Chatting with Jasper, Camden Town Brewery // Part 3

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jasper from Camden Town Brewery, London, when he was in Perth in May

As you have probably gathered from the title of this post, there is a part one and two, if you’re looking for it you can find it them here and here.

Jasper of Camden Town Brewery (London) was in Perth at the end of May talking beer and enjoying the sunshine. I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview Jasper over a coffee and some breakfast.

We chatted for over an hour about how Camden came to be in Australia, the craft beer scene in the UK compared to here, the need for a definition on craft beer, the formation of a new association for British craft brewers – United Craft Brewers, Camden’s sour program and the new brewery Camden are building. In short, we talked a lot about some really cool stuff.

Big thanks to Sarah from Memorable Drinks and Jasper from Camden Town Brewery for letting me conduct this interview on such short notice and with such a tight schedule, much appreciated.

Jasper and I at Gordon Street Garage

Here we go with Part Three …

Does the definition of “craft beer” matter?

“Yeah. Absolutely. 100%,” said Jasper when I asked him this question.

It’s a question that is pretty loaded in the beer industry with opinions divided on whether a definition is needed, what it would achieve and what will happen to the industry without it.

“Defining it is the hard thing,” Jasper said. “But there’s a lot of shit stuff out there that ain’t craft but that is trying to call itself craft.”

United Craft Brewers

“We need to define craft because it’s not a fad,” Jasper continued.

“Craft beer is different but it’s not different as in alternative, it’s a different method of thinking and a different process and it has to be defined because without it lots of things that aren’t craft can snap on the back of it so it’s really, really important and especially for the consumer so they can understand what is the difference between me and Budweiser.”

Whilst it may seem obvious what the difference between Camden and Budweiser is, there are instances where the lines are blurred. For instance here in Australia the debate is normally around Matilda Bay and James Squire, both owned by foreign companies, SAB Miller and Kirin respectively. Are they craft or are they not?

“You’ve got a lot of what we would call “crafty beers” in the market, big brewers making beers to look like they’re small brewers but they’re not and ‘small’ doesn’t mean scale, ‘small’ means thought process. Sierra Nevada is massive but the way they think is tiny,” Jasper explains.

To grow and protect the craft beer industry Jasper along with James Watt from BrewDog, Logan Plant from BeaverTown, James Clay from James Clay importers and distributors and Richard Burhouse from Magic Rock Brewing recently announced the formation of the United Craft Brewers, an association for British craft brewers.

But how will the United Craft Brewers go about defining craft brewers? At these early stages, the announcement of the association was only made a couple of weeks before our interview, Jasper said it will include brewers making beer at true gravities and those not being owner by a major brewery. The ownership piece is important in terms of who gets to make the decisions rather than the scale of operations.

The association is an open group, meaning it’s not just for brewers,

“Without everyone it’s nothing,” Jasper added.


Well that’s almost it for my interview with Jasper, just enough content for one more post I reckon so keep an eye out for the fourth and last instalment.

Chatting with Jasper, Camden Town Brewery // Part 2

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jasper from Camden Town Brewery, London, when he was in Perth in May

As you have probably gathered from the title of this post, there is a part one, if you’re looking for it you can find it here.

Jasper of Camden Town Brewery (London) was recently in Perth talking beer and enjoying the sunshine. I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview Jasper over a coffee and some breakfast.

We chatted for over an hour about how Camden came to be in Australia, the craft beer scene in the UK compared to here, the need for a definition on craft beer, the formation of a new association for British craft brewers – United Craft Brewers, Camden’s sour program and the new brewery Camden are building. In short, we talked a lot about some really cool stuff.

Big thanks to Sarah from Memorable Drinks and Jasper from Camden Town Brewery for letting me conduct this interview on such short notice and with such a tight schedule, much appreciated.

Jasper and I at Gordon Street Garage

Jasper and I at Gordon St Garage, thanks to Sarah (Memorable Drinks) for the photo

Here we go with Part Two …

why Gentlemen’s Wit …

I wasn’t aware that Gentlemen’s Wit is open fermented nor did I know the inspiration behind the beer, especially given Camden are mostly a lager brewery.

Inspiration for Gentlemen’s Wit came from a dark hefeweizen brewed by the Alios Unertl of Unertl Brewery in Germany. Jasper had met Alios whilst in Germany,

“I went to his brewery and he’s got a 50 thousand hectalitre brewery in his house, literally it’s in his house. You walk through his stairs and the 40 hectalitre mash tun has a dishwasher on one side and washing machine on the other side,” Jasper described.

“He is the most awesome man and massively inspirational to me as a brewer.”

The brewery is named after the family and on their first meeting Alios told Jasper his father’s story.

Alios’s father had been a prisoner of war, he was going to be killed by the Russians but was saved by the British military. “When I met him he told me the story of his dad but how he had never been to England but without England he wouldn’t be alive,” Jasper said. “When you build your brewery I will come,” Alios had said to Jasper and the week Camden Town Brewery was commissioned Alios visited the brewery as promised.

“He came to the brewery and he brewed his hefeweizen with me. He bought his yeast strain and everything, it was amazing.”

Jasper went on to describe the open fermenters he had seen in Bavaria. “Traditionally if you go to Bavaria all Hefeweizens are always open fermented,” he said.  He recalled the huge tanks, the way the yeast poured over the side into buckets underneath the tanks for collection and reuse to the next fermentation tanks. “It’s an evolutionary cycle,” he said. “Normally you go to a German brewery and the open fermenters are in a room so they are controlled and you don’t get airborne bacteria. Well ours isn’t.”

“We had one that got infected so we took the infected Wit and put it into barrels and that’s how we had our first sour,” Jasper said. “So we don’t introduce any yeast strains to it, just wild and it tasted awesome so that was where we started.”

The Standard - Camden Gentlemen's Wit

Enjoying a Camden Gentlemen’s Wit at The Standard earlier this year

a small sour program …

The words “we have a sour program” uttered by any brewer right now will make all beer geeks more excited than when double IPA’s started to emerge.

“You can get a lot of flavour in a beer that doesn’t have a lot of alcohol, that’s one thing I like about sours.”

Though it was the infection of some Gentlemen’s Wit that sparked Camden’s sour program, it was probably inevitable. “There was a desire from the brewers who wanted to do it and a desire from me wanting to drink it,” Jasper said.

So there are currently 30 barrels of infected Gentlemen’s Wit at Camden Town Brewery and, should all go well, they’ll be hand bottled and ready for release about April/May 2016. We might even see some in Australia.


Part Three of my interview with Jasper will cover our chat about the definition of craft beer and the formation of the UK’s new association – United Craft Brewers.

 

Beer Story: Bootleg Raging Bull

A closer look into beers that I love, the story behind their making, interviews with the brewer/s and whatever else I can find!

There are a lot of great beers out there and some beers are so memorable that the mention of that beer fills you with happy feelings. Maybe you remember where you were when you first had it, the way it tasted and the way it looked or maybe you just remember thinking “damn, this is really special”. You might be thinking I sound like a love sick fool and you’d be right, some beers I am downright head over heels in love with. Like anything you fall in love with you find yourself thirsty (pardon the pun) to learn more about it, you want to get to know it better and so here’s my semi-regular series – ‘Beer Story’, a look into beers I love, the stories behind their making and interviews with the brewer/s.


The first Beer Story I wrote way back in January so it appears that by “semi regular” I mean “six monthly”, certainly not my intention but perhaps I can do better with the third one.

In the mean time, here is the second Beer Story, this time on one of my most loved WA beers – Bootleg Raging Bull.

Bootleg Raging Bull

7.1% ABV | Robust Porter | Available All Year

Bootleg Brewery

Bootleg Brewery | Margaret River, WA 

A bit about Bootleg Brewery – Bootleg’s tagline has always been: “An oasis of beer in a desert of wine” and whilst there are many breweries in the south west today it wasn’t the case back in 1994 when Bootleg first opened her doors.

Margaret River is famous for wine all over the world and when Bootleg opened they were the only brewery in the area. To put things into perspective, Bootleg opened six years before Perth would see beers from Nail Brewing or Little Creatures who both started life in 2000.

For Bootleg’s history check out their website.

Bootleg’s Raging Bull is available all year round so even when it’s 40 degrees outside you can enjoy a Raging Bull in the blasting WA sun if that’s what tickles your fancy.

I’ve seen Raging Bull described as a robust porter, a Belgian dark ale, a strong ale, whatever style it is, quite frankly, it’s just a sensational beer. It’s 7.1% ABV so a little on the dangerous side and unapologetically so, it’s a beast of a beer. Rich red fruits, chocolate, coffee, plums, spice and biscuit are there and more, it’ll develop as it warms up and soon you’ll be reaching for another bottle.

Raging Bull turns 20 this year and the old girl is still looking so good. Bootleg’s general manager, Michael Brookes, says that people are visiting the brewery today who remember their father drinking Raging Bull. Pretty impressive, I remember my dad drinking Emu Export cans at home and pints of Redback at the pub.

Here is an interview I did a couple of months ago with Michael Brookes all about Raging Bull.

How did Raging Bull come to be?

Originally developed as relative of the original Dogbolter strong ale 7.5% brewed when Matilda Bay were in Nedlands and Fremantle. Also Ironbrew, another Matilda Bay early gem, was a relative. So it was Bootleg owner Tom Reynolds, ex-Matilda Bay brewers Rolf Vickers (now head brewer in Dublin for Guinness) and John Tollis who decided to formulate a recipe and give birth to Raging bull as we now know it.

Note: Dogbolter is still made by Matilda Bay however it’s now a dark lager – read more here.

When it was first released?

Mid-1995

Where did the name come from?

“Raging” came from the strength of the beer. At the time and still today cattle are agisted at the property and a bull was in the line of sight when names were being decided.

Black IPA at Bootleg Brewery

Still one of the best beer gardens in WA! This is a pretty old photo of a visit to drink Black Market IPA

Do you remember how people responded to Raging Bull at first?

They loved it same as they do now.

How does it compare to how people respond to their first Raging Bull these days?

Same.

What is the strangest description you’ve heard for Raging Bull?

Instead of words they cheer and get excited. They love the flavours of drinking old fashioned beer, the real stuff, not technically perfect but are consuming the real stuff of fine handcrafted ale.

Beer style for Raging Bull?

Highest end of robust porter.

Has the recipe for Raging Bull changed over the years?

No.

How much Raging Bull do you brew each year and is it on the rise?

Still brewed in 1500lt batches, more and more fermenters are filled up with bull each year!

How would you describe Raging Bull to someone who doesn’t drink a lot of beer?

A unique experience, it’s not beer as you know it.

What food would you match to Raging Bull?

Bootleg’s famous beef pie.

Beef & Bull Pie – Beef and vegetable chunks braised in a rich gravy with our Raging Bull Dark Ale w/ fries and salad. For full Bootleg Brewery Food Menu – download it here.

And finally, any memorable stories of serving a customer a Raging Bull?

At Dowerin Field Days we were doing tastings and the wheat farmers reactions to 7.1% was awesome and seeing them leaving with cartons over their shoulders, we grinned and how the parties around the bonfires those nights went on and on!


I had intended to, as I did in my past Beer Story post, leave some links to read more about Bootleg’s Raging Bull however it was a surprisingly hard task. Several Google searches came up short of things I’d recommend reading. The occasional beer review popped up but I found them very short and lacking in any new or interesting information.

Weekend Reading #37

Some beer reading I’ve enjoyed this week and hope you will too!

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From the American craft beer scene, local beer news and anything else that tickles my beery fancy, there is a lot of excellent reading material out there! Every weekend (though I may miss the occasional one due to forgetfulness!) I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have enjoyed and hope that you will too!


Chicago Tribune | Why Samuel Adams Supports it’s Competitors

A nice read on brewers helping brewers, it’s one of those things I love about the beer industry. It’s craft breweries working together and collaborating that I think will grow the craft beer love.

Good Beer Hunting | Podcast Episode 45: Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head

I really enjoy this podcast from the United States, this episode with Sam from Dogfish Head in Chicago was excellent listening. The interview covers a lot of topics including Dogfish Head’s new gluten free beer and how it came about, his love of food and how restaurants approach to beer has changed.

Crafty Pint | Going Dutch

Fellow beer writer Guy Southern of Good Times Craft Beverages blog has written his first piece for Crafty Pint and what a way to kick it off with Perth’s newest venue and it’s a craft beer venue. There are twelve taps of beer geek goodness that will rotate on a regular basis. Opening night was Thursday and included such beers as Pirate Life Throwback IPA, Nail Clout Stout, Founders Blushing Monk, Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter and Garage Project China White.

Draft Magazine | A Beer Postcard from Prague

Beer, Prague and castles. What more could you want from a holiday? Well, besides nice sandy beaches of course.

Cheese + WA Beer Tasting at Little Cheese Shop

Six pieces of cheese, six beers and 20 happy people at The Little Cheese Shop

 

There is something magical when beer and cheese come together. Both have a huge variety when it comes to flavour from nuttiness, zesty citrus, juicy stone fruit, roast, chocolate and the list continues. It’s not a wonder these two are such good friends. Sure some people will tell you wine and cheese are better but really it’s just a friendship between those two; beer and cheese are true love, the ultimate couple.

My love of beer and cheese is probably fairly well known by now, particularly if you’ve been generous with your time to spend a little of it on my blog or following me on social media. Knowing this you can imagine my disappointment at missing out on earlier beer and cheese tastings at Bayswater’s Little Cheese Shop but a few Saturdays ago I finally got to one.

Little Cheese Shop isn’t just a cute name, it’s certainly small so their events are limited to 20 people. The event is set out like a cocktail style function but there are some seats available if you wish. It’s a nice informal approach and the best way to use the small space. Besides, if it were packed with furniture there would be less room for cheese and that would be absurd!

Little Cheese Shop - Cheese and WA Beer

The tasting went for about two hours across six pairings put together by both Geoff, owner of Little Cheese Shop, and Jake Brandish, former brewer at Nail Brewing, home brewer and all round good man.

All the beers were from local WA brewers and the original five pairings were extended to six because Geoff and Jake liked different beers for one of the cheeses so decided to present both.

Jake at Little Cheese Shop event

Jake Brandish

Delice Cremiers + Feral White

Delice Cremiers

Delice Cremiers | Cows’ Milk Cheese | Burgundy, France

Just like beers, sometimes you get introduced to a cheese that blows you away and you know that cheese will always be one of your favourites. This is such a cheese.

The name Delice Cremiers translates to ‘delight of the cheese maker’ and I think in this case the cheese maker would have been a little more than just delighted. This cheese is freakin’ incredible. Stupidly creamy, rich and indulgent. My kind of cheese.

This was my favourite match for the night and certainly quite surprisingly as I don’t think I would have thought to put such a rich cheese with a more delicate beer like Feral White, a Belgian Wit. There was a beautiful harmony of the cheese’s rich sweetness with the beer’s soft fruity flavours and light spices.

Delice Cremiers + Eagle Bay Pale Ale

As you can probably tell from the heading here is where Geoff and Jake couldn’t decide on one beer to present with the Delice Cremiers so we got to try it with the Eagle Bay Pale Ale as well.

An American style pale ale so it’s big on the tropical fruit and hop bitterness so it was more of a contrast than a compliment. An interesting match but I’d have to say Feral one the day on this occasion.

Roucoulons + Last Drop Hefeweizen

Roucoulons

Roucoulons | Cows Milk | France

This was a nice match, the cheese is more on the mild side, a little mushroomy, a little earthy and a bit fruity. Overall complicated enough to match the Last Drop Hefeweizen but also soft enough not to overpower it.

The Fine Cheese Co. Cave Aged Cheddar + Eagle Bay ESB

 The Fine Cheese Co. Cave Aged Cheddar and Eagle Bay ESBThe Fine Cheese Co. Cave Aged Cheddar | Cows Milk | UK

The cheese is matured in natural caves in Mendip Hills here Somerset, UK. Geoff described it as a “classic style cheddar”. I found it sharp, full and rich and a good match to the soft toffee malts and peppery hops of the Eagle Bay ESB.

Tuma Persa + Feral Hop Hog

Tuma Persa cheese

Tuma Persa | Cows Milk | Italy

This cheese is rubbed in black pepper and comes from Sicily, Italy. The cheese reminded me of a pecorino in that it tasted very sharp and bitey. Many people at the tasting very much liked the pairing but it wasn’t for me. It’s that the great thing about food and booze, everyone is different! Personally I found the big hop flavour of the beer too similar to the bite of the cheese so it felt like sharp on top of sharp. I had some of the previous cheese, the cheddar, left over and quite enjoyed that with the Hop Hog.

Colston Basset Shropshire Blue + Nail Oatmeal Stout*

Colston Basset Shropshire Blue and Nail Oatmeal Stout

 Colston Basset Shropshire Blue | Cows Milk | England

Ah, magic. My second favourite, and it was a close finish to the end, pairing for the night. This is one of Geoff’s favourite blues and once you have it you’ll see why. A buttery, earthy and slightly sweet blue and yes it’s a funny orange colour. That comes from the use of annatto, a natural pigment from South America. This blue against the chocolate, roast and coffee elements in Nail Oatmeal Stout was simply beautiful.

wpid-wp-1433567798638.jpg

 *As of 1 June 2015 I started working for Nail Brewing however I had no involvement in organising this event, beers were chosen by co-host for the night, Jake Brandish

Chatting with Jasper, Camden Town Brewery // Part 1

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jasper from Camden Town Brewery, London, when he was in Perth in May

You’ve probably seen some of Camden Town Brewery beers around Perth; as the name implies they are a long way from their London home. The beers are distributed here in Perth and Melbourne by Memorable Drinks who are also the lovely folk who bring you Sipsmith and Hippocampus.

Camden Town Brewery

Camden Town beers at Mane Car Park event during WA Beer Week, Nov 2014

Camden Town Brewery was started by Jasper Cuppaidge in 2010. He brewed his beer in the basement of the first pub he owned, The Horseshoe, and today Jasper has upwards of 70 staff and Camden beers pour from more than 600 taps around London. The Horseshoe remains in the Camden Town family and you can read about its recent little renovation here.

I got the chance to have breakfast and a chat with Jasper when he was in Perth at the end of May. I met up with Jasper and Memorable Drinks representative Sarah Blomkamp at Gordon Street Garage.

Jasper was at the start of a fairly whirlwind Australian visit which also included a few days in Melbourne and Brisbane, where he was born, before heading back to Camden.

We chatted for over an hour about how Camden came to be in Australia, the craft beer scene in the UK compared to here, the need for a definition on craft beer, the formation of a new association for British craft brewers – United Craft Brewers, Camden’s sour program and the new brewery Camden are building. In short, we talked a lot about some really cool stuff.

Jasper and I at Gordon Street Garage

Jasper and I at Gordon St Garage, thanks to Sarah (Memorable Drinks) for the photo

Jasper was extremely generous with his time and I really enjoyed listening back to the recording of our chat, this post is just PART ONE …

Big thanks to Sarah from Memorable Drinks and Jasper from Camden Town Brewery for letting me conduct this interview on such short notice and with such a tight schedule, much appreciated.

a new brewery …

There are currently two sites being looked at for a new Camden Town Brewery. The new brewery will bring everything Camden in house as there is currently a percentage of Camden Hells kegs which are brewed in Belgium.

“We are in Belgium a lot, maybe too much,” Jasper said. “It’s like having your children in boarding school.”

Of course it also means more beer from Camden and Jasper expects his staff to grow from 70-odd to about 120 people over the next 12 months. “Another 50 friends is always interesting,” he said with a smile.

why Australia …

Camden only exports to three other countries right now – Sweden, Japan and Australia which begs the question, why here?

Awareness of Camden itself was one reason. Jasper said that a lot of Aussies know Camden because they have travelled there so they felt it was beneficial that there was an existing awareness of at least where the beer came from.

The biggest reasons however were more personal. Jasper was born in Australia, Brisbane to be exact, and his brewing director Alex Tronosco was part of the original Little Creatures team in Fremantle. Alex had good contacts here in Australia and was keen to send beer back to Australia.

“Beer makes sense in Australia,” Jasper added. “Beer is part of the culture, it’s not something new and it’s kinda part of every day life.”

Currently Camden Town beers are in about 70-80 venues, bars and bottle shops in both Perth and Melbourne and it’s a number Jasper is happy with. Not just that but he’s happy with the types of bars and retail shops that Camden is in.

Camden has always been a bit selective about what venues they are in back home so the same applies in export markets. Back in the UK Camden beers can’t be found in chain outlets or venues that aren’t quite right. I asked Jasper about what sort of venue was a Camden venue –

“It’s the person who thinks about what they are doing,” he said. “Is it [the venue] food focused? Sometimes it is. Is it coffee focused? Sometimes it is. But it’s focused.”

Meaning whatever the venue is, whether it’s a bar or a bottle shop or a pub, it’s the sort of venue that’s puts importance not just on the food and drink but the lighting, the font on the menus, all aspects of the venue.

I must emphasis that he said all of this without the slightest bit of pretention or snobbish attitude. It’s not about excluding venues, it’s about Camden being part of venues who genuinely want them, where they are adding value, adding to the overall venue offering rather than being just another beer on the shelf.

“Camden has never been sold, if it has to be sold then we are in the wrong place,” Jasper commented.

If the manager has had to be convinced that the beer belongs in that bar then it’s chance for ending up in the customers hands are quite slim. If that manager wants the beer in the bar, that’s a different story, there will be a reason they want the beer. “We service, we don’t sell,” Jasper said of his brewery representatives. “We service the people who want it.”

what’s next for Australia …

For Jasper the priority is to ensure the continued support of the bars and shops currently ranging Camden beers.

Draught beer is also on the agenda with a modest aim of just 2-3 taps in each city, any more than that and Jasper would be inclined to put on more people.

“We don’t like our beer without people,” Jasper explained

“It’s not just a beer on a shelf, it’s gotta have the story, the support and it’s very difficult to sort things from London.”

The availability of draught Camden beers will depend entirely on finding the best way to send the beer so it’s in the best condition. Jasper has ruled out one way kegs because he doesn’t have enough faith in the quality of the beer when it gets to it’s destination. Then there is also the creation of extra rubbish in sending more plastic and paper one way. There is also a whole different tax system for Jasper to consider but Jasper is hopeful to have kegs in Australia in the next twelve months.


Part Two of my interview with Jasper will cover our chat about Camden’s sour program and the 30 barrels of Gentlemen’s Wit currently aging at Camden.