We chat to Head Brewer Mark at the Powder Monkey Brewing Co to find out more about our favourite beer!
How did the business start? What are its roots?
Powder Monkey Brewing Co was formed by a team with over 100 years of experience with the goal of brewing beer of the highest quality and creating a visitor experience in one of the most unique sites for a brewery in the UK. When CEO Andy Burdon discovered the site he had the idea that it would be well suited for use as a brewery. Together with The Heritage Trust we have repurposed the building to showcase our state-of-the-art four-vessel brewhouse, all while maintaining the history and character of the site.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be Head Brewer?
I discovered a passion for great beer while studying for a master’s degree in biochemistry at Oxford University, spending too many nights in the local pubs! I dived straight into commercial brewing after I left university and found a career that fed my appetite for science and allowed me to be creative in designing new beers. After meeting Andy and fellow director Steve Thompson we designed the range of Hop & Hooker beers that Steve has given his name to and I jumped at the opportunity to join as Head Brewer as Powder Monkey Brewing Co was launching.
How did you decide on what to brew?
Our Hop & Hooker beers were conceptualised after a meeting with Steve based on the types of beer he enjoyed; ‘sessionable’ beers with flavour and substance. Designing the new Powder Monkey range I was given the freedom to create new recipes with a focus on quality. I enjoy discovering the history of a style of beer and reimagining them with creative twists. My background in biochemistry allows me to consider recipe design at a molecular level and try to get the best from our ingredients.
What ingredients do you use for the beers?
A lot of our beers are brewed using only water, malt, hops and yeast with a focus on quality ingredients, used well. However, we also have special beers that use adjuncts such as our Breakfast Stout which is brewed with Brazilian coffee beans that we source from a local roastery in Hampshire. As we brew more beers the range of ingredients will no doubt grow – great beers are born where science meets creativity!
Can you tell us a little about your new premises?
Dating back to 1878 and now disused for several years, the former gun powder store ‘E-Magazine’ in Priddy’s Hard has been transformed into our brewery HQ. The original features of the building are on display throughout the on-site tasting bar with the bays that were previously used to store gunpowder now used as seating areas. The brewery site maintains the character of the building with the modern brewhouse fitted amongst the striking architecture. We have now also opened our sea-front Taphouse just across from the brewery based in a former naval shell store where a range of beers and food will be available.
How are you using your beer in food?
Some of our customers have been showcasing their culinary skills designing recipes with the beers that we have been producing on our pilot system while our new brewhouse is being installed. You can see some examples over on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
What sets Powder Monkey apart from others?
Powder Monkey has created one of the most unique brewery sites and visitor experiences in the UK and now we are brewing the beers to match!
Can you give me a quick run-down on each of the beers and their tasting notes?
Hop & Hooker Pale Ale showcases Cascade hops, a touch of Caramalt provides body and a hint of sweetness that balances the bitterness while still letting the Cascade hops sing with a citrus fruit and slightly floral aroma and a clean, refreshing finish.
Hop & Hooker Amber Ale is a smooth and moreish amber ale with a toffee and caramel backbone from the layers of crystal malt. UK hops provide a delicate fruit aroma and a bitterness that combines with a slight dryness from the biscuit malt to give a thirst-quenching finish.