Gun Brewery Vermont IPA
Gun's homage to the New England style pale ales. A super juicy, big rounded beer with no sharp edges.
Earlier this week we caught up with Mark Berry from Gun Brewery. We were keen to know what they’d been up to since we last featured them in January last year.
“Since we last spoke things have moved on quite a bit here. The team is now six strong, with the recruitment of an assistant brewer/drayman. On the kit front, our big new acquisition has been a canning machine from a new UK based manufacturer. It can can up to 1,400 cans an hour. We're just bedding it in at the moment, but the results have been great.”
Having your own canning line as a small brewery can be a significant investment and expense so this was a big deal for a brewery like Gun. But as far as Mark was concerned it is worth it.
“Being in complete control of the process and able to can the beers at exactly the right moment is a joy. No matter how good your processes, moving beer between tanks is never great for the beer. Being able to take it straight from the fermentor ensures that [exposure to oxygen] is minimal and freshness is guaranteed.”
Gun Launched in 2015, the brainchild of Mark and his friend Toby Smallpiece. It took them 18 months to wrestle an old agricultural barn and hand-me-down brewing kit into something bearing a striking resemblance to a modern brewery on Toby’s organic farm in the Sussex Weald. But the results were worth it.
Designed to tread as lightly on the land as the farm itself, the brewery relies as much as possible on the sun to power it and a wood-fired boiler to heat it. It also draws the water from their own spring which is treated as gently as possible. We’ve said it before if the outdoor clothing company Patagonia were a UK brewery, it might look a lot like Gun.
All their beers are ‘small batch’ which means that the line up always has something new to offer (they have four core beers). So when we heard they were looking to do their take on a New England style IPA we were pretty keen to get that in your hands.
This is the first take on a New England beer that we’ve featured in the subscription box. It’s a style which is known for being big, bold and juicy. Packed with hops and with a distinctive form of yeast that lends towards an opaque, almost fruit juice like appearance. Yes, this beer is deliberately hazy. Cloudy even. Mark explains how this happens and why.
1. Protein haze from the barley that forms when the beer is chilled. “A bit like the haze that you see in good olive oil when it has been cooled.” according to Mark. In a lot of beer styles, this prevented by adding a small amount of a seaweed known as “Irish moss” to the kettle. Serving this beer cold will help exaggerate the haze and lend to the experience.
2. Yeast in suspension. In this case, a “low flocculating yeast” is used and ends up being suspended in the beer. Unfined and unfiltered this adds to the taste and overall mouthfeel of the beer, bringing out the mellow, fruity notes in the hops used. “Juicy and rounded. There are no sharp edges on this beer.” Vermont yeasts may be all the rage but it turns out they are versions of traditional English ale yeasts. Who knew?
3. Hop debris. This style of beer benefits from a whole lotta big, bold American hops. Again, unfiltered and unfined some of these are going to be in your beer and add to that big, fruity experience.
It was clear from speaking to Mark that this style of beer was something they really wanted to try their hand at making. But not just because they liked drinking them.
“As a style, it’s definitely coming to the fore. We’d tasted a few here and really loved them. I guess as brewers we’re always looking for a technical challenge.”
It turns out that cloudy beers that actually taste this good aren’t so easy to make. It took numerous attempts to get your beer this week to a point where Mark and team were happy with it. This style of beer also wants to be drunk fresh. Something that poses significant distribution challenges to a small brewer. But we think that you will agree that all this hard work to get this beer to you has been worth it.
Rest assured that this will not be the last time we’ll feature a beer by Gun Brewery. But in the meantime, you might want to keep your eye on what they are brewing up over on their website, Instagram and on Twitter.