Barnaby’s was brought to my attention by a friend who lives in Devon.
He’d found some in a local shop and really enjoyed it, and when I saw some of the recipes and found out a little about how the brewery operates, I knew I just had to gt in touch.
Hi there, please introduce yourself.
I formed Barnaby’s Brewhouse with Tim Stacey in 2016 with the aim of brewing premium organic lagers and ales sustainably.
I have an IT background and have developed the brewery management software for the business whilst Tim is a process engineer who has put together the physical plant from repurposed equipment (much of it from the dairy industry).
We have brought together a passion for brewing along with a focus on quality control and purity of product.
I’m very interested in the fact that you are making a number of Lagered beers. Is there a particular reason for this?
When I first looked at entering the sector I was concerned that there were too many small breweries competing in the same space and had almost talked myself out of starting up a brewery until I converted a freezer to do temperature controlled fermentations and started playing around with continental lager styles.
I could really see a gap in the market here for traditionally brewed and properly conditioned small batch lagers which provide clean malt flavours. Where we have produced ales we tend to go for more unusual styles and again condition them for a long time. We take some inspiration from continental styles such as the Saison and Kolsch.
We are keen on pairing our beers with foods so have deliberately gone against the trend for heavily bittered or hoppy flavoured beers.
All of your beers are Organic and certified by The Soil Association. How important to you and the brewery is it to brew beer that is a sustainable product?
Sustainability is a key pillar of the business – we are trying to demonstrate that quality products can be produced locally and with little or no cost to the environment. Our aim is to be completely off grid (we are pretty well there) and to be able to demonstrate that we are actually planet positive. The organic certification process has actually made us a better business too – our processes, record keeping and quality control are all improved as a result.
Of all the beer I have tried, I was most impressed by your Green Tomato Saison. It’s a super combination that I’ve not come across before. What gave you the idea for this and will you be looking at other interesting ingredients for future beer recipes?
Well, to be honest it started as a joke. We are based on Riverford farm and sell through their box scheme. On one visit they happened to mention that they had 5 tonnes of green tomatoes and could I do anything with them. To their (and my) surprise I found myself say that that might be interesting – both as a product and because of the sustainability angle. We did some research and tried the saison because it was often traditionally brewed with fruit additions at the end of the harvest. The test batch was a revelation because we tried it at stages thoughout the fermentation and the flavours develop in an extraordinary way. There is quite a lot of fruit in the brew and it seems to bring a wine like quality alongside the spiciness and earthiness delivered by the yeast. It has proved very popular too – and we were extremely proud to win the Soil Association’s Best of Organic Market Award for best beer with it last year.
You are based in Devon and use as much local produce as you can. Do you have plans to broaden your sales or is remaining “local” part of the brewery’s focus?
For the moment – other than selling online and through the box scheme (which both go out nationally) we are focussing on local markets. It makes sense from an environmental point of view and we can only produce so much beer! We do have some plans to expand over the next three years though.
And so to the beer…
Mango & Lime Kolsch (4.5%)
Subtle and gentle yet full of flavour, this is a rather interesting take on a Kolsch.
Brewed with mango and lime and just a sprinkle of cardamom, you find a gloopy and creamy malt body, all caramel bagels and shortcake biscuit, a little salty bite from the yeast and lots of steely garden herbs from the hops.
The mango is soft and delicate, showing its face quietly with a round fruitiness that highlights the zing of the limes while the cardamom pops up in the finish bringing an exotic snap to this lovely little beer.
This is a Pilsner, pure and simple.
It does all the right things in all the right ways.
A lightly spiced floral aroma leads you down into a soft brioche and walnut cake, toffee malt that’s smooth and creamy, while the hops provide a slash of pithy greenery, nettle tea and a hint of something aniseedy, crisp and bright and refreshing.
And with a finish that is long, bitter and dry, this tastes like a summer afternoon.
Red Helles (4.8%)
The weakest of the bunch on offer, this is still a very drinkable beer, it just hasn’t got quite the depth that the others do.
There’s a big rich peanut brittle, tamarind and toffee malt body, warm and chewy and round and, in itself that’s absolutely as it should be.
But the hops haven’t got quite the kick I’d like them to have and so I find that this beer lacks a little brightness, a little sparkle.
That said, with its red fruit aroma and black cherry finish I’d be very happy drinking this in a pub while chatting with friends.
This is all about chocolate coated Weetabix.
A lovely dark smooth creamy chocolate over a crisp wheat and straw body.
There’s lots of runny honey in here as well, along with toasted granary bread, some plum jam and a slap of hedgerow greenery from the hops.
In the finish the beer feels so smooth and sweet I’d have said there is lactose hiding in here, but there isn’t, it’s just a well crafted, properly lagered beer.
Very good indeed though personally I’d love to try it with twice the hit of alcohol.
Brewed for The Pig in Combe, if I found this on the bar in a pub I’d be blown away.
It’s a lovely IPA with a solid malt body full of sticky honeycomb, waffles and caramel coated doughnuts from the malts and an aroma that hints at orange marmalade.
And it’s right that it should because that’s where the hops take you.
Through lemon sherbet and herbal greenery right into a thick course cut orange marmalade that is at once sweet and bitter, its fruitiness glueing itself to the roof of your mouth as you reach for the warm booze of the finish. Very good indeed.
Green Tomato Saison (6%)
This is an absolute sensation.
An earthy Saison yeast, honey and fresh leafy aroma rises as you pour and continues to build as the beer settles in your glass.
It looks warm and inviting and taking a mouthful you find that it is a very warm beer indeed.
A beer with lots of spicy earthy flavours, a round chewy honeycomb and toffee pancake malt creates a platform from which the hops spring up with bright flashes of lemon zest and mown lawns while the green tomatoes add a sublime piquancy, lightly tangy, green and fresh, they prickle with fruity life while that Saison yeast rumbles away underneath, pushed along by a clean crisp alcohol hit in the finish.
Thank you to Barnaby for his time.
You can find further information on the brewery’s website.