Parliament: A Foodism and Mondo Brewing Company Project
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Parliament: A Foodism and Mondo Brewing Company Project

December 7, 2019

Hi, I’m Tom, I’m beer editor of Foodism. About 18 months ago, Caroline Marston came and put a plaque up with the Clapham Society that talked about the heritage of brewing in this building. At that point I got thinking ‘Hey, there’s a lot of history in this building that I’ve not really thought about until now.’ It was 150 years old last year, so we started looking at it a bit more: who the people were, who was Thomas Woodward, why did they stop brewing here? Because it was quite a long time ago they stopped brewing. I’d been by there many times and thought how it would be kind of fun to do something historical, a beer recipe from that brewery, and from that the conversation just started to develop and we both thought there was a good opportunity to do something fun and interesting and different, and to explore the historical side of that building that Foodism is in. So I emailed him some of the history, pulled together a bunch of stuff from Marston, and we got talking about maybe bringing back one of the beers they would have made here, if we could find the recipe. But that’s where Ron came in. The way I developed the recipe was basically from the brewing records of the period. The strength of the beers might have changed, but they were still using the same basic ingredients. So most bitters were only pale malt, flaked maize and brewing sugar, and that was it. They weren’t very complicated recipes. This style of beer, which is a light bitter, is something that comes around, I think the first ones appear around the mid-1840s, and they were a bit too strong for some people, and so you have this new type of bitter that appears, light bitter, which is only normally about 4.5, 5%. Over time, it eventually turned into light ale, which is sort of like the mid-20th-century version of these light bitters. Most of the actual light bitters disappeared. How do we approach a beer that’s both traditional and modern? First we have to take a look at what ingredients are available to us. It’s not gonna be the same ingredients that people were using when they were brewing beer 150-200 years ago. It’s in manual mode? Yes. We chose a heritage malt called Chevalier. We also used flaked maize, which would have been used at that period, and invert sugar. For the hop schedule, Ron dropped some knowledge on us, and informed us that there was a US hop being imported into the UK for these light bitter ales called Cluster. We chose very traditional English hops, East Kent Goldings and Fuggles, and for the yeast we went with a Whitbread strain, which would be in line with this type of beer from this period. OK, we’re gonna step into the brewery now. Go to the brains of the operation. As you can see, the brew is progressing nicely so far. We’re transferring all of the wort that we produce over to our lauter tun. This is where we’ll separate the wort from the grain, and go back to what was the mash tun, which becomes the boil kettle a little bit later on. Today, we are racking over into casks over here. The beer is mid-way through its conditioning phase, and will finish conditioning inside the cask with some finings and some priming sugar, and in two weeks’, a week and a half’s time, it will be ready to go. To make an actual, physical object – to actually have something that people go out and drink and taste, and that’s got our brand and our name on it, and a little bit of our history on it, as well – that feels really good. Things I’ve learned about the brewing process are: there’s a lot of work that goes into it, from labels to the recipes themselves, to sanitation on brew days, to the way it gets marketed – it’s all been pretty staggering, really. The beer was packaged today for keg and bottle. It’s tasting really fresh. Fantastic. It’s tasting really good. I couldn’t have expected better than this, I don’t think. To see the beer come out of the bottling line is really cool. It’s actually going to people now, and it’s not just this thing that we’ve been working on – a name and some artwork and things like that. It’s just crazy to actually taste the thing, months and months of work and years and years of there not being any beer coming out of the brewery that we work in. I think I’ve said this before, but the water’s different, the ground is different, the air is different from the 1800s, but capturing that essence and doing it accurately and sincerely I think is what we did. And I’m really happy with the way things turned out, and it’s been a really fun process to work with Foodism, and to work with Ron, and to find our way back to cask beer as a brewery.

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