American-style craft beer brewery Station 119 launches this weekend in Eye
- Credit: Archant
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis finds out more about the latest craft brewery in East Anglia, Station 119.
As little as a decade ago, if someone said they were going to ‘get a brew on’, sure enough they’d come back with a steaming cuppa and, if you were lucky, a biscuit too.
Fast forward to 2017s hipster-beard-growing, paleo-eating, gin-drinking generation, and ‘getting a brew on’ has altogether more alcoholic connotations.
Craft breweries are sprouting up across the land, clinging to the coattails of the American craft brew ‘awakening’ which has brought about a tidechange in the way we make, buy and drink beer.
Mates Marc Medland and Elliott Norris, alongside business partner Steven Matsell, are the latest group of guys to fall under the spell of hops and malt, and will officially launch their Eye-based Station 119 brewery this weekend.
It’s a far cry from where the sommelier (Marc) and techbods (Elliott and Steven) started a few years ago, with anecdotes from the journey including the time they brewed black beer in Elliott’s kitchen, only to see it weep down the walls as condensation. Or the time Elliott walked in on Marc in their homegrown brewing shed, finding him, Breaking Bad-style, conjuring up the next batch of beer in his swimming shorts.
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But all joking aside, these fellas are serious about beer. And it was when craft beer started to take off in Marc’s Aldeburgh wine shop that he and Elliot thought making their own brew could be a very good idea indeed.
“Everyone thinks American beer is all Budweiser and that kind of thing,” says Elliott, “But the craft beer market there is amazing. They’re far more into it than we are in this country. If you go there they’ll even detail the water they’ve used!”
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Finding themselves brewing more and more at home, Marc and Elliott set off on what sounds like the ultimate lads holiday (sorry, research trip) to America’s west coast, where the gateway to a whole new world opened to them.
“It’s incredible the amount of breweries out there,” Elliott says excitedly. “And they tend to be big brewery tap rooms. Industrial units where you have a bar, restaurant and brewery. We’d sit and chat, and the head brewers would give us a tour and show us the equipment, and say “you must go and visit these breweries” so the list got bigger and bigger!”
“It was great hearing their experiences and what they got wrong and right. We came back fired-up and thinking this was something we wanted to do.”
And they set to it. Marc honed his talented tastebuds in on brewing pure, no-fuss American-style beers with a focus on hops, while Elliott turned his hands to the branding of the beers, his creative juices fuelled by Suffolk’s connection to the US airforce.
“Station 119 was a US airbase at Horham and that’s where the name and the pin-up art comes from. A lot of Americans had pin-ups on the nose of their planes, and the names of the beers are inspired by planes that would have flown in the war!”
The guys’ signature beer is a classic IPA, No Guts, No Glory which, at 6.4% is a gutsy, proper full-bodied beer with a fruity citrus hit, obtained using Galena, Centennial, Cascade and Chinook hops.
A bestseller is Heart Breaker, a 5% pale ale with Bravo, Simcoe and Cascade hops.
While more challenging to look at (not drink) is the stormy black IPA Miss Behavin’. “It looks like Guinness but is actually very dry and clean in flavour, with hop and coffee notes. It doesn’t have that sweet stoutness you get with porters. And it tends to surprise people. Some say they don’t like stout, but they try this and really like it.”
The tap room and small tasting bar will be open from this weekend onwards at Station 119’s new official base in Eye, where you can try, and buy, bottles of any of the five brews in their range (as well as prints and T-shirts of their artwork).
You can also find their beers at Arcade Street Tavern, Hopsters, The Swan and Aqua Eight in Ipswich, The Angel in Woodbridge, Grundisburgh Dog and Sweffling White Horse.
“Longer term we’ll do events and things here. We have a yard next door and might get a marquee and hold things a bit like the Secret beer Club or comedy nights. It’s all quite exciting.”