Who are Tooth & Claw?
Taken straight from their own website Tooth & Claw is a collective of Cameron’s Brewery employees that are dedicated to producing a range of innovative beer styles.
Brewing as part of the Cameron’s brand, the guys at Tooth & Claw have one remit, to find new beer flavour combinations and push boundaries of brewing.
Using just a small pilot brewery theiy aim to brew over 40 different gyles a year, releasing only a few of these into the open for people to try. We’ve gotten our hands on five of their recent beers for our Brewery of the Week feature so read on if you’re interested in finding out what makes these guys so special.
Tooth & Claw Beers
Tooth & Claw Pale Ale – 4.6% ABV
Tooth & Claw Pale Ale is a really sessionable pale ale. This was the first Tooth & Claw beer I’ve drank and it is a real stand out. With a blend of Australian, US and New Zealand hops, this has a tropical kick, with a predominant lychee and stone fruit flavour. For just 4.6%, this Pale Ale has bags of flavour – Topaz, Simcoe and Rakau is an inspired blend and I really like this. I’d categorise this as an easy drinker, not pushing too many boundaries, but a great beer all the same. I’d be happy with this in the pub, on keg, and I’d go for it every time.
Tooth & Claw Blood Orange Radler – 2.8% ABV
I’m not normally a fan of a radler. Normally, they’re a little too far away from being a “beer”. Compared to a gose or a light sour which balances bitter citrus fruits with beer flavours well, I often find Radler’s just take it a little too far towards soft drink.
This though, is good. There was a subtlety in the blood orange, it wasn’t overpowering and offered a nice bitterness without being too fruity. Some might complain at that but for me, it is actually a great alternative to a session beer and at 2.8% I could drink a fair few of these!
Tooth & Claw Lemon Gose – 4.3% ABV
Compared to the Blood Orange Radler which was subtle, this Lemon Gose really hits you both on the nose and the flavour with lemon. The beer has a clean taste followed by zingy sourness; I like the saltiness as well from the hint of sea-salt. It’s almost like liquid, alcoholic, lemon sherbet and I’d love to drink this on keg in a bar. A beer I’d happily drink every day and the Wai-iti brings a nice lime note right at the end. Clever.
Tooth & Claw Nelson Sauvin + Vic Secret IPA – 7.0% ABV
Best beer of the week for me from Tooth & Claw. You can certainly taste the ABV of this one, as a significant step-up from the previous three. It’s a big juicy IPA with huge passion fruit and pineapple flavours; the texture is smooth, creamy and I just love drinking this one. Needed one more can that’s for sure. I drank this in the same sitting as a Cloudwater, Wylam and To Ol beer and it stacked up, that’s how good it is.
Meet the brewery..
So let’s start with an introduction, who are Tooth & Claw and how did the venture come about?
Tooth & Claw is a collective of Cameron’s employees who came together to produce a range of innovative beer styles. Made up of passionate craft beer fans & brewing experts, we have creative freedom to produce a selection of awesome beers.
You aim to brew a load of brand new beers every year and do so, so well. What’s the ethos behind your brewing and how do the ideas come to fruition?
As we are a collective of people each person brews the beers they want to try on our pilot kit (70 litre). As a group we try these and decide whether we think this could be upscaled and sold in either keg or can. We put no constraints on ideas and that allows us to have a very diverse selection of beers.
And if you had to choose, what’s your favourite beer you’ve brewed so far?
Tough one! Lemon Gose seems to be our most popular one with our customers and is probably the one we are most associated with. This started as a one-off but after some great feedback, we made this a permanent beer on tap and can. I’d say one of our favourite beers we brewed was our 7% Chocolate Orange Stout. This was a collab with S43, who are really nailing their beers right now. The smell around the brewery that day was amazing and Alex (from S43) was great to work with.
What’s the story behind the name and the brand “Tooth & Claw”?
Given our Camerons roots and with the lion forming part of this logo we wanted to maintain an element of this within our name and logo. The name, like everything, came from various suggested ideas from the team and we all just felt it sounded great for the brewery. The logo was a longer process. Every lion idea we designed looked like others logos. So we approached it from a different angle and used the North East coastline to create the shape of the lions head. A little bit of artistic license needed but it worked and gives us a bit of a story behind our own lion logo.
Away from the brewery for a second…
A question I ask on the podcast: your ultimate beer tasting – you can only drink one of each of the below styles again, no doubling up on breweries, which do you choose
- Lager/Pilsner – Donzoko – Northern Helles
- Blonde/Bitter – De Garre – Triple De Garre
- IPA/Pale – Deya – Steady Rolling Man
- Sour/Saison – Gueuzerie Tilquin – Oude Pinot Noir
- Porter/Stout – Amundsen – Glazed & Confused
If you could collab with any brewery who would it be and why?
Deya or Gamma to learn some pale ale wizardry
If you could brew with any ingredients, on one monster brew, nothing’s off limits, what would you include?
Hmmmm….lets go for something really expensive like saffron. We did an Indian Spiced Mango Sour using cardamom, coriander and kaffir lime leaves last year and it would be great to brew this again using one of the world’s most expensive ingredients. The mango would pair wonderfully with the saffron.
The Covid Round
How much has the current situation put your brewing schedule for 2020 on hold?
As soon as pubs shut all of our keg beer stopped but we continued to brew and can at the brewery. Unfortunately, we had just brewed a collab beer with Thornbridge (packaged in keg) which was due to launch on the very day the lockdown started, so other than one tap room which is doing Growler fills, this beer was pretty much lost (it was a 6.5% Pomegranate + Rhubarb Sour Saison). It has put some of our collabs and brews on hold but we have been able to continue during this current situation.
How can people continue to support you during this time?
Mainly buying our beer from our webshop or visiting the local tap rooms and bottle shops that are currently operating. It looks like more are due to open in the next couple of months and we are planning on kegging our beers again soon.
When we get through it all, which we will, what are your main plans for events and brews in the second half of 2020?
Events we will just have to wait and see what and when things will be happening. We were lucky to have attended BrewLDN back in February before this all kicked off and we really miss that interaction with customers at events such as this.
Brew wise we would love to continue to do more collabs. We are signed up as one of the brewers for the Northern Stronghold series which sees 16 North East brewers come together to brew 8 canned collab beers which will be sold in a special selection box soon. Follow Northern Stronghold on socials for more details.
Where can I buy their beers?
At the time of writing, there are a few Tooth & Claw beers available to buy online including an Indian Spiced Mango Sour, Blood Orange Collab with Docks Beers and a Lemon Gose.