Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
It’s a pleasure and a privilege discovering a brand new brewery and when I got paid last month I ordered my first tasting case from Summer Wine Brewery in Yorkshire. More keen eyed readers among you will remember that I had problems with a courier for the umpteenth time and blogged about it a couple of weeks ago but once the case was safely in my possession I didn’t hang about and got stuck in straight away. Despite my problems I think it’s fantastic that a small craft brewery such as Summer Wine offers a door to door mail order service and I think that more breweries could benefit from offering the same. It opens up a wider world of craft ale for the discerning drinker and I would recommend that if you wanted to see what craft beer is all about then ordering a mixed case from Summer Wine would be a great place to start.
It’s been a few weeks since the case arrived and it has now been demolished in its entirety. I’ve had a the pleasure of trying two bottles of each of the beers I was sent, one just for the sake of enjoyment and with the second I analysed it as a reviewer, hastily scribbling notes in between mouthfuls. This led to the discovery that it is immeasurably more enjoyable just to drink the beer and not over examine each sip, its best just to relax and appreciate what the beer has to offer, for me at least.
A trio of craft delights from Summer Wine
The first beer in this mixed case was the lime and coriander Saison, which despite for me being a self confessed hophead was the stand out beer in this selection. As a fan of IPAs and pale ales I often tend to overlook and dismiss other styles of brew but now I’m writing about the drink as well as just imbibing it I’m trying to approach other styles with a more open palate. I’m a fan of Belgian style ales but not as much as other, more modern beers and this is potentially because I was introduced to Belgian ales at a relatively young age by my Dad. As hop forward brews are still pretty new to me I generally dismiss Belgian style brews as being a bit old hat however this Saison has gone a long way towards opening my mind.
Saison is beautifully crafted and as I pour this beer straight from the fridge it fills my nostrils with hints of the lime and coriander infused into the brew. It smells like it tastes, zingy and refreshing with hints of citrus, black pepper and spicy coriander. It’s very lively in the mouth and has plenty of body and bold sugary flavours leaving a sweet trail as it slides down your throat. This beer is subtle and intense at the same time, you can gain just as much enjoyment slamming it down as you arrive home from work as you can gently savouring a glassful on a Sunday lunchtime. Beer like this is surely universally enjoyable as it has the light, refreshing qualities that appeal to a lager drinker and plenty of subtle, delicate flavours for fans of stronger ales. For me, it was the highlight of the entire case and it’s awakened something inside my beery brain, I fully intend to explore deeper into the world of the Saison in the future.
The next beer I tried is one that will divide opinion and I liken it to coffee infused chocolates that always get left until last in the sweetie tin. I’m a massive fan of both coffee and stout and so I naturally expected to thoroughly enjoy Barista espresso stout, unfortunately I’m still not sure if this is the case. It tastes as you would expect, a nice and extremely drinkable stout with lovely hints of roasted malt that drinks very easily despite its dark appearance this is followed with a massive hit of cold, bitter coffee. I wouldn’t go so far as to say as I dislike this beer because I happily drank two bottles of the stuff but I found the coffee flavour to be a little too overpowering and didn’t get to taste enough of the beer itself. I can imagine some people not being able to get on with this at all and some people loving it but I think on the whole I prefer my stout and my coffee separately. Saying that if I was in the pub and someone handed me a pint of it I wouldn’t say no… For the record this beer works well as a livener and definitely gave me caffeine induced jitters.
Next up is a beer that I was really looking forward to, Teleporter a beer that boasts a recipe laden with ten malts, brilliant. This is an excellent example of a porter, rich, full bodied and choc full of massive roasted malt flavours combined with hints of burnt sugar and molasses. Teleporter coats the palate like black treacle and doesn’t want to let go, it’s rich, sweet flavours combining really well with the slab of goats cheese I was working my way through at the time.
So far so good, two big winners and one beer that has left me sitting on the fence, come back for another look see this coming Sunday when I’ll post my thoughts on a trio of Hop Bombs from Summer Wine.