Do you fancy bugs in your beer? If so, head for the Crossover Blendery on a farm near Baldock where George Stagg and Charlie Wood make beers with the aid of wild yeasts and friendly bacteria.

Crossover was the surprise winner of the Herts Beer of the Year award at St Albans Beer Festival last month. It faced competition from other local brewers who produce conventional beers of the highest quality.

But the judges were impressed by the complex character of Crossover’s entry called Damascene, made with the addition of damson fruit.

It’s a style of beer that stems from the lambic and gueuze beers produced in Belgium. George and Charlie toured one of the breweries, Cantillon in Anderlecht, where they were amazed by the beers they sampled and said: “We want to do this!”

They were beer lovers, not brewers. They’d worked in the City of London before setting up the blendery at Lannock Manor Farm close to the village of Weston.

A large barn is packed with oak casks bought from the French wine trade with some bourbon, whisky, port and mead casks as well.

The casks are thoroughly cleaned to remove any wine, whisky or honey flavours and are then filled with hopped wort.

This is unfermented beer made at Elgood’s Brewery in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. Elgood’s is an old family brewery dating from 1795.

The brewing kit includes two ancient open copper trays known as coolships where the extract of malted grain and hops cools prior to fermentation. The brewery is surrounded by fruit trees and wild yeasts are invited in to greedily feast on the sugars in the wort.

When the wort reaches Crossover it’s poured into the oak casks and left to age for between one and three years. No yeast is added and fermentation is carried out by such wild yeasts and bacteria as brettanomyces, pediococcus and lactobacillus.

In Belgium, where lambic beer is a major and much-admired part of the beer world, scientists at Leuven University’s brewing department have discovered more than 86 strains of yeast and bacteria in lambic and its blended version known as gueuze.

Brettanomyces, which means “British fungus”, was first discovered in the porters and stouts of the 18th century that were aged in giant wooden vessels. In spite of its British origin, it’s not used in conventional beers produced in this country, with the exception of Elgood’s.

Charlie and George are keen to use the best natural ingredients in their beers. The wort produced at Elgood’s is a blend of Maris Otter barley malt and wheat: Maris Otter is considered to be the finest malting barley by brewers.

The hops are English Fuggles and German “noble” hops from the Hallertau region in Bavaria. Hops are used sparingly in lambic-style beers as too much bitterness does not blend well with the acidic flavours created by wild fermentation.

For their fruit beers, Charlie and George search the country for the likes of apricots from the Isle of Wight, peaches and nectarines from Kent and damsons and plums from Worcestershire. They have planted 300 fruit trees on the farm to add to their sources.

Damascene (6.5 per cent) has an addition of damsons and is a blend of up to three years old. In common with all the fruit beers, it’s conditioned for six months before being packaged. The beers are all bottle-conditioned, which means they contain still active yeast and they will age and mature for several years.

Be prepared for a shock when you taste the beers: they are mouth-puckeringly acidic. Lambics are the Marmite of the beer world. They are not to everyone’s taste but I love their challenge and complexity.

The Blendery has a taproom at weekends but it’s closed during the winter and will reopen in March -- but there will be a Christmas Market there on Saturday December 9. Beers can be bought on site or they are available online at or from the Beer Shop in London Road, St Albans.

∙Crossover Blendery, Lannock Manor Farm, Hitchin Road near Weston, SG4 7EE.