Prior to the launch of his new brewery, Crosspool Ale Makers Society, I sat down with Mark to talk all things beer and brewing!
Crosspool Ale Makers Society (I’m calling it CAMS for short) is the next step from one of the two people behind Hopscotch Craft Brewers which recently brewed it’s last beer (So if you see one with the old Hopscotch branding – grab it quick!). Originally, Hopscotch was run by mates of 30 years Mark and Joe, but after Joe decided to take a break from brewing, Mark chose to strike out on his own!
Mark – I originally said no at first when Joe wanted to set up a brewery, but then I just did it anyway! We started off with 6 months of home-brewing and then started fully in March 2018 as a microbrewery. Hopscotch isn’t dead however! Look out for potential collaborations in the future.
With any new brewery there comes a tough task – finding names for the beers! Whilst Hopscotch kept it pretty simple with the likes of ‘Red Ale’, ‘Stout’ and ‘Pale’, Mark intends to be a bit more adventurous with the names of his new beers!
Mark – Expect names that draw from the local area as much as possible. The first beer launched, Horatio Bright, pays homage to a notable historical figure from the Crosspool/Crookes area with the next beer to be launched being ‘Sandygate’ – named after the worlds oldest football ground!
As someone who is just getting into brewing themselves, I couldn’t resist asking for some tips on brewing in general and how he comes up with the recipes for new beers, including what ingredients he uses to add an extra oomph to his brews.
Mark – When it comes to new beers – just make it up! Generally get the basic idea for what you want to end up with, then just throw stuff in! As long as you keep track of what you’ve done, you can always replicate. And when scaling up brews, it helps if you are using nice even numbers to make the maths easier! Pineapple is a really difficult fruit to brew with, and I generally try to use local Sheffield ingredients wherever possible, such as Sheffield honey and rhubarb from the local allotments.
As we were chatting away, one thing kept coming up – a sense of community within the brewing industry. Mark told stories of bigger breweries picking up kegs and casks on the way to beer festivals, meaning that Hopscotch (and now CAMS) could reach festivals that otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to.
Now we move on to some all important quickfire questions! What is his favourite type of beer?
Probably stout, but that might be because its the middle of winter!
Least favourite type?
Anything with milk in it! Completely against it! (Note – I can’t emphasize enough how against milk beers Mark was!)
Favourite place to drink?
Two Sheds (Note – we were sat in Two Sheds at the time haha) and also the Cutlery Works where I launched the new beer!
The big one – after the chaos the category has caused for HCBC, what does ‘Drinkability’ mean to you?
Is there a fence and can I sit on it?! I would probably say how many of a single beer you can drink before being fed up of it.
What can we expect to see in the future from CAMS?
Initially, I’m producing beers that are based on old Hopscotch favourites whilst putting my own spin on them. But as it gets more established it’ll be time to experiment a bit more!
I’ve tried one beer from Hopscotch and one from CAMS, and they are both very pleasant easy drinking beers, but don’t take my word for it, go out and try them for yourselves!
And that’s your lot for this week’s spotlight! I hope to be sitting down with some more of the local Sheffield microbreweries in the future so look out for those as and when I get round to them!
Big thanks to Two Sheds for hosting us, and make sure you pay them a visit when Crosspool Ale Makers Society hold a tap takeover on Monday 11th March!
Finally, a huge thanks to Mark for meeting with me, an effortlessly friendly bloke who all of us at HCBC wish every success to. Look forward to hearing more from Mark as a special guest on our next HCBC tasting session!