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For the love of hops

Words by Hannah Tapping | Images by Marnie Pillinger

A flavour packed line-up of beers is making big waves in the craft brewing industry.

Based in St Agnes, Pipeline Brewing Co crafts an ever-changing line-up of vibrant, hoppy, juicy beers using fresh ingredients combined with Cornish water, and is set to have you grabbing your pint glass rather than your surf board to sample what’s in their barrel! Jonny Cooper, chief brewer and owner, wants his beers to satisfy, enthuse and be enjoyed by drinkers near and far. Proudly showcasing the best of New World hops, his varied beers range from IPAs and farmhouse ales through to a luscious dark stout. Jonny explains: “Brewing in small batches frees us to experiment with the blend of ingredients, carefully select fresh hops, yeasts and malts to then add to soft Cornish water. The result is exciting and unique beers that are full of flavour.”

The star of Pipeline’s brewing is certainly the eclectic mix of hops they use. Hops were once considered a drab ingredient, tossed in mainly to preserve the beer thanks to the antibacterial properties of the resins found in hop flowers. Today, hops is the buzz word and hero ingredient in the world of craft beer. At Pipeline, hops offer versatility to the beer and enable Jonny to dream up almost any flavours and bring them to life – invoking tropical fruits, fragrant flowers, herbal tones and more. Jonny enjoys pushing hops to their limits and tries to use the freshest available. He often releases beers to coincide with particular hop harvests. Nelson Sauvin from New Zealand is an example of this; one of his most popular beers, All Eyes On You, is drenched in this New World hop.

The silver lining to Pipeline’s line-up is that they are vegan. The base ingredients for many beers of barley, malt, hops and yeast are a good vegan-friendly start. However, when it comes to clarifying the end product before bottling, kegging or canning, some brewers use animal-derived fining products like gelatine or isinglass (a type of fish-based gelatine product) to refine their brews. Pipeline don’t use these products, hence why their beer is often cloudy, but always vegan-friendly.

So, how did Jonny enter the world of brewing? He has always had an eye for detail and crafted things; he studied engineering at university and was a builder in his previous career. What started as a hobby in 2012 in the garden shed, has now grown into an ever-expanding business. Spurred on by a constant stream of positive feedback and demand, Jonny decided to put all his focus, drive and passion for beer into starting a brewery – and as such Pipeline mashed its first ever commercial brew at the beginning of 2020.

“Good beer has always been a passion of mine so taking a leap into the world of craft brewing felt very exciting. My excitement waned slightly in the dawn of the pandemic but we needn’t have worried. As people stayed at home more, the demand for our cans increased as people wanted to try something different from the comfort of their sofa!”

Over a year on since that first commercial brew, Pipeline has more than established itself within the craft beer industry resulting in demand growing rapidly. To date, they have brewed more than 100 batches of beer (that’s over 100,000 pints), released 48 beers in 12 months, and supplied bottle shops, bars and customers all over the UK! This is no mean feat, given that Pipeline has mostly been operating through various stages of lockdowns.

If you have yet to sample a Pipeline brew then there are a few ways to get your hands on a pint; direct orders to your door, a visit to the Taproom in St Agnes to grab some takeaway cans or sit in with freshly poured beer, or hope that your local specialty bottle shop has been able to get hold of some.

The St Agnes Taproom, tucked away in the corner of the Great Western Railway Yard, is open every Friday through winter and adds Saturday to the opening hours during the summer months. The cosy log burner’s flickering flames add to the warm winter welcome you will receive and as the summer months emerge, so do the outdoor tables and benches in the sun-drenched brewery yard, with lights strung overhead for after sunset.

After sampling a few of Jonny’s latest brews you may feel a little peckish – they have that covered in the form of local artisan pizzas from Cornish Pizza Company. All you have to do is choose your pizza (easier said than done!), choose your collection time and then one of the Pipeline team will pop down the hill and bring it back to the Taproom for you. In case that’s not reason enough, dogs are welcome too. Resident hound, Dodge, will happily greet any four-legged friends that wish to join him for lots of fuss and occasional treats.

With regular drinkers at the Taproom and a constant flow of orders in Pipeline’s inbox, demand for the vibrant brews is outstripping what they can supply. A much-needed expansion is on the horizon to help streamline the brewing process, double their capacity and take them to the next level!

“To see Pipeline become part of the local community and fly the flag for Cornwall further afield is a real honour. It is clear that people care about the quality of their beer and as the word spreads, we can’t make enough of it to meet the growing demand. We have grand plans to expand our offering with a helping hand from our crowdfunding campaign, due to launch in mid-February. Hopefully it’s successful and we can raise many more pints of Pipeline in the future!” concludes Johnny.


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