On Saturday we had our Good Beer Guide Selection Meeting at the Greater Manchester Pub of the Year, the Baum in Rochdale. As usual there was an excellent selection of beer and while I enjoyed my first pint of Single Hop Saaz from Marstons, my attention was drawn to a beer I had somehow overlooked. My colleague declared it "excellent" and indeed it was. Dark Star is a brewery I certainly include in my circle of trust. Darkness, is a black as the Devil's waistcoat and served in the peak of condition, at the correct temperature, with a tight creamy head as God intended, it had a wonderful, coal dust, roast barley and dark berry fruit flavour, all overlaid with pronounced resinous hops. (Warrior I understand.) At 3.5% it was a beer you could drink with relish and abandon while still being sober enough to control 30 or so unruly CAMRA members, all vying to have their beer favourites selected.
Now with one or two exceptions - the most notable being Windermere Pale from Hawkshead - pale beers struggle to avoid wateriness, when 'down' at this gravity, but in my experience, dark beers, when you put enough of the correct ingredients in them, suffer much less. Dark beers are notorious for hiding brewing faults, especially when laden with alcohol, but I'd submit that at this strength, the skill of the brewer comes to the fore and if there is a better example, I'd like to see it.
Well done Dark Star.
So Brewers? Want to make a really good beer at a low gravity? I'd humbly suggest that you get the dark malts out. Yes I know Dark Star don't recommend sparklers, but in this case at least, they are wrong.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
Read my information and links and then decide for yourself. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes.
If you wish to email me you can do so by using this address: tandleman[at]yahoo.co.uk
These are the life blood of any blog. Please feel free to comment. I do not practice censorship if you stick to the point, but personal insults are frowned upon and may result in deletion. Anonymous entries may have the piss taken out of them or be deleted.
Beer samples are welcome, but I cannot guarantee a good review. You, the brewer, on the other hand can.
I do not currently accept adverts on this site, but if you feel so inclined, make me an offer. If you wish me to wear your brewery stuff, great. XXL please
The contents of this blog represent the personal views of the author only. They do not represent CAMRA policy in any way whatsoever.
The contents of this site and individual articles may not be reproduced in whole without the express permission of the author and will require an appropriate credit. Extracts may be reproduced with a credit to the author.