In it’s 4th year, the event has moved to a new venue, Asgard Games in Walsall.
Competing this year are 1st year champions, The Crispin Crusaders coached by our Brewer; The Bodacious Bunnies coached by Jess; Morgrim’s Marauders coached by Chris and The Lustrian Lovelies coached by Paul.
There’ll be prizes for Best Painted Team, Most Sporting Player, First Place and Runner Up. Top prize is a custom made Blood Bowl field, with other prizes including t-shirts and mugs.
The beer will be flowing, for ticket holders, Crash Ball 3.8%, Frost Hammer 4.6% and King Korvak’s Saga (Champion Porter of the West Midlands) 5.4%.
The 4th Crash Ball Tournament has broken for lunch. At the end of the first matches the results table is:
It’s looking like the Crispin Crusaders may have indulged too much with their own beverages while the Bodacious Bunnies are storming ahead. Close behind are the Lustrian Lovelies and it all comes down to this match.
The 2016 Crash Ball Tournament has come to an end.
First Prize goes to Paul coaching the Lustrian Lovelies who also picks up the prize for Best Painted Team.
Runner Up certificate goes to Jess coaching the Bodacious Bunnies.
Most Sporting Player award goes to Chris leading Morgrim’s Marauders.
Thank you to everyone who took part and we look forward to seeing more of you next year.
2014 will be the third year we’ve taken part in the Nottingham CAMRA beer and cider festival.
The first year we’d been brewing for a few months and were on the look out for anywhere to get some exposure. We approached Steve Westby at Nottingham CAMRA assuming it was a festival on a par with others we’d visited. To our surprise his response to “we’ve got these three beers available” was, “great, I’ll take at least two of each.” At the time this was a rather daunting response, not knowing anything about the festival or it’s organiser and coupled with only producing twelve casks a week, it was rather a lot of beer to potentially not get paid for. So we contacted our good friend Anthony Hughes who runs Lincoln Green Brewery based in Hucknall, Nottingham. He proceed to explain the scale of The Robin Hood beer festival and the ambitions of its organiser. Feeling far more comfortable we left delivery of our six firkins in the hands of Anthony and visited the festival on the Saturday to see how things were going. To our delight, most of our beer had sold out before we’d arrived which gave us a massive boost in confidence for the products we were creating.
Bouyed up by our perceived success we set out to make the second year an even bigger affair. We arranged with the organisers to take a total of fourteen firkins from us in 2013 and that we would come along for the week with friends and volunteer on our section of bar, extolling the virtues of Dwarfen ale. So with the help of Suzy (Pub Geek) Aldridge, who took a week off work to lend an experience barmaid’s hand to the proceedings, we did just that. We had wanted to have an army of friends there every day, wearing specially designed t-shirts but alas, as is usually the case, cash flow didn’t permit. Having seen and heard first hand the positive feedback from drinkers and making many new friends it turned into a wonderful week promoting the brewery and our brand.
So here we are in 2014, just getting ready to head out Nottingham castle for this year’s event. We’ve got the same number of beers on sale, Suzie is back again to lend her support and this time not only do we have specially made t-shirts (in very loud orange promoting our new regular outlet in Nottingham but stickers too! Working within our budget, we can’t afford to spend £500 on t-shirts to kit out a hundred volunteers (spectacular as it is, Wolverhampton beer festival got a that honour this year and Nottingham just isn’t that big of a market for us but 10 volunteers over the weekend should do the job) and we’ve always been a bit envious of Blue Monkey going round rubber stamping customers. But we didn’t want to go round branding people so we went for the next best thing, stickers! If you follow our Facebook page you’ll have noticed the competition we ran for suggestions on witty tag lines to include on the badges, the winning ones being used as their creators rewarded with beer.
The four stickers you’ll see say, “Dwarfen Ale – It’ll put hairs on your chin’, ‘Dwarfen Ale – Not short on taste”, ‘Fownes Brewing Co. – Our ales Dwarf all others’ and ‘Fownes Brewing Co. – Brewers of Epic Tales’. The design of the stamp is based on our soon to be rolled out wave two of cask adoptions and they were printed by our new friends at CS Labels in Willenhall who’ll be printing our bottle labels soon.
The aim will be to sticker customers and send them down to the bar to try the Dwarfen ales and hopefully get them to remember us long enough to like the Facebook page or visit the website, (if that’s why you’re reading this now, hello).
Last year, all fourteen of our casks had sold out by early Saturday afternoon. This year we’re aiming for the end of Friday, so if you fancy a Goat Rider or a Troll Hunter you’d best not dilly dally in the top tent and get straight down to the Entertainment tent and say hello.
On a clear but blustery day the Dwarfs have been toiling since before sunrise.
Their goal? To create this year’s limited edition batch of the famous winter warmer, Leviathan.
Leviathan is a 7.0% winter warmer with a complex malty body and packed with traditional Christmas spices, vanilla and orange zest. It’s as thick and dark as the depth in which the terrifying creature, feared by sea faring Dwarfs, resides.
The tale of Leviathan will be told throughout November and December in weekly installments so be sure to keep your eyes on the website and Facebook page.
Brewed in September, the ale is then matured in the cask for two months, allowing the beer to fully develop and round out it’s massive flavours.
Often described as Christmas in a glass, Leviathan will be on sale in pubs from the end of November.
Want to savour the experience at home? A very limited edition of bottle conditioned and hand numbered bottles will be available to purchase direct from the brewery. So if you’re interested get in touch.
In that time we’ve accomplished so much and to celebrate we had a beer festival.
The Hart of the Mountain Dwarfen pub was set up The Jolly Crispin and featured 12 of our greatest real ales, brewed right here in the Black Country. There was also the chance to try our Black Country Day beer, Tekin Wammal o’er Lezza, 4.4% and made with British hops.
On the Friday evening Wolverhampton CAMRA presented our award for Beer of the Festival at this year’s festival. There were tales from Story John and cake.
On the Saturday you could hear all of our epic tales performed by Story John as well as some new ones.
Due to popular demand we had a new limited edition second anniversary t-shirts on sale.
Thanking you personally for your continuedsupport.
So, how about that? We’re proud to announce, that for the second year running, the Fownes Brewing Co. was voted by the public as having the best beer at Wolverhampton CAMRA’s 39th Beer Festival.
It was a tiring week for the Dwarfs but we can’t complain, there were other volunteers doing much longer shifts than ours both on the bar and behind the scenes.
It all began on Tuesday. We headed over to the Wulfrun Hall, four casks of ale in tow. Tom had his Viking kit bag with him and not long after he was joined by Big Ben our bearded buddy. While I helped with the festival set up, Tom and Ben got to work posing with Shelly the festival organiser. With all the publicity out of the way we finished helping with the set up and headed back to the brewery.
Arriving at around 4pm on Thursday we handed over the box of volunteers t-shirts we’d sponsored and collected from Teet Shirts in Cradley Heath and rushed to check on our babies, I mean beer. All were good to go except the Anglo Saxon Pride. It was close, but not quite polished. Based on that we advised the bar manager that we’d prefer it if the Svartland Viking was held back as well until the Friday because we really felt they needed to be sold as a pair. Once the festival opened it’s doors we stood behind the bar, selling our wares and chatting to the public about the beers. Come 8pm our feet were done so we headed home.
Friday saw the battle of the beers commence. Armed with a ballot box and a pile of voting cards we unleashed Svartland Viking and Anglo Saxon Pride on an unsuspecting public. While the Saxon beer initially seemed the more popular, being the paler of the two ales, once people got into the concept of the recreating the battle of Tettenhall through ale they evened out in terms of sales. The main feedback we received was that both were excellent, but the Viking mild was just a bit ‘tastier’. The t-shirts that we’d had printed for the merchandise stand were very desirable and had all sold out by 3pm! Apparently this doesn’t normally happen.
By 5pm Gunhild had been drunk dry much to the disappointment of drinkers later in the evening. Anglo Saxon Pride followed not long after, then by 10pm all four casks were dead.
First stop on Saturday morning was the brewery to pick up another cask of each of the festival beers for a second day of voting. While our brewer delivered those to the Wulfrun Hall I stayed behind at the brewery to host the first of our brewery tours. Having the beer back on sale was essential for when Svartland Viking Dark Ages Re-enactors arrived at 4pm. Their role was to chat to the public, increase awareness of the festivals theme and encourage punters to take part in deciding the outcome of the battle. Today the sales of Svartland Viking and Anglo Saxon Pride were more balanced with both running out by 6pm.
Around 7pm the votes had been counted for both the Battle of Tettenhall beers and the Beer of the Festival as voted for by the public. The clash between the Vikings and the Saxons was incredibly close but on this occasion the Vikings were able to over run the Saxons by a slim majority of 8 votes. As for the Beer of the Festival awarded by Wolverhampton CAMRA to the ale with the most public votes we were on tender hooks. The top 3 beers were read out, only issue being that third place was a tie between 5 different beers. Six beers in and no mention of us, our hearts sank a little only to be lifted high by the announcement that we were first! This was a big shock as we never expected to win two years in a row. The winning beer was King Korvak’s Saga – 5.4% Porter, a beverage that had served us well at Stafford beer festival the previous year. Much to our delight we later found out that all 4 of our beers had featured in the top 15 beers voted for by the public, an amazing achievement given there were 75 different beers on sale.
Sunday was a bit of a come down when we returned to the brewery to find out some disgruntled football fans had vandalised the front of the brewery. But we soldiered on, took some beer to the volunteers’ post-festival party then collapsed while enjoying Father’s Day.
Wolverhampton CAMRA will be making the presentation of the certificate on Friday 11th July during the start of our beer festival celebrating our second anniversary at the Jolly Crispin, Gornal. We’ve already cleared a space to display the shield for another 12 months.
Soon it will be June and we all know what that means.
Why it’s the Wolverhampton CAMRA Beer Festivalof course. It takes place from Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th June 2014 at the Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton city centre.
Now, this is a festival very near and dear to us, not only because of the support given to us by the branch volunteers but it was the venue of our first ever award. Back in June 2013 we were fortunate enough to have Korvak’s Triumph – Honey Porter 5.2% voted beer of the festival by the public. So to repay the branch for hosting this great event and therefore allowing us the opportunity to showcase our ales and porters we decided to sponsor this year’s festival’s staff t-shirts.
Now for a small brewery such as ours thats quite a large chunk of money so we wanted to make sure we felt we were contributing to the whole process and having some creative input. So we suggested that if the branch went with a particular theme for the festival then we’d be able to provide suitable artwork and expertise. And they kindly agreed. So the theme for the 39th Wolverhampton CAMRA beer festival is… the Battle of Tettenhall.
Let us provide some context. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Wolverhampton, Tettenhall is a small village about 2 miles away from the beer festival venue and most widely know for its location atop a steep ridge referred to as the Rock. In 910 AD a battle took place against the rock face between the Vikings and the Saxons (more on that in a bit). Our Head Brewer, Tom, is part of a local Dark Age re-enactment group called Svartland Living History so the theme is very close to his heart and something he’s done a bit of research on. Stylistically our brand draws heavily from the artefacts of this time period so it was something we believed we could produce some eye catching artwork for and still being historically accurate.
As recorded in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle the Battle of Tettenhall took place on 5 August 910 when the allied forces of Mercia and Wessex met an army of Northumbrian Vikings who had travelled up the River Severn to raid Mercia.
Although they were outnumbered the Anglo-Saxons slaughtered many thousands of Vikings, including the Kings at the head of the Viking army. Following the defeat of this army and the depletion of the Northmen, coupled with the rise of the house of Wessex, England was soon unified under one Anglo-Saxon monarch laying the foundation of the country that we know today.
So as you can see, a very significant event not only locally but with repercussions throughout history.
We began by creating a logo for the festival, something that would convey the theme and grounded in history so we went with a helmet. Now it turns out that complete examples of helmets from this time period are almost non existent so the specifics of designs are sketchy. Being that as it may we took what was available and came up with this.
The image was created using a lino cut, a method of relief printing that we’ve used on many of our own t-shirt designs as it allows for a distinct style that can easily be reproduced using silk screen printing. The figure on the nose guard was extrapolated from designs featuring images of Christ on helmets as by this point most of the British Isles had converted to Christianity.
For the t-shirt design we enlisted the help of Svartland to pose for photos. While there were many great poses the one chosen by the festival planning committee featured a Viking wielding a Dane Axe (an axe head on the end of a very long shaft) bringing it down upon a shield. The t-shirts are being printed by local Black Country company Teet Shirts, famous for their Black Country dialect tees.
As well as sponsoring over a hundred volunteer staff’s t-shirts we also offered the festival planning committee the opportunity to brew a special beer for the event, which they nearly snapped our hands off at the chance to do. Then Tom had an idea and a rather good one at that. The theme is a battle between the Vikings and the Saxons, so why not have two special beers for the festival? The Saxon beer will be brewed with Wolverhampton CAMRA and the Viking beer will be brewed by the re-enactors from Svartland. Both beers will be available side by side at the festival with customers encouraged to try both, vote for their favourite and thereby recreating the battle at the beer festival.
To get drinkers to the festival we’ve also designed the poster for the beer festival. Using the festival logo combined with images of hops and barley, then adding some typography inspired by other great festivals form around the world.
Members from Svartland will be around at the festival, greeting guests at the door and will be more than happy to explain more about Viking era Britain.
Soon we’ll be celebrating our second anniversary and it’s come to our attention recently that lots of the people who really should have heard of us, haven’t.
This might not have been so surprising if we didn’t have so many fans or people telling us they love our beers and brand.
So we’re setting you a challenge, to see if you can tell as many people as possible, especially those working in pubs, about the Fownes Brewery and it’s Dwarfs.
We’ll judge how hard you’ve been working based on future responses to us visiting landlords to sell them our fine Dwarfen Ales.
But what can you say about our brewery that would be of interest? Well, here are a list of facts about the Fownes Brewery that might help you.
Since we started brewing commercially 2 years ago we’ve:
– grown a family business. Brothers James and Thomas Fownes have gone from 1/2 a brewers barrel in July 2012 to brewing 9 brewers barrels a week.
– created 30 different products including bitters, ruby ales, porters, honey ale and wheat beer.
– written stories about characters we’ve created, including Master Brewer Broddr Firebeard, to accompany all our Dwarfen ales as well as producing all our own artwork.
– had 300 t-shirts printed including ones specifically for the ladies.
– used 23varieties of hops, 15 of those grown in the UK. We’re strong supporters of British growers and want to support new breeds of hops being developed at home. We strive to work with our hop merchant to try new hops during development.
– used 10 varieties of malt from the UK and Germany.
– brewed 31,500 litres of beer. That’s 55,432 pints! Of those 55,432 pints, 20,200 have been Crispin’s Ommer, house bitter at our brewery tap The Jolly Crispin in Gornal.
– contributed over £11,000 to the UK Treasury in Beer Duty.
– had Crispin’s Ommer on sale at the House of Commons thanks to Ian Austin MP for Dudley North.
– begun bottling our beers and they’ll be in specialist off licenses in the summer of 2014.
– appeared in the local newspaper 15times and been interviewed by local radio stations.
– sent beer to9 different CAMRA branches beer festivals from Bristol to Nottingham.
– won 2 beer of the festival awards: Wolverhampton and Stafford CAMRA.
– sponsored a 100 t-shirts at Wolverhampton CAMRA’s 39th beer festival in 2014 as well as creating the artwork for both the t-shirts and logo.
– distributed over 10,000 beer mats.
– hosted a range of events in pubs we supply including tabletop Dwarfen rugby and storytelling evenings at the Wheatsheaf, Walsall; Ladies Ale Tasting Evening and meet the hop grower at the Jolly Crispin, Gornal; presentations on our brand and artwork in Nottingham and meet the brewer nights at lots of pubs including the Salmon, Leicester.
So next time you’re down the pub, tell the bar staff, the landlord, the person drinking next to you and anyone else who’ll listen about the brewers of epic tales in Gornal.
On Friday 18th October we headed 3 hours down the motorway to the town of Warminster to visit one of our suppliers. We love having the opportunity to visit our suppliers and see where our raw ingredients have come from, so when Warminster Maltings invited us to their open day we jumped at the chance.
The malstings incorporates the original victorian buildings alongside additions that have been made over time. The methods they use are unchanged and they are one of the few remaining floor maltings in the UK.
The day begun with us hearing about the improvements that have been made to the premises over the last 12 months.
It almost brings a tear to the eye. As we approach the one year anniversary of selling our first cask of beer we’ve received the fabulous news that Korvak’s Triumph, our seasonal honey porter, has won beer of the festival at Wolverhampton.
After achieving second place at Walsall beer festival back in April, we were delighted to be voted number one this weekend at the Wulfrun Hall.
It comes as a confirmation that investing in a larger brewhouse is the correct decision and that from August there will be real ale drinkers across the region waiting to try Dwarfen Ales accompanied by Epic Tales.
We’d like to thank everyone for their support over the last year, for spreading the word about the Dwarfen brewery on the ridge in Gornal, drinking each new brew we’ve released and giving us their feedback. The future is looking very exciting.