Wiper and True
Wiper and True’s tap room on Friday or Saturday evenings thrums with fans enjoying fresh beer straight from source. Some sessions, they don’t only spill into the outside courtyard, they stretch down the road too. The rest of the working week, it’s a little quieter – a hum of well-ordered activity getting those tasty beers brewed.
A proper home
The brewery has been established in St Werburghs, Bristol, just off the M32, since 2014. A small building that formerly served as a print works. Founder Michael Wiper says, empty back then, the place seemed far too big. That’s hard to believe now when every centimetre of space is efficiently packed with the extensive kit. New where it has to be, secondhand when they can.
In the short time since Wiper and True have hit the beer scene, they’ve gained a huge and wide-roaming reputation as masters of brewing and innovation. They keep their fans happy with a steady stream of regular beers – their tasty Kaleidoscope, Quintet, Amber Ale, Milk Shake and so on – and complement them with truly exciting one-offs. They are always experimenting, having fun. It’s what they do.
The beginning … an orchard
So how did it all start for this tasty selection of ‘No ordinary beers’? Founders and friends Michael Wiper and Al True, along with another pal, Francesca Garton, just loved home brewing. “Pretty awful stuff”, claims Michael now. It was cider at first. They’d planted an orchard in 2010 with the help of a passionate local arborist and used the apples to brew a cider, later expanding their ‘range’ to brew beer. At first, they’d try to emulate well-known brands. Then they began experimenting with single hop recipes, roasting their own malts … the whole shebang. “We made lots of mistakes along the way and learnt from them.”
Light bulb moment
Over exuberant perhaps, they began to make more than they could possibly consume, so gave it away to friends. Their friends liked what they tasted. What’s more, their non-beer-drinking friends enjoyed the flavours, too, and it dawned on them that there was a whole audience out there who’d enjoy the different beer they were making. A hoppy, aromatic style, rather than the more traditional ales they’d all been used to.
A brewing community
Michael and Al began by persuading established brewers to lend them space and kit on Sundays. Then renting space from breweries around the country – their nomadic phase and key to their development. Around 15 in total, including Dominion Brewing (Essex), Ashley Down (Bristol), Devilfish (Somerset), Cheddar Ales (Somerset), Cotswold Lager Brewery (Gloucestershire), and the Celt Experience Brewery (Caerphilly). These breweries were open with their knowledge, generous in their space and with their kit – typical of the community spirit of brewing today. That’s particularly true of the Bristol scene, with its 19 breweries and growing. There’s a real sense of working together, sharing knowledge, to promote a craft product they’re all hugely passionate about.
From those early days, they’ve always been keen to experiment and to play with ingredients. And that hasn’t stopped. Even their regular brews continually undergo a touch of tinkering, whilst others are way out there … exciting stuff, pushing the boundaries. On a recent visit, the Brew Republic team was treated to the latest – a new Orchard Ale. It was a barrel-aged brew, using apple juice from Michael and Francesca’s orchard, while the apple skins provided a wild yeast. Funky stuff. They recently did a Saison that was fermented with cucumber and lime. It is currently sitting in barrels, some of which previously held gin and some that held white wine. “There’s definitely a quinine note present,” says commercial director, Martin Saunders, “we don’t know yet how it’ll turn out!”
Then there’s a beer with hibiscus, inspired by drinking red wine. One customer thought it tasted like Beaujolais.
They’ve also done a range of Imperial stouts – each release barrel-aged in a different sort of cask … used for red wine, for port, tequila, bourbon and so on. Fascinating stuff. That’s the thing – the team is just as excited about the results and the taste as their eager audience … a big part of the love beer drinkers have for this brewery.
The team love collaborations, too – about three or four a year. On the day of the Brew Republic visit, they were working on the third project with Berkshire’s Siren brewery. They’ve also worked with Bristol coffee roaster, Extract, with the punk band, IDLES … it’s an extensive list and each partner brings something new to the table.
On International Women’s Day 2018, they hit the headlines when they released a beer made, from end to end, by women – from the recipe, to the brewer, the label design, the bottler. It was a big success and very tasty.
Having started out largely using American hops, Wiper and True are now looking closer to home, at their British heritage – malts, hops, yeast (and water, of course). Their head brewer is about to change – the outgoing Will wants to travel, while the incoming Marvin Lindner is German and has spent three years working at a brewery in Spain. It’ll be most interesting to see what he brings to the mix.
What’s for sure, their brewing will never stand still.