Chatting with Dolphin!
Two Saturdays ago saw the launch of our new collab brew with our pals at Dolphin Brewery at Twyford Beer Festival - the first festival any of us had been able to go to in a while, and only down the road from us all in Reading - and it was an absolute hit!
Of course, we knew it would be - Dolphin don't muck about when it comes to creating delicious, full-flavoured sours in particular (and we like to think we're pretty good at them too, but you'll never catching us tooting our own horn, no way).
Echoes, our collaborative Pomegranate and Blackberry Sour, has already been received so well and we're honestly over the moon about it. We've been getting a lot of love for the beer here at Phantom, and we thought it'd be a good idea for those of you who perhaps aren't local (or are just unfamiliar with the folks at Dolphin) to get to know them. So, we fired over a few questions to Andy that we think ought to cover the essentials.
Could you give us some backstory on Dolphin, why you started brewing and what you most enjoy about being in the beer industry?
We're a sour focused brewery located in a garage just outside Reading - with a very modest output of around 120 litres per batch. My wife, Laura, and I launched the brewery last year, and named the brewery after Laura's surname - Dolphin. I'd harboured plans to switch careers and start a brewery for many years previous, and I'd been homebrewing for just as long. I spent four years studying part time for an MSc in Brewing Science, and when I finally graduated, with more knowledge than I needed for brewing for personal consumption only - I was ready to launch the brewery. We've only been trading for just over a year, and in that time I've been genuinely blown away by the level of interest in our beers, as well as the support we've received from the local beer community. I'm suffering a little from imposter syndrome so sometimes don't really consider myself to be in the 'beer industry', but if I am, the thing I've enjoyed most is the comradery and support we've received from other local breweries - it's been amazing, and I'm hugely grateful.
So far, what's been your favourite Dolphin beer or the most popular - and why's it so good?
We released a ginger gose last December called Superstar. So far, I think that's probably the best beer I've brewed - and a definite favourite of ours. The ginger worked really well with the salt, sourness, and pineapple esters from the yeast strain we used. It was super small batch (even for our standards), but it'll be making a return this year, so look out for it!
Being a brewery born during Covid, what are you most looking forward to when the world starts to open up again?
From a personal perspective it’s beer festivals, lots and lots of beer festivals. We’re fairly fortunate from a brewery perspective that we’ve been able to sell the small volume of beer we’ve produced over the last year without too much problem. Excited to get some more kegs out and about later in the year. And next year we hope to kick off our expansion plans!!
In spite of the difficulties of the last 18 months you've definitely made a mark, what's your proudest achievement with Dolphin so far?
I do find it difficult to pause and be proud… I still feel like I’ve got a way to go until the brewery’s where I want it to be (not in a garage for starters), and I find it much easier to focus on issues and the list of stuff that needs doing, than focus on achievements. That said, it's hugely satisfying when someone who wouldn't normally drink beer enjoys one of our fruited sours. And I'm really loving the experience of drinking our beer on draught, it's only happened a handful of times, but on each occasion, it's been totally awesome. But I think I need to reserve my proudest moment for the future, when I’m drinking a Dolphin sour in a Dolphin taproom - that day is still to come.
Probably Bruges - I’ve been every year for over ten years now and each time I discover a new favourite beer. More specifically I’d be in ‘t Brugs Beertje - that place is just amazing. It’s everything a pub should be, friendly and full of character and atmosphere. They have an extensive list of bottles and I’ve drunk there many times when the place is bulging after the annual Bruges beer festival. On every occasion, despite how busy they are, I’ve always been served branded glassware to match the bottle I’ve selected (even when I’ve selected something obscure). I love it when the care and attention taken in brewing a beer is mirrored when dispensing or serving it.
With regards to food pairings... I’m probably eating cured meats, pickles, and one of those tubs of cubed cheese with sweet mustard. Eaten with cocktail sticks, and not particularly boundary pushing with regards to culinary experiences, … but coupled with a Rochefort 10 and you can’t beat it.
Closer to home, it's a nice pint of cask beer and a packet of scampi fries at the Nags Head - for many of the same reasons.
Will there ever be a boy born who can swim as fast as a dolphin?
Absolutely not! No chance! Never! Couldn’t possibly happen.
What do you usually listen to when you're brewing, and do you sing along?
I’m all over the place when listening to music, and my music tastes change all the time - I blame Spotify. David Bowie is heavily featured, his back catalogue is regularly on repeat. Big fan of Radiohead and 90s/early 00s indie music too - that’s my era really. I guess what I select to play is often influenced by the task I'm completing or my mood - sometimes I need to chill out, and enjoy classical or something peaceful and relaxing. Other times, especially when completing repetitive tasks, I need something with a faster beat or tempo - big fan of Daft Punk, as well as Run The Jewels and Kano.
I think the correct answer here is probably Blink 182 - should have just said that. And there's always singing involved... I'm a karaoke king so it doesn't take long for me to burst into song.
What was the reason/thought process behind this collab beer recipe?
Well, it was always going to be sour! But we needed to find a fruit combo that neither of us had done before, that we felt would work. I was aware of a blackberry and pomegranate sour brewed by Trillium that was a big hit - and when Dane suggested this pairing, I knew it was going to work. It was then about getting the ratios of fruit additions right, and brewing it to ensure a decent hit of sourness, balanced out nicely with some residual sweetness. It certainly packs a punch, and I love it for that.
I first read this as 'Komodo' dragon - they're hardcore - but I think you mean a dragon wearing a kimono!?! On both counts, happy to acknowledge their superiority and accept defeat. Nothing's going to beat a dragon wearing a kimono, or a Komodo dragon for that matter.
Did someone say... beer?
Bigtime!!! Echoes please...
And there you have it, a snapshot into Dolphin Brewery. If you want to find out a bit more and read their blogs and backstories on their own site, their blog link is here!
Their webshop is currently closed and they open it only on select dates for local deliveries, so be sure to keep a very close eye on their social media feeds to be the first to know. In addition to that, other options for deliveries include local stockists The Grumpy Goat and A Hoppy Place!
If you want to stock up on Echoes, (and of course you do), you can order cans on our webstore.