Words & Photo - Matthew Curtis
As the brewing industry in the UK becomes ever larger and more prevalent it’s getting increasingly difficult for these businesses to achieve the attention they desire. From a writers perspective it's proving to be ever more challenging to pick out the real gems from the crowd. There are a lot of great breweries out there but there are also try hards and copycats, pushing beer that simply doesn’t cut it. These folks want the same coverage as the breweries making really great beer and they’re probably going to work even harder to achieve that, because they need to.
A consequence of this clamouring is that people tend to focus on the same small group of excellent UK breweries – and rightly so, because these are the folks making waves and bringing ever more people into the fold. Another symptom of this is that personally I find it increasingly difficult to get excited about new breweries, instead saving my enthusiasm for beer that I find comforting and reliable.
Step forward Deya Brewing, which was established by brewer Theo Freyne in Cheltenham last year. The location is the first thing that piqued my interest. Instead of setting up in one of the UK’s craft beer hubs such as London, Manchester or Bristol, Freyne chose a market that’s fresh, new and unhindered by competition on your doorstep. The signs that Cheltenham was ready for this were already heralded by The Wild Beer Co opening its first bar and resturant there in 2015.
It was from The Wild Beer Co’s other bar in Bristol's Wapping Wharf where I bought my first can of Deya’s flagship pale ale, Steady Rolling Man. I hadn’t planned to buy it at all, despite it catching my eye in the fridge, but the praise from the bar staff was so high I couldn’t resist – word of mouth already in play. I enjoyed the beer - a very modern, hazy pale ale full of juicy tropical fruits but the finish was a little grainy. I knew it wasn’t quite there yet – but it planted that all important seed of curiosity. I was intrigued to find out more, so went and chatted to Freyne at last weeks Craft Beer Rising festival.
Freyne poured me a glass of Steady Rolling Man, which already tasted fresher and more dialled in than the can I’d tried previously. He chatted to me about how after he completed his masters in brewing and distilling at Heriot Watt he then spent three months brewing at none other than Odell Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado.
“Brewing at Odell instilled in me the importance of consistency and quality,” Freyne says. “They work incredibly hard getting their beer right each and every time its brewed and that’s what I took away with me when I left to start Deya.”
While at Deya’s stand I also sampled its tropical stout, which was arguably even more impressive than its Pale Ale. Its collaboration with Falmouth’s Verdant Brewery was also delicious – an on trend hazy Double IPA that gives the likes of Cloudwater and Brew By Numbers an impressive run for their money.
Make no mistake, this is a brewery to keep a close eye on – and one that will snap at the heels at the seemingly “untouchable” breweries at the heart of British craft beer. The arrival of Deya and others such as Verdant is evidence that there is still plenty of room in the market for new breweries and that the status of modern British beer will continue to grow and mature.