Wensleydale Coverdale Poacher IPA

There’s a theme that I’ve returned to before about writing a beer, or a brewery off. We all do it; some of us after a couple of failed attempts; bad pints served in perhaps bad places by bad staff, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Some of us, including myself, have sipped and drained, vowing never to buy again, cutting that brewery off without so much as a second chance.

Obviously, as I get older and (hopefully) wiser, I’m trying to curb this behaviour. Life is, as they say, too short to drink bad beer – but it’s also too short not to give second chances out.  A brewer once told me (I think it was James Farran from Summer Wine) that ‘There’s no such thing as bad beer; only bad gyles’ , and I understand that now.

Mentally, I have a little black book of breweries who crank out beer that’s either poor or not to my taste; a few years ago, this was running at about ten. Now, there’s only one who I can think of who I generally steer well clear of after repeated blown chances.

My first encounter with Wensleydale’s Coverdale Poacher was a good few years ago, both in bottle and on cask within a month of each other, and both resulted in a thin, only-slightly-refreshing beer. No real body, no real life. A lack of taste I can almost deal with; a lack of life (zest, spritz, spark, liveliness in taste, whatever you want to call it) I cannot. So, that was that.

Then, a short while ago, Wensleydale again popped up in my life, in sort-of-spooky circumstances. I was enjoying a boozy Monday night with a well-known Leeds Pub manager and a certain Spectral blogger, who, when asked what was good these days, replied ‘Wensleydale’s beers are really good at the moment’. Eyebrows were raised, advice was taken and noted.

Then- that weekend – my wife picked up a beer that was reserved for me from a highly regarded Leeds Beer retailer, and decided to cram a few more treats into my delivery; because she’s good like that.  Picking purely on her well-tested strategy of ‘Beers whose labels I don’t recognise from Leigh’s stupid Beer Cupboard‘ she happened to choose Wensleydale’s Coverdale Poacher (5%abv). When I saw it, nestling amongst the other treats like a Cuckoo’s egg, I laughed, explained the story, and cracked it open there and then.

And yes, I was an idiot. Something has changed for sure, and this could be a classic example of brewer’s evolution that Boak and Bailey spoke about of late. Clear as a bell, burnished gold, with a slightly yeasty note to the aroma underneath waves of Mango and Orange. On the sip, the body of the beer was smooth and robust – pleasantly sweet – and finish is high, dry, and bitter enough to back up its claims of IPA. At ‘only’ 5%, it’s certainly a UK interpretation of IPA rather than the US hop-bombs that are the benchmark these days; but it’s a lovely, lovely beer. It manages the required assertiveness without overpowering, and remains entirely drinkable. It’s just a drinkable, pleasurable beer. Period.

Well done, Wensleydale. You’ve proved me and my stupid ideals wrong. I’ll have another, please.


About leighgoodstuff

Blog: https://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.

Posted on 01/02/2012, in Beer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’m glad it came across ok. Alex is a good friend, and from the word on the street, he’s going to make the Wensleydale beers the best they can be.

  2. Always found those bottles good, cask has been patchy at best – but as GD rightly says Alex is a stand up guy… Fingers crossed – i’ll be giving em another try soon. Not least because I once had a pint of semer water that was MIND BLOWINGLY GOOD

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