The reward for our hard working Letchworth Beer Festival volunteers this year was a branch–sponsored trip to a new but extremely interesting brewery — XT. Twenty–two merry souls set off by coach on October 20 to the darkest remotest part of the vale of Aylesbury. Located on a vast farm near Long Crendon, Bucks, and set up only last year, XT boast a shiny 15 barrel kit manufactured for them in Burton upon Trent. It is all new, all purpose built, all stainless and with a degree of electronic management. The brewing area is further augmented by three vast conical fermenters.
“XT” are Mr Xifaras and Mr Taylor and their approach is quite unique. The core beer range is number based; and the numbers relate to the colour, not the strength. So XT1 would be the lightest and XT9 the darkest. We quaffed copious jugfulls of “3” a full bodied 4.3% amber best bitter — “5”, dark amber 5.5% rich and hoppy (proper IPA style) — and “8” a clean tasting 5% stout with balanced tones of coffee and chocolate from the different malts used. After that I lost “count” literally.
Their pump clips are also pioneering, in that XT supply their regular outlets with chunky perspex type clips which also feature the colour of the beer in an otherwise simple design. From top to bottom the impression one gets from this outfit is attention to detail, within an overall tenet of quality ingredients and well thought out recipes. All leading to excellent brews which we expect to make a big name for themselves over the next year or so.
On the way home we stopped off at the Rising Sun on the canal bank in Berkhempstead — the pub featured on the cover of the 2012 edition of the Good Beer Guide. Here we quaffed Oakhams, Trings and more XT as well as snorting “snuff” — whatever floats your boat. Meanwhile, former branch chairman Colin Yates was kidnapped by a fast moving canal boat and was last heard of walking home from Rugby. Everyone else was dropped off by bus and, well, they certainly know how to look after their staff in North Herts. A big thank you to Paul Beardsley (chief slave master) for organising the excellent trip.
Words: Malcolm Chapman
All photos: Yvan Seth