County Durham-based S43 Brewery, formerly Sonnet 43 Brew House, has appointed American brewer Alex Rattray with an eye to expanding its portfolio and breaking into the craft market.
S43 has previously focused on the production of classic British-style cask ales, but hired Rattray to explore the public interest in American-inspired brews.
‘Over the last 10 years the landscape has changed a great deal, with the popularity of the American styles coming into the market. I feel this has complemented the beer scene and not taken anything away,’ commented head brewer Michael Harker.
Rattray developed his expertise in Texas working at Freetail Brewing Co.
‘I hope to bring some fresh ideas for exploring all kinds of different styles and formats of beer that S43 has not pursued to this point,’ Rattray told Imbibe. ‘My experience has included [brewing] a lot of hop-forward beers, kettle sours, barrel ageing and sour-beer blending. So I’m looking forward to bringing some creativity and solid techniques.’
Rattray will take charge of developing new beers in more modern styles, while the traditional cask range will remain Harker’s domain.
‘[The new beers] will be released with a different brand direction so the range can be seen as a different offering,’ said Harker. ‘We will, of course, share our thoughts on both sides of the range and work collaboratively.’
Traditional cask ale and American-inspired craft beer are often viewed as opposing categories, but the two brewers remain positive about their co-existence within S43’s offering.
‘I do think that cask and craft can co-exist. I myself am an example of a drinker that loves both,’ commented Rattray. ‘They can both be great, but judging them on the same merits doesn’t make much sense.’
Harker believes that the diversity offered by S43 will have a positive effect on the brewery’s current customer base, and will eventually expand its reach to a broader audience.
‘There will always be a place for the traditional cask ale drinker and we will probably see both the cask and American style craft beers drinkers crossing over into both areas,’ he told Imbibe. ‘If anything, it will open up the tastes for both types of beer drinkers.’
S43 is set to launch its new evolving range in early 2019 with the release of a high-strength double IPA and a New England IPA. The new releases will be available in both kegs and cans.