Mark gave everyone a talk, we got to sniff some hops and try free cask samples. Out of the beers available I remember eventually deciding on the deep amber golden Monument Bitter as my all round favourite with its biscuity malmalade and blackcurrant like hop notes. The cherry stout was a hit with the ladies and even though I thought it had a lot of richness Mark wasn't quite happy with it and wanted it richer. He also explaned that Castle Brown ale had in no way stolen any name ideas from the famous/over rated Newcastle Brown or Newky broon (as the locals say).
Many samples later it was time to head to the The Free Trade Inn to see how my Pandazilla cascadian dark ale tasted now that it was in the cask and free to try. It had plenty of takers and a lot of people seemed to give positive comments but even when the beer didn't, the pumpclip certainly caught a lot of attention.
Thanks again to assistant brewer Dave's mate for that, it's a shame I still haven't met the artist. The beer itself poured an almost jet black with just a touch of condition. The crazy thing about it was the obvious difference between with citrusy almost flowery nose and sappy, heavy sherbet-like sweet palate that's laced with berry fruit flavours and chocolate. Compared to the very alcohol-laiden samples that were tried at the brewery this sure had improved. I wanted it hard hitting (like a giant 200 foot tall Pandazilla monster trampling on buildings and destroying all in its path) but more than anything I was chuffed about its approachability.
Moving on I decided to go for the bottled offering from Stateside gypsy brewery Pretty Things. I'd been trying to hunt down Pretty Things since their UK Debut at Zak Avery's shop a short time back and it didn't dissapoint. Jack D'Or is a creation from ex-Daleside brewer Dan Paquette. Like I expected very Belgian farmhouse ale-esque, peach and pear like subtle fruit combine with savoury grain and yeasty flavours. Very balanced, a touch quirky, a touch familiar and finishing with a nice rounded malt sweetness. It drinks like an old world Belgian and I could imagine it being immensely versatlie with food, especially cheese. Loved it.
Covenant Aromatic Red from Summer wine brewery was another memorable number. Lots of floral Centennial like hop notes over a smooth but light malt background. A nice interlude of session beer before I ended up trying Woolpacker Dave's 11% monster Imperial stout Vitesse Noir. Infused with chocolate, coffee and vanilla it sure is a huge powerhouse of a beer. Great flavours especially when served with chocolate truffles. Its only downside was the slight lack a little carbonation.
|Jeff laughs at Dave's headbanging|
|Not sure what was going on here, I don't remember this being taken.|