Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Local Rivals




Rivalry is a natural occurrence in the brewing industry. Sometimes it's between the upstart and the long-established and sometimes it's a history that goes way back. Like the school playground, the brewing world segregates itself out into different social groups that generally all get along, although occasionally that isn't so.

Here at Daleside we don't really do rivalries so much. Or at least not in the same sense as the ones in the North East brewing scene. That was more equivalent to say The Hunger Games or underground dog fighting by comparison. I am aware the friendly folk of Roosters Brewery have a long history with Daleside that goes way back and we have great respect for them.

Anyhow, I thought it would make a good blog post to taste off these two rival beers from rival brewers. A majority of people in brewing know about the history between the Theakston brothers and thus the long history between Black Sheep and Theakstons, both Masham based. Both big family brewers. But both beers happen to be  bottled, filtered pale ales at 4.5%.

First up, in the red corner we have Theakstons Pale ale using Summit, Cascade and El Dorado hops over a base of lager and Munich malts. Nice classy label. In the blue corner we have Black Sheep Venus and Mars brewed with Pale and Caramalt hopped with First Gold, Summit and Chinook. The Theakstons Pale ale is poured first and this pale golden beer opens with orange and stone fruit at the fore. There is a little sweetness but a dry feel to it, a little bit old school, a tad flinty but overall well composed.

Next up, Black Sheep Venus and Mars pours a shade darker. There is a more upfront citrus aroma and flavour about this beer, but it's not the sort you would get from using a shed load of resinous C hops. It's more perfumed and catty and the beer has that signature Black Sheep rounded fullness to it with stone fruit and some orange notes.

On the whole my impressions are Black Sheep have dressed things up more, the aroma is more obvious and they've put more effort into making things more contemporary. On the other hand Theastons Pale ale is more down to earth. Where it scores in being a tad more complex it loses out in approachability compared to its rival. A close match but for me Theakstons win this one, however the problem here is  neither beer ranks in the top tier stuff that either brewer has done -Imperial Russian Stout, Riggwelter, 54 degrees North, Old Peculiar and XB. But all in all an interesting brew battle.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Incoming new beer: Vermont Black IPA


Introducing the newest addition to the Daleside range, a dark Vermont-style IPA - aptly named Vermont Black IPA.

The original name for this beer was New Zealand Hopped Vermont Session black IPA. But it seemed a bit long winded.

A very much experimental concept that not only goes into territory unknown to Daleside, but territory unknown to nearly everyone else. I am aware Brewdog have done a 7.3%  Vermont Black IPA recently. It's not just a Vermont/NE IPA neither is it just a Black IPA, it's a Vermont Black IPA featuring Nelson Sauvin hops.



The basic concept for this was put together from past experience brewing both styles individually. But all in all this was to be the most abstract, non-traditional beer ever produced in the 27-year history of Daleside Brewery.

The term 'the most' and not 'one of the most' really indicates to how monumentally serious I was about this brew day. I was deadly serious, look this is my serious face.




This could be huge, this could change everything or amount to nothing. Anyone can understand the theory that if one of your mates starts break-dancing at the private function he's going to get more attention. But by comparison if your 85-year-old gran in the zimmer frame started break-dancing at the function that's going to get significantly more attention.
To me it makes more sense than brewing just another pale ale with Citra hops in. So in the words of the wise Lego Batman; "you wanna get nuts? C'mon lets get nuts!".

mashing in

Like Luke Skywalker entering the Death Star in his X wing fighter with R2D2 on the roof, this brew day required a lot of attention. A fiddly sort of brew day involving some moves deviating from standard procedure and some effort required to hit the numbers. Controlling the boil with very few hops in the copper also required attention. If this was made into a film there would be a split screen featuring a group of very stern looking accountants overlooking disapprovingly at various stages.



runoff to copper



Taming the beast in the copper



Looks very dark doesn't it, almost.... almost...
Black!

After fermentation and a number of rounds of dry hopping, the beer was ready to rack to cask and the finished product sampled from hand pull. One day it may become a keg beer who knows, but giving out samples was much easier than trying to explain what a New Zealand hopped Vermont Black session IPA is. Being the abstract concept it was.


Vermont IPA... but darker

On the nose it is gooseberry pine and orange peel. The beer opens smooth on the palate with more gooseberry, lychee orange pith, opal fruit coffee and liquorice. There's a certain peculiarity about it I can identify with. At just over 30 IBU there's obviously more bitterness units than the text book would allow for this style. But I'm chuffed enough with it that I don't care. Chuffed with the beer, chuffed with the new found mastery of the kit. Next I will be hoping to find this one on trade.













The Kaiser Chiefs; a great bunch a lads



Sunday, 13 October 2019

Yorkshire life

I must get this clear. I live in England now, a civilized part of Northern England. No longer am I part of the people's republic of Geordieland, home of Gazza, the Toon, Fog on the Tyne, Jimmy Nail and the Blaydon Races (which they don't sing in school assembly here). The transition wasn't too difficult as I part did it once before back in the 2008-10 era during my first time working at Daleside. Now it's a more permanent fixture we can explore the area.

Knaresborough. Like Alnwick but with a big viaduct and more John Smith.

Moving away from Northumberland and its castles, countryside, market towns, pubs and pleasantry we have moved to the middle of Yorkshire with its castles, countryside, market towns, pubs and pleasantry. But the vibe is different. Everyone is a bit more soft natured. I have fond memories of my last time living in Harrogate. Working at the Leyburn show with Yorkshire folk. Brewing with the Yorkshire folk. Hanging with Yorkshire folk at meet the brewer events. Going to the pub with Yorkshire folk. Everything about Yorkshire is awesome... If you exclude Savile, Sutcliffe and maybe the Kaiser Chiefs then this is almost true.

Reduced Wensleydale, exemplifying the wife's adoption to Yorkshire ways during shopping 

The accent is one of the finest in the world and Yorkshire has given great things to the world like Saxon, Bo Selecta, Wensleydale cheese, Def Leppard, Sean Bean and Yorkshire puddings.

The bairns famous already from Bilton Gala

View from Ripley Castle

Yorkshire hosts a huge range of breweries from Magic Rock and Roosters to Theakstons, Ilkley, Saltaire, Northern Monk, Kirkstall, Black Sheep, Brew York and obviously Daleside and the list goes on. The water is soft and lovely to brew with. It has low sulfates and low residual alkalinity. The Yorkshire beer scene is arguably one of the finest in the country.

You can't get much more Yorkshire than this
The people of Yorkshire have the closest heritage nationwide to the Scandinavian/ Danish invaders of old. This probably means Vikings.  They are often fiercely proud of the region and love saving money.




When I was growing up I was surrounded by Geordieland, everything about it was just the norm. So in turn it made everything about all the other cultures of the world more interesting.

More Yorkshire stuff from around the house.


I went to Lancaster University and was surrounded by a full spectrum. There was the Lancastrians, Brummies, Cockneys, non geordies from the North East (Durham people), Yorkshire folk, the Irish, Scousers and the Mancunians. At Heriot Watt Uni I met loads of international students, Indians, Canadians, French, Pakistani, Japanese and others. Yet I always went home to Geordieland.

Without doubt Yorkshire is a fine destination. The problem now is, for the first time in my life, I miss the Toon and Northumberland. For me it's sort of strange because I've never experienced that before. When it was the status quo it was never an issue, the Angel of the North, The Tyne bridge or seeing old mates from Northumberland. They never used to be lost treasures. So in regards to many of the great iconic figures who have shaped my life and perception of the North East I sincerely dedicate this clip.



Saturday, 5 October 2019

The return of Rob's beer quest


Cheers!

I'm back. It's certainly been a long time. I would like to call this return to blogging, but more so a new chapter of the quest as opposed to a continuation of where I left off. Some may already know about the series of events which unfolded between my last blog post and now. I wasn't there at the end. During these events the very driving force behind Rob's Beer Quest was temporarily compromised. 

A series of job interviews took place, some far afield some not. From the varied interested parties I chose my new path, new purpose. I chose my side and took off my Panda Frog t-shirt. Replacing it with what I sometimes refer to as my England top, for the greater purpose it represents.

The house was sold. We said goodbye to our old friends from school, work and Northumberland. We departed Alnwick, we left the republic of Geordie land. I became reinstated outside the matrix, reborn like Gandalf the White. Or Gandalf the red and blue in this case.

Reborn in Yorkshire.

Looks familiar 

So after all that I began my new job, in my old/new workplace as the head brewer of Daleside Brewery. Back where I was born and made as a brewer. Back where it began in the land of bed races, coffee shops, innumerable takeaways, really nice buses and Yorkshire folk.


Yorkshire beer
Harrogate and Daleside have both changed in the 8 years I have been away. It's kind of like a box set where you miss series two and three and you've skipped to series four trying to piece together everything that happened. Most of what I knew from the old world of 2009/10 era is much the same but aged. Harrogate is still a very pleasant civilized place to visit with community spirit. New bars have sprung up. Harrogate Brewing Company and Cold Bath are both new to the brewing scene whereas Roosters are still a big local player regarding trade dominance.

New beers will be brewed



The Daleside brewkit is lovely to work with. More like a Honda Jazz than an old Mustang. Armed with the very finest of '90s technology the stage is set for me to set forth again into the world of brewing and new beer development. More importantly I would be continuing the legacy as the third head brewer of the Daleside saga taking over from the respected Craig Witty. With many years in the game Craig has trained many, including myself. As the now second brewer Craig has long been the face of Daleside at outside events, winning awards and he's even pictured on the back of a local bus. A long time back Craig was a butcher and football referee, but that was before the war.

Daleside's second brewer Craig at the  Daleside, Roosters, Cold Bath, Harrogate Brewing company collab brew. 

So far this year there's been plenty of action at Daleside. From outside events to shipping beer to Australia. And with the wife recently getting a job the situation is looking more settled. The coming year is set to be interesting as there's already lots on the agenda and lots to learn aside from new beer development. So lots to blog about.



Sunday, 18 March 2018

What is your favourite beer?

As a beer enthusiast I have been asked the question many times. What is my favourite beer? I always gauge that the person asking me the question think that I rate beer on a fixed set of parameters. This would be true if it was a different question like what are your favourite brand of crisps? The obvious answer is Kettle chips. The same with Sainsbury’s own tomato ketchup, in my opinion the best one going. Leeks are the best vegetable, but asparagus and mushrooms are close contenders. Samsung do better phones than Apple, Branston make better baked beans than Heinz but Shortbread are the finest form of biscuits without question.

Then again with beer a similar deduction process to select one all superior brew isn’t possible. It maybe could be if I only ever drank a narrow range of beers like say cask blonde ales or mega brand lagers but no. By this point in Rob’s Beer Quest I have turned more to rating a beer experience as a moment or experience as much as it is a beer.

Take for example the first time I tried Rochefort 10. For Rochefort 10 to be my favourite beer I have to compare it to other inspirational moments like discovering Pliny the Elder. But Rochefort and Pliny can’t really be compared. That’s like steak vs pizza, both are very different. What I also notice about these occasional perfect beer moments is that they are rarely the same second time round. Sometimes the beer has changed or you are just in a different moment but other times a beer can be better on second tasting. But inevitably the answer to the question ends with a no, there is no favourite beer or greatest beer in the world. Often I may attempt to brew the greatest beer in the world at work but I know it won’t be, it would just be a tribute. Like the greatest song in the world, a matter of opinion.