Head Brewer Reuben Moore, owners Rob Laub, Sam Laub (with bulldog Rodney) and brewer Joe Conlan
Gorgeous gets going… A new brother/sister operation for Highgate, London
By Shane McNamara
With more than 110 breweries in London, constant take- overs and strategic partnerships by larger breweries (Camden Town: 2015 AB InBev; London Fields: 2017 Carlsberg; Brixton: 2017 Heineken; Fourpure: 2018 Lion; Beavertown: 2018 Heineken; Fuller’s: Asahi 2019) it is hard to imagine there’s space for everyone in the capital. However, let’s not forget that London has a thirsty pop- ulation of over nine million residents (not including daily commuters from the South East, business travellers and tourists) so there is still room for a quality independent.
Gorgeous Brewery The Bull, 13 North Hill Highgate, London United Kingdom N6 4AB
the pub they moved to a larger brewery at The Bohemia in North Finchley. Fast forward to 2016 and brother/ sister duo Rob and Sam Laub took over the site. At rst the brewing operation continued in the existing brewhouse, – without any specic name or branding – to satisfy continued demand at the pub. However, in March 2017 the Gorgeous Brewery brand was created and at the start of 2018 a purpose-built home for a new 8hL brewery was installed. Taking advantage of the ample space in the beer garden outside the pub, this was a wise choice; the pre- vious brewhouse was in the kitchen of the pub, the wort was then transferred down to the fermenters in the cellar where cask and keg lling was also
T his isn’t the wild west that was the London beer and brewing scene in circa 2012, where beer quality was sketchy, batch variations almost guaran- teed, and drinkers happy to gulp down any old London murky. No, now it’s 2019 and the starting point is quality-consistent beer – not brewed by a couple of mates who quit ofce jobs to start a brewery with zero quali cations or experience. So to see a brewery like Gorgeous spring up and nd itself ourishing, not only means it is producing quality beer but the brand- ing is on point too.
The location Gorgeous Brewery is located amongst the hills just north of the City of London, in Highgate. The brewery sits behind The Bull , an historic public house which dates back to 1730. Nestled in the heart of Highgate this location snuggles one in to give the feeling of a proper country pub. Interestingly, Gorgeous Brewery is not the rst brewery to be born out of The Bull . Following a renovation in 2011 the pub previously housed the London Brew- ing Company and a small 4hL brewery to produce various cask ales. Outgrowing
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completed – a logistical and ergonomic nightmare to say the least, especially for anyone over six feet tall. The people Rob entered the London pub market in 2014 (after previously working for Geronimo Inns) with the acquisition of The Prince Arthur near London Fields. He also acquired The Shillibeers in Islington in late 2015, later going on to sell it to West Berkshire Brewery. The pub side of the business is run to give that homely, family-style pub feeling. Sam told me that: “Pubs and beer run in the family. Our grandmother Marion was born and raised in a pub near Herne Hill”. Rob runs the business side of things
This strong branding has ensured the brewery has stood out in crowded shelves, busy bars and festivals. After taking a stand at Craft Beer Rising in early 2018 Sam said they established a wider interest in their beers and the shift has gone from all on-premise through the pub to reaching out to external busi- nesses with the majority of beer sales now external of the pub itself. This wider appeal has led to tap takeovers at London craft beer institu- tions like The Rake in Borough Market and recurring listings in places like The
and brings his deep knowledge of pubs, beer and what punters are looking for, while Sam heads up and takes control of all things marketing, design and other creative aspects at the brewery. The inspired labels embody each of the style of beers. The naming process of each of the beers is also something of a creative process as Sam informed me “All our beer names begin with a G, besides that, it’s about sipping the beers, nding a name that suits the style and avour, making sure each beer is given its own unique personality that perfectly suits it”.
In March 2017 the Gorgeous Brewery brand was created and at the start of 2018 a purpose-built home for a new 8hL ABUK brewery was installed
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depending on the time of year, some of the brewery’s most popular beers are: • Guzzla – A 4.8% unltered Helles style lager. This beer uses Magnum hops to provide a soft low IBU bitter- ness and subtle herbal aroma. Reuben has managed to achieve a wonder- fully balanced but malt forward Helles (2-acetylpyridine maltiness rather than isobutryaldehyde graininess) through the use of 90% Lager Malt and 8% Munich Malt and 2% Torreed What. • Glowy – A 4% Best Bitter style beer with a strong malt body, rm bitterness and light biscuit and toffee undertones. The hops used in this beer are Admiral for bittering and East Kent Goldings and Fuggles for late kettle additions. Reuben has taken the no-nonsense approach of producing a classic style Bitter. It includes all the aspects one would expect from this type of beer and hasn’t tried to create a modern fusion point by using citrus forward New World hops, characterless clean US yeast strains or overly com- plicated grist proles. This is a perfectly crafted pint of Bitter in all its glory. • Greaseball – A 5.4% Pale Ale. With all the juice bombs and murk madness going around London at the moment it was a massive surprise to my palate in trying this beer. It was something unique, something different. With a wonderful aroma of resinous pine backed by very subtle citrus notes this beer is a classic American Style Pale Ale. The rm but balanced bitterness leaves you wanting another sip to satisfy the last. It feels odd that this beer was essentially unique on the market for something previously so ubiquitous – more of this please.
of AMS per hL of water reduces the al- kalinity by 64ppm and increases chloride levels by 22.5ppm and sulphate levels by 31ppm) while any Calcium Sulphate (CaSO 4 ) or Calcium Chloride (CaCl) is added straight to the mash tun. The pre-milled malt from Bairds Malt is mashed into an iso-thermal mash tun at 65°C for approximately one hour before transfer to the kettle/whirlpool which is heated by electric elements. The wort is then drawn off, chilled through a plate heat exchanger and transferred to one of four fermenters and pitched with active dry yeast. If the beer is for keg it is then racked to one of two bright beer tanks and forced carbonated using a carbonation stone. Bottled beers are conditioned with a specic bottling yeast along with a dose of priming sugar; these are all hand labelled, lled and packaged. Casks undergo auxiliary nings in the fermenter with the use of isinglass and priming sugars added at the point of lling. With a rotating range of nine beers
Harp in Covent Garden.
All this would not be possible without quality beers. Reuben Moore is the Head Brewer at Gorgeous Brewery and was actually brewing for the previous owners. He came with the acquisition of the pub! Originally from New Zealand, Reu- ben moved to London in 2014. After spending time with Reuben around the brewery it was clear that he is an insightful and talented brewer – thinking about the avour construction of a beer and where the ingredients and brewing process play key roles in determining that outcome. The brewery and beers With a glass of moreish Best Bitter (Glowy) in hand, I had a look around the brewery with Reuben. Supplied by ABUK, the 8hL brewhouse is a similar set-up and size to many breweries (if not most) in London. Brewing water in the hot liquor tank (HLT) is treated with AMS (a formulated blend of liquid acids ready for use – 35ml
All photos© Chloe Edwards
“All our beer names begin with a G, besides that, it’s about sipping the beers, nding a name that suits the style and avour, making sure each beer is given its own unique personality that perfectly suits it”
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GORGEOUS BREWERY’S KETTLE SOURING PROCESS One of the more unique beers produced at Gorgeous was a collaboration kettle sour beer with Laine Brew Co. called Goosebump. Below is Reuben’s 10-Step guide to how they kettle sour their beer to provide a clean tartness to the beer while ensuring the sterility of the brewhouse. Step 1 – Water treatment. The water treatment is as per normal; AMS and brewing salt additions. Step 2 – Mash & Separation. The mash temperature prole is conducted as per normal, however, Acidulated Malt (10kg on top of a 130kg grist) is added at the end of mashing process just prior to sparging. This helps lower the pH of the mash. Step 3 – Boil. The wort is boiled to ensure saccharication has stopped and the wort is sterile. Step 4 – Adjust wort pH. The wort is adjusted lower to a pH of around 4.6 by adding food grade lactic acid. This helps prevent against unwanted microbes (and subsequent avour issues such as butyric acid) in the wort. Step 5 – Cool wort. The wort is then cooled down to the optimal temperature of around 40°C and maintained at this temperature. Step 6 – C0 2 purge. The kettle is ushed with carbon dioxide to prevent any microbial contaminants such as aerobic bacteria causing acetic acid. Step 7 – Pitch bacteria. Lallemand’s Wild Brew Sour Pitch ( Lactobacillus plantarum ) is used at the recommended pitching rate of 10g/hL. Step 8 – Wait! Over the next 24 hours the pH of the wort will drop further. This is then measured with a pH meter and taste – sometimes Titratable Acidity is also checked. Step 9 – Boil. The wort is then boiled and hops added as per normal. The boiling process ensures the lactobacillus is dead and the pH will not drop any further; the wort pH has dropped from 4.6 to 3.2 pH in just 24 hours. Step 10 – Whirlpool, Chill, Ferment. Treat the beer as per normal and pitch the yeast according to the standard rates.
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The giant awakens Award-winning beers from Johannesburg
of the section it gives me great pleasure to see our past students prosper and grow within the industry. I rst met Eben after he had just launched his rst beer, a hop-forward beautifully-crafted Punk Hop Pale Ale. That beer created a real buzz within the then small craft beer world – but was actually just the start of many wonderful beers to later emerge from the Mad Giant stable. In those early stages, the brand was contract-manufactured while Eben still had his 8-5 job. It wasn’t long after though, when Eben went looking for investors to build his own brewery – which was opened in 2016. The brewery While many brewery owners strug- gle to nd a suitable location due to zoning and licensing restrictions in the country, Mad Giant managed to nd the perfect spot. The brewery is located within the 1 Fox Precinct, a collection of restored warehouses in downtown Johannesburg. This makes Mad Giant a desti- nation brewery that not only attracts local visitors but tourists as well. The company shares space with Urban- ologi, an award-winning restaurant
With an estimated 200 micro-breweries in South Africa, it might seem dif- cult for one brewery to really stand out from the rest. This is not the case for Mad Giant however, which is by far one of the most popular and trendy operations in the country – and most-awarded brew- ery as well… T he brewery was founded in 2014 by chemical-engineering graduate Eben Uys, a passionate and driven brewer whose love and appreciation for beer has seen him develop some amazing beverages over the years. During his university days Eben used to be part of the Stellenbosch brewing team which took part in the SAB/IBD Africa organised intervarsity brewing competitions. As current Chair
Mad Giant Brewery 1 Fox Street Ferreirasdorp Johannesburg 2048
spear-headed by chef Jack Coetzee who focuses on ne eco-friendly food – with all ingredients sourced from selected local farmers. The Mad Giant space was designed by acclaimed furniture and interior designer Haldane Martin – who merged industrial history while contributing to the urban regeneration of inner-city Johannesburg. The bar is made of sculpted con- crete resembling a bottle top with back- drop of a big metal cut-out of the Mad Giant to welcome customers, behind which is the locally-designed and built brewing plant. The 30Hl, four-vessel brewhouse together with all other tanks were locally manufactured, making Mad Giant one of the few breweries to build in South Africa. It has two 30hL and seven 60 hL
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malt and dry-hopped with noble hops. Smell the freshly-cut lawn spritzed with lemon. Taste crisp refreshing bitterness balanced by the sweet pilsner malt. Super Session is a 4.2 ABV, 14 IBU Cannabis Ale (Blonde) made from nat- ural hemp seeds with no added THC. Notes of rich tropical fruits with a hint of mellowness. Electric Light is a 4.5%, 13 IBU Weiss- style beer. Classic and cool. Think fresh- ly-baked homemade bread with a mix of oral, clove, citrus and fruity aromas. Mad Giant Brewery, interior by Haldane Martin
The beers Mad Giant currently has six main beers; a Lager, Cannabis (Blonde) Ale, Pilsner, Weiss, Pale Ale and India Pale Ale style beers and the brewery occasionally releases lim- ited special-edition beers, some of which are collaborations with other breweries. Mad Giant Lager is a 4.2% ABV, 14 IBU real lager brewed to give a soft gen- tle nish. Think biscuit, honey, caramel and toffee, nished off with noble oral and gentle spice hop aromas.
unitanks all with individual temperature control for fermentation and matu- ration. It also has two 10hL unitanks which were originally designed for yeast storage but are now mainly used for experimental small-batch runs. The green beer is ltered through a horizontal leaf-lter imported from Italy, with the beer going through bag trap lters en route to the bright beer tanks (one at 30hL, a second at 60hL). The beer is then packaged using a kegging machine and bottling unit which are also both imported from Italy. None of the Mad Giant beers are pasteurised or sterile ltered. The brewery ensures product shelf-life by employing strict quality control and quality-assurance practices plus cold chain distribution. The brewery has implemented Good Manufacturing Practices and is one of the few micro- breweries in the country to have its own in-house quality laboratory. This lab is well equipped with high-tech equipment to run a range of quality tests throughout the process, including yeast counts, yeast via- bility, % alcohol, dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide plus a range of rapid microbiological testing. The brewery outsources some of the other quality tests such as bitterness level, free amino nitrogen, and SO 2 . The brewery has a staff of ve pro- duction personnel who are all as equally driven as their CEO/Brewmaster Eben. One of the things I like about Eben and Mad Giant is the willingness to develop and up-skill the staff. Both the head brewer and production manager are sitting for the IBD qualications and rest of the team are going through a range of other brewing related training programmes.
The Guzzler is a 4.8% ABV, 26 IBU Pilsner-style beer brewed using Pilsner
The Mad Giant Brewery The locally-sourced 30hL brewery in all its glory; keg and bottle lter sourced from Italy.
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“Mad Giant was an idea born in a man-cave. It sprouted from the desire to conquer the world, to make a difference – and to take chances with no fear of the outcome. We drew our inspiration from those who came before us: aviators, rock stars and mad scientists-pioneers who ipped the bird to conventional wisdom, shunned the nay-sayers and went on to become giants among men. As our batches grew, so did our aspirations. What started as an idea hatched in a tiny town built on coal elds, today stands as a towering monument to the little guy – in the heart of Jozi. We hope that Mad Giant inspires everyone who is crazy enough to pursue a massive dream.” Eben Uys
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beer range. Currently all the four- packs now come in handy carrier packs of recyclable cardboard and all labels are now made of paper, all free from plastic. This is an effort to challenge the industry reliance on single-use plastic shrink-wrapped four and six packs – and the use of polypropylene labels on bottles, something often tackled by big brewing companies. Mad Giant became the rst micro-brew- ery to fully commit to tackling plastic pollution – one of the greatest threats facing our planet today. As seen through its social media platforms, this is a cause Mad Giant has taken seriously and which chimes with its manifesto: “Focusing on what you believe in, mustering the courage to do what you need to do and what you believe needs to be done.” The brewery also celebrates the future of cannabis with the focus on hemp as a multi-purpose plant. Hemp can be used for anything from a food ingredient to t-shirts and packaging – and the company plans to explore these options and to continue to look at other ways of minimising any impact on the envi- ronment. Mad Giant is clearly one of the breweries paving the way for others, not only by releasing quality beers but also by taking care of the envi- ronment. With continued growth in the African micro-brewing industry, I believe Mad Giant will be one of the few breweries that will continue to grow and prosper – not only locally but also on the international stage.
Urban Legend is a 6% ABV, 45 IBU India Pale Ale-style beer which won a silver medal at the South African Nation- al Beer Trophy (SANBT) awards in 2017 and 2018. Bold and fruity loaded with tastes of guava, papaya and mango for those who like it loaded and loud. Killer Hop is a 5% Alc, 34 IBU American Pale Ale-style beer which is no doubt Mad Giant’s agship beer. Explosive and tasty with four types of aromatic hops, a touch of malt and a refreshing burst of tropical fruits. Best Pale Ale and overall Grand Champion at the African Beer Awards 2018. Interest- ingly, it was also voted the 2 nd best beer in the country during the 2018 Brew- mistress Awards. The brewery is not shy to experiment and has released a number of its own seasonal or celebration beers – and some through collaboration with other breweries: Whiskey Barrel Porter is a 7%ABV barrel-aged very limited-edition porter sold during the winter of 2016 and 2018. This year’s barrel is currently ageing . Jozi Carjacker is a 6.5% ABV New England IPA (NEIPA) style limited edition collaboration beer with Frontier Beer Company. Absolute Trouper is a 4.8% ABV Sum- mer Pils collaboration brew with Clock- work Brewhouse in celebration of the SA National Women’s month last year. This beer has added lemon to give it a
citrus, oral and fresh taste balanced with the pilsner malt characteristic.
Mad Giant has brewed other amazing beers with a range of local brewers, a practice it wants to continue this year. The beers are currently sold throughout the country and are also occasionally found in neighbouring countries like Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Namibia. As the IBD Africa Section, we had the privilege of getting Killer Hop and Guzzler, sponsored by Mad Giant, at our recently-held gala dinner. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the beers – one of the highlights of the evening. Sustainability projects Last August Mad Giant launched plastic-free packaging for its entire
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