Grainspotting: Brixton Brewery x Ritzy Cinema Present A Very British Ale

Grainspotting: Brixton Brewery x Ritzy Cinema Present A Very British Ale

What do you get when you take Brixton’s best-known brewery, its most historic cinema and its most innovative social enterprise scheme? If you add a good dose of all-British ingredients, and a name in no way inspired by A Certain Referendum you may have heard of… you get BRITZY XPA, our new one-off extra pale, extra British ale collaboration with our friends at the Ritzy Cinema, with proceeds going to the Brixton Pound’s community-focused Brixton Fund.

We started with an idea of seeing what we could do with all-British ingredients. The craft beer industry has been pretty heavily dominated by New World hop varietals and flavours, but we have been increasingly impressed by what you can do with what you find closer to home.

We’ve used Epic and Jester from hop merchant Charles Faram. Jester has an intense, punchy aroma of new world proportions, with flavour notes of grapefruit and tropical fruits. We’ve combined them with British ale yeast and our regular Maris Otter (Grand Cru) malt from Warminster Maltings, which has been producing extraordinarily high quality malts using a method virtually unchanged since it first started in 1855. For us, craft brewing is so much about sourcing the best ingredients and using them skilfully to extract the maximum flavour.

The result is a typically British mix of irreverence, dry wit and irony, with undertones of misguided colonial nostalgia. A pint is probably best enjoyed on a disappointingly rainy summer picnic on a windy beach, during the blitz while you and your friends sit around Not Grumbling. But a sunny day on the Ritzy terrace, overlooking the action in Windrush Square would be a close second.

We’re so pleased with this exceptionally flavoursome, very pale and slightly hazy brew, that we can’t resist a little New World-style shouting about it. We took our time perfecting the recipe, and nearly as long cracking each other up with terrible film-inspired punning name possibilities – a pint of With Ale and I or Yeast is Yeast anyone? – before sticking with the straightforward combination of Brixton and Ritzy, with the pleasing symmetry of Br-for-British also sneaking in there.

You can get Britzy while it’s cold and available, on tap exclusively for a limited time at the Ritzy Brixton from 8 July. All proceeds from our side, plus an optional point-of-sale donation from tap sales at the Ritzy will go directly to the tireless community work of the Brixton Pound’s Brixton Fund.

Brixton Brewery Tap Room is open Fridays from 6 til 10 & Saturdays from 12 til 6.

 Brixton Brewery is proud to be an accredited London Living Wage employer.

A brewery is born….

A brewery is born….

If things always went according to plan, this would be the blog post in which we looked back on our first year in business and reflected on how much we’ve learnt, how many steps forward, how many slips back, battles against red tape, new equipment and unfamiliar supply chains won and lost, etc. But…we quickly came to understand how rarely things go according to plan when you’re starting a small business built largely on passion and enthusiasm and somewhat less so on years of experience.

And yet, a year and half after our first brew we’ve survived and thrived and it feels time to take stock and reflect on the highlights of the journey so far. We’ve expanded, we’ve experimented, we’ve learned a lot and we’ve had the most incredible support from fellow beer enthusiasts, Brixton enthusiasts, friends, family and locals.

We probably knew we were on to something when we looked around at our first Open Day in October 2013, saw the queues out the door, the empties spilling out of the bins, Jez’s mum frantically trying to wash glasses quickly enough for the thirsty hordes, and realised that this was really happening. Something that had been so long in the planning, that seemed more than a few times like it might only ever remain one of those things that you talk about in a pub, but then life gets in the way and finally someone else opens a Brixton Brewery and all you can do is bore your friends and the barman about how it should have been you, was actually happening! People came! People drank our beer and said that they liked it! In fact, people drank all of our beer. By the end of the day, we were exhausted, proud and completely sold out.

Our first open day in October 2013.

Since then people haven’t stopped drinking our beers and we’ve expanded our capacity and our range. We’ve added new fermenters, taken over the arch next door, started a Saturday tap room and off-licence and built a great team of brewers and assistants. Our beers are travelling ever further afield, especially since the launch of our online shop. We started out with Electric IPA, Effra Ale and Reliance Pale Ale as our trusty trio of core beers, and fairly quickly added Windrush Stout and Atlantic APA. The latter really caught on among hop-heads, and has become one of our most popular brews. In the summer of 2014 we were pretty excited to be approached by the team from Wahaca to develop an exclusive beer for their DF/Mexico diner in Shoreditch. We came up with the crisp and hoppy Lúpulo Pale Ale, which is now also available at Wahaca’s Brixton branch. It’s another beer and relationship we’re extremely proud of.

We saw out 2014 in style with our special 100th brew release of the decadent Megawatt IIPA. Megawatt was so well-received and fun to brew that it will be a yearly seasonal release.   

In the very early days, one visitor from east London said to us, “Brixton didn’t already have a brewery? If you stand still in Hackney, someone will build a brewery around you.” So in 2015, we’ll be working our arses off to keep up the momentum and remain a brewery that crafts quality beers and is a part of what makes London an amazing center of brewing and  Brixton the crazy, eclectic, creative and all-around fantastic place that it is. Of all the things we’ve been doing in the past manic, exhilarating 18 months, we haven’t, and never will be, standing still.  

MEGAWATT IIPA – Our 100th brew

MEGAWATT IIPA – Our 100th brew

To celebrate reaching the 100 brew milestone we decided to venture into new territory and make an Imperial IPA. We named it MEGAWATT and think of it as Electric IPA’s big brother. It turned out at 8% on the nose and is hopped with tropical Topaz, Chinook and Mosiac. Two of which are totally new to us.

We’re really pleased with how the beer turned out, it’s well balanced, decadent and full of flavour. We also designed a new label inspired by the spiritual candles you can find in Brixton market.

It sums up the excitement and exuberance of our first full year in business and think of it as a ‘Thank You’ in a bottle to everyone who’s supported us so far. We hope you enjoy it and keep the bottle as a souvenir. CHEERS!