West Berkshire Brewery established Renegade Brewery in 2015 as an arm under which to release a fresh, modern range of craft beers for today’s drinker. To complement West Berkshire’s established range of traditional cask ales, Renegade aims to foster the creative and experimental sides of their young brewers.
Renegade launched a range of beers this week to coincide with the opening of their state of the art brewery. They’ve not only moved to a new premises, but have upgraded their brew kit and packaging facilities, giving them ample space to produce more beer and continue to scale up. The brewery is entirely bespoke and carried a £6 million price tag, but the new 60HL set-up means that they can amp up their current production volume while focusing on some more audacious styles and recipes.
As the name suggests, Renegade looks to push boundaries and appeal to craft drinkers. They’ve naturally taken inspiration from bold and hoppy American styles, trying to emulate their big flavours while maintaining drinkability. They’re not looking to alienate their West Berkshire customer base, but this is a brewery that is keeping up with the times and embracing a changing industry landscape. We’ve seen other traditional breweries embrace the call for different tastes and styles, such as Windsor and Eton Brewery’s Uprising Craft Brewing range.
The beers were launched this week at The Depot in Islington, which is Renegade’s first pub venture, and guests were invited to taste four of their beers on keg and in cans. The vibrant, clear branding easily differentiates the beers from West Berkshire’s established range, giving the beers the contemporary angle that they’re aiming for.
Two lagers were pouring on the evening, one Craft Lager – a satisfying take on the style that uses a complete bill of UK ingredients, from Maris Otter malt to Progress and Fuggles hops. Lagered for six weeks, it’s an easy-going crisp and clean beer. The second lager was more remarkable, brewed in the Vienna style. It’s darker, sweeter and presents a creamier mouthfeel than the Craft, with ample biscuit notes from the darker malts, making it more interesting and slightly more complex on the palate.
Their India Session Ale comes in at 4.2% and uses Mosaic and Citra hops for some big, tropical fruit flavours. It ends on an intensely bitter pithiness, making it a good choice for those who enjoy a brash, unapologetic beer at a surprisingly sessionable strength.
The West Coast Pale Ale pays homage to the big, juicy style hailing from the USA’s West Coast. Bundles of explosive C hops – Cascade, Columbus and Chinook – join Summit to create a beer that delivers bursting grapefruit aroma and citrus flavours to make for another unrepentant and satisfying drink.
While it was a shame to see no dark beers or slightly more off-kilter styles available at the launch, these have been promised down the line. For a debut, the range of lagers and pales proved drinkable and deliver on some punchy flavours. The enthusiasm of their young, passionate sales team demonstrated that they’re taking their foray into craft territory very seriously. But most importantly, they hold a lot of promise as an established brewery clearly open to learning new tricks.
Thank you to them team at Renegade for the invitation to the launch.