December 28th, 2012Desert Island Beers
This weeks Desert Island castaway is Matteo Bonfanti, Head Brewer at Ticino Brewing Co. Stabio, Switzerland. Matteo (aged 30) was born and grew up in Italy and went to the University of Milan, the faculty of Agriculture, where he took a degree in Food Science and Technology. The University is less than 2 kilometers from the infamous Birrificio Lambrate, and so it happened that every now and then he found himself at Lambrate drinking great beers between one lesson and another.
During his years at university he met a friend who had just started brewing beers at home, he showed Matteo how to brew, where to buy ingredients and equipment and he became a homebrewer too. After buying all the equipment Matteo says he started brewing at his grandfather’s house, with his grandparents as assistants.
Holidays too were often about beer: so whilst his friends planned holidays with guide books, he was looking for pubs, breweries and beer places; Belgium, Germany, The U.S.A , Baltic States, England, Sweden, Norway, again Belgium, again England…etc.etc..
After obtaining his degree Matteo had his first experience in a craft brewery with he says an intense internship at BrewDog in Scotland. After that he went back to Italy and to University to start a Ph.D. in Technological innovation for Agro-food. Matteo says it was however obviously about beer: microbiological analysis of beer and some research about beer made with chestnuts. Then a move to Ticino, the Italian speaking region of Switzerland, where he became Head Brewer of the newly established Ticino Brewing Company.
Matteo says some of his best moments working at Ticino Brewing Co. have been on collaboration beers; a White IPA with Kjetil from Nogne-O and a fresh hop amber lager with Stephen and Gabriel from Rappi Bier Factory. Matteo says these are great experiences where you learn from fellow brewers, have fun and drink a lot of beer as well!
Ticino is one of the first small breweries in Europe who put their beers in cans. And as Matteo is a big fan of cans it’s a great thing for him! He also loves hops, whether from Europe, United States, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa! He’s also kinda addicted to brewing books (history, raw materials, technology, beer styles…) and loves reading them to help improve his beer culture and knowledge.
Read the rest of this entry » Tags: birrificio italiano, Cantillon, libertines, Saison Dupont, switzerland
September 28th, 2012Desert Island Beers
Meet Josh Scott, founder and Executive Brewer of Moa Brewery of Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand. Founded by Josh in 2004, Moa began with a focus on brewing super premium beers – and that’s exactly what they have done since, as for the second year running Moa recently chalked up the biggest medal haul of any brewery at the Asian Beer Awards, with one gold, two silver and four bronze medals.
Their beers and ciders are fastidiously handcrafted with traditional brewing methods and rounded off through the use of wine making techniques, including barrel ageing, bottle fermentation and conditioning.
Josh brewed his first beer in an old shed out the back of his father’s Marlborough vineyard in 1987. It wasn’t very good and technically, because he was only 13 at the time it also wasn’t very legal. But that single event set the course for the next 20 years of his life. The very next day (officially, five years later when Josh was of legal drinking age which in New Zealand is 18) Josh and some mates from school (who were officially also all 18 years of age, even though they were still in Third Form) set about finding out everything they could about the biology and chemistry of brewing. No small feat in 1987 as the Internet hadn’t been invented, school libraries didn’t really cater to their needs and none of them could drive to a library that possibly could.
What followed was 15 years of trial and error, where Josh learnt the trade at the feet of some of the world’s most well regarded traditional brewers. Until finally in 2004 he felt comfortable enough to produce a beer that people wouldn’t actually mind paying for and established Moa Brewery.
A Moa was a giant bird (up to 12 feet high) that use to roam New Zealand. It was hunted out by the first Maori inhabitants some 600 years ago and Josh decided to name the brewery after this giant bird because the Maori hunters known as the ‘Moa Hunters’ lived not too far from the breweries location. There were also a lot of Moa bones found close to the brewery itself.
Since establishment Moa has become a staple beer at festivals worldwide, won the respect and loyalty of connoisseurs from Europe to the Americas and the brewery is currently one of the largest New Zealand beer exporters to the United States. Moa Beer also recently took over as the official beer of New Zealand’s 2012 Olympic teams and it’s packaging won gold at this year’s Brew NZ Awards.Tags: moa brewing, new zealand, Saison Dupont, tuatara
May 12th, 2012Desert Island Beers
This weeks Desert Island Beers features the founder and owner of Compass Brewery, Oxford, Mattias Sjoberg.
Born and raised in a small town just south of Stockholm, Mattias started brewing at home when he was 16 years old. He quickly became fascinated with the chemistry and biology of beer and this led him to apply to a degree course in Brewing and Distilling at the International Center for Brewing and Distilling at Herriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Once in Edinburgh, he completely immersed himself in everything surrounding beer and whisky. As treasurer of The Water of Life Society, he started holding tastings, organising distillery trips and arranging talks by distillers and blenders from around Scotland. He also took up employment at Royal Mile Whiskies.
After graduating with a BSc(Hons), he secured a job at Munton’s Malt in Suffolk where he was involved with malt extract production, followed by a position at Scottish & Newcastle at their brewery in Reading. Working in the Quality department he was a regular member on their taste panel before he became a shift leader in the brew house.
Having wanted to set up his own brewery since he started as a home brewer, he got his chance in March 2009 when made redundant from the Scottish & Newcastle brewery due to its announced closure. Compass Brewery had been on Mattias’s mind for years and he set up the company in April 2009, first focusing on holding tastings in Oxford, and then launching the first brew, Baltic Night Stout, in November 2009.
In October 2011 the company doubled its staff — with Mattias plus one new partner now working full time in the brewery! Having initially set up as a cuckoo brewery, Compass is currently going through an expansion phase and obtaining their own premises and equipment.
As for the brewery name; Mattias says the compass is a simple tool that has been pointing people in the right direction since the 8th century, so what better name for a brewery that is dedicated to guiding you through the maze of beer flavours!Tags: compass brewery, Deuchars, duvel, paulaner, Saison Dupont
April 25th, 2012Desert Island Beers
Welcome to the latest episode of Desert Island Beers which this week features Will Hawkes who works on The Independent’s sports desk and writes about beer in his spare time.
Born in London and brought up in sunny Kent, he has had an interest in ale since he could convince a barman he was 18 – but his real conversion to good beer came after a year spent living in Southern California in 1999-2000, when the craft beer revolution was just beginning to take effect.
He also loves cricket and writes about the county game. He lives in South London with his wife and eight-month-old son.Tags: brooklyn, gadds, kernel, Moor, Saison Dupont
December 4th, 2009Belgian/Trappist
I always opted for the larger (75Cl ) bottles of Saison Dupont as they come
corked rather than with a bottle cap and the metal from the cap apparently can slightly change the flavour of the beer. I figure this has been being with the cork for years so why not go with the authentic?
My first warning is to handle this strong belgian beer with care, it needs to be opened and poured extremely gently as it has a lively character. The appearence is cloudy and brighter than the picture suggests with a yellow tint. The head, as is reflective of such a lively beer, is large and holds throughout. This large bottle was split three ways and I would recommend that it is a social beer which should be taken with friends and possibly some nibbles. As I sit here I can’t help having the completely unfounded thought that it would go really well with Tapas (although please don’t blame me if that combo doesn’t work!). The less adventurous would probably have this with some strong cheese and chunky bread. I recently was discussing football boots with a friend of mine and used the phrase ‘simple is beautiful’ the same sentiment springs to mind when considering that food/beer combination.
In drinking Saison leaves a warming sensation on the tongue, probably due to the 6.5% abv. It is quite rustic, almost rough in taste. Not for the weak hearted but I think it is quite uniting in that most beer fans, whether you like ales, lagers or stouts, will find it to be a real treat.Tags: 6.5% abv, Belgian Strong Beer, Lively, Saison Dupont, Warming