For those of you who don't follow Twitter, I've just acquired a feisty little Border Terrier puppy. Right now, his favourite hobby seems to be methodically destroying the house, but he's adorable nonetheless. We bought him from a farmer who lives just outside Malton, and one of the plus points of that hour-or-so long drives up there that we've been doing of late is that we've been able to stop off at Malton and have a beer.
Malton's a decent little market town, and there's a hidden gem on the high street: The Crown Hotel and Malt'on Hops.
There is a little sign outside the beer shop - Malt'on Hops - but unless you're looking for it you'll walk past it. Do stop though - there's a small but decent range of beers to buy, including what's ready from Suddaby's that week, amongst other favourites from the likes of Leeds, Burton Bridge, Sam Smiths (booo) and Flying Dog. However, in the best spirit of 'When in Rome' ; I been picking up a selection from Suddaby's. More on that later.
The hidden gem; on the opposite side of the alley from Malt'on Hops is the bar - a small but incredibly welcoming little bar where there's a good selection of handpumps to choose from; I tried Suddaby's own Double Chance (I think it's called Golden Chance when bottled) , which was an incredibly satisfying interpretation of a Yorkshire Bitter - pale and with a biscuit-led body, topped off with a surprisingly rich floral note on the nose. Goose Eye's famous Over & Stout followed - a sweet stout that's surprisingly light; coffee at first, then drying to a sugary, marzipanny finish. Both beers were in excellent condition, good value, and the bar has a really nice vibe - like a tap room, but homely and reverent - although you wouldn't know it's there unless someone told you; hence the mention. However, I was enjoying the beer and border-terrier related conversation so much I forgot to take a picture. Sorry.
Once at home I cracked open those Suddaby's beers. First up - Brother Anthony's Reivaulx Ale (pictured above - 4.0abv). An interesting one; a touch of Borage honey certainly rounds out and smooths the slightly wild note that comes through on the nose, along with a nice aroma of Orange and Lemon. A Yorkshire Abbey beer, it's a surprsing hybrid, and one that i think will find fans of 'wild' beers and Honey beers alike. My only gripe would be a touch less carbonation was nice - my bottle was quite lively and definitely tasted better once it had settled down.
After Dark Coffee Porter (5%abv) was a winner - Bitter chocolate notes fade into a smooth, creamy coffee taste that's as long as it's rich. There's a hint of smoke at the end, and then a touch of residual sweetness to balance things out. Coffee Porter is one of those styles that seems so well-matched, yet I've had my fair share of acrid, or over-powering versions; Suddaby's manages to keep things like and eminently drinkable. I'd love to try this on Cask; Dean - if you're reading, get some in, please!
Finally, Auld Bob (6%abv) proves to be very seasonal - a mahogany-hued, plum-pudding and earthily-hopped ale that hides it's relative strength behind that by-now-trademark Suddaby's smoothness. Another beer that manages to pack rich fruitcake flavours into a drinkable and light package; may I be as bold as to ask for those fans of Old Peculier or Black Sheep Riggwelter at Christmas to give this a go? You won't be let down.
In short, I found my impromptu Suddaby's tasting day massively enjoyable. I'm all for extremes of taste; but to find a range of beers so drinkable, well-made and highly flavoured was a joy. Do stop by if you find yourself in Malton.
The dog's name is Wilson, if you want to know. Expect more posts about dog-friendly pubs come the spring - in fact, if anyone's got any advice or walking routes around the Yorkshire dales or Yorkshire in general that include a dog-friendly, beer-serving pub, drop me a mail. My address is above. Cheers!