On Saturday we had our Good Beer Guide Selection Meeting at the Greater Manchester Pub of the Year, the Baum in Rochdale. As usual there was an excellent selection of beer and while I enjoyed my first pint of Single Hop Saaz from Marstons, my attention was drawn to a beer I had somehow overlooked. My colleague declared it "excellent" and indeed it was. Dark Star is a brewery I certainly include in my circle of trust. Darkness, is a black as the Devil's waistcoat and served in the peak of condition, at the correct temperature, with a tight creamy head as God intended, it had a wonderful, coal dust, roast barley and dark berry fruit flavour, all overlaid with pronounced resinous hops. (Warrior I understand.) At 3.5% it was a beer you could drink with relish and abandon while still being sober enough to control 30 or so unruly CAMRA members, all vying to have their beer favourites selected.
Now with one or two exceptions - the most notable being Windermere Pale from Hawkshead - pale beers struggle to avoid wateriness, when 'down' at this gravity, but in my experience, dark beers, when you put enough of the correct ingredients in them, suffer much less. Dark beers are notorious for hiding brewing faults, especially when laden with alcohol, but I'd submit that at this strength, the skill of the brewer comes to the fore and if there is a better example, I'd like to see it.
Well done Dark Star.
So Brewers? Want to make a really good beer at a low gravity? I'd humbly suggest that you get the dark malts out. Yes I know Dark Star don't recommend sparklers, but in this case at least, they are wrong.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, CAMRA Chairman and (local) activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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