Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
Marble Dobber is back. Join me at 7pm on Tuesday the 27th of June in the back of The Marble Arch for a tutored tasting of three beers including Dobber on keg and cask, a scotch egg and a chat about why Dobber is one of the most important beers in the development of modern British beer culture. This event is part of Manchester Beer Week.
When I arrived back from the US in July 2010, full of gusto and enthusiasm after tasting the beers that changed my world forever, I placed my first ever online beer order. Included among a selection of US beers from the likes of Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn and Flying Dog, which were far less ubiquitous back then, was a small selection of emergent British craft beers. These were Brewdog Punk IPA, Thornbridge Jaipur and Kipling and an intriguing bottle of beer called Dobber from a brewery in Manchester called Marble.
In the game of Marbles your “Dobber” is the biggest marble in your collection. I had no idea about this at the time however, and as such saw the beers name as simply being quite whimsical. The stark green label and simple typeface were appealing to me and I found the fact that the beers style was listed nowhere on the label pleasing. It was a beer that needed no definition, it didn’t matter what it was, it was just a very good beer. There’s something very Mancunian about that, I think.
So I became quite attached to this beer. When I finally visited its spiritual home The Marble Arch in 2013 I drank deep of Dobber on both cask and keg. Probably a little to deep in fact, especially considering that it was post a pretty lively session at the Independent Manchester Beer Convention. The hangover didn’t dent my resolve the next morning though. Dobber had cemented itself as one of my favourite beers of all time.
Then, last year, I found out via Twitter that it had been discontinued. I was a little upset that I might never get to drink this beer again but I was also impressed to see Marble and its then new Head Brewer James Kemp looking to the future with beers such its hop-forward Metal Series. However, for some reason I decided to start poking fun at the brewery about it on Twitter. Over the past couple of years I’d got to know the folks at Marble quite well and I began to take advantage of this by moaning about them discontinuing one of my favourite beers whenever the opportunity arose.
It wasn’t just me that picked up on this though and soon others were also asking Marble why this pioneering beer had been culled from the taps. Eventually, the dam broke and the folks at Marble told me that if I wanted Dobber I’d have to come to Manchester and brew it myself. So that’s exactly what I did. Sort of.
Last week I headed up to Manchester with my friends and colleagues from The Duke’s Head in Highgate and, with the help of James Kemp (lets be honest James did most of the work here), brewed a 12 barrel batch of Dobber. We loaded half a ton of malt into the mash before adding a touch of Bravo in the boil for a little bitterness. Then at flameout we used heavy handed additions of Azacca, Citra, Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin. This beer is going to be all about aroma, so so you can count on some healthy doses of dry hopping to occur before the beer is packaged and released.
We’ll be launching the beer in keg and cask - and maybe even another format - at the Marble Arch on Tuesday the 27th of June as part of Manchester Beer Week. A tutored tasting hosted by myself will start at 7pm and a £12 ticket will get you half of one of the Arch’s AMAZING new dippy scotch eggs and the following beers:
- Half of Manchester Bitter (cask)
- Third of Dobber (cask)
- Third of Dobber (keg)
- Half of a bottle of Sister Agnes (brett aged old ale on cherries)
If that’s not enough for you then you’ll be pleased to know that Tom and Mars from The Duke’s Head will be jumping behind the bar to help the team at the Arch to serve thirsty punters until late. We’ll also have a DJ enhancing the pub's already lively atmosphere. It’s guaranteed to be one of the best parties during Manchester Beer Week and you’ll be a fool to miss it. Don’t worry though, the Marble folks will be returning the favour this August during London Beer City, so if you can’t get to The Marble Arch in June, we’ll bring it to you in August – more on this soon.