Friday, 6 June 2008

Worst Beer of the Year So Far!

Instinctively I dislike writing bad things about micro breweries. I know the care and pride in their products that most of them have. Regrettably some have a blind spot. They have an inability to recognise a bad batch and even a bad recipe, never mind obvious brewing faults. There is frankly too much beer being released from micros that should never be sent to trade.

I have though written about quality issues from small independent breweries and I came across the issue again last night from a (South West) brewery I have had trouble with before. The brewery describes the beer I unwisely purchased as "A golden coloured quenching beer with great hop character. Full fruit in the mouth with good hop balance and a long dry finish." The beer was light brown and smelt of creosote. Never a good sign. It was distinctly woody, phenolic and frankly, an undrinkable mess. Using my best Dom Jolly technique, I complained and had it replaced by the much more mundane, but drinkable Greene King IPA.

For once I am not going to name this brewery or beer, but I will give a clue at the end of this article. The general point is that micros will only ever thrive by producing quality beer that pubs will re-order. No one in their right mind would re-order this stuff.

Clue: The beer tasted woody. The brewery has obviously taken its name too literally in making this beer!

20 comments:

Tyson said...

Wooden Hand, by any chance? If so, not a shock, as their beers are consistently poor.

John Clarke said...

Ah, Wooden Hand - we had a couple of their beers at Stockport Beer Festival a couple of years back - they were terrible.

Tandleman said...

You may say so, I couldn't possibly comment!

Anonymous said...

With your clue I was thinking of Tom Woods.To be fair I rather like their beers,though today I had a pint of their Landlady's bitter and was not overly impressed.. and as for the pumpclip,it may reopen some old debates..I cannot remember whose blog the thread was on,maybe Stonch's?.That said it was selling well.Furthermore I see they recommend dispensing beers without a sparkler,which is a sin in my local. Possibly another debate??????

Ben

Liverpool

Tandleman said...

Ben

Tom Woods ain't South West!

Boak said...

Their Black Pearl is really nice. Had it at a mini-beer festival in a north London pub.

Tandleman said...

That was also on. Funnily enough, I didn't fancy trying it!

Anonymous said...

missed the South West bit.
Ben

Zak said...

I have to say that, should we be talking about the brewery implied above (nudge nudge, wink wink), we sell a couple of their bottled beers (Buccaneer and Cornish Mutiny), and they are perfectly serviceable examples. Do you think the fault was in the beer when it left; the fermenter? the brewery? the cellar?

Tandleman said...

Zak - While saying nothing about the brewery concerned, I can say without a doubt the faults in this beer originated in the brewery. My guess is a fermentation problem though equally it could originate from the mash tun. But while able to recognise problems, I am not a brewer.

I was making a general point though as well, albeit illustrated by the bad beer I had.

The fact that John and Tyson say bad things about a particular brewery can be regarded as useful feedback I'd say.They both know their beer through and through.

On a general point, I think South West brewers as a whole, with some honourable exceptions, produce some of the dullest beers in the UK. There. I've said it.

Zak said...

That's an interesting point. We have a local micro in this neck of the woods that are quite high-profile with one of their beers (it's quite good), but everything else they produce ranges from barely drinkable to actively unpleasant - I think they have an infection problem somewhere, or some very odd ideas about what to put in beer.

Boak said...

I've been unimpressed by both St Austell and Sharp's, until I've had them in good nick. Doom Bar in particular I just thought was really dull, until I had a pint in my local that exploded sherbety-hoppiness on the tongue. Tribute is rubbish in bottles but on tap in the right condition it's a wonderful pint.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

We got some Wooden Hand beers out here, I think there were fermentation issues in both. Very certainly had a phenolic woody character going on, very estery as well.

Alfred said...

Hope you don't mind me asking but what pub was this in. Am simply interested as I'm always on the look out for pubs that stock different micros (however bad they may be!)

Tandleman said...

Lord Moon of the Mall.

Stonch said...

I've had Cornish Mutiny and Black Pearl from Wooden Hand in the Harp, Covent Garden. Thought both were excellent - esp. the latter. Perhaps it's because you were drinking in a Wetherspoons?

Tandleman said...

Stonch - Do you think I don't know the difference between badly kept beer and badly brewed beer, or did you just accidentally miss out the smiley?

Tyson said...

This is the biggest threat to Stonch's credibility yet-defending Wooden Hand! I've sampled them at various venues, and they really are terrible brewers. How anyone can actually enjoy them is staggering.

Gazza Prescott said...

Wooden Hand used to be called Ventonwyn a good few years back and the beers were atrocious then - all infections, dodgy tastes everywhere and basically just badly brewed. I've had a couple of them as Wooden Hand and totally agree with you in that they are shite and should never be on sale; if I were a landlord and ordered them they'd never get past the quick taste before connecting the lines to the casks... perhaps this is the issue here, very few landlords these days actually taste the beer before putting it on thinking that as long as it's clear then it's okay?

And I think Southwest beers are pretty poor too, for the record...

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

The beers we got out here weren't out right infected but they certainly had faults, I wonder if its the brewer or if their kit has some issues.