Evolving the best core range of cask beer in the UK.
Creating beers which are industry-leading examples of their style, building on the legends of Milk Stout & Southville Hop.
Constantly creating, always pushing forwards.
- Bristol Beer Factory Mission Statement, 2019
These three sentences form a large part of our ethos as a brewery.
They inform our belief that our core range must represent more than a collection of old favourites or even best-sellers. Our core four must be the best beers we brew - beers that are outstanding and consistently so; our proudest achievements.
It is in this spirit of perpetual improvement that we announce today that we have ceased production of our beloved, long-time core session beer, Nova, and are replacing it with something we believe to be even better: Notorious!
Nova was first brewed in 2013 to replace Acer (a 3.8% Sorachi Pale Ale) in a core range that was completed by Seven, Independence and Milk Stout. Its mix of German (Hallertauer) and US (Nugget, Cluster, Mosaic) hops made Nova an amicably citrussy and hoppy pint with some grassier, earthier notes. A simple malt bill of Maris Otter Pale, CaraPils and a touch of wheat allowed the hop notes to shine. It deliberately took away the divisive element of a Sorachi-hopped beer and proved a reliably great session beer in the ensuing six years.
By January 2017, we had put our values and brewing beliefs down on paper for the first time and this process reaffirmed our commitment to constant creativity, evolution and self-analysis in everything we do. Since 2017, we have pushed ourselves further than ever before and have produced dozens of new beers in dozens of styles, each with a unique malt bill and hop regime: each a bespoke recipe. We have been so proud of the quality and breadth of the beers we have produced across bottle, keg and cask and inspired by the excitement they have generated. By the beginning of this year, some of our newer beers had really made us question whether our beloved Nova was definitively the best low-abv/session pale we could produce, or even the best we had produced! There were several contenders as a possible replacement for Nova but the idea of a change only became a certainty once the first brew of Notorious hit Pump 4 at the BBF Taproom in November 2018.
The idea for Notorious came from us wanting to pay homage to the four original American ‘C hops’: Chinook, Cascade, Centennial and Columbus. These four hops really precipitated the first wave of citrussy hoppy UK-produced beers in the mid-2000s; they inspired a generation of drinkers to seek out well-hopped paler beers for their cask sessions. We felt they still had so much to offer and yet had since been somewhat overlooked in the Citra-inspired crush of new hybrid varieties. These four hops were once notorious. Their quality, notoriety and story feel very in keeping with us and with recipes and decisions of our recent past such as our now-legendary 2006 re-working of a centuries-old recipe for Milk Stout. We are always looking forwards and continually inspired by great beers of the past.
The first brew was amazing and one session on the beer confirmed that we we had a new core beer on our hands. The original brew was 4.1% and was uber-pale. We knew that for a beer to perfectly fit into our core, we wanted it under 4.0%, pale but not too pale and so we have spent the past few months tweaking and perfecting the recipe to a 3.8% pale ale, brewed with just the four US ‘C hops’ atop a complementary malt bill of Maris Otter Pale, Light Munich and Dextrin malts.
For context, it is almost two years ago that we decided to cease brewing Seven and replace it with Fortitude. Seven was a very fine amber best bitter at 4.2% and one of BBF’s first beers, dating back to 2004. We were nervous about the idea of a change but we felt strongly in the importance of never stopping our attempts to improve our beers and our range and were ultimately convinced that we could brew a better beer in that style. After six months of planning, Fortitude was born. Ultimately, the bold statement of replacing our best-selling beer at the time has paid off by any measure. We believe we have brewed one of the UK’s premier amber ales/best bitters in Fortitude and the beer is thriving in Bristol and the surrounding areas. We have similarly high hopes for Notorious.
Notorious will be available in the best independent pubs and bars in and around Bristol from Monday 18th March. We hope you love it.
Drink with pals and repeat.