A little while ago I found a bottle of beer in one of my mixed cases that made me smile and made me interested.
It was from the Little Beer Corporation and it was called Little Rosy – A fruit beer presented in a beautifully shaped bottle – and the information on the label told me that the brewery was run in a really interesting way.
I got in touch with David at EeBria and told him that I wanted to interview the brewer and run a competition so that more people could find out about this little brewery that I found so appealing.
And so what you have here is a short interview with Jim, founder and CEO of The Little Beer Corporation, a review of their core range, and the chance to win a mixed case so that you can try them for yourself.
How about that?
Hello, please introduce yourselves.
I’m Jim Taylor and I’m the founder and CEO of The Little Beer Corporation. Our brewery is all about creativity and innovation, and we have a core range of 10 beers …. which is obviously a lot for a ‘core’!
I am intrigued by the way the brewery operates. Could you tell me a little about your shareholders and the running of the brewery?
Our vision as a brewery is not only to build ourselves just around the creativity and innovation inherent in our beers, but also around a community. To this effect, we’ve done two things. Firstly, we’ve created a company structure whereby we have lots of local shareholders. We have about 100 ‘investment’ A shareholders, but we also have about 400 ‘involvement’ B shareholders (£10 worth of shares each) and the latter attend our AGM and help set policy, without having to put up large sums of money. Second, we have a membership club called The Little Drinking Club. As a member, you attend several of our LDC Event nights each year, with your friends. At these evenings, we have a couple of hundred people attending and we lay on really good live music, as well as lots of free beer.
The brewery gives a proportion of its profits to local charities. I find that really exciting and I wonder if you could explain the reasons why you chose to do that?
Part of building a local community is ‘giving back’ and so each year, at our AGM, we decide which charity we’d like to contribute to.
Simple as that.
I love the shape of the bottles and the way your products look. You use shareholders as your label stars, right?
We want to market our beer as little works of art. So we package our beers in expensive Italian beer bottles that we import. And yes, in terms of our labels, we use (stylised) real people on the label. This came about from two thoughts …. first, as a brand, we want to be seen as modern but also human. Second, I always liked Rogue Ale’s labels, from The States. They have a face on their labels and it gives them a real personality.
Where do you brew and what kit do you use?
We brew in the centre of Guildford. It’s good for Guildford to have a local micro-brewery again, because it’s been absent for the last 40 years. Guildford used to have a big brewery called Friary Mieux, but it closed in the early ’70’s. Furthermore, Guildford is great because it allows us to serve both the local market, but also London. It’s easier to get to Fulham, for example, from Guildford compared to from Hackney. In terms of kit, we use a 10 barrel brew-house and we’ve 8 tanks …. 4 x 2500L and 4 x 500L … the 500L tanks being very useful for Innovation beers
What are your plans for the future?
Our plans for this year are to create better local awareness and trial in and around Guildford, and to expand our distribution in pubs via some of the bigger PubCos. Outside this, well …. I guess it’s about getting a better work-life balance. When you start a micro-brewery, you need to work 70 hour weeks …. so it’s important that after doing this a couple of years, you ease off looking for ‘world domination’ and try to spend a bit more time at home!
This is what I think of the beer.
Little Haka (4.5%)
Brewed with Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy, Little Haka is an easy drinking treat of a Pale Ale.
The smell is honey and passion flowers, and the beer sits a rich amber in my glass.
There’s a very nice round and chewy toffee sweetie for a malt, along with some crunchy Rich Tea biscuits.
And over this you get gooseberry fool and kiwi, green grapes and hazel leaves that make for a sharp dry finish.
Little Slow (5%)
“Green hopped with local Farnham hops,” shouts the label on this little bottle of beauty.
Little Slow is a slow-conditioned Czech Pilsner that pours a glowing gold with a fluffy cloud for a head.
There’s a lovely apricot and spicy yeast aroma and the beer prickles on your tongue as you drink.
Caramel and white bread crusts, peppercorns and honey make up the body and over this the hops sing.
They’re herbal and piquant and as fresh as a daisy.
Hazel leaves and lemon rind, a hint of aniseed and the gentlest trace of wild garlic.
And with its long crisp finish, this is a great beer.
Little Vienna (5%)
Another great lagered beer, Little Vienna is brewed with Nelson Sauvin which brings a lovely dry and crisp green grape flavour to the beer.
The malting is honey and ice cream cones in coconut milk, and the smell is bread dough and stone fruits.
There’s a sugar cane sweetness that’s bright and fresh, but it’s not allowed to overwhelm as the sharp bitter hops keep it in check and lead you towards the zippy finish.
Little Wild (5.9%)
There’s a really lovely Iced Gem flavour in the malting of this beer, it’s all fruit flavoured icing and shortbread biscuit, along with some sticky honey and white pepper.
And then there are hops.
Lots of sharp green hops.
You get a big hit of lime zest and grapefruit pith, green hazelnuts and a bouquet garni of fresh herbs.
And all this from a glowing golden beer with a pineapple, peach and vanilla aroma makes Little Wild a super IPA with a warm whisky finish.
Little Harvest (6.4%)
This is a super Bock.
Simple as that.
A big rum stewed plum aroma and a leathery chestnut colour makes you want to make a swig.
And when you do you find a lovely big round sticky toffee apple and digestive biscuit malt, some tamarind and a deep vanilla pod richness.
The hops are sharp and crunchy, red maple leaves and bracken pithiness, lime and blackberry leaf tea.
And then towards the end there’s a plump warm bread dough bite that adds extr depth to the boozy sticky finish.
Little Snug (5.4%)
Little Snug is a Pale Ale brewed with sweet chestnuts that gives the beer a real Best Bitter feeling.
It’s a deep copper coloured beer and the smell is honey and red fruits.
The malting is rich with digestive biscuits and toffee apples and the chestnuts add a lovely round woody backbone.
You get a sticky brown sugar syrup too, but before Little Snug gets cloying the hops burst in with sharp lemon zest, nettles and hedgerow leaves.
And in the finish you find the chestnuts reemerge to give you a warm nutty toasty kiss.
Little Tenderness (5.4%)
This is an American Amber Ale and though it’s still pretty good, it’s my least favourite Little Beer brew.
The smell is honey and peaches and pencil shavings, and as you take a swig you find a good caramel and brown bread malt.
The hops are brown and crunchy, with a redwood stickiness and some autumnal leaf litter that take you to a finish that’s crisp and prickly, bitter and fresh.
Very nice, just not my favourite.
Little Smooth (4.5%)
Little Smooth is a Milk Stout that tastes good but needs a little more fizz for my liking.
The smell is prunes in syrup and a little bit of chocolate.
The malting is all plums and digestives, coffee and toffee and chocolate.
There’s some red autumnal hops too, with roasted nuts, leaf litter and a twist of lemon.
The lactose gives a soft round comforting feel and adds weight to the sweet brown sugar finish.
But Little Smooth is let down a little by feeling just a tiny bit flat.
I spoke to Jim about this and he told me that I had had one of the bottles that had nitrogen added as an experiment to try and emulate Left Hand’s Nitro Milk Stout, but that it hadn’t worked.
After that initial experiment Little Smooth reverted to plain old CO2 for the rest of the batch.
I like his honesty.
Little Icarus (6%)
What a delight this is, with its spiced honey aroma and its glowing sunny colour.
There’s a round fruity body, all apricots and peaches dunked in caramel, some white pepper and a lovely soft sweetness in the background – think Muscovado sugar and you’re somewhere near.
The hopping gives a good nettle sting and green tea dry bitterness, and there’s a warmth from the alcohol that makes the beer feel big and chewy as you’re led towards a finish that has just a hint of fried banana hiding under its crisp bitter sweetness.
Here’s your chance to win a mixed case of Little Beer Corps beer from EeBria.
Just answer this simple question, set by Jim from Little Beer:
What is the motto / slogan of Little Beer Corporation?
Answers by email to hq at camrgb dot org.
You might find clues to the answer by visiting EeBria.
The competition closes on March 1st and the winner will be drawn at random from the correct answers.
And thanks to our friends at EeBria, for the duration of the competition you can get 10% off a case of Little Beer Corporation beer by using the code LittleRGB.
By entering the competition you will be signed up to the EeBria email newsletter unless you tell us not to.
Thanks to Jim and Little Beer and David at EeBria for allowing us to do all this.