Friday, 15 March 2013

Wild Card Brewery

The beautifully presented jack of Clubs
Wild Card are a new brewery founded by old friends William Harris and Andy Birkby. As soon as I saw bottles of their red ale called Jack of Clubs, I was intrigued. Its stark and enigmatic packaging instantly caught my eye. 

I met up with the guys at Craft Beer Co Islington to chat about Jack of Clubs, their future plans and opening a brewery at a pub in Walthamstow. 

One thing you get immediately from the Wild Card guys is their passion for their beer. They've taken a lot of risks to get one beer on sale and they have lots of plans that they're starting to put into action.

William works full time for the brewery whilst Andy holds down a day job at present and fulfills his role as co-director in his spare time. They started experimenting with extract brewing at home before developing their skills further and eventually moving towards founding Wild Card.

Jack of clubs is a bold yet approachable beer that takes its cues from American amber ales. It uses a combination of Maris Otter and Crystal malts and is hopped with Williamette, Mount Hood and Centennial. I had high hopes for the beer before trying it, but I had also wondered if it could just be a case of stylish marketing being used to dress up an ordinary beer. Luckily it proved to be a cracker of a brew. An initial maltiness and hint of sweetness gives way to a satisfying bitter hoppy finish. It's well balanced and has delicious notes of toffee and fruit.

Jack of Clubs on cask at the Warrant Officer
At present, the guys are brewing it at Brentwood Brewery, but in due course they will have their own setup in the Warrant Officer pub in Walthamstow. They should be operating from their new home in within a matter of months.

The name of the beer and the brewery came from their habit of making notes about their test brews on playing cards. The original note for the first beer was of course made on the jack of clubs. Expect their future beers to stick with this theme as it makes for such a striking brand.

I tried to press them on what we can expect from them next, but they weren't giving too much away. My money would be on something pale and hoppy. An IPA called Ace of Spades?

The Jack of Clubs is a striking beer. It definitely nods towards American craft styles whilst having a taste profile that will appeal to a wide range of drinkers. William and Andy told me about how they wanted to create something interesting and memorable that is also accessible. With Jack of Clubs they've achieved this brilliantly.

Currently Jack of Clubs is available in a number of bars, cafes and restaurants across London, particularly in the east end. Personally I'm intrigued to see what they do next. I'm also looking forward to popping along to taste their brews once they're ensconced at the Warrant Officer.

Have you tried Jack of Clubs? If so, what did you think?

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