Saturday, 28 March 2009

A post about work

A few of you have questioned (including myself) why I haven’t dedicated any posts to my work i.e. Daleside brewery. So for these reasons I decided to dedicate this post to Daleside and all the great blokes that make it work. You see Daleside is no mass market commercial operation owned by some holding company, its an Independent small brewer, of classic and often intriguing beers. Based in North Yorkshire we are a 20 barrel plant producing beer for both local cask sales and distribution further afield (sometimes internationally) by various distributors. Our bottled beers are also bottled externally and can be found in various outlets however I have found one of the best places to find Daleside bottled beer to be Booths supermarket, a chain that seems to only be found in the North West of England, however most specialty beer shops, and some wine shops are almost certain to have them.

Previous to my work at Daleside I had sampled Daleside beer very few times since my days as a Biochemistry student in Lancaster (where a trusty Booths supermarket was near by). Of recent times I have got to know the beers of Daleside well indeed, here are some short reviews of the core products:

Daleside Blonde; This is one of the main core products and makes a great summer thirst quencher. The medium to light soft malts are overlaid with lively floral citrus hop notes that linger in the finish. Admirably this one doesn’t seem to wonder into the dry bitter finish (often with lots of resins hanging around) that other golden ales do but sticks to a gentle, rounded balance fitting with the house style. As a bottled beer blonde is almost a completely different product, more refined in character from filtration and an additional lagering step conducted.

Bitter and Special Bitter; Both core products with great drinkability. On cask bitter is mid amber in color and goes down very easily due to its subtle light caramel and gentle hop tones. Special bitter also has great drinkability, but is a little more upfront with more plumpness to the body and well integrated toffee notes. Both of these beers can be used as examples of classic Yorkshire style bitters.

Old Leg over; Another session ale in true Yorkshire style, Leg Over pours a deep amber to brown in color and balances well the interplay between sweet caramelized malt flavors with those of mature fruit from the fermentation. In cask and bottle Leg over is sessionable yet moderately complex.

As you may have guessed Daleside excels in crafting malt balanced beers, and a number of higher gravity beers are also brewed which showcase this ability even further. Ripon Jewel, Morocco ale, Crack Shot and Monkey Wrench, all individual in character and packed with well layered malt structures to be savored. I have discussed this numerous times with head brewer Craig Witty who has crafted many of them himself and has a fondness for his style of brewing. Another novel factor of my work is that I can chat about beer for much greater lengths of time than in previous jobs before people get sick of it. Additionally it is in Yorkshire, which as a superior respect for and output of quality beer. Grand.

Daleside, a brief tour:

Mashing in; hot liqor meets milled malt being fed into the mash tun. After this process is complete the mash is left to stand at it specific temperature to allow starch in the malt to be degraded to more fermentable sugars.

Buckets of aroma hops wait their turn to be thrown into the copper boil.

Cleaning out FV8 (fermentation vessel 8); after the beer has fermented it is transferred to a seperate vessel, leaving loads of yeasty deposits in the Fermenter to be cleaned out.

Clean casks in store, infact every cask pictured was cleaned by myself.

B.R.D Unit (blue roll dispencer); this piece of kit enables staff to quickly and easily dispence blue roll to be used in cleaning duties.

Friday, 13 March 2009

A beer adventure down south.

Casks of various brewers ready to depart for the Harrogate beer festival.

It was only the other week when I overlooked much of the organization for the annual Harrogate beer festival. Coincidentally it was at my work, the Daleside brewery that many of the casks for the festival were collated together to be transported to the event. However the event itself, showcasing many of the greatest beers in Yorkshire, I would be unable to attend due to already scheduled liaisons down south.
However as a substitute for missing out, I would be visiting a brewery that I have admired and longed to visit ever since the very beginnings of my quest for real beer. It has produced many globally recognized classic beers with a certain flamboyancy and fondness of often using multiple English hop varieties to great effect.

As you have probably have guessed, the brewer was Fuller-Smith and Turner, of Chiswick, London. Many years ago I had almost dreamt about such a brewery visit (when I was about 20 I became pretty obsessed with Fullers beers) and the tour was very enjoyable. We were escorted around the brewery buy an old fellow called Jeff. The place seemed huge compared to humble Daleside brewery, with multiple buildings and forklifts roaming about and a sort of old but very well preserved feel about the place. Inside the brewhouse seemed a formidable size, with huge pristine stainless steel vessels of at least 60 barrels capacity and an overall red and green color scheme running throughout. Overall it reminded me a little of Caledonian brewery, back from my old days at Heriot-Watt university… Except alittle more posh.

Behold the mighty gleaming stainless steel copper, a centrepiece at the very heart of Fullers. I never thought I'd see the day.

London Prides well balanced, firm but smooth malty notes latched on to the meaty textures of the Cumberland sausage excellently.

Multiple fermentation vessels.

Me by the copper; note that my current beer diary is too large to fit in coat or trowser pockets like previous volumes. Instead volume 5 has to be carried by hand.
After the tour we got some free samples and headed for the brewery tap for some lunch where I excellently paired Cumberland sausage to a London Pride, and got another try of Chiswick Bitter, one of the finest examples of the style I have ever known. Oddly enough the great Mike Jackson beer hunter himself was also a big Chiswick fan, and until this point I had only got hold of the stuff twice in my entire beer hunting life. It was just as I remembered it, fruty hops to the nose, dry peppery hop resins on the gentle palate, a great beer, and obviously dry hopped.
Following the main event I was also given the chance to dine at one of London’s fine Belgo restaurants, a chain of restaurants specializing in Belgian food with Belgian beer and managed to pick some great beer-food pairings. Check out the beer lists at In the end I left with a better impression of London that I first thought. I guess I have never really been beer hunting properly in London, and until this point thought it would be just cammed with trendy cocktail bars and clubs. But we saw more decent looking pubs than imagined and not that many trendy bars, which encourages me to visit again some day for a more intensive beer hunt. A grand idea indeed.