Hops and Dreams Preview: Co-Fermentation, Saisons & Cider

In preparation for our upcoming cider stint at Hops and Dreams, a new celebration of modern beers, ciders, street food and music in Bedford at the end of October (www.hopsanddreams.co.uk) we sat down with organiser Tim Edwards of bottleshop Beerfly to chat about craft beer and cider, mixed ferm beers and the hybrid styles that have been knocking about.  


Hybrids & Co-Ferments - When The Beer & Cider World Collide

You can’t seem to go out drinking these days without someone talking about craft beer, the craze for these modern American style hoppy brews from the likes of Cloudwater, Verdant, Northern Monk and others has turned the UK beer industry upside down. 

As small craft brewers they are drawing their inspiration from all sort of different places from the New England hazy, juicy IPAs to traditional brewing wild fermentation techniques from Belgium and even involving cider makers and techniques that might traditionally be associated with ciders in their process.  

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Three releases leaving the brewery this week.

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One notable example is Mills Brewing, the number one rated UK brewery on untappd, a beer and cider app that allows users to rate and track their favourites. Mills started brewing in 2015 and cite the inspiration for their second brew as Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider in Herefordshire. They brewed a beer/cider hybrid with him, involving the wort being fermented for eight months in old cider barrels with the residual lees from a previous cider fermentation. 

More recently they’ve produced Lambinett with Oliver’s cider, by co-fermenting a strong red wort with Dabinett apple juice and cider lees (deposits of dead or residual yeast and other particles at the bottom of a vat or cask after fermentation and aging) in old oak whisky casks for 15 months. A true blend of traditional cider making and beer brewing techniques. They also made Draw Together blending three different barrel fermented beers: a Bordeaux red rye sour, a cider saison (cider made with a Belgian saison yeast strain) and a White Burgundy strong ale. 


Keep an eye out for a new brew coming from another brewery Little Earth Project made with Mills Brewing and Ross Cider, whose casks were filled with wort made with a little bit of their home grown Barley (and other interesting things), hopped with aged Suffolk Goldings with Mills’ house culture yeast .They’ll be leaving it for as long as it needs so who knows when it’ll be released? But as with all of these beers the production size is small and the stock is limited so it’s important to move fast to get hold of any.  


Little Earth Project brew in a traditional farmhouse style, using mixed fermentation and ageing to sour their beers. They tend to use a primary clean yeast, and add a wild yeast (from the apple skins found in cider lees) to allow it to do its wild thing and sour the beer over time. They’re based in the traditional cider making area of Suffolk so draw on the inspiration of cider makers and a lot of the flavours, tart, sour, fruity, that you might associate with traditional ciders come through in these beers.

There are plenty more examples of breweries that are specialising in these more sour, mixed fermentation beer styles and Tim recommends looking out for the likes of Yonder Brewing, whose Jan 2019 release of their seasonal series, Loop, featured 20% apple juice, pressed from tannic cider apples grown local to their brewery in another cider heartland of Somerset. The juice does a very good job of adding to the mixed cultures and the result is a cross between a dry, farmhouse cider and a tart farmhouse saison. Wild Beer Co, also from Somerset, have long been experimenting with flavours in their beers and produce a fantastic range of different beers and Vault City from Edinburgh are one to watch as they’ve made their name with thick, sour, fruity beers using mixed ferm.

So, if you’re interested in finding out more about these styles of beer and would like to try a wide range of awesome brews, including offerings from the likes of Little Earth Project, Vault City and Yonder - we will be making a special appearance at Hops and Dreams where we’ll be curating their cider offering including some keg and bag in box ciders and no doubt chewing the fat over a few drinks. 

Check out www.hopsanddreams.co.uk or more information or pop into your local independent bottleshop and get involved in the crafty revolution!


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Hops & Dreams is a brand new celebration of modern beer and music hosted and run by @beerflyshop, Bedford’s Buzzing Beer Shop. Located in Bedford’s Harpur Suite in the heart of the town centre, this weekend at the end of October (24th, 25th & 26th October 2019) will feature a large selection of modern beers from the very best local and national craft breweries. DJs and live bands throughout the venue brought to us by @thepadpresents and @rollyourownrecords. An opportunity to meet the brewers and representatives of the UK’s very best breweries including @cloudwaterbrew @pollysbrewco @glasshousebeerco & @moncadabrewery at their own individually themed and branded stalls where they’ll be there pouring their best and freshest beers for our punters. A special festival beer based on a Bedford Homebrewer concept brew is being brewed with @threehillsbrewing too and will feature on the Beerfly and friends bar alongside such national favourites as Verdant, Brew By Numbers, DEYA and Unity giving over 25 different beers to choose from at any one time. There will also be a gin & vodka bar from local distillers @twobirdsspirits and cider from our friends @craftynectar. The venue will be curiously themed to give the place an interesting and intriguing vibe including weird games, dreamy drapes and #beerinbed insta photo ops. They’ll also be streetfood outside the venue with some of the UK’s best streetfood vans serving up tasty treats including @chicken_george_jnr Find out more at www.hopsanddreams.co.uk

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