How I Created …
Tiny Rebel Cwtch, 4.6%
by Brad Cummings & Gazz Williams
It's hard not to be happy with a beer that was declared Champion Beer of Britain in 2015 but Cwtch is a beer we've loved since we first brewed it.
We started Tiny Rebel in February 2012 with two beers, a pale ale and an IPA. Cwtch was released alongside our smoked oat stout, Dirty Stop Out, as our third and fourth beers.
Really, we wanted something that would occupy that space between pale and dark, but not a traditional bitter.
We wanted to make a beer to connect with our local people – a beer that everyone could drink, from the traditional, old-school drinkers in the valleys to the younger craft drinkers in cities like Cardiff.
South Wales loves its bitter and malty beers so we decided to go for a red ale which would allow us to combine malty notes with punchy hops.
It’s a recipe that developed over a few months before we launched the brewery, and even toyed around with as homebrewers, long before we thought about going professional.
Our research led us into drinking loads of bitters and American pale ales. In those are the flavours we wanted to capture, so we had to learn them inside out. Then it was just a case of picking our favourite elements and blending them into a balanced red ale.
Inevitably, it took a few attempts to achieve what we were happy with, and then even more work to get to a level that we thought could be sold as a commercial product.
Ingredient-wise, alongside pale malt, we included a little Munich for sweetness, a touch of wheat and cara and crystal malts to give the beer colour. These also contribute caramel flavours that combine well with citrus notes from the hops.
Cascade hops we used early for bitterness and then there were two additions of Citra and Columbus late on, followed by a hefty dose of Citra for dry hopping.
Our house yeast has a little spicy quality to it before finishing really clean. It’s the perfect bridge between caramel malt and citrus hops, before fading away and allowing the hops to shine. The mid-4% alcohol range ensures it is rich yet still sessionable.
Having perfected the beer, we needed to design an image for it. Our inspiration here was Austin Powers! We love cult films and video games.
They always seem to creep into our designs. On this occasion, we just loved the groovy, psychedelic idea.
And, as for the name, there was only one thing we could call this beer. ‘Cwtch’ is the best word in the Welsh language. It means ‘cuddle’ or ‘cosy place’, and this is the perfect beer to cwtch up with!
Cwtch is now available in cask, keg and bottle (potentially in can next year). Each gives the beer something different, but all work just as well.
In cask format, the prickle of carbonation and the cellar temperature bring out more of the caramel flavours, whilst the carbonation and chill of keg and bottle bring out more of the citrus notes and bitterness.
Winning the Champion Beer of Britain title, having been home brewing just four years earlier, was absolutely huge. We’re the only Welsh brewery to have won the award and it propelled the business to another level overnight.
We were already brewing twice a day to keep up with demand but, once the award was announced, our brew schedule was wiped clean and Cwtch became the only beer we brewed for a week and a half.
Since that time, it’s been brewed at least twice a week and has led to a lot of interest in our other brews.