By the Horns, Wolfie Smith
There’s a familiar theme to the story behind this week’s beer in which two friends turn a hobby, in this case homebrewing, into a thriving business. This says a lot about the power of good beer. It also says something about doing something that you love for a job.
Back in 2010 Chris Mills and his friend Alex Bull were homebrewing out of their graduate flat in South West London. By their own accounts they were pretty happy with what they were making and a trip to the Great British Beer Festival that year made them decide to turn it up a notch.
Given the exponential increase in London breweries in recent years we need to remind ourselves that just five years ago there wasn’t really that much in the way of local craft beer available in London. Chris and Alex thought there was just the gap in the market their homebrew could fill. So began By The Horns Brewing Co. On top of their day jobs.
Their first beer, a pale ale called Stiff Upper Lip, was sold to local free houses alongside other small batch brews. Touting sample beers around in bottles soon resulted in a healthy trade in bottled beer and all too quickly the limitations of part-time brewing became evident.
Brewing just two days a week saw them each clocking up 100+ hour working weeks and the decision to swap the day jobs in favour of full time brewing made itself. They really did decide to take life ‘by the horns’.
Within 18 months of their launch in 2011 the brewery had expanded with the addition of new vessels and a taproom. The expansion saw the introduction of keg beers and a wider variety of beers in their repertoire. This growth hasn’t slowed down at all. By The Horns are now seven people strong, producing six ‘flagship ales’ and always have several seasonal beers on cask, keg and bottle to compliment these.
Brewing in small batches with a focus on quality, their beers frequently contain a nod towards their part of London. A place that has clearly been good to them.
This week’s beer is Wolfie Smith an exciting hoppy amber ale or, as they describe it, an urban guerilla IPA. It’s named after the main character in the 1970s sitcom Citizen Smith who, played by Robert Lindsay, was a hapless revolutionary and self-proclaimed leader of the revolutionary Tooting Popular Front.
Like its namesake this beer hasn’t been without mishap. The original artwork of the label on this beer depicted Robert Lindsay’s character. Something that he took exception to and was subsequently replaced with the one that you have now.
Thankfully the beer is neither hapless or controversial. It’s a hoppy caramel delight. Don’t just take our word for it, this beer won a SIBA silver award in 2013 and what’s more it’s also a local Tooting favourite. Rumour has it from the brewery taproom that it has also proved good at consoling recent rugby losses.
We get asked about the serving temperatures of the beers a lot here at BeerBods and normally we say that this is a personal thing. But I am going to stick my neck out with this one. Serve it cold, around 8 degrees and let those biscuity malts come through as the beer warms up. Chris says this goes great with a takeaway curry and I am not going to argue with that.
Power to the people, and freedom for Tooting!
Style: Amber Ale (or Urban Guerilla IPA!)
Hops: Admiral, Amarillo, Chinook & Perle