Compass Brewery, ISIS Pale
At just 16 years old Mattias Sjoberg began brewing up a storm in the kitchen of his parent's home, a few miles outside of Stockholm. At that stage he was more fascinated with the chemistry and biology of brewing, rather than drinking it. That's what he told his parents anyway. But he knew even at that age he wanted his own brewery one day. So he left his native Sweden to follow the well trodden path carved out by many of the world's best brewers, heading to Herriot-Watt University in Edinburgh to study a degree in Brewing and Distilling.
Whilst in Edinburgh even his extra curricular activities revolved around beer and whisky. As treasurer of The Water of Life Society, he held tastings, organised distillery trips and arranged talks by distillers and blenders from around Scotland. He even worked at Royal Mile Whiskies to earn some pocket money, which you guessed it, was invariably spent on beer and whisky.
After graduating Mattias got his first job at Munton's Malt in Suffolk and then later worked as a brewer at Scottish and Newcastle in Reading. When Scottish and Newcastle announced the closure of its Reading brewery he saw redundancy as an opportunity to pursue his long held ambition to launch his own operation.
Without the luxury of masses of investment, Compass started life in 2009 as a cuckoo brewery, renting space and equipment from Richard and Emma Keene at The Cotswold Brewery. In September 2011 they had built enough of a following to set up their own premises in Carterton, a small village near Witney in West Oxfordshire.
The workforce doubled in September 2011 when Greg Fish, tired of working for some of the biggest companies you've never heard of, producing products everyone uses but never notices, decided he fancied a move to an industry where everyone enjoys the product a bit more. He now works as the commercial director, managing the business side of things, but rolling his sleeves up and getting stuck in in the brewery as and when required.
Since Compass Brewery was founded, Mattias, when he's not brewing, spends most of his time hosting events at restaurants and specialist retailers in Oxfordshire, extolling the virtues of beer and food pairing. The name of the brewery came from his passion for guiding people through the maze of different beer flavours and how they can be complemented by food.
A spicy chilli is, according to Greg and Mattias, a particularly good match for this week's offering; Isis Pale, named after the part of the River Thames which flows through the university city of Oxford, not they hasten to add, the more infamous extremists in the Middle East. Much like the Oxford University rowing team of the same name, Compass refuse to rebrand, pointing out that they’d rather promote ISIS as their picturesque stretch of water that inspired this beer.
Described by Compass as “a transatlantic tipple that, like the best boat race crews, is truly greater than the sum of its parts” it showcases citrus heavy American Cascade hops on a more traditional toffee laden British malt base.
Whilst Mattias is bit older now, all we can taste in this beer is the excitement and experimenting of a 16 year old Swedish lad toying with different brewing methods and new flavours. Except now he is even more excited as he gets to drink as much as he likes.