New dark brew set to be a heavy hitter

Cayman Islands Brewery recently
added a third product to its line-up. Following on the success of CayLight, launched
last year, the brewery has added a beer to the opposite end of the scale with
Ironshore Bock. A much darker and stronger beer than Caybrew, Ironshore Bock
has seven per cent alcohol and was chosen to satisfy the palate of beer
drinkers from Britain, according to brewer Andreas Moerl.

“We made a dark beer that is
strong, with seven per cent alcohol, but also very smooth in the aftertaste,”
said Mr. Moerl.

According to James Mansfield,
commercial manager with the brewery, the beer is not intended to convert
Caybrew drinkers to a new style of beer.

“We definitely want to go after a
different crowd, who maybe aren’t drinking Caybrew or CayLight,” he said.

Bock is a German amber beer, which
is traditionally produced in winter and ranges from 6.5 to 7.5 per cent
alcohol. According to Mr. Moerl, the beer is comparable in taste to familiar
brands like Bass, Shiner Bock and Samuel Adams.

Launched early in January, the
first big test for the beer was the Taste of Cayman food festival.

“We went through about 2,000 beers
that day, and I would say 50 per cent of that was the dark,” said Mr. Mansfield.

The beer is brewed using the same
malt used for Caybrew and CayLight, but three speciality malts are added – a
Munich malt, crystal malt and black malt. The Munich malt and crystal malt add
flavour, while the black malt gives the beer its unique dark colour, as well as
adding a roasted flavour.

The beer also uses a speciality hop
from the Cascade Mountains in Washington State.

Ironshore Bock also requires more
fermentation time than Caybrew

“The fermentation time for the
Caybrew and CayLight is three weeks, for [Ironshore Bock] it is about four
weeks, because of the heavier load of natural sugar the yeast has to change
into carbon dioxide and alcohol. That’s why we add about two or three days more
to the main fermentation time, it takes about 15 days, and it needs a little
bit more maturation time,” said Mr. Moerl.

According to Mr. Mansfield, the
beer is quite different from their current offerings.

“You’ve got a very distinctive roasted
aftertaste but it’s still smooth and it’s not sweet. The problem with brewing
high alcohol is you can sometimes make it too sweet,” he said.

During the initial development of
the beer, Mr. Moerl relates that there were concerns that the beer would be too
sweet.

“The sweetness was overpowering everything
at the beginning and they said ‘Oh, it’s just too sweet’ but I said ‘you have
to wait, you have to have patience.’ After almost four weeks it was ready.
Never rush a dark beer,” said Mr. Moerl.

Creating the right image for the
beer was also very important to the company.

“Ironshore means strength – as we
all know when you fall over on ironshore it hurts,” said Mr. Mansfield.

The label maintains familiar images
from the Caybrew brand, including three stars representing the three islands as
well as the now familiar blue colour. However, it has a somewhat more
traditional look to it, capturing the more traditional nature of the beer. The
dark wood tap handle also forms part of the branding as it reflects a
traditional bock beer.

Ironshore is only available as
draught, with 15 venues having the beer on tap. However, this number will
increase as the rollout continues. Should the popularity of the beer warrant
it, it might be bottled eventually.

However, the dark beer will require
the use of brown beer bottles, as it would not appear attractive in the green
bottles used for Caybrew and CayLight. This would also complicate the bottle
recycling programme the brewery runs.

According to Mr. Mansfield, the level
of bottle returns is at 50 per cent, which the brewery is happy with,
considering the relatively recent introduction of the programme and taking into
account the lack of other recycling initiatives in Cayman. In spite of the
success of the programme, the brewery is pushing the programme and hopes to see
even better return rates in the future.

LOCALronshoreSTORY

Mr. Moerl and Mr. Mansfield toast the release of Ironshore Bock.
Eugene Bonthuys
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