When it comes to the folks at Wild Weather Ales, it seems that every business decision is made in some country pub – or, at least, nursing a beer back at headquarters.
Whether it’s setting up a collaboration with a Welsh brewery after a chance meeting at a beer show, or researching flavours for a new limited-edition brew, these guys know how to mix business with pleasure – and come up with some truly inspired thinking. So, as you might expect, the idea of setting up a craft brewery came to owner Mike Tempest in a local pub.
With a background in engineering, Mike had been looking to turn his hand to something different and had considered artisan cheeses and smoothies, and had even thought about turning his love of electric guitars into a business. But it was while he was enjoying a brew, however, that the hop dropped.
Having long thought that there was a gap in the market for hoppy beers with huge flavours, Mike realised that this could be a good time to create a beer of his own and so Wild Weather Ales sprang into existence. The first casks produced by the brewery left its Silchester-based premises in January 2013, making their way to Tadley Rugby Club and carrying a smooth ale named Stormbringer.
Hoping to take the world – or at least the rugby club bar – by storm, the fledgling firm first chose to fly with a punchy 4.5 per cent ale, with a distinctive malty base and well- developed flavours. Boy, did it work. Soon, the beer was making its way behind many local bars and is now a steady favourite for the brand. In the pursuit of bold flavours for its beers, Wild Weather has taken inspiration from around the world.
US hops are often chosen because of their intense flavour, and some of their more experimental beers have been inspired by Chinese tea (the Earl Grey-infused Storm in a Teacup), Spanish wine (its Riptide beer was aged in sherry barrels) and French desserts (the peach Melba-inspired Peach of a Day). Back home, the brewery is finding its feet in the burgeoning local community of craft breweries and beer sellers.Wild Weather’s sales and marketing manager Iain Clarke tells me how excited he is about where the industry is heading.
“It wasn’t long ago that you struggled to find good quality ale from local producers,” he says, “but now there are so many to choose from. Just the other day, I heard of some people going on an ale pilgrimage from Reading to Newbury, which just shows you how spoilt for choice we are around here.” It is also incredibly refreshing to hear how the various breweries help each other out.
“The guys at the London-based Weird Beard brewery taught us how to brew,” Iain says, “and if anyone runs short, we all know we can rely on other brewers to help us out. “We had Sherfield Village Brew in here the other day because they had run out of shives [plastic fittings used in ale casks] – so we were able to give them some of ours.” Part of this local success is down to the fact that each brewery has concentrated on offering something slightly different.
West Berkshire Brewery, for example, creates traditional beers with British hops and green credentials, while Siren Craft Brew tends to go down a more experimental route. “Here at Wild Weather Ales, we want to brew beers that make people want to go back to the bar for more,” Iain says. “We like our beer the way we like our music: eclectic and loud.”
This has resulted in a series of beers that are verfy drinkable, yet challenging, quirky and fun, great for gifts and some seasonal cheer. Visitors are always made welcome when the boys are in the brewery, which is from 9am to 5pm during the week and 10am till 2pm on Saturdays.
Where to buy
With brews to suit every taste, Wild Weather Ales could be harbouring the perfect gift this Christmas season for the ale lovers in your life. All beers are available in bottles and kegs. Stockists include: Inn At Home, Newbury; The Grumpy Goat, Reading; wildweatherales.com Blizzard:
Hoppy ale with Christmas puds
Message In A Potel Oversized stout
Sundowner: Refreshing golden ale
Big Muddy: Bitter traditional English ale
Take No Prisoners: Pale IPA
Black Night: Mild but dark
Little Wind: Amber ale with a touch of copper
Stormbringer: Smooth premium ale
Cumulo Chaos: Colossal 10 per cent IPA
Sunday League Relegation Playoffs: Red IPA