What the numbers mean!
Our first commercially-released recipe: 01|01 Saison – Citra.
01 – SAISON
An unappreciated historic example of brewing innovation, the original Walloonian farmhouse ales that would become known as saisons were brewed in cooler months with a variety of ingredients and spiced to remain dry after a tumultuous fermentation and lengthy ageing. The resulting beer was enjoyed by farmworkers, sometimes in lieu of payment, and often during the harvest period, when work was from dawn til dusk, and portable, light, clean refreshment was paramount to productivity.
Whilst known as a strong and bitter beer due to more modern iterations, Brew By Numbers prefer to brew saison to a milder alcohol level using our house saison yeast (partially derived from a French strain) to best use its potential as a canvas for experimentation in dry, spicy and hoppy flavours. A year-round favourite at the brewery and an excellent gateway into both modern and historic craft beer.
02 – GOLDEN ALE
More in the style of Antipodean golden ales than those pioneered by British brewers of the 1990s, BBNo’s Golden Ale is a rich, burnished gold brew with a complex malt bill to produce a fine, smooth beer with exceptional balance. A restrained bitterness in its pronounced hop character typically picks out the chewier fruity notes without being cloying. A modern pale beer with a lot of influences.
03 – PORTER
Historically the preferred beer of ticket and fellowship porters in 18th century London, this rich dark beer became the world’s first truly global beer style, winning over the lower and middle classes before being exported around the world. The parent to the stronger, drier ‘Stout Porter’, eventually ‘Stout’, porter has been reinvented a number of times and now occupies a broad section of dark beers. Expect coffee, chocolate, liquorice, toffee, caramel, nut and dark fruit flavours.
Photo © Gavin Freeborn
04 – BERLINER WEISSE
Brewed with Lactobacillus – the bacteria found in natural yoghurt – this classic German sour beer style, which was dubbed “the Champagne of the North” by Napoleon’s troops, has all but disappeared from its native Berlin.
Berliner Weisse typically finishes semi-dry, with low ABV, a crisp lactic acidity and gentle, delicate flavours. More modern variations – as with many sour beers – are commonly flavoured with fruit or flowers, but whereas, in Germany, this would traditionally be achieved with the use of sweet, flavoured syrups, Brew By Numbers use only natural flavourings and allow the sugars to ferment out, ensuring the finished beer is still sour.
05 – INDIA PALE ALE
A beer defined by its journey as much as by its brewing process, the pale, heavily-hopped and barrel-conditioned beer known as India Pale Ale became a global phenomenon in parallel to the fortunes of the British Empire. This ‘wine of malt’ was brewed to various strengths but always with huge hop additions to help preserve it on its tumultuous journey to India.
Modern India Pale Ale (or IPA) is mostly unrecognisable from its distant relative, and certainly doesn’t travel as well. Hops are used less for antibacterial qualities these days, and more for their aroma and flavour, which can deteriorate quickly. Many modern IPAs display the fresh aromas and flavours that come from high quantities of New World hops, typically from Australia, New Zealand and the USA. At Brew By Numbers we finish our IPAs semi-dry to give a juicy flavour and light mouthfeel, allowing the hops to take centre stage.
06 – BELGIAN BLONDE
Typically of a similar strength to a Dubbel but with the character of a Tripel, Belgian Blonde is far more recent style than either one. Typically between 4% and 7%, though not limited to this, with an aromatic yeast character, medium-dry to dry finish and medium to high levels of bitterness. Like many Belgian beer styles, Blondes are eminently drinkable, possessing a smooth sweetness and finely balanced bitterness.
07 – WITBIER
This lemony, cloudy, spicy style comes from a similar heritage as Saison. Many types of Witbier (meaning ‘white beer’ in Flemish) were traditionally brewed by farmers for their workers. Some variants of Witbier are known to have contained Lactobacillus and were delivered to local pubs shortly after they were brewed, and served to customers while still fermenting. The resulting drink was full of wheat proteins, carbohydrates and the ‘friendly bacteria’ that have become so popular today, making it a perfect drink for physical labourers.
After gradually losing popularity this style died out in the 1950s but was given a new lease of life by Pierre Celis, an ex-postman from the town of Hoegaarden, who created the modern beer we now know as Witbier. We appreciate the merits of both the modern re-imagining and the traditional versions.
08 – STOUT
Originally created as a bigger bodied and stronger version of Porter, Stout (originally Stout Porter) has developed into its own range of styles. Irish Dry, Foreign Extra, Sweet, Oyster and Imperial; these variants range from below 4% ABV to well over 15%. Historically these beers found favour both at home and abroad in the highest echelons of society.
These decadent beers lend themselves perfectly to barrel aging, where they can pick up many nuances from the oak, flavours of the liquor that was originally produced in the barrels, and, occasionally, even acquire some bugs and wild yeasts along the way. These lumbering leviathans of the beer world possess some of the boldest flavours to match their strengths.
08|02 Stout – Imperial.
09 – BROWN ALE
In the late seventeenth century the invention of coke, the smokeless fuel source, brought about the creation of pale malt. It is believed that before this time, all beers were lightly smoked and brown in colour because the malts were dried over wood fires. The Brown Ales that we are familiar with today are a relatively modern creation, introduced as a midpoint between Porter and Mild. Most of these Brown Ales tend toward either sweet and malty or medium-dry and hoppy, but in all instances you can expect chocolate, caramel, toffee, dried fruit, nut, biscuit and toast flavours.
10 – COFFEE PORTER
We have worked with a series of different coffee roasteries in London to produce porters infused with single origin beans, to showcase the flavours and qualities of individual coffees.
11 – SESSION IPA
This modern beer style from the USA has gained huge popularity recently due to the growing appetite for hop aroma and flavour without session-shortening ABV.
Mistaken by many for being a pale ale with ideas above its station, Session IPAs are actually one of the most difficult beers to brew. At Brew By Numbers we hop our Session IPAs as highly as their far alcoholically-stronger brethren, and provide balance to the intense hoppiness by mashing in at higher temperature, resulting in more non-fermentable sugars and greater residual sweetness after fermentation. The result is a beer with the muscles and swagger of an American IPA at a rather British, sessionable strength.
12 – BARREL AGED
Certain beer styles lend themselves to barrel aging; the process of maturing beer in oak barrels. The barrels we use come from manufacturers of other alcoholic drinks – whisky, wine, port, etc – and the beers not only pick up nuances from the oak, but also flavours of their previous contents. This is a style category for the connoisseurs – where some of our favourite beer styles take on bewildering new flavours, forms and character.
13 – BRETT AGED
Unlucky for some, lucky for others, Brettanomyces lends acidity as well as a broad range of flavours to a beer. From fruity pineapple to horse blanket, the flavours attract and repel in equal measure. Whilst typically an organism that modern brewers do everything to stop entering their equipment, Brett used judiciously can also add fascinating new dimensions to certain beer styles.
All our Brett Aged beers have been refermented with one or more strain of this wild yeast, with interesting results.
14 – TRIPEL
There are a number of different theories as to the origin of the name ‘Tripel’. One thing that is certain is that the modern use of the word came about in the 1950s when a well-known Belgian Trappist brewery renamed a beer they had developed in the 1930s.
Golden in colour and high in ABV, Tripels are brewed with Belgian yeast strains which lend the beer fruity esters and spicy phenolics. A dry finish and relatively high bitterness ensure Tripels are more drinkable than their strength would imply. Brew By Numbers brews Tripels with a large addition of aroma hops to give them extra flavour and to bring them into the 21st century.
14|03 Tripel – Ella.
15 – BLACK IPA
At the outer reaches of what IPA can be as a style, the popular and occasionally controversial Black IPAs famously push the boundaries of hoppy beers.
Most recipes tend to include speciality malts such as Carafa Special 3, a malted barley variety without a husk, which adds a dark colour and richer, chocolaty flavour without being too roasty to overpower the enormous hop additions typical to the style. Expect flavours close to fruit dipped in melted chocolate, with notes of coffee, grapefruit, lime and kiwi.
16 – RED ALE
Brew By Numbers Red Ales typically take their cues from modern American examples, with a foundation of rich caramel and fruit flavours sharpened by juicy and piney American hops. Despite the rich sweetness inherit to the style, the hop character provides and dry, clean finish to make the style as balanced as it should be. A great introduction to hoppy beers for fans of traditional ale styles.
17 – TABLE SAISON (FORMERLY ‘GRISETTE’)
Another Belgian-inspired farmhouse ale, designed to be simple, refined and refreshing, we brew our low-ABV saisons in a similar way to their stronger counterparts. Bright, crisp and nuanced, with subtle flavour additions pushing the edges of what the style can be.
18 – FARMHOUSE
Prior to the published studies of Pasteur, beer was frequently brewed in environments where it was susceptible to bacterial spoilage and infection by wild yeasts. Farmhouse ales epitomised this period of brewing history, when the bacteria and wild yeasts living in the local atmosphere would define the character of the beers brewed there.
Combining aspects from our Barrel Aged and Brett Aged series, some of our Farmhouse beers are aged using wild yeast strains in oak barrels. Others undergo multiple and/or mixed fermentations with specific cultures of bacteria and combinations of yeast strains. The results are yeast-driven flavours displaying not just sourness or funk, but deeper, more complex flavours of fruit, spice, tartness, tannins and oak. We’re looking forward to taking our Farmhouse series even further, with the aim of maturing multiple batches and blending them to create some truly unique beers.
18|04 Farmhouse – Gose
19 – GOSE
Not to be mistaken with its sour Belgian cousin gueze/gueuze, Gose originated in the 16th century in the nearby town of Goslar, taking its name from the river Gose. Originally, Gose fermented spontaneously, imbued with a lemon-sharp tartness from the presence of lactobacillus, a quenching, light and dry mouthfeel, and thirst-making salinity.
The style was revived in the early 2000s, its popularity in its native Germany growing in line with reinventions of the style in the American craft beer scene, pioneered by breweries such as Westbrook, Off Color and Lost Nation. Our recipe is based on the traditional form of this sour and salty wheat beer, inoculated with lactobacillus for tartness, coriander for herbal notes and salt for its crisp, refreshing salinity.
20 – BELGIAN PALE
Distinct from Belgian blondes and strong golden ales, Belgian Pale is yet another example of the country’s knack for skillful balance in brewing. Belgian Pale has the dubious honour of being one of the country’s least well-defined styles, with its label applied on ratings websites to beers as varied as Orval, Westvleteren Blonde, De Ranke XX Bitter and De La Senne’s Taras Boulba.
Using the same saison yeast strain that we use for other Belgian styles, in this instance we lowered the fermentation temperature to 24 degrees C (as opposed to the low thirties that our saisons ferment at), so there’s less fruity ester character, but the same crisp carbonation and texture the style needs. The subtle interplay between the yeast and hops provides a gentle spiciness alongside firm bitterness, to really cleanse the palate.
21 – PALE ALE
Most versions of our pale ale take their cues from American East Coast hoppy beers, displaying a pronounced but natural hop and protein haze, a side effect of brewing with large amounts of oats and dry-hopping on active yeast. The result is a vibrant, sharp and juicy palate with a smooth texture to balance the intense hop character.
21|03 Pale Ale – Citra Amarillo Mosaic
24 – AMBER ALE
So far we have only brewed one Amber Ale: 24|02, a collaboration with Estonian brewery Põhjala and named for the date of Estonia’s Independence Day. The recipe was inspired by the classic Estonian breakfast dish of kama. To replicate the character of kama as closely as possible in the beer, for the malt grist we used a blend of barley, oats and rye, with some amber and brown malt to add a richer, nutty flavour. To give the fruity, blueberry flavour and aroma, we hopped the beer with Amarillo and Mosaic.
25 – WHITE IPA
Two American breweries (Deschutes and Boulevard) are credited with releasing the first commercial White IPA in 2010. Taking influences from Belgian white beers and American IPAs, it’s a style that perfectly suits the interests of the brewers here at Brew By Numbers.
The soft fruit and spice flavours of wheat beer meet the sharp and juicy hops of American IPA in a crossover style with broad appeal and bright, beautiful flavour combinations.
35 – RED IPA
With its richer caramel malts and rounded, sweeter body, Red IPA offers the flavours of red ales as a base for explosively fruity New World hops.
55 – DOUBLE IPA
A double IPA, or indeed any IPA, is more than the sum of its hops. Balancing the texture and body of bigger beers with juice, bitterness and occasionally savoury qualities of volatile hop compounds makes for high-risk, high-reward IPAs. Best enjoyed as fresh as humanly possible, our Double IPAs seek to push the boundaries of hop aroma and flavour whilst achieving finely-balanced drinkability.