Last night The Rat & Ratchet brewery came a step closer to reality when Rob Allen, the landlord, opened up his conference room to a group of guests to sample his first attempts at what will be his regular brews. The beers had been brewed at Ossett's Riverhead and Fernandes breweries to allow us to give feedback on what we thought was good or less good about the beers themselves, the names and the pumpclips. I hope we gave them plenty of food for thought.
The first beer was 3.8%, with the proposed name of 'Brown Rat'. Brewed with German Brewers Gold hops, we had to comment on the colour, body, bitterness and hop character. Even though it wasn't brown, it was a pleasant enough session style bitter, but had little in the way of hoppiness.
The second beer was 4.0%, 'Blonde Rat', this time with Amarillo and Galena hops. The intention was to brew a beer with an 'intense aromatic and resinous finish'. In my opinion, for what it may be worth, it was again missing out on hops, both in flavour and aroma, but again was a very acceptable beer.
The strongest light beer was 'Golden Rat', a 5% offering with Nelson Sauvin hops. This time the hops did come through, more in the taste than the aroma and gave us a very acceptable IPA style beer with a nice background maltiness, though listening to other samplers, did not meet with universal approval - I suppose you cannot satisfy everyone !
But then again maybe you can. No one I spoke to had a bad word for 'Black Rat'. A very dark beer, with just a hint of red that could not really be pigeonholed as a mild, porter or stout. It had many complex flavours coming from the blend of four malts used in the brew with the subtle flavour of Bramling Cross hops in the background. At 4.5% this was a super beer, and a worthy addition to any brewers' portfolio.
I was not too impressed with the pump clips, but I seemed to be in the minority here, so we will have to wait and see when the appear on the bar. But one criticism that seems to be justified is that the ABV is difficult to read. All that remained was to return to the bar and sample some of the beer again in the pub and chat to the brewers - what is the name for a group of brewers I wonder ?
A really interesting evening from the punters point of view, and a chance to be involved in the early stages of what promises to be another great addition to the Huddersfield brewing fraternity (or should that be sorority judging by the amount of brewsters we have!). Thanks must go to Rob, for his hard work in getting the event organised, to David, for clearing up our mess, Paul the Ossett brewer, for his input into the evening - and of course to Riverhead and Fernandes for actually brewing the beer. Just can't wait to see them on the bar in the Rat.
Should you wish to sample them yourself then they are all available under their working titles. Fernandes 'Scorcher' is 'Brown Rat' and their 'Nelson IPA', 'Golden Rat'. Riverhead 'Hop Pocket' is 'Blonde Rat' and their 'Black Flood', 'Black Rat'.