An East Midlands beer enterprise has launched new cask ale initiatives to promote its ranges of products, with more in the pipeline.
From the Notebook was formed two years ago by friends Graeme Denton, of Nottingham, and Colin Bowler, from Derby, who are both passionate about craft beers and British wildlife.
Their products celebrate the diversity of native flora and fauna with beers which relate in taste, colour and attributes to particular animals or plant they represent — sea birds and butterflies featured in the first two series of bottled beers.
Now they have spread their wings to have draught real ale versions produced and have started on their third series of what they call ‘wildlife-inspired idiosyncratic beer’.
Although continuing with their original supplier, Allendale Brewery, in Northumberland, the company — named after illustrations ‘from the notebook’ of a wildlife enthusiast — has commissioned its first brew from Welbeck Abbey Brewery, a traditional real ale brewery set up in 2011 by head brewer Claire Monk at a country estate near Worksop, in the East Midlands.
“We have always wanted to brew more locally and we approached Welbeck Abbey who are happy to brew in partnership with our requirements and joint ideas,” said Graeme. “We had great feedback from drinkers and suppliers about the bottled beers, with requests to produce them in cask form.
“We did a trial run with the sea bird range from Allendale and they went down a treat, selling very quickly. We have had lots of positive comments from beer-rating sites such as RateBeer and Untappd.”
In addition to its collaboration with Welbeck Abbey Brewery, From the Notebook has linked up with leading cask ale wholesaler Small Beer, of Lincoln, to distribute the beers on a large scale across the UK.
“We are delighted now to be supplying more of the real ale market and hope to expand this side,” said Graeme.
Welbeck Abbey Brewery is producing the third series of beers which relates to moths, having started with Death’s Head Hawk Moth, a smooth stout. Three new varieties will be introduced over the next year.
While selling at a Butterfly Conservation event, Graeme was approached by the conservation officer of the British Dragonfly Society about producing a beer to reflect that insect. So From the Notebook commissioned Welbeck Abbey to produce, in cask and bottles, a golden ale called Golden-Ringed Dragonfly.
“It’s a light beer that is perfect for summer drinking at a time when the dragonflies are active,” said Graeme.
Real ale pump clips and the bottles all have drawings on them that reflect the animal or insect. Donations from sales are given to respective conservation societies to help their work.
The bottled beers are available at specialist beer shops and the draft versions at various pubs.
Neil Walker, national press manager for the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said: “It is fantastic to see From the Notebook moving into producing cask beer as more and more people discover the joys of real ale. Anything that encourages new people to try real ale is good news from our point of view and we wish them the best of luck with the project.”