Mutation and 2020

In the distant days of autumn 2019 we were brainstorming names for new beers and considering the beer styles for our selection for Swan Brewery for the year ahead.  With swan related puns and names a rich seam for us to mine, Bewick’s Best and Tundra were amongst the new ales to be added to Cygneture, Winter Swanderland and Arm Breaker.  Whether or not your swan knowledge is as good as ours has become, you’re sure to be aware of the Mute Swan, one of the three swan species which make the UK their home and the only one which stays here all year round.  We appreciate customers and supporters of Swan Brewery regularly suggesting new beer names for us and it was one such suggestion that led to Mutation being coined.  We wanted the Mutation recipe to be distinctly different to the styles we are best known for, a beer that would be an evolution, a corruption and a twist on our normal brews.  Head Brewer Jimmy Swan incorporated lashings of Citra and Comet in the 5.5% West Coast IPA recipe: Comet has become a Swan Brewery favourite since it featured in 2019’s 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing’s Swan Small Step and Swan Giant Leap (told you we have a deep trove of swan names at our disposal) alongside Apollo, Eagle, Orbit and Flyer hops.

The next new beer name to gain approval was 2020.  For once a distinctly un-swany name, for 2020, as well as being the year in question for the ale launch, it was a play on 20-20 vision, billed as a 4.1% visionary golden ale featuring a new hop variety, Mystic, recently out of development.
So far so good – with 5 brand new ales, 3 regulars, 12 returning specials the beer programme for 2020 was looking tasty.  The recipes were signed off, the designer briefed, the pump clips ready, the brochure printed.  We all know what happened next and by late March 2020 we, like many brewers around the UK were reacting, pivoting, managing cash flow, furloughing staff.  Brewing less than in a normal year, we had to ensure the beers we selected for brewing were going to be sure-fire hits: we couldn’t take any risks.  We were faced with one beer with a name with virus connotations and one which reminded everyone of the rubbish year we were having.  We sense checked our intention to launch both beers with our Frequent Flyers – our Swan Brewery loyal drinkers.  We were cautious though that this group are hungry for all new Swan Brewery beers, so in addition we ran a Facebook survey.  The positive response that came back gave us the encouragement to run with both beer names and recipes in cask.  As small pack became a greater part of our portfolio during 2020 we have launched Mutation in cans.  Thankfully those who appreciate our beers could see beyond the name, raise their glasses of 2020 and Mutation and enjoy.