Back From the Dead

Heritage pints: Martin Warren, of Poppyland Brewery, and David Holliday, of Norfolk Brewhouse with the ‘back from the dead’ beer


Two North Norfolk brewers have resurrected an ale by using ingredients which have been literally brought back from the dead.

Poppyland Brewery, in Cromer, and Hindrigham-based Norfolk Brewhouse thought it fitting to craft a drink which showcased two ingredients once thought lost to the brewing fraternity in a new brew, Chevallier Gold, to celebrate Norwich City of Ale, which starts on May 25.

The two brewers have previously collaborated to create beers for the festival and always try something a bit out of the ordinary.

During a chance beer and chat at the National Winter Ales Festival, in Norwich, with Norfolk maltsters Crisp Maltings, the subject of Chevallier malt was discussed.

David Holliday, from the Norfolk Brewhouse, said: “This is a fascinating story of heritage malt, first grown in the 1824, in Suffolk, from grain selected by Dr John Chevallier. The malt went on to become established the world over as one of the leading brewing malts.

“However, it was to last be grown commercially in the UK in the 1930s. That is until a couple of years ago when, thanks to collaboration with The John Innis Centre, in Norwich, and Crisp Maltings, the malt was slowly and surely resurrected.

“There is a limited stock of Norfolk-grown Chevallier malt available and we wanted to see just what beer lovers had been missing out on for a little over 80 years.”

So, with resurrected malt forming the backbone of the beer, the two brewers set about finding a suitable hop to add flavour and bitterness, and it seemed only fitting that resurrected malt deserved a resurrected hop.

Another chance meeting, this time with hop merchant Charles Faram, introduced the brewers to a hop called Ernest, which fitted the bill perfectly.

David said: “It really was a lucky coincidence to discover this hop variety, which was first selected in 1921 and eventually trialled at Wye College, in Kent, in 1957 and 1958. However, the brewers at the time rejected the variety as been ‘too American’ and far too aromatic and tasty for their British bitters!”

“Oh, how times change, but thankfully it is now grown commercially for Charles Faram and is admired for its New World flavours.”

The Norfolk Brewhouse brewed a cask beer, available throughout City of Ale, which is a pure blend of the resurrected ingredients, using just Chevallier Malt and the Ernest hops. It will be golden in colour, with the heritage malt imparting quite a robust, dominant flavour, so the beer is to be quite heavily hoped to balance that, as well as suiting the relatively strong ABV of 5%.

The bottled version of the collaboration, brewed at Popplyland, will be slightly stronger at 6% ABV and also include some coloured malts, to create a delightfully robust and fruity American Red Ale.

Martin at Poppyland also used a third resurrected ingredient — kveik, an ancient strain of Norwegian yeast. This version of the beer is named Back from the Dead.