At Exale we love to brew with the seasons, the blooming of Fig trees, the first buds of pineapple weed, and cherry blossom are all starter pistols for us to be inspired to new seasonal brews. Amongst the seasonal delights there is one event we look forward to more than any other. The grape harvest.
This year we’ve been making plans to ensure we make the most of this years harvest with lining up two collaborations with two very different but equally innovative wine producers, Tillingham Wine and Renegade urban winery.
Our First Collab was set up with a trip to visit Warwick and his team at Renegade in Bethnal green. Down a typical east London alleyway full of 2nd hand white goods and a few tasty characters you’ll find one of london’s only Urban Wineries. The space is small and full of stainless steel vessels, Arlington’s full of grapes and a sense that something exciting is happening here. Warwick and his team are bursting with knowledge, enthusiasm and a quiet contentment that comes with knowing you’re producing some top notch Product. After working our way through their wines and discussing the many grape varieties available to us we decided on Bacchus.
Bacchus has become a popular variety in English vineyards and for good reason. It’s a cross of silvaner & riesling and can grow in colder climates and higher ground. The flavours when allowed to ripen fully are exuberant and the low acidity makes it a good choice for putting into our chosen beer style. We’ve decided for this one to stick along the lines of our first wine collab with Noita winery -Ries and shine. With that beer the gooseberry and apple skin notes from the riesling worked well in a dry lager style so for this bachus pils we’ve decided to stick to these principles but add a new dimension.
One of the things that drew us to Renegade in the first place was their Bethnal bubbles project where they dry hopped a sparkling wine. This combination of wine and hops seems an obvious route to go down but very few people do.
So for this one we’ve decided to add some of the more exciting European hop varieties, Hallertau Melon and Hallertau Blanc.
Both compliment the character of bacchus really well, the melon is self explanatory, the Blanc gives similar character to sauvignon blanc grapes. The wine was also finished on the skins to give extra element of tannins and to help with the dry finish on the beer.
For our next collab we took a trip to a winery that’s been on our radar for a while and a bit of an inspiration in the way they conduct their business, Tillingham wines. We took a drive down to Sussex on the last week of Harvest to spend some time with Ben and his team and see first hand the care and attention to detail that go into making their amazing wines..
We got the chance to fill some qvevri (terracotta vessels buried in the ground) press some skins and taste the wines at various stages of fermentation, We decided we would use the pinot grigio skins from the grapes grown on tillinghams farm and blend them into a 7% pale malt base with 7 days skin contact to give a beer with complexity and a touch of Tannin and colour. We’ve picked up some interesting esters form the wild yeast on the skins and in tank, the beer is tasting complex and balanced with plenty of grape character. We’re putting it into 750ml bottles with live yeast and giving it some time to mature with natural fermentation and a tiny dry hop for extra tropical fruit notes.
It’s been a journey making these beers and we’ve learned a lot about two of the most exciting wine producers in the country. I thoroughly encourage you to delve in to the amazing products coming out of the UK wine scene and can’t think of a better place to start that journey than by trying the products from Tillingham and Renegade.
Our collab with Tillingham will be available later in the year, our Renegade collab is available on monday 8th November from our webstore