Let us tell you what makes our Dwarfen Ales great.
It’s not that they’re the hoppiest, although we use whole leaf hops, selected from the finest hop yards in the UK.
It’s not the quality of the malts used, but we do use heritage products such as Maris Otter and the finest speciality malts from Germany and Belgium.
It’s not that they’re the best, however in the 4 years since we started brewing we’ve won 6 local and regional awards.
It’s not their rarity, that said there are only 10 casks of each beer brewed at a time.
No, it’s the investment; ours and yours.
We invest in British Hop Farmers, championing new and experimental hop varieties before they’re commercially available and contracting years in advance to allow their businesses to be sustainable.
We invest in malts that have been developed specifically for great flavour when brewing beer and trusted for over 50 years.
We invest our time in sending our Dwarfen Ales to CAMRA beer festivals to have the opportunity to be voted on by the public.
We invest ourselves in developing relationships with great people who’re running award winning community venues, so that when they supply our beer it’s in the best hands it can be and supports local jobs.
And the greatest investment of all; yours.
You’ve sought out our ales.
You’ve made the effort to discern the best places to drink.
You’ve left the comfort of your home to invest your time in the company of others.
You’ve embraced a brand proud of it’s epic storytelling and superb artwork.
You’ve spent your hard earned money on a premium product that can only be purchased from great gathering places of the community.
Only then do all of our investments pay off, at the moment you begin to savour our full bodied, flavoursome, hand forged beverages.
From the first twitching of your nose at the hop aroma, through the explosion of flavours across your tongue, the lingering sensation on the roof of your mouth to the last drop running out of the tankard, filling you with excitement as you head back to the bar for another.
If you’ve met Tom, our (not so) Dwarfen brewer, you would be hard pressed to believe his reaction to the news that his favourite beer had just been judged to be the best porter in the West Midlands.
But before we get to that, let’s take a step back in time to end of 2014. CAMRA (the campaign for real ale) holds an annual competition called Champion Beer of Britain, CBOB for short. A lengthy process that begins toward the end of a year when it’s members are given the opportunity to vote for their favourite beers, in each style category, brewed within their region.
Once this data is collated, the branches within the region apply to host the second stage of the competition, whereby the top six beers in a style are ordered for their festivals, blind tasted by a panel of CAMRA volunteers, brewers and local dignitaries. This is the stage we arrived at. And on this occasion, the panel of judges declared that King Korvak’s Saga was the superior beverage amongst its peers.
Getting to this stage was no mean feat. The first stage of the competition relies on CAMRA members voting for beers they enjoy. So, in the case of a large regional brewery like Wye Valley or Salopian, they produce large volumes of beer and distribute it through a lot of outlets and advertise heavily in CAMRA publications. Lots of real ale drinkers will definitely have heard of these breweries and more than likely tried their beers. We, on the other hand, produce only 9 firkins of each beer a month which are distributed to a select group of hand picked pubs who exclusively supply our beer in their area. If you don’t go to one of these pubs, or try our ales at a beer festival then you aren’t likely to have heard of us. This was why it such a wonderful opportunity, not only getting to take part in a major competition but knowing that there is a small group of loyal fans out there who are doing their best to spread the word about our Dwarfen brewery.
On Thursday 25th June, at Finstall Park Rugby Club, Bromsgrove CAMRA opened their summer beer festival and hosted the West Midlands, Champion Beer of Britain porters competition. At the time the winners were announced, we were standing in the evening sun, outside the marquee, straining our ears to hear the results. Third place was announced, it wasn’t us. I had butterflies and Tom the brewer looked a little tense. Second place was announced, it wasn’t us. I was resigned to having not even placed while Tom was on tender hooks. So when first place was announced, I would have gone into shock, if not for what happened next. Upon realising he’d won, Tom sprinted off in the direction of the marquee. I’ve never seen him move so fast. I half expected him to run to the stage and take a bow. But no, he just kept running, completing a lap of the tent, arms held high and bellowing woohoo! Seconds later he was back by my side looking very pleased with himself. Not quite the composed response I’d imagined but there was no denying he was over the moon.
So what’s next? King Korvak’s Saga will go to Dudley Winter Ale Fayre to be judged against all the other winners from different beer styles from the region to determine the Champion Beer of the West Midlands. There will be a certificate presented to us at the region prize giving at the Bartons Arms in Birmingham on 28th December and after that Korvak will go to Derby Winter Ale Fayre in February to compete against the winning porters from around the UK.
Thank you to everyone who voted for our beers at the end of last year and look forward to continuing to enjoy your support.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Korvak’s Triumph – 5.2% Honey Porter was voted LocAle Beer of the Festival by the public at Kidderminster CAMRA’s event.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So we had the t-shirt and the logo which was going on the glass and the poster.
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.
This was then translated into a separate cover for the festival program.
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.
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.
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.
For a Dwarf, a facial hair is a sacred blessing, bestowed upon them by the Gods. They take immense pride in it’s lusciousness, length and styling. So the thought of shaving is quite horrific. But, Broddr and a team of human’s banded together during the month of Movember to raise money and awareness for mens cancers and mental health.
Led by James Fownes, his MO Bros Owain Millard, Chris East, Carl Henrik Padget, Tom Catton, Tony Sambrooks and Tony Colpitts, and MO Sista Linda Fownes spent the month raising money from friends, family and the general public by selling cakes, biscuits or a stroke of their mighty moustache.
Chris East was our Man of Movember raising £160. In return for his fundraising efforts he’s received 5 adopted Fownes brewery casks and the opportunity to spend a day brewing his own beer. Linda Fownes was our Lady of Movember having raised and donated £40.
We’d like to thank everyone for supporting our fundraising efforts and donating so generously. The final amount raised was over £600 which along with the millions raised by MO Bros and MO Sistas across the globe will go to mens cancer and mental health charities. In the UK the main bulk of the money will be going to Prostate Cancer UK.
Hopefully next year there’ll be many more people onboard with Broddr’s Brewery Team and we’ll raise even more for this excellent charity
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.
Having ordered 14 casks of beer from us we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to go and promote our beers and brand, so from Wednesday through to Saturday we stood in front of our casks and introduced the discerning public to the marvels of Dwarfen Ale.
We knew we were off to a good start when CAMRA volunteers who’d been to the newly opened, by our friends at Lincoln Green Brewery, Falcon Inn in Canning Circus earlier in the week were coming up to us and saying how much they’d enjoyed Gunhild (a conversation which continued after they tried our other ales).
We’d sent 6 casks of beer to Nottingham last year and had been delighted to discover that when we arrived on the Saturday that nearly all of it had gone. And when there are over a 1000 beers on offer that’s not something to be taken lightly. But just to ensure it wasn’t beginners luck we went back bigger and bolder this year.
We were lucky enough to have with us Suzy, beer writer and Fownes Brewery groupie, for the duration of the event, enticing drinkers to our ales and ensuring they got a beer that suited their palate. In addition to Suzy we had other volunteers all too happy to wear Fownes merchandise and recommend our beers.
Among the most popular of the Dwarfen ales were Gunhild, Honey Ale, and Troll Hunter, an American style pale ale, 18 gallons of both were gone by late Friday afternoon. In the section of bar we occupied was a significant choice of dark beers and porters but when put to the taste test 9 out of 10 humans preferred King Korvak’s Saga. Goat Rider, our seasonal pumpkin ale, was completely devoured early on Saturday closely followed by Frost Hammer, leaving Firebeard’s Old Favourite No.5 and Ulfsberg Cross to satisfy the late crowd on Saturday.
Some of the most enjoyable elements of the week included the food and the folks we met. Catering at the festival was superb, providing a wide range of exotic meats that were right up any dwarfs alley. We sampled elk, springbok, wild boar, bison, zebra, venison, lama and wagyu beef although the highlight was a bison burger with stilton cheese melted on top. In terms of the folks we met there was of course all the Nottingham CAMRA members who’d been to visit the brewery a few weeks earlier as well as those we’d met at the Salmon in Leicester. Nigel Barker from the Wellington in Birmingham popped by to say hello as did Martin from Black Country Ales. Both Sadler’s and Craddock’svisited our bar and sampled our ales. There were also a number of Games Workshop staff on a work social who came over to see what was going on with our heroic beers and were excited by the prospect of drinking Dwarfen ale. We also met up with the organisers of Birmingham Beer Festival which we’re sending beer to and a nice man from Google who offered to map the inside of our brewery to add to Google Street View. Thank you to everyone who came and said hello. Lots of local people at the event were so impressed with our beers that they wanted to know where they could get them and we were only to happy to point them in the direction of the Falcon Inn which handily had an advert on the page next to our listing.
Never ones to pass up an opportunity to grab entrants for our Beard of the Yearwe were amazed at just how many beards there were so restricted ourselves to just inviting those who drank our beer to enter. The best find of the event was when we looked down the bar and saw a familiar beard. After a short introduction we discovered that it was indeed Big Ben the Executioner, a beard who’d be sent to us at the Wolverhampton beer festival but who we’d never met. You know it’s an impressive beard when you can spot it in a crowd.
On Thursday we also took Story John along with us to mingle with the drinkers and astound them with tales of Dwarfen legend and humour. He worked a difficult crowd at times but those who were enthralled by the tales came and sought out the beer and stayed for a chat. Thursday also saw us find our best customer. In a festival of over a 1000 beers, she decided early on in the day that Goat Rider was clearly as good as it was going to get and over the course of the afternoon must have partaken of about 3 pints, a third at a time. Saturday afternoon was Ladies Day on the bar and there was no shortage of volunteers wanting to get their hands on the very limited number of t-shirts we’d taken with us.
This years festival also had an app, enabling the drinkers who found it (or were so inclined) to rate the beers they’d tried and share their thoughts. Below are a selection of screen shots from the app. To put the number of votes in context, most of the bigger breweries didn’t get many more votes for an individual beer. Out of 28,000 visitors it could have perhaps done with better advertising.
It was an amazing week with fabulous feedback and some great fun along the way. But it wouldn’t be have been complete without our friends at Lincoln Green Brewery who not only stored and delivered our beer but also showed us great hospitality by putting us up for the week. Cheers guys.
We’re already looking forward to next years event and other opportunities we get to visit Nottingham and it’s CAMRA members.
Volunteers at the festival were invited to attend the award presentation at our brewery tap where they had the opportunity to tour the brew house, talk to us about our business, which has been located at the Jolly Crispin for a year, and hear performances form local story teller John Edgar.
James said, ‘We’re delighted to have won. It means a lot to know that people who tried our porter liked it above everything else they sampled and then voted.”
Part of the award involved a shield featuring previous winners. It was an honour to be in the company of such local legends as Sarah Highes Ruby Mild and Bathams Bitter.
Wolverhampton CAMRA presented the brothers with an award for beer of the festival at the end of July, the winning brew that time, Korvak’s Triumph, a seasonal porter. “ When we started my aim was to get more people drinking dark beers and these two awards from the public tell me we’re heading in the right direction.” Said Thomas who develops the recipes.
Tomorrow we are brewing the first of two bespoke beers for Companis, a nomadic curatorial and artistic practice based in Birmingham.
The recipes have been developed in conjunction with an artist involved in the event and will be available on Saturday 14th September at Edible Eastside in Birmingham. Once the beers have been brewed we’ll bring you more information on them and what you can expect.
Check out the website for more information and tickets.