One of the many fun things about our wee industry is that no-one really takes themselves too seriously. Sure, there are plenty of tall egos – some taller than others – but in my experience, the folk doing the actual hard-yards are all humble down-to-earthers, keen to minimise their own importance and maximise their anonymity.
There’s no clearer example of this head-down bum-up spirit than 8 Wired’s Daniel Rowntree.
Dan’s business card says his role at 8 Wired is ‘Head of Smooth Operations’; and never has a job title more perfectly fit an individual. To put it plainly, Dan is completely central to everything that happens at 8 Wired. He’s the highly-competent engine room that every great organisation needs to succeed: the kind of person that you can give a big job to and know it will be done, and done well. Ask any small business owner: people like Dan are hard to find, and even harder to replace.
A native Warkworthian, Dan offered his services to Søren and Monique back in 2015, not long after the new brewery opened – and now he’s as much a part of the furniture as the foeders by the front door. He’s an avid homebrewer, with multiple fermenters bubbling-away at home at any given time; and he has an exceptional knowledge of the science of brewing and distilling. In short, he’s just the kinda guy you’d want to be stranded on a desert island with; if trapped together, I’m fairly-sure we’d have a still running within 24 hours of landing.
So, with pleasure, I present the six beer styles that Dan couldn’t live without. The words, as always, are his.
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German Kolsch (non-traditional)
This is about as close to a lager as I like to get, a cold fermented ale, generally quite refreshing and better with a generous dose of hops to keep it interesting and to keep you coming back for more.
German Berliner Weisse
Going back a few centuries you could quite easily have substituted this style for water, the style is so refreshing. Modern interpretations can give a jolt of sour fruity notes and with just enough alcohol to be considered beer.
Belgian Wit Beer
An all-time favourite for me. Unfortunately wheat beer has been largely misrepresented by the big breweries over the years – I have heard so many people say ‘I don’t like wheat beer’, who are willing to write-off all beer containing wheat because of that. What I like about the style is adding things like fresh orange or berries to give some tartness with spices like coriander, and a yeast strain that produces light phenols for that traditional Belgian spice kick. This beer makes for an incredibly refreshing and never boring beverage.
I think most people will agree hops are pretty good. I always say if you’re going to have a hoppy beer, it may as well be a sledge hammer of hops – as long as you have a fairly stiff malt backbone to follow through. They say you can’t taste over 100 IBUs, but I would disagree – bitterness is like capsaicin, people who aren’t used to it just taste fire.
Oatmeal Stout from 7% – 9%
This one can be a sipper by the fire or a drinker on a frosty night. What I like is a robust malt selection to deliver notes of chocolate, coffee and vanilla and just enough bitterness to balance it out.
Sour Beer (I tried to narrow it down, but I like them all)
I would say there is no other beer style that can be so amazing and complex. A single beer can have several hundred different flavour compounds, far in excess of wine. The sky is really the limit with this style – you can add anything and have an entire ecosystem of mixed fermentation, which I believe makes this style the king of fermented beverages.
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So there it is: Dan’s desert-island mixed-six. I couldn’t agree more about sours – beers like Duchesse de Bourgogne introduced me to flavours that I never knew existed. I now regret the years that I spent as a sour-hater; I really was missing out on some serious brain-expansion.
Thank you so much to Dan for providing his top-notch list – as well as my promise to reach for some semblance of gender equity with these posts, I also want to shine a light on the hard-working folk that are getting shit done behind the scenes. Huzzah for the engine room!
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