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Hobbycraft: Retweet, Baby-Faced Assassin and Poltergeist

October 16, 2011 8 comments

Having only ever done a kit brew, where the wort came in cans for dilution, and seen one commercial brewday, I still find the concept of homebrewing daunting.  The more I learn about beer, the more respect I have for the brewers of my favourite beers and even those well-crafted beers that aren’t to my tastes, but are consistent and reliable.

However I do want to get beyond this stage of lazy, passive consumption and comment.  I am looking forward to having the pluck, time, equipment and space to do some home brewing of my own and perhaps, as people have kindly offered, to collaborate with them on a homebrew.

Some very generous homebrewers from West Yorkshire have been kind enough to give me bottles of their recent brews and their quality has left me both worried about being up to their standards and encouraged about what is possible. On Saturday night, Kate and I sat down to try three of these much appreciated gifts, whilst watching a couple of DVDs (the 1935 version of The 39 Steps and Deconstructing Harry).

First up was David Bishop’s Broadford Brewery Retweet.  I’m not sure I’d even met David when he left one of these bottles in Beer Ritz for me to collect at the start of the summer.  I was a little worried about having left this bottle in the fridge for a few months but fortunately it was still as I think it was intended.  This 4.6% summer ale was billed as “A refreshing blonde beer with a citrus twist.  Hopped with Challenger and Styrgian Goldings“.

It poured a nice, very pale colour, perhaps not dissimilar to Ilkley Mary Jane.  It had a good size head, as you might expect of a bottle conditioned beer after a few months.  As billed, it was a really nice, refreshing citrussy beer with hidden depths of bitterness.  To that extent it reminded me of the pale Oakham beers I’ve tried: very lightly coloured and drinkable, but with a sophisticated bitterness to be relished if you pay attention to it.

Next up was Roosters Baby Faced Assassin.  This 6.1% IPA was first brewed by Tom Fozard as a homebrew when he was working in Beer Ritz.  Now that he’s at Roosters he brewed it again, with a slightly altered recipe, and gave away these big bottles to those of us to attended an afternoon at the brewery in August.

This beer has also been reviewed by Zak, Leigh and on The Bottled Beer Year, with the Mk 1 version tasted by Ghostie here.  It poured a lovely, slightly hazey orangey gold, with a remarkably inviting mango aroma.  The puckeringly tart citric bitterness was no disappointment and was matched by a richly sweet but fresh malt flavour.  If I was to compare this beer to any other it would be Kernel’s IPAs: fresh, sweet beers with the bitter, acidic sunshine of the US hops shining through.  Lovely.

Finally, and after a glass of milk to try and reset my palate to zero, I opened a beer that had been given to me that afternoon by Ghost Drinker: Poltergeist Amber Ale.  Ghostie had explained (as he does in this post) the beer was intended to be a brown ale, although the wort seemed paler than that, but it ended up being quite brown anyway.

The lovely art deco label (it looks like it belongs in an interwar cinema) informs us that the beer was brewed in collaberation with Matt Lovatt.  It seemed a shame to break the black wax to get into the beer, but it was worth it.  The rich sweet maltiness was evident from both the appearance and the aroma, which also gave a hint of the bitterness.

The tastes of slightly bitter and tart dried fruit, nuttiness, sweet malt and a hint of chocolate all came together to resemble a delicious Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut.  Once I got this idea in my head I couldn’t shake it, so instead relaxed and enjoyed a delicious, comforting beer that  perfectly ended an autumn night.

Thanks to David, Tom and Ghostie for these beers.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to repay you in kind.  In the meantime, check out David and Ghostie’s excellent blogs if you haven’t already and keep an eye out for Roosters cask beers, which are on great form right now.  If you’re interested in homebrewing in West Yorkshire, Zak’s new Leeds Homebrew group has its inaugural meeting in Mr Foleys on Thursday evening.

Home Delivery and Home Brewing

January 4, 2011 2 comments

It’s been a rubbish first day at work after a very relaxing week and a half back in Northern Ireland with family, open fires, good whiskey and variable beer.  I ate every meal today at my desk.

However, there’s always alcohol.  And, what’s more, alcohol given to me by friends and loved ones.  I didn’t notice it lurking in the corner of my office until lunchtime, but the first part of Kate’s fantastic Christmas present to me was waiting there.  A cardboard box with some hops on the outside contained the first 13 beers of MyBreweryTap.com’s 52 Week Beer Club, which promises to turn the entirety of 2011 into a big beery advent calendar.  Of the 13 beers, I’ve only tried four before, so I’m very excited.  Look, widescreen:

Also today my colleague Emma gave me a plastic bottle of her first homebrewed cider made from apples from her own garden in Wentbridge.  It was thanks for the rambling and half-thought out advice I’d given her when she set out, muttering on about yeast, sugar and secondary fermentation (but mainly directing her to a good home brewing shop).  It also represents rental payments on my hydrometer.

The cider itself is pleasingly dry, tart and powerful, but it’s mainly just lovely to get something that someone’s made themselves and you can still get wellied on.  Home brewing’s a great thing and I really need to do more of it: I’ve only gotten round to doing one kit so far and it went really well.  Iain in the Abbey Home Brew shop at Kirkstall traffic lights recommended a Brupacks Colne Valley Bitter kit when I said I wanted to make a Yorkshire bitter like Black Sheep and with not much effort (barring a lot of bottle washing) I ended up with a couple of crates of very drinkable beer.

I’d like to try a couple more kits before moving on to anything more complicated.  That might be a good resolution for 2011.  Must get my hydrometer back.

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