Anyone paying attention to the British craft beer scene would know there’s an arms race going on, and hops are the weapon of choice. Beers are getting bigger and bolder, with brewers setting everything to stun.
But while big and juicy is king, there are some trying to change the direction of travel.
One of those people is Derek Bates, an American brewer of 15 years, who has wended his way from the US to London, and is now writing the opening chapters of an exciting project in rural Norfolk.
Bates is a mixed fermentation man. He’s all about the slow burn. Which is why he and wife Miranda have named their new project Duration Beer.
The story behind the brewery is for another time, but last night saw The Reindeer in Norwich host the launch of Duration’s first beer – Fool For You – brewed in collaboration with Cloudwater.
A beautifully-balanced saison using three types of yeast – including a couple harvested from classic Belgian strains – and then parked on 100kg of gooseberries, it’s a biere de garde style, a good amount of which is being held back for Duration’s official opening party which should hopefully take place next spring.
The good news is that it’s a beauty. A soft fruity aroma, matched by a luscious mouthfeel, with the yeasts and gooseberry giving layers of stone fruits, biscuit and a subtly tart finish with a touch of dryness holding the whole thing up.
Speaking to Bates, it’s clear he’s know what he wants. While others on the brewing scene are going caveman style – bonking you over the head with hops or puckering sourness before dragging you back to their den – he’s more about complexity and balance. His empire will be built on koelschips, foeders, and the Norfolk air, which he hopes will give a unique wild fermentation akin to the grand old breweries of Belgium, and the adventurous American auteurs taking mixed ferm to new places.
Duration plan on releasing a beer every month or so until they officially open, but it won’t be until the brewery is up and running, and a thorough chat with their new terroir has been had, that it will really hit its stride.
It’s all about the long game.