Moncada prides itself on several things: brewing naturally, creating vegan-friendly beers, sourcing local ingredients, supporting local businesses and constantly innovating and experimenting. The drive for these choices comes very much from Julio: ‘I believe that brewing is fundamentally very simple,’ he explains. ‘Beer only needs four ingredients – water, hops, malt and yeast. They are all natural. Anything else just makes it over-complicated, so why use it?’
What differentiates the natural brewing process is the lack of filtering, as most commercial beers are ‘fined’ (or filtered) to ensure that the end drink is clear. The push for natural beer has two main arguments; that clarifying the beer removes some of the yeast which affects the overall flavour, and secondly, that the most common fining agent used is isinglass – made from fish swim bladders – making the beer unsuitable for vegans or vegetarians.
Julio firmly believes that natural brewing produces beer with ‘a much fuller flavour’, but the resultant cloudy haze is harder to win people over to. ‘I find the biggest obstacle is old school thinking,’ he says. ‘There is this entrenched school of thought that says if beer is not clear then it must be off. While there was a very positive perception of natural beer as an idea, we had to work hard to overcome the prejudice against cloudiness.’ The growing awareness of isinglass use also means that vegans and non-vegans alike are coming around to cloudy beer, with a London Vegan Beer Festival being held for the past three years.