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The Yeastie Boys and the Earl Grey Tea

By Fergus Fitzgerald, also posted in News on

Yeastie Boys Tea Leaf Gunnamatta IPA brewed at Adnams for WetherspoonBack in December I first starting talking to the Yeastie Boys - Stu and Sam - about brewing a beer for the Wetherspoon Spring Beer Festival. The Yeastie Boys are, as their website explains, “ the dynamic duo of New Zealand's craft beer scene”. There are many famous duo’s, Batman and Robin, Cagney and Lacey, Laurel and Hardy, and pretty soon Sam and Stu will be up there too. The beer they wanted to make was their Gunnamatta IPA. Having worked out the quantities in the recipe I discovered that I needed to find 180kgs of Earl Grey Tea with blue flowers. Now, I buy a good amount of tea, but even to me 180kgs sounded wrong, so I ran the numbers again, used a different calculator, double checked the units but still it came out as 180kgs. Being familiar with the tea aisle in my local supermarket I decided that my search for the tea would not be concluded there. I had a few leads but 180kgs was proving to be difficult, so I asked Twitter and Mitch, who owns The Thatchers Arms in Mount Bures, Essex, replied that one of his regulars was a Tea merchant and promptly sent me a contact. A sample came in the post, and I thought the tea was amazing - lovely bergamot aromas with lime and orange notes and it looked amazing too with the flashes of blue flowers running through it. SeveThe Yeastie Boys and their Earl Grey Tearal cups of tea later I decided this was the tea. The brewing was planned for late February but the guys came over early to catch up with some friends so we managed to meet briefly at the Craft Beer Rising festival in London the weekend before the brew. They made their way to Southwold on the Sunday so we could brew on the Monday and Tuesday. I must have picked up a bug somewhere along the way as by Monday I was feeling unfit for public viewing, but as Dan was off snowboarding I soldiered on. The brewing went perfectly but apart from a few beers with the guys I had to entrust the rest of their evening to Mark Dorber at The Anchor in Walberswick, who along with Ruth looked after them extremely well and made sure they immersed themselves in Southwold life. While the guys were still here we talked about how the tea was going to be added to the fermenting vessel. We’d had a bit of experience of doing something similar so we filled several large cotton bags with the tea and in through the top of the fermenting vessel they went. The beer was gently circulated through these giant tea bags and the flavours of the tea infused into the beer. The result is great, the bergamot and citrus notes of the tea really complement the beer. The tea we sourced had a bit more of a lime note to it than the tea Stu and Sam use back in New Zealand but I think its come out pretty close and its certainly a very tasty beer. I need to apologise to Sam and Stu as I think they picked up my bug and then took it on a trip around the UK, hope it didn’t spoil the rest of your time, guys. You can find your nearest Wetherspoon pub here.  
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Fergus Fitzgerald