Based in West Yorkshire, I get to try a huge range of beer from a wide variety of breweries, and now and again it all becomes a bit of a blur. Its great to have such choice on offer, but inevitably I don’t always pick a winner. When I go back home to Thanet i’m used to taking a small stash of my favourites, mainly to share with family, but also because until quite recently there hasn’t been much in the way of dedicated off-trade outlets in the area.
However, in the space of about 18 months, this changed – there’s now two or three decent off-licences in the area to supplement an ever growing number of micropubs, and on a trip to Sandwich in spring I was pleased to come across a range of cans from Time and Tide Brewing. I’d previously been impressed when trying their beers on keg, and thought i’d drop a line to the brewers themselves for a bit of background on the company as well as writing up my thoughts on part of their range.
Paul and Sam, founders and joint brewers were happy to oblige, and gave me a short history of the business. ‘We launched Time & Tide Brewing in November 2013, as a dynamic duo, looking to
brew the sort of beers we couldn’t find locally. Paul and I decided to set up our own brewery whilst talking in our favourite pub, having only met once before – we were so aligned in our passion for beer and flavour it just made sense’. From a serendipitous meeting of minds, Paul and Sam spent the first year cuckoo brewing before building their own 20 barrel brewery in 2015.
Other than with the assistance of an apprentice, Paul and Sam handle all aspects of the business on their own, based not far from Deal and deep within traditional cask beer country. Craft beer by and large isn’t on the lips of most drinkers in the area, and I dont think it would be unfair to say that the perception of Kentish beer in the minds of most craft drinkers is based on Shepherd Neame and not too much else. Until recently there was very little in terms of production for keg in the area, but Time and Tide now solely package their beer in keg and can.
From their first cuckoo brew, Calista IPA, Time and Tide have rapidly expanded to a 20bbl brewery with new fermenters being added at a fast pace. Even with a current range of 8 different beers, they continue to produce experimental brews on a 100L pilot brewery. Although the majority of their early production was in cask, they decided to move to keg production for a simple reason – ‘for us it was always about the flavour! Our beer is unfined and unfiltered, naturally reconditioned in the keg and can with both vessels omitting both light and oxygen, it means that you get the freshest possible beer’
Paul and Sam explain that ‘local businesses are incredibly important to us and we are incredibly grateful to them for taking a chance on us. In many instances these places didn’t have
the ability to dispense our beers and have allowed us to support them in installing the equipment needed in order to serve our beers on draft’. People often talk about innovation when discussing brewery output, and in terms of Kent, Time and Tide certainly stuck their neck out as one of, if not the only brewery canning beer in the county, even though, as they state, ‘our bottleshop style customers then had a bit of work to do to explain to people why canned beers are awesome!’
Time and Tide’s current range of cans certainly stands out on the shelves, not least their 8% ‘The root of all evil’ beetroot hefeweizen. Inspiration comes both from the local area – ‘Spratwaffler is named after the folk from the north end of Deal, where both of us grew up’ – and from quickly developed ideas – ‘Papa Midnight went from concept to fermenter including artwork, recipe etc in 24 hours’
Understandably, local bars and pubs can be sceptical about stocking Kegged products for the first time when they’ve been told for the last 30 years that cask is best, and that this is what will drive repeat sales. Paul confirmed that by adopting their approach they have met with a few hurdles. ‘I think the biggest is education – helping people to understand what craft beer is and dispel a few prejudices. But when people from the local area start to come on the craft beer journey they are our biggest advocates and educators’. Pubs such as the Berry in Walmer, the London Tavern in Margate, and the Queens Head in Ramsgate are prime examples of pubs that serve great keg as well as excellent cask ale, and Paul is not only pleased that their beer has found it’s way into the hands of eager drinkers, he is also keen to progress and keep pushing on.
‘There are lots of great breweries out there doing their thing, however we don’t aspire to be like any of them really. That’s not to say we are not inspired occasionally by what others are doing, its that have loads of our own ideas and are focused on pulling them through. We are keen to grow in a way that means drinkers get more from us. So we are always looking at tech, methods and capacity to make sure our offering is always getting better.’
From the cans and keg that I’ve had, there is certainly something about Time and Tide’s beers that stands out – bold recipes, clever use of ingredients and an eagerness to improve and expand on simple beginnings. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see their beers more and more on the bars back home, and further beyond, soon.