On Saturday June 4th a group of North Herts CAMRA members headed into London. We assembled at the Betjeman Arms in St Pancras station then made our way to the Tottenham Hale tube stop, twice losing members along the way – but in the end we all safely reached our goal. Tucked away inside an industrial unit in N17 we found ourselves at one of London’s exciting new microbreweries: Redemption Brewing Company. We had traveled all this way into North London to present the brewery with a “beer of the festival” award won at the 2011 Hitchin Beer Festival in March. During our beer festivas all visitors are invited to put in a vote for their favourite beer and at the end, when all the votes were tallied up, one of Redemption’s beers took the prize.
The winning beer was the Trinity, a beer perplexingly described as a “pale mild” – unusual in a time where if you ask most people to describe a mild the first thing you’re likely to hear is “dark”. But “mild” is a bit of beer terminology with a long history and I’ve heard (and been involved in) many debates about what a mild should be. The earliest use of the term I’m aware of was simply to denote “young beer”; a beer that had not been aged and probably didn’t have a lot of preservative hops in it – so not “bitter”. I’ve also read the original milds were probably quite strong and at the darker end of the colour range. So how do I describe the Trinity: a light golden beer dry-hopped to the hilt, when you drink it the first thing you get is a nosefull of fruity hop aroma, in the mouth the fruit continues with citric and and lightly resinous notes backed by a surprisingly solid body for a beer weighing in at only 3%. (That’s just my brief personal tasting note – check out the RateBeer page for far more florid descriptions.) The brewer calls it a mild, you can argue against that if you like, but at the end of the day one thing is most important: it is a damn fine beer!
The name Trinity is not only derived from the 3% ABV – additional threes come from the beer being made using 3 different malts and 3 different hops. The malts (I don’t know what they are) are mashed at a higher temperature than usual to give the beer more body at a lower ABV. This works because higher mash temperatures favour the extraction of unfermentable sugars. The three hops used are Chinook, Columbus, and Centennial – all members of the brigade of modern American hops that are assaulting the palates of ale drinkers across the UK. (With much debate as to whether this is “proper” for an English beer!) At the end of the ferment the temperature is dropped and a large quantity of these three hops is added and left in the fermenter for 2 days before the beer is transferred to a conditioning tank. This addition of hops to the fermenter is what is known as “dry hopping” and contributes the big fruity aroma often found in these modern-style brews.
Redemption Brewing Company is run by Andy Moffat, who comes to brewing from the banking sector! On choosing the name “Redemption” for the brewery Andy jokes that he is seeking redemption from his previous career; he says he took some inspiration from Dark Star’s style of branding as opposed to choosing something more traditional like “The North London Brewing Company”, he also clearly likes being able to say things like “pubs where you’ll find redemption”. Andy started out, like many professional brewers, with home-brewing and as part of going pro he’s taken courses from BrewLab and David Smith (who he also employs as an adviser and to performing brewery audits.) Redemption’s assistant brewer is Andy Smith (this must get confusing) who’s actually a trained chef turned brewer, with a background and continued interest in home-brewing. There is also a 3-day-a-week van driver who we didn’t get to meet, though Andy told us he does like to do the odd delivery himself so he can meet the people selling his beer – on the topic of beer & brewing in general he says “It’s about relationships.” Some quick facts: it’s 12 barrel affair with equipment originally from Slaters Brewery, they use plain old local water (adjusted slightly at the brewery), they buy all their electricity under an eco-friendly tarrif, and their yeast strain has Scottish & Newcastle origins and was obtained from York Brewery. While they’ve only been operating for about a year they’re already making a great name for themselves in the growing London micro-brewing scene.
Most importantly both Andy’s are simply brilliant blokes and we had a great time at the brewery chatting with them and drinking their excellent beer – even sampling a bit of Urban Dusk and a special one-off brew from the conditioning tanks. Andy gave us a bit of a tour of the brewery explaining their processes and equipment. No matter how many brewery tours I attend they never get boring and Redemption was no exception – it’s about the people as much as the equipment and the beer. Andy seemed rather pleased when our branch chairman, Tony Driscoll, presented him and his assistant with their award. In turn we’re extremely pleased to have had the honour of presenting Redemption Brewing Company with their first beer-of-the-festival award. I’m certain it won’t be their last. Thanks to both Andy’s for being excellent hosts and for their excellent beer, which we can look forward to seeing around our area as our local Buntingford Brewery distributes their beer. In fact while we were at the brewery I gather orders for about 6 firkins of their special one-off beer were made for various pubs in our area. We’ll try to let you know when/where these beers appear via our Twitter account.
Finally, here’s a gallery of our photos from the visit.