Posted on April 28 2021
Lager. The most popular beer style in the world might also be one of the most divisive.
Often, lager is disregarded as being cheap, flavourless or even a descriptor of someone’s tastes in things. “He’s a lager drinker” can be used as an attack on someone’s character! The funny thing is, ask a professional beer judge or head brewer from the most respected breweries in the world and we guarantee their top 10 beer lists will be riddled with lagers.
One of the highest achievements for any craft brewer is to make a world-class example of the style. Once you get past the haze and the double dry-hopping and the barrel aging, etc, etc ... a really great lager, out in the sun is unbeatable.
A passion for craft lager
We’ve been fighting the good fight here at Brew Republic in trying to eliminate the connotation of lager being a dirty word and there is no one better to have in our corner for this fight than Utopian Brewing from Devon.
Utopian started releasing their craft beers in early 2019, bringing the locals in their beautiful rural setting ‘proper’ lager. These lagers are incredible. Light years away from the mass-produced stuff you get in the supermarkets.
About Utopian Brewing
Utopian Brewing's address: Unit 4, Clannaborough Business Units, Bow, Crediton, Devon, EX17 6DA
Founder: Richard Archer
Utopian Brewing's craft lager styles: British lager, British pilsner, dark lager, black lager
Utopian Brewing's craft lager worth trying: A few of our favourites are available in our craft beer online bottleshop
Online: Visit the Utopian Brewing website.
Opening a craft brewery in picturesque Devon
Back then, Richard Archer saw an opportunity. Craft beer had been focusing on pales and stouts and almost seemed afraid to get close to lager. It’s hard to brew small-batch premium craft lager and get the perfect balance. Richard literally had a “hold my beer” moment – he was born to produce this for us beer enthusiasts!
After a big crowd-funding campaign, which really took off (proving again that there’s clearly a demand for great craft lager) he went about building a brew house that produces over 8,000 hectolitres per year.
Celebrating all things British
Since there is nothing to hide behind in developing a great lager, quality ingredients are paramount. Utopian only uses the finest British-grown hops and malt for their beer, so they are easy to source and always fresh.
Using these British-only ingredients gives a slight spin on an otherwise very traditional beer, instead of importing Hallertau or Saaz from Germany and the Czech Republic, Utopian uses newer, or less-used British varietals like Jester or Boadicea to mimic some of those classic floral and spicy Noble hop aromas.
The craft brewer behind the lager ...
As important as the ingredients are, someone needs to bring them all together. Jeremy Swainson heads up the craft brewing team at Utopian and his credentials are peerless. Besides his British Institute of Brewing and Distilling degree, he graduated top of his class at the Doeman’s institute in Bavaria as a brewing and maltmaster. In short, he knows his stuff. One of the tricks up his sleeve, which we’re sure was ingrained in him from his time studying in Germany, is the mystical, labour-intensive technique called a double decoction mash.
In short, decoction mashes boil part of the grain for a short time before being added back to the mash and raising the overall temperature around 65c. This is done in 2 steps, hence “double” decoction. This boiling creates a maillard reaction and something called melanoidins, basically the same reaction that happens when you brown a steak and get that tasty crust on it. Many folks think that this technique is from a bygone era and with more modern, well-modified malts it is pointless, but Utopian will defend this process to the death and in tasting their beers it’s hard to argue.
Craft brewing that's kind to the planet
Sustainability is important to them (and us), too. They draw water from a source directly on their own farm. Solar panels help produce the power for the brewery and Utopian’s beers are naturally carbonated, lowering a demand for CO2. You’ll notice that the natural carbonation of their beers and the naturally soft water provides the perfect mineral balance, bringing a delightful mouthfeel to their lagers. Everyone’s a winner.
Utopian - an award-winning craft lager brewery
Speaking of winning … they have won numerous awards nationally for their beers. In 2020 they won National Gold Awards in the Bottle / Can Amber to Dark Lager category with their Vienna Keller, and the Bottle / Can Strong Beers 6.5% category with their Maibock style ‘Rainbock’ lager at the SIBA Beer Awards. They were the only brewery to win two National Gold titles. They’re definitely doing something right.
For those of you on one of our core subscriptions, you’ll have the pleasure of enjoying their craft lager in your case this month. If you love it (or you’re not a beer subscriber yet) don’t worry – you can grab a few cans in our bottleshop.
We know you’re going to love them. No-one will be going back to supermarket lager!