Factory beer?

Hard to miss!
Not by a long shot, no. Bristol Beer Factory is very un-factory-like and that is certainly a good thing. BBF has long been a favourite southern brewery of mine I was pleased to be invited along for a few beers and a snoop around by head brewer, Chris.
New 20BBL conical awaiting
The brewery can be found just a stone's throw from arty venue the Tobacco Factory and next door to a decent bakery in part of an old brewery closed by the George's brewery. Inside is currently a 10BBL plant, but this is being pushed to the limit, with two brews a day scheduled all the way up to Christmas. A couple of new 20BBL fermenters have arrived that take two brews to fill, the first has been commissioned and the second lies awaiting its beery cargo. This should tide them over capacity-wise until next summer when a 30BBL is due to be installed along with what seems to be a must-have for brewery expansions; a mezzanine floor! It takes a bit of tweaking and a change of yeast from top-cropping to bottom-cropping but in the end the conicals should give better yield than open fermenters.

The original open fermenters
There are also a number of conditioning tanks, some of which have followed Chris from his previous employ at York Brewery. Perhaps the most exciting section of the brewery is the barrel store. Tucked up in here are a couple of stouts for this year's "12 Stouts of Christmas" (details under tight wraps I'm afraid!) and their collaboration (with Dark Star) NZ IPA Southern Conspiracy ageing in white wine casks with gooseberries. There are some empty rum casks to be filled with an Adrian Tierney-Jones brew and some other barrels into which Melissa Cole's brew next week will be filled.

The barrel store!
Speaking of Southern Conspiracy, I popped into one of BBF's venues in Bristol, The Barley Mow, and was pleased to find this on tap. I'd neglected to check the closing time and arrived at last orders but thankfully managed to grab a pint and I'm so glad I did. I think I may have found my best beer ever, certainly if how the Ratebeer score came out is anything to go by. The influence of Mark Tranter at Dark Star certainly makes itself known, the beer reminds me a lot of Hophead. I'm very much looking forward to the white wine version then!

All that remains of current cask stocks.
There's also a new saison in the works, with a different recipe to last years successful effort. That, alongside newer beers Independence and West Coast Red sees a solid range of new beer styles alongside No.7, which is still their biggest seller at around 40% of output. Its a struggle to fit the Christmas stouts into the brewing schedule, Chris admits, but there are a few spare days at the end of next month.

Bottled beers.
Whilst there I got to try this year's home-brew competition winner Bete Noire. Its certainly different to last years winner, also a black IPA- Indian Ink. Pours transparent Brown-black like a schwarzbier with plenty of condition. Citrusy simcoe? nose with plenty of dry fruit bitterness of kiwi hops. Touch of burnt toast astringency in the finish is all that there is to remind you this is a black and not regular IPA.
A bottle of Glenlivet Imperial stout has mellowed somewhat and in my opinion is the better for it. The whisky punch has died back somewhat and the flavours have married somewhat, creating a dangerously drinkable stout, which compares favourably to the bottle of Brewdog Paradox I brought along to share.

Even @1000 bottles/hr it still takes
two people a day to bottle a fermenter's wort
There's also talk of being able to hold tastings in a new coffee shop being built as part of the bakery next-door, current tastings being held in the brewery with perhaps 2 private tours a week at the moment. Couple this with the double-brew schedule and Chris and team are set to be very busy indeed.

Chris is on Twitter: @BeerFactoryCK9 and the brewery is here: @BrisBeerFactory. If you've not yet come across BBF beers than I urge you to seek them out and keep your eyes peeled for this year's 12-Stouts of Christmas as they are bound to fly out! See Bierebelle's review here for a dfifferent perspective.

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