From A to B to C: a brewing thought process


One of the more unusual things we’ve noticed since we made the transition from home brewers is how chance encounters can lead onto all kinds of unexpected outcomes. 

We recently got to know One Stop Brewing, a new hop provider based in Cardiff. We always want to work with as many local businesses as possible, so we were happy to buy from them. What we went for wasn’t the new buzzy hops – the hard-to-source Antipodean varieties that go so well in murky, juice bombs. Instead, we went for some American classics – CTZ, Summit and Cascade.

The quality of the hops was incredible. As soon as we opened the packets, we were hit on the nose with fresh, powerful aromas. Suddenly, we got excited with working with older varieties, not necessarily in fashion but still with plenty to offer. And while that might not win over the interest of hardcore enthusiasts, we know there are plenty of beer drinkers out there yet to be attracted to locally-brewed beer and what it can offer.

So then we asked ourselves: what can we brew with these hops? Again, we decided to go classic – go West Coast IPA. For those not in the know, this style is a cornerstone of modern beer, from back where it all started. You’re looking for a clear and bitter beer, light in colour, and with bags of citrus, pine and even resinous notes. At least one half of Rival thinks it is the king of styles, and the perfect gateway beer for those curious about something other than mass produced beer.

The first brew provided a solid bedrock for Tiger Bae-by, our entry in a recent three-way beer-off. Combined with passion fruit with the alcohol pegged back to 4%, it proved to be a big hit with those who drank it, and we only have bottles left now. So then we started thinking – what next?

This led us to Duel, our new twin-hopped experimental IPA. We should hold our hands up at this point and say we are both huge fans of two beers called Duet. One is made by Alpine Beer Company in California while the other is (or was) made by Left Handed Giant in Bristol (some of you will know it was at Left Handed Giant – and possibly over a glass of Duet – that we came up with the idea of Rival). Alpine keeps it the same – Amarillo and Simcoe hops. LHG rotates what it puts in, and that was the approach we liked.

So far, we have made four versions:

Duel #01 – Amarillo & Cascade

Duel #02 – Centennial & Simcoe

Duel #03 – Centennial & Cascade

Duel #04 – Amarillo & Simcoe

We’ve recently purchased some more classic hops and we’ll be doing some more combinations, as well as a new four-hopped beer that’s currently in fermentation. To seasoned enthusiasts on the look-out for double mocca-chocca, marshmallow & Cheerio-flavoured barrel aged Russian imperial stouts, this may seem a little pedestrian. But we have learned new and invaluable things about hop husbandry, water profiles and malt bills, and we think you’ll taste the improvement. We always said we wanted to make go-to beers – beers you can trust – and this takes us another few steps along that road.

If different combinations prove to be popular, we’ll make them permanent beers. If you want to decide for yourselves, Beelzebub’s has Duel #01 & #03 while Brewdog has #01, #02 & #03.

Feed back to us on social media, or by emailing us (all on this website).

Dan Spain