Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Black Side

This week seems to have attracted several beers of strength and darkness to Huddersfield, all of which are interesting and different in their own way and all of which are worth a try. Thankfully they are spread around different pubs giving you the chance to walk off their not inconsiderable strength.

The Kings Head provides Yorkshire Dales 'Blackstone'. At 5.9%, a thick black stout that goes down a treat like most of the breweries beer, and provides a useful benchmark against other dark beers showing me why I think a lot of darker stuff, especially milds, taste so thin. To be dark and tasty I feel they need strength to carry off the malts used, and to allow some of the hop character to show through. This one certainly scores on all counts.

If you make your way to The Grove, they provide three dark beers at present. The Brentwood 'Marvellous Maple Mild' is 3.7%, and not marvellous but I cannot dispute it being a mild, but lacks body. There is also Wentworth 'Short & Stout', which at 4.5% is certainly stronger, but again I expected more as it was thin and short on flavour. The third is Thornbridge 'Raven' at 6.6%. Unfortunately I feel Thornbridge beers are not what they were, and this offering seems to fall between two stools. It is a dark beer certainly, but the clip describes it a 'Dark IPA', which I would think could be a deliberate contradiction in terms! There are plenty of hops but they are masked by the malts and the whole offering tasted unbalanced to me.

The Star does offer a couple more variations. The Bridestones 'Whisky Dark Mild' comes in at 4.5% and was not to my personal taste, but those who know their Highland malts say that there is an underlying peatiness which characterizes the breed and translates well into the beer. It is certainly different. The pick of the bunch along with the previously mentioned 'Blackstone' is the Crown 'Django Reinheart'. This is a 6.3% 'Damson double porter' whatever that means. It does have the body that others lacked and has plenty of fruit flavour, but does not overpower, making it far too drinkable for a beer of its strength. In short, it is a dangerous beer!

It is well worth a wander about to try these beers as your opinion may well be different to mine - I just hope you find some that you enjoy. And on the subject of dark beers, look out for Mallinsons 'Oatmeal Stout' which has now started to appear in bottles - a great Xmas present for the dark beer lover.


Festa said...

Don't Forget Dent Ramsbottom at The Monkey club to be followed by Brass Monkey Very Mild Monkey

Kelly Ryan said...

Am interested to know why you think Thornbridge beers aren't what they were?

Always keen on peoples feedback. Are there any beers of ours in particular that you've found weren't up to scratch? Any info would be cool.

Sorry to hear that you're not enjoying them as much, we're brewing beers at both sites at present and finding our new brewery kit is giving even better hop character to our brews than the original brewery... as they say though, you can't please all the people all the time :)

Kelly Ryan
Thornbridge Brewery

Timbo said...

Kelly, I can only speak for myself but the beers that I have tasted recently from the brewery do not showcase the hops that used to be one of the trade marks of the brewery. They are either lacking or masked by other flavours and I think it leads to the beers tasting unbalanced. Unfortunately I have only really tasted the new beers, as that seems to be all that I can find in Huddersfield, (excluding Jaipur) so how the older, core beers taste I cannot say. However, my namesake, who is a Thornbridge afficianado says I am wrong and they are still superb. Like you say it could be down to a matter of personal taste. If you need feedback, will try and get an e mail address and contact you direct at the brewery with my comments on the brews when I have them

Will said...

For what it's worth I thought the last two Thornbridge at the Grove (Raven & Hark) were exceptional but being at the experimental end of the market I guess some beers may be an aquired taste. Like BrewDog their imaginative approach is very welcome and I'm always looking forward to their latest offering.

Anonymous said...

Fullers - London Porter
Rudgate - Ruby Mild
York - Nippy Nights
Bradfield - Farmers Stout
Notttingham - Rock Mild
Rugby - 1823 Mild
Riverhead - Sparth Mild
Allgates - Hung Drawn & Portered
Oldershaw - Grantham Stout
Pictish - Porter
Wensleydale - Lidstones Rowley Mild

Have all been on the bar in the Rat & Ratchet over the last two weeks. No mentions?

Rat & Ratchet