Fallen For Hops
Friday 16 June 2017
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2015 was a rough year in many respects, but probably the saddest moment for us atFerment was the day the beer bar underneath our offices ran out of Fallen Brewing’s Chew Chew salted caramel stout.
Located in the old Kippen railway station, Fallen has the dual advantages of being surrounded by the breath- taking Highland scenery and having an almost endless supply of railway puns with which to name its beers. While it’s consciously stayed pretty small, its brews always make a big impression, interpreting classic styles with a love of bold flavours and full-throttle New World hop character.
Paul Fallen started brewing commercially back in 2012, adapting his successful home brew recipes for large-scale production at a nearby contract brewery. Although the results were reasonably successful, he wasn’t 100% happy and pushed ahead with his long-term plan to open a brewery of his own. It took until Spring 2014 before Fallen’s Brewery in Kippen was ready to start production on five core beers: Citra Odyssey blonde (since renamed New World Odyssey) Dragonfly American amber, Blackhouse smoked porter and Grapevine New World pale.
These proved so successful that before long, Paul extended Fallen’s range into the ‘Station Specials’ series, which aren’t part of the core range, but still available year-round. Every beer in this range is truly great, though the puns are less so.
Paul quickly found he needed extra hands and later in 2014 took on former Scottish and Newcastle brewer Dave Kenn to be his right-hand man.
“We had a lot in common – we both love hoppy beers and were looking to escape careers we weren’t happy in – and really hit it off,” recalls Dave. “It’s been great to see the business go from strength to strength as we’ve grown the team to seven, adding a couple of people to the brewhouse, a driver and Jamie our sales manager, who was formerly with Fyne Ales. It’s a great team.”
At the end of last year, Fallen invested in a new canning line and stopped its time-consuming manual bottling (apart from for Waitrose, which is taking a little longer to come round to the merits of the can). This is part of an expansion plan that will see the brewery at least double its capacity later this year, finally upgrading its dinky 10-barrel mash tun and installing new 20 or 30-barrel tanks, drastically increasing its capacity and efficiency.
Things are certainly on the up at Fallen, but I’m keen to hear from Dave whether he is worried that the brewery’s focus on very hop-forward beers may be a little behind the times, as UK drinkers shift toward more subtle flavours.
“I’ve not seen any evidence of that happening yet, and believe there will always be a sizeable chunk of the beer market that enjoy exploring hops and that if you’re producing quality beer with quality ingredients, there’s really no limit to your reach. Besides, in my time in the industry, I’ve seen the hop suppliers become so much more interesting and diverse. We’re finding new ways to get interesting aromas and flavours out of new hop varieties all the time. Even for that section of the market that’s always looking for something new, hops will continue to surprise for a while yet.”
While Fallen started out selling locally, and has been particularly successful in the pubs and bars of Edinburgh, Dave reports the brewery is becoming more ambitious in trying to reach new drinkers.
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