Monday, 14 November 2011

Reality! The XT Brewery Story Part VIII

Are you the brewer?” – I felt a tap on my back and I turned around, thinking I might need to apologise for my aroma; it had been a long day and I was enjoying a pint in the pub... “This is an excellent beer, well done” he said with a beaming smile. Yes, we had finally done it, our beer was flowing and it was going down well.

You may have followed our story in Beer on Tap over the past several editions. We have now successfully finished building the brewery and the first beers are being delivered to pubs around the area. The new XT Brewery is on the beautiful Notley Farm estate near Thame and we will supply North Oxfordshire with a selection of fine ales. We also have a small and very informal shop at the brewery where we sell fresh beers in carry home bottles and casks in various sizes from 9 pints to 72.

It’s been extremely hard work but a truly a fascinating journey so far. One of the most enjoyable aspects has been meeting all sorts of different people; from the local businesses and farmers who have helped us with free labour and loans of equipment, to local CAMRA groups who have followed our progress and spread the word. We have even had a constant stream of enquiries from people asking to be on the tasting team; all for no financial reward... people are indeed devoted to pushing the cause of real ale!

Life is now rather different from my old office job. Eighteen hour days brewing, learning how to wire up control valves, plumbing in cooling systems, hauling sacks of spent grain onto farmer’s trailers, talking to pub landlords about delivery schedules, wondering if my thumb will ever work properly again after dropping a cask on it... it has been a life changing saga. However, even at 3am lying awake worrying if the heat-exchanger was the right way around (it wasn’t) I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.

We have made three beers so far. The first was ‘Four’ a mellow amber 3.8% beer made with five different malts, including a couple of very special Belgian ones; it’s a complex but very drinkable session ale. Then next out of the mash tun was ‘Eight’, the malty chocolate 4.5% dark beer for those winter evenings designed to help you put the world to rights. The most recent has been ‘Two’ a fruity golden 4.2% pale ale made with biscuity malts and some noble hops from Bohemia and a remote little corner of Bavaria.

From the outset the aim was to bring more people into the wonderful world of decent tasty ales by making the beers easy to understand. Our modern colourful and simple labels should stand out on a bar and help bring new drinkers to the cause or guide the hardened real ale aficionado, by showing the style, flavours and how the beers are all part of a wide and fascinating family.

The beers are now gradually appearing in pubs across Oxfordshire as fast as we can get out and about to spread the word. We hope you enjoyed following our story so far and that you will now enjoy drinking the product. Why not come and see our new little brewery or try the beers for yourself?