For International Beer day we’ve looked at some fine brewers who have adapted their skills and tastebuds to giving gin a go!
Now we know that beer simply isn’t gin, however there are a number of fine brewers out there making some really exciting gins.
Started in 2007 in Santa Cruz, California, International Beer Day has grown from a small intimate event, to a worldwide celebration of all things beer spanning 207 cities, 50 countries and 6 continents.
One of the 3 declared purposes of International Beer Day is celebrate those responsible for brewing and serving beer, and in this case gin as well! Here is a look at some brewers from across the world out there who have let juniper stand proudly by their hops:
A perfect example of a revived business and brewery, the fruitful history of Phipps brewery goes back all the way to 1801, when Pickering Phipps first started brewing in Towcester, Northamptonshire and by the end of the 19th Century the company expanded impressively to become the largest brewer in the Midlands.
In 1960 Phipps was bought out by Watney Mann and by 1968, all traditional draught bitters and the Phipps name were tragically axed. By beginning of the 1970’s a partnership was formed with Carlsberg and most of the original Phipps brewery demolished.
Phipps started brewing again in 2008 after a revival by the chain Punch Taverns. Draught Phipps IPA was re-launched in the December of that year. In early 2014 the company returned production to their home town of Northampton and restored and re-converted the old Albion Brewery. Brewing started again in March 2014, just under 40 years since the closure of Phipps's original brewery.
An old slogan used by the brewery was “Phipps is Beer”, but luckily for us that’s not the only thing they are now. The resurrected incarnation of Phipps have ventured into the world of distilling and gin and come up with their Kingswell Gin, named after the street where their premises are located.
Phipps Kingswell is a no fuss and superior London Dry. They have taken influence from tradition, much like their ales, and come up with something fantastically classic for their first attempt at a gin. A citrus nose combines with a wonderfully sharp juniper and a delightful peppery heat on the palate. Serve with a slice of lime and Fever-Tree Indian tonic water for an all round classic G&T.
Once upon a time in 1988, 3 executives from trainer giants Nike decided to get together and open a small pub in Newport, Oregon with a microbrewery that ended up over the years turning into something a bit bigger and rather special! Many of their original customers and devotees helped out with construction, helping out with projects and building a close knit beer loving community.
Giving back is at the heart of Rogue and they donating proceeds from speciality brews to causes such as the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and even crafted their ‘Whale Ale’ in honour of Keiko, the orca star of the film ‘Free Willy’ before he was released back into the ocean.
With a philosophy that reflects its name in every way, Rogue believe that if a product they create cannot be made with a unique character, innovation and through a process that doesn’t compromise its quality, then it shouldn’t be made at all.
One of Rogue’s mission statements is “To be like great friends and remember it’s what’s inside that counts.” That applies to those who drink Rogue drinks and what they put in their drinks. Rogue have their own farm and grow the vast majority of the tasty things that go into to making their beers and spirits, including pumpkins that will soon be going into their upcoming Pumpkin Patch Ale!
And now, Rogue also have ventured into the world of spirits and created the rather excellent Spruce Gin. A great sipping gin, Rogue’s Spruce Gin has wonderfully dry yet smooth juniper flavours which, alongside the spruce, give a wonderfully fresh feeling in the mouth. This, combined with the addition of fresh peeled cucumber in the distillation process, gives a crisp and almost sweet finish. Try with orange peel, a sliver of ginger and just a splash of tonic and you’re in for quite a treat.
We were lucky enough to be able to ask the lovely people at Rogue a few questions too to give a bit more insight into their revolutionary world!
Why did you decide on creating a gin?
We like to create complex products with a lot of ingredients, like we do with our beers. We had an idea to craft a gin using spruce, native to Oregon. We use 14 ingredients in our Spruce Gin and Pink Spruce Gin.
How are your philosophy and values reflected in your gin?
The Rogue philosophy is Dare, Risk, Dream. We love to challenge ourselves through innovation, creativity, farming, and new products.
Where do you source your botanicals?
We began distilling gin before we became farmers. The Spruce Gin and Pink Spruce Gin were an inspiration for us to see what we could grow ourselves. This year at Rogue Farms, we grew an acre of cucumbers in addition to coriander, orris root, and angelica that we’ll use in our Spruce Gin and Pink Spruce Gin. There are some ingredients that, no matter how hard we try, we aren’t going to be able to grow, like Grains of Paradise. We use the freshest botanicals available. They can come from different parts of the world depending on the time of year.
They’ve even sent us a recipe for a ‘Cuke Cooler’ which sounds like a perfect drink to cool down with during the final days of the summer!
Adnams have been brewing in Southwold, Suffolk since 1872, though beer has been brewed on the site of the brewery for an impressive 670 years! Since its incarnation as Adnams, the company has remained independent and still has family members of the board.
Their regular beers include the delicious Broadside premium bitter, Ghost Ship pale ale and Explorer golden bitter.
As a company they have the Earth and sustainability in mind with everything they do. They have a zero to landfill policy and are constantly working to reduce their carbon footprint. They even have a carbon neutral beer called East Green which makes the perfect accompaniment to a summer barbecue!
Their distribution centre also features the UK's largest living roof which is made up of a variety of sedum species. This helps insulate the building, and the water stored in the sedum plants is also harvested and used to flush the staff toilets and clean company vehicles!
Adnams established The Copper House Distillery in 2010 to start producing high quality hand crafted spirits, and luckily for us this included two excellent gins!
Adnams Copper House Dry Gin is an excellent example of a quality London Dry. A blend of six botanicals presenting bursts of juniper on both the nose and palate. Layers of hibiscus, orange and lemon zest are completed with a comforting warm finish.
Adnams spoils us again with their First Rate Gin. At 48%, this gin packs a punch while being clean and smooth simultaneously. A gin for those who like strong juniper flavours, with thyme and orange shining through as well to give you a spirit that lives up to its name!
Created from a mutual love of American style craft beer and with the aim to challenge their friends with new and intense tastes, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, a maths and physics teacher, and his childhood friend Kristian Keller, started experimenting with malt, hops and yeast in their home city of Copenhagen, and from here Mikkeller was born. The first step towards international success came about in 2006 when they added fresh press coffee to an oatmeal stout, and they created their ‘Geek Beer Breakfast’ stout, which was met with critical acclaim across the craft beer world.
Mikkeller do things a little differently to most beer companies. With no official brewery, Mikkeller collaborate with other brewers to create their own beers or special one-off concoctions. They have collaborated with craft breweries from all over the world including Brewdog, To Øl and, most recently, Samuel Adams to make some very special brews!
These Danish brewers thought that they could also put their hops to other uses and decided to create their ‘Botanical Gin’. Made with Simcoe Hops combined with a carefully selected blend of botanicals, Mikkeller’s botanical gin has notes of cardamom on the palate and a bittersweet finish of orange peel on the tongue. The simcoe hops also give a lovely touch of lemon zest making a connection that will please both gin and craft beer drinkers alike. If that wasn’t enough they’ve even done a Navy strength version clocking in at boozeworthy 57% ABV!
Lucky enough to have a new Gin Festival In A Box? Try using them to make our favourite Gin Festival cocktails at home.
For National Curry Week we wanted to look at pairing curry with gin cocktails, so we visited Indian Street Food bar Bundobust, in Leeds, to see how it’s done.
6 O'Clock Gin is our Gin of the Month, so we sat down with Michael Kain, head distiller at Bramley and Gage, to chat about this superb modern gin.
If you are a bit of gin lover or interested in finding a gin that you really like then the Gin Festival would be a perfect event for you.