IMG_5416For those of you unfortunate enough not to have tried or have heard of SK1, you’ll need to know first of all that SK2 is the second beer in hopefully to be a long running, annual series of collaboration beers brewed at Stockport based Quantum Brewery. Thus combining the skills of one Colin Stronge once of Marble Brewing fame and now head brewer at Black Isle and the other Jay Krause, owner and head brewer at Quantum, hence SK1 and 2.

Capisce? Good.

I was lucky enough to acquire a couple of tasters from Jay at the recent 2nd anniversary bash at Port Street Beer House. As you can see these are pre-sale items, with the real labels still being printed. Personally speaking I’m not sure why they are bothering with expensive label production costs when such an elaborately hand drawn item is readily available and does the job admirably. As some folks quite rightly commented yesterday when I posted this on Untappd, surely this identifies “craft” in its purest form..

Here’s what Jay wrote himself about creating SK2 on the Quantum website:

‘With Colin down from Black Isle for a couple of weeks, we thought it only fair that we make SK2. Pale malt, wheat malt and a bag of VERY finely milled Cara-Pils (Cara-dust more like) went into the mash, with lots and lots of Summit, Kohatu, Chinook, Cascade and Bramling Cross added to the boil means this Double IPA should top out at around 8.0-8.3%. Some of it may even go into a couple of barrels for ageing, but the ‘straight’ version will be around very soon as it’ll be best drunk fresh.”

IMG_5417You heard what the man said, drunk fresh, so I did and cracked a bottle open last night (the other destined for some mystery tasters).

To begin with it was a little restrained on the nose which surprised me with these two guys chucking in the hops, subtle hints of pepper, ginger and a little fresh strawberry was what I pinned down, but something else eluded my deeply sniffing hooter, I’d be interested in anyone else’s thoughts on what that could be?

Taste though is where this baby really brings home the bacon and comes well and truly into its own. We have more of that strawberry and freshly cut root ginger, fresh leather, crunchy dime bar butterscotch brittle, hints of liquorice and grape with a dry tannin-like mouthfeel that peaks with an orange zesty finish.

It’s a great beer, or at that’s what my nose and taste buds thought about it, but then I’d expect nothing else from these guys. If you see it, grab yourself a couple (at least) to try for yourselves, there’s not going to be many about and they won’t last long I assure you.

A massive thanks to Jay for the bottles, much appreciated.


A Dubbel helping of Marble

I’ve been chatting a lot today to folks about Belgium in advance of my upcoming trip and it got me thinking. It got me thinking I was thirsty and reminded me that I had a bottle of Marble Breweries version of a Belgian Dubbel. Bonus!

I’ve had this little gem hanging around for about twelve months, how I don’t know, tonight it’s having it.

The caged cork top popped with such ferocity I really expected to be licking most of the contents off various kitchen surfaces, instead it just gently smoked with carbonation.

The aromas are awesome, think prunes, dates and dried fruits doused in lashings of aged ruby port. The taste follows the same lines with added milk chocolate and hints of syrupy cola. It has bags of carbonation in the mouthfeel but rather than being overly gassy, the fizz dissipates across the palate caressing the tongue with soft jacuzzi flavour bubbles.

I’m not totally sure if this is even still available to buy or is a running regular line for Marble, but I’d recommend you try some if you get a chance.

I paired this with thin slices of stone baked French bread and mature Godminster Cheddar. The cheese has a smooth texture and a sweet nutty flavour that just rocked with the sweet notes of the Dubbel, cheese and beer, a perfect way to spend an evening.



This is EBBC Two

Day two started with a hearty breakfast to soak up the night before where a night of international beers had kept me busy until the early hours, a swift trip to Mr Whetherspoons fine diner sorted that out..

Michelin Star?

Saturday’s agenda was to be slightly more conventionally conference up until 5PM. Still we had beer to help us along with some interesting sessions commencing with a discussion on where next to take beer blogging should you so wish, led by Zac Avery, Marverine Cole and Mark Dredge.

Stuart Howe delivered a fine keynote speech to an almost silent conference, eager to hear his story. The final session was definitely the most useful though as in the wrap up we all questioned each other. Debates raged about the ethics of free beer, the do’s and don’ts, basically anything and everything…Loved it!

10:00 AM      Blogging – Taking It to the Next Level
11:00 AM       Technology – Social Media and Your Blog
12:00 PM       Lunch on your own
1:30 PM         Industry – The Current State of the Hops Industry
2:30 PM        Keynote Speech with Head Brewer Stuart Howe from Sharp’s Brewery
3:30 PM        Wrapup Group Discussion
5:00 PM        Tasting – Live Beer Blogging

We then came to what was to prove a test of a bloggers manual dexterity and nerve, live beer blogging. A test I have to admit I failed at miserably with my ham-fisted mash the keyboard approach to Mavis Beatons typing, plus my inability to concentrate on more than one thing at a time..

Picture the scene, we sat at our numbered tables, laptops, iPads, phones and notepads at the ready. At the back of the room 10 breweries represented by brewers, marketeers and helpers. Each had one beer of their choice with which to woo us all, they had 5 minutes to pour and sell the beer to our collective senses.

We too had the same 5 minutes to listen, smell, taste and scribble down our thoughts on paper or better still live to a blog before time was called and they all moved on..

10 beers, 50 minutes BOOM! Result, no blog for Phil, I managed rough notes for three beers before giving in to the inevitable..

This was a great beer to start us of with Otley’s Oxymoron Black IPA

At this point it all got a little exciting as at first the guys from Marble Brewery approached with an unlabelled bottle of what I soon found out to be Earl Grey IPA. I hadn’t tasted this before but knew of it’s existence, brewed in collaboration with Kees Bubberman of Hollands fine Emelisse brewery. Fresh and fruity with a slight hint of floral tea, think Marvel not Marble.

The best was yet to come though when next the brewers moved tables, enter Roosters Brewery with Baby Faced Assassin. To British beer geeks this needs no introduction but I’m not sure if any made it to Europe, USA, etc. The classy flier below explains it all better than I can, for reviews try some of these: here, here, here and here or just plug it into Google.

It had extra significance to me though as I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to rare beers, I save them until “that moment” but often that moment is too long and some beers are best drunk fresh. I managed to get a bottle of the original about a year ago now and you’ve guessed it, it’s still waiting to be drunk. Speaking to Tom and Oliver (the brewers) gave me some reassurance, they opened one about a week ago which had stood the test of time, I can’t wait much longer though..

Anyways to cut the waffle, I was excited alright, it was here, fresh and on perhaps a once in a lifetime cask, it was awesome, made my day. Privileged…

Kneels and bows down and pays homage in the presence of a legend…

This one was served by a blonde dressed as a schoolgirl, do you think the brewer knew he was following Baby Faced Assassin?? 😉

Another really good beer from Camden, not available at the moment but set to return very soon I believe. I hope it’s soon, would be absolutely perfect for this warm weather..

I confess to being surprised by this, not normally my cup of tea but it was very pleasant indeed.

This beer from Leeds Brewing was described as being aimed at the younger audience, the label to stand out in trendy bars and nightclub fridges as an alternative to the regular choices. I thought the label a little confusing tbh, the beer was pretty good though.

There were two more beers that I failed to photograph, perhaps because they are so well known, or perhaps I just forgot.. Slaters Top Totty and Adnams Ghost Ship, no offence intended both tasty and enjoyable in their own right.

Frenzy over as time was at last called on proceedings, all the brewers retreated to the back of the room, where we were invited to join them for further samples and a chat under less stressful conditions. Guess where I made a bee-line for… But someone beat me to it…

Taps foot impatiently….

Cheers everyone

Part’s one and two of this series can be found here and here