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The Comedy of Errors

Black Iris and Totally Brewed

5 October 15 words: Thom Stone

Nottingham brewhouses join forces to create a proper beverage and you can find it at the Nottingham Beer Festival in a couple of days

Before the debated term ‘craft beer’ came about, Nottingham WAS known nationally for its brewing history. Notable names such as Shipstones and Nottingham Brewery both founded in the mid 1800s, and new breweries like Castle Rock, Blue Monkey and the newly resurrected Nottingham Brewery, have once again put Nottingham on the map with their superior, cask-conditioned real ale.

These big names have also paved the way for younger breweries to bring fresh ideas, and modern techniques and styles to the brewing landscape of the East Midlands. Breweries such as Black Iris, Totally Brewed and even the Castle Rock spin-off series, Traffic Street Specials, have brought new flavours to the bars of Nottingham.

Friends Alex Wilson and Nick Folkard founded Black Iris in Derby in 2011. After three years of local success, they upped sticks and moved to Nottingham. It was here they installed a brand new brewing system and fully relaunched their brand with a new roster of brews, starting with a one-off collaboration with Castle Rock called Flame Out. Their core range can be found in bars throughout Nottingham on keg and cask – keep your eye out for their hoppy pale Snake Eyes and American IPA Endless Summer.

Robert Witt founded Totally Brewed in 2014. After winning gold in a homebrew competition with his IPA 4 Hop Men of the Apocalypse, he felt it was time to go pro. This beer became the flagship IPA from Totally Brewed, and has since gone on to win SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) Gold at last year’s Robin Hood Beer Festival. The brewery is steadily growing, having moved to bigger premises at the beginning of this year and incorporating a soon-to-be fully functional taproom and bottle shop on site.

The brewing scene in Nottingham is not only booming, but also very friendly. Many breweries are happy to help each other out with ingredients like malt or hops in a pinch. It is this unique relationship between would-be competitors that make things such as collaboration brews possible.

Totally Brewed and Black Iris started discussions about brewing a collaboration brew earlier this year. After deciding to join forces with a shared bar at this year’s Robin Hood Beer Festival at Nottingham Castle, the timing couldn’t have been better to get the casks rolling on the shared beer. As is the case with most brewers, the two sides decided to take a rather laid-back approach – the recipe wasn’t discussed in full detail until the brew day itself.

Opting for a dream team of modern American and southern hemisphere hops for flavour, yet a more traditional European bittering hop, the beer was set to be an impressively balanced brew that would satisfy both breweries’ loyal followers. Being a one-off beer, aimed specifically at the audience of the Robin Hood Beer Festival, it was agreed that casks would be the preferred method of serving.

The whole process of brewing our beloved beery beverage is a labour of love, combining equal parts science and art, physical work and mental exercise. Anyone can make good beer once or twice with a bit of practice, but it takes a true artisan to make great beer again and again to satisfy the ever critical drinking public.

Robin Hood Beer Festival, Nottingham Castle, Wednesday 7 - Saturday 10 October, £10 - £20

Totally Brewed website
Black Iris on Facebook

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