Our latest release; Our Finest Regards – is another recipe that has evolved with me and Martha over the past decade. Originally it was a winter release at our former brewery – now we’ve slotted it in early Spring to give those who want a chance to wait on it and drink over the Winter holidays.
OFR is definitely one of our favourite beers to work on. In America, “barleywines”, while ticking the “strong” box heavily are basically a type of boozy, sticky-sweet IPA. They’re alright I guess, but the sort of barleywines that I associate with the British Isles are far more magical. And before you say it, I’m not talking about the cheap corner shop variety of barleywines. I’m talking J.W. Lees Harvest Ale & Thomas Hardy sort of barleywines. That is the inspiration we start with, but you know we don’t believe there’s actually such a thing as “beer styles”. So we make it as we want but with great respect. We think a barleywine should be a tribute to barley. So no offense hops but you should be riding in the rumble seat in these beers.
Over the years the beer itself has gone dark, then more reddish, almost pink and then dark again. In 2013 I declared that I had “perfected” the beer and then promptly lost my recipe notes and brewsheet. It used to contain one whole acre of barley. Now in its smaller batch size who knows? But the essence of what OFR is, both intentionally and not, has never changed. In fact the important malts never change. It still and always tastes like OFR.
This year is the ultimate privilege – brewing OFR in the country who’s beer inspired it in the first place. I even think I found my “perfected” recipe buried in a box. Most of the consequential malt in this beer came from Thomas Fawcett & Sons from nearby in Castleford (as it always has), and the local water profile was mostly untouched by my fiddling. So to me this is a fantastic real example of OFR in Sheffield. We really hope you enjoy this one.
2021 OFR is back in the dark. In fact it may be darker than ever. I attribute that to the accumulation of slightly darker base malts here in the UK, a high mash pH and the freely-swinging bat that is “SMOD”. If held up to the light in a stemmed glass, the beer glows red at the edges and fades into darkness as you move deeper. There is no crystal malt in this beer, just lovely pale and roasted malts and only the tiniest amount of sugar for gravity correction. The finished beer is a malty beauty with notes of green apple, marzipan, toffee, malted milk balls, dark fruit, toasted sultanas, figs…
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