Brewing On The Edge
Micro brewing may be a term you’re familiar with – beer brewed on a small scale often on a brewery plant which allows for dynamic changes allowing crafting of each intricate element of the brew.
Really there’s no specific definition of this in the UK. The only correlation to size in the UK is to do with beer tax. The small brewers’ progressive beer duty relief was introduced in 2002 with concessions of 50% on beer duty if breweries produced fewer than 50,000 hectolitres, with a tapering reduction in tax for production up to 300,000 hectolitres of beer. When you look to America their Brewers Association define a micro or craft brewery with a production size of less than 700,000 hectoliters a year. Moreover no more than 24% can be owned by another alcoholic beverage company that is not itself a craft brewery. So ‘micro’ comes in many different sizes.
Imagine the next step down – nano or pico brewing. Tiny beer operations, brewing mini batches of beer and distributed to a limited surrounding area. However this isn’t really a definition only a musing on the rumblings going on around the UK from the new wave of home brewers resurging and emerging in new-fangled forms.
Take On the Edge Brewery, based in Netheredge. If there ever was a definition for pico-brewing Tom’s set up would definitely exemplify it. Imagine a half barrel brewery kit (mash tun, kettle and fermenter) set up in the dining room of a terraced house producing four casks per month. Imagine carboys dotted around the house filled with bubbling beer, as it secondary ferments. Imagine shelves full of books about technical brewing skills and beer styles such as ‘Smoked beers’ by Ray Daniels and Geoffrey Larson.
Tom Richards first began home brewing beer and wine six years ago as a hobby, often sharing his brews with friends and family. After five years hearing their praises of his tasty beers, he finally realised that perhaps his hobby could become more and launched On the Edge Brewery. Exploring the commercialisation of a hobby from the comfort of your home is certainly a good route to begin on in current climates. The location of the set up at home allows Tom to continue to work full time as an art teacher whilst brewing in his spare time.
After gaining his commercial licence in mid-2012, Tom and his partner Luisa decided to launch with a beer festival at the old junior school on London Road showcasing eight of their beers. The beer sold out in six hours. With quality reassurance from winning Sheffield Camra’s silver award in their annual beer of Sheffield competition that year for their Berliner, a German style wheat beer has seen them build on this success through increasing availability at local pubs.
Influenced by British and worldwide beer styles, including the American beer scene and their hopping approaches, such as Sierra Nevada and Stone Brewing Co means a huge variety of beer is presented by On the Edge. The range includes Smokey Peat, a winter stout at 4.1 per cent; Citradel, a pale and hoppy ale using Citra hops at 5.7 per cent and Sovereign Gold, using UK yeast and Sovereign hops making a pale ale at 4.8 per cent amongst the list. 2013 will see production of a vanilla stout using Madagascan pods; rose petal ale and orange blossom wheat beer.
Look out for this innovative locally produced beer at The Broadfield, The Fat Cat, The Rutland Arms, The Mallard (Worksop) and Imperial (Mexborough).
Watch this space: @ontheedgebrew