At 1900 precisely, on Thursday 3rd September Northern Monk Brew Co beers went on release in cans across the UK, so along with fellow Northern Monk Brew Co Brethren, I assembled in the Chapter House at the Flax Mills brewery to witness the launch of this ‘Evolution of Tradition’, as they are calling it.
The pitch was accompanied by a short promotional film by local director Jack King, I thought it was a good video, I wonder how long it will be before we see it on TV? Joking apart, I don’t think this is actually what the guys at Northern Monk Brew Co are targeting. I asked Adam, the assistant brewer where they are going? Morrisons maybe? He told me they were initially looking at broadening the number of bars, off licences and bottle shops that carried their product. They were hopeful that we would be seeing the cans in a quality North, North Western based supermarket, who already carry an extensive range of quality ales, pretty soon.
So what’s going in the cans? Three Northern Monk Brew Co standards; Eternal Session IPA, New World IPA and Northern Star Mocha porter. Brian, the brewer said they canned the first batch of Eternal last Friday using their newly purchased Wild Goose, two header, canning machine. They’re one of the first small UK brewers to have their own permanent site based machine. An engineer came over from Colorado to set it up and show them how to use it. They’re really pleased with it and Brian showed me a video of the process which fills around a thousand cans per hour with very little wastage.
The big question is what does it taste like? I took a half of Eternal from the Refectory tap room into the launch and had something to compare when I opened the canned version. First impressions; big hop aromas on opening. Initial taste was good, but it got even better after being open for a few minutes. I would definitely buy this one for drinking at home.
I’m a big fan of New World IPA and again the canned beer was as good as it is from the keg, again, it just needed a few minutes to acclimatise after being opened and benefitted from being decanted into a glass. Verdict, again top marks.
I didn’t decant the Northern Star, I just drank it from the can, from the first sip I was hooked. It was absolutely stunning, almost as if it had been made specially for the can. I really liked this beer which was devilishly moreish. I’m not sure whether this is the only canned porter around? Not counting Guinness, everyone at the launch agreed they’d never encountered canned porter before.
There’s some debate about canned beers and quality. I like the idea myself and see the benefits. It’s clear to me that Northern Monk Brew Co have invested a lot of time, money and hard work into this venture. Russell told me they’d been working around 90 hours a week recently to get the canned range launched. Personally, I think the guys are on a winner here and I’m predicting these beers will fly off the shelves. Although Northern Monk Brew Co aren’t the first to go down this route, it wouldn’t surprise me if more, similar, cutting edge breweries don’t quickly follow suite.