Arriving late, we made a bee-line for Bacchus
Twissup, what a fabulous thing. Pick a city, spread the word and get beer lovers from all over the country to gravitate towards Newcastle upon Tyne (in this case), at a set date and time.
Then get some of the country’s finest brewers and breweries involved, so that they too can use the occasion to showcase the best they have to offer to an eager captive audience.
Finally, get local beer geeks, enthusiasts, bloggers and publicans to arrange a top notch itinerary, making sure that the finest establishments the city has to offer are stocked and visited to complete the mix, making it a day to remember.
LOVE IT! 🙂
The view from The Free Trade Inn
That’s where I was on November 12th, where I had too many fine brews to mention.
However two in particular stuck in the mind because they were particularly special, in fact they were two of the additional reasons why I was really looking forward to going so much.
These were Summer Wine Brewery‘s “Cohort” and Hardknott Brewery‘s “Vitesse Noir“, both new additions to each breweries range, two big bold beers and both available for I believe the first time anywhere, on the bar of The Free Trade Inn. Each one was as I expected, fabulous, so good in fact that I had three Cohorts, but sensibly stuck to one glass of the seriously savour-able Vitesse Noir.
Being at Twissup, sharing and talking about fabulous beers, rekindled a spark of an idea, it’s something that I have wanted to do and hopefully progress for quite some time. That is introduce some of my friends, drinking buddies and general Stoke on Trent pub going folk to something new, beers that a good proportion of them probably would never have heard about yet and probably never would. To share the love of geek beer if you like.
I’d very kindly been given a bottle of Cohort from Andy and James from SWB at Twissup, also as part of the BETA test team of Hardknotts new online store too, I’d been allowed early access to bottled Vitesse Noir. So fast forward exactly one week from Twissup and I’m setting up a mini tasting session in my local, The Bulls Head. Nothing official, formal or fancy, just a bottle of each spread out over three glasses between three small groups. (After all we all have to start somewhere)
Up first was Cohort, a roasty “Double Belgian Rye PA” at 7.5% abv.
Pouring a black is pitch you could see a few folks doing a double take and giving me the “I know I’m not going to like this” look. Then they took a sniff and the first sip before that expression changed to a sort of perplexed “I thought I wasn’t going to like this” face, then finally (after lot’s of OOOH’s and HMMM’S) we reached critical mass, the smile broke out and I got the reactionary comments, “WOW”, “what the bloody hell is that”, “SOOO much flavour”, “it’s lovely”, “I want some”. Popular then I thought, you get the picture…. 😉
We then progressed to Vitesse Noir, a Triple Imperial Vanilla Mocha Stout at 11% abv and a very different animal indeed. I had tasted both and in my mind I thought Cohort was always going to be enjoyed by a wider audience. The former being lighter in both alcoholic strength and easier to drink, whereas Vitesse Noir is in my opinion a beer to be savoured at length, perhaps late in the evening or after dinner (or with desert), having an intensity and alcohol levels that would perhaps simply frighten some people off
Therefore as this was by no means intended to be a test of one against the other, when serving I wanted to make that distinction clear from the outset, so this time I opted to serve the beer in brandy bowl style glasses. Basically as this was how I imagined myself drinking it at home at my first tasting, slowly warming away in a cupped hand as an indulgent treat.
The tasting passed in a similar fashion to Cohort, only this time I think people were ready for me. There were one or two that screwed their noses at it, too strong, too sweet, to much chocolate and coffee, but that was to be expected, this is a BIG beer and just a step too far for some. Generally though another resounding success, with lots of contented oooh’s, aah’s and extremely happy faces.
In truth I could have taken half a dozen bottles of each and still not had enough to go around as each went down equally well for different reasons, with folks asking where they could buy them or would I get them some when next I ordered. Of course I’ll oblige as I want to keep that interest bubbling away. We’ve already got a food and beer pairing night in the planning stages, I have big ideas for beer and cheese too.
Above all though I want to get something regular like this going, whether that be more informal tasting sessions or if possible a bring a bottle night where folks bring along new and interesting beers that they want to share in return for friends doing likewise. I see that happening all the time in other cities like Leeds, London, Manchester and indeed the Newcastle-upon-Tyne AKA “The Toon”, where everyone has a great night out whilst chatting over really interesting beery treats.
So what about it Stokies?
You can order Cohort and other beers from Summer Wine Brewery’s online store HERE.
You can order Vitesse Noir and other beers from Hardknott Brewery’s online store HERE
Incidentally, if you are in Manchester tonight 23 Nov 2011, Dave and the Hardknott gang will be at Port Street Beer House for an official launch of Vitesse Noir, entrance is free so get yourself on down there, details HERE
The Cumberland Arms, our Twissup accommodation and a great friendly boozer too.
Please sign the petition in support of #7POINT5 which unfairly targets high strength beers:
#7point5, what’s that all about?
Please sign the Government petition against unfair taxation on beers over 7.5% ABV, click HERE