Collaborations are commonplace among craft brewers but much less so among more established brewers who are maybe more focused on the day job and have possibly also been overlooked to some extent.
Since setting up in 2016 it was only a question of time before Bohem Brewery in North London would undertake its first collaboration, but rather than team up with another small scale operator they took the view that it would be more interesting to collaborate with one of the more successful larger brewers in the UK.
It was therefore a great privilege for them to welcome a legend in the industry – Roger Ryman, brewing director of St Austell Brewery, to the Bohem Brewery to spend a day producing a beer that definitively combined the expertise of both parties.
From Bohem’s point of view it was obvious that having Ryman in the house would be massively educational and informative to the small team. And from his point of view it was an opportunity to fill in a rare gap in his brewing experience by brewing on the decoction kit that Bohem uniquely uses to produce its authentic Czech lagers in the UK.
“I’d never made a decoction mash and I wanted to understand it. It gives a depth, body and a texture to the beer,” he says, adding that the question then was what to brew for the collab?
“For my own curiosity I wanted to know what a decoction mash does so I could have taken St Austell’s Korev Cornish Lager and put it into the [Bohem’s] decoction system. This would have answered my technical question but the collaboration needs to have an interesting aspect so we decided to do a Brut version,” explains Ryman.
This follows a one-off beer, Korev Brut, which he produced in a limited run for Champagne bottling that was super attenuated and dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin.
The key elements to the Bohem/St Austell collaboration include the use of a liquid malt enzyme AMG. As Ryman explains: there will be unfermentable carbohydrate bonds in the beer and the AMG digests this with the result that there are no residual sugars in the beer that would potentially give it too much sweetness when producing a higher ABV beer.
In addition, Ryman recommended the addition of flaked maize, which is used in his Korev lager as a way of “freshening up the palate”. He recognises the bad rap that such adjuncts receive but defends them by saying that they are also used for pragmatic reasons.
“People sometimes also think they are neutral but the choice of them will influence the final flavour. They could be invert sugars for instance. Timothy Taylor’s Landlord contains some of this and it is certainly not done because sugar is cheap,” argues Ryman.
When the beer emerges from the Bohem conditioning tanks it will weigh in at between 5.6% and 6%. It will be available predominantly in keg but there will also likely to be a short run of cans released.
Glynn Davis, editor of Beer Insider and minority investor in Bohem Brewery