Otter Brewery has launched a session lager aimed specifically at pubs, clubs, music venues and other social centres. Tarka Four is an ethically produced brew that extends the company’s commitment to supporting local landlords by offering them high-quality drinks brands that are rich in provenance.
Otter’s sales and marketing director, Patrick McCaig, said: “The development of Tarka Four is a reflection of the change of thinking in the lager market, which is parallel with the cask / keg ales of the ‘craft beer’ movement — that is, almost a sense of artisanal and definitely local.
“With this in mind, more breweries are producing their own, which then gives traditional drinkers of lager the chance to drink their favourite pint that has been brewed on the doorstep. Even if half of those drinkers would be happy to break the mould and ‘go local’, it represents a whole new market who we can welcome into the world of Otter and the ethical and environmental way in which we brew our beers. This is where we felt we could take a role.”
Otter Brewery was established in 1990 by David and Mary Ann McCaig, and the 19-acre site, high up in Devon’s Blackdown Hills, is home to the UK’s first underground eco cellar.
Beer is definitely in the McCaig blood, with a history of brewing going back at least five generations on Mary Ann’s side of the family.
Tarka Four is cold fermented for two weeks and then matured for a further two before kegging. As with the whole Otter range, it is a completely natural product: just pure Devon spring water from the River Otter, different types of hops, barley malt and yeast.
The waste products — predominantly water — will be treated without chemicals in the brewery’s on-site willow bed effluent system, as they are now.
Keith Bennett, Otter’s head brewer, said: “The challenge was to brew a beer specifically designed to refresh and quaff, rather than challenge the drinkers’ tastebuds with complex flavour notes. Having said that, any beer to come out of Otter Brewery must have balance and flavour integrity.
Seriously good hops
“Whilst a dumbed-down version of Tarka Pure (our premium lager) might have been the obvious solution, I knew we still needed some seriously good hops for something to come out of the Otter stable that would make our local standard lager drinkers sit up and take notice.”
Adrian Tierney-Jones, 2017 beer writer of the year, who is based close to the brewery, in Exeter, said: “The first thing I noted was the strikingly deep gold colour of the beer, which made it such a handsome beast.
“Time to taste. There was a firm mouthfeel, a refreshing feel of palate excitement, hints of lemon and an appetisingly dry finish… otterly delicious, in other words.”
Tarka Four is being launched throughout March, initially into Devon pubs and then across the region. It will also feature prominently at the upcoming Exeter Festival of Food and Drink (May 5-7) where the brewery will be sponsoring the Beats & Eats music festival.