Wadworth have set their brewers a challenge: to create a new and distinctive beer each month in 2013. They've called it the Brewer's Creations series and they are producing very limited batches of each beer.
There's already been a Stout and a Pale Ale amongst others. This month, I got my hands on a mini-cask of Brewer's Creations 8, which is a four grain bitter made with barley, wheat, oats and rye. It's with Styrian Goldings and Cascade.
I was a little disappointed to see that given total freedom, a brewer decided to produce a bitter but that's just me as I'm not the biggest fan of bitters. However, second brewer Colin Oke has produced a bitter with an unusual edge.
It pours a hazy golden colour and has a slightly spicy nose to it. Oke was quoted in the Brewery Manual recently as saying that rather than being malty, that the beer has a spicy quality and a "peppery feel to the mouth." I would agree with this as the rye does give it a slightly different note to most bitters.
Maybe I was wrong to prejudge this beer as it is a bitter. There's a slight note of licorice and a touch of bitterness from the hops but this is only slight as the grain profile dominates this beer. It is a more interesting and unusual beer than I was expecting, but do I like it? Not entirely, no. It has a touch of fruitiness alongside the licorice, pepper and a hint of smoke which I don't think quite works. This is a personal thing as I am sure many would love this beer.
What is good to see is that Wadworth are innovating. They have a 90 year history which is something that the newer craft breweries certainly don't have! To remain relevant, I feel that regional breweries need to constantly innovate and work on new styles to sit alongside their core range of traditional ales.
Whilst Brewer's Creations 8 is not entirely my kind of beer, it has increased my respect for Wadworth as they are clearly giving their brewers space to try new things. I may well now see if I can try a couple of the other beers in the series when they are produced.
It would be interesting to know what their intention is after this year and whether they aim to produce one or more of the beers that they have tried on an ongoing basis.
Drinking this beer and writing this piece has got me thinking about regional brewers and innovation. Look out for a piece from me on that subject very soon!