Catching that whale

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To talk about a beer before it is ready to pour is just inviting bad luck. Brewers are careful about it, to the point of being superstitious, and who can blame us? At any point in the three weeks (or much longer if barrel ageing is involved) it takes to brew a beer and get it ready for consumption, all sorts of things can go wrong - and frequently do.

But here goes.

We’ve written before about our love for West Coast IPAs. Sure, we love the New England murk bombs that command all the attention. But that’s all in Craft Beer World (and where they’ll be going in the next season of Westworld, no doubt…). It’s really important to remember that more people - far, far more people than not - have never tried either style, even though West Coast IPAs can trace their history back at least a quarter of a century.

We think people can drink beer without having to focus on it. They can take a sup and say to themselves: “Hot damn, that’s a nice beer”, before returning to the conversation they’re having. Sure, you can sign up as a disciple of craft beer and worship at the base of the tek. Until now, there’s been a consensus that you can have nice beer or you can have a social lubricant. We believe you can have both.

Which is why West Coast IPAs tick all the boxes, Easy to drink, highly tasty…provided you get it right. We decided off the bat that we wanted a flagship version, and we called it Get Loose, after the first line Jim Morrison growls on The Doors’ LA Woman album.

However, for us, this beer has had a troubled history. Originally, we made it more malt forward. Word got out that it was a West Coast IPA and, naturally, this confused early drinkers. Then we corrected it but weren’t happy with the hop finish. And so it went on

We take the engineering approach to correcting problems. We use incremental change. Swap out one thing, brew again. Swap out something else, brew again. We’ve spent the best part of a year playing with the hop mix, crisping it up, ensuring the bitter finish is there, and lots of other things.

The latest batch will be ready in the coming few days. We learned some time ago that we’ll never be 100% happy with our beer, and we don’t know of a brewer who is. What motivates us is the same thing that drove Captain Ahab. It’s an obsession. A lot of the time it’s an unhappy obsession, but we do it because we know the day that we get it right it will be worth all the frustration and disappointment.

Yes, we really do take it that seriously. And why shouldn’t we? We’re selling this stuff to you. It’s vitally important that we serve the very best beer we can make. We’re lucky that you are both experimental and patient, and willing to tell us what you think. Let us know what you think of this latest batch.

Duncan Higgitt