It was inevitable that brewer Jake Griffin would one day launch his own brewery. It was just a matter of where, when, who and what.
|Brewer Jake Griffin on tour!|
In fact, his first batch of kegs sold out quickly pretty much everywhere they went, such was the strength of Jake’s reputation, and indeed the growing praise for Ahab and Ishmael.
Jake Griffin made a name for himself in 2012 when he and his pal Chris Lewis (who’s just set up his own Dead End Brew Machine) won a homebrew contest, organised by the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, with their brain-melting Zombier porter. The beer raised eyebrows and secured Jake a stint at Fyne Ales. The Argyll brewery also went on to unleash the beer to an eager public.
A few years later and Jake graduated to become head brewer at Drygate, though the plans for his own brewery had clearly been fermenting for quite some time.
Rather than regarding his a rival, his current employers are fully supportive - Up Front is based out of Drygate, and Jake has a canning contract with Williams Brothers of Alloa (who part-own Drygate). In fact, Drygate is home to a few other “gypsy” breweries - Floodline, Monolith and Heidrun.
Jake’s also working on sorting out a national distribution deal, and the ambitious brewer is this weekend transporting 500 of his cans down to Bristol for the Festival of Apathy, organised by artist Stanley Donwood, the man behind pretty much all of Radiohead’s artwork. Jake’s also hoping to get along to a few beer festivals closer to home, assuming he can get the time off!
Donwood also happens to be the man who designed Up Front’s labels (how Jake and Stanley met is a story in itself by the way). His labels are distinctive and beautiful - sweeping black and light lines of an angry sea surround the titular characters. See below of pics.
But how do they taste? Having missed the launch, I picked up a couple of Up Front’s cans from newly opened beer shop Grunting Growler in Finnieston.
Ahab is a smooth, rich and multi-layered stout with heaps of fruity US hop flavours smoothly balanced against black coffee, roasted and chocolate notes, with some sweetness and a wee bit of smokiness there too. At 6%, Ahab stout is easy to drink, waxy, medium bodied and full of flavour and character. And it’s black dark like the fatal captain’s own watery tomb.
In contrast, Jake’s other launch beer was Ishmael. A hearty US-style IPA, also 6%, that pours a glowing amber with a thick white head. Again, Jake’s gone for hefty amounts of American hops, with grapefruit, tangerine and resin flavours all singing out. A clean, robust toffee-like malt backbone remains like an anchor. Ishmael IPA is lively and big of character, with a long-lasting finish that, like the poor sailor himself, stays with you until the bitter end.