It’s been fourteen months or so since I last went over to Lord Chambray in Xewkija, Gozo and I was keen to find out how things were going. Valentina Rossetto, who looks after the administration and marketing side of things told me things had really taken off in 2017 with a big jump in sales and production, and an influx of new staff. Even though it’s only February, she said 2018 was already looking brighter than the previous year, they even have a US distributor based in New York now.
Since my last visit a much larger proportion of the breweries output is being kegged, most of it going to Northern Italy and to a few bars across Malta and Gozo. The flagship Maltese venue being 67 Kapitali in Valetta who have six keg lines, essentially the full core range on draught.
The kegs used are the 20L Italian Polykeg®, if you’ve not seen them they’re a brown coloured Keykeg lookalike, but without the inner liner. The live, unfined beer is expelled from the cask via direct low pressure CO2. It won’t pass the current CAMRA definition of real ale, but from repeated tastings over a good few weeks now I can tell you it’s excellent beer and definitely not over carbonated.
Beerwise, there’s a few additions to the five core beers they were brewing when I last visited. A Kölsch style beer, Psy-Kölsch has been added. There’s two seasonal beers; Flinders Rose in summer and Winter Ale in … well winter. LC have also ventured into Limited Edition brews. White IPA was the first last year and was very successful. The current one is Nebula (5.9%) which I would describe as an American style Brown Ale. They have also done a DIPA style house beer for 67 Kapitali which was still conditioning.
Although there were about a dozen folk in the tap room, including Retired Martin, Mrs RM and teenage RM (that Retired Martin seems to pop up everywhere!), they only had one draught beer pouring. This was Nebula so I was able to have a bit of a taste. Valentina who told me they were restricting the limited edition brews to one production run per year, only to be repeated if they were popular. Apparently White IPA is definitely going to be available again sometime this year.
I would describe Nebula as brown side of amber in colour and hazy (all the beers are unfined). Initially there’s a creamy white head which quickly dissipates leaving only a thin line above the liquid. In taste it’s soft, slightly sweet and malty and there’s an almost minty-ness from the fennel seeds. It’s mildly bitter, with a touch of astringency and then a dry aftertaste, followed by a lingering pepperiness. When I say lingering, believe me it does.
The inclusion of fennel seeds follows the LC theme of unusual ingredients; caper flowers, honey, fennel and it demonstrates their own, southern european, interpretation of classic styles. Even the biggest selling Sans Blas isn’t quite the English IPA it purports to be. It’s a bloody lovely drink of beer though.
Anyhow, I thought Nebula was pretty decent. Like I say, we had two or three and a chat with Valentina in-between her doing her ‘most glamorous fork truck driver in Europe’ bit when she loaded a bin full of brewer’s grains onto the back of a farmers pick up.
If you fancy visiting Lord Chambray while your in Malta then it’s dead easy. Catch a bus to the Gozo ferry (€4.65 return) and once on the other side catch the 301 or 303 bus from the ferry terminus.
Knowing where to get off in Malta is easy. All the bus stops are ‘officially’ named and appear as such on Google maps and the buses have visual and audible announcements of the next stop in Maltese and English. Get off at the bus stop called Industrajli, look back diagonally across the roundabout and you’ll see the brewery. You can simply reverse your steps afterwards, or my suggestion would be to visit Victoria which is a 20 – 30 minute walk (don’t bother walking in summer – too hot) or a 5 minute bus ride.
Valentina said they were finding around 70% of the tap room visitors were British, and things start to get busy after Easter when the main holiday season starts. Apparently the party of CAMRA members I saw was a rarity for February, hence they only had one draught beer on, but still had the full bottle conditioned range available. Prices are €4 a pint for draught (yes they still do pints in Malta, and halves €2) and they have been this price since they first opened.
You can find Lord Chambray at; Gozitano Agricultural Vilage, Mgarr Road, Xewkija, XWK9014, Gozo – Malta.