Phantom & Friends v2, feat. S43 Brewery!

We’re really excited to be continuing with our “Phantom & Friends” mini-series, in which we’re aiming to bring you a showcase of some of our favourite products from our friends in the industry, delivered to you at home while we wait to be able to get out and visit these businesses again.

This week we’re featuring the brilliant S43 Brewery, based up in Coxhoe, County Durham. Sometimes it’s not easy to get their beers down in our neck of the woods, and we reckon they’re absolutely lush, as well as being a really nice bunch of people.

S43 started life in 2012 when their founder Mark Hird came back from a holiday in the States, and having visited a few craft taprooms was inspired to start a brewery to supply the small bunch of pubs he ran. Sonnet43 Brewery was created, named after the poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who was born and raised in Coxhoe. Initially, the brewery had a more traditional outlook, specialising in seasonal cask ales alongside a core range (including The Raven, an award-winning bourbon milk stout with cacao nibs).

As drinking habits and customers’ tastes changed, the beer industry started moving in slightly different directions, and Mark still had a thirst for something new and interesting. This is where Alex Rattray came into the picture. After putting out a job advert for a Head Craft Brewer, a couple of Skype video calls, 2 flights and a boat ride later*, Alex arrived in the UK in 2018. After months of test brewing and recipe development, S43 released their first 2 craft beers in summer 2019.

(* Alex has 2 pugs that weren’t allowed to fly as passengers on the last flight into the UK. Seems a bit harsh to us.)

In the small amount of time that S43 have been on the craft scene in particular, they’ve gone from strength to strength – increasing their production output multiple times in 2020 and surviving the global pandemic (so far, let’s hope that continues), becoming a far more well-known brand among avid beer drinkers, and making some brilliant beers along the way. They’ve got high hopes and big ambitions for the continued growth of their brewery, and we can’t wait to see what else these guys do.

Guest beers in the box:

How Do You Do Fellow Kids – This beer is a DIPA that harks back to one of the first craft beers they ever produced, “Get Snozzed”. Matched with more experience on their brew kit, a higher ABV and more flavour, this is a DIPA that they’ve told us they’re really proud of and keen to show off. It’s packed with intense tropical notes, enough bitterness to remind you of the ABV and all the hallmarks of the beers we love.

Auld Lang Zealand – Brewed on New Years Eve in the UK, which is New Years Day in NZ, S43 couldn’t miss the opportunity to come up with a daft pun for a name! They love NZ hops and this was their fifth all NZ IPA. It’s been getting some good traction online and they’re really glad that their first beer of 2021 has been received so well so far, so it was only natural we’d want to put it in these packs for you to try. This IPA has everything you’d want from NZ hops, piny bitterness, fruity esters, and a finish so smooth you’ll not realise you’ve necked the whole can!

You’ve Been Mango’d – This was a collab with their good friend Phil from Play Brew Co. Play are making a bit of a name for themselves as doing some pretty daft beer styles, throwing it back to 90’s nostalgia and really having fun with beer! (Something we’re no stranger to here at Phantom.) So S43 knew they couldn’t just do a run of the mill beer with them. They decided to make a Sour IPA that has plenty of hop character so you can still tell you’re drinking beer, and then chucked in a shed load of Mango to compliment the tartness from the Sour Yeast!

These three beers, we reckon, are a great showcase of the sort of great stuff that S43 are continuing to bring out, and alongside our three newest releases we think it’s a pretty perfect collection of beers. Be sure to get yours ordered before they’re gone, and stay tuned for the next instalment of our Phantom & Friends series!