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The Lost World of Doggerland

Bottle conditioned wheat beer, in 375 ml bottles, corked and caged.
Release date 30 August 2015.

Brewed on: 5.7.2015 Bottled: August 2015.

Standing on the cliffs of North Norfolk and looking out to sea, you are gazing across what was once an extensive landscape that was inhabited by Mesolithic people. From the melting of the glaciers 15,000 years ago the area north of Cromer was Doggerland, extending as far as Shetland, with low hills, rivers and estuaries, shorelines, saltmarshes and huge reed beds. But as sea levels rose Doggerland shrank and the coastline approached its present position. Europe lost an area the size of a small country and Britain once more became an island.

I felt I wanted to make a beer to celebrate the passing of Doggerland. What would its character be? Well I wanted wood smoke to remind us of the fires of the Mesolithic people. The salt marshes of North Norfolk are in many ways the last vestiges of that Doggerland so I wanted some herbal flavours from the salt marsh and saltiness itself of course, a gentle tang of hops and an acidity. There is no barley in Doggerland, but wheat seeds have been found in Mesolithic sediments and these would have been imported (Mesolithic people in Britain were not farmers). So I imported 6 bags of Weyermann's German oak-smoked wheat. I gathered sea purslane (a common plant on the salt marshes of our coast) and some sea wormwood (Artemisia maritima) for its pungent sage-like aromatic properties and I added some fennel seeds too, as they grow near the sea here. I fermented it with some Kolsch yeast that I had saved from an earlier brew of Freshes Creek. The hops are Dr Rudi and East Kent Goldings and the gentle acidity come from a blending a few litres of Freshes Creek plus a little lactic acid. This complements the herbals nicely and adds interest.

Due to the poor mash efficiency for this malt I made less beer in order to maintain the intended gravity. Only 168 litres were produced (450 bottles).

Tasting notes

The result is a subtle but rather different wheat beer, with saltiness and herbal flavours set against gentle hops and a faint aroma of wood smoke. You might think that using 100% smoked wheat malt would produce an intensely smoky beer. It doesn't. In my experience of smoking wheat (at Jonas' smokehouse) and using Weyermann's smoked wheat malt I found the smoke flavour to be vanishingly gentle.

What the Customers say

"Brewed with smoked wheat malt, sea purslane, fennel and sea wormwood, this is an absolute gem of a beer. The aroma is a warm round lightly spiced sour dough and meadow flower bouquet, and the beer sits a pale gold in my glass. There's a shortcake, candy floss and honeycomb malt, it's creamy and soft and infused with a toasty smokiness, and the hops are sharp and spiky hedgerow greenery over the top. And then there's a decidedly salt tinged aniseed hit and a pithy bitterness from the purslane and wormwood that prickles away at you as you head towards the long floral dry finish." Simon Williams, Campaign for Really Good Beer

"To Martin, Pushing back the boundaries of brewing. Now that's a real contribution." Professor Vince Gaffney, in an annotation to his book "Europe's Lost World. The Rediscovery of Doggerland". Now back in print and is available from this website: http://www.oxbowbooks.com/oxbow/europe-s-lost-world.html

"#Tryanuary. Amazing beer. Smokey nose, sweet wheat cuts to sharp sea salt with a fragrant, herbal finish. Stunning, so glad to have found it." Eleanor B., Untappd

"Not sure if it would be for everyone but I loved it. Nice smoked mixed herb flavour." Standard L., Untappd

"Wow!" Mark Long, Untappd

"Really unusual! Smokey salty.... Strangely pleasant..... Couldn't drink loads in one go but nice to start with." Jason T., Untappd

"Something of smoked salmon about this. What a gorgeous beer." Michael H., Untappd

"A small Norfolk based brewery experimenting with unusual flavours. This one has smoked wheat and sea herbs. A little too much smoke perhaps." mike w., Untappd

Photograph on the label taken by Martin Warren at Holme next the Sea Nature Reserve on 28.12.2009 at 17.13. It is as near as I could get to a view of the ghostly world of Doggerland in wintertime.

Martin Warren, The Poppyland Brewer