Words: Katie Taylor
Saturday 01 September 2018
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Birmingham’s independent beer scene is fast becoming one of the most exciting in the country. Breweries have been popping up all over the city, but it’s in the Jewellery Quarter where things are really starting to get interesting, thanks to bars like the Pig & Tail, 1000 Trades and Stirlings Bar. But now breweries like Burning Soul have also taken up residence, adding their take on modern Brummie beer.
Burning Soul is run by Chris and Rich, two men hell-bent on creating great beer in their hometown. Their passion for beer began in 2007, when a taste of hop-forward IPA changed their worlds.
“The first time we ever tried Punk IPA was in 2007, when it was an absolute hop bomb, and it blew our minds. That’s pretty much where the obsession with craft beer started,” says Rich. “It wasn’t too long after that we started to brew our own beers. After a few years of homebrewing, we were brewing beers we were really proud of and wanted to share them with more people. That’s where Burning Soul began: our name is all about having that burning soul for brewing great beer.”
Brewing in Birmingham means being close to some exceptional beer industry friends. Once they began sharing their beers, Burning Soul quickly became a fixture within the local scene, and started collaborating. They’ve since worked with Fixed Wheel and Green Duck and they’ve even managed a three-way with Glasshouse and Odyssey, from outside of the West Midlands over in Hereford. The’re also taking part in Collabageddon 2018, masterminded by Elusive Brewing.
Despite the fast-growing nature of his local scene, Rich insists it’s all good for new brewers. “The brewing community is a great place in Brum, it never feels like we’re competing. It’s all very friendly and we have a good laugh when we meet at events or festivals.”
To add to the Jewellery Quarter’s growing rep for extremely cool places to eat and drink, Burning Soul’s new tap room is now open every Friday and Saturday. It’s well worth a visit if you’re into testing new brews – and who isn’t? – because Chris and Rich use the tap room to test some of their wilder creations on the public.
“We still run our 80l SS Brew Tech homebrew kit that used to be used in my garage for brewing up exciting recipes, then unleash them to the public right here in our taproom,” says Rich.
Some of Burning Soul’s most successful beers aren’t the hop-forward IPAs you were expecting. Its Coconut Porter still draws a big crowd, as does its Zephyr Saison – which led to the creation of its extremely popular Raspberry Zephyr. Of course, it also has a Hazy IPA juicebomb, dangerous at 7.1%, but its most recent creations that have proven that Birmingham’s beer fans are an adventurous bunch: a Citra Amarillo Kettle Sour and a deliciously creamy Ice Cream Pale. Yes please.
Despite their newness, Burning Soul is already making big plans. A barrel-aging programme is on the cards, with a bretted sour already happily snoozing in a Sauvignon Blanc barrel, beside a Jack Daniels barrel full of coconut porter.
The pair also hope to expand their small brewery in the near future. “We’re still running of our self-built 600l brew kit. We’ve just started our next stage, adding some extra space by installing a new mezzanine floor to free up more floor space, which now gives us enough space for four more fermenters. This is really exciting for us, as we’re aching to brew more beer and at the moment we just don’t have the tank space. The two new tanks should give us roughly a 35% production boost.
“At the moment we’ll happily settle for a few more 600l fermenters just to give us more scope for trying new brews, and having a great time doing it!”
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