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 locally. 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 suffice.
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 and Golden Promise malts, grown throughout the area and milled in Berwick upon Tweed are used across the Tempest range.
Elemental Dark Ale is Tempest’s seasonal porter. It’s a careful balancing act of seven malts to create a beer packed with a complex depth of flavour. Roasted malt flavour mingles with dark cocoa nib and a smooth, velvety mouthfeel, finished with a hint of bitter chocolate and a lick of spicy hops. Delicious.
A style of beer born in London, brewed by Kiwis living in the Scottish borders; it feels like a truly international beer. We’re lucky Gavin and Annika plumped for Kelso, not Christchurch. Although we’d probably have made the visit for more beers like this.