Jump/Ship Brewing

Jump/Ship Brewing: Crafting Flavourful Non-Alcoholic Brews

Welcome to the Love Your Local Larder Podcast! A podcast that celebrates local produce with the people who cook and grow it.

Blog written by Louise McKie.

In this episode, Suzie heads to Jump/Ship Brewing to meet the founder, Sonja Mitchell. Jump/Ship are unique in a number of ways, most defining of these being that they are Scotland’s only non-alcoholic brewery. This was conceptualised by Sonja in response to her frustration at how it seemed she had to choose between drinking the local craft beers she loved, or having a lifestyle that didn’t include fuzzy heads and hangovers. Nothing on the market delivered on both fronts, so Sonja enrolled in a brewing course, found herself a brewer and came up with the first recipe for a lager that boasted less than 0.5% alcohol but was packed with flavour.

Listen to the full podcast here...

Jump/Ship are proud to keep things local, so Sonja’s initial search for a brewery to make her first batch was concentrated in Scotland. However, it turned out that coming up with the recipe was the easy part! Making this commercially scalable proved a much trickier enterprise. After some trial and error with two established, commercial Scottish breweries, Sonja faced down her imposter syndrome and decided to brew her lager her way.

Now, Jump/Ship have a healthy roster of 4 regular products and, at least one seasonal addition. Their Yardarm Lager famously won the top award at the World Beer Awards in 2021 and a host of Scottish and European awards have since followed. All these products are nautically themed, mirroring Sonja’s love of sailing. This affords the beers a personality and story that, we believe, enhance the experience of buying from Jump/Ship. From the flag-like designs to the tales behind the name, the brand identity is rooted both in Scotland and in sailing.

Jump/Ship Brewing's Founder, Sonja

Suzie and Sonja discuss the shift in consumer culture to more moderate consumption of alcohol and the lessening of the scorn associated with drinking non-alcoholic beverages. Here, Sonja was passionate that there be no compromise on flavour, as she had experienced first-hand the disappointing reality of choosing between unsatisfying non-alcoholic beers or sugary soft drinks when she chose to forego a hangover. The flavours in Jump/Ship have been carefully created to manage the fermentation process to allow exciting flavours with an alcohol content of only 0.5%.

As a beer novice, Suzie is given an introduction to beer and brewing, beginning with the ingredients that define beer: barley, water, yeast and hops (although Sonja uses grains other than barley, helping all Jump/Ship products be vegan and lactose-free). Without hops, it cannot be called beer. These are vine-like flowers that are full of aromatic oils and flavour compounds that were initially used as a preservative to stop beer from spoiling. Now, they are utilised to create a range of flavour profiles, a quality Jump/Ship has utilised to great effect.

Beer Hops

Suzie then discovers the difference between a lager and an ale. We learn that lagers use yeasts that ferment differently to ales, offering distinctive differences in flavour; lagers have a cleaner, crisper taste, whilst ales tend towards more fruity flavours. A key difference is that lagers are conditioned at cold temperatures for longer: the word ‘lager’ literally means this in German!

In the tasting session, Suzie is treated to three, very different products, beginning with the flagship, Yardarm Lager. This is a straw-coloured lager with a slightly apricot aroma that gets its name from the flag on ships that was used to mark when sailors would be allowed their first tot of rum in the day as the sun passed over it. Suzie remarks that this has flavours that linger with a nice balance of sweetness and bitterness. It is a bonus that this lager is also gluten-free (with less than 10 ppm), contains around 40 calories and is also isotonic. Suzie’s conclusion is that 'this is a really light beer that is a perfect way to enjoy something different [to alcoholic beverages]'.

Jump/Ship Brewing Beers

Her second beer is Jackstaff, an Indian Pale Ale (IPA) packed with hops in the tradition of IPAs. Jump/Ship add these at three stages: at the end of the boil, while the hot liquid cools and then again once the beer is cool. This provides complex flavours from mosaic and centennial hops that Suzie finds smell peachy and taste really fruity in flavour: 'This IPA just explodes as soon as it goes into your mouth!'

The final taste is of Stoker’s Stout, which has a coffee-coloured appearance that surprises Suzie after the other two beers. This is smoky-flavoured yet chocolatey on the palette, coming from the malts in the blend: roast malt, chocolate malt with additions of cacao and vanilla. It has a dry finish that Suzie remarks, ‘sit in the back of your throat’. What’s wonderful about this beer is that the experience of looking at it, smelling it and tasting it are all so different! Sonja advises that this pairs well with barbeque foods, steak, and also with chocolate owing to the flavour notes in it. Try it in this Chocolate Stout Mug Cake recipe - it's delicious!

By the end of her tasting session and a quick tour of the brewery, the ultimate compliment is paid to Jump/Ship Brewing in Suzie’s conclusion that she has now, genuinely, been converted to beer:
'As a non-beer lover I was so intrigued to go and visit Jump/Ship. I really admire Sonja for everything she's built here, she really knows her product and clearly loves making sure that everyone can enjoy good quality non-alcoholic beer. I am a total convert - I really enjoyed them all and would highly recommend them to anyone!' - Suzie Millar, Host.

All of these products, as well as the current seasonal addition, can be found online at Jump/Ship Brewing.

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