I don’t often write about beer as my start-up journey is so varied, winding, that I tend to focus on that. However recently I’ve had an urge to share my vision and care that makes every single bottle of Devitera.
The desire has always been to create something where I could control every aspect and deliver perfection. It is the small tiny details that bother me and I want them perfect! I’m not into detail, actually more of a big picture person, but I want things right. Perhaps it’s become an obsession, and if it isn’t already it will be soon!
I had a vision of a hot summers day, a party, and a person (actually a woman) at a BBQ standing up, and drinking from a bottle of beer; my beer. This was the beginning and everything has grown from these two fundamentals.
From the very first second you saw Devitera I wanted a work of art. I imagined the beer stood on a shelf, without me around, and among lots of other beers. I imaged it lonely in a dining room, and finally packaged up in a box. I wanted your eyes to be drawn to it like a magnet.
I wanted quite bold branding, and yet balanced with authenticity; somehow aligned to me as a person. Something honest and real.
When you pick up a bottle of Devitera, or hold the beer box-sets I wanted a textured feeling in the hand. For it to feel right before you’ve even opened the bottle (now this bit I can’t quite explain).
I always wanted my beer in bottles. It feels good in the hand and nicer drinking from (than a can). It just feels right. The bottle is amber to protect the quality of the beer, and is 330ml to be held in the hand (remember the vision).
I didn’t want to clutter the bottle with anything unnecessary so a single, no fuss, textured label. A single gold cap across every beer style. No fuss, clean and simple.
I searched for a long time to find boxes to package Devitera that extended the brand. It has to tick the boxes (no pun intended) on the eyes and feel right. The shape is important too, and the finish has to be matt (I dislike gloss for some reason).
My lovely wife made up a Devitera stamp, and hand stamps each and every box (using white paint). It takes two days to dry and looks and feels just right.
OPENING THE BOTTLE…YET?
At this point you may be thinking “you haven’t even opened the bottle yet stop rambling!”. Well it’s true. I care about everything inside AND outside the bottle. Everything that is, and isn’t, shipped. I care about HOW the beer is produced. Perhaps it is an obsession after all?
Wherever possible I source locally and of the highest quality. For example my point of sale (the marketing material displayed in shops) is on kraft card purchased locally.
I strive to use stuff efficiently and keep the impact of Devitera on the environment to a minimum. Much of the microbrewery “furniture” has been salvaged from various sources including neighbours and businesses disposing of their rubbish. I use junk mail as scrap paper. I even using packaging for insulation.
The best example is IKEA has an area in their car park where damaged products are recycled to customers. Not only is this a fabulous idea, but a great source of odd bits of surfaces etc. that find a use in the brewhouse.
I try to source less processed ingredients and locally if possible. My grain comes from a maltster in Warminster, which I collect direct. This week I was doing deliveries and naturally passing, so I collected on my way home to reduce the “food miles”.
The hops are whole flowers, so very natural, and some come from the UK.
The water is mains water and comes mainly from Lacock. I “burtonise” the water which means I add some mineral to make it more like the water in Burton-On-Trent (once considered the best water in the world). This is the only addition I make to my beer, apart from adding sugar when it’s bottled (see why below).
PRODUCING A BOTTLE
From grain to beer in a bottle is no more than 20 yards, as Devitera is hand brewed, bottled, and labelled on site. Devitera is bottle conditioned which means that it contains live yeast. Just like champagne Devitera beer has natural carbonation created by the live yeast eating sugar added as the beer is bottled. The beer is conditioned in a “warm room” for one month before being ready to drink.
All labels are hand stamped with the name of the beer, alcohol volume, and best before date. This means that every bottle is 100% unique as I make mistakes from time to time (picking up the stamp upside down is a classic!)
OPENING THE BEER
So finally time to open the bottle! Well wait a moment. Stand the bottle upright for 24 hours to let the yeast fall to the bottom of the bottle again. The beer is best served at 12 degrees, so put it in a fridge for 30 minutes before drinking.
Make sure you have a nice clean glass and open the bottle. You should hear a slight “fuft” sound which shows the yeast has been busy. As you pour, pour slowly to not disturb the yeast at the bottom of the bottle. If you like your beer cloudy then just pour :).
This beer is as natural as I can make it. It has not been filtered, pasteurised, or injected with CO2. This isn’t mass produced and brewed with care. This is a real live beer and I hope you enjoy it!