Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Two Beers - Two Breweries


When people rave about breweries, it is often about those that brew beers that are, shall we say, at the more exotic end of the spectrum. There are rarely glowing reports on ordinary supping strength beers, even from me and that is almost all that I drink. I of course rarely write about individual beers, so that's my excuse, but with the exception of say, Dark Star, Marble or the odd London brewery, there isn't much. Some yes, but not much, despite those kind of beers being what nearly everyone drinks.

So I'll redress the balance just a little. On Monday night, in Oldham, I had two different beers (though not just two beers) from two exceptional breweries. Both are, gratifyingly in my CAMRA branch area, and it was a CAMRA meeting that caused me, rarely, to be drinking beer on a Monday night. Both were 4.5%, which is just a touch above my normal drinking strength, but when the beers are from these two, you know not only that you can drink them with confidence, but indeed you must.

Funnily enough, one of the breweries, despite a great reputation is fairly hard to come by, though being brewed only 5 or 6 miles from where I live. (The other is even nearer.) The brewery brews at capacity, has no plans to expand and when I looked at its web site for my blog post, I realised I hadn't ever had the vast majority of their beers, such is their comparative rarity. The other brewery also brews to capacity most of the time and is much bigger. I have tried the vast majority of those beers many a time and always with great pleasure.

So who are they? Pictish and Phoenix of course. The beers on the night were Pictish Little Gem, a wonderfully tasty and hoppy, pale golden beer loaded with hops, this time in the unusual combination of Bramling Cross and Pacific Gem, giving a beer that was just sublime. In our meeting venue, we had Phoenix White Monk. An old favourite this and different in many ways to the Pictish offering, but wonderfully balanced between malt and hop. Don't ask me what hops, as I don't know and I bet if I asked the brewer, he wouldn't tell me.

So there you are. Two top tips. Phoenix and Pictish. Seek them out and don't forget the sparkler.

Pictured is Tony Allen of Phoenix with (possibly) a pint of White Monk.

9 comments:

Ed said...

Good point about the sparkler, it is important to remember to ask them to take it off! ;-)

Tandleman said...

Apart from that inexplicable blind spot, you are such a sensible chap Ed.:-)

Sue said...

I was at the Mill Hotel in Chester last weekend. One of the 12 beers available was Phoenix Cornmill (4.2%?)which I believe is the house beer and therefore some 80p a pt cheaper than their guest ales. As expected, it was excellent and I look forward to revisiting it on our forthcoming Branch trip.

Birkonian said...

Phoenix have re-gained a toehold in a couple of Wirral's better pubs. Don't forget that they srtaed life in Ellesmere Port as Oak Brewery. They are particularly good at pale, dry, bitter beers.

RedNev said...

I remember drinking Oak beers in the Swan in Wood Street, Liverpool. Although I liked them then, I thought they improved with the move to Heywood.

Leigh said...

Do you think? I think there's plenty of love out there for the Mallinson's , Acorns, Fuller's, Holts, Ilkleys,Yorks etc etc of this world. Smaller breweries seem to bring out more (some would say too much) seasonals and one-offs is all; hence more new stuff to drink. I'd like to think, however, that any balanced beer blog (or magazine) straddles both worlds - promoting the new and established. Beer Magazine pulls it off quite well, for example, I think.

Tandleman said...

Well you may lthink so Leigh, but I am not so sure. And anyway, these are two breweries that rarely get any credit. It isn't just blogs (and some of those are less than mainstream), but then again, blogs can be what they like. Have a read of twitter sometimes though, if you want to see how things are skewed.

"Beer" of course does feature the kind of beers most people do actually drink.

Leigh said...

I'll leave it at that, then, I think.

Tandleman said...

Leigh. If you so wish, but if you disagree you are welcome to say so.