Last night saw the Sportsman in Huddersfield hosting it's first meet the brewer night. Appropriately enough Mallinsons was the chosen brewery, and in amongst the 20 guests to enjoy the event were the 'Swift One' editorial team. This is my take on the evening.
We gathered in the back room at the pub and after a brief introduction were soon off to the pub cellar to continue our education, armed with beer to bring Tara's explanations of brewing processes to life. She managed to do this without us actually seeing the brewery and covered everything from the hops and malt used, through the brewing itself, to the effect different yeasts had on her beers. Armed with the tools of her trade, well actually little tubs of hops and malt, everything became clear and easy to understand, and the more she and Elaine grew in confidence the more she relaxed into her task. Maybe the 6 beers we had to compare and contrast did help as well.
We went from the basic brewing process explained with the help of 'Station Bitter', into dry hopping with 'Brewsters Special' which showcased her love of Nelson Sauvin hops, then into 'Grand Canyon' with its different style of malt and the way a different use of the same hops in beer produce different results. By this time the evening was becoming more mellow and the group understanding more about the beer that we were drinking, helped along by the comprehensive handout of tasting notes and Tara's famous spreadsheet of every beer the brewery has ever brewed.
We went through naming beers with 'Bettisons Tower' and its strange history, (I won't spoil the fun, try googling it, or ask Tara !!), 'Murray-Darling' (the hard to find beer) which explained the distribution of the beers, and finished with 'Bit A Black' which was obviously a dark beer but in the style of a stout rather than a mild.
Tara and Elaine's enthusiasm for their brewing shone through and their teaching experience came to the fore in explaining each part of their brewing life. I would be surprised if any of us did not leave knowing more than when we came in, both in terms of brewing in general and Mallinsons in particular.
To round off a superb evening we were treated to some of landlady Sam's legendary pie and peas, each containing Mallinson's beer, and whilst we were being educated in the cellar, the usual customers in the bar freed up a pump allowing us to sample another new Mallinson's beer, 'Akitu'. A fine end to an excellent evening, and one which I hope will give Tara, Elaine and Sam the confidence to repeat.
Next on the list is rumoured to be Kelly Ryan from Thornbridge showing off his talents at The Grove in early June - he has a hard act to follow.