Tempest Brew Co, Ancho Dark Lager
Some of the best ideas take their time to come to fruition. Take Tempest Brewery for example. The initial idea was formed by a Scotsman (Gavin Meiklejohn) and Kiwi (Annika Meiklejohn) whilst they were working in a North American brewpub in the 1990s. A few years later the pair found themselves with a substantial homebrew set up in their garage in Christchurch. It was there they start knocking out the sort of hop-forward ales that would have been at the forefront of New Zealand’s then emerging craft beer scene.
It could all have stopped there. Well at least for us in Blighty. But thankfully something pulled Gavin and Annika back here in 2007 and they settled in Kelso in the Scottish Borders.
Initially, Gavin found himself working in the kitchen of the local pub they had bought, turning it into what is now an award-winning gastropub. But as Gavin set about developing a menu based on fresh, local, seasonal ingredients he was disappointed by the selection of beer he could offer diners. He wanted some big, flavoursome beers; the sort they had grown accustomed to in New Zealand and North America. It was no good, he would just have to make his own (again). In 2010, having found a suitable location in an old dairy, the Tempest Brewery was formed.
Words such as “shoestring” and “character” come up a lot when the folks at Tempest describe the initial set-up. But this didn’t prevent them from making some standout brews which they quickly started selling to other local pubs as well as keeping the Cobble stocked with beers “at source”. In 2015 the brewery relocated to significantly bigger premises with their own automated bottling line. Securing listings in Aldi, Sainsbury’s, M&S, Co-op, Morrison’s and Waitrose across Scotland meant that hand bottling would no longer be sufficient.
The New Zealand influence is immediately evident across the range of beers offered by Tempest, as is Gavin’s chef leanings. Their best-selling beer is named after Aotearoa, the land of the Long White Cloud and it’s a fab, juicy example of what an (extra) pale ale can be, whilst Marmalade on Rye, is a bold, jammy beer. There is also a strong connection with their local surroundings. Golden Promise malts, grown throughout the area and milled in Berwick upon Tweed are used throughout the Tempest range.
One ingredient that wasn’t locally sourced, however, were the chillis in this week’s beer. Tempest decided to brew three beers to showcase three different chillies… an IPA featuring jalapenos called Dios Mio and a heftier Imperial Stout with Chipotle and Mulato chillies called Mexicake. They chose the more mild, fruity ancho chillies for the Ancho Dark Lager. The addition of dark malt means you get the clean drinkability of a lager but with chocolatey, roasted notes that are complemented by the low heat and spice of the chilli. Delish.
It’s a mad beer and the kind of idea only some crazy Kiwis living in the Scottish borders could have come up with. We’re lucky they plumped for Kelso, not Christchurch. Although we’d probably have made the visit for beers like this.