Marble beers began brewing in 1997 after owner Vance Debechvel and manager Mark Dade decided it was a choice between a karaoke room or independent brewing, to aide the survival of ‘The Marble Arch Inn’. Since then Marble have brewed with an emphasis on high quality ingredients, hop forward thinking and an idea to create beer that people wanted to drink and talk about. Striving to give customers all the hops they can handle, all Marble beers are natural, un-pasturised and un-fined.

Recently Marble collaborated with Port 66’s James Kemp to produce ‘Howgate & Kemp’ a 6.4% New Zealand Pale Ale. We caught up with head brewer Matthew Howgate to ask about this beer, Marble and brewing.

Where did the idea for the Howgate & Kemp New Zealand Pale Ale collaboration come from, and how did you come up with the recipe?

Myself and JK came up with the recipe after pinging a few emails to each other. We decided on a simple malt base using some caramalt and carapills at around 4% each. JK was really keen on pushing the water treatment levels up to really try and showcase the hops, we did this by adding extra gypsum and the results were pleasing.

We were both really keen on using the hop Southern Cross in the aroma charge, and I’ve recently changed the Manchester bitter recipe to start using a lot of Waemea hops with great success so we decided to use this as a first wort hop. As it was a NZPA the hops were always going to be outstanding as they usually are from that part of the world.

We were all very happy with how the beer turned out including Elli, who runs the office. She claims it’s the best beer ever brewed by Marble. Top work JK!

Any plans to brew the Emancipation, Marble’s first collaboration with JK, again?

Production is really tight currently at the brewery, and our core range is flying out. We have recently launched our products in kegs and introduced a whole new bottling procedure (to improve quality and consistency), including newly designed labels. As soon as we have a slot to play with we will be brewing Emancipation 2014, for keg. We are all really looking forward to brewing this one again.

Of all the Marble beers ever brewed what’s your favorite and why?

The East India Porter we brewed recently, it’s based on an old recipe of mine from a different brewery. The original was for a 4.8% dark mild, but we decided to increase malt and hop charges to suit style and took the ABV up to 5.9%. The beer ended up been rich, sticky and fruity, it went down very well.

What’s your favorite non-Marble beer to drink?

My favourite non-Marble beer is Duchesse De Bourgogne. Outstanding Beer.

Throughout your career you’ve worked for large multinational breweries and smaller operations such as Marble, what are the main differences and which do you prefer?

Once I had graduated from University I knew I wanted to become a brewer, or work in the brewing industry. Growing up in Tadcaster with all of its breweries, it fascinated me, and after 3 ½ years at Leeds Brewery I was adamant I needed to go work at a large multinational brewery. After getting that opportunity, the one thing that I soon realized was that there isn’t the care and passion for beer quality and flavor as there is at places like Marble and Leeds. Sure, the beer is of a high standard and the consistency is very impressive buy the major difference is the team here are really invested in the brewery and it’s not just a place of work.

What does the next 12 months hold for the Marble?

Consistency & Quality are the two major variables that we have been focusing most of our attention on for the last 6 months and I imagine this will be the case going forward. We have a relatively new team at the brewery and getting everyone up to speed and put through their brewing qualifications is one thing that will help us achieve this. I don’t think we are too far away from being where we want to be, but there is always room for improvement. We are keen on developing our current brand and range as well as producing new beers and we have plenty of ideas, including launching a Bohemian Pills style lager beer.

What beer styles do you see growing in popularity over the next 12 months?

As kegging becomes more popular I envisage new start up brewery’s producing a lot more continental beers. I was at the Leeds international beer festival recently and the collection of beers styles available was immense.

A craft beer fan has one day in Manchester what should they do?

No beer trip shouldn’t include the Marble Arch pub and a visit to Beermoth bottle shop.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start in the beer industry?

Its all about hard work, getting hands on and asking questions. A good example of this is we recently had a young lad on work experience for 2 weeks. We spoke and he seemed really keen as he was a big craft beer drinker he was even able to tell me what current hop was in fashion. We started him off on cask washing, as we do with everyone. He didn’t turn up the next day.

If you’ve tried Howgate & Kemp let us know what you thought of the beer in the comments below.

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