Relaxing with Black Isle Porter and Local Dunkel
A chance to spend the day catching up with an old friend and drinking some good beer coincided with Wakefield Beer Festival; and my usual hopes of digging just one gem from the plethora of beer on offer were realised with the first beer we tried.
Despite the setting doing nothing to enhance the experience (a leisure centre sports-hall), as soon as we sat down with our half-pints and started catching up, all was well with the world. A rare chance to try Fuller’s Bengal Lancer on cask proved to be one worth taking; all orange-marmalade and faint citrus fruit in both the body and nose, it proved that good English IPA is truly a thing of beauty – even when served in a sports-hall on a Saturday morning in Wakefield.
Despite this master-stroke from an old London master, the true surprise of the day was Five Town’s Schneider V2. I interviewed Malcolm Bastow a while back, and he’s a true inspiration to brewers everywhere if you ask me. A homebrewer who made the leap into (albeit very small) commercial brewing without giving up the day job, Five Towns remain one of the breweries who consistently hit the mark. As it happens, Schneider V2 (6%abv) did more than hit the mark; a pitch-perfect Dunkel (of all things), laden with clove and banana on the nose, and a full, sweet body with the perfect amount of bitterness to lift all that wonderful, estery flavour off your tongue and up your nose. I drank my half, Chris drank his, and we ordered again. Stunning Dunkel from Outwood; who’d have thought it? Keep an eye out.
Black Isle’s Porter (4.6%abv) kicked the beer we put it up against – TO OL’s Blackball Porter – into touch. Not that the Blackball was bad; it was pitch-black, heavy, vinous and woody – a real winter warmer. But the Black Isle was just so much more; weaker in every sense and yet so much more balanced.
Mahogany -ruby when held to the light – and in turn sweet, woody, chocolatey and finishing with whispers of smoke across the palate. Everything in moderation; and yet the total of its parts, it gained the ultimate beer-praise; silence whilst drinking the first and second sip.
Now that’s the sound of a contented drinker in good company.