Tyne Bank Heavenly Porter
Tyne Bank were one of the main players of the 2011/2012 new wave of North East brewers. Along with likes of Anarchy, Out There and Co they some what rejuvenated the local scene. Not that anything was wrong with the scene before this era, with the exception that many Geordies would ponder; 'where's our Bristol Beer Factory, The Kernel, Summer Wine etc?' as if they were somehow missing out. The likes of Tyne Bank and Anarchy filled that gap, and along with them came others, hence the End Range, hence Panda Frog Project, Durham Diablous and Wylam Jakehead, beer launch after beer launch and the rest they say is history.
So although not strictly pioneers, Tyne Bank Brewery are pioneers of an era. The array of beers they produce is ever-changing including various, speciality ingredient-infused stouts and pale ales. They have grafted awards from SIBA and Great Taste and have done collaboration brews with Hand Drawn Monkey and Brew Dog. Heavenly Porter is a 5.4% porter matured with Heaven Hill bourbon before being aged for six months in a Heaven Hill bourbon barrel. It's packaged in smart looking 750ml bottles that open with a pop. This bottle was courtesy of Brewery owner Julia Austin and for this I am most grateful.
Now I've had my bad experiences with oak aged beers before and will have to point out that this beer is in no way overly harsh or woody. Initial impressions are of apples and pears, an almost cider-like note overlaid with rugged, wood-coated, caramelised, mature, fruit-contrasting sweet vanilla. It's a bold, smooth woody ride that finishes with subtle crème caramel and more oaky vanilla. As far as oak aged beers go this has class and character in equal balance with approachability at its abv. I recommend this with a medium-bodied cigar and a leather swivel chair, if you've got one.