It’s fair to say that mixed fermentation is having a moment in the U.K. Natural wine is buzzing like craft beer once did, and its beer equivalent is starting to do the same.
I mean, no one knows what to call it—mixed ferm, farmhouse, wild ale, sour beer, barrel-fermented beer, low intervention beer. They all mean subtlety different things that never quite cover all the bases. Each brewery seems to pick its own word as they launch their side projects, using the volume and margins of clean beer to let their brewers off the leash and appeal once again to the ever-demanding beer geek bubble.
But for me, Yonder have come to define what it means. With a focus on foraged ingredients, mixed culture yeasts, and hands-on brewing, it’s not an afterthought or a playground like it is for some brewers. It’s their lifestyle—their very reason for being.
Stuart Winstone and Jasper Tupman met working at Wild Beer Co, the OG mixed-ferm brewery in the UK. They had both been there since the start and bonded over a love of using unusual ingredients and yeast strains, often local to them in Somerset.
As Wild Beer Co grew though, the production side became increasingly commercial and the proportion of clean beer being made grew. Stu and Jasper felt that to continue producing the beers they loved, they had to go it alone.
With no outside investment, putting the pieces together took a long time. There is starting a brewery from scratch, and then there is literally buying secondhand parts as they came on the market, plumbing them in yourself, gathering your own ingredients, designing your own brand and sticking the labels on the bottle you just filled. Stu and Jasper did all that themselves. While it sounds like a lot of work, it seems that when you do everything yourself, finding a cohesive identity is a very natural process.
I joined them on an expedition in the Mendip hills with the brewery terrier Taco, gathering nettles and dandelions for a new Pilsner they were brewing the next day.
This is Stu and Jasper of Yonder Brewing & Blending. Listen in.