I spent a good few hours in the more-than-pleasant company of Tony, Ade and Ewen of Saltaire Brewery last night; gamely gulping Saltaire Gold – their first foray into Kegging. It also gave me a chance to cast a critical eye over their shiny new rebrand.
I don’t need much persuasion to visit Saltaire these days. Tony Gartland has built Saltaire into a brewery that not only produces some of the most consistent beers around, but also has a wealth of brewing knowledge within its ranks to crank out some pretty special…er, specials when time allows. More of that later. First up, Saltaire Gold.
Pretty much a sister to the now-ubiquitous Saltaire Blonde, Gold sits at a keen 4% abv and is utterly drinkable. Much cleaner and crisper than Blonde – probably due to the method of dispense as much as the recipe – Gold comes across more like a lager than a blonde ale; all freshly-grassy aroma and bold, brassy malt. It’s also very ‘Saltaire’ to get a beer like this into a keg rather than something heavy or strong – IPA, for example.
If it’s as popular as Blonde is around these parts then it’ll be interesting to see how it goes – a potential challenger to the ‘big lagers’? Perhaps. I hope so. Anyway, keep an eye out for it – although it’s currently only on at Don’t Tell Titus in Saltaire.
Of course, it would have been rude to not sample a few of the other treats on the brewery bar as well – purely for research purposes, obviously. New World Red (5.2%) is an excellent little pint – ruddy of complexion and thick with rich, vinous malt; all topped off with a peppery, faintly citrus nose. It drinks nowhere near its strength, and should be appearing soon on bar-tops. This early version got the thumbs up from me, so I’ll be seeking it out when tweaked and rolled out across Yorkshire. Good work, Ade.
Another excellent special that gets nowhere near the credit it deserves is the delicious South Island Pale . This 3.5% abv cracker is a joy to see on the bar, and fresh from the brewery it’s near-sublime. Pale as you like, with an elegant, smooth body, it finishes high and dry; crisp and long and long and long...bursting with Gooseberry, Lemon Peel and Grape flavour. As a NZ-inspired Pale Ale, it sits up there with Thornbridge’s Wild Swan, Brodie’s Kiwi and Rooster’s Wild Mule. Perfectly sessionable, I think it’s about time this gem got some credit.
The night also gave me a chance to cast a critical eye over Saltaire’s rebrand. I love it, personally; the new badges look enough like the old ones to not lose any of the presence that Saltaire have built up over the years – but pulls them into a much more modern prism. The rebrand feels honest – a genuine feel that the existing art had become a bit dated, a sweeping away of the cobwebs, so to speak – as opposed to cynically twisting things around to appeal to another audience and jump on whatever bandwagon is rolling by at the time. Surely that’s how you do a rebrand, isn’t it? Simple, really.
Tony and the gang are over the moon with how the new artwork looks – and so they should be. Good work, Saltaire, good work.