2019 so far
After a successful Christmas period, 2019 has started as busy as ever at Mad Squirrel. Our first limited-edition brew of the year was released the first weekend of January, ‘De La Pod’ (4.5%), a vanilla milk stout. This was followed up by “In Our Veins” (4.5%), a double dry hopped red ale in the second half of January. Both beers were received well by our loyal drinkers in our Tap & Bottle Shops, as well as going down well in the wider trade.
We managed to brew 22 different limited-edition beers in 2018, and have provisionally pencilled in 25 for this year, a couple from last year are returning, but the majority are new brews. De La Pod did not make it into cans (just cask and keg) but the plan is almost all other limited-edition beers will be packaged into small-pack as well as being on tap.
On the 22nd of January we welcomed Nick from London Beer Factory to the brewery for a day, to take part in our first collaboration brew of the year. “Triumvirate” (6.7%) is a passion fruit sour IPA, brewed with Vic Secret hops and kettle soured for a fruity, hoppy and tart refreshing beer that drinks well below its ABV.
This is the first of several collab brews lined up for 2019.
As with all other breweries, our thoughts had turned to Tryanuary in the first month of the year. On Friday 25th January we held a special Tryanuary tasting evening at the D20 Café in Watford.
The event was sold out with 35 people crammed into the back room of the café. Our man on the ground Tim guided the group through the story of our company and six different Mad Squirrel beers over the course of the evening, the response was universally positive with lots of laughs, questions and good cheer throughout the event. Already plans are being drawn up for another evening at D20 later in the year, due to demand. There are also plans for a similar tasting evening at the Cake Shack in Chipperfield on Friday 1st March, tickets for which are now available directly from the Cake Shack.
In mid-January we were thrilled the receive three awards in the 2018 Ratebeer Best Awards.
These awards are given out based on the reviews left on the website Ratebeer, which is one of the most popular beer review forums on the web.
It was great to hear That we won best brewery in the region (Herts), best beer in the region (Herts) for $UMO, and best beer destination in the region (Bucks) for our High Wycombe Tap & Bottle Shop.
In the first week of February we are finally installing three new triple fermenting tanks into our brewery. This expansion has been over 12 months in the planning and involves a meticulous process of removing the roof of the brewery, craning the new tanks into position and then replacing the roof, before plumbing in the new tanks and installing an overhead walkway.
The new tanks are each capable of holding 9000 litres of fermenting liquid and will be dedicated to the production of our two most popular beers $UMO (A.P.A 4.7% ABV) and Zealous (Pilsner 4.4%ABV, previously called Flying Squirrel). Once these new tanks are in place, they will increase our annual production by 79.2% meaning our total yearly output will now exceed 2 million pints, meaning even more Mad Squirrel beer available for the beer lovers of the Mid-Chilterns and much further beyond!
Also at the start of Febraury, we are pleased to say that our core range pale ale Hopfest (3.8%) is now being served in the Strangers Bar at the Houses of Parliament. Obviously, there is much tension in the current political climate and so we are hoping that MPs from across the political spectrum can find common ground between them and a way forward for our country, whilst enjoying a pint of Mad Squirrel beer. Many Thanks to the Right Honourable Sir Mike Penning, MP for Hemel Hempstead for helping us get Hopfest listed.
Already we are booking ourselves up for beer festivals and events for the rest of 2019. First up is TOM’s beer festival, a new event held in The Old Market in Brighton at the start of February, this small boutique festival sees us join a well curated line up of some of the best UK breweries such as Verdant, Unbarred and Cloudwater. At the end of February, we return to Craft Beer Rising for the second year running. We had an absolute blast at last year’s festival, which is held in the Old Truman brewery in Brick Lane, London and features nearly 200 different breweries. We will be looking to build on our success from last year and expose Mad Squirrel to even more drinkers.
We were over the moon to be invited to showcase two beers at Cask19, a beer festival focussing on innovative, progressive cask ale producers, which is held in mid-March on the Bermondsey Beer Mile. The ethics of this festival, which focusses on quality over quantity and a fair price for a specialist product, is very much aligned with the values we would like to see more of in the cask ale market. Across the two sessions we will be showcasing an exclusive, last ever firkin of “Bust le Nut” (8.0%) Double Hazelnut Milk Stout and a freshly racked cask of “High Score” (4.8%) India Pale Lager. Its an honour to be showcasing these beers alongside brews from some real industry heavyweights such as Siren Craft, Five Points, and Moor Beer.
Due to their increasing popularity, we have now increased the frequency of our open brewery tours, from one a month to one every other week. Tours are at midday on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. Tickets are £25 per person and include a full, hour long tour, 6 x third pint of different Mad Squirrel beers and a pizza per person. Tickets can be booked via our website. Private tours for groups of 20 or more can be booked in for any evening from Monday-Saturday by calling the brewery directly on 01442 256 970.
Finally, we are already in the planning stages for our next Tap & Bottle Shop. We’re keeping the location under wraps for now, until things are more finalised, but needless to say we are incredibly excited. This new site will be the seventh in our chain of outlets, joining our already established sites in Amersham, Berkhamsted, Chesham, Harpenden, High Wycombe and at our brewery in Potten End.