Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Quartet to make the Mouth Water

As we were sitting sampling the 'APA' in the previous post, we got to thinking how we would mark the end of the beer year. Instead of our usual beer awards we decided to put our heads together and reflect on the new breweries that had made the greatest impression on us in the last 12 months. These are the 4 we chose.

Locally we were impressed by the great strides made in a short time by Magic Rock. They only started brewing in May but have attracted plaudits from drinkers far and wide, and their beers have travelled the length and breadth of the country. They basically brew a core range, but each one is excellent, from the 3.9% 'Curious' to the 5.5% 'High Wire'. They certainly know how to brew hoppy beers, and are not afraid to experiment as their 'Curious NZ' proved. This is not the only string to their bow however, and their 'Surreal Stout' at 6%, is a classic of its style, although hard to find, and if you like a red ale then 'Rapture' could be the thing for you, even though I have found it a little variable in the recent past. Magic Rock have also entered the key keg market, and some of their stronger beers are available in this format. An excellent addition to the Huddersfield brewing fraternity.

Another fairly local brewery that has impressed is Buxton. Again, good enough to warrant its own pump at the Grove, and a consistent range of beer that covers every type and style. The brewery actually started in 2009 but moved to its home town in 2010, and this year have got the brewing right. Their basic bitter 'Moor Top' is 3.6% but I have come across their beer up to 9.5%. I am particularly impressed by their IPA's., 'Axe Edge' and 'Wild Boar' being the light versions, and 'Black Rocks' being their take on a black IPA, all are excellent. They can also brew decent black stuff too, try their 'Kinder Stout' at 4.1%, or if you feel really adventurous go for the 'Tsar' at 9.5% , packed with flavour.

Another 2010 brewery that has made great strides in 2011 is Redwillow, who brew in Macclesfield, which I admit is somewhere I have never considered a hot bed for decent beer. Seems I have been mistaken. They are another brewery that can turn their hand to everything and anything, may be even more so than the previous two. Light or dark, I have never found a beer of theirs that I did not enjoy. Their dark beers encompass a smoked porter 'Smokeless', and an oyster stout 'Fathomless' (brewed with the assistance of Brian from the Grove), and their light beers cover every style imaginable , including some I could not even imagine. Their 'Faithless' range started as single hopped beers, but by the time they had reached 'Faithless 7' the hops had changed into a wheat beer, one version dry hopped with Nelson, and another with lemon grass and Thai ginger. So look out for the teardrop shaped pump clips, and give them a try, you will be in for treat.

The final brewery in the quartet is one that had been previously brewing but changed its identity in 2008, but only this year have I come across their beers outside London. Brodie's are based at the William IV pub in Leyton, who have a massive range of their beers on. Again they are a brewery that can turn their hand successfully to every style of beer, from a 12.1% Russian stout 'Romanov' to the 3.1% 'Citra' and take in everything in between. Every beer I have come across from the brewery has been excellent, and different. 'Californian' is a good an American IPA as you can get, 'London Fields' is superb version of a traditional English IPA, and 'Superior London Porter' is about the best porter I have come across. Lets just hope more of their beers make it north in the coming months.

So there you have it, our choices for the new(ish) breweries of the year. Of course, you may disagree, and have your own list and your own favourites. But all we can say is that 2011 has been a great year for beer, and hopefully 2012 will continue the trend and we can have lots more good beer to sample.

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