Category Archives: dark star brewery

>Thornbridge and Dark Star’s Coalition Old Ale

Brewed in 2009, Coalition Old Ale (7%abv) is the result of a collaboration between the Thornbridge and Mark Tranter from the ever-excellent Dark Star . I first tried this beer a few months back, at one of our fabled bottle-swaps, courtesy of those kind chaps Andy and James of SummerWine Brewery. As I sat and tasted mine, I was very aware of how I’d probably need another chance to try it to really form an opinion of it; I certainly wasn’t expecting the kind of beer that it actually is. Not sure why, I just expected something darker, smokier, and stronger in alcohol.

Luckily, Hopzine Rob and Baron Orm rushed to my aid, and I managed to get my hands on another bottle – and I’m glad I did. Coalition Old Ale is an exercise in subtlety; a real class act. Firstly, there’s that colour – hazy Amber, bright and…well, vibrant. Not the look of a beer dormant since 2009. The lasting, substantial head is the only giveaway to the age; slightly tobacco-hued, not quite white. The taste is softly sweet, with only the slightest hint of resinous wood (pine?) floating around underneath.
There’s a little spice – Cinnamon, perhaps – and then comes along those flavours you’d more typically associate with ‘Old Ales’; some raisin, some bitter cherry, a hint of almond. The finish ramps up the bitterness, and the beer ends up with a really satisfying Orange note, drying the palate and making it a surprisingly moreish beer. The alcohol is only gently warming, and Coalition is well worth seeking out if you can. A beer to be sipped and savoured, for sure.

>A Quick London Hop

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…And so it was a mini-session around London that was in order this weekend, seeing as though I was spending some time visiting a friend.
Bellies full of Bratwurst from the (having as usual) Borough Market, we duly joined the ranks amassed outside The Market Porter. Ever dependable, our pints of Bay’s Best started lunchtime off very nicely, and although I had never even heard of Bay’s, they certainly make a tasty, malty-sweet best.

At the opposite end of the scale, Meantime’s London Pale was the catalyst to a major breakthrough – my good mate Rich, who prefers maltier beers and is the only beer-drinker I know who baulks at ‘Over-Grapefruity hops’ in beer, declared his MLP as ‘actually rather nice’. Huzzah.
After a early -afternoon raid on Utobeer and a quick shower later, we emerged into a lovely sunny afternoon. After a couple of beers along the way, we finally got to The Lamb & Flag, where a decent pint of Young’s Special hit the spot after a hot tube journey. I really do like this sweet but fruity beer, and it was nice to find some.
Food-wise, La Perla, (A mexican cantina in Covent Garden that I’ve blogged about before) was as good as it was in 2007. Street Tacos – Soft flour tortillas with pulled Pork and Prawn meat with lashings of chilli salsa and sour cream managed to be sweet, hot, sour, salty and sweet all in one mouthful. A couple of Dos Equis washed them down. Good Food, Good Prices, Good Staff.
Full of Mexican food, we sauntered to The Harp to finish the night on Darkstar Hophead and Original (A beer that I have neglected in the past but am developing a serious jones for) before giving into familiarity and ordering some Taylor’s Golden Best.
Overall an entirely pleasurable Saturday night.
Kudos of the Weekend go to whoever parked their black VW Polo outside the Market Porter on Saturday lunchtime – with two Leeds United Badges in the back window and a dangly Leeds Badge on the rearview mirror, you certainly drew a salute. Nice to see, in the middle of London!

>GBBF List Now Available…

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CAMRA have begun emailing out the beer lists for the GBBF – although I’m not attending due to other, non-beer-related commitments, there are a few beers on here that I would have made a bee-line for, and will be worth checking out.
Fuller’s 2009 Vintage Ale will be available on cask – so that’s stop number one right there. Bartram’s Cherry Stout, Hawkshead’s Organic Oatmeal Stout and Dark Star’s Espresso all satisfy my penchant for the dark. From further afield – and this is what the GBBF is about, for me32 Vei Dei Birrai’s Oppale, Grado Plato’s Amber Lager Strad San Felice head up the impressive Italian Beer section, with Allagash’s Odyssey, Tuckerman’s Alt & Widmer Brother’s Drifter Pale Ale all being on my list for some time now. Ditto Galway Hooker.
From these shores, Bristol Beer Factories’ Milk Stout should be on, and beers from Triple fff, Loddon, White Shield, Salopian, Highland, White Water all coming recommended. But that’s just me – there’s loads to choose from, as you’d expect.
A shame I won’t get to try, but I’ll live. I’ll enjoy reading the myriad of posts from my fellow bloggers afterwards. Let me know how you get on.
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