I’ve loved Brewster’s beers for a long time now, first encountering them over 10 years ago in their pub, the Marquis of Granby, Nottinghamshire. It was a sunny day, they were having a beer festival with just female brewers’ beers being served, there was a barbecue on the go and the casks were in great nick. It was a perfect introduction to Brewster’s brewery and I’ve kept an eye out for them ever since. Sara has long been a champion of women in brewing, but if I’m honest, the main reason I like Brewster’s is because they make beautiful, well-balanced beers that I love drinking. I’ve visited their brewery a few times now, the last time to stock up for Christmas supplies and have always been made to feel very welcome by the whole team there. It was thus a pleasure to be able to invite them to make a beer with us, with the idea that we make a return leg in later in the year.
Here at Thornbridge, we’re lucky enough to have two brewing facilities: the main production plant at Riverside and the original brewery based at Thornbridge Hall, based a mile away. The original brewery allows us some capacity to invite our friends over for collaborations, even when we are at 100% capacity at the Riverside, and the traditional infusion mash tun is perfect for making cask ales, which we all wanted to make. I wanted us to make a beer that married our two breweries shared ethos of bright, beautiful, aromatic beer that would sell like hot cakes on the bar.
It was Alice Batham, Brewster’s technical brewer, who came up with the recipe – Maris Otter and a touch of Caramalt for the grist and Jester and Olicana, two relatively new British varieties, providing the hop aroma. Alice also wanted to use some traditional brewer’s sugar, ‘Invert No.2’. For those of you who don’t know, this special candy sugar is five times the price of malt (so not a cheap adjunct by any means!) and provides a delicious caramel-esque flavour that complements the malt character, as well as making the beer smoother and easier to drink. It’s not that easy to get hold of, so I was pretty grateful for Alice for bringing some from her family’s brewery, Bathams, another brewery’s beers I frankly adore.
The brewday itself was suitably special, not just because Brewster’s brought their entire team, but mainly because Sara gifted me both a Kiwiberry plant and a Sweet Gojiberry plant, both of which are now potted up and enjoying the late Spring sunshine. We fermented the beer with our classic Yorkshire ale yeast strain, which brought gentle notes of fruit to complement the hops. It was great to talk to Sara, Sean, Tom and Alice and I’m pretty sure they weren’t too bored when I took them on a tour of the gardens.
We named the beer Mora Mora, which means ‘Take it Easy’. It’s 4.4% ABV and I’m absolutely delighted with it – there’s only 36 casks in existence so I hope you get to try it before it’s all gone!
Dominic Driscoll, Production Manager