Wye Valley Brewery, was founded in 1985 by brewer Peter Amor and is now run by his son Vernon. The state of the art new brewery, completed in October 2013 is dedicated to brewing cask-conditioned real ale from the finest ingredients.
Wye Valley Brewery, “Butty Bach”, Stoke Lacy, Herefordshire
On a recent trip to East Wales with BeerAnorak founder Jamie to discover the delights of Welsh wine from Ancre Hill, we also chanced upon this benchmark real ale. A refreshing alternative to the bombardment of hop driven craft beers on every corner. Make a list of the characteristics that define the perfect session beer and this ticks all the boxes. Good body, balanced, hints of sweetness, malt notes, very delicate hops (though in no way ‘hoppy’), refreshing with a long finish. A no brainer to order a second of the finest pint I’ve drunk this year. 10/10
Marks & Spencer have put some thought into developing their own-label beer range. Here are three bottles from the line-up. They’re quite smart beers: not serious hardcore craft material, but considering their customers, they are a bit more edgy than they needed to have been, which is a good thing. These are the sort of beers I am happy to drink if I lack a more serious option, but I won’t be making a detour to find them. I hope this doesn’t seem harsh. They’re really quite good. OK I will be quiet now.
M&S Welsh Golden Ale Brains Brewery Cardiff
Made with challenger hops, late hopped with Cascade and Styrian Golding. Slightly savoury style , with the bitter hops just about winning out over the subtle malty notes. Midweight with some herbiness and hints of spice. There’s some complexity here. 7/10
M&S Greenwich Black IPA
From the Meantime brewery. Beer writer Roger Protz describes this style of beer thus: ‘Black IPA is absurd and an insult to history.’ I disagree. Let the beer talk. It’s made using 7 dark malts, and a combination of English and American hops. Dark, malty and chocolatey with some bitter dark chocolate notes, some herbs and a complex savouriness. Distinctive and attractive. 7/10
M&S Organic Scottish Heather Honey Beer
Made by the Black Isle Brewery, this is organic. A blond beer brewed with heather honey. Sweetly honeyed with some herbiness and subtle malty notes. Pale coloured with some spiciness. The honey influence is quite subtle adding a bit of sweetness. Normally, I’m not a fan of beer with flavourings, but this seems to work well, 7.5/10
I was really taken by this Welsh ale, from Tom Newman’s The Celt Experience brewery.
Celt Silures Crafted Ale Bracis-Curmi, Caerphilly, Wales
Warm, sweet toffee and malt nose. In the mouth this is creamy and sweet but with herby, spicy, citrussy notes and some piney, hoppy bitterness providing balance. Distinctive, rich and complex yet also with freshness. Superb. 8/10 (Oddbins)