Beer Revere checks in at the Steel City Brewing
There are different schools of thought around the subject of cuckoo brewing and I’m firmly on the fence, with a pint in hand. Surely it should just be about good tasting beer? Now I understand the importance of the ingredients and the provenance of a beer as key deciding factors in a drinker’s choice. But if you found out that the brewer didn’t use his own kit (or blimey, hasn’t a commercial kit at all) a purchase declining factor?
In brewing terms this behind the scenes camaraderie is an appealing part to the industry for me. If one brewer has space and a shared sensibility it’s logical to hire out this excess capacity to another like-minded brewer. Often this is a mutually beneficial relationship; enabling entry to the brewing game for a new start up for instance. Perhaps the sense of freedom from the day to day running of a production facility enables a brewer more room to concentrate on developing, experimenting and honing their beery ideas?
Sheffield’s own gypsy brewer, Dave Szwejkowski from Steel City Brewing, finds this route a way to, “brew what we like”, which means one off experimental big hopped flavoured beers. Steel City Brewing has been going over 4 years using only breweries based in Sheffield such as The Brew Co., Little Ale Cart and Toolmakers Brewery on their hop quests. Influenced by heavy metal and with a fondness for IBUs Steel City Brewing like to educate their drinkers on both fronts – look out for one off specials such as ‘Angel of Death’ using Mosaic and Galaxy hops and ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’ a black IPA.
Whether you make reference to the cuckoo bird or a nomadic gypsy in terms of this brewing phenomenon one component should far outweigh – that of transparency. Unlike the cuckoo the brewer should openly share the origin and the ingredients. Itinerant brewer, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø from Danish brewery Mikkeller appears to revel in brewing across Scandinavia and the world having produced over 200 one off special brews since 2007. Each brew intricately planned pushing the boundaries on flavour and style – really just brewing the beer Mikkel likes. He’s collaborated with Indiana based ‘Zombie Dust’ pale ale making 3 Floyds, uncompromisable Norwegian brewery Nogne, smoked imperial chilli stout Dutch hitters De Molen and Scottish penguin lovers Brewdog. Beers include ‘Beer Geek Breakfast’ an oatmeal coffee stout 7.5% to ‘Wild Winter Ale’ a wild yeast brew with cinnamon and apples 6% and ‘SpontanKriek’ a gueuze-style wild yeast beer with the addition of sour cherries 7.7%.
If a beer is thrilling the taste buds, I won’t be spending my time over analysing the brewer’s ownership of the vessels that unified those miniscule particles of matter.