Gelbvieh, our first collaboration of the year, actually started life last November, when we had discussions about who we wanted to brew with this year. My esteemed colleague, (other) Dom Metcalfe, our Sales and Marketing Director, said he wanted us to collaborate with some breweries who were brave/stupid enough to set up in 2020. This sounded like a great idea to me, because it meant I could ask Newbarns Brewery, a new little brewery from Leith, Edinburgh, if they’d like to make a beer with us.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Emma Mcintosh and Gordon McKenzie since they moved to London in 2012. Emma was managing the Craft Beer Co in Islington and Gordon was one of the first brewers at Siren Craft Brew. Later, they both joined the Kernel as brewers and we bumped into each other more regularly, going on trips to Belgium and ‘Fynefest’ together and we have also welcomed them both up here in Derbyshire several times. They were the first friends of mine to do some digging on my allotment and showed a natural talent for unearthing potatoes without damaging them. Naturally, I was very pleased when they said they were starting a brewery with Jonny and Freddie from Beavertown back in their native Scotland, two lovely chaps I also had the pleasure of knowing from visiting London, back when we were allowed to have fun and go places.
Newbarns are making quite the name for themselves with their lager styles such as their Extra Pils and their Oat lager, so it was always on the cards that we would brew a bottom-fermented style. We decided to brew a Kellerbier, celebrating the famous Franconian Lagers, so reminiscent of great hoppy cask beer, which we’re all obviously missing a great deal at the moment. Kellerbiers are typically unfiltered and naturally cloudy lagers found in Franconia in central Bavaria. South of Munich, I’ve often found ‘Kellerbier’ which is just a brewery’s normal helles that hasn’t been filtered, but in Franconia, around the cities of Nuremberg and Bamberg, they are famously malty in character and more often than not, strongly flavoured with aromatic hops.
Newbarns farm, owned by Emma’s family, has grown quite a few heritage malt varieties over the years and so we made the decision to make the beer using 100% Low Colour Maris Otter. For hops, we looked to Franconia and a Tettnang hop farm which Newbarns were sourcing their Germanic hop varieties from directly. We decided upon the traditional noble hop Tettnanger and the more modern Huell Melon, with its refined aromas of fresh melon and strawberry. We used a traditional Bavarian lager yeast to ferment the beer and it has spent the last few weeks lagering away in our cellar. Gelbvieh is unfiltered and uncentrifuged and will be packaged fresh from the lagering tank, so will retain a natural gentle haze from the yeast. Being such good mates with the team at Newbarns meant we could dial in every aspect of the beer to get everything just how we wanted it, despite the fact the current pandemic meant they couldn’t make the actual brewday. It’s come out as a real classic – a pale, hazy lager that’s crisp, bracing and with a pleasing aroma of hops and I’m absolutely delighted with it.
The name ‘Gelbvieh’ (pronounced ‘Gel-fee’) refers to a classic Franconian cattle breed and translates from the German, literally, as ‘Yellow Cattle’. A strange name for a beer, you might think, but one of the first presents Emma bought me was a book on cows, as both of us are cattle breed enthusiasts and enjoy cow spotting (you have to make your own fun in the countryside). Gelbvieh are large framed, muscular cows, very similar to the Simmentals found on Newbarns farm and the Limousins which grace the fields immediately opposite Thornbridge Hall. We thought it the perfect name for our special beer.