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Brains Craft Brewery, Atlantic White

“But Brains are mahoosive!” we hear you cry. There certainly won’t be many Bods that haven’t supped on SA or The Rev James at some point, especially if you’ve had the pleasure of visiting Wales’ (now pretty swish) capital city. Since being founded in Cardiff way back in 1882 the family owned outfit have done the Taffs proud.

Brains own 270 pubs.  They employ more than 2000 people.  The smallest batch they could brew (until recently) was 245 hecto litres... almost 75,000 x 330ml bottles. Mahoosive indeed.

That’s precisely the reason head brewer Bill Dobson made the case to the powers that be for a more nimble operation where he could be a tad more innovative... and have a little fun of course.

Slap bang In the middle of their Victorian brewery was a decrepit cast-iron mash tun that hadn’t been used for at least half a century. Why not rip it out and put something a bit more modern in? A teeny weeny 15 barrel brewery was installed in 2012 (it only took up half the space of that one old mash tun) and from day dot has operated under its own distinct Brains Craft Brewery brand.

The list of beers produced since since then is a long one, including many collaborations with prominent writers and industry celebs. Some of them are bat shit crazy. Many of them are absolutely ace and can occasionally be found in the big, bad supermarkets, which can’t be a bad thing if your aim is to convert the masses to the good stuff, can it?

This week’s beer, the Atlantic White, blends the tradition of Belgian ‘Wit’ beers and the hop-character of American IPAs to produce a ‘White IPA’. Brewed with wheat malt and Belgian wit yeast the addition of freshly crushed coriander seeds, Curacao orange and US hops gives a light refreshing beer with a zesty and spicy finish.

In many ways Brains Craft Brewery is a one man band. Bill uses all of his instinct and experience as he waltzes round the kit, nudging things up and down, ignoring all the dials and gadgets as he goes. He is in his element. A smaller brewery has set him free, although you won’t hear him say a bad word about beers like Rev James and Brains Bitter which sit just yards away and make all this possible. They harness the main brewery systems and infrastructure as much as they can. Why wouldn’t they? The copper is heated by steam pipes from Brains’ central supply, and the whole kit is plugged into the same pipework that moves essential liquids around the entire site.

The whole operation is a brilliant combination of the best of large and small scale brewing. The word “craft” is already hard to get your head round. Brains aren’t helping the situation.

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