Say Hello to Siren Craft Brew
The launch of a new brewery doesn’t seem like such a big deal at the moment. Hardly a week goes by without seeing a brave new attempt by someone who wants to live the life of a brewer. But the launch of Siren Craft Brew is different. Last Saturday they landed with a bang as their brews started flowing out of the taps at Craft Beer Co.
The launch had kept many a dedicated beer geek awake at night with pure excitement. The reason is a man called Ryan Witter-Merithew. Up until recently this tall, bearded American was brewing for the likes of Mikkeller, Evil Twin and Stillwater at Fanø Bryghus in Denmark. When you dance with these big boys your name quickly becomes famous. When the news that he was heading up a new brewery over here in the British Isles started to circulate it produced more than a few drunk butterflies in people’s beer bellies.
Siren comes across as a well established brand. These guys are not taking the Kernel route of constant change. The branding is littered with romantic language about temptation and their illustrations sports a range of sultry lassies done in a stylised art nouveau style. They look like they’ve come to stay. It feels like they want to appeal to a slightly less geeky clientele. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on a Waitrose shelf next to Thornbridge in the future.
Craft Beer Co in Clerkenwell was packed out fairly well when I arrived. The volume was bordering on shouting competition levels and I saw mr Witter-Merithew flouting about talking to small groups of bright eyed and eager beer drinkers. One of the bar staff told me that a large group of merry and hop hungry men would be making their way up here when Kernel closed. I decided to get drinking and get out of there before this mob would make their appearance.
Siren is launching with four beers, made for both cask and keg. I sampled all four from keg at the event at Craft Beer Co in Clerkenwell. First was Undercurrent, their pale ale. It’s something as unusual as an oatmeal pale ale and I was unprepared for how refreshing it was. Oats usually means sweetness but here the result was clean and floral. I could belt this all day long. Next was their breakfast stout Broken Dream. It had a good hit of coffee and was backed up by a chocolate choir. A flawless stout. Then it was time to meet the Liquid Mistress – a red ale that almost floored me. I hate the name but I know I will be drinking this many times in my life. The bass is made out of malty caramel sweetness and the solo is sung by a beautiful mix of hoppy freshness. Just writing this makes me want to have another. The last brew in their range is their IPA Soundwave – a bright and uncommonly dry little tipple. It was sunny and fresh, but maybe a bit on the thin side. I can imagine myself pouring this into my head on a hot summer day though.
As well as these four core beers Siren had taken the effort to make a few manager’s special versions for the different Craft Beer Co establishments. In Brighton the breakfast stout had been finished with rum soaked oak chips, in Angel it was infused with vanilla and smoked chili and in Clerkenwell they had a tequila soaked oak chip version of the IPA. I tried the latter from cask and it was simply amazing. Tom Cadden, Craft Beer Co’s general manager, smiled at me and said “more tequila makes everything better”. He obviously know what the hell he’s talking about. It felt more robust than the original Soundwave and had just the right amount of tequila coming through, although if I didn’t know it was there I wouldn’t have guessed it was tequila I was tasting.
It really feels like Siren will become a force to be reckoned with. It’ll be exciting to see where they take their boat, but if their four first beers are anything to judge by we’re in for a highly enjoyable journey.