A few years ago if you asked any beer drinker to name his favourite breweries then Oakham would often come very high on the list, but in the recent past they have not been about these parts as much. Whether this is due to a change in their distribution system, or because of other reasons I am unsure, but it will be good to see them on the bar again as they rarely fail to impress.
The brewery started in Oakham in 1993 and soon needed larger premises. A move to Peterborough came in 1998 and a further move in 2006 to their current premises. They are one of the few breweries to have a major plant for their regular beers and a smaller plant where they brew their specials or test brews.
Their beer range encompasses all styles but they are usually associated with light, hoppy beer. 'JHB' and 'Bishops Farewell' being two excellent examples of the style. The former, at 3.8%, is full of spicy hop flavour and a lingering hop finish, the latter is stronger at 4.6% and provides the same hop kick but with a more bitter finish. Throw 'White Dwarf' ,their wheat beer and 'Inferno', their take on a golden ale into the mix and you have a great core range of beers to choose from.
I am not sure which beers Ossett have on their list but I am sure that they will not disappoint. They do brew specials, as I mentioned earlier, and some of these are fairly regularly available. Look out for 'Black Hole Porter', 'Mompessons Gold' and 'Oblivion' for example. All obviously Oakham beers but stronger than their usual fayre and with their twist on different styles. And if you want to go to the really strong extremes then maybe 'Attila' at 7.5% will be the beer for you.
To show what a high regard I hold the brewery, when people ask what my favourite beer is or has been I refer them to Oakhams '12 Monkeys'. I even remember where I drank it, but not when. I called in the George in King Cross in Halifax a few years ago on a hot day while driving and wanted something thirst quenching and tasty. At the bar were a few lager drinkers, and eschewing the weaker stuff I spied the '12 Monkeys' which weighed in at 4.8% - but knowing Oakham beers, thought it would hit the spot. It certainly did, blowing me away with its massive fresh hop taste. Once the landlord pulled me my pint the superb aroma managed to fill the bar and that, together with the light colour, captured the interest of a couple of the lager drinkers. Soon the whole pub was on it, much to the landlord's chagrin as we emptied the barrel before he got chance to try it. I got the bus home that night !!!
Can't say I have seen it since but as I said, Oakham has a reputation for superb beer so whatever the Ossett pubs have in their cellars I am sure we are in for a treat.
Since writing this have spoken to Sam at the Rat & Ratchet. He has several of the beers in the cellar and due on the bar in about a fortnight, the only one of the regulars not available is 'Black Hole Porter', should be a good month for beer.