Mare's Tail, Crossover Blendery
Added: Wednesday, November 1st 2023
|Style||Lambic & Gueuze||ABV 5.9%|
Mare’s Tail (5.9%)
The beer comes from the Crossover Blendery based on a farm in Hertfordshire where Charlie Wood and George Stagg produce beers inspired by Belgian “wild fermentation” Lambics.
Charlie and George don’t brew but they blend hopped wort produced for them by Elgood’s Brewery in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. The liquid is the result of mashing a blend of malted barley and raw wheat and then boiling it with aged hops. The resulting hopped wort is pumped to two large, shallow open copper vessels known as coolships. Windows are left open and wild yeasts enter and feed on the malt sugars.
Charlie and George were encouraged to make Lambic-style beers on a visit to the Cantillon Brewery in Anderlecht, a suburb of Brussels. They saw at first hand the brewing process and the coolship in the loft where fermentation begins. The finished beers are tart and acidic and many have a further fermentation due to the addition of fruit, notably cherries and raspberries.
At Crossover, Charlie and George have more than 100 oak casks stored in a warehouse on Lannock Manor Farm near the village of Weston. The casks come from wine and port makers, bourbon and whisky distillers and even mead producers. The casks are thoroughly cleaned but can’t kill such wild yeasts and bacteria as Brettanomyces, pediococcus and lactobacillus locked in the wood.
The hopped wort is made with Maris Otter malting barley and raw wheat and is hopped with English and German “noble” varieties. The hops are several years old and have lost much of their bitterness: bitterness does not marry well with the acidity of Lambic and the hops are used to prevent infection from unwanted bacteria.
Charlie and George scour the country for the finest fruit and, with their farmer’s support, they have planted 300 fruit trees to give them even more choice. Their Damascene beer, made with damsons from Worcestershire, was named Hertfordshire Beer of the Year at St Albans beer festival in September. All the beers are blended after between one and three years in oak.
Mare’s Tail is not a fruit beer but is a golden ale hopped with the English Jester variety. It’s a blend of beers that are 32 months old. It has a pale bronze colour and a tart and acidic aroma with lemon and lime fruit from the hops and honeyed malt. The palate is mouth-puckeringly acidic with fruit, hops and biscuit malt. The finish is dry with tart fruit, spicy hops and honeyed grain.
All the beers are bottle conditioned and will improve with age. They come in 350ml and 750ml bottles. They can be bought from the blendery or online at www.crossoverblendery.co.uk from £7.
Crossover Blendery, Lannock Manor Farm, Hitchin Road, Weston, near Baldock, Herts, SG4 7EE.