Friday 28 June 2013

Salopian Brewery

Four of the best British beers I’ve drunk this year have been made by Salopian Brewery.
Oracle is like the other 4% ABV pale and hoppy beers, only it’s better. Drinking the beer and scribbling down some notes became a game in which I had to try and name every yellow or orange fruit in the world – nectarines, mango, pineapple, peaches, mandarin, grapefruit. It’s super fruity from the hops, the malt is super simple and clean and the bitterness is dry, quenching and peppery. It’s a beer you look at with a shrug yet drink with a surprised smile. And then order another.

Darwin’s Origin is a beer I first drank in The Rake. I went to the bar, looked at all the fancy foreign taps, and Glyn told me to order the Salopian. It was perfect. The clarity of flavour in the malt, the lightness of it yet the complexity of it, then a freshness from the hops which was balanced yet bold. This is the kind of beer which makes you change what you’re drinking and keep searching for others like it; it makes you forget the IPAs for a few weeks and look for 4.3% British bitters which have elegance and excitement.

Then there’s two new beers, two brews in smart, sexy 330ml bottles embracing the craft side of things. Automaton is a 7% IPA hopped with Saaz and Citra and it’s spectacular. Gold going towards copper, there’s fruit flying out in all directions with mango, tangerine and a whole tropical cocktail, the body has malt but never enough to make it fat or sweet and the bitterness kicks with botanic-like sharpness. It’s as good as, perhaps even better than, any IPA brewed in Britain right now.

And Vertigo is a 7.2% Black IPA hopped with Centennial and Galaxy. Earthy, minty and roast citrus in the aroma to begin then after a few big gulps it’s like cracking into a Chocolate Orange. Full body, making it satisfying to drink, with fruity hops throughout, and a mix of hop and malt bitterness at the end, though only a hint of dark malt flavour with a whiff of chocolate. The balance is brilliant but more than that it’s just a fun beer to drink. In my opinion, this is how all great Black IPAs should taste.

I rarely hear people talking about Salopian Brewery. But they should be. And they should be drinking their beers because they have clarity of flavour, balance, freshness and they simply taste great. 

Monday 10 June 2013

Germany Beer Trip

In March 2013, I spent a week traveling around Germany drinking beer. From Hamburg, to Cologne and Dusseldorf, down to Munich, up to Bamberg, then across to Berlin via a lunch stop in Leipzig. I went to try and learn more about the beers of one of the most famous drinking nations in the world. Here's the trip in a few photos.

Groninger brewpub, Hamburg

Ratsherrn Brewery, Hamburg

Ratsherrn beers, including a fantastic Pale Ale

Uerige's brewhouse in Dusseldorf

Uerige's coolship, six floors above street-level

Uerige's fermentation cellar

Altbier in Kurzer

Pouring Kolsch in Cologne

Gaffel Kolsch

Kellerbier for breakfast in Munich

Forschungsbrauerei just outside Munich city centre

A lot of sausages in Weisses Brauhaus (this place rocks - order Tap 5)

Spezial rauchbier in Bamberg


Ungespundet in Mahrsbrau

Bamberg is one handsome old town

Gose in Leipzig - delicious!

Berliner Weisse in Berlin

Berliner Weisse with syrup (I prefer it without)

Schalander brewpub and their tiny brewhouse

Eschenbrau, Berlin - this place is excellent

Marcus Brau - the brew kit is behind the small bar


Wednesday 5 June 2013

To Simon

Today we raise our beers to Simon Johnson.

It doesn’t matter what beer we raise as long as we love drinking it. It doesn’t even matter if it’s not a beer – all that matters is that in your glass is a drink which makes you happy.

The beer world has lost a good friend. Someone who was unequivocally liked by all and never failed to put smiles on faces (sometimes quite literally if he had his face paints...). I never saw him without a smile and it was his light-hearted approach to beer which everyone enjoyed.

His was always the blog I went to first, always the one which was capable of being different and interesting and fun, and I loved it for that. It was simultaneously thoughtful yet not over-thought, intelligent yet playful and mischievous. And he was always quick to respond to questions or to give honest advice. I’m very glad to have known him and to have shared a few beers with him.

Today is Simon’s funeral, so this one’s for him (and later it'll be a real one).