The Tempest story reads like the plot of a jet setting, romantic movie!.
Gavin and Annika Meiklejohn first met, most appropriately, in a brewpub in Canada, and then set off travelling together in search of a dream. While based in New Zealand for a while, Gavin worked as a chef as well as taking up the challenge of home brewing in his garage.
“We were making beer in New Zealand and my friends would come over from Scotland and ask why they couldn’t buy beer like this back home.”
This success kick started the idea for their own drinks business. In April 2010, they moved across the world to the Scottish Borders to set up The Tempest Brewing Company, a ten barrel brewery in a disused dairy in Kelso.
Within four years they were struggling to match production with demand and needed to develop the business with larger premises. The Tempest team moved across country to Tweedbank, near Melrose with space for improved facilities and a bottling line.
Developing a business against stiff competition from other craft beer makers needs entrepreneurial business skills, brand identity, imagination and creativity.
“Dry hopping, specialist malts and sourcing expensive New Zealand and American hop varieties. This was purely about making the best beer we could imagine, smoky beers, chilli beers, fruit beers… nothing was off limits. The line between creativity and gimmickry is a fine one.”
In Victorian Britain, a typical dish served in a Tavern was oysters accompanied by a strong dark beer – the original, cheap, fast food as Sam Weller remarks in Dickens’ novel, The Pickwick Papers, “poverty and oysters always seem to go together.” Having an “oyster stout” referred to eating oysters with a pint of Porter. Later on, someone had the idea to add oyster shells along with the barley and hops to enhance the flavour. Then, in 1929 an innovative brewer in New Zealand added the juicy, salty molluscs into the boiling beer wort and the true Oyster Stout was born.
Inspired by this classic beer, in 2015 Tempest created Double Shuck, Imperial Oyster Stout, made with 200 fresh Lindisfarne oysters. If this Stout is sipped with a platter of oysters, that would be a powerful aphrodisiac.!
The key to their success is innovation, launching topical, seasonal products with catchy names and colourful logos, such as Brave New World, Long White Cloud, Vermont Sessions, Cold Wave, Dios Mio! Lime Jalapeno, as well as enticing series, The IPA club, Discovery and Easy Rider packs of 24 cans.
For instance, Mexicake, a Chile and Chocolate Imperial Stout comes from a passion for Mexican culture and food to create a rich, boozy stout (11%ABV), infused with vanilla beans, cocoa, cinnamon, chipotle and mulato chillies.
The specialist, slow crafting of each distinctive ale, beer and stout is based on quality ingredients – their own strains of yeast, locally sourced malted barley and natural water. As their logo expresses it so well, “Designed and built in the Scottish Borders.”
Tempest Brewing Company has won numerous trade and business awards, including Scottish Brewery of the Year, (Scottish Beer Awards, 2016), and recently listed in RateBeer’s top 100 breweries in the world, a prestigious achievement.
And the latest news hot of the press is that Tempest Brewing Company is listed in the third edition of the World Atlas of Beer, 2020. In a section under names to look out for, it is selected as one of the best new British breweries of the 21st century. Compiled by Tim Webb & Stephen Beaumont, this is a definite, essential guide to global beers, (published by Mitchell Beazley).
So it’s time to taste and test, sip and savour the three beers in the Fruit Series featuring Peach, Mango and Blueberry, to entice and tease the taste buds with their distinctively different styles, strength and flavour.
Mango Berliner – 4 % ABV
What Tempest say: “Sunshine in a glass no matter the weather! The perfect summer beer. We brew it with a lager fermentation to give it that crisp, refreshing drinkability, but jam pack it with plenty fresh mango and dry hops to give it a super fruity, zingy punch”.
The verdict: Refreshing. So, so refreshing; a somewhat tart and fruity weisse Berliner-style beer which one starts sipping and ends gulping.
It’s light, very easy drinking and packed with fresh mango. That mango is immediately evident on the zesty tropical nose, with just a little dry, grassy hops. In the mouth it’s also light and balanced with easy-going tartness and a hint of shortbread.
Some people might hope for a more bitter or more hoppy experience but that is not really what this style is about, and this is just what it should be, a really refreshing Summer beer.
Other drinkers are equally impressed:
Mango ice cream taste. Surprisingly yummy.
Floral and ripe tropical aromas, notes of mango, papaya.
Lots of exotic fruity mango sweetness in the aroma, Great Berliner Weiss!
Peach Sour – 4.5% ABV
What Tempest say:
“You’ll want to use your good can opener on this tin of peaches. We’ve mellowed out the fresh acidity of the peach with creamy, delicate vanilla.”
The verdict: Another Summer in a can in the form of peaches and cream.
Again, a Berliner weisse style beer that is big on fruit, this time an initial tart peach balanced with a dollop of vanilla cream.
A surprisingly full mouthfeel leaves an acidic finish with lasting peach flavour. Easy drinking and refreshing, it will be down to palate as to whether the sourness wins out over the fruity Mango Berliner.
Blueberry Pastry Stout – 9% ABV
What Tempest say: “An outrageous blueberry stout, hot from the pastry section”.
The verdict: Even after a great meal there is probably always time for dessert; perhaps even second helpings. No surprise then that gastropubs favour their roasts and speciality burgers but also feature the perennial and ubiquitous Sticky Toffee Pudding.
When the Summer fades we can start to long for some “comfort” food and it’s time also for the zingy, fresh stone and citrus fruity and hoppy IPAs to give way to something a little richer, more indulgent – perhaps even decadent.
Step up Tempest Brewing Company’s Blueberry Pastry Stout bearing the legend “… the bluer the berry, the sweeter, the thicker, the roastier, the chocolatier, the boozier, the stout”. Stouts of this kind should be the liquid equivalent of cake or pastry; over-the-top in terms sweet, distinctive and clearly identifiable flavour.
Tempest’s offering hits the spot with this big, intensely blueberry, deeply dark stout. On the nose, the fruity blueberry aroma is instantly there against a background of malty dark chocolate. Rich and thick with a creamy, velvety mouth feel, that sweet blueberry flavour is to the fore with just a little bitterness in the background. The finish is long and, just when you think it has stopped giving, the blueberries rush back in with a smooth and warming last bite.
The ABV. of 9.0% vol provides a big slice of booze – Just make sure that you have room for pudding.
This richly flavoured dark stout could work well paired with a hearty dish such as a spicy Chilli, a Beef and Ale Pie, or a juicy Burger.
Nothing is so traditional as a Ploughman’s Lunch, so why not pair a Tempest beer or Stout with a mature Cheddar Cheese and crusty bread. Highly recommended is the awards winning Cheddar Gorge Cheese, the only cheddar cheese actually made in the village of Cheddar, Somerset. (www.cheddaronline.co.uk)
This Blueberry Pastry Stout is a winner:
Sweet taste at first, very boozy, strong blueberry, bittersweet flavour with well-balanced hop in the finish. Exquisite.
Pours a deep mahogany black with a violet tint. Creamy pale tan head. Strong notes of Cassis with dark chocolate, creamy vanilla and liquorice on the palate. Cannot wait to try this at the next Tempest beer festival!
2010 – 2020 From a garage in Christchurch to a brewery in Tweedbank, Happy 10th birthday Tempest. Cheers!
Tempest Brewing Company have hosted annual Springfest and Oktoberfest and continue to host regular Tempest Tap sessions at the Brewery. Take a trip to Tweedbank in the stunning, tranquil Scottish Borders.
For all information on the range of beers, on line purchase, suppliers and events at the Brewery, see the website.
Address: 1&2, Block 11 Tweedbank Industrial Estate, Tweedbank TD1 3RS
Telephone: 01896 759500
Tweedbank Station is just a six minute walk from the brewery, ideal for staff to commute and visitors travelling for brewery events and Festivals.
The re-launch of the Borders Railway in 2015 provides a vital transport link between Edinburgh and Tweedbank. Winner of the best new UK Tourism venture from the British Guild of Travel Writers, the route has brought much improved travel, tourism, social, economic, employment and environmental benefits to the Scottish Borders.
The Borders Railway campaign is now full speed ahead to extend the line to Hawick and Carlisle, which would be a further boost for Tempest Brewing Company.