Tatton Brewery owner Gregg Sawyer (left) with head brewer Lee Gannon. Photographs: Rachel Bishop
Knutsford-based Tatton Brewery is celebrating ten years of brewing and its 1,000th brew with the launch of Tatton Ten, a 4.4% ABV tropical pale ale.
Brewery owner, Gregg Sawyer, said: “To celebrate our ten-year anniversary, we wanted to brew a beer that stands out for its delicacy. We’ve always made experimental beers, and we liked the idea of creating something that has a crisp and clean mouthfeel that really accentuates the hops.
“Tatton Ten is double dry-hopped with Idaho-7 and Lemon Drop. We’ve added rice to the recipe, which gives it a lighter flavour that really lets the hops shine. It’s a far cry from our 666th brew, which was a 12% Russian imperial stout called Gyle 666. It’s easy to make a beer that hits you in the face with flavour, so instead we wanted to make something more subtle but equally interesting.”
Head brewer, Lee Gannon, added: “When I first came across the Idaho-7 hop, I fell in love with it. It’s a progressive hop that’s heavy on the tropical fruit. It smells like three hops in one because it has so much aroma. I couldn’t wait to brew with it, so it seemed like the obvious choice for the Tatton Ten recipe.”
Over the last decade, the brewery has produced a range of cask and keg beer using a variety of brew styles and experimental ingredients. The core range is made up of four beers: XPA, Blonde, Gold, and Best. Among the limited-edition beers are a chocolate stout called Malted Milk, and festive Red Hot Poker, made with ginger, orange and clove.
Gregg cut his teeth in the brewing world when he began an internship at Harpoon Brewery, in Boston, shortly after he’d gained his craft beer diploma in Vermont, USA. On returning to England in 2005, he took his first assistant brewer position at Westerham Brewery, where he honed his craft andpractised a scientific approach to brewing beer.
He said: “For many years it was my dream to set up my own brewery, but a catalogue of challenges, including the credit crunch in 2008, got in the way. In 2009, it finally all came together and I secured the lease to our site on Longridge Trading Estate, in Knutsford. I still remember the phone call from my surveyor. He said: ‘Congratulations Gregg, you have a warehouse full of debris’. He wasn’t wrong, it was a completely empty shell. I spent that first Christmas Eve grinding down the floors ready to start putting the brew kit in.”
When the equipment was all in place, the inaugural brew was Tatton Best, a classic amber best bitter. The recipe was developed by Gregg along with beer consultant Paul Buttrick, then brewed by Lee. The first pint of Tatton Best was poured at the Church Inn, Mobberley, in February 2010, and a refined version is now part of the core range.
Gregg said: “When we make a great beer that people enjoy, we work to perfect the recipe and then ensure we can brew to the same level of excellence each time. There is a big trend now to make a recipe once or twice and move on, but we believe consistency is critical for our core range and put significant time and energy into achieving that.”
He added: “I think the secret to keeping any business going is resilience. We don’t cut corners, let standards slip, or reduce prices when we’re faced with a challenge. We do things properly to guarantee both consistent quality and variety in our beer.”
Plans include extending distribution nationally and expanding the brewery’s offering in keg and can. The official launch of Tatton Ten is at the brewery’s open evening on February 28, but it is available in pubs and bars now.