Old Twelfth Night, Part Three: The People
No idea is born without external influence, and this beer serves to celebrate the contributions that have shaped it. Below, we highlight the people who have been influential in its creation.
John has worked in the cider industry for over 59 years in Somerset and Herefordshire, advising and supplying trees to amateur growers, artisan cider makers and large producers. Michael turned to John when considering apple varieties for the Wiper and True Orchard.
Taking in to account the nutrient content of the soil and intended use, John selected Dabinett, Harry Master’s Jersey, Debbie and Angela varieties. Ranging from bittersweet to sharp, this blend brings a balance of astringency, tannins and sweetness to our Orchard Ale.
Having first dabbled in the art of fermentation with cider making, eight years ago Michael was inspired to plant an orchard.
Seven years and eleven months ago, Michael realised making beer was much quicker that cider, and so the seed of Wiper and True was also sown.
As the orchard and brewery grew, Michael decided to bring the two together, by blending apple pressing and a traditional ale wort to create a spontaneously fermented Orchard Ale.
‘I think part of the fun of this was that we had no real idea of what flavours would be produced, and in fact it could have been awful. We were relying on the yeast naturally occurring in the orchard to be able to ferment malted barley and wheat, and hoping that would create good flavours.’
As a brewer who we’ve loved working alongside and with exceptional expertise, we turned to Jonny from Mills Brewing for guidance and assistance with this project.
With Jonny’s advice, we added aged Wai-iti hops to the boiling wort, to impart a subtle bitterness without creating an antimicrobial environment that is created with fresh hops. Then we brought the temperature of the wort down to around 80°C and steeped Simcoe, our standout hop of the 2017 harvest, allowing for the infusion of aroma and flavour.
‘The fermentation followed the same combination of minimal intervention, wild mixed culture and cool ambient temperatures we apply to all our beers at Mills Brewing.’
As head of our Barrel Ageing Programme, Will led the charge with this project.
‘With the inspiration of this beer being the naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria found in the orchard, we drew on the years of expertise of Lambic producers in Belgium for the best way to ferment and age a beer that has such a varied selection of cultures but each in small quantities.
Using oak barrels for fermentation allows very small amounts of oxygen to permeate through the wood and into the beer, allowing the controlled growth and activity of the many cultures inside without detrimental oxidative effects. We chose 2nd use French oak barrels which will impart a more structured, tannin based flavour profile than their American counter parts. With the majority of their initial ‘oak’ flavour having already been imparted to the wine they first held, this allowed us to keep the beer in barrel for longer without the flavour contribution of the wood overpowering the more subtle characteristics from the fermentation. We also chose one barrel which had previously held red wine and one which held white, with the plan to blend the two to give a more complex overall character.’
This beer is unique, distinctive and a departure from our usual offering. To reflect this, we turned to our design agency, Studio Makgill to conjure a physical identity for this beer in pack.
‘It's been over seven years since we worked with Wiper and True to create their identity and packaging. The brief was simple… it must appeal to both male and female drinkers and it must stand out behind the bar or in the fridge. The craft beer market was much smaller back in 2013 as it is now. Stand out is therefore much harder and yet the Wiper and True does just that. In a busy bottle shop the cans stand out and look as fresh as they did the day the brand launched. That longevity within a crowded market is what I am most proud of. ⠀
For the new Barrel Aged series, we have taken a new approach. For the first time, we have moved away from the illustrations and created a typographic solution. As these are special releases, we felt the need to create something that felt distinct and special yet obviously from Wiper and True. I look forward to seeing how they look in the shops.
This project is one we’re excited to continue for many years to come, with each vintage drawing on the influence of the year.
Old Twelfth Night is now available in 750ml bottle.