Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Future of Cask and Craft Beers


XT Brewing welcomes proposals by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) to widen its remit to include all quality beers, and not just cask ales.

XT Brewing head brewer Russ Taylor said CAMRA’s move fits in well with XT’s business philosophy.

“Following a very busy 2017 when we made a significant investment in new brewing equipment and a new brewery tap room, we are 100 per cent committed to increasing the production of our cask ales.

“However, we are also committed to increasing our production of all our craft beers, which are also produced in kegs, bottles and cans.

“CAMRA’s proposal to appeal to a wider range of drinkers who enjoy all quality beers – while continuing to advocate that real ale is the pinnacle of the brewers’ craft, fits in well with our thinking.

It’s been a great voyage so far on the good ship ‘XT’ – seven years ago we were just setting sail as a new virgin brewery in a beer world where there were only a few hundred like us. Now there are five times more breweries in a very crowded sea. However – we are still going at full steam ahead, with strong growth every year since the outset.

There have been some significant changes in the world of beer – it has made seismic shifts from dull mass marketing or nerdy, “Fred in a Shed” brews to the glamorous new epoch of ‘Craft Beer’. Back when we started our branding was quite unusual, turning away from the traditional look or silly names, we went clean, slick and straightforward with a cutting edge numbering and colour coded look.

The terminology of ‘Craft Beer’ is something of an enigma in England. The Americans, who arguably coined the term, view the beer and brewing world: vertically in terms of volume by producer; whereas over here, we do things differently, and view it horizontally in terms of dispense method. This does rather make twisting an American view point over our beer world a bit tricky.

So is cask beer ‘craft’ or not? –Yes probably, but I don’t think it really matters. At XT we make beer for cask, keg, can or bottle and we ‘craft’ all of them with the same love and care. The most significant format for us is, by far, Cask. Cask beer makes up most of our production and we have invested heavily over the years in our facility and equipment to make more of it and make it better. The cask range under the core XT or experimental Animal brand has been growing and we have striven to keep evolving and developing.

Our R 'n' D programme has been bringing some wondrous beery delights including the 12 month Imperial Stout, aged in a variety of seasoned oak vats; the ever changing Animal cask range and its impetuous little cousin the Baby Animal series of nano-brewed one-offs. The Eisbar Craft Lager has been rolled out to our pioneering pubs. One of the most recent developments has been our newest beer of 2018: the HopCat IPA; it is bang on trend as a hyper hoppy but lower ABV session beer.

The design world of beer has now caught up with our branding but we will keep moving ahead of the pack and continue to do our own thing. To further show our faith in the future of cask beer – we have brought our cask beer branding up to date with a modern new look. The next generation branding will be launched in March 2018 and gives all our beers a cohesive family look while keeping to our core branding principles.

We see the future of XT firmly in the cask market, working with our existing pub partners and also reaching out to other operators who are looking for an innovative brewery to develop new markets for beer with us.