Northern Helles down South
Michael Huddart27 August 2019
Sam talks about brewing ‘Northern Helles’ down South.
November 1st, 2018. Donzoko’s Reece (Reece is Donzoko, Donzoko is Reece) drove down from Hartlepool to Gipsy Hill, in South London, for a collaboration. We had a grand old time putting together one of the wackiest, technically complex beers we’ve ever done. The day went well. We chatted, exchanged ideas, tried beers, explored, and went our separate ways with a banger in tank. The day felt good, but it turns out it was the start of something much bigger than that.
Sometimes it’s tough to say exactly what I’m most excited about when I think about what Donzoko are doing. It could be that Reece is basically the nicest man in beer; or that his beers are up there with the best in the industry, thanks to production, process, chemistry and ingredients obsession; or even that he’s creating interest about a style of lager that hasn’t been seen since L&G starting pumping Keller Pils.
All of those are fantastic, but I think the one that gets me most pumped up is that, through good quality product, branding, industry presence and a bit of magic, he is making people, general, normal people, care more about craft beer, or quality beer.
As an industry, we need more Reeces. We need more game-changers. We need more people, products and brands who are pushing so hard that things change. We all benefit when they come along, as good quality craft beer sales go up, and the bad (not to mention the macro) gets squeezed out.
Reece doesn’t have a brewery (yet). He brews at a variety of different sites and drives the wort to his place for fermentation. It’s an efficient way of doing things, although hard work. He’s sold out of his beer many times over before he can supply all the places that would like to stock him.
So we’re brewing for Reece. We don’t really have any spare capacity, truth be told, and what little there is we could fill out with our own beers if we wanted. But we’re reserving a bit so we can brew for him once a month. So we can bring more top lager to London. So we can get more people interested in craft, quality beer. So we can start more conversations, create more awareness. So we can grow the craft community in the most positive way possible.
Seeing as this beer is mainly for London, we’ve agreed that we’ll distribute it. We’re distributing nearly 20 tonnes of beer into London every week anyway, what’s another 2-3. We cold store everything from the moment it’s packaged, and it stays cold until the moment it’s delivered. Better for the beer, better for beer drinkers, less carbon footprint per pint too.
So there we have it. We’re making Reece’s lager, Reece’s way. I can tell you it’s delicious. It’s kind of a new way of doing things. Not completely new, but in the craft-end of the beer world this doesn’t happen much. We’re friends brewing for each other to help each other out, and to get more top-drawer beer, and awareness, into the market. It’s breweries working together to deliver better value, better quality, lower footprint. I’m really excited to see this become a thing. Let’s see what else could happen.