Sunday, March 27, 2011

Brewing Cuckoo (pt 2)

Dann Paquette and his wife Martha are the creative force behind Pretty Things – a cuckoo brewing pair who refer to PT as a ‘Project.’ Inspired as much by Yorkshire (where Martha hails from) as their USA homeland, Dan certainly feels that – for the time being, anyway - there’s only one way they can brew; Cuckoo. ‘One great thing about this sort of brewing is that you can fold shop up neatly and move on with your life if you want to. There are no tanks to sell, no debt. Not that we’d want to! But that is a thought we've had at the back of our heads throughout this business - we can fail and walk away not having lost anything. That allows us to be out on a limb like we are.’

Dann’s clearly passionate about Pretty Things’ interesting, rustic beers but tempers that passion with solid, almost-obvious clarity. ‘I'd much rather have my own brewery. But we started this business for $9,000. You can't build a brewery on any scale for that.’ When I asked whether he would recommend it as a choice, the reply was firm: ‘No. I would recommend the traditional route which allows you to be completely in control. At the end of the day we're guests in someone else's brewery and only have limited influence on how that brewery works. A brewer's nature is to want to be in control.’

Despite that, PT seems very much a ‘family’ operation; albeit one without a permanent home. ‘Martha and I brew and oversee fermentation. We also have all of our own relationships and purchase raw materials. Lastly, we draw all of our labels ourselves. The host brewery lets us use their brewhouse and they package the beer for us.’ Cuckoo Brewing seems just as hard a task as regular brewing; but some still seek out the Cuckoo way regardless of the toil.

Mikeller’s Mikkel Borg Biergso has been cuckooing since 2007 – in fact, it would be hard to imagine Mikeller doing things any other way; Cuckooing is very much Mikkeller’s trademark. Mikkel says the secret of his success is simply hard work. ‘It’s a lot of logistics. I work A LOT and I work with good people. But it’s hard sometimes to make everyone happy.’ So, I asked, why not get a permanent home?’ It’s not as much fun.’ Mikkel replied. He refers to his trade as ‘Gypsy’ – a term which I actually prefer; simply due to the implied romance of it. Implied or not, the romantic view clearly dissipates once it becomes clear how difficult it is to keep a lid on the operation. Despite it’s hardships – and bear in mind the size of Mikeller’s operation – Cuckoo Brewing is still the only way to go for Mikkell, and behind those experimental gems we’ve come to expect form Mikkeller sits sheer hard work and a level-headed resolve to make sure all the ends meet, the planets align and the Beer ends up in your glass. ‘I like the freedom. With the loads of work my life is very different than my brewing. I really have to stay focused to work it all out.’

So what does the future hold for our brewers? For Steel City - more brewing, and perhaps a departure from the style that’s made them infamous. ‘We want to try some more styles; we're looking at an Alt and a Kolsch in the summer, and maybe a Weissbeer in the Autumn. Although we're known for our pale hoppy beers, our stouts actually get better feedback than our pales! We're building up a solid base of repeat customers, and we're looking at palletised deliveries to London in a couple of months. We've also bought some keykegs to export our beer to Italy and eventually USA. Our mini-kit (basically a 10-gal boiler and fermenter) means we can brew single firkins, so we can brew more extreme styles without worrying about selling a whole brewlength - so far we've done an 8% imperial stout, and are currently brewing a series of single-hop IPAs.’ In fact, a Black IPA brewed in collaboration with Otley should be being brewed as you read this.

As for Revolutions, their 2011 should hopefully see a permanent home; and along with that expansion in beers, distribution and a (if you ask me) a growing reputation. Ditto for Pretty Things; although they will remain Cuckoo for the time being. ‘We're trying to keep up with demand and keep it fun at the same time. Lots of great seasonals are coming back like Fluffy White Rabbits, Babayaga and American Darling. We've also got a really interesting historical beer in our "Once Upon A Time" series coming out in May.’

Steel City, Mikkeller, Pretty Things and Revolutions are planning ahead, there’s no slow-down here despite not brewing in the traditional way. Perhaps therein lies the beauty of this way of working: whether Full-Time brewer, Cuckoo Brewer, or even Homebrewer – that buzz, that tingle of pride as someone enjoys your beer, is the true spirit of brewing.

Pretty Things Picture courtesy of Carolyn Fong. Dann & Martha will be pouring thier beer at The Cornshed in Sexhow on July 8th & 9th. Keep an eye on their website for details.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Brewing Cuckoo (Pt 1)

Cuck-oo: A grayish European bird (Cuculus canorus) that has a characteristic two-note call and lays its eggs in the nests of birds of other species.

Cuckoo Brewing has always interested me; there’s something about the cuckoo way, throwing such minor shackles such as, well - not having your own kit - aside and brewing just for the hell of it. It’s like Beat poetry; without form, practised by free spirits and producing one-off, off-centre beers. Or is it? My own view seems overly romantic. After all, Brewing is hard work – and once you throw in the business side of things, you’ve got a company like any other. So I decided to ask around and see what made people brew the Cuckoo way.

Andy Helm and Mark Seaman of Revolutions Brewing Company weren’t planning on Cuckooing. Their hand was forced due to simple economic spanners being thrown into their works; put simply, their kit took longer than expected to be available. Regardless, the pair decided to forge ahead. ‘The concept of cuckoo-brewing was unknown to us until circumstances led us to look for a way we could put our ideas into action and get our product to market as early as possible.’, says Andy. ‘We made the decision to set up a micro-brewery in August 2010. We quickly decided to buy a new (rather than second hand) brew plant and our initial discussions with the brewing consultant revealed a 7 month lead time for fabrication and installation. Once we knew we wouldn't have our plant until June-11 we saw an opportunity to turn this potential setback into an opportunity to test our ideas, expand our knowledge and hopefully earn some revenue.’

Using another brewery as a testing board seems like an excellent idea. Luckily, other brewers in the area seem to agree, and were happy to let Revolutions hijack their gear for a little while to get their hands dirty. ‘We eventually found Richard Billington, one of the co-owners of The Brass Monkey Brewery in Sowerby Bridge. Richard was very accommodating and encouraged us to try a couple of brews in November to tap into the Christmas market. Our original intention had been to start in January. He even allowed us to use some spare casks which meant that we didn’t have to purchase our own for a few months.’

For me, this is a perfect example of the willingness to help that seems to pervade the independent brewing industry as a whole. Is it a surprise that the concept of Cuckoo exists in Brewing, but isn’t prevalent in many other industries? Is it too romantic to say that The Beer is King, and even helping others make unique, new brews and get established brings reward other than financial? Maybe.

Andy outlines their basic arrangement. ‘For us it's a great way to make our beer and get it out to market without having the overheads of rent and rates. We pay our share of water and electricity as well as all the cleaning chemicals so the cost per brew is a reasonably good reflection of the marginal brew costs we will face under our own steam. As we make a little profit on each of the brews we can reinvest in new casks and things we will need for our own brewery. Over a period of 6-7 months of cuckooing we can reduce by about 10-15% the total amount we need to put into the business to buy the plant, cask washers etc. and fit out the unit.We are brewing fortnightly at Brass Monkey. This fits in with their current spare brewing capacity and is about as much as we could do without hitting issues of storage space for casks. We have 100 of our own casks which, if we manage them tightly, are just about enough for a fortnightly brew length of 25-26 casks. Cuckooing does have its natural limits unless your host has ample storage space for casks. We are lucky that Brass Monkey is in a large old mill. Other hosts might not have the space.’

The simple logistics of it all has also been a barrier, as Andy outlines, for Gaz Prescott and Dave Szwejkowski of Steel City Brewing. Steel City was born out of Dave and Gaz simply wanting to brew beer how they like it – Pale and super-hoppy. It’s a niche that has worked well for them, and the majority of people who drink their refreshing wares are pretty impressed. In fact, Ben McFarland recently deemed them worthy of inclusion in the ‘Breweries to watch in 2011’ alongside such forward-thinking outfits as Thornbridge, Kernel, Marble and Gadd’s. ‘When we started out 18 months ago, it really was a case of doing it to simply brew the beer we like, because no other bugger would do it!’ Dave and Gaz state proudly. ‘Since then there's been a real growth in our sort of beer - not that we're taking the credit - from the likes of Brewdog, Summer Wine and Mallinsons along with some more established names such as Pictish. However, we only brew once a month, so there's no way we could cover the cost of our own premises and kit’.

However, it took a little moving around before our intrepid hop-heads could find a permanent home. ‘After 2 test brews at The Brew Company, we've set up long term at Little Ale Cart. This worked out well, as LAC could offer us weekend brewing which The Brew Company couldn’t do due to increasing demand for their beer. The first couple of times at LAC, Gee (Resident brewer) was on hand to help and show how things work - but now we just get on with it. We find Cuckoo is a lot less hassle in the main. No maintenance issues; we pay one monthly brewery hire fee which includes kit, electricity, gas, peripherals (finings, cleaning fluids, etc). The only downside is that obviously we don't have exclusive access; but that’s only been an issue once, when we couldn't brew because 'our' fermenter was in use. Our current arrangement works well - Little Ale Cart brew during the week, we go in on a Saturday’.

For me, that’s one of the key points about Cuckoo Brewing that Dave makes; the arrangement works well. You don’t even have to suffer too much when the inevitable occupational hazard occurs. When I asked Dave whether he thought all this hassle was worth it, he replied ‘Of course, there's times you just feel like giving up and going home - last month we had about 20% of our brew wasted because for some reason they were popping their shives, and that wiped out the profit for the brew. At the same time we managed to break an expensive hydrometer, so there’s more money down the drain. But that can also happen with your own kit, it's not exclusive to cuckoo brewing - and when it's your livelihood it's even more frustrating! But, 95% of the time, it's fun. We don't brew often enough for it to become 'just a job', a chore, and there's a real satisfaction to seeing your beer on the bar, seeing people enjoy it, seeing people actively seeking it out’.

Dave’s brewing partner, Gaz Prescott, also points out that the freedom – at this level – to brew what you want is liberating. ‘Our beer is never what you'd call "market friendly" and, I think, is some of the most extreme in the UK but in a good way! It's not really our mission to make undrinkable beer - and definitely not stupid beer for a cliquey few. But we do want to explore the mish-mash of UK and foreign cultures by mixing it up a bit and seeing what comes out.’ He also reinforces the point made earlier about having people on hand to help out and, if needs be, pinch ingredients from. ‘One good thing is that there's always someone else we can ring for advice, help or to borrow something like a kilo of roast barley or some hops! Other brewers can do this with neighbouring brewers but we can do it with the two other in-house teams!’

In the next part, we’ll get another side of the Story from some Cuckoos from across the Pond. You can catch Revolutions Brewing Co at The Hop in Leeds on Sunday night (27th). A Meet the Brewer event will run from 14.00-17.00 and will be followed by music from Sarandon and others.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

'Spoon Fest; Ballast Point Love

...I've just got in from a quick (and I mean quick) peruse around the latest Wetherspoon's Beer Festival. As usual, there's a few beers of note, and one that's worth tracking down for sure. First up, Feral Brewing Company's The Runt; a beer that promised a lot but ultimately was let down. I do, however, feel this was due to the dispense method; warm stillage in a crowded room doesn't do this citrussy pale any good at all. There's a touch of promise in here; light, and with a nice dose of Citra hops, but the dispense method let it down. Hedley Verity; take note for next time.

The same can't be said of Ballast Point's Calico Amber; despite the crap dispense method this great beer shone through; a dry, biscuity body with a touch of brown sugar and coffee lingering, and a grapefruity, unmistakeably 'US' style finish, courtesy of the hop-cocktail of Galena, Cascade, Centennial, Fuggle and Perle. It's like a cousin of BrewDog's 5AM Saint, so if you like that, get on this.

I'd also keep an eye out for Leeds's Doubting Tom; an intruiging-sounding Pale hopped with Citra and Sorachi Ace, Hyde's Plum Treat, Nethergate's Saison Blonde, and Shepherd Neame's EIPA. Check them out and let me know what you think.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Worthy Worthington's

Via the magic of Twitter, I was lucky enough to land myself a mixed case of Worthington's beers recently. Given my oft-stated love for White Shield, this excited me immensely. This was exceeded, however, when I opened the case to find some real gems.

First up - Red Shield (4.2abv). White Shield's younger, fresher, cousin is a Blonde at heart; Pale Straw in colour, with tonnes of Lemon on the nose. There's that touch of Orange peel that I swear I can get with really on-form White Shield lying underneath all that, leaving you in no doubt that this is a light, lively beer that made me crave more sunshine and beer gardens. The bitterness is gentle, and the finish soft. The bottle did get a little flat towards the end, but this really is a minor quibble.

Celebration Ale is a whole different beast. This was the one that piqued my interest in the first place, and I wasn't disappointed. Brewed to celebrate their new premises, Celebration (8%abv) is nudging towards Barley Wine town; dark, burnt Amber in colour, with bonfire toffee and boiled sweets on the nose. It's a smooth, juicy beer - very drinkable for it's strength - with that aforementioned Orange/Lemon pith levelling the fairly sweet body. The body carries a little more complexity than just sugars, though - with Almond, a touch of Raisin and Digestive Biscuit making an appearance. Strong - yes; Sweet - yes. However, the beer is balanced, and in a Barley Wine, that's all you can ask for. I could drink a whole lot more of this.

Finally, the big Daddy; P2 (8%abv). A lot's been said about this beer in the past year or so; and rightly so. It's immense. Both in terms of quality, taste and balance. Birthed using the original recipe that was shipped to the Czar's Imperial Court, I'd have to commend the Russian's taste. Smoothness is the keyword here; there's a lot going on but all wrapped up in Velvet. On the nose, there's phenols, Dundee cake and a touch of Bonfire Smoke. All these flavours come through on the taste, however the smoke drops into the background and a molasses-like note pops up, backing up sweet raisin, plum, and a full, port-like finish. It's not dry at all, but is remarkably light for all the flavours coming through. A wonderful, consummate Imperial Stout, this is another beer I really wish I hadn't have left it so long without tasting. If you've not - then track some down immediately.

Friday, March 18, 2011

SummerWine Take Over The Free Trade Inn

The Free Trade Inn in Newcastle is being taken over by Yorkshire's very own Hop-scented upstarts SummerWine Brewery next week (25th-27th). If you're yet to try James & Andy's wares and are up that way then do drop by - now's your chance. My personal recommendation would be Diablo IPA, which has fast become - in my humble opinion - their Flagship beer. However, such treats as Barista, Nerotype and their new Valencia ales will be on offer. In addition, there will be plenty of US-
inspired bottle action and a Meet The Brewer night on the 24th. So, if you're in Newcastle, you really have no excuse to catch up with one of the country's most promising brewing outfit. You can follow the Free Trade Inn on Twitter through @TheFreeTradeInn.

Back in Leeds, North have announced their annual Belgian Bier Fest will be kicking off on the 7th April. Expect the usual mind-boggling array of Belgian beauties, along with plenty of cheese and bread (one hopes). North's festivals are always worth dropping in on.

Finally, as if anyone in Leeds needs reminding - CAMRA's Leeds Beer Festival is taking place now. If its tips you're after, I can wholeheartedly recommend Hopstar's Smokey Joe Black Beer and Thornbridge's Chiron. Leeds's Gyle 479 was sitting in wooden glory amongst the rows of plastic and steel, and the beer was excellent; with a much more pungent, rum/whisky-esque nose than the plummy delights of the bottled version. I understand this has now run out, but I think there are still some bottles kicking around.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beeritz: Thanks, Lads

When I heard that Beeritz was no more this morning as I sat down to work, I was genuinely gobsmacked. Of course, such sudden news is bound to do that, but it also felt very personal. Given that blogs are for this sort of thing, I thought I'd string a few words together this evening. I've supported Beeritz since I began drinking beer in 2005-ish, and that only ramped up since I started blogging about it in 2007. It's no hyperbole when I echo the sentiments of many Leeds beer fiends that without them, TGS would be nothing.

I'll illustrate this with a simple tale. Last Saturday, I had been stuck in the house for two days straight. My Border Terrier, Wilson, had been neutered and I was getting pretty bored of house-sitting an equally-bored, doped-up, tired and frustrated puppy. I decided on Friday night that this simply would not do, and resolved to go to Beeritz on Saturday.
I was actually excited - not only to be leaving the house, but to be indulging in my hobby with the old credit card primed and ready for action. The clock ticked down to 12; and off I was, dog-sitter arranged, in the car and riding the ten minute journey to Headingley.
When there I was greeted by Ghostie and Tom, and we spent the next half-hour chewing the fat: Dogs, Beer, Homebrewing, Marketing Strategy, and finally Beer Label Art. I left the shop much later, £50 worth of sweet ales clinking away in the boot of the car.

So although I can go online and buy beer now - in fact, I'll have to - it's this connection with the shop and the staff that I'll miss the most. Beeritz was much more than a shop - it was a hub,
simple as that. What's more, the loss of it is massive for Leeds; a real black hole.

So I'll take this opportunity to say Thanks Zak, Ghostie (Can we reveal your name, yet, mate?) and Tom - and all previous staff. God knows I owe you all a few pints. Best of luck to all of you for the future - and I really mean that.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ilkley Brewery Launch

It's hard to believe Ilkley's Stewart Ross when he tells me it's almost two years to the week that the idea of Ilkley Brewing Co. was formed to this day; when a spanking new 20 barrel brewery is formally opened.

That just goes to show the incredible leaps Ilkley have made since then. By brewing a strong core range of traditional, yet tasty beers supplemented by popular seasonals, Ilkley have somehow managed to become part of the Yorkshire beer scenery - but in a good way. The new brewery is pretty much like every new brewery around these days; functional and modern, clean and efficient; but based on the conversations I've had this morning it's the vision of the brewers that maketh the beer. As we chewed the fat over a half of Ilkley Best, Black Summit, a Dark IPA in very much the modern style, sits glowering in the end fermenter.

The launch was a successful one; a few speeches by the Mayor and Chris Ives, and then onto the beer, conversation and awesome Pork Pies supplied by that Ilkley institution, Lishman's Butchers (one was not enough, let me say...). You know, you can't go much wrong with a pint of Best and a just-warm Pork Pie...

..Anyway, I digress. Looking across the bar, it's easy to say Ilkley brew straight-ahead drinkers; be it the Cascade-laced, multi-award-winning Mary Jane, or the malt-driven but well-bittered Best. However, that's to do the term a disservice; fact is, Ilkley's beers are full of flavour and more often than not, hop-led (although not in the US style). Ilkley Pale is coming on strong; straw-hued, lemony on the nose and dry in the finish; . The sort of Blonde that makes one wish the onset of spring would hurry the hell up. Ilkley Black remains a Dark Mild in the truest sense; rich and moreish without being too heavy on the palate.

I'm sure Ilkley will expand further; their beers have already reached pretty much every part of the land - and given that my conversation with Stewart encompassed drinking in Cask, The Rake, the qualities of Nelson Sauvin and Kernel's beers, I really don't think that 'levelling out' is in Ilkley's vocabulary. Regardless of whether you view Ilkley Brewery as a 'traditional' brewer or not, I can safely predict you'll find at least one beer of theirs that you'll like in 2011.

Ilkley will be holding various 'Meet The Brewer' events throughout April in Wetherspoons, Foley's and Market Town Taverns. Do pop along. And it was also a pleasure to chat with Spike of The Narrow Boat, and The Ilkley Beer Fest chaps. Until next time...

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

BrewDog IPA Is Dead

I missed the launch of these little gems a few weeks back, but luckily the lads at BeerRitz swung to the rescue and ensured I had a tasty fourpack hidden away - like they always do, to be honest. So, Saturday's decorating was offset by the fact that I knew I had the beers slightly chillingin the fridge, and let me tell you that it's a comforting thought. So - onwards and upwards. The proof is in the tasting, however, so a pizza was duly ordered, glasses shined and the beers cracked.
First up - Citra. Well, the name says it all really. Citra's making appearances a lot recently, and with Kernel's Citra IPA still remaining the high water mark for me, BrewDog's effort gave a little more Tangerine/Orange edge on the usual Lemon/Lime profile. Simple, yet effective, Citra seems made for IPA's, and I'm sure we haven't seen the last of it.
Nelson Sauvin is probably one of my favourite hops - it's the goodness behind many, many great beers - so again, I sort of knew what to expect. There's the familiar Grapefruit and slight hint of cattiness, rounded off with more Lime pith. You can't go far wrong with it in pale beers, and this one disappeared way quicker than is healthy.

The ace in the pack is Sorachi Ace (pun entirely intended). I'd actually tried this on keg at Foley's during the week, and was left scratching my head. People offered their opinions on what it tasted and smelt of; anywhere between Thai Green Curry to Juicy Fruit Chewing Gum to Green Tea seemed to be the consensus. Having it in front of me at home gave me more time to deal with this arcane hop. I will tie my colours to the mast with this: sticky pine Resin and Mint. Together. With a bit of Strawberry sweetness on top. There's an amazing herbal note that makes the hop massively clean and fresh, but not in a bad way. It's an odd hop, without doubt,and I'd probably need a few more of these before entirely making up my mind about it. I'd say if you pick up one beer from this range, make it this one, just for shits and giggles.

Finally, onto my favourite - Bramling X (or Cross, whatever you like). Some may think it's an odd choice for an IPA but I loved this; a deep, woody Blackberry aroma and full-bodied taste that made it as individual as the Sorachi Ace IPA but in an entirely different way. I could drink this all day, and it's the one I've craved the most since finishing it off. All the beers were obviously sweet enough to balance the hops, but I was quite surprised at how different the Hops made the base beer. The Citra and Nelson Sauvin seemed much drier than the BX or Sorachi - when in reality they probably weren't.

Judging from comments on my previous post, IPAID seemed to have divided people ; or at least generate discussion. One of the biggest themes was lack of originality - Single Hopped beers are actually 'Old Hat' and nothing special. Well, yes, I agree. We know BD are great at marketing, but I don't think wool has been pulled over anyone's eyes at all. These are simply four very good, interesting IPA's with great balance that drink nowhere near their 7.5% abv. That's it. That really is it.

In fact - the main thing I enjoyed about these was the point I alluded at the start of the post - the four pack is a tasting platter in your own home - even if you miss the beers on cask. The cheeky foursome, hanging around menacingly in the fridge like day-glo clad Chavs on a street corner - beg to be shared and compared. I hope they stick around.
For a different slant on tasting this range, check out Ghostie's truly blind tasting. Cracking stuff.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum

...And we round off the weekend with a ridiculously-named offering from perennial favourites Sierra Nevada. Although SN can't do much wrong in my eyes, Hoptimum's (10.4%bv) a puzzling one. Awesome label artwork aside (Reminiscent of Kevin O'Neill's artwork), the name of the beer precedes it; you know what's coming. Hops - and lots of them. Pouring that usual cracking SN shade of Amber, you bring Hoptimum to your nose and get....well, not a lot. A touch of Pine, some florals and that all-too-familiar Grapefruity fruity note. Oh well. Then the sip - Bang! A smack of hops, coming stealthily after some smooth, sweet caramel notes, but it's the massive, high bitterness that catches you off - guard with this one; high, green and bitter. Really Bitter.

Don't get me wrong - I like the concept of Hoptimum. The US market, and in some ways the UK, demand more hops these days - but there's something about Hoptimum that doesn't sit right. It's a smooth beer - and as sweet as you'd expect, having to outweigh that formidable hop attack - but the finish is all jumbled up, and I can't really pick out one hop aspect above all other. Simcoe, perhaps - as it's Piney as hell -but aside from that, it's just really, really bitter.

Maybe the size of the bottle helps this overwhelming feeling - a half, perhaps, served in good nick, would reduce Hoptimum to 'An interesting Drop'. But when I look at the depth of hop freshness SN achieve with their Harvest series, I wonder whether Hoptimum is just a little too much. And to stress the O'Neill artwork link, Hoptimum, for me remains much like Alan Moore's excellent comics - a strange Curio.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Thornbridge Italia

Thornbridge's Italia was a beer that I'd been waiting for with particular interest; I'm a big fan of Lager - when done right, good Lager can be so good. But we don't get a lot of that good stuff over here. Italia (4.8%abv) is the result of a collaboration with Maurizio Folli of Birrificio Italiano; properly lagered, and is loaded with Hallertau Northern Brewer, Perle and Spalter Select hops.

But is it any good? I bought this the same weekend as Sharp's Monsieur Rock, but held off drinking them both in the same session - I feared they would be too alike. I was quite wrong - Italia is unashamedly Lager; Uber-Pale, good carbonation, and meant to be served chilled. There's the malty, biscuity backbone that I was hoping for; a creamy, malted-milk heart. On top of that there's Lime and Lemon, and I actually thought the Lime-zest nose got more intense as the pint wore on. It's citrus all the way, but not too sweet. I liked it a lot, but I don't think I could drink a lot of it - it's not a session beer; the flavours are too big. But that's not a bad thing.

In fact, it formed part of a very enjoyable meal - chunks of Coley, dredged in flour, paprika and pepper, deep fried until golden and served with a Garlic and Lime mayo. Perfect finger-food, and accompanied by a great, sharp, citrussy beer. Hang on - Lager. Watch out for it on keg at various pubs around the country.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Founder's Red's Rye PA

I'd been hearing a great deal of talk about this beer over Christmas and finally popped my bottle open a while back. I still get excited when I get to try something from a brewery for the first time - given how much beer us bloggers get through, we can sometimes take that for granted. Even better, I'm a big fan of Rye in beer so was curious as to how Michigan-based Founder's take on it stood up.

I needn't have worried; it's a delicious beer. Red's Rye PA (6.6%abv), mahogany in colour, ploughs a similar furrow to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - with rounded, sweet hardcandy and boiled-sweet flavours -but undercut with a little breadiness and spice coming through at the end of the sip, presumably courtesy of the rye. There’s Pine and atouch of Grapefruit on the nose, backed up with a little more pepperiness, but balanced, bitter end is more than balanced out by the sweet body.It’s very easy-drinking for its strength and chills nicely too. All in all; A balanced, tasty beer.