The Craft of Wild Hop Weather

Last night the boys of Hopcraft Brewing and Wild Weather Ales teamed up for a tap takeover and meet the brewer event at the Nag’s Head in Reading. Twelve superb ales were presented on cask plus two on keg. They made for a memorable evening; way too tempting for Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer to miss, and a great time was had by all…

Hopcraft is a two and a bit year old craft brewery who perform hop-fueled alchemy at Pontyclun in the Rhondda Cynon Taff district of South Wales. Our home town heroes, Wild Weather, work their magic in Silchester close to the Berkshire/Hampshire border near Reading.

Earlier this year the two breweries collaborated together with home and away legs to produce two very different brews. Both were named Sunday League Relegation Playoffs.

At the first leg in Pontyclun a very tasty orange session stout was created then at the second leg in Silchester a heavily dry-hopped Red IPA – the kind Mr Fueled by Beer misses so much from Seattle – was brewed. Both beers were featured at this tap takeover.

Here’s a picture of the full cask lineup from the Nag’s Head Beercam website…


click for full size view

And some nasty grainy shots from the crappy camera on my phone taken at the event. Message to Mr Fueled by Beer: make sure batteries in camera are charged before leaving home…

IMG_20150729_212405 IMG_20150729_212300

Since this was a meet the brewer event, as well as a tap takeover, we had the pleasure of meeting Gazza from Hopcraft as well as catching up with Mike and Iain from Wild Weather. There was also an unexpected bonus. One of the UK’s acclaimed female brewers, Sue Hayward, Queen Brewster at The Waen Brewery in Llanidloes, Wales, was along for the ride. Mrs Fueled by Beer spent a good amount of time chatting with Sue – and not all of it about beer.

Seriously though, Sue is best known for her award-winning strong porters and stouts such as the superb Chilli Plum Porter, as well as Snowball Imperial Stout, a favorite of Mrs Fueled by Beer at the 6th Elysian Winter Beer Festival earlier this year. However, back to the craft of wild hop weather: here’s the full lineup of last night’s event in greater detail…

On Cask

  • Hopcraft – Sunday League Relegation Playoffs 1st leg: session stout with oranges – 3.1% ABV
  • Hopcraft – Temple of Love: session pale loaded with Chinook, Cascade and Summit – 3.8% ABV
  • Hopcraft – Sick Body Sick Mind: golden ale with masses of American hops – 4.4% ABV
  • Hopcraft – Gazza 4 Maggie: hoppy amber ale – 4.0% ABV
  • Hopcraft – Midnight in Antarctica: golden beer with roasted coffee beans, vanilla and coconut; it’s truly unique, a white porter – 5.0% ABV
  • Hopcraft – Statement of Intent V3: inaugural beer reworked for 2nd anniversary. Four malt, four hop monster dry-hopped with Citra and Cascade – 5.6% ABV (133 IBUs – WOW!)
  • Wild Weather – Black Night: dark mild aged in Glen Moray whisky barrels – 3.9% ABV
  • Wild Weather – Khareef’: session IPA with a bitter hop punch way above its weight – 2.4% ABV
  • Wild Weather – Peach of a Day: peach-infused pale Lambic style sour beer – 3.4% ABV
  • Wild Weather – Sunday League Relegation Playoffs 2nd leg: triple-hopped Red IPA dry-hopped with Mandarina and Sorachi Ace – 5.5% ABV
  • Wild Weather – Cumulo Chaos: Double IPA, intense citrus with balanced finish – 10.0% ABV
  • Wild Weather – Fireball: chili-infused Chocolate Milk Stout – 5.5% ABV

On Keg

  • Hopcraft – Diggin’ up the King again: a Belgo-American style brown ale – 4.9% ABV
  • Wild Weather – Rip Tide: a single hop wheat IPA aged in Fino Sherry barrels – 5.0% ABV

All in all it was a fantastic event. Between us we sampled twelve of the fourteen beers – every one a winner. We enjoyed great company with the brewers as well as a sizeable contingent of Reading CAMRA members. If our upcoming excursion to the Bermondsey Beer Mile is half as good as Hop Weather Wild Craft then we’ll be happy campers.

The brewers…

Jay, Iain, Mike, Gazza and Gav


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