As some of you may be aware I’m originally from a city on the outskirts of the Fens, Peterborough. I’ve been away from the city for so long though that I can’t call it home any more; apart from some family there’s nothing there now that I can associate with.
Except the beer. Peterborough was where I had my first bar job, collecting glasses at Charters, which became my first full time job when I became the assistant manager there, and was also where I trained as a professional cellarman. Mostly though, what I fondly remember about the Peterborough beer scene is the local CAMRA branch, and the beer festival they organise. The Peterborough and District branch of CAMRA, and how active they were, how committed they were to getting the best quality beer to people, was the reason I joined CAMRA all those years ago. And they put all that effort into what is easily one of the best CAMRA beer festivals.
And this year Peterborough Beer Festival is going to be better than ever before, because our beer is going to be there. In the past I’ve worked the festival many times, starting on the ale bars when I was 18 and then doing years on the cellar teams, helping run the cider bar, and eventually running the bottled beer bar. But this year will be the first time I’ve ever been in my old home town as a brewer, so we’re bringing along some rather special beers for the Singles Bar.
Satanic Mills 6%:
This is fast becoming our best seller and has been brewed multiple times now. It first appeared in cask (its only other time in cask) at the New Mills beer festival this year, and sold out in the opening session.
Its light hops give way to a smooth, rich sweet chocolate malt body and it was described by Time Out as one of seven great beers from Greater Manchester.
Uncle Sam 6%:
Not only is this the first time we’ve put this beer in cask, it’s the first time we’ve brewed it commercially! When we were testing recipes for what would become our core range of beers, this was the one that was the most popular by some way. Unfortunately it also used the most expensive and hard to get hold of hops so we never brewed it commercially, until now. Because Peterborough Beer Festival holds such a soft spot in our hearts, we’ve decided to ignore the expense and begged (thanks Torrside!) and borrowed the hops for a single batch of this beer.
A big, light-bodied IPA brewed using mash hopping, first wort hopping, kettle hopping, flameout hopping, whirlpool hopping, hop stand hopping and dry hopping, all with the big, powerful Simcoe and Mosaic hops. If you like hoppy beers get this while you can, because we don’t know when we’ll be able to brew it again.
Death In The Afternoon 6.66%:
Frank Zappa is often quoted as saying “You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer…”. Well, you can’t be a real beer festival unless you have a mad beer. When we sat down to think about what sort of mad beer we’d try, we just happened to be drinking cocktails, specifically one called Death In The Afternoon. Take one glass of champagne and add a shot of absinthe, it’s gorgeous. Light, fizzy and really rather boozy. After two or three of these and not getting anywhere with a beer recipe idea, we decided that the beer world needs more cocktail-flavoured beers. Originally we were thinking of making this the same strength as the cocktail, but we like to try and make beers you can come back for a second pint of, and as one small glass of this cocktail is enough to make most people drunk, a pint glass might be a bit much, especially if you’re going to a lunchtime session. Maybe.
So we’ve made it a much more manageable 6.66% abv, brewed with lots of lager malt for a lighter body and using crisp citrusy hops before being infused with absinthe flavours. This is the first time we’ve brewed this, and it might be the only time. We’ll have to see how popular it is to see if we’ll do it again, so grabbing a pint at Peterborough Beer Festival may be your only chance!
If you are at Peterborough Beer Festival and you do see us, come over and say hi, we’ll be there most of the week. We may even be sober some of it.