As pale as an 100w light bulb but as juicy as an IPA.
In a previous life (before Verdant Brewing Co.) Adam Robertson was a designer for things that are digital and web-based and lived the sort of life that led to him spending a lot of time in the US. Mostly on the East coast or to be more exact, Brooklyn.
This was where Adam started to get into beer. The sort of bars where the beers were listed on chalkboards. His eyes (and tastebuds) were forced wide open with strong, hoppy, bitter pale ales and IPAs from the likes of Russian River, Lagunitas, Brooklyn etc. These sorts of beers rarely made it to the UK. Certainly not to the corner of Cornwall where he lived.
It was in the States that Adam also discovered a hardcore home and garage brewing scene where the beer was actually good.
So he took this inspiration home with him and started brewing in his basement. At first, this was from kits that he modified so that he could put the kind of hops he liked in US beers in his brew in the same outrageous quantities.
Unbeknownst to Adam his friend James was also a home brewer and hop nerd. So they started brewing together in a shipping container. By the sounds of it, this became Adam and James’ second home. This is how Verdant started.
In the spring of 2015 they sold their first beer to a geeky, design get together at the magical Fforest. That beer (which later became Headband) went down really well. We’re not the kind to brag or boast but we know because, well, we were there.
At a point when everything in beer seemed to be about high alcohol and hops Verdant appeared with a range of juicy, almost chewy beers with pretty modest abv. Literally and figuratively speaking it was pretty refreshing.
Over the past three years, Verdant have become the champions of dank, cloudy beers with epic hops and mouthfeel to match. They’re “yeast geeks” too, constantly tinkering with new and old recipes.
We caught up with Adam who was fresh back from a research and collaborative brew trip to New England. He was clearly quite excited and had good reason to be, Verdant has been growing.
“There are seven of us now and [Verdant] runs really well.” There was real pride in Adam’s voice and he told us about the seafood tapas and taps restaurant in Falmouth they were about to open. Part of a series of small spaces that they’ve found and started to make something from.
They’ve also just opened a collaborative taproom in London with Pressure Drop. Based in the original Railway Arch used by Pressure Drop and Verdant’s first location outside of the South West. It’s called The Experiment, a shortening of “the experiment requires that you continue” and a reference to the 1963 Milgram studies into authority and obedience. If you are in London there are five Verdant beers on there right now.
Verdant have a bit of a thing for unusual beer names like Even Sharks Drink Water or Roy, I want a Hilux. If you say something interesting they write it on a whiteboard in the brewery and, if you're lucky it becomes a beer. Despite this playfulness, you won’t find them playing what Adam refers to as “the Cornish card”. There are no references to pasties or pirates but there is a fiercely independent feel to Verdant that you come to expect from Kernow. Only they are more beatniks than buccaneers.
This week’s beer, Lightbulb was born out of a need for a “summer crusher”, a light but bright (for Verdant) and flavoursome beer. “It’s all about the mouthfeel.” Adam insists. Even in an extra pale ale.
Part of their core range, Lightbulb is one of the first beers that they made (along with Headband, Bloom and also Pulp). Each of these beers gives an indication of the direction of travel for Verdant. Taste this beer and you will know their velocity.
At its heart Lightbulb is a simplified version of another beer of theirs, High Level Kink. Only this one is stripped back in a less is more, done is better than perfect kind of way. Despite being a core beer it still gets a revisit. Adam and co just can’t stop tinkering. “We’re on a huge learning curve. I think we’re about 85% of the way there”.
What’s next for Verdant? We know and we could tell you. But that would spoil the surprise. Let’s just say it’s going to be a pretty exciting 12 months.
Towards the end of our catch-up, Adam adds “We’re just some guys in Cornwall knocking out beers.” Yeah right.