Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Meet the brewer; Unicorn Hotel Ripon


The meet the brewer event is something I have been more involved with of recent times. This is where the brewer (and sales person in this case) get to venture out of the confines of the brewery and into the wider world to meet customers. A pleasant alternative to brewing and processing beer behind the scenes.

Sales master Vince working the samples tray.

Ripon is a splendid place situated just down the road from Harrogate. A market town as it were, and The Unicorn is the friendly local Wetherspoons. This would be my third Daleside meet the brewer and last of the 2019 tour.The Christmas lights were up and the stage was set for showcasing core beers Blonde, Bitter, Old Legover, Monkey Wrench and our current seasonal Vermont Black IPA.

For a Wednesday night the place was reasonably busy and on this occasion we faced a diverse range of clientele many of whom were contract workers from far and wide.

Display table

Unlike my previous experiences with meet the brewer the Daleside event is more involved with much more handing out samples and actually engaging customers instead of just hanging out by a big banner looking like the man. The idea is to get around the place and hand out some samples whilst also following some rules. Sales frontman Vince has been a great guide on this, from the organisation to handing out samples to holding back crowd-surfers. I might be a beginner but I've still picked out the common re-occuring features of most meet the brewer events, for example;

- There's always at least one table of lads drinking generic lager who act like they've never tried cask ale before.

- They'll be at least one wine drinker who gives our beer credit.

- Someone will ask Vince what part of Ireland he's from.

- The bar manager is always Vince's best friend... for the duration of the event.

- There's normally one bloke, who's obviously been in since the afternoon who talks at you for prolonged length of time in a partially drunken state.

Overall the night went pretty well with lots of good feedback. Vermont black IPA managed to convert a couple of wine drinkers and lots of discussions were had on coloured malts, hops, exogenous CO2 and football managers. Vince worked the sample tray like a pro as always (this being his 14563rd meet the brewer as sales bloke wing man) and many thanks were given to the bar manager, team and audience for great hospitality.

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.