Sunday, 17 April 2016

Downt'pub: Fancy a Cwtch?

I came out to the pub recently because I noted that my local, The Burnt Pig, had some Cwtch in by Tiny Rebel and that alone was enough to make me rise from my table where I do my marking and take some spare change the long five minute walk to their door and throw it at the nearest person behind the bar in return for some sweet beer lovin'. Or, you know, I thought I'd pop down the pub for a swift half or so. It was a nice enough evening and balmy enough despite the lingering effects of the winter clinging on the breeze and this augured well.

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The first thing to note was that it was very busy indeed! This meant that there were nae tables in the usually fairly obliging two back rooms (I'm always too late to bag a table in the front room near the bar). This was not so much a bad thing given the delectable associations at the bar and so it was straight there to get the first half in and to find a place to perch in the middle room where I could hear the music properly and be comfortable leaning up against the wall.

First up, of course, was the object of tonight's mission: Cwtch by Tiny Rebel. This weighs in at a respectable 4.6% ABV and is a nice little ruby number. First thing to note is that the aroma plays well indeed even when poured from the pump. There's definite grapefruits there on the nose, a fresh and tangy hit that works well with the limited head that forms and lingers lazily atop the brew like it was always going to be there and just happened to stop by. Nonchalant like, so you think it's almost miraculous. Smooth malt begins the play on the tongue before bowing out to allow the grapefruit freshness to take over the middle part of the journey across the centre of the tongue and into the end of the taste. Then we're into the soft run toward the back of the throat where a lightness remains as an aftertaste. This continues down into the glass and remains until you finish, making it consistently odd, but a nice kind of odd. I am very glad that I came out for this and it's a shame that, by now, it's all gone. I shall have to keep a weather-eye out for this anywhere else in the locality!

After gaining my second half at the bar I retired to a chance table in the back room. This is the first time I'd been back there and I was most impressed. This has been well done up and has all the kind of fixtures and fittings that make someone like me feel at home, from the faux sixties pictures of the pub on the wall to the hanging railway lamps, it all made a delightful little cubby-hole style seating area. I liked it a lot, as you can probably tell, and I shall be coming back here more often!

Second, and regrettably last, of the evening was Gorlovka, an Imperial Stout from Acorn Brewery at a mighty 6% ABV. I mean, it was a stout and it was pretty heavy, I could hardly pass it up on a night out and not when I make a point of having the heavy dark ale when it is offered! I sat down with my half of scratchings to go with it (these are a speciality of the Burnt Pig as I believe they have a deal with the maker or something) and got to work. A biscuit head sits on top of the deep dark colour that allows for a vague smoky sensation tickling the nose-hairs as I sniffed it but remains mainly malt and full of mystery. Tasting reveals an unsurprising thick and creamy taste that has a strong milky texture, almost like chocolate milk but without the chocolate, the consistency is good and filling, strong and puts me in mind of oatmeal in some way. It's a subtle velvet with a hint of coffee from the bittering and brought to mind by the darkness of the brew, but it's just a hint and never dominates. There's no fizz here, no yeast and no spears of flavours other than what you would expect from a strong and deep stout. Soft and uncomplicated with a depth of cream to it like an Irish cream liqueur making it a dessert stout methinks. There's more fire in it once you have a few scratchings but the smoothness remains.

Despite my penchant for stouts and dark ales, and the fact that I went out for Cwtch and found it, I have to say that the winner from the evening was the back room, with its leather sofas and calm atmosphere that just spoke to my need for a space and quiet time to enjoy an ale and some pork scratchings. Make of that what you will.

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