It is so exciting to see a brewery taking their next steps. Fownes Brewing in Gornal is minutes from the village I grew up in, tucked around the back of The Jolly Crispin in an old garage in the beer garden. Though Fownes Brewing specialises in dark beers they’ve experimented with a mixture of styles over the years from classic pale ales to honey ale and pumpkin ale. You’ll find their beers on cask all over the Midlands but now they’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to bottle up their brews and send them far and wide (including up to me in Lincoln!!). The campaign is hoping to raise £5000 for new bottling facilities and backers can receive perks including a case of beer, a dwarfen goblet to drink it in and an exclusive t-shirt to spill it down.
It’s time for the Fownes Brewery to get our Dwarfen Ales out of the cask and into bottles. We need to invest in equipment and materials to bring our unique blend of award winning ales and tales to a wider audience. Over the last five years we’ve developed epic beers and now we want our fans to be able to drink them wherever they want.
I’ve known James and Tom Fownes for years and many of their beers are up there with my favourites so I was incredibly excited to be invited to The Jolly Crispin to crack open the first of the new bottles to come out of the Black Country brewery.
The lineup included three of their established beers, one of which was Korvak’s Saga which is frankly my favourite porter of all time. Clearly people agree with me because it’s won four different awards since 2013. Frost Hammer (pale ale) and Firebeard’s Favourite No. 5 (crimson ale) were also spot on.
The Fownes brothers take their time with the brewery so things are just right and their bottles are the same. Aged in casks before bottling, the beers poured perfected and tasted fantastic. The bottles themselves are also gorgeous. James’ artwork makes me want a graphic novel tie-in for the brewery and the stubby (dwarfen) bottles are delightfully unique. And, as we decided last night, not dissimilar to grenades.
After supping Korvak’s Saga things got exciting: the rest of the brews were new to me. First up was Visions of Heresy, a smoked rye ipa. Not much smoke to my taste but incredibly dry and a pleasing ashy flavour. Hand Of Doom came next, a DIPA that definitely stood up to the style’s reputation. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of DIPAs, I rather enjoyed the pithy, tangerine flavours here.
Next up was Downfall, the baltic porter i’ve been most looking forward too. It didn’t disappoint. Everything about the beer coating your insides, thick and smooth with a nice smokiness, slight spice and whisky finish. It would definitely suit some barrel aging and I’m crossing my fingers for future iterations of this brew.
We ended on a couple of surprises as Tom disappeared to the cold store and reappeared with some jugs fresh from the cask. Korvak’s Saga: Chapter III – Lament was weird in the best of ways. Slightly medicinal and incredibly fruity, it wasn’t what I was expecting but then again, there’s not many rye porters out there to aid that expectation.
Finally we had the honour of the first taste of By Crooked Steps, an American red brewed in tribute to musician Chris Cornell with profits from the sale of casks, kegs and bottles of the brew going to CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), a charity devoted to preventing male suicide. This beer was hands down utterly fantastic and most worthy of the cause it was brewed for. Mouthwateringly juicy, I got flavours of mango, lime and caramel from this deep red ale.
Although I returned to the silky goodness of Korvak’s Downfall by the end of the evening, I couldn’t quite choose a favourite brew. Fownes’ range is as delicious in bottles as on cask and I’m very excited to see it spreading all over the country.