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Fork Brewing & The Grainfather Collab: Three Times the Man Triple Manuka Dubbel Weizenbock

In the apocalyptic aftermath that was post-Beervana, Kelly met up with his old brewing chum from Thornbridge days, James Kemp, of The Grainfather fame, who was in Wellington for a few Beervana guest appearances and other sundry beer collabs, including one with Fork Brewing. 

Kelly has previously said that he and JK brew well together, and this resultant collab brew indicates he is not merely paying lip service to his old brew buddy.

The outcome is a massive Belgian Dubbel/German Weizenbock hybrid, packed with Manuka Smoked Malt, Manuka Leaves and Manuka Honey and weighing in at 11%. It shouts treacle and wispy barbecue smoke followed by date scones and freshly peeled bananas. We say enjoy this beer like it's your last when it goes on tap this week

JK said of the collab, "I think this beer personifies our brewing styles, creating stunning elegance while being unique.

We've melded our vast breadth of brewing experience and knowledge into a beer that's so cunningly devised that the potentially jarring counterpoints are blended beautifully into something greater than the sum of its parts."

But we'll leave the origins of this hybrid beer to pour forth straight from the brewer's mouth:

"Working with other brewers is always good fun. Sometimes, teaming up is about education - bringing your own particular skill sets and knowledge together and combining these to create something new. Other times, it's about just getting a little crazy and trusting your instincts.

"I first met James Kemp in a roundabout way via Luke Nicholas of Epic. I'd heard of Luke doing some great stuff back in NZ with the Epic brews whilst I was brewing at Thornbridge in England. 

"When he was over brewing a beer for the Wetherspoon's pub group, I invited Luke to team up with us and we brewed a big Imperial IPA called Epic Halcyon. We got chatting and he mentioned that a Kiwi/English lad named James Kemp a.k.a. Kempicus, was working at a Harvey's pub in London and had given up his job as a Biosecurity Advisor in NZ to follow his brewing dream over here in the UK. 

"JK also happened to be a very established home brewer and had scooped a bunch of awards in NZ prior to heading back to his original homeland of England. It also helped that he'd spent a bit of time on the Quality Control team at Fuller's Brewery.

"I got hold of JK and he came up to Derbyshire for a trial. From memory, he even commuted from London to Derbyshire for a bit, whilst his wife, Kelly (great name) worked in London. 

"JK is up there as one of the most natural brewers I've ever met. His years and years of home brewing had resulted in him having an intimate knowledge of ingredients and processes, and he'd brewed loads of different styles of beer. He was also an incredibly hard worker and fit into the Thornbridge team brilliantly. He also wouldn't stop going on about a Black IPA that he'd brewed just before leaving NZ, which, allegedly his dad had drunk the entire batch of. This was to be JK's first recipe at Thornbridge, originally called Raven (now Wild Raven). 

"This brew went on to win a coveted World Beer Cup medal, a testament to JK's clever abilities and to the excellence of the Thornbridge team.

"JK now acts as a home brew consultant/wizard in England and the parent company he works for is involved with The Grainfather, a wonderful little all-in-one brewhouse for home brewing. He was in Wellington this year for Beervana, working with brewers (like myself) on the Home Brew Masterclasses and also collaborating with breweries such as Panhead, Liberty, North End and Fork.

"We got chatting about the style of beer we wanted to brew together. Both of us like hybrid styles and blending together yeast strains to get the best characters of each in the finished brew. We began riffing and thought it would be cool to pay odd homage to Bracia, a beer that was developed using Italian Chestnut Honey whilst we both worked together at Thornbridge. We originally thought of a Manuka Honey Imperial Brown Ale brewed with British Ale Yeast and then beer evolved. We decided to incorporate Manuka Smoked Malt from Gladfield and with the addition of freshly picked Manuka leaves, we would have three separate Manuka components for the brew. The name was obvious - Three Times the Man!

"We then decided a combined Belgian Dubbel/Dunkelweizen/Weizenbock would be the perfect match for this beer. The rich ester-y profile of the yeasts, the smoke, the banana, the spice and some good malt character from the use of Shepherd's Delight or Special B (we hadn't exactly decided).

"When we milled the malt for the brew, we made instant changes based on the characters of each malt and this meant greatly increasing the proportion of Manuka Smoked Malt based on its wonderfully subtle smoke character. We’d also joked about my quarter Polish roots and how this was a little ode to the Grodizskie style of beer, an oak smoked wheat beer...

"We were joined by The Grainfather competition winner, Michael Middlemiss (relation to one of our brewing godfathers, Ben Middlemiss) and the brew day went a treat. Stripping of Manuka tips, smelling and tasting of honey, an extra impressive brewhouse efficiency, resulting in a super strong wort and some super healthy Trappist and Bavarian yeasts. The fermentation was then fed with more Manuka Honey syrup, and the resulting beer tops 11%. 

"Bonfire toffee tickles the tonsils, a solid hop bitterness brings it together in the mouth and its candied clove and fruit finish brings flashes of Pink Smoker lollies, Crunchie Bars and the warmth of a late night dram.

"It is probably the most expensive beer I have ever made as a brewer, thanks to the Manuka honey. But its depth of character and fantastic complexity also means it's probably one of my favourites. And I can thank JK for that!"




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