WHAT’S IN THE NAME?

One of the most common questions we get asked is “where does the name Wild Horse come from”? So here is the (rather-longwinded) answer…

When we first moved back to North Wales from Canada in 2014, one of several locations we looked at opening the brewery was an old run-down stables building. We spent hours, days, weeks (ok, maybe months) randomly shouting out potential names for our new brewing company and, with the stables in mind, one name that stood out and we kept returning to was Wild Horse.

However, we soon realised that the renovation work needed to turn the old stables into a modern working brewery was too extensive and we decided that our money would be better spent on state-of-the-art brewing equipment than on rebuilding the stables. With slight heavy hearts we walked away from that location but we soon cheered up when we found our fantastic building at Cae Bach in Llandudno.

We started from scratch on the name generating but, whilst searching for local landmarks to use as inspiration, we discovered the nearby Carneddau mountain ponies – thought to be the only truly wild horses in the UK. They live on Conwy Mountain and the neighbouring Carneddau mountain range – just a few miles from our brewery. A few days later we went for a walk up Conwy Mountain and couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw a herd of beautiful wild horses. And so, at the top of Conwy mountain, the decision was made and Wild Horse Brewing Company was born!

Dave & Emma

1955 – OUR FIRST BREW!

At the end of 2014, I was asked by Colwyn Bay’s branch of the Round Table if I’d be interested in doing a special beer for their 60th anniversary celebration in April 2015. I thought it would be great fun to do a one-off beer for a special event and without really knowing how I would do it, I said “yeah sure… let’s do it”! At the time, we didn’t even have premises and I was brewing test batches in my garage on my 20-litre brewing system… I thought worst case, I’d just do a few batches on that!

The Round Table pretty much left it to me to decide what to brew. My idea was to revive a beer popular in 1950s so I starting doing a little digging – brown ales, milds and milk stouts were among the most popular, but have almost vanished now from British pubs (perhaps with the exception of Newcastle Brown Ale). I really like brown ales and have tasted some fantastic examples in North America. So I thought let’s do a modern, hoppy brown ale – bring a 1950s brown ale kicking and screaming into 2015!

We took over the premises in Llandudno in early February – the building needed some work and I needed to put together a 1-barrel brewery system before I could even think about the first brew. After getting enough of the renovation work and equipment put together, I did our first brew on 31 March 2015. It was a bit of mad rush… I actually had the electrician wiring in the temperature controllers for the fermenters as I was doing the brew!

I used a proven recipe as a starting point and put my own spin on it. It was the first time I’d made this beer so it was a bit of a risk! It was a fairly standard grain bill for a brown ale and was late hopped with a shed load of Amarillo hops. It was fermented with my favourite American yeast strain (which is now our house yeast).

The spec:

Brew
Fifty Five Celebration Ale
Style
American Brown Ale
OG
1048
ABV
4.8%
Grains
Pale malt, Crystal malt, Chocolate malt, Biscuit malt
Hops
Magnum, Amarillo
Yeast
American ale

We tasted the finished beer a few days before the Round Table anniversary ball… dark, malty, chocolatey, fruity, citrusy with a clean bitter finish – it was fantastic!

This brew had to be bottled before our carbonation, kegging and bottling machine arrived so we carbonated it in small batches and bottled it by hand using a Blichmann Beer gun. It took about a week and half to get through a barrel of the beer. The first batch of bottles went to the anniversary ball and the rest went to Vinomondo in Conwy and The Cliffs restaurant in Rhyd Y Foel.

It was a challenging but successful first brew. There are still a few bottles available so get it while you can – when it’s gone, it’s gone!

Dave