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Whose Beer is it Anyway?

By Fergus Fitzgerald, also posted in News on

Adnams Southern Lights Red Ale exclusive to Nicholson's PubsA brewers’ challenge. Nicholson’s “whose beer is it anyway” challenge has set brewer against brewer in a battle to create the best beer for Nicholson's pubs during their Autumn beer festival. From across England and Wales, three noble brewers came forth to Moorgate in London City to throw down their gauntlets (malt shovels) and take up this challenge. Sit back and enjoy this tale of brewing honour and destiny. In The Globe stood the brewers from Adnams, Brains and Purity. Two brewers brought their entourage, the masters of Sales and Marketing, but in the end the brewers stood alone. One by one they stepped forward to reach into the three goblets of destiny. Within lay the precious scraps of paper upon which were inscribed the secrets of beer style, abv and hop variety. Three times they reached in, three times they held their nerve, the first for the ABV, the second for the beer style, the third for the hops. These would be the arsenal which the brewer would take into battle. These would be their shield, their sword, their steed. Each brewer emerged believing they, and they alone, had found the key to victory. So they set about a plan to design a beer so devastating, so glorious, so enchanting that it would garner to itself the votes of the drinkers and these votes would be like a thousand arrows raining down on their rivals and in the end there could be only one! (Ed - At this point in the saga we had to splash cold beer on to Fergus’s face). Fergus with malt running through his handsI imagine that is sort of how a competition is meant to work but competitiveness and brewing, or rather brewers, don’t seem to go very well together, so our trip down to London to decide on the beer styles was actually a nice evening sharing a beer and catching up with some like-minded brewers. Our lucky dip gave Adnams an abv range of 3.4 to 3.8%, a beer style of Red/Brown ale and hops from Australia and New Zealand. I was pretty happy with the hops, the new season’s crop from Australia and New Zealand had hit our shores whilst the new seasons crop of US and UK hops would probably miss the brewing date. I went with a 3.8% abv red ale, with pale ale, black malt, cara malt and oats, hopped with Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin with some Wakatu and Moteuka. I also decided to add a small amount of Norway spruce to the beer. The combination of these ingredients I hoped would give us a brown ale with lots of peachy gooseberry aromas with a touch of malt sweetness and a resinous pine palate. Fergus with a spruce tipThe idea was to name the beer on the day of selecting the ingredients, however after half an hour it became clear that most of the names suggested would involve a custodial sentence, so I deferred that decision until I had a chance to talk to someone sensible back in Southwold. Having failed to find any such person we picked one of the names suggested on the night and it was called Southern Lights. The beer was brewed the following week and has now been put into cask and is sitting in the cellars of many Nicholson’s pubs. I think its come out really well, lots of body in keeping with the autumnal weather but the hop complexity which reminds me of sunnier days. So, in the spirit of competition you should definitely vote for this beer, provided you fulfill the following criteria: 1) you liked the beer 2) you have access to a device with which to register your vote Cheers


Fergus Fitzgerald