At DEYA, sometimes dialing it back means dialing it in
Wait, what… could it be that the holidays are almost.. actually, pretty much here?! Store aisles are packed with Christmas trees and decor, gift catalogs are piling up, and the best part—gathering together with family and friends for festive fun!
It’s the time of year for raising a glass of beer with holiday cheer. And if you’re looking to go the distance this holiday season, might we suggest augmenting your bevvy lineup with some lower-ABV offerings that are still full of flavor, yet allow you to have several as you celebrate the season with loved ones.
We caught up with Gareth Moore, head brewer at UK-based DEYA Brewing, to get his take on low ABV and how he has utilized our new hop Lórien to deliver full flavor in an extremely crushable 2.8% table beer called Shadows of Conversation.
“In the UK, we’ve always had the tradition of family breweries making everyday beer that people drink for hydration and refreshment,” states Moore. “In this generation, before American pale ales and IPAs were on the scene in the UK, 5% was considered a strong beer to the average person in the pub. Having a 6% beer, my dad and his generation would consider that crazy strong!”
Moore’s dad now has plenty of 5% and above beers to sip on. Partly because DEYA is located in Moore’s hometown. It was founded in 2015 by Theo Freyne who had a vision of bringing American beer and beer culture to the UK countryside and serving that beer direct to consumer in a destination taproom. When Moore caught wind that a new brewery was coming to town, he sent Freyne a “welcome to the neighborhood” note, and that led to beers. “It was clear [Theo] had a big vision,” Moore recalls. “I thought I should try and work for this guy so I asked if he needed a brewer. And then things happened…”
After securing a 4000 square foot industrial space in Cheltenham, Freyne shifted focus and for their first year, Freyne and Moore worked on perfecting a recipe for what quickly became the highest rated pale in the UK on Untappd. “We spent the first year pretty much just brewing Steady Rolling Man,” states Moore. “Getting to know one recipe and beer inside out has several advantages—consistency, smoother workflow, plant optimisation, more buying power for the best raw materials.”
For sourcing Indie Hop varieties in the UK, DEYA relies on Loughran Brewing Stores for two main reasons: “quality of ingredients and reliability. The first reason is the most important. The hops we get via Loughran are top notch, the pellets are always of the highest quality, soft, oily and delicious smelling. Reliability is also very important, we plan our production a few months in advance so having the confidence to organise things and then know they are going to arrive on time is a great time and stress saver.”
Today, DEYA continues to perfect a solid lineup of offerings and understandably has a cult following for their distinctive house style—“pale ales that are soft, juicy and extremely hoppy.” They continue to focus on “freshness and clarity of aroma and flavour,” and all of their offerings are unfiltered and unpasteurized.
Even though they made a name for themselves in the pale ale category, DEYA still prioritizes having a spectrum of beers that satisfies all palates. “We’re in a small town and located on an industrial estate. All are welcome in our taproom, and we have lots of family groups coming. We want to promote an atmosphere of conviviality. Lower ABV beers are important for that.”
“We like ‘sensible’ strength beers to drink, and when Indie Hops told us about Lórien it seemed like the perfect hop for a lower ABV table beer,” says Moore. “Shadows of Conversation is very popular with our customers and also an in-house favourite. Hitting both those demographics is one of the marks of a good beer.
“Lórien is great! I tell everyone I can about it, and I hope we get to see more beers using it,” states Moore. “Lórien is not as intense as Mosaic, Citra, Galaxy. But it’s really, really interesting. The character I get most from Lórien is nectarine and strawberry, very distinctive and somewhat uncommon in hop aroma. As well as fruity, slightly floral, it’s got a little bit of nice, sweet grassy tea sort of. It’s quite complex for something that’s not knocking your head off. Which I really like!”
“There are not very many hops that work really well on their own, but Lórien provides enough complexity to stand on its own, which is another cool thing about it.”
“There are two main reasons we work with Loughran. Quality of ingredients and reliability. The hops we get via Loughran are top notch, the pellets are always of the highest quality, soft, oily and delicious smelling.”
GARETH MOORE, HEAD BREWER @ DEYA BREWING COMPANY
For Shadows, Moore utilized “pale malt, oats and dextrin malt. Only Lórien hops were used, with multiple additions during the boil and whirlpool and a modest dry hop of 5 g/litre. The beer seems to have that balance between lightness and full flavour. It was a one-off. We suspected it would be popular, but it was much more popular than we thought it would be, so we brewed it again and again.”
Brewing low ABV comes with challenges. “Below 3%, definitely below 2%, there are more challenges that are difficult to overcome, especially with regards to achieving fullness of flavour and body,” states Moore, but he enjoys the process. “I love the interplay between using agricultural ingredients, a living organism as a reactor and human judgement. The raw materials are what they are, and the yeast doesn’t care that you want to make tasty beer. Guiding that interaction is fascinating.”
“If you have a higher ABV beer, there’s more body, more malt flavour, so there’s more things to hang everything else on so you can hop it more aggressively, but that doesn’t always result in the most delicious thing. So a little bit of restraint is good.”
“Alcohol has its own flavour. If you have a higher alcohol beer, you would have started with more sugar and there’s more precursor for all of the other flavor compounds that the yeast produces as well. So there’s all around more going on, so I think it’s a bit of a misconception if it’s high ABV you can heavily dry hop and you can hide faults. It’s more finely balanced when you have less. And I think that’s the real skill in making a good beer… not to knock double IPAs… that’s principally management of your fermentation and your yeast health. To make a really good lower alcohol beer, you need to be very careful with ingredients selection and more careful with the ratios that you use of all of the ingredients that you use—both hops and malt. The water profile will make itself more pronounced because there’s proportionately more water so it is more difficult. Lots of people if they make a low alcohol beer, I think they try to chuck everything at it. And I think it’s easier if you take a more simplistic approach.”
With some of the highest rated beers in the UK, it seems that DEYA’s strategy is working quite well. In 2019, DEYA expanded their brewing capacity and now has two taprooms. If you find yourself lucky enough to visit, come thirsty! With 25 taps at their new brewery location there is plenty of tasty beer to choose from—including flavorful low ABV offerings such as Shadows that will allow you to go the distance! They also offer soft drinks, natural cider, natural wine, cold snacks, and a fun atmosphere that reflects the whimsical nature of the supercool artwork that helps define DEYA. It reminds us a bit of a planet you’d find in Star Wars where the resistance has won, and you have crocodiles enjoying a pint with their cat friends, hop heads and humans. All creatures enjoying each other’s company over a flavorful beverage—we’ll drink to that!