Tonight it is the turn of my professed favourite: Riggwelter, brewed by those gosh-darned Black Sheep people up in Masham. Whilst I've been to Masham I've never made it to the breweries, either of them, and so I have never really had Riggwelter properly. Indeed, it's first outing in my mouth was when it was chilled! In Wales! Sacrilege!
The first thing to hit you with this is the aroma, and I use that term rather than smell most deliberately. It is warm and malty with a hint of hoppiness about it adding spice to the musty flavourings. There is a slight fizz as you open the bottle and it adds sparkle to the nose obviously but without being over powering or difficult to handle. Also it stays on the light side of fizz so that it doesn't take the alcohol straight to your head. At 5.7% ABV that is probably for the best, you want to take this one slowly and in good company for talking, avoid trying to drink too quickly. The website claims that this a dark ruby beer with liquorice and citrus aftertaste. I'm not so convinced if I'm honest. It is dark and it is bitter, but it's from Yorkshire and so these things are practically given. I've also had ruby beers before (Adnam's I'm looking at you) and did not enjoy them, so I'm minded to ignore the ruby bit.
First mouthful is an odd one, the smell does not really prepare you as well as it ought for that taste. Initially there is a fizzy malty taste and that is exactly as it sounds: odd. However, there's a definite hit of hops that follows, coming in as the fizz rises slightly mid-sip, and this balances things nicely. There is a hint of yeast there too, but it is not too bad and only serves to keep that spicey heat up a notch as you let it wander down toward your gullet. The after-taste is pleasantly hoppy and it reminds you that it has some fizz as it disappears downward.
It is not a friend of the spicy pizza I had for take-away tonight but it is a good and string winter ale for drinking when the weather is cold, wet and windy.I know it to be a good companion to roast lamb shoulder (I recommend Fellside Lamb if you can get hold of it), properly done mince and most meats that are roasted. It is a Sunday beer, one you crack out to have with a big meal involving home-grown vegetables and lashings of proper meat-juice gravy. Not for Riggwelter your shop bought roast potatoes and gravy granules, no, this is a farmhouse beer for a farmhouse day of toil. Well, okay, I can't claim to have ever done anything like that in my life but it is definitely something to work up a thirst for. It's better as part of a brace too, and if you can handle your drink, you could go for a third but no more. Three is enough for anyone.
Drink in company. Have a deep conversation on hand. Avoid glasses, drink straight from the bottle or get it on tap. Eat a mighty roast meal, be carnivorous if you can - a nut roast might cut it actually, with mushrooms and cashews, I digress - and make sure there are plenty of proper vegetables that are roughly cut and picked and cooked. Sit at a proper wooden table, wait until it's dark and drink this with a dim lamp or under candle-light.