Signature Brew

Fundamentals #43 — Signature Brew Reverb New England IPA

Long before I entered the beer industry, I wanted to be a record producer. A childish pipe dream, perhaps. But still I went to University and took a degree in sound engineering. I was even quite good at it (IMO.) But alas the call of beer led me away from the music career that could have been. Which was probably for the best really.

What studying sound engineering has never taken away from me is how it changed the way I listened to music. I don’t hear songs, I hear individual tracks. Each treated with an array of different tools to make it more pronounced, or softer, or whatever that particular sound dictates. It made me think critically about music in the same way I now think about beer – when I’m writing a review such as this at least.

One of my favourite musical treatments is reverb. The idea behind using reverb is that it creates space in your track. You can do this by recording in a bigger room, or perhaps one with a harder surface such as a bathroom (or castle, as Led Zeppelin did once). Or you can use modern digital or analogue trickery. Reverb is so powerful in that it can turn a dead sound into a lively one simply by placing it in a different sounding room. Or in its extremes, it can create cascades of endless, glorious reflection.

In my opinion, the most expert use of Reverb as a production effect exists on every track of Radiohead’s 1997 opus, OK Computer. Whether a track is drenched in lush echo, or has simply a tight, enlivening vibe, each use of Reverb is perfect. Every sound on that record is in its right place. Much like the hops in Signature Brew’s latest New England IPA, Reverb.

This beer uses deftly applied doses of Mosaic, Enigma and Simcoe hops to created layered yet balanced textures of pine, citrus and tropical fruit. And despite the intensity of this beer’s flavour, one element never dominates the others, making it astonishingly drinkable. It’s a beer to give even the most lauded producers of hazy, yellow beer a run for their money. And, much like Radiohead’s classic LP, it never becomes tiresome. Here is a beer that gets no less captivating with each repeated sip.

[Disclosure: My partner Dianne is the Assistant Manager of Signature Brew’s London Taproom.]

Matthew Curtis is a freelance writer, photographer and author of our award-winning Fundamentals column. He's written for numerous publications including BEER, Ferment, Good Beer Hunting and Original Gravity. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis. This beer features in our February All Killer No Filler subscription box. Get on board here.

#HBBAdvent Beer 19: Signature Brew x Mogwai Beer Satan (London)

Signature Brew says: Taken at face value, Mogwai Beer Satan is a limited-edition 5.2% ABV New England pale ale brewed in collaboration with Mogwai and East London brewery, Signature Brew. Scratch beneath the surface, however, and you'll uncover the brewery's first concept beer, built around the properties of Mogwai's seminal track Mogwai Fear Satan. At a towering 16 minutes long the track sounds vast and complex, but strip it away and you'll find just two chords at its heart. To mirror this, the beer employs simple ingredients which blend to make a flavour bigger than the sum of their parts… with a fittingly long finish. This tropical, hazy IPA is low in bitterness and carries huge, hoppy flavours and aromas of mango, pineapple and white grape. In addition, a small amount of chillies added late in the brewing process brings a subtle heat that gently builds as the song crescendos.

We say: It’s been a big year for Signature Brew, they’ve opened their new taproom in Hackney, continued to collaborate across the music business and put out more hits than a 90s boyband. They also kindly hosted us as we brought Chilli Karaoke north of the river for a night of capsicum-induced pain and performance. Fittingly,, the beer we’ve chosen also highlights all of our passions at HB&B.

Mogwai Beer Satan (a collaboration with Scottish post-rock legends Mogwai) is a NEIPA with chilli, kicking off with juicy tropical vibes before slowly turning up the volume as the heat takes hold - Nathan. HB&B Deptford manager

Matthew Curtis's No More Heroes XII – Signature Brew Roadie Session IPA

Way back before I started to write about beer I used to play guitar in a pretty cool band called Brontosaurus Chorus. It was a lot of fun, we were even quite good, and you can still listen to our recorded efforts on Spotify.

The best part about being in a band was playing live. For 30 minutes you could transport yourself away from the stage in the dingy venue you were playing, to a world of fuzzy guitar solos and cavernous reverb. The worst part was carrying your heavy gear to every gig and every rehearsal. Schlepping a guitar, amp and a bag full of pedals on London’s public transport system is a long way from the fun of actually playing them.

My guitar rarely leaves the house these days, but my backpack is often clinking with the sound of several beer bottles. The sudden increase in the popularity of the beer can has been a boon. In fact I often find myself choosing cans simply because I can fit more in my bag and they’re a hell of a lot lighter.

Signature Brew, who brew in Leyton, North-East London, are one of the latest breweries to switch their packaging over to cans. The aptly named Roadie is the perfect beer for this format: a session IPA light on alcohol but packed with flavour. What stood out for me about this beer is that, unlike many session IPAs, it isn’t dominated by bitter, unbalanced, citrus flavours. There’s plenty of sweetness that reminds me of the barley sugar sweets I used to suck as a kid. This is followed by plenty of the pithy lemon and grapefruit notes you usually find in a beer like this but the sweetness smooths out the peaks, making this a really enjoyable beer.

Cans are like the beer drinker's own personal roadie, making getting them from place to place that much easier. Next time you find yourself crushing a can of beer at a gig, spare a thought for the poor sods on stage that have to carry all their gear home later on.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis.