It has to be fun and it has to pay its way. Apart from that, there are no rules.
I want to explore what is possible within the world of beer. I like assertive and distinctive flavours. In flat contradiction to what the tutor on a Brewlab course told us: "If you brew what you like to drink, leave now." He was a financial adviser and of course he was thinking of the conventional brewery model that had to sell lots of beer to lots of people to pay the wages and the bank loan. "You have to brew what your customers want to drink." quoth he. And indeed he is right to say that because if you haven't got a market for your beer you are out of business. But as I often think, there must be plenty of people like me. At the scale of the Poppyland Brewery I don't have to find that many customers, so I can afford to experiment. There are people who are looking for something out of the ordinary - extraordinary even. If I get it right I will brew beer that won't just satisfy your thirst. I shall delight and amaze you.
I do like hops but I promise you they won't all be hoppy.
Just most of them.
Actually, that used to be true but I am getting over it now and beginning to explore the subtler aspects of brewing tradition, so in the future hops won't be such a dominant character. However, both I and many of my customers love IPA, so I keep coming back to that. But in between I am exploring the techniques, ingredients, yeasts and flavours of some of the more obscure brewing traditions of Europe (Saison, Gose, Berliner Weisse, Grodziskie, Maltøl from Belgium, Germany, Poland and Norway, so far) and playing with the sour side which was once widespread but now rather a specialised taste. I am pleased to say that it is becoming very fashionable.
Output from Poppyland Brewery
It is really important for a brewer to have feedback, both good and bad. So thanks to the reviewers who made these remarks:
Roger Protz: Evolution Saison IPA. "Sensational"
Hail to the Ale: On the Edge. "Lovely stuff". "Finally, worth a mention is how this beer has an insane level of drinkability. It's thirst quenching yet flavourful and balanced. I hope it's still for sale when it gets warmer!"
Rate Beer: Out of the Blue. Bottled, 375ml cork and wired, from Cromer Farm & Health Shop, Cromer, Norfolk. Gold, carbonated with white head. An interesting start from this new cuckoo brewery, a deliberate Saison, there is a light apple flavour from this, rather like a Normandy cider, this is with a lemony hop note. There is a touch of sweetness giving it a slightly flabby note, but there is a balancing floral hint to keep it interesting. Pretty pricey, but really worth a try. 14/20 overall".
Untappd: On the Edge. "That's rather nice. Good dry-hopped note @BeautifulBeers"
Mr Ticker @bradfordbeers on Twitter: Smokehouse Porter 5.7%. "The Poppyland beer was awesome!"
Advice for beer label collectors
My printer Steve Ratcliffe up the street on Holt Road (Cheverton and Son) uses a self adhesive paper called 'Communique'. If you try to soak off the label in water you will find that the paper disintegrates and the adhesive doesn't dissolve. The technique is to keep the label dry but very slowly and carefully fill the bottle with very hot or near boiling water, shaking to ensure that the heat is dissipated to avoid thermal shock and breakage. You will then find that you can peel one corner up and by slowly and steadily pulling at it the whole label will gradually come off, with some of the adhesive on the back and some still on the bottle.
I only print as many labels as I need plus a few more for the archive. They are a significant part of the costs of producing the beer. If you do want some, please send a cheque for £5 (the lowest retail price of a bottle of my beer) to my address and I will send a selection of the currently available ones:
Chesterfield Lodge, West Street, Cromer, Norfolk, NR27 9DT