Friday 27 April 2012

A new brewer in town

I dropped in at the Botanist brewpub on Kew Green this week to find its new brewer – or rather, one of its two new brewers – at work, having just started there earlier this month. His name is Johannes and he is originally from Bitburg in Germany, but he has just returned to Europe after two years brewing in Canada. Before that he worked in a number of other breweries including Paulaner's Shanghai brewhouse.

A lager brewer in an ale brewery? Don't forget that many lager styles, weizen for example, are brewed warm like ale and with a top-settling yeast. In any case, a good brewer – and I'm sure Johannes is that – can turn his or her hand to pretty much any style.

Johannes said he will continue brewing the Botanist's four regulars, which are Humulus Lupulus (pale ale), 391 (brown ale), Kew Green (fruit wheat beer) and OK Bitter, as well as producing specials and seasonals. Coming up soon are a Blueberry Cream Ale and a smoked amber ale to be made with peated Scotch whisky malt. Hopefully there will also be a brew of 65 Mild for next month's Mild Month.

There is some management interest in adding a lager to the range, but it would need investment to install conditioning tanks in the cellar. In the meantime, they'll continue kegging and carbonating the Kew Green and maybe also the Humulus – both unfiltered and unpasteurised – for sale as home-grown alternatives.

As an aside, the Botanist is far from alone in kegging live unfiltered beer. Many Bavarian and US craft brewers do it, say, although others do filter and chill. It shows that the oft-repeated tale that all keg beer is filtered and pasteurised is actually a myth, although of course kegging an ale does mean it won't get much if any of a secondary fermentation, and the added CO₂ means it no longer qualifies as “real”.

Anyhow, a second brewer is due to join the Botanist in the next few weeks. Is there enough work in a 2.5-barrel brewery for two? Maybe at times – apparently the management would like to be able to squeeze in an extra brew or two per week – but longer term the pubco which owns the Botanist is looking to open a second brewery to supply its other pubs, in which case one of the two would move there.

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