A beer normally brewed in little old New Westminster is now being enjoyed in pubs throughout France.
Steel & Oak Brewing Company co-founder Jorden Foss and head brewer Eric Moutal recently visited England, where they helped brew up a big batch of their award-winning IPA, Shiny Things. An agency in the United Kingdom had reached out to S&O to see if they’d be interested in flying to England and making some beer that would be distributed to pubs in the U.K. – but then the pandemic hit.
“The world shut down, and we didn’t know if we’d get to do it again,” Foss said. “Then, as soon as things opened up, we got invited back – with a couple of changes. The biggest change was that we actually brewed the beer in the U.K., but it will actually be sold in France. This agency has good relationships with a bunch of pubs throughout France, and apparently the French are really into IPAs and into hoppy beers.”
The duo from Steel & Oak recently jetted across the Atlantic to brew Shiny Things at Banks’s Brewing in Wolverhampton, one of the oldest breweries in the U.K.
“It was quite the experience because we brewed on a scale that we have never done before. It was a very, very large batch all in one go,” Foss said. “It kind of put into perspective how small we actually are.”
During their time in England, the pair helped brew 450 hectolitres, or 45,000 litres, of Shiny Things in one batch.
“We basically brewed how much we brew of Shiny Things in a year but in one day,” Foss said.
Although there are always concerns about quality when you brew elsewhere, several things assured Foss that Shiny Things was in good hand; not only has the head brewer at Banks’s Brewing has been in the industry for a long time, but other B.C. breweries have brewed with him in the past.
“We were able to a bit of research before we went over, knowing that they were able to get the same ingredients, they were able to give it the same schedule of time that we would here,” Foss said. “We were confident that it would be done in the right way.”
While Steel & Oak could have emailed the recipe to Banks’s Brewing, the agency that recruited them flew them to England so they could participate in the process and make sure it was a product they were proud of.
“It will definitely taste a little bit different, just because of the water; it’s different water over there,” Foss said. “But we are confident that it will still be a top-notch IPA that we will be proud of.”
Whether the locals actually get to taste the England-brewed version of Shiny Things remains to be seen, as it’s all being served as draught beer and won’t be bottled. There had been some talk about filling a couple of mini kegs and shipping them to Canada, so they could try out their international brew, but so far there have been no deliveries.
“Hopefully that happens. It would be unique to see, what are the nuances because of the water profile,” Foss said. “The brewery that we made the beer at is over 100 years old, so they actually still ferment the beer with these fermenters that are open at the top – so you can actually see the beer bubbling away, whereas at Steel & Oak, everything is closed up, so we have never actually seen our beer ferment before. This was the first time we were ever able to pop our head into the brewery the next day and see the beer actually just kind of bubbling away, which is really neat.”
Foss said the fact that Shiny Things was created as a draught beer to be served out of kegs was another reason S&O supported the project. While it’s unknown how long bottled beer could sit on shelves in a liquor store – and potentially degrade over time, he said the on-tap brew would be quickly consumed.
“With it going into kegs and going straight to pubs, it allows the beer to flow through the system quicker,” he explained. “Our agency had said this beer will be in and out within three to four weeks, and that’s more than quickly enough to make sure the beer is of top quality when people are drinking it.”
Shiny Things by Steel & Oak Brewing Company is now being shipped to pubs all over France, where folks will be enjoying a beer that got its start right here in New West.
“It’s probably hitting the pubs right now,” Foss told the Record June 6. “They expect that it will be in and out, and sold out in probably within three to four weeks. I suspect people are drinking it right now over there.”
The initiative got its start after one of S&O’s B.C. brewery friends recommended the New West brewery to the U.K. agent.
“This job and this industry, it’s a roller coaster ride, but it has so many positives and it’s such a collaborative and global type business and industry that you get these unique opportunities from time to time,” Foss said. “It was definitely cool being over there and thinking that this recipe that we developed in New Westminster is now going to be sold all over France.”
Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus