Lakehouse Brewery, Cherry Chocolate Porter
We’re really happy to feature a local brewery this week. Local to us that is. In fact, unless you’ve been out drinking in Worcestershire (or bits of Gloucestershire) recently then the chances are that you won’t have heard of Lakehouse Brewery.
We hadn’t either. Until Dan Frost popped round for a cuppa with us one morning a few months back. Sometimes we find the beer for you guys. Sometimes you guys find us the beer. And sometimes, this time, the beer found us.
The brewery started in what is best described as a happy accident. Artist, now head brewer Graeme Gordon returned from working as an Art Director on an independent film to find parts of a (tiny) two and a half barrel brewing setup in the courtyard where he was renting some studio space. Graeme jokingly asked his landlord if he was starting a brewery. It turns out that it was a rhetorical question.
So how does an artist with no previous experience in brewing and just some odds and ends of the smallest commercial brewery set up go about starting a brewery?
With passion, encouragement and help of course. Graeme’s great-grandfather had been a brewer so he figured it was likely in his DNA. The help came in the form of advice other brewers, a spot of work experience at a brewery and encouragement from practically everyone who Graeme spoke to about brewing his own beer.
In March 2016 Lakehouse Brewery sold its first beer. We might still not have heard of them if it wasn’t for Dan Frost though.
Dan joined the team in November that year to head up the business side of things. He’d previously left the Woo [it’s what we call Worcester when we want it to sound a bit edgier] for the bright lights of London and a career in advertising. Working there he’d become familiar with the Bermondsey ‘beer mile’ and the likes of FourPure, Anspach & Hobday, Brew by Numbers and, of course, The Kernel. When the opportunity presented itself to help a start-up brewery back home he jumped at it.
From the get-go Lakehouse was not trying to be ‘olde worlde’ and look like they’ve been around for years, playing on and replicating some of the more ‘traditional’ beers available in this neck of the woods.
“Good God no!” exclaimed Graeme when I asked him about this. Graeme likes what is happening to craft beer in the UK and wanted the beers he made to have those fresh tastes. But he also didn’t want to pretend that they were operating out of a railway arch in the city when they were in fact brewing from an idyllic spot at the foot of the Malvern Hills. Neither Graeme or Dan wanted their beers to put off the locals. “They’re a thirsty bunch of people” explained Dan.
All good brewers like to make beer that they want to drink and Graeme is no exception. The first beer that Lakehouse made was their Citrus Pale Ale which was then followed by an ever so slightly maltier Amber Session Ale. Both reflect Graeme’s fondness for crisp, well-defined beers on cask. He also wanted to skip making any of the “dull brown stuff” and produce something darker.
Egged on by friends, family, fellow drinkers and the local branch of CAMRA he put his hand to work at creating this week’s beer, the Cherry Chocolate Porter.
I remember when we all tasted this for the first time. Some of us got the chocolate hit on our noses straightaway, others got the taste from the fresh cherries added during the fermentation. “None of your essence rubbish.” Graeme assures us as he had no intention of making an ‘alco-pop’. The alcohol content of the porter is a fairly robust 5.5% which lets the fruitcake feel of the beer come through without being too boozy. There’s also some wheat in the malt bill for mouthfeel and a bit of head retention. The result is a great beer to go with a Sunday roast or, better still, some late night leftovers of cold meats, cheese and maybe some horseradish. Or a cherry Bakewell tart. So long as it’s homemade.
We’ll be watching Lakehouse quite closely over the coming months on their website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. There’s talk of more brewing kit and an IPA in the offing. We’re also hoping that we get to see the pale or amber ale on keg at some point too. Just saying chaps.
Oh, and we’ll be keeping an eye out for the film 'Peninsula' Directed by Tim Rolt as this was the film Graeme was working on.