It's the 5th anniversary of the iconic Summer Blend series
The annual Blend series is now in its 5th year as we release Blend ‘19. We wanted to celebrate the diversity and complexity of these beers and what better way to do this that with a side by side tasting?
We’ve spoken to our barrel wrangler James about the development of the Blend series, how it has evolved over the years and what goes into creating these individual and complex beers.
With the first Summer Blend in 2015, he says ‘I had only been working at the brewery 6 months and Andrew called me in to taste 2 beers side by side. One was a Cantillon (Lambic or Gueuze) and the other was the blend. They had been tasting all afternoon and when I said “Nice”, Andrew responded “NICE?!?” - I could tell it had been a long day for them!
I remember the beer being much brighter than the Cantillon and packed with acidity.
Looking at the blend sheet, it had a number of different beers including Bibble, Tom Yum Gose (which contains all the classic Thai ingredients in a salted 5% Gose. It’s super refreshing and packed full of spice. We still have some barrels of it hidden away… somewhere), Amuse apricot and Somerset wild, and the infamous hula (a lactic heavy Sourdough which seemed to happen when fermented over summer. Released once as a draught only).’
James goes on to explain that the blending of the 2016 version was ‘the first big tasting I was involved in. I was asked to get a sample of all the pale barrels.
Off I went in the morning with mole grips, a sharpie and glass pulling samples of 100 beers.
By the end of the day, we had a blend. The main influence being last years blend. Barrels of Wild Goose Chase, Epic and the usual suspects; Sourdough, Somerset Wild and Amuse. Another theme was fruited barrels. Only a couple were needed to add that “something special” to the beer.’
By the time the 2017 blend came around, James was blending full time ‘...and [I] remember picking up lovely Lambic like aromas which I can’t quite describe. I think Brett describes this as dead ants. This seems to be a smell only Californians know. It’s a chemical compound but I can’t remember what specifically.
I had saved a few barrels back for this blend. Some Epic wort fermented on the lees of a barrel of Wild ‘Plum’ Chase, which had 30kg of plums in, continued the fruit theme, whist leftover barrels of Black & Blue added depth from charred wood and bright acids. The beer has a silky mouthfeel and tannic bitterness, with a funky nose and smooth acidity.’
Now in the 4th year of the annual blend, ‘the barrel library had really matured and although some old friends had gone, many new beers were being made.’ The 2018 Blend ‘...is much more delicate than previous examples and had a special addition of a 1 year old coolship barrel, to give a bright carbonation in bottle. It’s got a thin body with crisp, juicy acids and a woody, grassy backbone.’
The latest 2019 edition is a celebration of oak! We have taken 7 different beers, 14 barrels, 5 years of experience and beers that have been aged in Bordeaux wine barrels for up to 4 years to create this summer’s Blend.
In addition to Sourdough, Somerset Wild and Amuse, we have used barrels of foudre Saison, Redwood, Rooting around Spring and Loverbier. The combination of these barrels come together to create a delicately soft, yet complex, golden barrel-aged sour.
This series is a celebration of our barrel ageing programme using a classic range of our slowly matured sours including the likes of Sourdough, Somerset Wild and Amuse, with a select few very special barrels blended in too. Fruit forward barrel-aged beers are the backbone to these blends which means they’re great for drinking now or cellaring for years to come.
To create these 5 beers we have used 118 barrels and 28 different beers all blended and perfectly balanced together.
The list below is the blending list for each of the 5 beers.
Solera, Indigo Child, Ameleie, Amuse, Sourdough, Somerset Wild, Wild goose chase, Tom Yum Gose
Sourdough, Hula, Sleeping Lemons, Sleeping Lemons Export, Bibble, Blubus Maximus, Deckchair, Somerset Wild, Amuse Apricot, Amuse, Black and Blue, Epic Saison
Sourdough, Somerset Wild, Wild Goose Chase, Amuse, Shnoodlepip, Blubus Maximus
Amuse, Shnoodlepip, Somerset Wild, Black + Blue, Slems, Fruit blend, S+B Summer, Breakfast of Champignons, Sourdough, Coolship
Sourdough, Amuse, Foeder Saison, Somerset Wild, Redwood, Loverbier, Rooting Around Spring, Summer 18