If you ever want to appreciate the humble macro lager, the multinational pisswater that is so beloved by almost every single cross section of society around the world. Try Fucking brewing it at home. You’ll soon be down an inescapable collapsing wormhole of failure that seems to cycle back and forth between terrible and awful. How can something so simple, so utilitarian and disposable? The ketchup of the beer world, be so hard to make?
Spoiler. Ketchup is also hard to make.
Stoop is the FIRST beer we tried to make. It was named after where me and Mike used to drink, on the stoop of the apartment we crashed in, in the east village, New York in the 90s. From bud lite to milwaukee best, from mickey's big mouth to colt 45, we sunk a staggering amount of slop. Sitting on that stoop. In the sun the hot humid streets. It’s a legal grey area. Since you can’t legally drink on the street, but you could, obviously in your house so the stoop was a bit of both, well not us, we were both under 21 but my mum had made me a fake ID from The International School of American Studies, Sussex. It was a bit of a wild west time for us, playing in punk bands, living off of 24 hour bodega sushi and gyros, just in general being degenerates, waking up hungover on Rockaway beach, getting a tooth knocked out at a NYHC show.. Spending nights at The Cock and Mars Bar, Character building
So when we decided to brew beer for more than ourselves AMERICAN pilsner was high on the list. But what I didn’t realise was this particular project would take years to be successful and would probably provide the most trauma of any brew.
The first brick wall was almost no information exists in the open for homebrewing or microbrewing these kind of macro pilsners. There is some bro science and guesses but essentially it’s a product that is cheaper to buy than to make at a small scale. Macro producers are secretive. They are multibillion dollar companies. Even if you found the answer, it might not be true. And the process is just as important as the ingredients. I tell you what I found. A lot of people telling me not to bother and a hell of a lot of dead ends, outdated information, misinformation and ultimately, frustration.
Ok, that's the failures, what's the wins? First fallacy is there are no hops in lager, there are, and they are super important. The grain is critical the yeast is critical but the hops are still very important. We managed to talk to some ex-macro employees (macro is like the opposite of small batch craft, huge monolithic companies) - And they pretty much confirmed what we thought, that there was in fact a lot of secrecy around the hops but broadly they were old school hops like Saaz. However, one employee noted that Pabst, had, for a time, been using a large amount of Styrian Wolf from Slovenia. This test of kettle hopping with Styrian Wolf was the first breakthrough. It actually moved the needle decisively from day one. And whilst we also use another hop that is unusual for the whirl, and even more strange in lager, Galaxy, it was the Styrian Wolf that lends itself the right notes. The second phase was getting it crisp, dry but maintaining the illusion of alcohol, we don't do it anymore as we have somewhat refined the process. But initially, we used both red pepper chili flakes and szechuan peppercorns in the boil to invoke a subtle placebo of alcohol effect. To try to get it feeling crisp and dry I used wine tannins from a homebrew wine kit.
This was it, we gathered at Northern Monk Old Flax Store with Adam and Tom, And we quite literally added chunks of chardonnay cask barrel in to the boil. This brew was a moonshot, a kitchen sink, ‘goddamned it, if this doesnt work then fuck it, I’m out’
The results after the first week were not great, it alternated between the water at the bottom of the bin and eggs. We threw all the things we could at it to see if we could get it to settle down. In the end we decided we’d leave it in the tank conditioning (basically the last stage a big tank kept really cold for a few weeks to a month to help the beer improve) past the 6-week point. Honestly at this point, because I figured as soon as we called it, we’d have to pay to dump it. I wanted to put that off as long as possible. The business was still young and finances were a wreck.
I got a call “you better come up to leeds, it's worked” I got up at 4am to catch a bus to the train station, I finally got in to Leeds at 9am and power walked to the brewery.
We pulled a sample and it was a little hazy still but it had this dramatic, gratuitous and glorious head on the beer. There was a bready, full, slightly acidic and really dry flavour. It actually worked. This wouldn't be the first time Adam and Tom would get one of our impossible beers to work.
We make some pretty poor choices of marketing. And marketing a macro style lager to the craft beer market was a bit of a nosedive, the beer didn't sell at first. One brewery that bought some for the taproom hated it so much that they made Alex come and collect a 12 pack we sent them. We were so green, we actually did it lol.
A few months later we would pour this beer at Hop City, the keg would be THE FIRST TO SELL OUT at the festival. We now export Stoop to over 50 countries, including the USA and from May 2023, we will begin producing Stoop in the USA.
It's our best selling beer.