#ISBF4 #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab Series No 2 : Elusive Brewing & Brewsmith Beer (Q&A)

Ain’t random pairings brilliant?

I just knew that these two (Andy & James) would hit it off, just knew.

Both like hops. Both are self – effacing decent fellas, who happen to brew bloody good beer.

With James having forged a reputation up here for consistently excellent beers and Andy with a growing rep on the national stage, I had high hopes for this brew. Like all the 5-a-side Collab Series.

Hops, hops and more hops. Yum. Let’s ask some questions…. Firstly, Andy Parker.

Andy, Introduce yourself and the brewery!

“Elusive Brewing started brewing in May 2016. We have a 5BBL/800L setup with 4 FVs and brew for cask, keg and bottle. I’m (Andy) full-time with support from part-time Assistant Brewer Steve who joined us (indirectly) from Siren, our neighbours. We’re very much a family business with everyone mucking in!”

What/who inspired you to start brewing?

“I started home brewing back in 2012 after being inspired by a growing thirst to learn more about the beers I was enjoying. Influences are many but I remember following the antics (and process) of David Bishop (who went on to become Northern Monk’s first brewer) and Adrian Chapman (now owner of Wishbone) and that giving me the confidence to give it a go. The first beer I brewed was a clone of Green Flash’s West Coast IPA.”

What is the ethos of Elusive Brewing?

“To never stand still. To improve and learn with every brew.”

What are the benefits of brewing collaboratively?

“We’ve done plenty of collaborations both before and after we started brewing commercially in Finchampstead and I can honestly say we’ve taken something from all of them. Having not trained professionally as a brewer, the chance to work with more experienced brewers is always educational and our processes certainly wouldn’t be where they are now without having been so collaborative.”

We are incredibly grateful that you agreed to take part in our #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab Series. You haven’t been to #ISBF yet, but you won “Beer of the Festival” last year. You gonna come up & collect?

“Thanks for asking us to take part! We had lots of fun brewing Love Action last year and the video of the empty keg being, erm, serenaded will live with me for a long time. Sadly I can’t make it this year either as we’re away on holiday! This’ll be the longest break (10 days) I’ve had since starting the brewery, so I hope you can forgive me and also hope our beers are as well received this year!”

What was your reaction when you found out you were paired with Brewsmith?

“We’ve been paired with Alesmith – awesome! *books flight to San Diego*  Oh Brewsmith, in Bury you say. I see.”

“Hehe – just kidding.

I was really pleased as although I’ve not been able to try many myself (send some more down ‘ere guys!) I was aware of Brewsmith’s fantastic reputation. James came down a few weeks ago and we got along really well. The post-brew pub crawl round Reading was also great fun I hope to head up to Bury soon to see their place – maybe we’ll brew another beer!”

What inspired the beer?

“We had a chat on the phone about what to brew and settled on something pale and sessionable. It’s a mash up of Brewsmith’s trade mark drinkable hoppy Pales and ​our Sphere of Destiny SIPA.”

What did each brewer add to the recipe?

“Once we’d settled on the style there was some discussion around the grist and hops. James brought down some Centennial (thanks!) and a pitch of their house yeast which is really fruity and clean – playing a big part in the flavour profile of their Pales. Other than using more Munich malt the rest (water profile, hop schedule etc.) is similar to our Session IPA – a truly collaborative recipe!”

Cask v Keg. Thoughts?

“We very often put the same beer into both and which ends up working best usually depends on the style. Flavours from cask can be more nuanced and rounded whereas the extra carbonation and colder serving temperature of keg can really lift certain aromas and flavours. If I go into a pub with a good range of both formats I’ll usually end up drinking more cask than keg.”

What are we to expect from the collab beer?

“A bright and fruity session IPA with what we think is a well-matched trio of American hops in Centennial, Nugget & Mosaic.”

You’ve collaborated with a number of breweries, is there anyone else you’d really like to brew with?

“Yes – James Farran at Summer Wine.

I remember first visiting the brewery back in 2012 and leaving feeling astonished that they’re able to turn out such consistent quality from what they won’t mind me saying is (or was) very basic equipment that was probably a bit past its best by the time they got their hands on it. A testament to good brewing process, solid recipes and James being Yorkshire’s answer to MacGyver!

I also recall James’ old home brew kit being perched above the brewery – what looked like a bath tub and a hot water boiler (the kind you’d find in your airing cupboard). I’ve always maintained that you don’t need fancy kit to make good beer at home!”

Thanks Andy! (One of these days, you’ll get up to St Sebastian’s….!)

And now James Smith of Brewsmith Beer

James, Introduce yourself and the brewery!

“My name is James – head brewer at Brewsmith Beer and co-owner with my wife, Jen. We’ve been brewing for nearly four years now. It’s a family affair! Currently we produce around 15 bbl a week of ale, most of which leaves the building in casks, though we do some bottle and keg also.”

What/who inspired you to start brewing?

“Hmmmm. I think circumstance more than anything. We (family) had always wanted to run our own business. Jennifer (aware of my passion for beer) suggested we open a brewery and the rest as they say is history. A very short stint working in another larger and well established local brewery focused the mind and motivated us to go for it.”

What is the ethos of (your brewery) ?

“Consistent quality product, great customer service. Good beer with a smile!”

What are the benefits of brewing collaboratively?

“I’ll let you into a secret, it’s actually the first collab brew we’ve done with another brewery. It was a great experience and I reckon we’ve learned a bit and picked up some tips and ideas for making beer in the future. Hopefully the lads at Elusive feel the same.”

We are incredibly grateful that you agreed to take part in our #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab Series. You’ve been to ISBF (or not – in Andy’s case 😁) How do you think ISBF compares to other festivals you’ve been to.

“Its an absolute pleasure. I think most beer festivals have their own different personalities, and it’s sometimes difficult to put your finger on exactly why something works.

The biggest thing Salford has going for it is the enthusiasm that most of the brewers have for the festival and the organisation, which is reflected in the quality and variety of the beers on offer. Plus there’s always some great people drinking and working there.”

What was your reaction when you found out you were paired with (your collab partner) ?

“WTF is Finchampstead?” (Gold star for QUALITY answer!)

What inspired the beer?

“What did each brewer add to the recipe?”

Cask v Keg. Thoughts?

“I’m a fan of both methods of dispense. They both have their place and there are definitely commercial advantages and disadvantages to both. Done properly, my preference would probably be cask. I’ll often taste a keg beer and think it would be belting served out of a cask. Rarely do I drink a good cask ale and think it could be improved out of a keg.”

What are we to expect from the collab beer?

“A lovely session IPA. Hopped with Centennial, Mosaic and Nugget. In a keg.”

You’ve collaborated with a number of breweries, is there anyone else you’d really like to brew with?

“Well you see we haven’t. We’ve got a collab lined up with Doug from Cwrw Ial in the next couple of weeks, and after that I’m definitely hoping to line up some more. I’d happily work with anyone at their place or ours – it could only be advantageous to everyone involved.” ( Note to Ed. Proof read your questions, fool!)

Cheers James!

Like all of the #EvilKegFilth 5-a-side Collab Series beers, this is going to be super special. Just remember, where you’re going to get it first?

VERY few tickets left. Click HERE to reduce that number even further….

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