Crafty Pint / 16.02.11
You may already be aware that at some point in the coming months WA’s Feral Brewing will be handed the keys to The Local Taphouses, taking over all 20 taps with its beers. But it seems that taking over a couple of bars is not enough – they’re after the world. Well, the UK anyway. Tomorrow, head brewer Brendan Varis boards a flight to London where he will be dispatched to the Wadworth brewery, in England’s southwest, to take up the reins in order to produce a cask-conditioned version of his Feral Runt, 2010 Champion Ale at the Australian International Beer Awards.
The beer will then be poured through hand pumps across the UK at all JD Wetherspoon pubs as part of its Real Ale Festival. The chain has venues all over the country and in April will turn its focus onto the best real ales, mostly from the UK but this time featuring one from each of the US, the Caribbean, Belgium and Australia. Over the course of the festival, they expect more than 3,000,000 pints of real ale to be quaffed.
“It popped up out of the blue,” says Brendan. “I thought the email was a joke at first, offering to fly me to London so I could make 100,000 litres of my beer – as much in two or three days as I’d normally make in a few months.”
He says the biggest challenge has been adapting the recipe of what is a highly carbonated, highly dry-hopped beer when it comes out of his Swan Valley brewery for casks. Wadworth’s house yeast will be used to compensate for the loss of mouthfeel usually catered for by the CO2, but elsewhere he’s going to gamble a little.
“We’re going to dry hop in the same way that we do here, which is adding them straight into the bright tank,” he says. “With cask conditioning they normally use cask plugs instead, so it’s a bit of a risk as there’s no guarantee the hops will drop out [of the beer]. There’s a bit of nervousness but it’s more true to our beer and I’m sure we’ll find some way of getting a result.”
Looking beyond that, he says the 20 Feral beers are almost ready for the Taphouse takeover, while he’s also sent some of his Funky Junky and Dark Funk over to the States prior to his attendance at a sour beer symposium being held by Russian River. As with the Wetherspoon Real Ale Festival, he’s flying the Aussie craft beer flag solo so we wish him all the best.