Gin is my jam. Beer? Not my poison of choice. But my local gin hub On Tap was holding a Meet the Brewery event and I just couldn’t say no.
On Tap, situated on Biddulph’s High Street, is a cosy little bar run by three close friends Liz, Tina and Dave. The owners and customers alike will always remember your face and ask about your day, or in my case, people tend to ask about Phoebe since I took her to the dog-friendly taproom.
The Mobberley Brewhouse were in house to present a talk about all things beer. From cans, cask and keg, to the brewing process and what the hell a hop is. We also sampled five of their beers, ranging from a 4.2% All Day IPA to a whopping 10% DIPA.
I walked into the bar not knowing a single thing about beer, other than some taste like death (I’m looking at you Tesco 89p own-brand lager) and others taste pretty good. I hadn’t the foggiest of what the difference between IPA and DIPA, what a hop is, whatever mouthfeel means – but now I feel like I could confidently chat with a beer enthusiast like my good friend Chris Wilson at BottleCraft and have a good idea about what I was talking about.
So, The Mobberley Brewhouse. Established in 2012, the brewery began brewing four beers – three of which are still sold today. In late 2014, they re-branded to The Mobberley Brewhouse to reflect the direction the brewery wanted to go in. Brewer Rick said they wanted to create ‘not just traditional cask but more adventurous cask beer, including a concept range’.
In 2017, The Mobberley Brewhouse expanded, along with a brand new, purpose-built brew kit to enable them to broaden their imagination and brew a whole world of new beers.
Their craft keg beers are all vegetarian and vegan friendly. This is because they do not use isinglass (fish bladder) to clarify their keg beer. This is what makes the beer cloudy/hazy.
You see, it’s easy to crack open a cold one and not give it a thought about how the can made it into your hand. There’s actually a hell of a lot of science involved in brewing beer.
Production Brewer Ben said his job is ‘a bit like being a chef, creating something you’ll taste; a bit like being a plumber, because you have to deal with so much piping; a bit like being a manual labourer, because there is a lot of heavy lifting; and a bit like being a scientist, because there’s so much chemistry behind it.’
Mash in with your malts/oats/wheat and create a grist. When they’re mixed together you get your sugars which are later fermented by yeast and turned into alcohol. The colour of your mash will usually be the colour of your final product. You can use different flavoured malts, such as chocolate flavours! This is the base of the beer and is left for an hour.
It’s then pumped into the kettle and boiled for an hour, which is where hops and other flavours are added. Hops are a flower that can add flavour and aroma to the beer.
This is then pumped into the fermenting vessel where yeast is added and ferments for 1-3 weeks depending on the beer. You can add dry hops here to add more flavour.
Once it’s fermented it’s packaged and then enjoyed! Easy, right?
Beer One: Shooting Fish – All Day IPA 4.2%
This is a very light beer, one that’s ‘like shooting fish in a barrel’ because you could drink it all day. It’s your typical ‘bring to a BBQ beer’ described as ‘clean, crisp and refreshing’. It’s a ‘session strength’ beer, so is perfect for that all day bank holiday sesh. The beer is a mix of Sumit, Ahtanum and Mosaic and doesn’t taste overly hoppy. I would say this beer is the gateway to craft beer if you want to start dabbling.
Beer Two: UnChained – New England IPA 4.4%
The first thing I noticed about this beer was the scent. It smells lovely and citrusy and tastes just the same. It includes Citra and Mosaic hops and a slightly higher ABV than Shooting Fish, however I would definitely choose UnChained as my session drink! UnChained is the little brother beer of The Mobberley Brewhouse’s UnNamed New England IPA 5.8%. It was born as a result of UnNamed being too high in percentage for places they were selling to, so created the baby version for lighter drinking, but still full of flavour and mouthfeel.
Beer Three: Save The Date – IPA 5.8%
This beer was created for Brewery owner James’ wedding. It’s 5.8% as his wedding was on the 8th of the 5th, and the barcode on the cans includes the date he and his partner got together and the date of the wedding. How’s that for sweet (he wouldn’t let Ben and Rick call it ‘Soppy Bastard’). This beer is a little more dense and physically thicker, with a little more texture which comes from oats, wheat and dextrin malt. It’s double dry hopped with Citra, Simcoe and Centennial providing an intense fruity flavour. It was double hopped slightly later in the process which makes it less bitter and keeps it tasting fruity – it certainly doesn’t taste like a 5.8% beer.
Beer Four: Sofa Surfer – New England IPA 6%
This is an American style New England IPA with a punch. It has a dry bitter finish, so I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the previous three beers. Sofa Surfer is a collaboration beer with Shindigger Brewing Co. Collaborating meant that both breweries could bring in different techniques that the other hadn’t used, to create something unique and special. The name Sofa Surfer came from the nature of Shindigger Brewing Co. who essentially surf other brewers in rotation for different beers. This one is double dry hopped with Vic Secret and Ekuanot, but sadly this wasn’t my bag.
Beer Five: Batch1000 – DIPA 10%
You read that right. 10%. This beer is a beast. This imperial IPA was brewer in celebration of The Mobberley Brewhouse’s 1000th brew! Much like UnChained is the little brother of UnNamed, Batch1000 is essentially the much bigger brother to the both of them. It uses Citra and Mosaic, but with ramped up hops and ABV. For me, this beer was impressive – just not to my taste. I felt it a little too strong (but that could well have been the four previous beers clouding my judgement.)
This was a brilliant and insightful event in a lovely intimate setting. It was brilliant to chat with the brewers and be able to learn and appreciate the art of brewing in such a gorgeous venue. We were showered with chip baps and pork pies courtesy of On Tap and they couldn’t have been better hosts.