Tiny Rebel are another of the UK’s micro-breweries with a distinctive brand and image in the market place for both Craft Beer and Cask alike; even the Liverpool branch of CAMRA had representation on this occasion. Looking through their portfolio, it is easy to see the penchant for various cask friendly styles that self-professed cask-drinkers Gareth and Bradley would like to imbibe themselves. However, that is not to say how much care they are taking in putting effort to push forward the quality of their kegged beers (point of interest, the one-inch punch – kegged for the evening, was one of the juiciest and refreshing pales I have had for a while).
Currently the premises and kit in Tiny Rebel’s arsenal affords them a 12-barrel capacity brew run, but their aspirations are to push up to a 30-barrel brewery, to ultimately increase production whilst maintaining the firm on quality of their beers. In 2014, Gareth and Bradley professed to an output of 1.2 million pints of their beers going to the market place, some going considering they only started producing their beers properly in 2012 (although their first forays began 3 years prior, stemming from their passion for homebrewing). In terms of the transition from homebrewing to having a product ready to be sold in the pubs, Gareth felt that the two years between set up and launch of the brand were crucial and briefly laments the lack of a social life, but not with too much conviction.
At the start of the talk, where the Rebel boys start outlining their remit for the brewery and where the origins of their passions lie, Gareth claims to have gotten Bradley into homebrewing whilst the pair where starting off and though there was a massive learning curve with the business, family support has proven both critical and forthcoming. Now the ball is rolling with significant momentum they are looking to make a dent into the market traditionally dominated by Brains, based in Cardiff.
Searching for a name for the brewery, the inspiration was drawn from Bradley’s Brother’s company whilst he was working in computer game development, they admitted that the other options weren’t really up to scratch. The eye-catchingly distinctive graffiti style branding is courtesy of an artist originally from Swindon, but initially working in Canada and this is possibly what a lot of people really notice first with Tiny Rebel’s beers. There are plans for a second bar to serve the Tiny Rebel beers; The Urban Taphouse in Cardiff is the brewery’s first premises and has proven very successful. The boys also are looking at releasing a series of single hopped beers working under the nickname of ‘Tiny Batch’ series. So it is clear that there is plenty to look forward to, even for those of us not in South Wales.
Speaking technically, the brewery was initially set up for cask, the guys estimated a ratio of 80% to 20% keg, most keg is exported to other markets. Gareth and Bradley stated they do want to bolster the traditional cask market in the UK and keep a backbone of the brewery in UK brewing cultural tradition. With regarding brewing, they like to keep the IBUs under control, as going too heavy isn’t what they want to do with their beers as they feel more doesn’t always translate to a better beer. They tend to use pelleted hops rather than whole cones, feeling that this produces more consistent results in the flavouring, aromas and body of their beers. All Tiny Rebels’ beers are currently fined, something that is becoming less and less popular these days with many brewers, although this provides clarity, there is a trade off to be made.
So, how are those rebellious beers?
A 5% kegged pilsner style lager, golden in colour with thin bubbles and a light head thanks to a ver spritzy level of carbonation. Refreshing, with a crisp malt backbone and very delicate aromas beyond this, although there is also a slight metallic tang in the aftertaste. This was first brewed in 2014 using a specific yeast to give a slight fruity edge to the lager, the obligatory saaz hops and a fortnight period to brew. The beer is also held in conditioning for 5-6 weeks, so it isn’t a quick beer to produce!
Billabong Pale Ale
A golden cask ale at 4.6% and using Australian Galaxy hops in conjunction with carapils malts and some wheat. Beneath the soft white head, the aromas float out giving a distinctive herbal and slightly coriander laden soapiness along with some soft tropical fruit. A simple and fairly elegant pale ale.
One Inch Punch
This beer is much fruitier effort than the first two beers, light golden in colour with loads of green fruit, gooseberries, citrus and kiwis along with a touch of mango thanks to a lot of mosaic hops. The addition of crushed oats (crushed at the brewery nonetheless) gives an additional smoothness to the beer. Great stuff.
With some debate over what ‘Cwtch’ actually translates to (from the apparently incorrect cuddle, to the area of a pub lots will know as a snug), this is a malty red ale using three types of malt and is lightly hopped with citra and columbus, with a bout of dry hopping using citra exclusively. The hops are all non-UK grown in Cwtch, but it doesn’t grab too much fruit character compared to some of the other rebel beers.
Loki Black IPA
A dark red to brown coloured ale (not quite black) which is hopped using a 70% bulk of British hops, including the newly fashionable Jester. The flavour is a lightly malted hum surrounded by a nutty, caramel cola flavour with only light aromas from the hopping. Coming from cask, this 4.5% beer has a soft rounded body and a pleasant finish.
For those people who suffered from ‘Nintendo Thumb’ (or a sore wrist from coin-op arcade machines) back in the early to mid-nineteen nineties, the name of this American style pale ale will hold some relevance. Those who picked up a control pad and were familiar with how to throw a fireball in Street Fighter 2 will drink this and the dramatic punch of a heavily US hopped beer and feel the potency. With a resinous pine-heavy chewy body, a slightly off-sweet finish and coming from one of the Rebel’s early homebrew recipes, Hadouken uses a combination of cascade, chinook and colombus hops. At 7.4% from a keg, it benefits from the freshness afforded by this dispense method.
Morning Glory Oatmeal Stout
A breakfast stout, which contains lactose and has cocoa nibs introduced to the brew in the bittering phase. The coffee element stands to attention by the use of Nicaraguan coffee beans, without too much exposure via a cold infusion to limit the bitter and often acrid element coffee can introduce to a drink. The use of oats also affords this beer a very smooth mouthfeel and finish, although it does feel a little thin for such a dark ale.
As a whole, this is a very flavoursome and sessionable (at 4%) style stout, although there may be a little too much flavour to go a whole session on Morning Glory.
Dirty Stop Out (smoked oat stout)
The final beer of the night was an oddly subdued effort of a smoked beer, whether this was down to the other beers being a little too fierce to allow the detection of a smoky element. This 5% kegged beer was rather thin on body, plus there was a rather poor head retention. There is plenty of flavour from malts although, the Morning Glory was a much more rounded and flavoursome effort.
This event marked a slight change of format from the guys at 23 Club/The Clove Hitch, with a couple more beers and a tapas style delivery of the food. Another fine evening with eloquent speakers and a chance to learn more about another one of the UK’s talented breweries. There is also a follow on from this event, with Tiny Rebel taking over the taps at the Clove Hitch and 23 Club, although they are probably running out… so you’ll need to be quick!
Until next time!!
Tiny Rebel Brewing Company
Maesglas Industrial Estate
Tel: 01633 547 378
Twenty Three Club / Clove Hitch
23 Hope Street, Liverpool, L1 9BQ
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TwentyThreeClub or https://twitter.com/theclovehitch
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Tel: 0151 709 6574