RedWillow Brewery and Shapeless IPA #Twissupdate 6

LogoNo Twissup would be complete without a brewery visit, it’s the law!

As it happens we are in luck as this one has a brewery too and a bloody good one at that in RedWillow, owned and run by husband and wife team Toby and Caroline Mckenzie, both of whom have been amazingly supportive in getting #Isosceles to where it is today.

Toby-McKenzie1-199x300Toby was one of the first people I asked for advice and support when starting to plan this beery escapade and he was up for it from the start. Brewery visit aside, he and Caroline have been a wealth of info and acted as go betweens on more than one occasion when things have threatened to to go tits up. So I’ll offer them both a massive thank you right here and now.

I’ll be gobsmacked if you are coming to the Twissup on June 29th and you’ve never tasted any of Toby’s beers, but just in case you’ve been locked away for a while, expect hops by the lorry load, crazy flavour concoctions made using real, fresh base ingredients (not a syrup in sight in this gaff) all bound together by a whirlwind of passion and enthusiasm.

0a747baf-68b3-4f21-bf54-815aae5ba18dTalking of which brings me to the details of yet another Isosceles exclusive, another new beer brewed to be launched on the Twissup at the brewery itself, “Shapeless”. Collaboratively brewed with Michelle Kelsall of OffBeat Brewery who is also hoping to be with us on the day.

Shapeless is a continuously hopped IPA, hopped every five minutes throughout a 60 minute brew with Simcoe, Chinook, Centennial, Columbus and Citra and was said to a real taste bud ripper in its early stages. Since then it has had another blast through the RedWillow hop rocket with (if I remember correctly), Citra, Simcoe and Centennial. I’m not sure on the abv yet but Toby reliably informs me that it is tasting amazingly well so far.

1005584_10151473650023479_21125648_nThe plan hopefully is to serve it side by side on keg and cask to give folks the chance to compare and discuss the relative merits of both, or maybe (hopefully) not discuss it that much and just bloody enjoy it? 😉

1001789_10152913496465375_3979293_nIn terms of other beers potentially on the sampling list at the brewery, we are also hoping to see Witless 3 (which I tried last night and is most definitely the best Witless so far) and if it’s ready, a fresh incarnation of Faithless Gin & Tonic Saison. Which was very recently brewed as another collaboration with Brian of Bitches Brewing using shitloads of juniper berries among other things

Definitely another to look out for as the last version was one of my favourite saisons of last year, with this one set to topple it’s predecessor on the flavour front.

In other RedWillow Brewery visit news, on the food front expect further foodie treats of pulled pork made using RedWillow beer in the marinade, pork fed on RedWillow spent grain, served on rolls using RedWillow yeast. That’s if you’ve room left after grabbing your breakfast pie at the Treacle Tap.

Finally, by way of making your beer experience during your visit a special one, I need to give a massive thank you to Claudia and the guys of Port Street Beer House and IndyMan Beer Con for kindly donating the use of their mini (portable) two keg draught line for the day, which makes life so much easier for Toby and co at the brewery.

Brewery tours will be available and subject to numbers staggered throughout the visit.

We expect to arrive at Red Willow at roughly 1PM and will be there until between 3-3:30PM to give the next venue a chance to serve folks with minimum delays.

So, the stage is set and the line up complete, look out for the itinerary over the next couple of days. We are all ready to rumble, all we need now is to hope for good weather and lots of loverly people, in other words, YOU!

This is set to be a great afternoon of beer, be there or regret it later…


Return of the Kat..

It doesn’t seem five minutes since I pretty much by chance arranged an impromptu mini Twitter session for the original version of Summer Wine Brewery Kopikat. It’s the breweries Imperial Vanilla Coffee Stout, stuffed to the gunnels with the finest Madagascan vanilla pods, Kopi Luwak and various other high quality coffee beans for those if you unfortunate enough not to have tried it.

I remember it very well though. The initial frenzy as people hacked furiously away at bronzed wax, desperate to get in to taste the dark and deliciousness within, (before realising they were actually pretty easy to open). Then the collective calm in the Twittersphere, as across the land beery folk sought superlatives of enough descriptive suitability to express how good this beer was and oh how it was..

Well now it’s back and it means business!

Back then, roughly around nine months ago, brewers James and Andy squirreled away some Kopikat for whisky ageing, one batch went into a Caol Ila barrel the other a Clynelish.
Some lucky folks got to taste the results of this fine work back in May at the mammoth SWB, 20 beer, meet the brewer session in CASK (Pimlico), but tonight it makes it’s debut in the North at Manchesters Port Street Beer House.

Interlude… (music plays)

OK, so I wrote the first part on the train into Manchester, fast forward three hours and multiple crazy beers later, including Brewdog Libertine, Kernel Citra IPA, Odell Dunkel Rye Zen and at least four halves of Hopping Frog Hopping To Heaven IPA.. The spelling and grammar could go way downhill from here on what is likely to be yet another semi inebriated iPhone blogpost.

First up Caol Ila, one of my all time favourite malt whisky’s, rich, indulgent and peaty. The Kopikat follows suit, at the first taste (and a little cold) quite light on the nose, with only the peat creeping through, this lifts a little as the Caol Ila warms to reveal its chocolate & wonderful coffee aroma. The taste is everything you remember about Kopikat (original) but with a humongous hairy Islay Scotsman breaking your nose and kicking shit out of your palate. It’s warm, roasty, mocha-coffee-fullameatygoodnessly yum..

Clynelish, hmmmm…. I’m really disappointed in this beer or should I say disappointed in myself..

Really disappointed because I’d been building up to this moment since the guys announced their plans. I love Caol Ila and knew it was going to be my favourite out of the two, even though everyone said the Clynelish was the better beer I still believed…

I was wrong, so very wrong.

With the Caol Ila, the whisky is upfront, the alpha male, it’s a rabid ginger Tom Kat that takes all the other flavours, sniffs them, then cocks a leg up and pisses over the lot making sure you know he’s been there and he is in charge.

The Clynelish doesn’t, it wants to join the party but not spoil all the fun. It takes the coffee, vanilla and chocolate flavours, gathers them up in big soft fluffy arms for a group hug and softens all the edges out beautifully. The result is just plain delicious, a gentle sipper that gives you a warm feeling inside and snuggles up to you like Bagpuss.

So there you have it, both cracking beers but completely different animals, I’d suggest trying both side by side as I did here to see for yourselves. You can still get them at Port Street fresh on the bar if you are quick as once they are gone they are gone, both are also available bottled direct from the SWB shop. If you have to choose and one only one to try the choice is yours, a night on the tiles with Tom or cuddles by the fire with Bagpuss, my money is on the pink and white stripes.

Thanks to Marc Scarratt for designing these fine labels..

Thanks as always to Port Street Beer House for hosting another great night, to James and Andy from SWB for setting this up and coming along to meet everyone and a big CHEERS to everyone I shared a beer or two with yesterday.