Category Archives: beer in yorkshire
Last month’s post about Homebrewing certainly drew a response, both on WordPress and on Twitter. There’s a genuinely good feeling about homebrewing (or Amateur Brewing, if you like) at the moment, whether you are simply enjoying doing it yourself and getting close to the process, or whether you simply think that knowledge is power – and that’s all good.
The likes of Nigel Poustie’s Sunbeam Ales should serve as another success story in that case. Walking on a path previously tread by Rodham’s and Five Towns Brewery, he’s managed to get his beers on the shelves of Beer-Ritz from his house in Leeds. I can imagine that sharing shelf – space with Leeds Brewery, SummerWine (another brewery borne of avid Homebrewing) and Ilkey feels pretty sweet. Under the Sunbeam moniker, his beers have a rustic, simple charm and – most importantly – are pretty damn tasty.
Picking up an armful, I went with a wild card in Honey & Lavender (4.9%abv), purely to set a benchmark. Although popular, I’ve never really been that enamoured with Honey in beer; it misfires so often – brewers failing to get any of that essence of Honey’s flavour into the beer without making an over-dry or sickly mess. Add Lavender and …well, it could end in tears.
I close my eyes. I gulp.
It’s delicious. Really, it is. Not only does this straw-coloured Pale Ale carry genuine Lavender notes in the nose, there’s definate sweet Honey in there; lifting the whole beer with a floral, wildflower note that’s pretty arresting. There’s a hint of root ginger in there too, with a fresh, lemon-rind tinged finish. Refreshing and packed with flavour, the whole package leaps out of the glass like a Yorkshire Saison or Biere De Garde; but one unlike any I’ve tasted. It’s been a while since a beer surprised me like this.
Next up, Extra Special Ale (5.2%abv) ; a style that I always like to see and appreciate a solid version of; and that’s what I get. A deliciously tawny colour, with a tan head and a slight echo of chocolate in the nose and body, the beer is nutty and moreish; my tasting notes say ‘Malt Loaf’, and as an overall picture, that’s not far off. Drinking this made me wish I had a cheese board to hand.
Sunseeker IPA (5.7%abv) was my least favourite of the trio; a good-looking beer with burnished gold notes and a really intriguing nose of Pear Drops and Citrus; but those notes didn’t really translate to the taste of the beer. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a really drinkable IPA, but a bit of a let-down after the promise of the nose.
One theme that all of Nigel’s beers had was body; a rich, robust body that is often missed in Homebrew, such is the focus these days on a beer’s aroma (if you ask me, obviously). Sunbeam’s Ales are a real treat, and I wish Nigel luck in the future. I, for one, will be buying more of his wares.
...Just a quick plug for an interview I’ve done with John, Christian and Matt of North Bar to celebrate their first 15 years in business, and looking forward to the next 15. They’ve got a busy summer ahead, trust me.
It’s over on Culture Vulture, as part of the ‘Tavern Tales’ section that I edit and write for from time to time. If you have any ideas for features on pubs history, stories or anecdotes, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. My email’s on my profile page above.
Hope you enjoy it.
2. In a pan, brown the sausages on all sides and then set aside.
3. In the meantime, chop a handful of Mushrooms and two Red Onions. Sweat these down in a little olive oil and a generous knob of butter, either in a pan or the casserole dish if it goes on the hob. If the mushrooms soak up the butter, add some more.
4. Sprinkle a little flour on the mushrooms and red onions, coat, and then add a tin of peeled plum tomatoes – not chopped. Stir and simmer, then add half a pint of beer. Stir and season with plenty of black pepper, a little sage and a little salt.
5. Pour this into your casserole pot, stick the sausages in, pop the lid on and place in the oven.
6. Make your dumplings according to packet instructions and then plop on top of the casserole for the final 30 minutes. For the last five, take the lid off and let them brown on top. I actually cheat and switch to ‘Grill’ mode at this point!
Ok – cooking times. Well, it’s up to you. The casserole will be ok as long as there is gravy in the pot, I would say one hour minimum; but you could probably double that – your sauce will get richer. Just try it out and see how long suits you.Beer-wise you need to be going for darker beers; I personally used London Porter brewed for M&S by Meantime (5.5%abv) on this occasion, but I’ve since had good results with Cain’s Dragon Heart. I think that the darker malts add sweetness and a decent alcoholic edge to proceedings; there’s no point using beer unless you want to retain the nuances of it in the finished dish.
Mark: Formerly I worked as a Quality Systems Consultant, most notably in the Middle Eastern country of Bahrain, where I was an advisor to their Government. Contrary to common opinion, alcohol is widely available, but 14 years of getting by on draught Heineken / Amstel and cans of Boddingtons / Tetley’s made the all too rare trips to pubs on holidays in Britain a great treat!
How did you get into Brewing?
Mark: Since my return to the UK in 2008, I’ve been more a consumer of beer than a brewer. I have a little experience of kit brewing and recently full mash brewing, but fortunately Andrew has long been a keen home brewer. Andrew: I’ve been home-brewing for over 20 years and for the past 4-5 years full mash brewing in what has become known as the Headingley nano-brewery. I went on the Brewlab introduction to brewing course in 2007 and the idea for the micro-brewery took shape there – it just took 3 years for the theme to come together!
Mark: We are inspired to brew by the prospect of providing pleasure to beer drinkers. There really is nothing more to it than that. Andrew: Whilst totally agreeing with Mark’s comment, I’d add that for me the idea of bringing in ideas from other countries – beer styles and ingredients – is quite inspiring. I feel that there is far too little coverage given to beer choice and style in the quality press and I will feel very satisfied if we can do our bit to broaden the appeal of craft beer/real ale in the UK.
It’s being launched this week. We live in hope! What we can say is that the trial brews we’ve done at home have gone down very well with friends so we’re optimistic that we’ll get a similar reaction when our commercial brews hit the pumps.
This week we are launching at The Shoulder of Mutton, Castleford. Also available in York, Huddersfield, Wakefield, elsewhere in Castleford and around Halifax. Once the winter relents we expect to have it in Leeds, Sheffield, Pontefract and Doncaster before Christmas.
Discussion turned to their beers (a Teleporter was quickly put in front of me, followed by Project 6 Brew #2) and plans for future brews, including the next experiment following Project 6 and some extremely exciting plans for 2011. I’m not about to steal their thunder though, I will let James and Andy break the news to you at our ‘Meet the Brewer’ night with them on October 27th. However I can say that Mr Foley’s will be featuring as much of these as possible.
Our chat was briefly interrupted when it was time to run off the Brew #6 wort to the conditioning tank and yet more hops were added for dry hopping. I also witnessed a fermenting brew of Treacle Stout, as you can see the addition of Dark Treacle to the brew sends the yeast on a bit of a sugar rush!
As we compared tasting notes on beers from many US and UK brewers, both James and Andy’s passion and love of quality beers was obvious as I stood like a sponge trying to take in as much knowledge as possible. As if my magic a bottle of 5am Saint appeared as I listed the Brewdog beers I had yet to try, and plans were made for us to meet up again to continue our chat – but this time in the comfort of a pub, and when Andy doesn’t have to cycle home!A thoroughly enjoyable day was rounded of with an evening at Huddersfield CAMRA Oktoberfest beer festival where Fernandes Rum For Cover (6.5% specialty ale) was the pick of the 6 I sampled.
….Thanks mate. Andy and James will be at Foley’s this Wednesday evening (27th) from 18.00 onwards, where you’ll be able to have a chat with them and sample some of their excellent beers – including the last hurrah of the P6 IPA series, and thier Portcullis ESB. Get yourself down there – I met them both on Saturday, shared a beer or 6, and can confirm they are both ‘top lads’, as we say in Yorkshire.