Celt Experience, Ogham Oak
There’s something beautifully bonkers about the Celt Experience. From their branding to their films there’s a clear, almost fierce, sense of Celtic tradition and folklore. But there’s something else. Something that seems irreverent, playful and a touch other worldly.
It all started in 2003 when Tom Newman quit his job as a water engineer and convinced his dad to let him establish a brewery in his garage in Banwell, Somerset. The eponymously named Newman’s brand was launched and it was from this that Tom learnt his craft with a healthy mix of trial, error and good luck.
By 2007 the Newman label had slipped away to be replaced by Celt Experience, a move to Caerphilly and the launch of a small range of organic beers.
And it could have just carried on from there, building a successful organic brewery. Only Tom found himself constrained by this label. So in 2011 they dropped the organic status in favour of exploring bigger, more flavoursome beers. Beers that Tom could use to express his deep rooted interest in Celtic tradition and mythology.
In 2012 the Celt Experience launched the on-going Shapeshifter series of collaboration brews. My favourite of these so far just has to be Bristol Meth, a rather controversially named, pokey IPA.
It’s clear that the folk at Celt Experience have no intention of standing still, in 2013 the Ogham range was introduced of which tonight’s beer is one of three. These beers are inspired by the ancient Celtic Alphabet, each one has its own symbol representing a tree. There’s an Ash (a brooding dark Russian stout), Willow (a no holds barred IPA) and tonight’s beer, the Oak. In their own words...
“Oak is a cosmic storehouse of wisdom embodied within its towering strength. The oak tree endures what others cannot.”
American hops, British malts, fruit and spices, this Welsh homage to a Belgian classic is brewed with fresh ‘tripel’ yeast borrowed [sic] from an undisclosed location in Flanders. The result is a rather fab golden ale with a great smell and a warming mouth feel. Despite the punchy 8.5% abv the citrus kick from the orange peel gives this beer a lightness that makes it all very drinkable.
If this run of nice weather extends to Thursday night I will be drinking this outside, not long after the sun has set and the temperature drops. I can’t think of a more appropriate beer to do this with.
Style: Belgian Tripel
Ingredients: American hops, British malts, yeast from Flanders and candy sugar.
As tempting as it is to say moules frites and leave it at that we think this is a pretty versatile beer when it comes to food pairing. A good piece of roasted ham or salmon served with a potato and celeriac gratin would go down a treat as would a selection of cold cut meats and cheeses. However in continuing my mission to try all the recipes in Anna Jones’ book I am also going to say the tomato and coconut cassoulet.