Chiltern Brewery is the brewery where David Smith arranged for me to work in order to gain some professional experience after taking his course. It's in a region of England called the Chilterns, which are rolling hills northwest of London. Beautiful scenery, and a major metropolitan area to provide plenty of weekenders, make for a good location for a brewery.
David made a thoughtful choice when he arranged for me to work at Chiltern. There are a lot of parallels between our plans, and what they've accomplished since their founding way back in 1980. Richard and Lesley Jenkinson founded the brewery, turning their backs on their urban London existence, embracing their love of beer and converting an old farm into a brewery. Their mission was to brew delicious, interesting beers using only English ingredients. 33 years later, and that's what they are doing at Chiltern every day. These guys are craft beer pioneers. Richard and Lesley's son Tom grew up running around the brewery and today he runs it. The beers he creates are by and large traditional English fare, but they are anything but boring.
Starting a brewery under the Farm Brewery license here in New York gives us similar self-imposed limitations to the all English ingredients mantra at Chiltern. The brewers in the UK are blessed by having what many consider to be the world's best malt at their fingertips. English hops are great too, but a lot of British brewers are currently tantalizing their customers' taste buds with real ale recipes spiced up with loads of new world hops. To compete with the exotic flavors of New Zealand and Washington State the brewers at Chiltern rely on their unique yeast strain to build balanced and creative beers using time tested, traditional English ingredients. It works. They also have a really unique barrel program that I'll write about in a future post.
I learned a lot and gained a lot of inspiration working at Chiltern. After almost a month of working back here in the USA, reclaiming the old farm that will house Griffin Hill, and getting our hop yard going, I miss having a delicious pint of cask-conditioned Chiltern Ale at the end of a long day of work. That's why the first beer I brewed since we got back was a traditional English Mild...brewed with all New York State grown ingredients!*
*Well, almost all . The US grown Fuggles hops I used were grown out west. Our Fuggle plants are looking great though. Oh yeah, and I tossed in a little bit of Crystal Malt from out west too.