Unwinding with Windsor & Eton

023 (2)I was drinking in Leeds ages ago (getting on for early Summer last year) when I first came across Windsor & Eton. It was one of those moments of beer serendipity that I like to collect so much; discussing in one pub how I had ‘heard good things about them, but not tried them’, only to come across a refreshingly fruity pint of Knight of the Garter in the next. Thank you, Ninkasi.

Interest piqued, I picked more up as the year went on, and present my findings here. Republika (4.0%abv) really is a top-drawer lager; initially brewed with the input of Tomas Mikulica of Pivovarski Dvur. Perhaps a little darker in colour than one would expect, it packs a lot of flavour into the glass – a creamy, distinctly biscuity foundation in the body topped off with a fresh, grassy, flinty nose and a snappily crisp finish. I’ve enjoyed Republika perhaps the most since the initial taste, finding it popping up at tastings and dinners as ‘the lager offering’ – and rightly so. Good stuff.

020Where to start with Conqueror 1075? The steroid-taking older brother of Conqueror, 1075 is one of the best black IPA’s I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. It’s a gift that just keeps giving, new nuances and aspects hitting you each time you sip, or indeed from bottle to bottle. Weighing in at 7.4%abv, it pours jet-black and unleashes aromas of Cedar, Pine and deep woodsmoke as your pour, giving the nose an immensely deep, satisfying nature. The beer itself drinks way too easy, mostly due to an elegantly refined, smooth mouthfeel that takes those woody notes and cleans them up around the edges with more pine and an odd-yet-brilliant fruitness that reminds me, oddly, of parma violets. With more front that Kate Middleton on a french holiday, a touch of alcohol heat pops up at the bitter end, and you’ll be kicking yourself for only buying one when you finish the glass. I was, anyway.

019

W&E are known for getting behind the Royal connotations of their name, which could turn some of the more fervent amongst you off – but do so at your peril. Windsor Knot, a 4.5% beer brewed to celebrate the marriage of William and Kate, is so much more than a novelty beer. In fact, it’s now one of their regulars, and rightly so. This amber beer is a great example of US and UK tastes coming together; massively sweet belgian-candy notes in the body, rounded out with more subtle fruit sweetness (think raisin and almond cake) and a high, bitter finish with plenty of pithy citrus rind that dries as it fades, leaving you wanting another before you’ve even swallowed.

It reminded me of super-fresh Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (a beer that I’ve found recently has gone right ‘off a cliff’ in terms of flavour) – all sweetness and hops, smooth and moreish. It’s crying out for a plate of quick-sauteed Prawns with Garlic, or some slices of sweet, smoky Chorizo. A bold, tasty beer that you shouldn’t miss out on if you haven’t caught it yet.

Finally, two ‘Jubilee’ beers. Hitting up the empirical connection, Treetops (4.4%abv), named after a safari lodge frequented by the Queen, just missed the mark for me. A stout with ‘Yams, Millet, and Sorghum’ to bring the African connection in, Treetops was just not to my taste. Very sweet, with a rough, grainy, burnt coffee nose that reminded me of the Greek coffee I drink on holiday, the body has plenty of milk chocolate swirling around but there’s an inherent graininess that I can’t escape. You know Hershey’s chocolate? Like that, to my taste. An interesting beer if you like your stouts, however.

IMG_3424Kohinoor (5%abv) is named after one of the Queen’s diamonds and comes across as a cousin to Windsor Knot; those same boiled-sweet and fruit jelly flavours abound in the body, and it’s topped off with a nose of Seville marmalade and slightly herbal, grassy notes. The whole package is lovely; tasty, full of flavour and incredibly light for the abv. I’ll be seeking this out in cask, where it enjoys a slightly lower abv.

Overall, W&E are the kind of brewery that make me want to live nearer to them to drink more of their wares; a brewery quietly going about their business with little fanfare. Reviving brewing in Windsor (according to their site, the last brewery there was Burge’s in the ’30’s.) it’s sleek, elegantly refined brewing that has a massive hit rate within their core range.

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About leighgoodstuff

Blog: http://goodfoodgoodbeer.wordpress.com/ I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass. If you'd like to submit a piece for Tavern Tales, or contact me about any Freelance writing you think I would be suited to, then don't hesitate to contact me via email here.

Posted on 06/02/2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I completely agree with the last paragraph (not that I disagree with the rest ;)) Great range of solid beers, shame I see little of them too.

  2. Having been over to W&E, one of the most interesting and impressive things is how thoroughly they webt about the task of planning and setting it up, not as a brewery but as a business.

    PS. The Jubilee significance of Treetops (in Kenya) is that it’s where Princess Elizabeth was staying when her father died, so it’s where she became Queen.

  3. I’m sad to say that I have only had the Republika and the Windsor Knot, both good. As you say, it sounds like they have a very high hit rate in the core range. I’ll definitely seek out the others.

  4. I’ve been lucky enough to try everything that W&E have stuck in a bottle and every one has been really good with some being excellent.

    Conqueror is my favourite black IPA, being nicely drinkable at 5% but ticking the boxes for the lovely roasty and citrus fruity hoppy at the same time. I try not to have long without a few bottles of it in my beer store.

    An excellent brewery who are just getting in with brewing a great range of styles.

  5. Guys, we work long hours (still sat at the brewery as I write this) and often it makes you wonder if it’s worthwhile. Then you stumble across a beer page like this and it all falls into place. Thanks for the feedback- including that about Treetops- (a very divisive beer!)- we take it all very seriously and compare what you think to what we were trying to set out to achieve. At the end of the day we can only make beer if we have beer lovers like you guys enjoying it.
    If any of you are ever in the area- pop in and see us- we’re only too pleased to show off the brewery and drink and talk about beer! Paddy, Windsor and Eton.

    • Paddy – thank you so much for your comment. Always great to hear from brewers and proves that you do indeed read these things. Interesting point about Treetops, though!

  6. Where is Paddy’s comment?

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