Hobsons Brewery, Postman's Knock
Hobsons Brewery was founded in the Shropshire village of Cleobury Mortimer by Nick Davis and his parents in 1993. Nick’s mum and dad decided to put their feet up in 2000 leaving Nick at the helm. Today he employs a team of 24 people and runs the largest brewery in the county.
In fact, this is a county that does pretty well out of having a thriving brewery. The words “local” and “sustainable” have become pretty common place (and are often abused) in the world of food and drink. When we visited Hobsons earlier this week we got the impression these aren’t just marketing buzz words. They really mean it.
“It has been 20 years of my life starting Hobsons and now running it. I live in the village. My kids go to school in the village. I run a pub in the village. All the values of Hobsons get carried through in to my life or my life values get carried through into Hobsons, they’re not interchangeable” explains Nick.
The proof is in the pudding (more on pudding later). 80% of hops used come from within 7 miles of the brewery. In 2010 Hobsons Brewery embarked on an initiative to source locally grown Maris Otter malting barley. A small producers group was set up with the objective to establish a sustainable supply chain of locally grown malting barley and a series of open days and crop walks are held to encourage local farmers to come along and learn about the opportunities to grow Maris Otter.
And then there is the yeast. Nick and his head brewer Paul Albini love yeast. Unless you’ve got a bit of time on your hands, don’t ask them about it. “It’s a classic example of sustainability and circular production. We don’t buy any yeast in. It’s just recycled after every brew. It’s a completely unique ingredient to us and has its own flavour characteristics”.
That yeast plays an important role in the smoothness of this week’s beer, Postman’s Knock. In another nod to their locality, the beer is named in honour of former local resident Simon Evans (1895-1940), a novelist and short story writer, who settled in Cleobury Mortimer after World War One. He had been badly affected by poison gas in the war and, in order to improve his health, worked as a postman, walking up to 18 miles a day.
Described as a Ruby Porter we reckon it’s more of a Dark Mild and is packed full of Maris Otter malts and Worcestershire Fuggles and Goldings hops. Vanilla pods from Madagascar (not local, but yummy) are added and the end of the brew (a bit like your grandmother would add it to custard according to Nick) to give the beer additional sweetness. Sweet treacle and chocolate aromas and flavour dominate with a strong, smooth body. Remember the humble Rolo? This is the beer equivalent. You also wouldn’t give your last bottle to anyone.
Serving instructions - it’s a bottle conditioned beer which contains sediment so go steady when pouring. You really don’t want this beer too cold. Ten or fifteen minutes in the fridge is more than enough.