The Bury Beer Festival "thank you" trip took place at Outstanding Brewery in Bury on Saturday. After a long and tedious bus journey thanks to the hopeless First Bus, we made our way through the back streets, bickering all the way about directions, to the former mill that houses the brewery. "Why didn't I know the way?" My explanation that though I had been there once before, but was driven there and it was dark, fell on deaf ears. Being well versed in how to deal with such routine enquiries from the female of the species, I gritted my teeth and ploughed on.
On arrival there seemed to be few there, but as I got a much needed glass of beer, the reason became obvious - most of the crew were nosebagging their way through the buffet. There was plenty of beer though and some of it was very good indeed. Dave Porter, the brewer held court and I started on his experimental beer, a very hoppy 3.8% number, which I not only enjoyed, but found difficult to move away from. The beer was well conditioned, very pale brown in colour with a good malt nose and incredible hoppiness due to copious amounts of Nelson Sauvin hops. Sadly Dave reckons it is too hoppy for the trade, though the comments he received from us lot led him to say he'd reconsider. It really is a belter. He has around 15 nines of it left, so if you want some, get in quick. When it's gone, it's gone!
There is something fantastic about being in a brewery where experimentation takes place and where the brewer is happy just to talk about it all with you. While others just got stuck in, I viewed the hop store with its precious contents reading like a who's who of the best hops in the world. Yankee Chinooks, Cascades and Centennials jostled with New Zealand's Nelson Sauvin, Motueka and Riwaka. German Tettnang and Slovenian Goldings sat side by side with Fuggles and Challenger. I do love seeing so many hop varieties and I have no doubt missed a few off the list. I also sniffed and chewed my way through malts including the smoked malt which was very pale and actually very tasty.
Later I was treated to two different versions of the same lager straight from the conditioning tank. One was frankly a failure, with too many fruity esters, but the other was a clean, hoppy revelation which would surely have any self respecting lager aficionado wagging his tail. There was also a cask conditioned Belgian White made with a proper Belgian yeast which was simply stunning. I agreed this would be fantastic kegged and chilled for the summer. It was a beer made for sunny evenings and a raging thirst. Others enjoyed the two smoked beers on offer, though they are not for me. I did try a sip and as these things go, it was fine, but it isn't a style I like. Lastly, on the draught offerings, a beer that I am beginning to rate very highly, Outstanding Stout, a dry, chewy, roasty classic of its kind.
The final revelation was brought to me by Dave. A bottled barley wine, Pushing Out is 7.4%. It is heavily hopped in the early boil with New Zealand Pacific Gem, late hopped with Slovenian Styrian Goldings and dry hopped with American Willamettes. It is a gorgeous, luscious, hop monster with incredible poise and balance that has a fine malt backbone and hides its strength incredibly well. It is a marvellous beer. Dave, rightly has high hopes for it.
We left, well oiled, for Bury's Trackside Free House, where after a couple, we wisely went home in a state of delicate inebriation, me clutching a precious cargo of four bottles of Pushing Out, gifted by Dave. One was shared to great acclaim in the pub today, but I have three left. Grim up North? Not bloody likely!
The bottom photo shows Dave Porter in full flow.
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