Leeds Brewery have created a one-off beer for the seasonal period, Gyle 479. It's an itteresting point in itself that Leeds have created a special like this; despite being incredibly popular in Leeds (thier popular, rapidly-expanding Pub portfolio serving as a case in point), they do normally keep things simple and straighahead - a strong core portfolio of beers with now-regular seasonals.
So, is this foray into experimentation any good? In short, yes. For some reason I assumed it would be a stout-esque beer, but it's not; Venkatesh (Head Brewer) described it more as a 'Vintage Ale', and he's spot on. The base beer was brewed in the summer, and then matured in Bruichladdich Whisky Casks until now.
Sitting in the brewery, all neatly in a row, the Casks certainly impose. Cask-ageing of beer is the perfect flavour profile for this time of year, and I'm at a loss to even begin to explain the variances of taste that every single cask can add to a uniform base beer. The beer itself pours a rich mahogany colour; when held to the light there's a lovely plummy red hue shining through. There's some estery fruity-yeastiness going on in the nose, alongside a subtle vanilla note that you'd expect from a cask-aged beer, and a slightly smoky, treacle-like sweetness underpinning the whole thing.
Gyle 479 is smooth; and very easy to drink. Rounded sweetness, full of cherry and sultana, turns slightly spicier as the sip finishes, and that finish is unexpectedly dry - which makes it surprisingly moreish.
Very seasonal, Gyle 479 is a lovely beer, and I'm happy to see Leeds experimenting a little more like this. Venkatesh certainly seems very proud of his creation - and so he should be. It would seem that Leeds don't plan to let the casks sit idle, so I'll be keeping an eye out in the future. If you're thinking about cracking one open to eat with lunch over the yuletide period, I could'nt help but think that a nice slab of rare beef with horseradish would be a match made in heaven for it; in fact, the more I think about it, the more I think that that's exactly what I'm going to do. It's available from The Brewery, Beer-Ritz (Headingley), or Latitude Wines in Leeds.
Thanks again to Venkatesh, Sam and Michael to taking time out of thier busy day to speak to me yesterday. Hopefully next time I come over it'll be warmer out, and my feet won't be frozen!