Dancing With The Devil

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If you visit the Chesterfield Arms you may find yourself in the presence of a Chupacabra, Banshee, Dragon or even the Devil himself. Just your regular Chesterfield crowd. A new legend has been brewing in the pub…

Josh Clarke is the head brewer and owner of Resting Devil Brewery. InnSpire magazine sat down with Josh to talk about Chesterfield’s newest brewery. Now, we’re sure your all familiar with the Chesterfield Arms which is currently Chesterfield CAMRA’s Pub
of the year (And, if you’re not, then what are you waiting for… it’s a quite wonderful pub and you should drop everything you’re doing right now and go visit it as soon as you can). The brewery is based in the pub’s back room and with a 400 litre capacity, is Chesterfield’s smallest microbrewery.

Said Josh: In cask terms, from a single brew we manage to get about nine, nine gallon barrels. It makes us the proper small end of the market but that also allows us to do many different beers in small batches. We can concentrate on the quality and the diversity of the beer instead of producing mass amounts of the same beer. The brewery sort of came about during the pandemic, as a way to diversify. The hope was we could come back fighting, with something new and unique to the area. I’ve been in the brewing trade now for 14 years and had the privilege of working for two brilliant, fairly local breweries. Myself and my wife have had the Chesterfield Arms for nearly five years now and so it just seemed to a natural progression to combine the two and make something special.

Back in October 2022, after only seven months of trading, Resting Devil won the Food Producer of the Year at the Love Chesterfield Awards, an event organised by Destination Chesterfield to showcase the great businesses across the town and surrounding area. Nominated by the public, they were invited to a tasting event, where the entries were judged on the quality of product, brand and plans for the future.

WHERE DID THE NAME FOR THE BREWERY COME FROM?

The name Resting Devil actually comes from local Chesterfield folklore. The story goes that the devil was flying over the town and decided to take a rest on the Spire of Saint Mary’s Church. He got a bit upset when people in the Church started singing and rejoicing, so he took up into the air but forgot to unfurl his tail from the Spire, wrenching it into the crooked state that’s in now. It’s just a nice nod to stories of the area.

And, as Josh explained, he’s keen to expand upon the use of folklore to name future beers…. We’re aiming to develop the brand as we move forward. At the minute we’re still pretty much about eighty percent cask. We’ve done eleven different beers and these range from session pale ales at four percent to six percent West Coast IPAs.

In the past we’ve launched a gluten-free beer and last year we introduced a special Summer beer Chupacabra*. A hazy Mexican pale brewed with agave syrup and lime zest. I wanted all of our beers to have some sort of narrative and to be able to tell a tale, so we spent months looking at folklore and legends from around the world. Every beer we do is named after a similar story. Our hope is people will recognise that it’s one of our beers, just by seeing the name of a beer up on a blackboard. It allows us to create some sort of history or story for the beer itself. Not only will the beer be named after a legend, we can also have ingredients from the country of origin or the style of beer from the age that the story might have happened in”.

* The Chupacabra, or goat sucker, is a legendary creature of Mexican folklore. The name comes from the animal’s reported vampirism, as is said to attack and drink the blood of livestock. It’s also feature’s in the recent, not so scary Netflix kid’s film.

So far, we’ve given our beers the following names: Twisted Pale (another nod to the folklore of Chesterfield and the Devil). Our West Coast IPA is called Banshee after the Irish legend. We did a stout called Dagda and again that’s from Irish folklore We have a Bitter – Extra Special / Strong (ESB) which is called Crooker. This myth is a little bit more local as it’s a story from Darley Dale in the Peak District about a tree that used to like to drown people in a river there.

Onto the keg beer, we’ve got a lovely New England Hazy IPA called the Coos County Wood Devil. The creature is said to roam the New England part of the United States. It’s basically their version of Bigfoot. We also got our beer Punxsutawney which is named after the rodent meteorologist Punxsutawney Phil, which people might know from Groundhog Day. I thought that was a story made up purely for the film but no, they really do bring a groundhog out to see what the weather’s going to be like every year.

InnSpire magazine Editor Chris, injected at this point, between sips of Here be Dragons, that he attended the breweries first birthday bash earlier in the year on Saturday 1st April at the Chesterfield Arms. “It was great to see the pub so busy, people enjoying the special live music and of the course the fantastic range of beers. The Chesterfield Arms is one of my favourite pubs, as you always have such a great selection of cask and keg beers to choose from.

Here be Dragons was Resting Devil’s Summer 2023 release. It was originally created a few months earlier in the year but due to an equipment breakdown, the beer didn’t turn out as they would have liked, so it was pulled from sale and re-brewed. The result is a magnificent 5.5% New England Hazy Pale. Maris Otter, Wheat and Oat malt. Eldorado, mosaic and Eureka hops. Soft bitterness and fermented with an American East coast yeast strain. The perfect beer garden beer.

THEY SAY THE DEVIL NEVER RESTS, SO WHAT’S IN THE WORKS FOR THE BREWERY?

The feedback has been really good and we’ve started bottling our own beers. We have a range of six bottled beers and sales have been going well through local shops plus online sales at www.restingdevil.co.uk. We are now looking to start a stall at the Chesterfield Artisan Market. These beers are different to our cask range, specifically brewed for bottle and are packaged in Belgian style 750ml bottles.

We also are excited to go into partnership with The Chatsworth Estate since November of last year. They asked us to brew a range of special beers for Chatsworth to be sold through the Farm shop and other estate gift shops. We have brewed them a range of beers using ingredients grown/ harvested from the kitchen gardens. The current range is a plum porter, citrus IPA and a honey ale. The beers have been very popular through last Christmas and sales have gone well throughout this year, leading Chatsworth wanting to expand the range.

The cask beer we produce in the brewery is only ever going to be on sale in the Chesterfield Arms. It’s a unique selling point for the pub… if you want to try the beers you’ve got to come to the home of the Devil. We were hoping to be kegging more beer by this point, but being the size we are, we were only able to use the single use, disposable kegs. Due to the supply chain issues, the fact that the majority of raw plastics came from the Ukraine, getting hold of a stable supply has not been possible for us. Also, even though they are recyclable, it is still a single use plastic item that, as a business that does take its environmental impact seriously, it’s a tough decision for us. At the moment we are doing occasional one off kegs to go on the bar in the Arms, and are looking into other ways of kegging are beer that are viable and more environmentally friendly. Hopefully this is something we can start doing soon.

We try our best with every aspect of the pub. The same goes for the quality and the consistency of the beer. So, if you do like great beer and you want to try something new, that you’ve not tried before, come visit the Chesterfield Arms to give it a go.

And, there you have it. The Devil’s in the detail and the beers are legendary, well worthy of many a tall tale and sure to become Chesterfield folklore.

JOSH CLARKE – RESTING DEVIL BREWERY

THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY FEATURED IN INNSPIRE MAGAZINE.
AUTHOR/INTERVIEW: CHRIS FOX