Heavy Water: New kid on the block

It all started at the Oxford Beer and Cider Festival a couple of years ago when two blokes who didn’t know each other got talking. Both were keen home brewers, but a commercial venture is now taking shape with the dream of one day having their own brew pub in Oxford.

The blokes are Steve Baker, a recently retired management consultant, and Ade Pugh, an ex-RAF and now commercial airline pilot. Beer is sometimes referred to as “heavy water” as the sugars make it denser than water, measured by its specific gravity.  Heavy Water, or deuterium oxide, was also at the heart of the 1950s Atomic Age, driving scientific and technological innovation.

And the beers? A wide range is already being produced, with the pair acting as “cuckoo brewers” using the premises and some of the kit of Church Hanbrewery near Witney. Most produce is bottled at present, and the range includes hoppy IPAs, fruity Belgian beers, malty traditional ales, chocolatey stouts and porters, and more. All beers are unfiltered, unfined, vegetarian and unpasteurised.

Cuckoos in the Teardrop nest….. Steve Baker and Ade Pugh with Luciana Gyuricza

“We spent a long time getting the licences and all we needed to set up, and Luciana and Christian Gyuricza of Church Hanbrewery have been very accommodating,” said Steve. “We had our own fermenters and chillers, but it was the hot side of brewery kit that we needed to rent.

“It’s available mainly in bottles, but we have brewed some beer in kegs and occasional small casks as well. We can only wholesale at the moment, but we hope to set up a bike-powered delivery service around Oxford.”

One of Heavy Water’s beers (on keg) and some of its bottled range are usually available at Teardrop bar in Oxford’s Covered Market, which is run by Church Hanbrewery. Other outlets include the speciality off-licences Drunk Dry in Kidlington and Eynsham Cellars.

“It would be great to have our own brew pub somewhere in the city, and maybe this is a good time to be looking for premises,” said Steve. Should we be watching this space?

Pale ales, dark ales, seasonal ales and low-alcohol ales are part of the current range, including Oxford Marmalade (a fruity IPA), Dragonfly stout, Schrodinger wheat beer and Anti-Gravity, at 0.5%.

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