Elegant, clear, subtle and refined. No, I am not describing the members of the WE Brew club from last Wednesday’s meeting, but am referring to the top notch offerings this month. This was a ‘freestyle’ week, but if we had to provide beer style in retrospect, then this month’s theme would without a doubt be ‘quaffable’.
A couple of shout outs to start. Firstly a shout to our resident club Chair who is out of action for this meeting. We raised a glass to you Ian, drank it, then raised another, drank that one too…..you get the picture. So please, any complaints about this write up should not be addressed to our resident beer journalist Ian, but to Ken, the junior tea boy.
Secondly, thanks to Ed was unable to stop at the meeting due to a important work commitment the following morning for which he needed a clear head However in the finest brewers spirit, Ed arrived with two bottles, and let them with us to enjoy. Many thanks!
After Ed left the building, we pounced upon his two offerings for the evening. We started off with a Millet lager. A beautiful straw colour, very bright and clear, and a very good level of carbonation, with the bubbles clinging to the edge of the glass and rising to the surface in a constant stream. An aroma reminiscent of a champagne nose, to me, but perhaps the best compliment here is that it ‘smelled like a lager’ – so job done! All agreed it had a wonderful light and pleasing flavour, a real winner. Second on Ed’s list was a SMASH cascade. Slightly darker in hue than the lager, with very nice tight bubbles. Aroma of fruit coming through to us, we detected apple, passionfruit and lychee in the mix. Taste had a rather pleasant toasty edge, reflecting the ‘toasted millet’ grain used in the mash, and had very nice body for a 3.9%. An edge of cream crackers too, and then a distinctive bitterness to finish. Surprisingly we didnt get much ‘cascade’, but that didn’t matter, as we very much liked what we’d got. A unanimous decision was that these are the two best gluten-free beers we have tasted, two great offerings. So very kind of you Ed, to leave two of your finest with us to drink at our leisure.
We followed, by moving into two darker brews, each using traditional English hops, including Challenger, Fuggles and EKG. Alan provided us with his house special, a rather excellent ‘Best beer’, and Ken provided an ESB. Comparing them side by side, we had quite a discussion on what was chestnut coloured and what was mahogany coloured, and in short order decided that both were in the ‘brown’ ballpark, and we’d rather drink them than obsess too much on ‘how much brown is brown’. Now my notes become a little hazy (or non-existent at this point). This reflects two things; the lack of attention to detail in my note taking, and also the desire to spend more time tasting versus scribbling. Alan’s ‘Best’ came in (if I recall correctly) at just under 5%, and had a nice gentle flavour, and pleasant bitterness to follow, in all quite a gentle and delicate profile. The ESB presented with a pleasing creamy head (pleasing to me, given my challenges in this area). Coming in at 6%, with slight toffee/caramel notes, but not proving overbearing given the strength. So compared side by side, two beers that looked to the eye quite similar, gave very different flavours, but which again both slipped down very easily.
So last Wednesday provided four very quaffable beers which could be drank very easily by the river on a long summer’s day. Next month the style is ‘easy summer drinking’, I reckon some of these four could easily fall into that category too.