his team with a range of Marble Brewery’s core and specialty beers, in draught and small package formats. The move is part of a change in portfolio for Marble Beers Ltd as they modernise their production facility in line with the ever evolving British and world brewing scene.
Sour Blonde Ale and Pediococcus
URGENT NOTICE: Sour Blonde Ale and Pediococcus On Monday we released Sour Blonde Ale in 660ml bottles as part of our Barrel Ageing Programme. On a QA check in the brewery this morning, it was determined that the Pediococcus aka Pedio present in this wild beer has become active several weeks post bottling, resulting in a slight “ropey” or “fat” stage. The Pedio “ropey” stage temporarily affects the texture and viscosity of the beer, and can happen in bottle conditioned mixed fermentation beers like these. This is a natural stage of the fermentation in wild beers where Pedio is present: in time it will break down adding to the complexity and flavour of the beer, returning it to a normal beer viscosity. The presence of Brettanomyces aka Brett, (the super helpful yeast that eats everything), breaks down any Pedio “ropey” elements and produces amazing flavours and aromas. We’re not going to release any more bottles out into the wild until we’re absolutely sure that the Brettanomyces has had time to get to work and the beer passes our stringent QA brewery tests. It can take between 3 and 6 months for the Brettanomyces to break down all the Pediococcus, so we would look to being able to release the remaining bottles by March 2019. If you have purchased a bottle of Sour Blonde Ale from any outlet, please rest assured that the beer will evolve and this “ropey” stage will dissipate. We recommend storing it in a nice cool, dark place, until at least March 2019. If you have any questions about the beer and storing it, please do get in touch via Brewery@marblebeers.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible to advise on next steps. If you have purchased bottles of Sour Blonde Ale from our online shop or any of our outlets, and would prefer to return it, please contact us on Brewery@marblebeers.com. If you have purchased beers from an external supplier and wish to return it, please contact them directly, though as mentioned above, if you have any questions or further problems please do get in touch. You can find out more about wild beers, mixed fermentation, and barrel ageing here and here
One88 event cancellation
Due to unforeseen circumstances at One88 Kitchen & Bar, it has become necessary for us to cancel our Manchester beer Week event on Friday 6th July. The beer dinner, co-hosted by Marble Brewery with Dave Gale and Melissa Cole, was scheduled for Friday 6th July, at One88, Whitefield. We have been working with Dave and Melissa for our Manchester Beer Week restaurant collaboration beer. The resulting Vienna Lager with Exotic Peppercorns is due to be launched at Beer x Food event with the other collabs, at Station Hop, Levenshulme on Saturday 30th June. The beer will be available in all our premises from Sunday 1st July, and available to purchase in keg from Monday 2nd July. We will, however, be hosting a Beer BBQ with Melissa, featuring speciality dishes paired with the collaboration Vienna Lager, at our brewery tap the Marble Arch Inn, from 1pm on Friday 6th July. We are looking forward to working with One88 restaurant on future events, and to the launch party on Saturday 30th June.
Working with EMERGE to Reduce, Reuse & Recycle in Manchester.
Last month we were contacted by Craig at EMERGE (East Manchester Environment & Resources Group). He explained to us some of the fantastic work that they are doing to improve Manchester’s sustainability through their mantra of ‘the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’. This is done through their three active sustainable resource and waste management projects: FareShare Greater Manchester; Over 5.8 million people in the UK live in deep poverty, meaning they lack access to healthy affordable food. At the same time the UK throws away 3.9 million tonnes of good food every year. FareShare distribute food that would otherwise be wasted to charities and community organisations around Greater Manchester. These organisations provide vitally needed meals, food parcels and snacks to hundreds of disadvantaged people every day. Further information can be found here. Touch Wood; Working with the National Community Wood Recycling Project (NCWRP) Touch Wood collect redundant wood from construction sites and businesses around Manchester. This waste wood is then processed and upcycled by their team members into usable timber, furniture, and homeware products. These are sold to the public and businesses with any profits going back into the charity. Further information can be found here. Emerge Recycling; A full range of waste recycling and confidential shredding services to Manchester’s businesses and schools. The team promote sustainable resource management by offering free advice, information, and educational services within the wider community. Further information can be found here. We were touched to learn how all three actively contribute to our local community and the development and creation of real, sustainable jobs, work and learning experiences. Whilst also reducing waste and improving sustainability around the Greater Manchester area. To show our support we have committed to brewing a beer with EMERGE and donating 25p from each beer sold to support EMERGE projects around Manchester. We're going to be launching this celebration Grapefruit & Clementine Berliner Weisse at the Marble Arch on Friday 11th May from 4pm: with sample snacks* that showcase the valuable work done to distribute food to the Greater Manchester community; more information about how you can sign up and support the work of Emerge, Fareshare, and TouchWood; meet the teams from Emerge and Marble; and music from Mr Wilson's Second Liners! *Any ingredients that have been rescued and donated by Emerge for this project are responsibly distributed to us. They are surplus to the needs of the recipient network that Emerge Recycling supply daily, and due to time frames, and the products, would have been destined to become Food Waste.
The time has come to say goodbye…
What an amazing and epic couple of years, I joined Marble at the start of 2016, the brewery had been without a Head Brewer for a few months so I set about re-organising, changing procedures and changing recipes to make the systems and the beer the way I wanted it, I’m a firm believer in brewing beer that I want to drink…partially for a selfish reason but mostly because that’s where you reach a point as a brewer where you’re pouring all of your love into the product. I believe that a quality brewer should be able to brew any style competently. Adaptability and professionalism as a brewer has helped us to brew both our long-established beers and newer additions to the range in the creative direction of the brewery. By my (rough) count, I think we’ve done around 90 new or reworked beers over the two years with probably about 15 new beers in barrel for release this year, not a bad strike rate. As with all breweries, there are new comers and departures but the current brewing team at Marble brewery is one of the strongest and best I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. With Joe now in charge I’m really looking forward to seeing and tasting what exciting new beers are coming and what’s next for Marble Brewery! My favourite beers that we’ve brewed over the last two years? Gale’s Prize old ale: the project to recreate that beer after over a decade of it not being brewed was a fantastic learning curve and I was really pleased with how the beer came out. Table Beer: Just from a brewing perspective I enjoyed this, making a beer at 2.7% that’s full bodied and hoppy and defies the senses was tricky but came out well. Saison DuPint: Pint with the classic and troublesome strain, a lot of research ensued and we actually had a trouble free fermentation and a lovely beer. White Wine Pugin: The lead up to this was Pugin and Assisi, we blended three types of Belgian yeast in specific proportions to achieve the flavour, aroma, attenuation and flocculation that I required. We then aged Pugin in White wine barrels with Brett Trois and canned it. Beers I’m Looking forward to Marble Releasing The Solera Project: Barrels, Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus… The Wild programme: Barrels, all the Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. All in all, I’ve had a fantastic time at Marble, we’ve had a lot of fun and I’m now looking forward to the next phase of my brewing career.
An announcement from Marble Beers Ltd.
Today we must make the bittersweet announcement that our head brewer, James Kemp aka JK, will be leaving Marble Brewery in the spring to join Yeastie Boys in a newly formed Brewzerker job role, in charge of quality control, quality assurance, product development, and strategy. Joe Ince, formerly of Magic Rock Brewing and Buxton Brewery, and currently Marble Brewery Head of Production, will be taking the reins after JK's departure.
JK joined Marble Brewery in January 2016, and immediately set about bringing a fresh look to the core range and implementing a barrel ageing programme (several barrels and many months of fermentation shenanigans later, the Edgar Allan Poe Imperial Stout range and Mysteries of the Udolpho Old Ale series were launched); He also brought the metal back to Marble in 2016 and worked tirelessly throughout 2017 to organise and see through the wonderfully diverse 20th Birthday collaboration series. A lifelong home brewer and chemistry fan, JK previously worked at Fuller’s Brewery, Thornbridge Brewery, and Buxton Brewery, and cultivates an impressive beer yeast collection in his spare time.
JK says “The last 2 years at Marble have been fantastic, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work on some amazing projects, from our Fuller’s Gale’s Prize Old Ale collaboration in 2016, to the and the 20th Birthday collaboration series. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities afforded to me in this new role with Yeastie Boys as they continue their global adventures; which will, in turn, allow me to spend more time with my family in Chester.” Everyone at Marble Beers Ltd. wishes JK and Yeastie Boys the best of success in the new adventure.Press enquiries please contact Head Office
Wild, Sour & Mixed Fermentation
What gets me up in the morning is Brettanomyces, and to be more specific, the management of Brettanomyces in a mixed flora environment.
When I started at Marble Brewery at the very beginning of 2016, the was no barrel or mixed culture programme to work on, so I set about creating one. After finding and assessing four unused barrels that were previously hidden away in storage, I settled on exactly how we should kick our programme off. One of the first beers I brewed was an Old Ale, this type of beer is strong and relatively lacking in initial depth which makes it perfect for adding both interesting yeast strains and bacteria, and carefully selected adjuncts.
Brewing an Old Ale, for me, was a clear win given the aromas contained in the barrels we already had in reserve. What it also meant was that I could indulge my love for British Stock Ales, these to me are as complex and interesting as anything by Rodenbach or Duchesse de Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe, but in comparison, Stock Ales just don’t get as much press. They're not brewed too frequently either, except the few that still come out of Greene King, which is a shame as these vatted strong beers are completely crawling with fascinating microflora. Take a look at our Barrel Aging Program to see how our work with historical styles is cumulating.
My other great love is mixed fermentation wild/ sour beers, so my long-term plan was to get things rolling as soon as possible, as it usually takes between one to three years to achieve the required level of maturity. We’ve got a few barrels in the brewery at the moment, most of them bought as and when the opportunity arose, depending on how I was feeling at the time or precisely to fit in with my strong and bretty plans. The key thing I was looking for when buying was wood. Lots and lots of wood that I could age and ferment wild beer in. First things first though, I wanted to reduce the tannin load and the previous occupancy character, beer is a great solvent, so the best way to do this is to fill them, let the beer take up those qualities and then empty.
Once I’d done this with the barrels that I required to start the wild programme I went ahead and brewed four beers.
The first beer we brewed was a turbid mash.
- Pilsner Malt
Three Belgian strains went into the blend for primary fermentation; 20% Chimay, 30% Westmalle and 50% La Choufe. We first used this blend in Pugin Belgian Pale, brewed with Gorton Monastery, followed by Assisi Belgian Dubbel and so on the third pitch, I expected some blend drift. I wanted to create a sophisticated ester profile for the Brettanomyces to biotransform while targeting certain characteristics that each Belgian strain would bring to the blend.
Once primary fermentation was complete, I transferred to purged, second-fill Meursault, Pinot Noir and Rum barrels, and added differing proportions of Brett, Lacto and Peddiococus yeast strains to maximise blending potential:
- Brettanomyces bruxellensis
- Brettanomyces lambicus
- Brettanomyces claussenii
- Brettanomyces anomalous
- Brettanomyces trois
- Lactobacillus brevis
- Peddiococcus damasus
The second beer I brewed/ experimented on was the Madeira barrel refill.
For this beer, I took unbittered wort and filled the Madeira barrel after emptying them of Gales Prize Old Ale. I pitched no yeast into this, limited the oxygen in the wort and then pitched Lactobacillus and Pedioccocus - the plan with this beer was to target bacterial growth hoping to strengthen our cultures while using the Brettanomyces present in the barrel to slowly ferment the beer. By doing this, I could create both a strong culture going forward and more blending options.
The third beer I experimented with was a Flanders Red.
- Special B
With this beer we took an entirely different approach, I decided that I wanted to set the sour character first and then build the beer and complexity around it. To do this, I kettle soured it and then boiled. Post-boil I sent it to the fermenter and pitched our house Saccharomyces strain into it. I then immediately filled barrels (Pinot Noir, Rum and Bourbon) and pitched a further two different Brettanomyces blends. My goal and reason for a mixed yeast fermentation was to provide the Brettanomyces with flavour active compounds that it could work on to ensure compelling complexity in the finished beer.
Once again, I put unbittered wort in the barrels (Barbera and Pinot Noir). The goal for this beer was to test the strength of our Lacto strains while pairing them with Saison and Brettanomyces yeast strains. I intend to create a strong mixed culture that will develop and sour over a relatively short period of time (3-6 months).
These are our current wild fermentations, as time goes on we’ll be emptying barrels and refilling them with further sour projects to broaden our blending potential and to provide a constant supply of beer at different stages of complexity and maturity. You can watch these projects develop over on our Barrel Aging Programme Page.
GALE’S PRIZE OLD ALE – A MARBLE BREWERY AND FULLER’S COLLABORATION
As collaboration beers go, this is my great white whale. For years I’ve been hunting down and drinking Gale’s Prize Old Ale; for me, it’s a beer that epitomises a beautiful tradition in British brewing - vatted Old Ales. It's a beer that is nearly impossible to come by without delving into the complex and often dark world of bottle trading, as it hasn’t been brewed since 2006. This rare style of beer is usually complex, oak-aged, heavily bretted and in some cases quite tart.
I find Old Ales to be as fascinating and complex as Flanders Reds and Oud Bruin from Belgium, their mixed culture fermentations give them an initial complexity but with age comes even deeper layers of complexity this. Every time I drink these beers I think about the possibilities that would exist if British breweries continued to brew in this manner, and update the way in which they present the beer. I’d been dreaming of doing just that for many years, until a series of direct messages on Twitter from Fuller’s John Keeling got the ball rolling.
We met up, had a pint, and discussed our love of the beer and why the world needs Gale's Prize Old Ale back in its life. That settled it; we decided to brew it at Marble Brewery at the very start of 2016.
We started things off by exchanging recipes. From there, I scaled the original recipe from 1926 down to Marble size - the water profile was a challenge, but it worked out well. There’s a charming linkage between Gale's and Marble, as our Marble house yeast strain is said to be Gale's in origin, so we were off to a good start there.
Total Hardness as CaCO3
Alkalinity as CaCO3
with Calcium Chloride @ 1.5g/ per kg and no gypsum added to Mash.
Bittering: Challenger and Goldings @ 0.059 AA/K- an approx. 50/50 split based on AA.
Aroma: Fuggles and Goldings @ 0.009 AA/K with Fuggles the dominant aroma hop 80/20 split.
The brew day went well, and fermentation progressed as planned. Famously, Gale's fermented their Old Ale in oak vats and then transferred to Hogsheads before bottling. As we don’t have any foudres, vats or similar vessels, I decided to ferment this first beer clean in FV, inoculate with Gales mixed culture and then fill into barrels after that.
I had four types of barrel available to me:
Second-fill Bourbon barrels
Second-fill Pinot Noir
A chance meeting with a former Gale's brewer gave me further insight into their brewing process and ageing techniques. They prefer to set the beer to rest Hogsheads for a year before bottling to allow the Brettanomyces to work on it, ensuring the flavour to had time to stabilise somewhat.
Obviously, we also don’t have vats or barrels containing Gale’s mixed culture in residence, so we planned to transfer after primary fermentation into Conditioning Tanks and inoculate the beer with 100L of the last Prize Old Ale brewed at the original Thomas Hardy’s site. Fullers had stored that batch safely in-tank since 2006. I’m not going to lie to you, I sampled that beer, and it tasted great.
Once I’d inoculated our beer, I purged each barrel with CO2 and filled them. Over the next year, I kept an eye on the beer, moving it to warmer or cooler areas of the brewery depending on how the Brettanomyces character was developing and to minimise acetic acid production.
Each individual barrel and each different type of barrel lent a slightly different characteristic to the beer; the big decision I had to make was how to blend. I had thought to create an overall blend and package it as a single beer, but decided the character from the different types of barrels was significant enough to warrant packaging separately. Once I was happy with the maturity of the beer, we packaged into bottle and keg to condition.