Those of you who are familiar with our Funk Dungeon project will know that these are beers that take time. And our next release has been even longer in the pipeline than most!
All the way back in April 2019, we announced that our Funk Fest beer festival was to include a homebrew competition, with the overall prize being that the winning recipe would be brewed here on our main brewkit.
The rules were simple – anything goes, as long as there’s an alternative yeast at play. We had almost thirty individual entries, ranging from Kveik NEIPAs to brett fermented black forest gateau stouts, with entrants hailing from all over the UK and even one international entry! And so our judging panel (our brewery owner Pat, Funk Dungeon lead brewer Jim, beer writer Katie Mather and Chris & Pete from Torrside Brewery) got to work in trying them all. The quality overall was fantastic, with some remarkable beers entered. But the winner of the competition on the day was James Newman, with an absolutely stunning pineapple weed saison. Comments from the judges included that it was a “lovely proper saison”, “very nicely balanced with an excellent adjunct character”, and “elegantly done”.
Unfortunately at the time of the festival, we were right at the end of the pineapple weed season, and so the brew had to wait until mid 2020. And then Covid hit and threw the whole world into disarray.
We finally managed to welcome James to the brewhouse in October 2020, by which point James, Jim, and various other members of Team Abbeydale had freezers full of foraged pineapple weed which we had gathered throughout the summer of lockdown.
The recipe was adapted very slightly to suit our processes whilst still retaining the character of the original brew, using our house saison yeast blend and adding a higher proportion of Nelson Sauvin to act as a filter bed for the pineapple weed in the hopback. A ceremonial addition of the last bottle of James’ award-winning beer into fermenting vessel, and our collaboration was officially go!
The beer has spent 9 months in neutral American oak barrels and prior to blending and carbonating ready for can was dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin to enhance aroma. More pineapple weed was added at this stage for a final flourish too, this time from the 2021 season and gathered by Jim whilst on holiday at Little Earth Project and their beautiful campsite in Suffolk.
The result is a light and refreshing beer, with gentle tartness balanced by a good hit of hop character and a floral, herbal backbone from the pineapple weed. The residual house culture in our barrels give a pleasant balanced lemon character, which means the acidity is higher than the original competition entry, but we feel this creates a great fusion between James’ original recipe and the personality of our Funk Dungeon.
The beer is named Blind Devotion, taken from a Miss Havisham quote from Great Expectations… we thought that a pineapple weed bouquet was just the kind of thing a skele-bride might clutch, and the idea spiralled from there into the design you see on the can, created by our wonderful designer, James Murphy. Cans are available to purchase via our online shop, as well as from independent retailers nationwide.
PS – while we’re here, we’re very happy to announce that fledgling plans are starting to take shape for Funk Fest 2021! Mixed venue, mixed media, mixed fermentation. Keep your eyes peeled for more news coming soon.