Less beer miles and quality flavours, homemade or local beer is more than a kitsch label at The Food Assembly.
Marmalade probably isn’t a taste most people would associate with beer – but it’s one of the more unusual flavours on offer from Food Assembly producer Clarkshaws.
Just order a bottle of its Hellbound IPA.
Britain is currently in the grips of what the government has called a “beer boom” – a new brewery is now opening every other day – and with interesting options like Clarkshaws’ Hellbound around it’s easy to see why.
Craft and local brewers are creating particular excitement, with festivals such as Craft Beer Rising in Glasgow, Brewfest in Cardiff (which took place for the first time last month), and this month’s Courtyard festival in London bringing beer enthusiasts together to try out new varieties.
So what is it that makes local and craft beers so popular? Mark Fry, owner of Bude Brewery in Cornwall (also a Food Assembly producer), explains.
“The idea that you can use different ingredients and different quantities than your normal beer is very exciting,” he says. “Liam, our brewer, loves that with craft beer you can blow someone’s mind when they taste it, as it’s completely different to how it looks.”
Lucy Grimshaw, co-director of London-based Clarkshaws, goes further. For her, it’s not just that small local producers can “be more inventive with flavours” – they’re also able to “focus more on quality than larger-scale national brands”.
And, she adds, it’s a business with positive social side-effects!
“Local beer creates jobs in the community and reduces the environmental impact of drinks manufacturing,” she explains.
Keeping things local, and the traceability of products that comes with this, is high on the list of priorities for Clarkshaws. “We only use ingredients from the UK, giving our beers a different range of flavours compared with other craft beer producers,” Lucy says.
“We believe it is possible to make top quality craft beer without having high ‘beer miles’.”
The Food Assembly beer producer, Clarkshaws, is a zero-waste company, since the grains and hops are sent for composting at local community growing projects such as Loughborough Farm, and deliveries are made in a low-emissions vehicle. All its beers are accredited by the Vegetarian Society and suitable for vegans.
Bude Brewery also makes efforts to tread lightly – using renewable energy via a biomass boiler, which heats water for brewing and cleaning. All water used in the brewery is used twice – once for cooling, and again for brewing.
Both brewers have a passion for what they do. For Bude’s Liam, his enthusiasm for the industry grew from the humble beginnings of a home brew, and Lucy and her co-director Ian Clark made drinks from home for several years before deciding to start the commercial venture they run today.
For Mark, one of the best things about being a Food Assembly producer is that it opens up opportunities to connect with customers – and, on the flip side, for beer fans to get an insight into the stories behind their favourite tipple.
“People generally love the idea of local food and drink, which is why things such as The Food Assembly work,” he says.
“From our perspective, a major advantage of being local is that people can meet our brewer and look around our brewery, so they can actually see first-hand what we produce and where we produce it.”
And as the current surge in beer’s popularity goes to show, people are liking what they experience from local brewers. “The minute you put the craft beer label on it,” says Mark, “people are expecting something different”.
Hop to it, and order your local beer.