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Hawkey Frolic

Bottle conditioned harvest ale, 7% abv, in 500 ml bottles, crown capped.
Release date 17 September.

Brewed on: 10.6.2015 Bottled: August and September 2015.

I had been meaning to brew a harvest ale for a while and should have done it in the spring of 2015 so that it had a good long time to mature before release in the early autumn. But it didn't happen. Then two things coincided: David Holliday (Norfolk Brewhouse) set up the Maris Otter 50 Festival to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the lengendry Maris Otter barley variety and he invited me to create a beer especially for it. Then David Whiteley of the BBC contacted me saying that he would like to make a film for his Inside Out show about the Poppyland Brewery and maybe he could film me making a beer. There was also a third factor which came about courtesy of Steve Croscicki, formerly of the Front Street Brewery at Binham (now at St Andrews Brew House, Norwich). He brought a team of yeast scientists from the National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC) to my brewery to show them the brewers' end of the yeast story and I struck up a relationship with them.

When David Whiteley and I discussed the filming we decided to brew a harvest ale for the Maris Otter 50 Festival with a yeast drawn from the NCYC. I looked at a particular yeast that was lodged in the NCYC collection when I was born (January 1952) but in the end, with guidance from Chris Bond at NCYC, I chose a yeast from an undisclosed Norwich brewery that was lodged in 1958 (cat. no. NC1100).

We spent a morning filming me collecting the yeast culture from the NCYC on Norwich Research Park and the afternoon at Branthill Farm near Wells next the Sea collecting the malt from Teddy Maufe. Then a few days later we spent an afternoon and evening filming the brewing of Hawkey Frolic, finishing near midnight on 10 June 2015.

The Norwich ale yeast went off like a train and the next morning it generated a rocky krausen that rose and cascaded over the top of the fermenter and on to the floor for an hour or so but it slowed down, the head fell away and fermentation then proceeded more slowly. It spent more than a week in the fermenter but I had to attend hospital in Clatterbridge near Liverpool, so before I went I racked it off into four kilderkins for secondary fermentation. It bubbled away under airlocks while I was away and eventually stopped some time after I had returned. To my horror had it ground to a halt at a gravity of 1022 - way too sweet and with far too much body. After another couple of weeks the gravity hadn't moved, despite rousing the yeast, so I pitched some more yeast (US-05 this time) and waited. The gravity fell only to 1020 and it was very murky. The yeast had had enough and I am not sure why. I racked it off to fresh kilderkins and this started another fermentation for a couple of days. I fined a couple of the kils but it still wouldn't clear. I bottled two kils with a little sugar and some T58 specialist bottling yeast but it soon over-conditioned and threated to explode the bottles. So I emptied the bottles into one stainless steel kilderkin and one 'new' Theakston's oak firkin to allow them to off-gas and continue fermenting under airlocks. I dry-hopped the kil with 200g of East Kent Goldings. I was concerned about having any beer ready for the Maris Otter 50 Festival (17-19 September) and also for the filming of the tasting, so I bottled off one of the remaining kils (which by now had come down to a gravity of 1017) without any priming at all. To my relief the bottles have clearing and they should be okay for the festival on 17th. The flavour is very good: sweet and malty, with that certain something that just shouts MARIS OTTER!


Filming the tasting for BBC's Inside Out with David Whiteley. A ten minute film about Poppyland Brewery and the making of Hawkey Frolic is expected to air on the Inside Out East show starting at 19.30 on Monday 26 October 2015 (date subject to change).

Base malt is Maris Otter (84.2%) with 13.8% Crisp Crystal 150 and 2% Crisp Crystal 400.

Tasting notes

Hazy walnut brown colour. Clean, light malty aroma. Intense, rich, sweet, fruity and characteristic Maris Otter malt flavour, lightly balanced by hops (East Kent Goldings, Aurora and Willamette, calculated IBU 45.4) with a bite of alcohol. Autumn leaves, raisins, Garibaldi biscuits, dried fig. Long aftertaste.

What the customers say

Campaign for Really Good Beer

This 'sweet malty harvest ale' has been brewed as a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Maris Otter barley and uses an authentic 1958 Norwich yeast. It's a lovely beer, too. Big and bold and sweet and sticky, it's Poppyland at its best, packed with flavour and not afraid to challenge. The aroma is red fruit, liquorice and honey, and the beer sits a deep ruby red in my glass. The malting is absolutely enormous, but then that's what this beer is all about. You find a lovely round chewy toffee and aniseed, bran flake and honey gloopy body that's surrounded by tamarind and Weetabix, the yeast adding a very good earthy spice to the background. The hops are sharp nettles, lemon rind, bracken and green herbal leafy hedgerow that lead you to the long boozy sherbet coated dandelion and burdock finish.

Gluten free status

Gluten free. Independently tested 12.8.2015 (less than 10ppm)

Martin Warren, The Poppyland Brewer