Celtic Connection celebrated by Head Brewers
This week sees the release of an extraordinary collaborative brew spanning the Celtic nations – Celtic Cross, a 4.5% red ale.
The concept was born from discussions between Brecon Brewing’s Buster Grant and St Austell’s Head Brewer, Roger Ryman, usually over a pint or two at St Austell’s annual charity Celtic Beer Festival! This year, the plans came to fruition, with brewers from the Celtic Nations descending on Cornwall for the start of the Celtic New Year on November the first.
Representing Wales was Buster Grant of Brecon Brewing, Cornwall by St Austell’s Roger Ryman, Scotland’s Fergus Clark of Inveralmond in Perth, Ireland by Daire Harlin & Patrick Hurley of Brú Brewery in County Meath and Flo Vialan from Brittany, who is the head brewer for the Purity Brewing Company. These 6 met up, in a pub, obviously, on the Friday before the brew, to finalise the recipe and prepare themselves. Each brewer had also provided a small quantity of an ingredient with a link to their Celtic Nation :
Welsh Apple Juice, pressed at Blaengawney Farm the day before the brew, using Dabinett apples from the Usk Valley near Brecon; Cornish Saffron; Scottish Rowan berries; Breton Wild Garlic and Irish Shamrocks. These were blended with a new hop variety from the USA, currently known as “Experimental 256”, which all combine to give a rich slightly spicy flavour, redolent of red berries.
Some 90 Brewers Barrels, (the best part of 26,000 pints) of the beer were produced, and the official launch will be at St Austell’s Celtic Beer Festival, this Saturday, 22nd November. This event sees the Brewery’s old wine cellars taken over and around 3,000 people descend on the town to partake of the 140 different beers from all over the UK and the Celtic Nations, all to raise money for the St Austell Charitable Trust. Of course, a large contingent from Brecon Brewing will be there to check on the quality of these beers!
Brecon’s Buster Grant said “It was a huge honour to be involved in a project such as this, with some old friends and some new! St Austell is a brewery with a long and proud heritage, yet a very large and modern brewhouse – so it was very interesting to brew here, especially in the company of such good brewers. I’m really looking forward to trying this beer, both at the Festival and in some of our local pubs, as we’ve arranged for a dozen casks to be sent to us.”
Plans for next year’s brew are already beginning, as it was unanimously decided that this should become an annual event, taking place at a different brewery each year – perhaps next year’s Celtic Connection will be Brecon based…