HEADY TIMES

If you’ve visited the brewery in recent weeks you’ll have seen us in a state of organised chaos. Having had a quiet start to 2017 – Dave and Emma even went on holiday for two weeks! – things quickly began to snowball and we have found ourselves constantly adapting to keep up with the growing interest in the brewery and our beer. The ongoing building work is the most visible sign of the changes, but there has been plenty going behind the scenes as well.

Back in February we sent out two pallets of beer (2, 688 bottles) to the online craft bottle shop HonestBrew, by some margin our biggest order to date. It was a great way to kick off the year and really tested our production and packaging capabilities, so we were thrilled when it shipped without any issues. Things stepped up significantly when, a week or so later, we received an email from the team over at beer box subscription business Beer52 asking if we were interested in appearing in an upcoming beer box that would go out to their 11, 500 subscribers. Viewed as a marketing opportunity alone it wasn’t an order we could turn down. However, at the time our daily packaging record sat at around 1, 500 bottles, so a fantastic opportunity to get our beer out to thousands of potential new customers also presented a few challenges.

Firstly, it simply wasn’t possible for us to package that amount of beer by hand in the time we had. It was a big order with a short delivery time and our dual filling head machine with in-line carbonation, with each bottle being capped individually by hand, simply wasn’t up to the job. Luckily, we were already buying empty bottles from Seimon at Mold-based Mobot mobile bottling and we decided to bring him and his Meheen M6 bottling machine in to help us get the job done. Seeing 1, 500 bottles an hour coming off the line – previously a full day’s work – certainly got us thinking and, as demand for our beer in small pack form continued to grow, and having worked with Seimon on a few more occasions since that mammoth order went out, we decided to take the plunge and order our own bottling line through Meheen’s UK distributors, Oasthouse Engineering. Our M6 should be up and running by the end of the summer.

But as great a job the new machine will do putting into the beer into bottles, it does not have an in-line carbonation capability. Carbonation is an area that has caused us some consistency issues in the past, as some of our trade customers will testify, and we have replaced over-carbonated kegs on a few occasions. A bit of reading and research encouraged us to try carbonating our beer naturally, using a spunding valve to cap the tank towards the end of fermentation. Our first attempt was on a batch of Dark Bay Porter back in April and we were chuffed with the results, the beer taking on a much smoother, more gentle carbonation. We believe it has made a vast improvement to the finished beer and now use the technique for all our beers, which again presented us with another challenge – how do you dry-hop beer that is already under pressure? The answer to that conundrum should be with us in a couple of weeks.

Having decided to completely change the way we package our beer we were suddenly faced with the issue of where to put it. We are currently running at around half our production capacity – selling around 11 barrels or roughly 3, 000 pints per week – but we have to empty a tank (we have two 10bbl capacity and 20bbl capacity) before we can brew again. That’s a lot of beer to store, whether in keg or bottle, so two weeks ago work started to double the size of our cold room by knocking through into our office. Eventually the office will go on the mezzanine level, as well as a staff room and small lab. For now we are working out of a 3m x 2m portacabin that is causing havoc with the traffic on Cae Bach. A new set of stairs have been put in while better storage solutions and, eventually, a remodelled shop and bar area are in the works.

To top it all off, next week we will be releasing the first in a new series of beers brewed using a Vermont ale yeast strain, meaning for the first time we are managing two yeast strains – WLP4000 and our house strain WLP090. Expect some bold, juicy flavours coming up.

2017 has been a big year for us already. On top of the changes to our process and the ongoing renovations at the brewery, our two newest members of staff have made a huge contribution, allowing us to, first, increase our production volume and, second, find like-minded outlets to sell the extra beer. We are growing as a team and as a business, and have learnt a huge amount in the last 12 months. Learning those lessons has helped us to make our beer even better and we hope to carry on learning and developing in pursuit of our ultimate aim, to brew the best beer we possibly can.

OUR NEW TEAM MEMBER

2017 continues at a gallop at Wild Horse HQ as we welcome our fifth member of staff to the team. We are thrilled to have Chris Holyfield joining us in the previously advertised sales role. Having worked in the public sector for a long time, beer enthusiast Chris found his calling after moving into the industry a couple of years ago.

“Beer has always been my drink.” says Chris, who points to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale as his entry into craft beer. “I love everything about the beer industry. I love the branding of craft beer, I love the community and how people get together talk about beer, whether in a pub or through things like Instagram. I love that you can go and visit microbreweries and see how and where the beer is made. I get excited by it.”

Chris, from Llanrug, will be handling sales, deliveries and new accounts and brings a wealth of local knowledge and experience to the role having previously worked for Conwy Brewery.

WILD HORSE BREWERY POP UP – APRIL 2017

We’re excited to announce a series of Pop Up event nights at Wild Horse Brewing Co:
– Friday 14th April
– Saturday 15th April
– Friday 21st April
– Saturday 22nd April
– Friday 28th April
– Saturday 29th April

Fridays
– Doors from 6pm
– Open mic night (free pint for every act)
– 8 awesome craft beers on tap
– Rotating artisan food from local producers
– Free entrance

Saturdays
– Doors from 6pm, live music from 7pm
– 8 awesome craft beers on tap
– Rotating artisan food from local producers
– Top quality live musicians
– Entrance and first pint £5 (advance), £6 (on door)

Rotating local artisan street food from:
– 14th/15th Dylan’s
– 21st/22nd The Welsh Oven
– 28th/29th The Little Food Hut

Saturday night music line ups:
15th
– AP Cooper
The Scapegoats
The Darvells
22nd
– Dylan Glyn Griffiths
– The Storyville Mob
The Magpies
29th
The Bortowski Swing
– Lost Like Alice
Deckchair Protest

You can book Saturday night tickets in advance below:


Date:


We won’t send anything in the post – simply give your name at the door on the night.

Brewery location – Unit 4, Cae Bach, off Builder Street, Llandudno, LL30 1DR

FROM BARMAN TO BREWER

As we launch ourselves into the New Year we are excited to welcome a new member to the Wild Horse herd. Ryan Hazeldine joins us to fill the apprentice role that we advertised towards the end of 2016, moving from behind the bar of The Albion in Conwy to behind the shutters of Unit 4, Cae Bach.

Ryan has made the steady transition from macro lager and Irish stout drinker to CAMRA card-carrying real ale supper and, ultimately, craft beer guzzler, over the course of 10 years working behind pub bars.

He said: “To me, beer was a mysterious liquid that just appeared from the tap. But eventually I became interested in where it came from, how it was made and different beer styles.”

Conversations with the brewers from Bragdy Nant over the bar at the Eagles Hotel in Llanrwst led to reading up on the subject of beer and brewing and eventually a spell working at the Great Orme brewery. Trying bottled beer from the likes of Brewdog and Camden Town drew him into the world of craft and keg beer. He brings energy, enthusiasm and an extremely welcome extra pair of hands to our team as we line up for an exciting 2017.

HOPS GLORIOUS HOPS

Craft beer will always be synonymous with hops. It was the early hop-forward pale ales and hop-heavy IPAs coming out of North America that set craft breweries apart from more traditional brewers. And while more and more brewers explore and interpret traditional styles – how many sours and saisons have you tried this year? – the liberal use of hops, particularly modern varieties from the West Coast of America, will continue to hold sway among brewers and beer-lovers alike.

For our latest 10 Barrel Series brew – the first in a series of single hop beers – we wanted to explore the qualities and characteristics of one of these modern hop varieties. We also wanted to celebrate getting our hands on what is an increasingly hard-to-come-by commodity! Simcoe is used in a lot of beers that we like. When we managed to get our hands on some, we thought it was a hop worthy of a beer in its own right.

Beer is made from four ingredients – water, malt, hops and yeast. Hops are traditionally added early in the brewing process, during the boil, to provide bitterness and to balance out the sweetness of the malt. They are also a natural preservative and have anti-bacterial qualities, hugely beneficial in a time before today’s modern standards of sanitation were understood, let alone achievable.

Modern craft brewers use lots of hops, and the amount of time hops spend in the boiling wort (unfermented beer) during the brewing process determines how much bitterness, flavour or aroma is extracted. Adding hops late in the boil gives a beer more hop flavour and aroma without adding huge amounts of bitterness. Adding hops to the fermenter once fermentation has finished – known as dry-hopping – brings a whole new hop dimension to the finished beer.

Our Simcoe Single Hop IPA contains 15kg of hops which were added throughout the brew and, later, to the fermenter, on top of a straightforward, balanced malt base. Our aim was to showcase Simcoe’s qualities – citrus, pine and earthiness – and to show how adding the same hop at different points during the brewing process brings these qualities to the fore. The result, we think, is a delicious and complex IPA that pays tribute to a glorious modern hop variety and provides a great starting point for future hopped-up beers.

GYLE 100

Last week we brewed our 100th batch of Wild Horse beer, reaching our century in a mere 16 months. Although there was some talk of marking this milestone by making ‘Gyle 100’ the next beer in our 10 Barrel Series – ‘gyle’ refers to the batch or brew number – in the end it was another batch of Buckskin Blonde from our core range that took the honour. And, on reflection, it seems fitting that this was the case.

Buckskin is not only our most popular beer, it is also a beer which has roots that stretch back to the time before Dave made the transition from home to pro brewer. Back in 2014, while living in Canada, Dave won four medals in four separate home brew competitions – three gold and a bronze – with a blonde ale that provided the base recipe for Buckskin as we brew it today.

We also see Buckskin as a key beer in our attempt to lure North Wales’ mass-produced lager drinkers into the heady, delicious world of locally brewed craft beer. For us, Buckskin provides an entry point for people who shy away from ‘ales’ because, to them, an ‘ale’ means a beer that is flat and warm. Buckskin is a long way from both of those things and, although it might not be our most complex beer, we believe Buckskin delivers the most flavour possible while working within the style and has a broad, cross-market appeal. That appeal is extremely important given that craft beer is a relatively new phenomenon in North Wales.

And while we love experimenting with different styles and ingredients, and recognise that our other beers might attract the sort of drinker who froths at the mouth at the faintest whiff of a hop-heavy DIPA, we want to get more than just craft beer converts on side. Buckskin is a beer that can achieve that aim – it’s a beer that we are very proud of – and a perfect fit for Gyle 100.

AUGUST BANK HOLIDAY BREWERY OPEN WEEKEND

You can pre-book your wood-fired pizza, Wild Horse pint and brewery tour at the brewery shop or by using the PayPal form below. To book multiple tickets using the PayPal form, select the day you’d like to book and update the quantity after clicking ‘Buy Now’.

Pre-booking closed – just head on over for a beer, pizza and tour!

3 HORSE POWER!

We’re excited to introduce Chris Wilkinson as the third and newest member of team Wild Horse!

A bitter drinker for a long time, Chris was turned on to modern craft beer after coming across Brewdog and US imports from the likes of Goose Island and Samuel Adams and quickly developed a taste for hop-forward North American beer styles.

That was as far as things went until a chance meeting with a homebrewer during a winter spent in the Canadian Rocky Mountains introduced him to the idea of ‘brewing your own’. After trying his hand at a few beer kits, with decidedly mixed results, Chris was further inspired during a springtime road trip through the craft beer heaven that is the state of Oregon on the West Coast of the USA.

Back in the UK, and entirely by chance, he was offered a place on a one-day brewing course with some friends. That in turn led Chris to John Palmer’s home brew bible ‘How to Brew’ and the purchase of a basic brew kit and some ingredients. Armed with a bit of knowledge and plenty of enthusiasm he started producing some palatable home brewed beers of his own. He soon began to wonder if he would ever be able to turn his new hobby into a career and leave behind his life as a chef.

Chris aims to bring a variety of skills to the role of Trainee Brewer at Wild Horse alongside his enthusiasm for craft beer. He said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I am very excited about what lies ahead, both on the brewing side and as the brewery continues to expand and grow. When I sprinkled the yeast on my first batch of home brew I never imagined that brewing might one day turn into a career!”

10-BARREL BREWERY INSTALLATION

Our shiny new 10-barrel brewery plant and grain milling equipment (manufactured in Canada, Belgium and here in the UK) arrived in March/April 2016 with the first 10-barrel brew taking place on 30.04.2016.  Check out this video of the install…

HAPPY ST DAVID’S DAY 2016!

It’s the 1st of March and for those of us in Wales that means one thing – St. David’s Day!

We love all things Welsh and we’ll be celebrating today with a Welsh cake and a Wild Horse craft brew! Although… we’re not sure St. David would have approved of our brewer Dave to be honest – the saint taught his followers to refrain from drinking beer!

We’re pretty excited that our beers will be at a Welsh beer festival in London this week – if you’re in the area pop into The Rake pub at Borough Market to enjoy a vast selection of Welsh beers (3rd-6th March). We’re heading down this weekend to enjoy a few of them ourselves!

So, whether you’re celebrating by wearing a daffodil or leek, dressing up in traditional Welsh costume, taking part in a St. David’s Day parade, singing Welsh folk songs, eating some yummy Welsh food or enjoying a few delicious Welsh beers, we hope you all have a very happy St. David’s Day 2016!  Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!

A bit about St. David and what he did:

  • A Welsh bishop during the 6th century
  • The patron saint of our brilliant country since the height of Welsh resistance to the Normans
  • The patron saint of doves!
  • He founded 12 monasteries known for their extreme self-denial – unlike modern day Trappist monks 6th century Welsh monks didn’t get to drink any beer – they lived only on bread, vegetables, water and milk
  • He performed many miracles – the most famous at Synod of Brefi when he made the ground he stood on rise into a hill so the crowds could see him as he preached
  • He’s thought to have died on 1st March 589 AD