British brewing is certainly becoming a crowded marketplace these days – as we saw last week, there are now over 1,000 commercial producers shoehorned onto these thirsty islands. In order to stand out, you need to do one of several things (or, ideally, more than one). You can shout very loudly (mentioning no names). You can create something truly spellbinding that cannot be ignored. Or – you have a hook, something unique, that people can turn to. One such company are Brewmeister – a new brewery operating in the Deeside village of Kincardine O’Neil.
Although the idea for Brewmeister was hatched during a road trip to the west coast of Scotland last year – it has a much longer back story. Founder Lewis Shand was taught to home-brew (aged 16) by his Grandfather – obviously a great way to fulfil that youthful desire for alcohol. Back then, they used yeast that Lewis’s grandfather had obtained on a visit to Germany. Throughout his homebrewing journey, that original culture has been maintained – and now, as he opens a commercial operation many years later, his Grandfather’s German yeast will be powering the beer.
It’s a fantastic story – and gives Brewmeister a great deal of provenance, right from the start: – the first strain of yeast Lewis ever brewed with, which had been collected and cultivated by his Grandfather, is now at the core of his business, as he turns professional. A scenario like that would surely bring a tear to the eye of the most hardened marketing expert. Lewis and brewing director John McKenzie aren’t stopping there, however, as it seems they are also destined to aim for the column inches with one of their debut beers – Armageddon, at 65%abv.
Yep, they’re going there. The strongest ‘beer’ in the world. It’s been over two years since BrewDog gained nationwide notoriety for their squirrel-stuffed The End of History (55% abv). Since then, things have quietened as Schorschbräu released the 57% Schorschbock, and Dutch brewery t’Koelschip the 60% Start the Future. As we said at the time, these drinks that are freeze-distilled on multiple occasions are hardly beer – but they don’t half get people talking. Brewmeister will be launching Armageddon next month – taxidermists take note.
Lewis is clearly a man full of ideas – Brewmeister are also experimenting with a steinbier (where rocks are heated in a fire, and then added to the wort as a heat source), and will be adding local ingredients wherever possible. Their current production split is around three-quarters cask, and the rest bottled (by hand), with release flagships being Brewmeister Blonde, Lochnagar Spray and Deeside Pale Ale, although there’s a 10% scotch ale in production, as well – no shortage of options for the beer drinker, clearly!
Look for Brewmeister to get their beers out this month, and then gain a lot of press for the 65%er in October. They may not have the PR-power of the duo from Fraserburgh, but you’ll certainly be hearing their name mentioned very soon, it seems…