This is an interesting beer from Brewdog. ‘Born to Die’ is a fresh, hoppy IPA, with a date on it. It’s a heavily whirlpool and dry-hopped beer, and the idea is that it should be drunk fresh. The inspiration for this came from San Diego brewer Stone, with their ‘Enjoy By…’ series of beers. They are released as special batches with the idea being that they should be consumed within the month. This is a really lovely beer.
Brewdog Born to Die Terminally Hoppy IPA 04.11.2016
I missed the drink by date by 2 days, but this is still a lovely beer. It’s a gold colour, and has beautiful aromas of spice, grapefruit, cut grass and passionfruit. The palate has sweet tropical notes hemmed in by lovely spicy citrus notes, with orange peel and herbs and a lovely tangy bitterness. There’s some richness, but not as much as you’d expect from the alcohol level. This has real complexity and delightful, balanced hoppy bitterness, and it’s more restrained than you’d expect, and better for it. So fresh. 9/10
This is delicious. I’m sitting in The Lighterman, Granary Square, Kings Cross. It’s a scorching August day, sweaty and heat-summery, and I’m waiting for a friend for a spot of late lunch. So time for some beer. This Saison is made by Windsor-based Savour Beer. Founded in 2013, they specialise in farmhouse beers. I like this: it tastes human, authentic, complex and real.
Savour Beer Saison, Windsor, England
A golden colour, this is a deliciously full flavoured saison, with a spicy, tangy, bitter-hoppy twist to the herb and malt base. There’s a lovely depth to this: it’s rich and multilayered, with some floral aromatics from the hops and lovely spicy complexity from the yeasts. It’s mouth filling, has a sense of sweetness, but it’s also really fresh as well. 8/10
The London craft beer is exciting at the moment, and one of the leading players is Beavertown, a brewery that’s just four years old. They’re based in Tottenham Hale on an industrial site, and although they’ve not been there that long, they have outgrown it and are looking for new premises around three times the size.
This is a remarkable journey for a brewery that started as recently as 2012 as part of Duke’s Brew and Que, an American BBQ joint in Hackney. It was founded by Logan Plant, son of famous rocker Robert, and self-taught brewer. Logan was inspired by the BBQ joints he’d come across in the USA which served amazing craft beer, and he wanted to bring this back to London.
The canning line
They can produce 15 000 litres a day, which equates to 45 000 cans, and about half this is just one beer, the Gamma Ray IPA. Production is also split 50/50 between small and big pack, and the brave move they have taken is to move pretty much all the small pack to cans. This is good for freshness.
They also use quite a few disposable key kegs, which are plastic containers that dispense the beer by air pressure on a metallized inner bag. This have quite an advantage over stainless steel kegs which need returning.
The illustrations on the cans are by Nick Dwyer, who previously worked at Duke’s as a waiter.
The original kit from Duke’s
The Tottenham Hale brewery is open 2-8 pm each Saturday as a tap room.
We visited the brewery and had an excellent tasting of some very interesting beers. We then popped over to Hackney to sample Duke’s. As well as serving the Beavertown range, Duke’s also has a really impressive list of craft beer. It was quite the day.
Beavertown Neck Oil Session IPA
I love this lighter-styled IPA. Very fresh, bright and linear, with lovely lemon, grapefruit and pith notes. This has real precision: it’s pure, direct and focused. 8.5/10
Beavertown Gamma Ray IPA
Lively with nice spiciness. It has a bit of malt, quite a lot of hop character, and lovely weight in the mouth. Quite classic in this IPA style. 8/10
Beavertown Peacher Man
A collaboration with Heretic, containing peach juice, oats, nutmeg and a Belgian witt strain of yeast. Cloudy and a bit brown. Very powerful and concentrated with lovely sweet fruity notes and a bit of earthiness. There’s also some banana and clove from the yeast. 7/10
Beavertown Bloody Ell
This is made with blood oranges from Sicily. Beavertown take the whole harvest from a couple of farms, because they want the zest non-waxed. The beer contains zest and juice from the oranges, with the former going into the mash and the the latter in the fermenter. It’s a lovely beer with the oranges adding flavours that fit in well with the hops. Notes of orange peel: spicy, tangy and detailed. Lively and bright with a bit of pithiness, and lovely texture too. 9/10
Beavertown/Boneyard Bloody Notorious
This is Bloody Ell with some Notorious IPA from Boneyard in Oregon. 9.1% alcohol. This is such a beautifully complex beer. Amazing nose of peach, mandarin, some saline notes, oysters and seaweed. Lovely powerful, textured palate with real concentration. Complex and delicate with a grapefruit freshness. This is so delicious, showing lovely weight. 9.5/10
Beavertown Sour Power
This is from Beavertown’s Tempus project, which involves barrels. It’s a mixed fermentation with Pediococcus, Brettanomyces and Saccharomyces. Redcurrants and sour cherries are added, too. It’s a remarkable beer with cherries, sour plums and damsons on the nose. In the mouth it’s quite sour with some fruit sweetness and an expressive personality. So detailed and fine. 9/10
Beavertown Holy Cowbell
This is a dry-hopped India stout. Powerful flavours of coffee, spice and nuts with nice black coffee aromatics. Fresh, complex and detailed, with lovely weight. 8/10
Beavertown 8 Ball Rye IPA
Orange/brown in colour. Sweet and textural with nice richness. Smooth and broad with interesting texture and nice depth. There’s real finesse to this beer. 8/10
Beavertown Delta Unda
This is no 10 out of a series of beers called invasion of the upuloids. 5.7% alcohol. Hops: citra, matoueke and enigma. Cloudy yellow colour. Lovely aromatics and a nice broad texture with a slight creaminess. Lovely depth and texture. 9/10
Beavertown Black Betty Black IPA
Complex, powerful and textured with sweet coffee and chocolate notes, but also a luvely personality and some sweet creaminess. Complex, harmonious and balanced. 9/10
Here is a video of the visit to both the brewery and Duke’s:
Thornbridge are one of the UK’s most exciting breweries. They’re based in Derbyshire, and the brewery started life in the grounds of Thornbridge Hall in 2005. Things grew, and now their main site is a modern brewery in Bakewell, although the original brewery is still operational for smaller brews and experimental batches.
This, the Jaipur IPA, showcases their expertise. It’s a seriously interesting beer, with plenty of hoppy complexity, but also lovely balance and freshness. It’s wonderfully consistent, too. And widely available (Waitrose stock it, for example).
Thornbridge Jaipur IPA
Very fresh and linear with lovely bright citrus fruitiness, coupled with intense, direct piney happiness, as well as some attractive floral notes. Citrus peel and dried herbs, too. It’s a really zippy, refreshing style of IPA which carries its considerable hop load really well. 8.5/10
So, this is a special beer. Just 1215 bottles brewed, in joint celebration of beer day (15th June, that’s today) and the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carter (in 1215, hence the number of bottles produced). The distinctive thing about this bottle-conditioned golden ale is that it contains botanicals representing the four members of the UK, in addition to the Sovreign and Boadicea hops and Maris Otter barley. They are: seaweed for Wales; flax seed for Northern Ireland; heather for Scotland and rose petals for England.
Brewster’s Britannia’s Brew 5% alcohol
Orange/gold colour. Quite flat. Subdued but interesting nose of warm herbs and spice with a bit of malt. The palate is savoury, slightly bitter, slightly earthy and a bit herby. It’s well balanced, pleasant and quite English, with medium body, but it is a bit flat, alas, which makes this bottle taste a bit more cask-like, which isn’t a terrible thing. 7/10
Burning Sky is a really interesting brewery based in Firle, East Sussex. They make use of large oak barrels and slow brews to make super-complex beers. This is a completely epic beer that has been matured in large foudres. I’m going to be seeking out everything else of theirs that I can find after trying this. It’s astonishing stuff.
Burning Sky Saison à la Provision
A farmhouse beer that has a primary fermentation with a Saison yeast, then undergoes a secondary fermentation with a blend of Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces while ageing in foudres. Amazing stuff. Lovely bright apple and citrus flavours with a complex tangy lemony edge and some spiciness. It’s refreshing, tangy and alive. Remarkable. 9/10
So, a few months back, I had the very pleasurable experience of travelling up to Thornbridge Hall to judge their home brew competition along with talented fellow wine journalist Victoria Moore and food/drink writer and beer maker Daniel Tapper, along with representatives from Waitrose and Thornbridge. There were 200 entries.
The winner was this beer, made by former sail maker Graham Nelson. You can read about him in Victoria’s Telegraph column on the event. Graham didn’t win any cash (a shame for him), but he did get his beer brewed on a commercial scale by Thornbridge, and it’s now being sold in Waitrose stores (it arrived in 67 branches yesterday). The good news? It tastes great. It’s not just another big IPA, but it has real personality. You should probably buy some.
Thornbridge Vienna IPA 5.9% alcohol; £2.50 for 500 ml, Waitrose
Wonderfully aromatic with a lovely perfumed hoppy nose showing dried herbs, straw and passionfruit. The palate is fresh with some warmth to it and spicy, earthy, savoury hoppy notes, as well as a rich creamy texture. Very interesting, and not your standard big IPA. I love that this beer is so distinctive. 8.5/10
I’ve long been a fan of Sussex Brewery Dark Star’s cask ales. For example, here’s a review of their Hophead from cask in box. Now it’s time to try a bottled Dark Star, the highly regarded Six Hop. It’s lovely.
Dark Star Six Hop, West Sussex 6.5% alcohol
Six hops, employed at six stages in the brewing process. It’s a distinctive, hoppy English bitter, with a full malty character but also some earthy, herby, savoury English hop notes, plus bright citrussy hop notes too. Really complex and concentrated, with lovely flavours. Distinctly English in style and quite lovely. 8.5/10
Hardknott is a relatively young brewery that started life in 2005, based in Cumbria. They are a sort of half-way house between a traditional real ale brewer and a trendy craft brewery. This beer has lots of hops and crystal malt. Not really an IPA, although that’s what Hardknott call it – a red IPA. Dave of Hardknott has a good blog.
Hardknott Infra Red IPA, Cumbria
Warm, malty and rich. Smells a bit like a stout, with an iron, bloody edge to the sweet fruit. There’s some spicy hoppiness, but it’s not excessively hoppy. Some hints of chocolate. 7/10