With cloudy ale becoming more and more fashionable,
we meet the Dorset brewer who is proving that good beer
doesn’t have to be clear
Beer is a fantastic product,” says Jon Hosking, brewer and cofounder
of Gyle 59. “It’s one of the things that has helped us survive as
human beings.” The Dorset craft ale brewer isn’t talking about people having a beer on
hump day to get them through the week, but the fact that it was used to sterilise
water in the Middle Ages. Jon knows a lot about the history of beer, but that doesn’t
mean he’s a traditionalist. At the forefront of the craft ale revolution, he likes to be
creative and experiment with different ingredients; flavours that you really taste
in his large range of interesting, unfined, cloudy beer. He told us more about the
unique brewing methods that he uses to produce his special beers – drinks which
often have a great story to tell…
On your website, you say that you create spring fed, log powered,propane driven, unfined, hazy crazy artisan beers. What does that mean?!
So, the Gyle 59 brewery was launched in January 2015. We’re quite remote, so we don’t have access to three phase electricity,and we have our own source of spring water, rather than being on mains water. Those things give us some unique challenges, but also give us the opportunity to be a little bit
quirky, a little bit unusual. For the initial heating of the water you fill a hot liquor tank with hot water to start the whole process off and you need a temperature of around 75 degrees. We do that using a highly efficient German log burner with wood from the Sadborow Estate where the brewery is, so we’ve got a carbonfriendly set up. Then to actually bring the wort to the boil, we’ve got two huge gas
burners, which are driven by propane. The spring water is a real advantage to us. The stuff that’s pumped into your house has got a lot of chemicals added to it – it’s processed. We’ve got lovely fresh, clean spring water that has the same flavour profile as the sort of water they have in Pilsen in the Czech Republic, which makes it interesting. We’re starting with a clear, fresh product that’s not been adulterated.
You also say that you notice what you are drinking. A lot of beers claim to
have certain flavours, but would you say that your’s are more prominent
thanks to your brewing methods?
The UK beer industry has for a long time used traditional beer profiles which are rather uninteresting. The craft beer industry has changed all that and we’re looking to push the boundaries of flavours and
ingredients. We don’t fine our beers using isinglass – which is made from fish bladders– to clarify the beer. If you talk to most brewers who haven’t been indoctrinated with the idea that a clear pint is a good pint, they will want to produce beers that have got as few things taken out as possible and the best way of achieving that is to not fine your beer. The problem with using isinglass is that it
clumps the yeast together so it falls to the bottom of the barrel quickly, and part of that process takes out many of the flavour elements. So yeah you’ve got a beautifully clear pint that you can see through but you’re taking out a lot of the flavour that you spent a lot of time getting into the beer.
You use root ginger, liquorice and coriander seed in different beers – do you like to add spices and other flavours?
If you’d have spoken to me five years ago I would have said to you that there’s no need to add anything apart from hops, malt, yeast and water to the beer, but it’s partly thanks to Emma Turner,
the brewster here. She’s a very keen forager and that enthusiasm has come out through using elderberries, nettles, rosehip and things like that. We’ve become quite well known for the subtle
addition of different flavours.
Foraging allows you to add a local flavour to your beer too, right?
It does. The elderberries, for example, are picked from the hedgerows around the brewery . The nettle IPA that we do has an interesting story, because we’re two miles away from The Bottle Inn in
Marshwood, who hold the annual nettle eating competition. It’s a bizarre Dorset tradition that’s been on Sky Extreme Sports. They just gobble them up raw, and, yes, they do sting! Anyway, we thought it would be a good idea if we supplied them with a Nettle IPA for the event. We made one, thought
it was just a bit of fun, but then we forgot about it – I had some leftover and I was approached by the River Cottage Canteen who had heard about our Nettle beer, and bought a couple of cases. We’ve
supplied them with it ever since.
Tropical Thunder is another beer with a local connection…
That came out of discussions with Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens as they were celebrating their 250th year and asked if we could do them a celebration ale. We decided we wanted to try and include something from their garden. The one we ended up with was Drimys Lanceolata (aka Tasmanian Mountain Pepper) and, if you bite into the leaf, it’s a bit like eating a mild chilli. The beer itself has a fairly standard session bitter flavour to it – quite light, fairly easy drinking. We use a reasonably fruity hop for the background flavours.
A lot of these beers have a good story behind them…
A lot of them do. Freedom Hiker is another one – we brewed that for the Tolpuddle Martyrs festival. We found a recipe from the 1830s – around the same time as the Tolpuddle Martyrs – tweaked
it a little bit, added a load of Australian hops and we ended up with a really nice beer that’s got a story to tell.
Why is The Favourite called The Favourite?
I actually named it after a Scott Joplin ragtime song. For some reason the beer made me think of that.
Finally, tell us about your Cellar Bar in Lyme Regis
What we aimed to do when we opened the cellar bar was to stock 50% our beers and 50% other beers that are also unfined and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans – we like to encourage everyone to try our beers.
Photography by www.DorsetFoodandDrinkPhotographer.co.uk (C)2018