From the Notebook, Arctic Tern
Graeme Denton, a laboratory-based cancer researcher with over 25 years experience, and a PhD in cancer biology to boot, found it difficult to find an equivalent job in his field when he was made redundant in 2011. So he turned to beer.
Regular visits to the Farne Islands in Northumberland had inspired him to produce beers based on the birds he encountered there. He started home-brewing to develop the recipes in his garage back in Nottingham. “I wanted my beers to reflect the characteristics of the birds in the style, colour and flavour of the beer, but as a biologist I also wanted to go one step further and assist the conservation of the birds by offering a royalty to a wildlife charity on the sale of each beer” explains Graeme.
For a number of years, Graeme had followed the blog of a Northumbrian wildlife enthusiast, Stewart Sexton. Stewart punctuates his blogs with lovely sketches and watercolours of what he sees in the wild and Graeme thought that these would be perfect for his wildlife-inspired bottle labels. A meeting over a cracking pint of Mordue’s Workie Ticket in the Jolly Fisherman at Craster and the artwork was commissioned. With the brand taking shape Graeme had concluded that his home-brew development strategy was not compatible with his finite and dwindling resources. He decided to call in the professionals.
Keen to brew in Northumberland where the whole idea was forged, he approached Allendale, an up and coming, award winning micro-brewery based at Allendale near Hexham (who also brewed bird beers such as Golden Plover and Black Grouse) to seek a collaborative approach to the further development and ultimately production of the bird beer range.
Graeme also approached the Marine Conservation Society with his idea of linking the royalties on sales to their conservation work, since the plight of seabirds is inherently linked to the health of the seas and oceans. In a beautiful endorsement of what he was trying to achieve, both Allendale and the Marine Conservation Society supported his idea from day one. A few months later, Puffin, Kittiwake, Eider Duck and Arctic Tern were hatched!
The Arctic Tern is probably Graeme’s favourite bird and he goes to see them at least once a year during the breeding season. Now if you have ever been to the Farne Islands or seen any TV documentaries on them, you will know that you have to wear a hat for your own protection. The Arctic Terns are super feisty and will ferociously defend their nests, eggs and young by vigorously attacking intruders. This doesn’t seem to discourage Graeme as he tries to get them to “sit nicely” on his head for a few minutes (as revealed by his personal Twitter avatar @dennybone).
Graeme says, “Arctic Terns are fabulous birds and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved with Arctic Tern IPA. I truly believe that we have created a beer that matches and celebrates the Arctic Tern’s characteristics. Its feistiness comes with an “in your face” American hop profile and with an abv of 6% it will, after a few, peck your head! The Cascade hop gives a really nice juicy, fruity nose which allows biscuit malt flavours to mingle and meld on the palate. Then you get the back end crossover of the Columbus bitter kick which is both rasping and pleasant. A bit like the pain/pleasure effect of a rapier like beak to the bonce! It’s a little harsh on the first mouthful - but once I’m halfway down the glass, I’m lining up another one”.
Since the inaugural seabird series, produced to help the work of the Marine Conservation Society, FTN now produce beers through 2 other breweries (Welbeck Abbey and Stroud) that also support the work of Butterfly Conservation, the British Dragonfly Society, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, Buglife and the Bat Conservation Trust. From the Notebook are corporate members of many of the wildlife charities they support which means that regardless of sales, they are committed to raising money for wildlife charities. To their knowledge, they are the first company to link the work of all of these disparate conservation entities together through one brand. And that brand product happens to be beer.
From the Notebook is all about celebrating British wildlife through beer. Who wouldn't want to do that?