If there’s one thing this county does well, it’s beer. From national ale giants Everards, to the smaller county breweries like Langtons, all the way to independent microbrew operations like the West End Brewery Pub on Braunstone Gate, Leicestershire has a rich history of quality brewing. Leicester now has a new brewery, right in the heart of the city, and the story of Framework Brewery is remarkable.
Named after Leicester’s historic framework knitting tradition, the brewery opened for business at the beginning of October 2016, and dispatched its first trade-ready brews as early as December 3rd; an incredible turnaround for a new brewery. In the space of three months, their beers have been housed in pubs all around the Midlands and beyond.
Situated in one of the buildings of the old Friday Street Depot, Framework has burst onto the scene from humble beginnings. The day-to-day operations of Framework are handled by Head Brewers Andrew Goodliffe and Johnny Briggs, who met each other while working for the Leicester probation service and decided to take a chance on founding a brewery upon leaving that profession. There are three other partners in the business; Michael Willis, Matthew Mabe and James Willis, all of whom work for Bulb Studios, a graphic design outfit on New Walk – something Briggs said has come in very handy for their marketing and labelling designs.
Briggs and Goodliffe do the bulk of the brewery work – sourcing their hops and ingredients, organising and carrying out deliveries and, of course, making the beer itself. Goodliffe has been making small batch home-brews for around five years, and had plenty of people to test his recipes on, including Briggs, who quickly became a steadfast fan. Framework is very much a labour of love; an endeavour entered into not simply to make money, but for the love of making new and interesting beers. Goodliffe says: “Obviously, we need to turn a profit, but the reason why we’re here is because we enjoy making beer, and we want to be able to bring the kind of beers I’ve enjoyed making to a wider audience.”
It is that passion for beer which has influenced some unconventional choices. Framework don’t use any Isinglass or finings (a filtering material made using fish swim bladders) in the brewing process; which makes all of their beers 100% vegan. Some would argue that also means the beers will lose an element of clarity; but from our experience, they look and taste more than fine, which is reflective of another of their most important decisions.
“We’re mainly using, for the time-being, American and New Zealand hops; we add them at the end to add the flavour, which is why all of our beers are called “New World” beers,” Briggs tells us. The flavours and aromas these hops provide is astonishing; Briggs let us smell their New Zealand Wakatu hops, which have an incredibly fruity scent, with powerful notes of mango and grapefruit. As for the beers they’re making, the transition to commercial brewing has led to some necessary experimentation. “We’re doing pale ales, stouts and porters; but we’re changing those up as we go along.” In order to differentiate each brew, they’re given a Pattern Number – something which also harks back to Leicester’s textiles trade. While the basic recipe remains the same, variations in the hops, the temperature, or length of time the brew takes all make a difference.
We were given a sample of the Simcoe Stout on site, and it is just wonderful. It maintains that bitter, earthy first taste you’ll find from your favourite stouts, but then you’re hit with a huge mix of fruit and caramel flavours from the incredible hop blends – a list so extensive that I couldn’t write them down fast enough. It was so good that we almost forgot it was 9am while we were drinking it and asked for another.
Framework’s first four beers are Simcoe Stout, Columbus Porter, Centennial Rye and US Pale Ale. They can be found in pubs all over the city and county, including The Exchange, Broood, The Criterion and The Blue Boar in the city; The Needle & Pin in Loughborough, The Pestal & Mortar in Hinckley and other sites in Long Eaton, Northampton and Derby. Bottles can regularly be found at BrewDog Leicester and The Offie in Clarendon Park, and plans are underway to open a bottle shop at the brewery in time for the Leicester Beer Festival.
Follow them on Twitter @frameworkbrews for up-to-date info as to their most recent deliveries.
Photography by David Wilson Clarke