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Big Hug Brewing, Hibernation

Big Hug Brewing are three friends; Matt Williams, Daniel Rowntree and Chris Bayliss, who emerged onto the London craft beer scene in 2014. Matt and Dan met whilst working at Bacardi 12 years ago, whereas Chris is Dan’s business partner in their marketing events company. If any of these names sound familiar then that’s because Chris and Dan are also the people who started Craft Beer Rising in 2012. This has quickly become a real highlight of the London beer calendar and happens the last weekend in February. We got the chance to ask Matt about Hibernation White IPA earlier this week.

BeerBods: Are you still gypsy...sorry... ‘hobo’ brewing?
Big Hug: Yep, and will be for the foreseeable future. With Dan and Chris tied up in their other jobs it’s the only way that we can make the business viable and self sufficient. It gives us a point of difference though and that’s good. Plus it gives us the flexibility to scale the business up as and when we need it as the people we work with have good capacity. We always produce the same beer in the same format with the same brewery so the consistency is there. That’s obviously really important. Brewers without breweries aren’t that uncommon but this is more than just contract brewing. It has a conscience. We have an initiative called Hugs4Snugs which helps raise donations for local homeless charities at some of their events and we have also worked with My Green Squares which helps to preserve the Brazilian Rainforest. This is a side of the business that I hope we can grow and develop.

BeerBods: Tell us about this week's beer, what do you like about it?
Big Hug: This was the first beer we brewed and still my favourite. It's brewed with our friends at Lines Brew Co. in Caerphilly. It’s a White IPA - a cross between a wheat beer and an IPA. We wanted something that was different when we launched (2014). There is a high percentage of malted wheat and when that’s combined with generous amounts of citra (added as a dry hop post fermentation) and chinook, it gives the beer a beautifully light citrus flavour and aroma. This is aided by our house us-05 yeast strain - neutral in flavour, it allows the full effect of the hops to shine through. Target hops are used for bittering. Hibernation is unfiltered, unfined and unpasteurised and at 5.2% it packs the punch that people expect of an IPA. We have lowered the front end bitterness to put greater emphasis on drinkability and allow the great aroma and flavour of our signature brew to really shine. It's a perfect match with spicy food. I think we’ve done a pretty good job. I was nervous when we made it as I’m not personally a fan of wheat beers and none of us had even tried it until after it was kegged the first time we brewed it. That wouldn’t have been a problem normally but it was literally finished the day before Craft Beer Rising and it was the only beer we had! We definitely winged it!

Now who doesn’t want a Big Hug?

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