Growing Sideways

After one and a half years of brewing, drinking and tweaking Northern Helles, I'm really happy with the beer going out, and we can’t keep up with demand from current local keg lines. which is great!

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But, it means we haven’t got capacity for enough seasonals, new customers, and canned Helles has disappeared from all shelves.

To get more Helles out there, I've been working closely with my good pals at Gipsy Hill Brewery, who we collaborated with on the bonkers ‘Wurlitzer’ last year.

This will involve me going down to London to brew Helles, installing my house acid culture, and getting the process dialled in as close as we can.

Gipsy Hill have the best QC i’ve seen in an indie brewery, and with their onsite canning line, i’m confident the beer produced will be even better than what is made up north. I’m super excited.

Also, this means equally as fresh Helles in both London and Newcastle! Gipsy Hill will be delivering directly to existing and new accounts all over the capital from late July. while I will be expanding distro over the North, and making more mixed ferm and seasonal beers.

In short, more Northern Helles, better Northern Helles. Happy days.



Genever Red

At Donzoko, we focus on making clean, sessionable beers. Such as Northern Helles. Which is a beer i’m delighted to be constantly tweaking and improving.

However I’ve always been excited about mixed fermentation,  and the complex taste of beers that use a wider array of yeasts and bacteria.

look at this beauty.

look at this beauty.

For this purpose, I’ve just installed two new Stainless FVs (with oak staves suspended inside) for mix ferm production, and working on more barrels.

Our first release down this path is Genever Red, a Flanders Red style beer fermented and aged in a BOLS Genever barrel.

My pal Tim Ward, a brilliant local mixologist, reached out with the idea for a Genever beer, and introduced me to this delicious juniper flavoured malt spirit. A few emails and weeks later, a French Limousin Oak cask turned up from BOLS in the Netherlands, previously containing their delicious barrel aged Genever.

The base beer is made with all German malt and hops. A local ale yeast fermented the beer in the barrel at high temperatures, and then our house acid culture and brettanomyces was introduced. Over 12 months of subsequent ageing, the fermentation esters have rounded into deep red fruit flavours, with hints of juniper and resin from the barrel, and a pleasant acidity,

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The lush artwork was done by my pal Liz at Start Today Illustration, its being released in keg at Hop City, and then after in 375ml bottle.

With this beer I’ve worked with new techniques, a mixologist, friends and the worlds oldest spirits brand. Not bad for a lager brewery in a car park!

Check out @starttodayillustration, BOLS.com and the beer at Hop City 2019.

Cheers
Reece


Three thousand pints.

Almost a year to the day after starting on this scheme, yesterday we brewed 10bbl of Northern Helles, our flagship lager!

We mashed in at Lion's Den, a 10bbl plant in Hartlepool, with lovely malt from Heidelberg and Bamberg.
We also added a fair few litres of Sauergut, which is wort that is naturally soured with our house lactobacillus culture, obtained from pils malt. The wort sours in a modified keg in a warm chamber, the resulting liquid tastes like a mix between Tesco tropical juice and freshly crushed malt.
This helps us to hit all our pH targets through the process, softens bitterness and adds a freshness to the final beer. 
After a 90 minute boil, we add NZ hops, Sticklebract and Taheke to the whirlpool. The finished wort is cooled into sterile bags, and was driven round the corner to our brewery/fermentation space. It was oxygenated in-line to the unitank fermenter, a huge amount of Swiss lager yeast was pitched to get the party started, we'll crop some yeast, capture the natural carbonation, and settle the beer down for its long cold lagering.

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The largest batch of beer I've brewed to date has been 23L, this batch being roughly 70x bigger, I'd like to thank Matt at the Lions Den for helping make it happen and Lost and Grounded for their sage wisdom on producing lactic acid.

There's still more small batch beers to come in the meantime, but be fast, 2/3 havent lasted more than a few hours!
Cheers,
Reece

 

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Small Batch Sessions

We’re still waiting for our hops to do our first big brew (although not for long I hope).
In the meantime, I've been busy making 19L kegs of some one-off beers. Prototypes, test recipes, and experiments for some of the best pubs in the North East. 

Bike Beer- 2.6%
Inspired by the ’Radler' (cyclist) lemonade-beer mixes of Bavaria.  A low alcohol beer bolstered with 65% wheat malt. lemon zest lemongrass and a tiny bit of zing. Hopped with Sticklebract and Citra. Fermented with our house German ale strain. Shan Pelligrino.

Azacca Pale- 4.7%
A relatively new hop, giving a stone fruit and tropical fruit nose, along with a freshly muddled pineapple twang on the back end, Weyermann pale ale malt, wheat, oats and our house German ale strain give some backbone. Hoppy, hazy (trendy).

Hops and Cheese -?%
Classic Citra and Cascade in with a background of German malt and yeast, for our closest craft beer bar, Hops and Cheese in Hartlepool.

Mosaic Pale-?%
Probably my favorite hop. Peach, pine, and resin. Again with the German malts and yeast (you get the idea), all these pale beers have 10g/l dry hop.

Damn Güt-?%
A classic stout recipe smoothed with oats and lactose, with fresh ground coffee in the mash and cold steeped post fermentation. Pair with a slice of cherry pie and a sinking feeling that summer is over and it's going to be freezing until June.

These are should start appearing in the order listed above over the next week or two. Keep an eye on the usual social media outlets and treat yourself to a pint in a lovely pub.
Cheers!
Reece

The pint at the end of the tunnel

 

I started the brewery straight out of uni with no savings or real plan,  and after a year of working, saving and making the most of support available (thanks, Newcastle Uni/Hartlepool Council!), at last, we're almost ready to go!

Our business model starting up is pretty unusual, we do the initial brewday (the combination of water, grains and hops) off-site on great expensive equipment over the course of a day. We then pump this wort (unfermented beer) into 1000L sterile bags and transport down the road to ''Donzoko HQ'', where it's slowly fermented in our custom built steel conical fermenters, lagered to perfection and kegged.
Everything is under our control, with no relying on other people’s tank space, we can aim for high consistency, keep costs down, and ultimately give you the best beer we can without being saddled with huge debt or cutting corners.


Will we eventually get our own brew equipment? Fingers crossed! For now, this seems like an excellent stepping stone.


Now back to building a cold storage room, ordering kegs, ingredients, gas, cleaning, wholesale licensing, launch event stuff..... the list is proper endless and to top it off I’ve recently started pouring fine quality beers at one and only Free Trade Inn, so if you see the van there on a weekend come say hi.

Cheers!
Reece
 

An Introduction

Welcome to the Brewery Blog!
I’m Reece, ‘founder’ of Donzoko Brewing Company.

Donzoko means lowest depths, or ‘’rock bottom’’; which is quite applicable to our starting point. In 2014, with a coolbox and some copper piping, I made some half-decent beer in my parents back garden, even winning a gold medal in a national competition.

Whilst brewing at home for me and my mates, I studied a chemistry degree at Newcastle and in Germany at LMU Munich. Bavarian style beer and the rich beer culture was a big part of my life, and upon graduating I put everything into the research and development of my own half Bavarian, half UK-craft bastardised recipes, which have come to a lovely frothing head as Donzoko Brewing Company; and the first beautiful Fermenting Vessel you see shining before you.

 

 

In the next post I’ll talk about how we manage to produce our beers without a Brewhouse of our own, thanks for reading!
Reece