Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Herons, Bumbleholes & Jap Hops

After reading Melissa Cole's account of her time spent concocting a new brew for Thornbridge, I had a sneaking suspicion that a barrel might just find it's way to the Grove in Huddersfield. You see the pub offers the brewery's outstanding Jaipur IPA on a permanent basis now and consequently seems to get pretty much everything they churn out in some quantity or other. Churn sounds a little derogatory I know but there has been quite a bit of forgettable stuff recently, so where as once I would be going into raptures upon finding Thornbridge on the bar, these days I'm much more composed.

Having enjoyed the tale of how this beer came together I was looking forward to sampling Seven Heron, so made sure it was the first down the hatch at this Sunday's protracted session - for a more accurate and reasoned appraisal you understand! A surprising amount of caramel in both aroma and initial taste was no bad thing and certainly sold it to those whose palates have been growing steadily more acidicated (sic) by the continuous citrus and carbolic onslaught associated with modern beer drinking in this part of the world. When the bitterness arrived it was gentle and rather short-lived but nevertheless held up to complete a pleasant and refreshing if slightly underwhelming experience. If I have any real criticism it would be the lack of much discernible flavour delivered by the four hop varieties used, but then we are talking experimental here and I guess (though I know three-quarters of f**k-all about brewing) that if you pick some favourites and stick them all together it's no guarantee of success - I love steak pie and custard but wouldn't want them on the same plate!

I commented a while ago about making pale hoppy beers a more inclusive year-round style but I think in the case of Seven Heron it very much belongs as a summer quencher - it's just a shame we won't get the opportunity to sit outdoors with it. A very good effort though and the girls loved it too - watch out Harriet Easton!

Also at the Grove was a beefed up version of the Thornbridge (sort of) from Pardoe's with their 5.2% Bumblehole (named after a local nature reserve disappointingly). This West Midlands brewery based in Dudley has produced an excellent pale pudding ale with this toffee-nosed powerhouse. You're never going to get through a lot, unless you're a tea with five sugars person, but it's worthy of a pint or two if the aforementioned plethora of bittering-hop brews are starting to take their toll.

And talking of which, Pictish Brewery is once again assaulting our long-suffering buds (well it is at the Rat anyway) with the return of it's 4.4% Sorachi. This Japanese variety must be pushing the tongue-stripped limits of all but the most hardened of astringent hop addicts. It's almost as if there's Sake involved at some stage of the brewing process along with handfuls of that yellow privet that some cat's tried to kill. I've been coping admirably with the recent fad for brewing with Nelson Sauvin but would be quite unconcerned if this one didn't catch on. Kanpai!

I couldn't find a website for Pardoe's but here's the address of The Olde Swan Brewery for those interested in finding out more: 87-89 High Street, Netherton, DY2 9PY


Paul Garrard said...

Oh how I wish I had regular access to Jaipur IPA - strange really as on paper it's a beer that I probably shouldn't like but I love it. Don't expect I'll ever get to try Melissa's brew.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Will's tasting notes, and agree also that although eagerly anticipated this was a less than memorable experience unfortunately. A shame because Thronbridge are an excellent brewery. Anyway, it went from the bar in less than 24 hours, so someone must have liked it.
Likewise, the Pictish which has disappeared from the bar in the Rat, to be replaced by Allgates Shining Light, which is an excellent brew.
For the Nelson Sauvin lover, (Will !!!) Marble 1425 is on the bar at the Star. Weighs in at 5.9% but is very drinkable, and assertively hopped. Get it while you can !!

Will said...

Having regular access to Jaipur isn't the utopia you might imagine Paul. Lovely as it is I much prefered those rare occasions when you heard through the grapevine that someone had managed to find some at a nearby pub - usually around 2.30 on a Wednesday afternoon! Concentrating on work for the rest of the day was nigh on impossible!

That Marble sounds awesome - bet it won't last the day!

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know Will not only is the fabulous Marble on the bar at The Star but another of your favourites the Great Heck Yorkshire Pale is on tonight too. A real treat. Now try and concerntrate on your work! See you soon. Sam

Tandleman said...

I rather like this more sober appraisal of Thornbridge beers. Sometimes, like Brewdog they don't live up to the hype. As for the continuous citric onslaught, you remind me that I must get over to Huddersfield again soon, though it may have to wait until after the Winter Ales Fest.

Also, despite Pictish being one of "my" breweries I haven't tasted the Sorsachi but would love to. I missed the Nelspm Sauvin too!!I'm off to Rochdale in an hour so you never know!

Lastly I wasn't the biggest fan of the Marble 1425 as I found it hard going, but I'd give it another go

Leigh said...

I think Thornbridge are in danger of becoming 'enfant terribles' of the moment with the rate they are going. Yes, Jaipur is stunning (and it really, really is) but I hope I don't get sick of the sight of them soon.
I'm totally in awe of how it seems to be snowing on your blog, too. Awesome.

Will said...

Thornbridge have created enough great stuff to be deserving of the praise they get and I admire the way they're constantly looking to try a new approach. I don't suppose Jaipur would have happened without taking one or two gambles so let's keep things in perspective - and I'm sure we'll never get sick of the sight of them.