Welcome to a long overdue issue of “Lautering With Intent” a relaxed behind the scenes beer chat with the breweries we love here at Otter’s Tears. As you can see, the lovely folks at Duration are in focus today, a brewery aiming to totally immerse themselves into the Norfolk landscape at their West Acre farmhouse brewery. This was written back in December 2020 and as such may contain the odd currently out of context reference, but you can get yourselves right up to date by following them on their social media channels.
Tell us a little about you and your brewery?
Duration Brewing is a farmhouse brewery in West Norfolk, we make fresh beers and wild ales brewed from nature with purpose.
Can you explain the reasons behind the brewery name?
Duration is about time, being off a time and place can resonate in identity and in beer it’s no different. Beer’s heritage often links to the geography and history of what was available in the locale. It’s also about making beer with a certain tempo – fresh and bright to drink in the moment but also slow and matured to store or barrel and aged over time. Lastly, Henri Bergson came up with a theory of Duration where he pertained every living thing strives creatively to reinvent itself in order to remain relevant. We see that in yeast and our job as a brewer – never stand still – keep moving.
Briefly describe your beer journey, from your first drink through to brewing commercially.
Oh my, my first drink was likely a Red Stripe back in a squat party in the Brixton of the 1980s. I certainly was a volume drinker initially but then I was a student in the 1990s. In my thirties, I started dating a chef. We took lots of road trips to discover the best brisket, barbecue, whiskey and beer in the US. Did similar in France with wine and gastronomic cuisine. Bates – the young South Carolinian chef I dated turned into my husband and after seeing him do great things in food and drink in the UK when he expressed a desire to do his own thing, it was my duty to encourage him! Like any true creative he needed a producer, so I stepped up and slotted in around his skills to develop a business plan. We pitched first a brewpub model to a restaurant chain in 2014. It felt great but not our complete idea – it didn’t quite tick all the boxes, we wanted to be a bit more adventurous. Then in 2016, we decided to add in the missing components – beer escaping the city and heading back to its agricultural roots. Field to glass and just beautifully inspiring. We fell in love with a dilapidated old priory complex and started plugging away at a new plan – one we realised in Dec 2019. So far, it’s played out well for us and if this pesky virus relents, we can’t wait to build a taproom and have you all out.
Which moment in that journey are you most proud of?
There have been so many. Touring with our first two releases “Turtles “and “Bet The Farm” brewed nomadically on a BrauKon kit like ours back in 2018. The day spades hit when we broke ground back in Oct 2018. That first mashing in of our first gyle in Norfolk – 23rd Oct 2019 – was pretty overwhelming. I am a strong believer that in life the journey is the destination but the moments that always get me welling up like a fat baby are when beer connects you and grounds you to your intentions so in all honesty, our launch party on 4th July shared via an IGTV event and a private zoom with some of our best trade customers and personal friends – that was pretty special. Check it out on our IGTV from 4th July when we were #HereForIndieBeer we had a band and everything.
100% no. Learning and ways I’d do things differently sure but equipped with what we knew and had at the time no regrets whatsoever. Happy to learn hard and even fail hard but I’m not here to live by my regrets.
What was the last beer you drank for pleasure?
I drink a lot of beer for crit, we work around styles and I really enjoyed sampling UK lagers recently. But just pure pleasure was Monolith by a black Chianti foudre aged beer by Burning Sky. I struggle with dark beers and always have to encourage myself to try them. The added wild yeast and light acidity on this one make it a way in for me.
What genre of music usually rocks the brewhouse to get those creative juices flowing?
Depends who’s brewing, if it’s Bates it’s almost certainly going to be Southern Rock perhaps even a little Bluegrass Dan loves a bit of a mixed bag and Hamish just puts the radio on. For me, in the brewery kiosk, I’ve been belting out the Christmas Classics and also if I’m stock filling the fridge or doing packing prep on merch I do like Avett Brothers.
What do you think the biggest challenges for you will be in the next 12 months?
Financial and mental. The impact of covid on small business supply chain, management, team and resources is bigger than I can go into on a short piece like this. So, for me, the challenges of having to continue with the fall out of Brexit and Covid mismanagement will have a very direct and literal impact on my business and in turn, it will either be cripplingly hard or character building. Perhaps a bit of the two!
Who would you most love to collaborate with and why?
Burning Sky. I just think Mark Trantner is such a fountain of knowledge and really thinks deeply about his beers from a creative standpoint. Pioneer stuff to push the envelope.
If you could have one beer with someone dead or alive, who would it be with, which beer would you choose and where would you drink it?
Anthony Bourdain, his choice – maybe just a Bintang in an Indonesian Warung (street food shack)
What is your perfect beer snack?
Wings or Seafood for me.
What do you like to do outside of your beer life?
Wait, I have a life outside of beer? Ha pretty simple stuff walk the dog, goof about to tunes with my 8-year-old. Travel lots and see friends and family for big food-based hangouts.
Where can people find out more about you, socials/blog/website etc?
We talk best in our blog on durationbeer.com and are chatting on social media @durationbeer If you find yourself on our blog, I’d say Bates Beers That Belong post is a good one, as are our Bedrock Series Wood, Stone, Metal and Water.
Can people pop in to visit you for a beer?
Yes, we open a cellar door often with pop up street food every Saturday afternoon. Best to check website/socials for latest rendition based on the pandemic mind.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Beer is about having a drink together, it’s companionship and unwinding together. However together is don’t forget the social aspect. We offer tours with beers we ship to your door and let’s all pray hard for a day the pubs and venues we love for beer can reopen so we can bottle share and sink a few jars to our heart’s content. It is what’s in the glass but also what’s around it! Also, Chin Up.
*All the images featured are by kind permission of Mark Newton, see the rest of the Duration Brewing photo essay here.