We make a lot of beers at Northern Monk. We released about 140 or so new ones in 2022, although we have scaled that back a little this year. But there’s a handful of beers that our ever-presents. Our fridge killers. And one stands above the rest. Our beloved Faith.
We thought we should tell you the story of Faith. We sat down with co-founder Brian for a real tale of Faith being found, briefly lost, and regained.
We first brewed Faith late 2015 and into 2016, and it was our first single hop recipe. It was very hard to get hops as a small start-up brewery in a very different hop market to what it is now. All our recipes to date used four or five different varieties, namely because should we not be able to get one of them, the flavour profile of the beer wouldn’t have to completely change.
However, when we finally managed to get our hands on Citra it was a no-brainer to showcase it. Russ [our other co-founder] had also been nudging me for a new pale, something tropical and fruitier in profile, to sit between our New World IPA (6.2%), Monachus Pale (4.5%) and Eternal (4.1%). So, Faith was born.
Not hazy and loaded with adjuncts as it is now, but, more-or-less, clear, golden but definitely tropical! It was a step towards what we do now as standard. I used oats to try and build some body, the bitterness was reduced and the dry hop increased.
Unfortunately, this stash of Citra I’d got my hands on didn’t last long. We managed around three or four batches of Faith but my suppliers came up short on finding me any more Citra. We were expecting our first canning line to arrive imminently and needed to decide on three core beers for printed can, and with his uncertainty on Citra supply, Faith didn’t make the cut. But we didn’t lose Faith entirely.
We decided to brew a ‘double Faith’ to use up the last of what we had. And from this, Heathen, which became one of our core beers, was born.
Typically, a few weeks later our supplier did find some more Citra for us so Heathen stayed around whenever we could fit it in the schedule.
Skip ahead to summer 2016, and Russ and I go on a research trip to New England to check out these hype opaque IPAs everyone was talking about. We came back inspired!
Fast forward to spring 2017, and we’ve experienced rapid growth as a brewery. Suddenly hop suppliers want the business of this ‘hype’ brewery and hop availability is looking much more promising!
We’ve moved into our Sydenham Road home and at the same time we’re doing a rebrand, expanding the core range and looking to bring 440ml ‘tallboys’ into the range. Faith and Heathen return as core beers, and now much closer visually and flavour-wise to today.
We brought in wheat to join the oats in the grist, and at a far higher % than we’d done before. We used a ‘New England’ packet yeast which brought stone fruit esters akin to the NE IPAs we’d tried in the States.
Hot side hops where reduced and dry hop increased. Citra was joined by Mosaic and Columbus in the mix to bring some three-dimensionality to the hop profile.
Not too much has changed since - don’t mess with a winning formula!
Our quality has improved and with it the consistency of the beer. Columbus is now just in the whirlpool, bringing some low level dank, pepper and grassy notes to under pin the Citra-led dry hop which is still backed up by Mosaic. We found a better, more reliable yeast strain which also boosted the murk levels.
And that’s the story of how we finally found our Faith.
This article first appeared in The Scribe, the Northern Monk magazine.