Saturday 01 September 2018
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We’re long-standing, card-carrying fans of Siren at Beer52, and always been aware of the brewery’s abiding respect for German styles and brewing traditions. So, we’re delighted to include Siren’s Cold Brew schwartzbier in this month’s box, and even more delighted that it’s given us an excuse to catch up with the team and find out what’s new.
It’s been another tremendously busy year since we last spoken with Siren, whose schedule is as ever driven by a relentless slew of new and updated brews, amounting to an equivalent of one new beer a week. Its ‘Suspended in…’ series has been particularly popular, with session-strength pale ales showcasing different single hops, as well as a couple of amazing IPA strength brews. Another recurring series, Sound Wave Sessions – a series of Session IPAs riffing on Siren’s Flagship Sound Wave IPA – have also gone over well in the unexpected British heatwave.
Siren has a reputation as a prolific collaborator, and this year has been no exception; brews with the likes of Lervig, Finback, Slim Pickens and Civil Society will all landing soon. These are of course on top of the International Rainbow Project 2018, which will be Siren’s last, and is set to feature beers that are either barrel aged or wild ferments, or both.
The brewery also recently celebrated its fifth birthday, for which it brought back its Limoncello IPA and Caribbean Chocolate Cake for a series of tap takeovers all over the country.
“A personal highlight of mine has been the popularity of our own brewery tap launched late December, that we call the Tap Yard,” says Siren’s Andy Nowlan. “We’re not the easiest to get to, but a strong community is building up along with a humbling amount of people who are making the trip out on Saturdays or for festivals. The beer we serve never leaves the cold store, plus we get to chat to people about beer all day. You can’t beat that.”
The Siren beer in this month’s box reflects both the brewery’s love of German beer, and its passion for coffee, as Andy explains: “Beer and coffee for us have always gone hand in hand. We made it a key part of Broken Dream from day one, our core-range Breakfast Stout. However, we wanted to take it further. Coffee is used in beer quite a lot now, but often in the same ways for the same flavour profiles. That’s why in 2017 we introduced Project Barista. Four coffee beers, brewed with different independent roasters, a smorgasbord of beer styles and complete variations in the techniques.
“Cold Brew is a Cold-Steeped Coffee Schwarzbier we created alongside Climpson & Sons as part of Project Barista 2018. The original idea came to our brewer, Kit, whilst out on a dog walk with a black coffee gone cold. It occurred to him that despite coffee tending to be dry, as an ingredient it is most often used in big, sweet beers. We chose a black lager to take on this trope and attempt to develop the full flavours we associate with coffee beers but in a light, dry and drinkable style of beer.
“We started out by selecting black and brown malts that would contribute coffee and chocolate notes but minimal burnt or bitter flavours. To further reduce any potential harsh or astringent tones from the malts, we cold steeped all the dark grains in the mash tun overnight, running that off into the kettle before mashing in the remaining grist.”
There’s a delicate hopping of Amarillo and Ekuanot to bring some high-end fruit flavours to the beer, but it’s reasonably subtle to allow the rich malt character to shine through. Once the fermentation process began to calm down, Siren cold-steeped 25kg of Brazilian Topazio and Rubi from Climpson’s Coffee, which has contributed a host of fudge, caramel and soft fruity coffee flavours.
More broadly though, Siren has long been a great advocate of German brewing, and is delighted to see these traditional styles and techniques gaining more appreciation here in the UK.
“It’s definitely been a big inspiration for us,” says Andy. “We brew our own take on a Berliner Weisse all year round – Calypso – although that really is our own interpretation, with plenty of dry hopping. We’ve experimented with Gose a great deal too, as has the craft beer scene in general. Recently we released ‘Spin Botany’ a gin and tonic-inspired gose with botanicals. We’ve also had the pleasure of employing German brewers here, who bring with them an amazing pedigree of training and ideas.
“Speaking of brewers, one of the best kept secrets in craft brewing is how many brewers’ go-to beers are classic, clean, crisp and refreshing German pilsners. Sometimes that’s just what you need! That inspired our recent delve into brewing a lager ourselves, SANTO. All in all, German brewing traditions and styles have definitely played their part in the diverse range of beers you can find on the shelf today, which as beer fans, we’re all very grateful for.”
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