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

BREWERY SHOP BEER AVAILABILITY & CHRISTMAS OPENING HOURS 2015

It’s been a busy few weeks at Wild Horse and our beer has been flying out… the bad news is that we’re a bit low on bottles stock at the brewery shop but the good news is that we now have beer on tap to take home in 1.89L growlers!

330ml bottles availability:
Chocolate Orange Milk Stout 6.5% – £2.60 – available now
Buckskin Blonde 4.5% – £1.95 – back in stock 22 December
Dark Bay Porter 5.0% – £2.10 – back in stock 24 December (after 11am)
Palomino Pale Ale 5.4% – £2.25 – out of stock until the new year

Currently on tap to take home in 1.89L growlers:
Palomino Pale Ale 5.4% – new £17, refill £10.00
Dark Bay Porter 5.0% – new £16.50, refill £9.50
Fleabitten Wheat 4.0% – new £15.75, refill £8.75
Dülmen Dunkelweizen 4.6% – new £16.25, refill £9.25

OVER THE CHRISTMAS PERIOD NEW GROWLERS ARE AVAILABLE FOR £15 FILLED WITH ANY WILD HORSE BEER!

Also remember to check out our stockists page to find other places to get Wild Horse beer.

We wish all our customers a very Merry Christmas and and a Happy New Year!

Christmas 2015 opening hours:
Monday 21 December 10am to 6pm
Tuesday 22 December 12pm to 5pm
Wednesday 23 December 9am to 7pm
Thursday 24 December 9am to 1pm
Friday 25 December CLOSED
Saturday 26 December CLOSED
Sunday 27 December CLOSED
Monday 28 December CLOSED
Tuesday 29 December 9am to 7pm
Wednesday 30 December TBC
Thursday 31 December 9am to 1pm
Friday 1 January CLOSED
Saturday 2 January 9am to 7pm
Sunday 3 January CLOSED

LLANDUDNO CHRISTMAS FAYRE 2015

Oh what fun it is to ride in a wild horse open sleigh!  Well we don’t have a sleigh (yet!) but we are at the Llandudno Christmas Fayre from Thursday 19 November to Sunday 22 November 2015.

Come along, say hello, try our beers and check out our Christmassy stall and gift packs.  We’re also excited to be launching Chocolate Orange Milk Stout today at the fayre – a milk stout brewed with fresh orange peel and cocoa nibs roasted freshly by Baravelli’s of Conwy – it’s fantastic!

We’ll also be taking pre-orders for Christmas cases and growlers which can be picked up any time before Christmas.  Look forward to seeing you there!

2016 EXPANSION PLANS – NANOBREWERY TO MICROBREWERY

If you’ve already been down to our brewery, you know we’re pretty small!  But how small?  Well, very small… we’re nano sized at the moment and one of the smallest commercial breweries in Wales and the UK!

Our brew house has a tiny half-barrel working capacity… that’s only 18 gallons, 82 litres or 144 pints per batch, so not much bigger than most home breweries!  Despite our size, we’re making as much top quality craft beer as we can –  Dave is doing double brew days, twice a week, to fill one of four 1-barrel uni-tanks.  The uni-tanks are insulated, cooled and heated (with temperature control) and are used for both fermenting and conditioning the beer.  The brew day takes about 10-11 hours and fermentation and conditioning takes about two weeks to complete with our current range of ales.  After production losses, our weekly output is about 60 gallons, 273 litres, or 480 pints… a lot to drink yourself, but not a lot for a commercial brewery!

Our beer is nowhere near as readily available as we want it to be and we want to increase our range too… so we’re excited to be expanding in early 2016…

Our brand new 10-barrel brew house is being manufactured on Prince Edward Island in Canada and is due to arrive in Llandudno in late January.  Our fermentation uni-tanks are coming from Belgium – we have 2 x 10-barrel tanks 2 x 20-barrel tanks on order.  We also have milling equipment being manufactured in the UK so we can continue to mill our malts freshly onsite at the brewery.  The new brewery is a state of the art brewing system and will be a stainless steel master piece.  It will increase our brewery capacity more than 15-fold – that’s over 900 gallons, 4091 litres or 7200 pints of beer a week!  As well as increasing capacity, we’ll also be able to brew more styles of beer – we’re not able to brew full batches of lager or kettle soured beers are the moment and have been limited to 1-keg batches of these beers on our even tinier 20-litre system.  2016 should see the release of Halflinger lager, a Tudno Weisse (Llandudno’s very own Berliner Weisse!) and more Experimental Series beers too!

We can’t wait… 2016 is going to be a big year for Wild Horse!