Forest Road 2018: Back to WORK
written by Pete Brown, January 4th 2018
Well, what a year that was. The London brewing scene is on fire. What a time to be alive.
Lots of new breweries and lots of new beers hit the shelves in 2017 including a few of our own. This time last year I was pushing one 5.4% unfiltered beer called ‘WORK’ in keg and bottle format by myself and a backpack in London pubs. By the end of the year we had put out 6 beers and sold over a hundred thousand pints of them. Still limited by not having our own brewery, Brouwerij Leroy’s 15,000L batch size, the big-brewery duty rate and operating in the most congested part of the city for breweries we’re holding strong. We’re holding strong because our team is desperately devoted to making the best beer we possibly can – over and over again. In June, my partner Ian McRae, another 3-year veteran brewer from ex-Camden Town joined to help us get organised. In July, we hired our first sales director Eddie Hollis to help us sling more suds to the London beer-lover. Our taproom has truly come to life over the last year and become a spot for local business owners and beer-enthusiasts to hang on the random London Fields night.
We’re fired up.
We haven’t changed the plan one bit – Just make good beer and get it to people who understand it.
Still no investors telling us to do what they think the market needs and to cut corners to get there. It’s hard to convince people that don’t know about beer why its necessary to take additional steps to ensure our beer is made properly – especially with no monitored government health and safety regulations.
Double-blind lab analysis ensures that not only our base parameters are in-spec, but that additionally our aromatic and flavanoid-extractions are occurring within our designed variance windows. Our water profile is continuously measured and adjusted throughout the year. Our hybrid yeast strain is regenerated, hydrolysed and born-new again every time from a preserved liquid mother-culture that is currently sat in glycol solution in sub-zero (-70º C) temperatures in a lab somewhere in Denmark. Every process step is plated for micro-biological analysis which is expensive – but not required.
Because there is literally nothing more pleasing to me than crashing the seasonally mature lifeblood of a meticulously arranged bouquet of ground-raised malted barley with aromatically therapeutic, soul-soothing, vine-sprung hops into the hot sub-mantle-like conditions of the brewhouse with earth’s strangest behaving liquid molecule known to man through controlled heat, agitation and recovery systems all to end up with the pre-beer primordial plasma that is wort – All to just cool it down before feeding it to our fondest yeast cultures, the most-studied microorganisms in the universe so that our beloved beer – the liquid that drove humankind from hunter-gatherer phase to the agricultural phase – can mature in its final vessel before finding its way into a bottle or pint glass for the drinker and enhance the good times we spend our WORKing lives to enjoy.
Measuring each step of the way lets us understand how it tastes the way it does on the other side.
This type of composition is only learned from and can be repeated if you record analytical parameters before, during and after the process. This is the crux of learning the passion you pursue. Just as a composer details his sheet music or a family jots down the recipe for a food-dish. To understand and perfect, understand and perfect. This is the drive behind all of my professional time spent as a brewer, to learn.
But if I only made beer for myself, I would have stuck to home-brewing. I make beer for this city. And understanding what you like is crucial to our company’s growth and development. Therefore the key is not to brew what I think you like, but to show you through my evolving trade new things that you never knew you would like. We’re planning on adding a new beer to our core line this Spring and despite me being from Massachusetts – It’s not a New England I.P.A. We’re importing a new hop variety directly from the grower that no-one has out here yet that smells like Amsterdam weed. Pilot trials will commence over the next few months so we can understand how it comes out on the other side and after a ride through the hot-side with some of his better known hop co-pilot compadres that Im used to using in beer.
Our flag has been planted firmly in the earth – and as a company we promise to continue delivering class beer to the best of our ability in 2018. Will keep you updated on the progress of our flagship London brewery, we are expecting to hear back any day now and are incredibly excited to announce the details.
The last thing I would like to say is thank you everyone who has supported us this far. This whole operation is truly self-built and I owe it all to every single person who helped us get the word out without a single marketing budget and scraping by with our own cash to get to where we are now.
Still no fruit. Still multiple dry-hops without marketing it. Still flip cup.
Still making beer for drinking – Not for instagram.
Just remember Forest Road beer is not for kids, and fruit juice is for smoothies.