Dwarfs do Wrestlemania

Wrestlemania is finally up us and to celebrate we produced a special beer for the Hogs Head in Wolverhampton’s special screening.

The 4.0% ale is light in colour and refreshing on the palate. Ideal for consuming many pints of over 4 hours of Sports Entertainment.

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Broddr needs you!

Fans of Dwarfen Ales, Broddr Firebeard needs you.

Next time you’re in a pub, standing at the bar, chatting to the person serving you or the regular standing beside you, tell them about us.

Tell them about the award winning ales being produced at the highest brewery in the Black Country on a windy ridge with uninterrupted views stretching to the horizon.

Tell them about the World’s Tallest Dwarf who brews a magnificent range of beer styles using only the finest malts and the choicest hops from around the world.

Tell them about the epic sagas of Korvak and Story John who performs them in the pub.

Tell them about all the awards we’ve won over the last 4 years.

Tell them to seek out these handcrafted brews.

Tell them we’re coming, and to seek out our ales and fill their tankards before it’s too late and the Tavern down the road has beaten them too it.

Don’t keep the secret of our great beers to yourself, spread the word, and take pride in the knowledge, that you were drinking them first.

Dwarfen Drafts Captured in Bottles

All of our bottles from last year have now been sold and today we’re about to do some more which should be ready in time for the start of February. So we thought we’d take a moment just to talk about what we’ve done so far and where we’re heading to in the future.

When we very first started brewing back in 2010 we always had in mind that it would become a business selling cask ale and as such we didn’t invest a great deal of time into bottling beer much beyond it being an easy way of transporting beer to people to get an opinion from them.

Then in 2012, when we started brewing commercially, we had so little beer available (just 4 firkins a brew) that bottling it seemed uneconomical as it was easier just to sell the cask to a pub. As time went by we appreciated that there was a demand for our beer in packaging that could be taken home, so, we experimented with bottling but were never entirely satisfied with the result when compared to the same beer served from the cask.

During 2014 we bottled on several occasions for events like the British Beard Championships in Bath and eventually had a system in place for bottling that produced good results and had drinkers asking for more.

But it’s not just what’s on the inside of the bottle that counts. The stories and illustrations are a big part of what we do here at our Dwarfen brewery and incorporating that into the label was a real challenge.

Should we just reproduce the pump clip? Well that would be so small on a bottle as to be almost unnoticeable.

Do we break up the pump clip into it’s constituent parts and rearrange to suit the new context? We then had something that looked incomplete.

Do we use 330ml, 500ml or even bigger bottles? Did the bottle need to be a unique shape? We settled on a slightly shorter 500ml bottle as it helped to identify the product amongst it’s bottle conditioned ale peers.

After many mockups and researching branding techniques we arrived at the current design.  Because we are Brewers of Epic Tales, with all our ales having stories written to go with them, we took our inspiration from book covers.

There is a uniformity to the design, with all the bottles having a similar appearance when lined up on a shelf, like those of book spines from a series.

When you pick the bottle up you are then able to rotate to the ‘front cover’ where you’ll find the artwork, or to the ‘back’ where you’ll find the ‘blurb’, telling you a little about what to expect inside.

As with any quality publication the bottles are hand ‘bound’ and individually numbered by the ‘author’ and have an ‘edition’ number. To top it off we’ve completed the dust jacket appearance by using a metallic material for the label with a satin finish varnish. Lots of the detailing is subtly hidden and only apparent once the bottle is picked up and being handled, adding to the effect by sticking to the age old adage that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. What from a distance may have seemed plain has hidden depths and deserves exploring further.

Since launching the bottles in November we’ve had them on sale behind the bar at the Wheatsheaf in Walsall where they quickly became very popular with the regulars and we’ve been back to re-supply many times over. Just before Christmas, Stirchley Wines in Birmingham took one case of each beer and they were restocked a week into the new year. Since then we’ve gone on to supply Cotteridge Wines in Birmingham and Moonshine and Fuggles in Ironbridge.

The bottled range will permanently include Frost Hammer and King Korvak’s Saga, with seasonal and occasional beers being rotated through the months.  In the case of the seasonal porters and special beers like Goat Rider and Leviathan, numbers will be limited to around 144 bottles of each.

The second batch of bottles is currently conditioning and will be arriving at an off licence near you in February.

Dwarfs in the Hood

We’re now back at the brewery, our hardened heels aching, our mighty shoulders sore but in high spirits. Where’ve we been? Why the Robin Hood beer and cider festival of course. It’s that time of year when we head to our favourite CAMRA beer festival and share our Dwarfen Ales with the thousands of people in attendance. Over a thousand real ales were on offer, seven of which were ours, eighteen gallons a piece.

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In short, it was a fantastic experience and the response to our Dwarfen beers and brewery was again spectacular.  Located in the Entertainment Tent ( which we specifically requested) on Bar E, we had the privilege of being the second beer down there to sell out (the first being Oakham’s Green Devil). There’s a great vibe in the smaller of the two beer tents on offer at the event held at Nottingham Castle and hosted by Nottingham CAMRA, with a wonderful cellar and bar management team most of whom we’re pleased to say we consider as friends and look forward to seeing throughout the year.

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One of the best things is when you meet CAMRA volunteers for the first time who try our beer and are so enthusiastic that they get behind the product wholeheartedly, wear their brewery t-shirt with pride and put so much effort into introducing new customers to them. A big thank you goes again this year to Suzy (Pub Geek) Aldridge who extolled the virtues of Broddr’s beers to the uninitiated and made sure everyone got a sticker to remind them of the experience. New to the Fownes team this year was (Beer) Matt Brooks who made it his mission to sell out of the first firkin of Gunhild by the end of Wednesday evening, and he nearly did too.

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But it’s not just the Dwarfen Ale virgins that we get to meet but also those people who have come back for another year and headed straight to our section of the bar for some more of Broddr’s finest. These ladies and gentlemen are so enthusiastic about the taste of beers but also the brand of Dwarfs and Epic Tales behind them.

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For the second year now the festival had it’s own app. Not without it’s little niggles, it allows festival goers with a smart phone to see all of the beers on offer, rate their favourite and keep tasting notes. What was great about it was being able to see how our beers faired against the hundreds of others on offer. By the close of the festival, five of our seven ales were rated in the top twenty five, an achievement we’re very proud of and grateful to all those who took the time to rate them. All throughout the event our seven beers shuffled for position but when the dust settled Gunhild was ranked 3rd of all the beers on offer by those using the app.  King Korvak’s Saga was 5th, Origin 7th,  Frost Hamer 11th and Firebeard’s Old Favourite No.5 15th.

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As you can tell Gunhild was a popular seller and next year I think we’ll take more. But an equally fast seller was Troll Hunter, both of which had sold out by early Friday evening. Hot on their heels was Frost Hammer, a firkin of which disappeared in a matter of hours on Friday. The casks seemed to just want to keep on giving, even when fully tilted! You’d be amazed how far beer goes when you’re selling it in thirds of a pint.

Many people enquired about our merchandise and they were all referred to the Dwarfen Store for t-shirts, bar runners and more. For next year we’re thinking of doing something a bit special with our t-shirts so keep an eye on Facebook for more details. There was also a huge amount of interest in the upcoming availability of our Dwarfen Ales in bottles which will be finding their way to a specialist bottle shop in the next few months.

It should be noted that our participation at Nottingham beer festival is made possible by the generosity of Anthony and Lynette Hughes from Lincoln Green Brewery who not only get our casks to the event but also give us a roof over our heads for the duration of the event for which we’re immensely grateful. You’ll also be able to regularly find our cask Dwarfen Ales on the bar of their new pub, The Robin Hood and Little John in Arnold and bottled ales at the Lincoln Green brewery shop.

So with our large hairy feet soaking in bowls of steaming water in front of the fire raging under the copper we bid farewell and look forward to next years festival.

Black Country and proud

You might have seen people posting about Black Country Day on Monday 14th July. We’ll be helping you celebrate your regional pride with not one but two ales.

First we’d like to introduce to you, in association with our friends at Teet Shirts and their Black Country Alphabet, ‘Z is for Stripey Oss’. This will be on sale in Black Country Ales pubs across the region. 


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And secondly, our personal favourite, using those local words we normally struggle to fit into a normal conversation, ‘Tekin Wammal o’er Lezza.’ This will be on sale in the pubs we regularly supply and both beers will be available at our beer festival at the Jolly Crispin from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th July.

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Thank You

Korvak’s Triumph – 5.2% Honey Porter was voted LocAle Beer of the Festival by the public at Kidderminster CAMRA’s event.

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The festival took place at the end of May at the town hall in Kidderminster. Korvak’s Triumph was up against stiff local competition from the likes of Enville, Kinver and Sarah Hughes.

Korvak's Triumph award

This is the second award for Korvak’s Triumph having been voted Beer of the Festival in Wolverhampton in 2013. It was lovely timing as no sooner had the trophy been taken back by Wolverhampton CAMRA in time for this weekends festival but we found out the same beer had been voted LocAle beer of the festival in Kidderminster.

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Korvak’s Triumph is the second of our seasonal porters, each instalment continuing the tragic tale of King Korvak that culminates in our core range porter, King Korvak’s Saga – 5.4% Porter.

As soon as we find out when the award will be presented we’ll let you know the details and look forward to you joining us to celebrate our first win of 2014.

The Festival is nearing

Wolverhampton CAMRA’s 39th Beer Festival is beginning this Thursday at the Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton.

We thought we’d take the time to show you the work we’ve done to support this year’s event. Having been voted beer of the festival by the public in 2013 we decided we’d like to give something back to one of our local festivals. As we do a number of t-shirt designs already we thought that sponsoring the staff uniform for the 2014 event was the way to go.

But, we also wanted to keep it interesting for ourselves so asked if we could pick the theme, suggesting that the Battle of Tettenhall would be a good idea due to it’s national historic significance and, our head brewer is an Anglo Saxon re-enactor.

First step was to design a logo for the event. We’ve spoken about this in a previous blog which you can find here. Essentially it’s a design based around the few existing helmets from the period.

Wolves beer fest logo

Next came a t-shirt design, again more information on the development process can be found in this blog, but we wanted an action shot of the battle coupled with some background to the theme. After much tinkering this was the finished product, printed and co-sponsored by our good friends at Teet Shirts in Cradley Heath.

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So we had the t-shirt and the logo which was going on the glass and the poster.

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When we saw the poster we didn’t really feel it did justice to the logo so asked very nicely if the committee would mind us having a crack at the poster design. They were more that happy so long as we could get it finished by the next day. So, no pressure. We looked at other posters we liked from around the world and came up with the design you see below, incorporating the Saxon theme as well as hops, malt and a nod to the industrial heritage of the area.

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This was then translated into a separate cover for the festival program.

Wolves beer fest programme cover

After that came the beers. As you’ve probably already read, we produced two beers for the festival. One was brewed with the festival organisation committee and the other with members of the local dark ages re-enactment society, Svartland. We wanted to recreate the battle of Tettenhall, through beer, so we came up with these barrel end designs and matching voting cards. The idea being that members of the public could try both and vote for their favourite and at the end of the festival the winner of the battle could be decided.

Beer battle

To help promote the event in the local newspaper we invited our ‘Go To Guy’, Big Ben the medieval executioner, to join Tom in Dark Ages re-enactment kit and pose for a photo outside the venue with festival organiser, Shelly Bentley.


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To round off our participation in this year’s festival we’ll be behind the bar volunteering most days so please, come along, say hello and try our dark age ale this Thursday 12th, Friday 13th and Saturday 14th June at the Wulfrun Hall, Mitre Fold, Wolverhampton.

Dwarfs care a lot

Beer festival volunteering

Having spent last year visiting beer festivals where our ales were on sale and standing the drinking side of the bar we thought this year we’d make ourselves useful and volunteer.

We care a lot about our beers and peoples reactions to them. Sure it’s nice knowing they’ve been drunk but there’s nothing quite like having that face to face interaction and talking about the process of brewing; the ingredients that went into a particular brew or the story behind it. It also allows people to see the faces behind the brand and get a clearer idea of what we’re about (believe it or not, explaining you’re a Dwarfen brewery can be tricky at the best of times). To be honest, it’s also a lot of fun working on the bar and meeting those who’ve given up their time to put on these great events.

Recently we volunteered for a few hours at Coventry beer festival, held at the Rugby ground. We had the opportunity to send some beer to this small festival in 2013 but didn’t have anything spare. This year with our increased capacity we jumped at the chance to get over to Coventry and support the local CAMRA branch and pick their brains for potential new outlets in the city. As always it was great to meet some of the regular faces at CAMRA beer festivals, those conosiours who take every opportunity to sample something new. King Korvak’s Saga, our 5.4% porter was our weapon of choice for this festival and the feedback was fantastic.

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Later that day, although we didn’t have chance to volunteer, we popped into Walsall beer festival to lend our moral support (and money) to the CAMRA volunteers there, and again, see what the reaction to King Korvak’s Saga was. We’re pleased to say it was very good, an opinion backed up by Beer Beauty herself, Marverine Cole. We also met up with Big Ben (you’ll have seen him with us in the Express and Star newspaper promoting our Beard of the Year competition) who was proudly sporting one of our brewery t-shirts.

A week later we were at Stourbridge CAMRA’s beer festival in the town hall. This is a great local festival that supports local brewers and has many very enthusiastic volunteers only too happy to help those new to real ale and beer festivals to make an informed choice. As well as King Korvak’s Saga making another festival appearance it was the first outing for Maiden Meadow Mild, a 3.7% mild which was brewed in collaboration with Darren and Dawn Doughty. They’d won the brewer for a day experience at Dudley Winter Ale Fayre in November. Again there was some superb feedback on the mild, Wolverhampton and Dudley CAMRA members being amongst the most vocal in their appreciation.

Over the coming months the Dwarfs from Fownes brewery will be found volunteer and promoting their fine tipples at Wolverhampton, Kidderminster and Stafford CAMRA beer festivals as well as our own beer festival at the Jolly Crispin in celebration of Black Country Day. So if you see us stop and say hello, we’ve always got time to talk about our brews.

Frost Hammer Reborn

When we started the brewery just last year we had a pump clip made for each of the four ales we started with. These were produced by Rudd Macnamara in West Bromwich and were high end pump clips, individually cut out. Because of this we could have any shape we wanted which led to interesting designs we had.

With the increase in capacity we’ll soon have we needed pump clips that all fit into the same template. As the new designs are completed we’ll post picture of the old and new side by side along with some of the creation process.

 

Robin Hood Beer Festival

Today see’s the start of the Robin Hood Beer Festival at Nottingham Castle.

If you’re there over the next few days come along to see us on Bar E in the Everards Entertainment Zone. We’ll be volunteering on the bar throughout the event so try our ales and say hi.

On Thursday you’ll also have the opportunity to see our storyteller, John Edgar, performing tales of epic Dwarfen adventure and tragedy around the grounds.

This is what we’ve got on offer for you:

796 FIREBEARD’S OLD FAVOURITE No. 5 5.0% – Rich ruby mild full of malty flavour & fruity notes

797 FROST HAMMER : DWARFEN PALE ALE 4.6% – Light coloured pale ale with a bitter dryness

798 GOAT RIDER : PUMPKIN ALE 4.8% – Amber ale with smoked malt & pumpkin pie spices

799 TROLL HUNTER – AMERICAN PALE ALE 5.3% – Hopped from start to finish with a blend of US hops

800 GUNHILD : HONEY ALE 4.0% – A sweet honey ale with a floral aroma

801 KING KORVAK’S SAGA 5.4% – Traditional Porter with roast, chocolatey flavours

We look forward to seeing you there.

802 ULFSBERG CROSS – DWARFEN ALE 4.8% – Traditional British beer using Bramling Cross hops