Thursday, 28 October 2010

First, There Was The Clone Beer. Now...?

...the UK may have its first clone brewery! Yes, folks, say hullo to Kent Brewery, a new start-up in the Garden of England. I say start-up, as the business is caught up in a planning dispute which has delayed their setting up in a permanent home. While they work with their prospective neighbours and the local authority, they are keeping their hands in with the help of a neighbouring brewer, said to be Larkins, to produce some test brews.

They do have a website, which has a wonderfully evocative theme about Kent's place in our brewing tradition, lofty ambitions in the area of provenance and the exciting possibilities of the New Hops. However, these are forward-looking brewers, as they explain,
[we] will not be recreating old recipes (although we may take guidance from the best), or keeping only to traditional hop varieties, because we are looking to the future rather than to the past for our inspiration.
Ah, guidance from the best. Who's the best? Might be the former employer of Paul Herbert (our Kentish Man), judging by the couple of unfined gyles of beer which have made their way to his old place of work. My source (we'll call him/her, "Deep Pint") takes up the tale.

Numbered Gyle 1, the first contained a 5.5% Porter, while the other cask is described as a "pale hoppy beer". Both might be described as 'signature beers' of the former employer. One has been a Champion Beer Of Britain. Recent sampling of Gyle 1 caused raised eyebrows, as the beer appeared to be exactly to the recipe of his old employers' Porter. A little side-by-side sampling took place outside the brewery, which confirmed the suspicions. According to Deep Pint, his erstwhile colleagues are "fuming" about what they see as ripping off their recipes.

Now, it's possible that Herbert is just using these recipes until his own brewery is up and running. Or perhaps "guidance" means copying lock stock and hopsack. Just to make sure, I expect his old mates will be in touch to wish him well and ask for their recipe book back.

1 comment:

Paul Herbert said...

I think it is important to correct the impression given by your post. I am aware that when the Porter was delivered to the pub of 'the former employer' there was consternation that it may be the same recipe. However, once the finings had worked on the cask, I believe that the differences became apparent. The Head Brewer of ‘the former employer’ has since been told the recipe and knows that it is very different, with a completely different hop profile. The "pale hoppy beer" is also a different recipe. I cannot vouch as to whether it might match one of the hundreds of pale hoppy beers that are produced by other breweries, but it certainly does not match any of those of ‘the former employer’. Kent Brewery clearly has some expertise that comes from that brewery, but what would be the point of copying their recipes? If we had thought that the Porter would be assumed to be the same, we would hardly have sent it to the pub as one of the first outlets. Our ambitions are to continually develop, refine and enjoy producing new and ever-more exciting taste experiences. We will continue to push at the boundaries of what appears in pint glasses all around the country to make beer-drinking a more exciting experience. We will never be mediocre, but most of all we will never produce wholesale copies of any recipes of ‘the former employer’.