This weeks craft beer of the week is Mainsail beer from Emsworth Brewhouse. Emsworth is a cracking town with a great community that loves to support local food and drink producers. Emsworth has quite a few pubs too and as of 7 months ago it now has a brewery, after Grant Thomas set up shop in his garage. We’ve been stocking Grant’s beers for a while now and it’s great to see how popular his beers have become, not just in the farm shop but in local pubs too. In fact his beer has become so popular he can barely keep up with demand and seems to be buying bigger boilers on a monthly basis (new big boiler on the way!).

Grant began home brewing beer from his family’s kitchen at home in Hollybank Lane. Over the past couple of years, Grant has refined Emsworth Brewhouse’s three main beers at local Home Brew club meetings as well as gaining valuable feedback from other established local breweries. Last summer Grant took a bottle of “Mainsail” to The Blue Bell Inn where the landlord was so impressed he commented he “would put that on the bar tomorrow”.

And so began the 6 month process of expanding the brewing equipment, converting the garage at home and going through all the Customs & Excise, Trading Standards and other regulatory bodies to launch “The Emsworth Brewhouse”. Their Craft Ales are brewed, by hand, in small batches of 80 litres. The brewhouse also has a strong sustainability ethic, using rooftop Solar Electric & Thermal energy to brew the beer which is personally delivered using zero emission, electric vehicles.

Mainsail, one of their 3 core range beers alongside Wodehouse and Flotilla (the 3 pack available in the farm shop being a great Father’s Day present!), is described as a “fully hopped ale” and is made using the best English malt and cascade hops. When a single hop is used its’s a great opportunity to see what that hop tastes like and you might pick that flavour up in other beers. Cascade is an American hop and one of three hops often used to make American pale ales, so you may have noticed its flavour before. Cascade is known for having a unique floral, spicy and citrus character with balanced bittering potential which is evident in this beer. The more Grant brews the better the beers become and this latest batch is spot on. I would describe the beer as being an English pale ale flavoured with American hops. The considerate use of cascade hops give a lovely balanced flavour.

On the nose you get a gentle aroma of lemon and lime. In the mouth you get a whole fruit bowl of citrus. Lemon, lime, tangerine and grapefruit are all evident from the cascade hops. The English malt provides a dry biscuity toffee finish with the hops coming back to give good bitterness. I like to put it in the fridge for around 30 minutes. When it’s cold you get more bitterness but as it warms becomes fruitier with the citrus flavour becoming softer and juicier.

The citrus flavours will work well with fish. I would love to have a bottle of this with some fish and chips while sitting on Emsworth quay. Think of it working like a squeeze of lemon would. It would also be great with light summer food such as chicken salad or a bit of chicken on the grill with the light malt bringing out any charred notes and bringing more sweetness from the beer.

At a relatively low abv of 3.8% it makes a very sessionable beer on a sunny afternoon, so be sure to buy a couple (or more, but be responsible!) as the first will whet your appetite for more, all while knowing you are supporting a small new local business succeed. Keep an eye out for seasonable specials, with an IPA in the pipeline, and let’s get behind Grant to keep his brewing moving onwards and upwards.

Cheers!

Jamie

Mainsail beer, along with Flotilla and Wodehouse are available in bottles at £2.99 (or casks on request)