822 Returns 2016

Last May we unleashed our double IPA '822' on the people of the UK. Named as a nod to the first recorded mention of hops in relation to brewing by Abbot Adalhard of the Benedictine monastery if Corbie, many kilos of our favourite US hops where sacrificed to create a resinous, juicy monster of a beer in his honour. As a first attempt at a big IPA we were satisfied with our creation and the feedback was good. But we learnt a lot along the way too, and knew there were things we wanted to differently.

Fast forward roughly one year and you find us with hundreds more brews under our belts, our flagship New World IPA hitting the heights we always wanted it to, and a Session IPA beginning to pick up international recognition. Let's brew 822 2016.

Ideally for the very freshest of hops we'd have been wanting to brew this beer at the beginning of the year but numerous factors pushed it back. Firstly, although we had all the hops we wanted on contract with our suppliers, many of them took an age to actually arrive in the country. Still fresh, stored in optimum conditions until they finally arrived, but frustratingly slow in reaching us. We were also keen to use the best yeast we could find to suit the style and help the hops shine. We took our time to decide, ran plenty of trials and then had to grow up our chosen yeast (a beautiful North-West strain to perfectly complement the tropical hop flavours) in the less stressful environment of True North, Communion and other pale ales. On top of this, just finding gaps in the schedule when your core range is flying out of the cold room is tough enough.

We made a few changes to the recipe from last year. The hop bill is similar, but swelled and tweaked to introduce new varieties available to us and those that we'd decided were the best available to us from this years selection. Simcoe, Mosaic and Amarillo are still present, and joined by Australian Galaxy and Equinox, a new variety from the same farm as Citra and very much of the same breed in terms of the huge tropical character it contributes. The malt bill has been simplified – 600kg of our house Ale malt partnered simply with Dextrin to support body and counter some of the dryness the intense dry-hopping regime could cause. We kept the mash temperatures on the low side and used a small proportion of brewers sugar to give the yeast an easier time in what was potentially going to be stressful environment for it and to make sure fermentation achieved our target final gravity.

The best bit of all is there is twice as much to go around this year. We brewed the beer twice in succession leaving us with close to 3000L of tasty hop juice, and instead of 660ml bottles as per last year 822 shall be hitting the shelves as a limited edition can release. 822 will also be available in 20L keg in fairly limited volumes so be sure to reserve yours quickly.

As for the final beer, suffice to say the brew team are feeling pretty happy. We crammed nearly 30kg of hops into each batch, through whirlpool hopping and a carefully planned 3-stage dry hop schedule and it shows. Mango dominates, alongside a zesty, citrus hit, subtle passion fruit and a solid backbone of classic dank pine from faithful Simcoe. The beer is really clean, smooth, dangerously drinkable for it's 8.7% alcohol and with a subtle dryness on the finish.

So roll on up to the Refectory on Friday 17th June and join us in a toast to Adalhard, and our beloved humulus lupulus.