Before the inception of Tempest, a meeting over food and beer between Scottish Chef Gavin and New Zealander Annika in Whistler at the end of the 1990s led to a move over to New Zealand and some experimental garage brewing. This in turn led to a move back to the UK and up to Gavin's native Scotland.
Tempest began life as a brewery in Kelso in the Scottish Borders around 30 miles South of Edinburgh, brewing beers for a bar/restaurant that Gavin and Annika decided to take on a few years prior to Tempest's birth in 2010. It was soon found that moving up to a ten barrel plant meant the ability to supply pubs in Edinburgh and soon, extra capacity was needed once again. Following a move to Tweedbank 2015, Tempest now works on a 30HL kit, currently they have 3 full time brewers allowing Graeme to concentrate on other matters for the brewery.
The range of beers that Tempest Brewing produce is quite surprising for some, given that they have a quite muted presence, at least down in Liverpool (and fingers crossed, more of their beers will find their way further South). Having spent a fair bit of time up in Edinburgh over the last few years, I was exposed to some particularly good beers and knew we were in for a treat on this MTB.
So what were the beers like?
Dawn of Justice
This 3.6% session IPA is a golden coloured ale with a soft white head thanks to the cask serve, on the nose it has a lot of citrus including a slightly burnt orange note along with a lot of malt presence, there are fragrant hints of a coriander-herbal nature and some floral honey notes. The body is light and the mouthfeel is slightly residual and very smooth. The finish comes through with the malt bill driving things and hints of light spice and citrus.
This is the newest beer that Tempest have brewed on cask and they've plied it with plenty of Centennial and Simcoe hops to try and bring a rounded character to the beer - something which is a massive theme and that Graeme was explicit about for all the beers of the evening; and he wasn't wrong. Balance is key and was noticeably present in all the beers.
The Pale Armadillo
Another cask dispensed pale ale, this time it carries a bit more of the marmalade character and bitter orange through than its lighter counterpart. The body of the Pale Armadillo has been bolstered too in comparison to the Dawn of Justice. The finish has a touch more sweetness present too, making things very rounded and enjoyable.
A keg-dispensed hybrid beer hopped up with loads of Victorias Secret (in the dry hop) and weighing in at 6.7%, this saison and IPA hybrid is golden in colour and has only a trace of head. This iteration uses the same kettle hops as other version of the Harvest beers, but the late addition of Victorias Secret changes things via the aroma and dry hopping.
It is characteristically fermented very slowly to potentially reduce the esters in the beer and make for a smoother brew, but it remains a pretty complex beer. There is loads of pepper and green fruit on the nose, along with some banana like spice and a slight earthiness, the bitter malts and dry fruity nature of this beer mean it is a very easy drink all the way down the glass and there's a great balance and mellow finish to boot.
In the Dark We Live
A 7.2% kegged Black IPA which apparently during the brewing process, begins its life as an iteration of Brave New World only to be sparged with the addition of dark malts. A robust malt bill and plenty of hops give rise to a fragrant and robust tasting beer with plenty of complexity in the structure. Aromas of blackcurrant, blackberries, liquorice and cassia bark along with more roasted flavours are followed by flavours which are much the same. The mouthfeel is very juicy, fresh and acidic but has enough body to balance things out; it's a very dry and light beer given the colour. Not that it may be immediately obvious, but the IBU count is higher in this beer than in many of the IPAs that Tempest produce - mainly due to the presence of the darker malts.
Marmalade on Rye
A 9% Double IPA on keg which has loads of character and fits the bill nicely to be an end-of-the night beer and pairs very well thanks in part to the residual sweetness with a cheeseboard or some desserts. Graeme said that this beer was made with the aim of getting a marmalade on toast kind of flavour and the addition of rye, citrus peel and ginger gives plenty of subtle flavour and aroma to tick the boxes needed. Marmalade on Rye started out life as a one-off collaboration brew with Brewdog in 2012 and as a toasted IPA, it has evolved to something far richer, jammy, balanced and quite decadent. It's a full on experience drinking this beer, but despite that slightly alcohol strong burn you can sometimes feel drinking a DIPA, this remains very rounded and a well structured brew.
Red Eye Flight
A fully-fledged coffee/mocha porter keg ale weighing in at 7.4%, Red Eye Flight is a staple of Tempest's brewing roster and has been a winner at Scottish Beer Awards of which Tempest can be rightly proud. Brewed using espresso beans from local supplier, Steampunk, this is a remarkably smooth beer, balanced and flavoursome. It is very acidic and fruity on the nose, backed up by a full roasted malt and coffee character giving way to a full body, bitter chocolate and coffee flavour twinned with chestnuts, hazelnuts and toast. Delicious and a great end of night beer to work with heavier puddings, chocolate and darker desserts.
The food on the evening was once again provided by Oktopus, who now have their own premises (at time of writing!) on Hardman Street in the old Picket Courtyard (adjacent to the Old Blind School). The food was simple and stunning once again, with maximum emphasis on the flavours and quality of ingredients – something that will no doubt be showcased in the new premises, which will be paired up with Black Lodge beers.
I believe, as ever, that is your lot for this installment of the blog. Tempest are available locally infrequently sometimes, but when 23 Club have run out of their keg and cask, there is always Crosby Beer Bottle Shop which carries a significant range of what Tempest produce. Their beers are highly recommended if you have not already given them a shot; in particular Long White Cloud, which is one of the flagship brews and quite possibly a modern pale ale classic.
Until next time!
Tempest Brewing Company
Block 11, Units 1 & 2, Tweedbank Industrial Estate, Galashiels, TD1 3RS.
Tel: 01896 759 500