Well seeing as we are just about to turn off the steam generator for the last time before Christmas, I thought it was an opportune moment to sum up my year at Thornbridge.
The biggest project this year was by far the installation and commissioning of our new KHS filler. The stresses and strains of a big installation cannot be underestimated but it does get easier with age and experience. The result is superb! It’s immensely satisfying to see a machine with such mechanical deftness tick along, ensuring our beer reaches our customers as fresh as possible.
Without a doubt my proudest moment was to pick up the Gold and Silver at the World Beer Cup for barrel aged sours, Love Among The Ruins and Days of Creation. The team put so much work into these beers, but I still didn’t expect to secure one medal let alone two for probably the most hotly contested category at the awards!
Notable other beers this year were:
Lukas. Despite Germanic beers being really close to my heart, this was the first time I had really put pen to paper and come up with a Helles. The beer was well received with some superb reviews from beer writers. We expect great things for Lukas at Thornbridge, a soft delicate lager that has such fantastic drinkability, it will hopefully be a leading beer for us going into 2017.
Huck is our latest IPA to be added to the range. I think this is a great example of getting the hop blend just right which creates a real flavour hook and brings the whole beer into harmony. The advantage of being the size we are now is that we can secure good hop contracts directly from the US. The hops we have been using this year are the best I have brewed with to date and I think that comes across in beers like Huck.
We have added a few new brewers to the team this year and I have to say we have the strongest team to date. They are all extremely passionate about beer and buy into the Thornbridge ethos. Without their commitment to quality and dedication to making the best beer possible the beers wouldn’t be at the standard they are today. I can confidently say we will hit 2017 with a team of brewers I can really rely on to put the beer first and always make the right call on shift.
So what do we have to look forward to next year?
We have already come up with the main seasonal brew plan next year and it’s a mix of new beers and some old favourites we wanted to bring back. Here is the list:
We will be investing a lot of time and resources next year in our barrel ageing program in terms of volume and consistency. Our dedicated barrel store has over 150 barrels maturing away and we hope to get more of the two World Beer Cup medal winners out in the new year. I have to say the beer ready for packaging in January is very similar to the winning beers and that gives me great confidence in our consistency going forwards. A tank will also be dedicated for kettle sours as it is always risky propagating the bacteria we spend so much time trying to keep out of our standard beers!
As with every brewing day next year we will be looking to improve consistency and freshness. We already have cash, trials and projects lined up in order to facilitate this. To me this is just as important as designing new beers and I know the rest of the team relish the challenge.
Merry Christmas from everyone here at Thornbridge.