Our 2018 Vintage Orchard Ale is ready
Back in January 2020 we began a new tradition, celebrating the first release of Old Twelfth Night, a barrel-aged Orchard Ale that took over a decade to grow and develop into a finished product. It's a drink that celebrates our love of heritage brewing and two of its fundamental principles: seasonality and locality.
Picking our own apples from the orchard
To make Old Twelfth Night, we combine a blend of fresh apple juice, pressed from our own orchard, with a beer wort made according to a traditional farmhouse malt recipe.
Pressing the apples at the Barrel Store
This vibrant, unusual liquid is then transferred into French red and white wine barrels, where the plentiful amount of wild yeast from the apple orchard - and the barrels themselves - creates the ideal conditions for spontaneous fermentation.
A huge part of the fun in releasing different vintages of a drink annually is to discover the impact that the circumstances of the year itself can have on the finished product. In this case, it's particularly interesting to see how the apples themselves - and the conditions they grew in during 2018 - make this batch of Old Twelfth Night that little bit different from the 2017 vintage. 2018 was the first year that the apples themselves from the orchard tasted delicious to eat in their natural, unadulterated form; usually they're almost alarmingly tart. We think this manifests in a beautifully fresh orchard ale, with a clean apple finish that's complemented by a gently tannic, tart flavour from spontaneous fermentation and the barrels.
The other annual change you might pick up in the 2018 vintage is not one dictated by mother nature, but by our own brewers. We decided that each year we'd use
a different hop in the whirlpool, showcasing our favourite varietal; the one that had really been a standout for us that year. In 2018, this was Citra, so you might detect a subtle citrus aroma and flavour, too.
As we approach the release date of this year's vintage, we're absolutely delighted with how Old Twelfth Night is tasting. We'd have liked to release this beer on the 5th January, as tradition dictates, however in classic 2020-2021 style our bottling line got caught up in the Brexit delays, holding our plans up. But no use crying over pressed apples; the finished Orchard Ale is tasting absolutely glorious, and only improves with age. It's now available to order online via our website
, and will be in good bottle shops across the country from next week.
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