Sunday, 16 November 2014

Muirhouse Brewery Taps

This could well become a weekly thing, you know. I've never really had the wherewithal to go to a pub of an evening and there are a variety of excuses that I have deployed over the years to justify this. Being within walking distance of some good public houses and having a place of work where there is space on a weekend to have a beer without guilt means that most of these are no longer relevant. And, after the Festival down at JDW, I am now minded to go out and sample the ales on offer.

To that end, I chanced across a local brewery with it's own pub attached. I believe it to be featured in CAMRA's Good Pub guide and, certainly, it was a place where ale was discussed. The publican was there holding forth on his brews, brewing technique, pricing and beer in general. Not to me, I hasten to add, but in a way that was quite reassuring about the pints on offer.

This sums the place up well, and shows what I was trying...

I am very much feeling my way on this one, it may turn into a regular thing too. In the meantime, I shall be mostly babbling about some halves that I had, do you want to know more?

The pub itself looks like a living room and I have avoided it, sort of, as it is usually peopled by older couples and looks vaguely like a cafe. On the night that I patronised there was one couple who came in and, on being told there was no Budweiser on tap, promptly left again with bemused looks on their faces. It was mainly working people with the sort of camaraderie that put me in mind of miners and steel workers. Several times conversations did turn that way and the larger groups of mainly men that were there were clearly involved in hard manual labour. I was very much feeling out of place. But, for that, the people were welcoming and the place not uncomfortable. And the ale was very much a part of this. I was on halves simply because I seem to enjoy sampling large amounts of ale rather than sitting with a pint when out and about, in the absence of a meal I felt that going through multiple tipples was more interesting than a single long pint.

Alligator Ale by Ascot was first up. 4.6% ABV and a Golden Ale.
Colour was pale gold, carbonation was low, and the aroma was a musty dryness - like a meadow in the summer that carried elements of dry grass and pollen; full of pungence but withoiut anything specific to nail down. First taste brought a limited citrus hit, the sharpness dulled by dint of being draught, with a hint of cream that was carried on a light maltiness. The lack of carbonation meant that there was nothing carrying the yeast through, though there was a definite feeling of that spice being in attendance, before it went well toward a lightly bitter finish and soft, mellow, aftertaste. Not much in the way of a head, but that was probably down to the way it was pulled, and the lightness of the colour belies the standard strength of the brew overall. Thinner than what I have come to expect from a draught ale, but this is no bad thing and actually serves as a definite plus. The dryness of the hops and the overall feeling puts me in mind of Cascade (here).

Dark Peak Stout by Raw Brewing Company came next. 4.5% ABV and a Stout.
I had previously sat down with some colleagues in a pub near work and we had had a chat about some of the ales on offer there. One of which had been from this brewery and had been a Pale. This is something that everyone seems united in saying is worth a taste. For my part, I was driving and so was unable to take part. So, obviously, seeing something on by the same brewery made me sit up and take notice. The fact that it was a Stout was just an added bonus. There was a deep dark chocolate aroma to this with a definite edge of coffee and light toffee. Soft and warm, almost comforting, in that way that milky hot chocolate has on a cold evening before bed. Smooth from the beginning, instantly making use of and building on the extra creaminess one experiences with draught ale, that works well and then slips into a soft malty depth that drowns carefully in a light milky chocolate taste. This is well brewed and a definite keeper. It lacks a definite hops hit, as one would expect, and seems more in the mould of the lovely Mild Side (here). There's a good string aftertaste here as well.

Ruby Jewel by Muirhouse Brewery had to be had at 3.9% ABV and a Ruby Ale.
I hadn't realised, on entry, that the brewery was also the pub. After sitting down with the first two ales and looking around the place, whilst listening to the publican talk to two CAMRA members about ales and the problems of pricing and location I realised that I had missed a trick. So it was that the next two halves included something from their own brewery. It was the only one they had on of their own for the evening but it seems that they regularly shift that - relying on sales to other pubs and distributors to make the money to buy interesting ales they want to try and thus sell. Not a bad plan. This has a lovely colour to it, deep ruby and very clear, puts me in mind of Late Red (here) but a much superior product (and I really rate Late Red). The aroma is very much a cleanser, little to it - thin and uncomplicated. There are hops lurking about the edges but they don't dominate or take over proceedings. Immediately following a stout made this quite light and the definite chestnut tones in the taste had me thinking about Mr Trotter's (here). Hopping is light overall and the malt is uncomplicated and unassuming. Not light or pale but lacks the hulking punch of the rubies that I'm used to. Clearly brewed to take advantage of being on draught rather than bottled. Over several tastes this does build to a smokey spice not unlike that of a barbeque on a summer night, quite welcome on a cold evening with the windows steaming up. As the publican put it: "beer with a sensation, not a beer that is 'in your face' and then has a taste like beer, but beer that is a bit interesting." He wasn't describing this brew, but he may as well have been.

Atlantis by Great Orme was last, being an Amber Ale at 5% ABV.
This was cheerful and unremarkable in aroma, limited in the hops despite being definitely hopped atop the vague yeast and light maltiness. Being the fourth half of the evening and all of them being drunk over the course of an hour and me being something of a lightweight meant that it was getting hard to maintain my usual laser-like precision for tasting by this point. However, the maltiness in here was well below the level of a malt loaf, thus less than a lager, but sufficiently more than something like an IPA that the taste ended up softened, allowing the hops to hide behind the draught cream and briefly peak before fading into obscurity beneath that blanket of malt. There was some emptiness to the brew from that point as it slid downhill to a yeasty aftertaste with a light hoppy citrus hit. Unobtrusive and, according to the newsletter in the rack over the dresser by the bar, a feature in many local festivals (I can see why). Decent enough, but not enough of an adventure to make me try it again.

The winner of the evening has to be Dark Peak Stout. On the actual evening, I repeated the experience of the Ruby Jewel out of deference to the host and it is a decent ale, but the Dark Peak plays more to the sort of ale that I prefer these days, having darkness, depth and an adventure in the tasting that the others, though interesting, just didn't have.

No comments:

Post a Comment