30 November 2014

Wild Weather Ales

Thanks to Mike Tempest & Iain Clarke of Wild Weather Ales for hosting a visit by West Berkshire CAMRA members on Saturday 29 November, 2014.
Iain Clarke & Mike Tempest - photo from preparatory visit 18/11/14
Some weeks earlier Iain tweeted me an offer that it was hard to ignore - organise a group visit to Wild Weather Ales, you pay for the transport and we'll provide the beer. The brewery is at Unit 19, Easter Park which lies between Silchester and Aldermaston, just inside the Berkshire county border with Hampshire.
The 12 barrel brewing plant from PBC was installed in December 2012. Mike and Karen Tempest have successfully introduced a range of beers that includes Little Wind, Big Muddy, Stormbringer and Shepherds Warning.
 The date we agreed on turned out to be the day of the Hennessy Gold Cup race meeting in Newbury and this reduced the numbers available for a visit and the traffic delayed the bus that some of us travelled on. However, it was a mild and sunny day which meant we could enjoy a walk from the bus stop along bridleways and footpaths to the brewery and arrive with a good thirst.

The 'bus group' of six from Newbury and Thatcham arrived at 1.30pm to find the 'locals group' of five from Aldermaston, Midgham and Padworth with (plastic) glasses of beer already in their hands. Iain soon made sure that we were also holding glasses of Little Wind from a KeyKeg.
Lower right - Chiller unit with two fonts dispensed beer from KeyKegs
The next beer, also from KeyKeg, was Rye Can't Stand the Rain, a 4% ABV rye beer 'which delivers citrus overtones with a grape finish over a subtle peppery base'.
New pumpclips feature designs by Caroline Downey
Although the chiller unit only has two fonts, Iain has rigged up a 'switchboard' which allows two KeyKegs to be connected to a single font and switched with only a small amount of wastage. Warm Front (3.6% ABV) a golden ale with a hint of ginger from root ginger, was the next beer we sampled from a KeyKeg.
KeyKegs are packaged inside a cardboard outer.

An empty globe from a KeyKeg- gas pushes beer from the foil bag without coming into contact with it.
It was now time to walk under the 'Eat, Drink and be Merry' sign into a rear room with casks on stillage and bottled beers on shelves. Most cask beers from Wild Weather Ales are supplied in distinctive pink and black firkins (9 gallons / 72 pints) but there are also some brown polypins (4.5 gallons) and stainless steel kilderkins (18 gallons - for beer festivals).
Mike Tempest (centre) + Polypin, Kilderkin and Firkin casks
One of the most unusual beers we sampled was Summer Breeze, a 5.6% ABV sour beer brewed with lemongrass. This beer was previewed at the Newbury Real Ale Festival in September and is a good introduction to the style with some sweetness to balance the sour note. The cider drinker in our group was particularly impressed with Summer Breeze. Although in my opinion, it is a beer for drinking slowly, Mike Tempest told me he had recently drunk several pints of it in one session in order to finish off a growler.
2 litre glass growlers keep beer fresh for 4 weeks
Some cask ales have been dry hopped to give a different flavour from the standard version. We enjoyed dry hopped versions of Little Wind and Rye Can't Stand the Rain from the casks on stillage.
Sundowner, a 3.4% ABV refreshing golden ale 'with subtle floral and fruity notes' had plenty of flavour and was one of my favourites on this visit.

Liberty is the hop used for Sundowner and like all the hops used at Wild Weather Ales, is an American variety. Hops in Little Wind include Willamette, Cascade and Chinook.

Another ingredient in beers from Wild Weather Ales is malt supplied by Warminster Maltings.

The planned final beer for our tasting visit was Blizzard, a winter seasonal Double IPA at 8% ABV. Served from KeyKeg, this was dangerously easy to drink with a tangy bite to balance the rich flavours.
 Time was beginning to run out for the 'bus group' who needed to be back at the bus stop by 15.54 to catch the 105 bus back to Newbury.
By special request, Iain disconnected one KeyKeg and connected up the Cumulo Citrus KeyKeg so that growlers could be filled for two in this group. This was a bonus for everyone as there was now a chance to sample this 6% ABV wheat IPA hopped with Citra.

As Cumulo Citrus is over 5% ABV, the two litre growler cost £18 (£13.50 refills available). A growler of lower strength beer costs £15 (£11). Bottled beers are also available for £2.50 including Black Night.
 The sun was going down as the 'bus group' retraced their steps. We reached the bus stop in time and it was no surprise to find the bus arriving later than due.
We had the bus to ourselves for much of the journey. It had been an enjoyable outing and we hope to arrange another visit in 2015. On our next visit a new mezzanine level will have been installed at the brewery and with empty packaging materials above ground there will be more room at ground level to provide some seating accommodation for visitors.

Wild Weather Ales - www.wildweatherales.com

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