West Bay Citra Pale Ale

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Amidst the brilliant bustle of our first Portrush Beer and Food Festival in Portrush Town Hall last year there were a few constants in the feedback at the event. Chief amongst them were ‘great atmosphere’ and ‘that West Bay Citra is fantastic, get that out!’. We had brewed a few specials for the festival and this one definitely resonated with people. So we kept it on the back burner, determined to brew it for a general release in the summer.

In order to attain as much Citra as possible we went with pellets and an old school filtration method. Having seen photos of Cloudwater’s vessels after their dry hopping regimes we thought ‘have a piece of that’. That’s our Citra moon – it’s the bottom of our fv with a green hop encrusted trub and fv walls.

The only thing was, come the time to brew I couldn’t find the recipe. In fact, there wasn’t one. I realised I must have dry hopped a pale ale in the cask. So we simply had to replicate that.

You always wonder, as a brewer, if your best laid plans are going to work. Actually, it’s not wonder but more like ‘brewer’s paranoia’. Things can go awry in many different stages of brewing. You can be calmly talking to someone and then your hand shoots out involuntarily at the fruit fly that just entered the general vicinity. It is a bit embarrassing if it was beside their head. Or you finish a clean in place (CIP) on a vessel and then stop and mumble, walk about and then just for good measure dowse it all in sanitiser (again). It’s only when you crack the cap on a bottle of beer after it is properly carbonated do you get a good idea what you have created.

To cut a long story short, we had some big smiles when we cracked our first West Bay Citra. A big, juicy Citra aroma wafting out of the glass at a pace and then that classic citrus peel taste and bite when you take a mouthful. It’s a super gold hue from single pale malt, well carbonated so it has a real sharpness and zing. Summer in a glass.

Laying down the gold...

It’s been a big few weeks for everyone at the brewery with our first ever special having just been released. We have just launched “Utopian Stout” which is part of our new Limited Edition “Salamander Series” to selected outlets. This stout is an 8%, full bodied, medium dry Export Stout with a silky smooth mouthfeel and dark chocolate & coffee notes. Our Brewer Laurie has been working on the recipe for this for some time and we are very proud of how it has turned out, and it taking pride of place in being the first of many more specials to come as part of this small batch series.

For this new series we wanted to look at a suitable way of presenting these new bottles which will be released in very limited one-off quantities. Due to limitations, both practically and financially, of doing very small quantity print runs of the labelling, we decided to go for a generically branded main bottle label that will be the same across the multiple specials in the series, but to use a small coloured neck and over-cap label that identifies the individual beer, it’s type, ingredients, and ABV.

I recently had the pleasure of visiting our label printing partners NuPrint, based in Derry/Londonderry, who have done such a great job in already producing our 3 main core beer labels for our IPA, Golden Ale and Porter.

Having been involved with the graphic design process of many items at Lacada since the brewery’s inception, it was very exciting for me personally to actually get to visit their production facility and see these new Salamander Series labels being produced on the presses and coming off the print line as the finished product.

As many print designers will know, you normally send a printing job off from the comfort of your studio seat and screen, and in the majority of cases the next time you see it, it’s nicely packaged and delivered from the printers onto your desk or to the client directly. So it was very interesting seeing the process from start to finish, and watching the machines and highly skilled operators preparing our labels.

You really have to see the new bottles and labels to appreciate how nicely they turned out with lots of lovely gold foil being the core design & print elements being used to give this new series that special look and feel.

By using NuPrint we are also very proud to be supporting another local Northern Ireland based business, and that is something that our Co-Operative takes pride in being able to source and use as many local suppliers and businesses as we possibly can. We currently purchase our bottles and cardboard boxes from Northern Ireland companies, some of our malt comes from this island, and we also use printers from across NI to produce our marketing materials and merchandise supplies.

I would like to personally thank Paul, Conor, and all the production team at NuPrint for facilitating my visit, and you can view some photos below of production and the final bottle.

Make sure to go out and buy yourself some Utopian Stout! It not only looks good with our new labeling, but is an extremely tasty and well accomplished beer in my opinion.

Keep an eye out for many more different brews in the Salamander Series being released over the coming months.

Greg Wallace

NuPrint and Lacada Salamander Series Labels

Belfast Beer & Cider Festival

With such a successful launch of the Lacada beer in October of this year I was thrilled to hear that we would be showcasing our range at the CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival held at the Ulster Hall in the centre of Belfast from Thursday 19th - Saturday 21st November.

This annual event showcases real ales and ciders from the four corners of the UK and NI and from what I had heard from past attendees is a chance for beer geeks far and wide to critique, quaff, drink and be merry. So naturally I was intrigued and felt no better reason to escape the drudgery of work than attending the festival.

I had visited the brewery weeks before the event and watched in curiosity as Laurie and Phil prepared the firkins of ale, these were to be left in the brewery’s warm room to condition in anticipation for the masses. The day had been marked with a big red X in the diary and the time had come for rounding up as many co-owners as possible for this boozy pilgrimage.

The 'Lacada Armada' set sail for Belfast on the Thursday morning, the first day of the event, with the clear intention of tasting as many types of ales as possible. Well that was my intention anyway and much to the bemusement of the others I was armed with a printed list of the ales, all rated with several highlighted as 'must try'.

Having arrived in Belfast early afternoon we filled our fuel tanks with grub from the City Hall market and headed around the corner to the venue for liquid refreshment...let the quaffing commence forsooth!

The stillage was a sight to behold, the tower of firkins stood centre place in the Hall rising up towards the ceiling holding upwards of 90 ales, 26 of which were locally brewed. Wrapped around this was a bar with an unending array of pumps. It was great to see the Lacada pumps as soon as you walked through the door, they couldn’t have been placed in a better position.

The Lacadians rallied and began the marathon quaff! At one stage Heather (our chairperson) was in one corner doing a media interview and Laurie in another deep in conversation with other brewers from Farmageddon and Hillstown in what eventually got coined as 'brewers’ corner'... literally a corner of the bar! All the while another co-owner Roy Willighan was doing his best behind the bar to aid in the quenching of everybody’s thirst.

I made my way through about 20 different beers some excellent some not so excellent. All 3 of the Lacada range tasted fantastic (not biased in anyway) other favourites of mine were the Darkstar range, deliciously hoppy and well balanced, the Farmageddon Mosaic IPA and the Salopian Oracle.

The eventual winner decided by the CAMRA representatives was the Elland 1872 Porter a fantastic rich complex number with coffee and choc flavours, well deserved, I gotta say though (again not being biased!) Lacada’s Stranded Bunny Porter tasted as good if not better than the winner.

Having sampled as many beers as the belly and mind would allow some of us headed back to the North Coast, and so it was up anchor and homeward bound, a fantastic day’s revelry was had by all.

It was great to hear really strong, positive feedback from strangers and CAMRA reps alike about the Lacada range and how well they tasted. Proof being that all six firkins were sold out by the Saturday, a resounding success I would say.

Onwards and upwards.

Neil "Hamy" Hamilton

Topsham Ales Visitor To Lacada

So it finally came to brewing on our kit, now alone to get on with it and prove ourselves.

What a lovely surprise then to be visited by a brewer from another co-operative brewery. Robert Patterson is a brewer with Topsham Ales in Exeter, Devon. He had spotted our co-op brewery on Facebook and, on a visit here he popped into to Kiwis Brew Bar in Portrush and they told him how to find us. The strange thing is, I had spoken to a colleague of his at Topsham Ales about two years ago to pick their brains about how a co-op brewery works and what their experience was. So to have Robert turn up out of the blue was a real surprise.

Robert Patterson of Topsham Ales

Robert Patterson of Topsham Ales

And on a long day, after many long days, it was a real boost to hear from him that we had made a great start in setting up our wee brewery.

He realised the amount of planning that went into getting the layout design just right. And he thought some of the small English start-up breweries would yearn for a brewery such as ours.  

So thank you Robert for visiting, we look forward to seeing you again on your next trip home to witness Lacada’s journey and growth. You are very welcome!

You are very welcome!