Derbyshire-based Thornbridge Brewery and US brewer Brooklyn have joined forces to create Serpent, a 10% abv Belgian-style beer, packaged in 750ml bottles.
Serpent was brewed at Thornbridge Brewery and then refermented in bourbon barrels, with lees from cider and perry fermentations (from Oliver’s Cider and Perry) over a period of 18 months.
Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn’s brewmaster, said: “The idea came to me over two years ago while producing the ‘Ghost Bottle’ series. We had used wild lees from natural wines to produce some of these beers, and I wanted to build on this by using lees from cider making. Thornbridge, as one of my best friends in brewing and one that is technically adept, were my obvious choice as a partner.”
Rob Lovatt, head brewer at Thornbridge, said: ‘Working with Garrett is always an adventure, and it came at a time when, while we had some amazing results with beers such as whisky barrel aged stouts and Flemish Brown-style beer, we wanted to break new ground with our barrel ageing. Not only in terms of scale, but also in terms of the challenges maturing and fermenting beer in barrels presents.”
One of the challenges the brewers faced was the choice of lees.
Oliver explained: “In November of 2013, Rob and I, along with other brewers from both Brooklyn and Thornbridge, went to visit Tom Oliver, one of the world’s most respected and revered cider and perry makers, down in Herefordshire. After watching the maceration process and a tour of the fermentation rooms, where nature is allowed to do its thing and no sulphur is added to the tanks or barrels, we had an extended tasting and explained to Tom about the project. Tom was soon on board and agreed to send us all of his lees from the 2013 season’.
Lovatt said the final beer “seems to exist somewhere between cider, beer and wild ales, such as American-style sours or lambic”.
He added: “We like to think the alliance between Brooklyn and Thornbridge has created something genuinely groundbreaking, but most importantly, produced a great beer to drink.”