Monday, May 17, 2010
Ever since my first trip to the Isle of Wight over 10 years ago, I have made it a point to have local beers. Goddard's is one the first beers I remember, in part because of the names: Fuggle Dee Dum, Duck Lloyd's, and Ale of Wight. I have even been lucky enough to even have them at home, when Wendy "smuggled" some bottles over in her luggage.
Goddard's is not generally open to the public, but after a phone call from Wendy, they were kind enough to welcome Bob and me in for a look around. The brewery is located just a few miles from Bob and Wendy's and is housed on an old farm. We would have walked, but I was still crippled form yesterday's walk.
Upon arriving, we were met by Richard, the brewmaster and Associate Director of Brewing. Richard has over 30 years in the brewing industry and has been with Goddard's for just over a year.
Richard was a great host and led us through the brewing operation. We started off in the grain loft. In this elevated loft, the grains are stored, measured, and then staged for brewing. Richard expressed the brewery's desire to use only the finest ingredients. They use whole hop leaves, which we rubbed in our hands taking in the beautiful remains of oil and resin left on our skin.
To translate the placard above, Gyle refers to the batch number. FDD is the style, Fuggle Dee Dum and cask is where it is ultimately headed. B is the brew date, May 10, 2010.
Goddard's can produce 15 barrels a batch, which from talking to Richard and using math that involved taking my shoes off, equates to roughly 3000 barrels a year. In comparison, Stone Brewing, puts out around 70,000 barrels a year. Stone is a small craft brewer by US standards, Goddard's is small by UK standards. However, as I have found time and time again, in the end all that matters is the quality of beer. As one of only two brewery's on the island, Goddard's has quality down pat.
Whether you are brewing in the backyard or a brewery, the process is relatively the same. They were actively brewing today, as the mashtun had just been emptied. Unlike at home where the spent grains get dumped in the backyard, Goddard's sells theirs off to a local farmer.
After going through the brewery room, we went into the racking area, where kegs were being cleaned and prepped for filling. Goddard's only makes Real Ale. Their bottling is handled on the mainland, so even beer brewed for bottling is kegged "live".
Richard was kind enough to let us sample a pint of Goddard's Ale of Wight. The keg had been tapped for "testing". This was as natural as you get. I have had Ale of Wight before in the bottle, but this taste, right from the keg, was amazing. Served at a warmer temperature, the hops really came out. Not only is Ale of Wight a great beer, at 3.7% ABV it is a great session beer. This is something that would be great for our brewdays.
With such a living product, the brewery depends not only on making good beer, but the pub keepers maintaining it. Richard described some pubs who check and taste their kegs every day and others who try to set it and forget it, which you can't. It's not hard to guess which of the two types of pubs flounder.
While drinking our beer, which Bob was quick to fill up again, we discussed island life, the changing of the pub scene, and Richard's work in the brewing industry. Richard has a passion for sailing, and commutes weekly to the island via his boat. What a life.
In order for Richard to get back to work, we parted in hopes of sharing a pint in the future. We had a really nice time and truly appreciate the generosity and openness of Richard and Mr. Goddard. Just like our previous trips to Bury St. Edmonds and Stone, it was a great experience to see where the beer I enjoy is crafted. I also know if I lived this close to a brewery such as Goddard's, I would be applying for a part-time job.