Alex Wilson and Nick Folkard became pals whilst working behind the bar of the Lincolnshire Poacher, a brilliant real ale pub in Nottingham city centre. The pair both had a keen interest in brewing and in 2011 they started developing recipes that would later become part of the Black Iris range.
They soon bagged themselves a mothballed 5bbl brewery set-up behind a pub in Derby. Glamorous it was not, but The Flowerpot is another establishment famed for its range of decent local beer. Alex and Nick knew that if their brews could stand out there, they were most likely on to a winner. As it happens, they were onto a string of winners. Their hop forward pales, including “Sunflower”, a hoppy blonde ale that is now a permanent fixture at the venue, went down a storm with regulars.
In 2014 the team decided to move their brewery back to Nottingham, where the idea for Black Iris was originally born, and a city that has been experiencing a craft beer renaissance in recent years. Breweries like Neon Raptor and Totally Brewed are taking the scene by storm but many would argue that it was Black Iris that carved out a path for them to follow.
Despite having a stonking reputation in the East Midlands, you’d be forgiven for never having heard of Black Iris if you’re not from the area. In fact, prior to the move to Nottingham, Black Iris had only ever produced beers for keg and cask. This all changed in the new brewery when Black Iris beers began making their way into can. This was one of the biggest changes to happen at the brewery since its inception and in Alex’s words.. “it saw our distribution go through the roof.” The distinct monochrome can art was created by Kev Grey, an artist and illustrator with a portfolio that includes the likes of Vans, Lost Art Skateboards and even Download Festival.
This week’s beer is a great showcase of what Black Iris are all about, and why their time is now. Alex introduces the hazy Session IPA for us…
“We brewed Endless Summer with a stripped back malt bill and a touch of wheat to really allow the Mosaic and Simcoe hops to shine through. Low bitterness and super soft mouthfeel make this one to drink over and over”
Black Iris Brewery have been operating under the craft beer radar for too long. With plans for expansion and even better distribution over the coming year, that looks set to change.