Redwell now the proud brewer of the best pale ale in the UK.21st March 2016
It’s been a long road for the Redwell brewery since it first opened in 2013. Now in 2016 the road has smoothed over and their trophy cabinet is starting to look rather full.
The most recent of these awards was granted at the SIBA Awards earlier this week. Where The West Coast Pale Ale took best strong bitter/pale ale in the UK. This was a tremendous victory for all the team who have poured heart and soul into their work over the past few years and are now seeing the culmination of their investments. Although this is not the first of Redwell’s awards by far, taking away the highest proportion of awards from the Dublin Craft Beer Cup at the beginning of March, it remains a huge mile stone for the brewery’s achievements and will no doubt serve as a fantastic stepping stone to bigger, better and more exciting prospects for the future.
I had a chance to tear Davey Jones, Redwell’s master brewer, away from the tanks and have a chat with him about his success with the brewery and his aspirations for the bright and promising road ahead.
So what was it that first drew you to Redwell?
“I answered an add, for brewer wanted. [laughing] I quite liked the idea of living in this part of the country. I was moving from Sweden back to the UK. What was interesting about this brewery was that they wanted to produce keg beer and lagers. They didn’t want to do cask beer. I hadn’t done any cask beer for many years and spent a long time in Scandinavia doing lager, doing keg beer and doing filtered beer so it was a very good fit for me and obviously they thought the same of me.”
How did the recipe for West Coast come about?
“I wanted to do an American style pale ale and I was lucky enough, I mean in the first couple of years it was very difficult, as it is for all brewers, to get hold of some good hops and I was very lucky to get hold of some good American hops. So I wanted to brew a pale ale using a lot of dry hopping and a good amount of American hops. I was very lucky to get hold of Citra, the flavours of the west coast, the mango, peach, lychee, the very soft, fruity aromas are all coming from that… blended with some other hops. That was it really, just being able to get the hops and being able to make a good hop blend and do a good dry hop job on it.”
So you must have been pleased about the Award?
“Oh it’s great, absolutely chuffed. SIBA awards are very important you’re in a competition with most the other breweries in the UK, with your brethren. SIBA is an organisation I’ve been involved with since the mid 80’s really, when it started. So for me it’s a very prestigious award and to win the gold in the regional and go on to win the gold in the national, it’s just a credit to everybody who works here”
Why do you think the West Coast won the award?
“Well, I think it’s well brewed and nicely balanced. Although it’s got a beautiful hop aroma the malt balance is very nice, it’s got a good mouth feel and it’s just a balanced drinkable beer. That’s what I aim for in beers, something balanced and drinkable and I think all the stars aligned for that particular beer.”
You said getting hops was difficult for brewers, do you feel that’s the biggest challenge? Or what is the biggest challenge for you?
“Obviously the biggest challenge is always making the best beer you can. Although in recent years securing hops has been very difficult. There are now a lot of brewers out there using a lot of hops. If you go back 10 – 20 years ago we’re using 4 or 5 times the amount of hops we were using before and that’s a lot of hops. The exotic varieties that really add zing to your beer are a rarity, being chased by a lot of breweries. So that’s something we all have to address by looking at new hop varieties, looking at other flavourings for beer. At the moment there are just not enough hops for all the breweries in the world. The harvest problems have affected us. They were not very good in Germany or America this year but the actual sheer volume of hops being used in beer is much bigger than it would have been in previous years.”
Tell me about the team you work with?
“There’s four of us who work in the brewery. There’s me who is the head brewer and then there’s David Subjack. He’s the son of a Czech brew master so it’s all in his family and he brings interesting insights into lager brewing. Then we have two kind of newbies who are Ben Wright and Bob Bullock. These guys have proved they can do it and are getting better and better all the time. Ben had his Sucker Saison brewed a couple of weeks ago and now Bob will be brewing his smoked honey porter recipe tomorrow. It’s fantastic, they’re a great little team.”
What beer most inspires you?
“Oh God, now there’s a difficult question. It depends what time of the year it is really, what mood you’re in. You know, there’s a lot. There is a lot. Magic Rock, Cloudwater, Beavertown, all their beers are superb. Thornbridge have been producing some great new wave beers. Too many great breweries to mention them all. I’m learning from them as well, they’re all being very innovative. There is a great amount of innovation going on in craft brewing at the moment and so many great brewers who are not afraid to do new things.”
So what’s next on the schedule then?
“Well tomorrow we have Bob’s smoked porter. We have an equinox IPA in fermenter, which is on dry hops now, so that’s coming out. We our expanding our brew house at the beginning of next month, we’re looking to put a canning line in so there’s lots of expansion. We’ve got a great core range of beers that we want to improve on. There’s always tinkering going on [laughs] and of course a few new beers coming out along the line but mostly there’ll be a lot of engineering going on.”
It’s a pleasure to see the kind of passion that Davey Jones exudes when he talks about brewing and it makes it impossible not to be excited for the forth coming. With another award tucked firmly under their belt the future is looking exceptionally promising for this Norfolk craft brewery. The promise of new and interesting beers on the horizon and an expansion allowing them to become more independent and innovative will surely make Redwell the brewery to watch in 2016.
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