Home Brew Review: Hellsize Park Brewing Co

Most of the world’s most celebrated microbreweries in this new golden age of beer that we are now living in actually started life not as a gleaming ready made high-tech facility or even a cobbled together kit in some grimy railway arches. They began in sheds, garages, basements, and kitchens (and in the case of the Padstow Brewing Company a disused and converted surf shower). The architects were men and women passionate about beer and the art of brewing. These enterprising folks then found the courage and support to put together enough money to “scale up” in brewer speak. Many gave up steady safe jobs to try to turn their fervour for fermentation into something bigger and in doing so, not only changed their own lives but touched and awakened thousands of others.

Which got me thinking… What if instead of simply singing the praises of established breweries, I started trying to feature the work of aspiring brewers and brewsters. Perhaps a little incentive and encouragement might be just what they need to make the big leap themselves.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 08.37.09I’ve just lied to you.

The inspiration didn’t come to me from out of the blue. Most ideas require a catalyst, a spark to ignite them; mine is called Jamie. A fellow tour guide at London Brewery Tours he generously gifted me this intriguing taught newspaper wrapped bottle with Evil Goat stridently written on it. The handy work was that of Josh Charig aka Hellsize Park Brewing Co.

 

The full name is actually Evil Goatmilk Saison as I later found out courtesy of Josh himself.

 

Now for those non-geeks out there, Saison (French for season) is a style of beer with its origins in Wallonia (French speaking Belgium). Brewed in farmhouses in the cooler months and stored for the summer it was a refreshing liquid form of payment for the thirsty field workers to drink. Today Saisons are a popular style amongst craft brewers who often add fruit, herbs or spices to the beers. They are often typified by their hazy appearance, spicy sometimes pronounced yeast nose, lively fruit and layered texture.

 

Here’s what Josh had to say when I asked him to tell me a little about himself, thus casting some light onto how I came to have this broadsheet bound chilli infused Saison in my possession.

 

Two and a half years ago, some friends and I decided to make a batch of our own beer and one drunken night we made one of those beer packs. I instantly fell in love with homebrewing and have been doing it ever since as a “serious hobby”. My wife is a farmer and gardener and we had an opportunity to live in Ireland for about 9 months where she could grow a range of plants and I could concentrate on brewing, and this is where we are now. I brew as much as I can here and am doing a lot of testing and experimenting, whether that’s trying a new technique which will increase my brewhouse efficiency or playing around with a recipe to create something I’ve never even heard of before. I’m using this opportunity to become a better brewer and make better beer.
Whilst in Ireland I’ve been keeping a brewing and beer blog the Honest Beer Guide. I’ve also been writing posts for a couple of other publications. My plan is to make the most out of my stay here in Ireland and learn as much as I can about my system, different ingredients and their effect on the beer, and how to craft the best brews. Back in London, I’m growing a few hop plants, and when my wife and I are settled back there I plan on planting more hops along with other herbs, flowers, and spices which I can use in brewing as I’d also like to make some gruit* ales. I’d even like to have a go at brewing using medieval methods!
As you will have guessed I thought Evil Goatsmilk was excellent.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 08.38.01These were my notes:

A cloudy deep amber. The nose was at first farmyard, then field yeasty but that gave way to tropical flowers and fruit. Raising up the glass up I could feel my lips bracing for the promised heat… But none came. Instead, it was dense foamy, not quite creamy yet it had a touch of pina colada about it, and as I began to explore that; the warming began. A throat nibbling, dry persistent heat. In no way unpleasant, it had the effect of making me want another sip. With each one the complex web of texture, tropical fruit and prickly heat spreading out over my entire mouth and nasal system.

More kudos came in the form of Mrs Drink n Eat who thought it was fabulous. To qualify she drinks beer from time to time preferring lager and sour beers but is certainly not a huge beer drinker. I also trust her palate immensely, as she’s not jaded like me. I love getting her take on things as she often comes up with flavours or aromas that are perhaps more peripheral or off piste.

So the Evil Goatsmilk Saison was a huge success. I wish Josh very well indeed and look forward to tasting his future endeavours.


 

Postscript : For you true nerds out there here’s a link to Josh’s recipe. Though he was keen to tell me that he used this yeast instead of the Belle Saison and omitted the fresh jalapenos.

* Gruit was the common bittering, flavouring and preservative agent for ale before hops usurped it. It was made from a mixture of different herbs such as sweet gale, mugwort, yarrow and heather.

Padstow Brewing Company

I actually tasted this trio of beers back in February in Cornwall while visiting my buddy Bob (the builder, I am serious) near Wadebridge. Let me take you back to January 2013 and in a chilly converted surf shower in Newquay head brewer Caron Archer was experimenting with different hop and malt combinations. Her and husband Des though new to brewing were disciples of the much lauded Dave Lang (Forge Brewery) and as winter made way for spring Caron perfected a few recipes. Padstow Brewing Company was then ready for the next step and having outgrown their “lab” moved to a Padstow industrial estate where they started brewing commercially in May 2013. Caron is the only female head brewer in Cornwall and loves playing around with dynamic flavours, while Des focusses on the more scientific side of the brewing process. I must say they make an excellent team, and I loved everything about their three offerings: from their beautifully clean simple smart packaging, to bottle shape and of course the very finely crafted beers inside.

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 16.05.42

Padstow Pale Ale 3.6%

Light amber in colour and as I raise the glass to my honker the aromas are so enticing that it takes all my willpower not to gulp it down in one. Wonderfully complex spicy lemon and fragrant green hops have me smacking my lips in anticipation. It’s super crisp, refreshing with a good bite, but balanced by a malty long zippy finish. As good a session ale as you’ll find. I could drink it by the bucket. Score – 8.5/10

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 16.05.09

Padstow Pilot 4%   

This amber bitter is a deep chestnut with a very rich mocha head. Initially, the nose is breakfast: fresh roast coffee and toast with marmite but there’s more as it moves into wet moss, then finally a whack of fresh pineapple and peppermint. Wozers! The texture is velvety with bitter coffee, salty chocolate and true to it’s coastal Cornish roots, there’s even some smoked mackerel. It finishes clean but warming and is a very classy drop. Score – 8.25/10

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Padstow IPA 4.8%

Its deep amber hue gives of aromas toasted brioche, peach and floral jasmine honey. On the palate you are hit by layer after layer of grapefruit, dry pineapple, razor sharp hops ending with a mouth drying finish. Solid. For me a very complex beer that needs food: Thai green curry or seared chilli scallops would pair very nicely. Score – 7.75/10

Tasting these 3 bottles what stood out for me was the incredible diversity of aromas, flavours and textures; all the more impressive when you consider that the beers are between 3.8-4.8% ABV, which frankly shows tremendous skill on the part of Caron and Des. Padstow Brewing is a must try.

Get in touch with them here or via twitter to find out how you can get a hold of their excellent beers.