Tuesday was an exciting day for me. Not just because of the monthly CAMRA Branch Meeting which I chair (and that's quite exciting) but because the stout I brewed jointly with Allgates Brewery and two fellow bloggers, was to make its bar appearance.
Allgates is a fantastic brewery with well made beers that have that elusive drinkability. Now you can wax lyrical all you like about wine barrel aged imperial double saisons and their ilk, but the essence of good drinking is a decent (cask conditioned) pint of good honest beer. Substance over style if you like. (And even if you don't like.) In fact here's a point of view. There's a big difference between really good drinking and what the beer geeks might term "awesomeness" in beer. One is a social lubricant that makes the world go round just that little bit better and brightens your life accordingly, as an accompaniment to it. The other is perhaps a tad more introspective and exclusive. All too often it comes across as a one dimensional, fleeting paean that worships the product (often for its bragging rights) more than the moment, the company or the occasion.
Right. That's off my chest, so back to our Quaker House. Like all Allgates beers, it was named after a defunct coal mine from the area around Wigan, which used to yield many millions of tons of the black stuff. Appropriate then on two levels at least. Having agreed we'd produce a stout, it was my hope to persuade my fellow brewers that it had to be a real stout of premium drinking strength and most importantly, it had to be as black as the ace of spades and not a pale, see through porterish excuse of a beer. In my view, if you can see through the bloody thing, it isn't a proper stout. Fortunately that idea was readily agreed and there is no doubt that this is a proper stout. Jet black, with a gorgeous off-white, creamy head, it looked like Guinness used to look before they fucked it up completely many moons ago. The oats gave it a tremendously smooth mouthfeel with roast and chocolate malt and decent hopping from the Warrior and Galena hops came through nicely. It is a deep and satisfying beer which drinks easily and belies its 4.9% alcohol. The finish is long and roasty with lingering hops. It coated my palate wonderfully. The beer is pretty damn good. If I had my time again, I'd have perhaps have suggested a few more resinous hops in the finish, but I remind myself it is a collaboration and that we have produced a beautiful, easy drinking stout which has enough complexity to make it a cut above the ordinary. Gratifyingly many of our members supped it with pleasure.
It was also a great pleasure to me that it was hosted by the Baum, CAMRA's National Pub of the Year, so no doubts about quality of keeping and dispense. Served with perfect conditioning, at around 12°C and sparkled as God intended, I was a happy man.
Thanks again to David and Jonathan at Allgates. Princes among men.
Tyson and Jim (my fellow collaborators) will have
their barrel on soon. Jim's is on Friday at the Joshua Brooks in
Manchester I believe. Tyson TBA.
My chosen charity (it was kindly donated by Allgates) is the Salvation Army in Rochdale to help with their work with the homeless.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, 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.
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