T’ales of the unexpected… Coniston Brewing

Tales of the unexpected, a programme I used to love from many years back. If you remember too, it you will also no doubt remember that iconic image of the silhouette of the apparently naked dancing woman during the opening titles, its’ certainly the first thing that popped into my head as I thought of this posts title. (She was quite raunchy for TV in those days)

That’s where I’m afraid all talk of naked ladies ends I’m afraid, although you can jump straight to the end if you like for a brief trip down memory lane if you must, but please come back…

These beers arrived quite unexpectedly to a point. I’ve been speaking to Ian from Coniston for some time now, we first chatted about this time last year or thereabouts as I recall as I was planning a visit to the Lake District and was looking for a place to stay, good beer being one of the top priorities for booking. We “almost’ booked into The Black Bull, the Coniston Brewery tap, I say almost as after crossed wires sadly the room was double booked and we headed off to The Woolpack instead. From there we’ve kept in touch through twitter and several weeks ago got talking about the Coniston No9 Barley wine. To cut a long story almost short Ian said he’s send me a bottle of No9 to try from the bottle and an Infinity IPA too (which was what he was drinking at the time).

As the weeks past I put the thought of their impending arrival aside thinking it was perhaps just the result of a late night conversation after too many beers until I’d completely forgotten. Then, on a particularly bad day and during the onset of man-flu they turned up out of the blue, a real tonic (although as we know it’s strictly a no-no to say that about beer)…

The tale of unexpectedness continued with the Infinity as it’s a bit of a changeling. I served it chilled from the fridge after allowing a few minutes to warm slightly, once in the glass it was darker than I expected too. Initially there wasn’t much aroma to speak of, floral notes but extremely light. The first taste delivered more surprise as I got a burnt biscuit flavour more in keeping with a much darker beer, imagine a crunchy cheesecake base made from dark chocolate cookies. The thing was though, it was at the same time it was balanced out by a wave of really fresh fruit, not tropical more orchard, think Granny Smith apples.

As I said earlier though this beer is a changeling, as it warmed from chilled to cool and warmer still so altered the character of the beer on the senses. The closer it got to room temperature, so those initial flavours diminished, being replaced by a warm comforting tastes and aromas of caramelised orange and citrus. The only constant throughout is the continuous bitterness of those hops, Mount Hood, Challenger, Golding and Amarillo combine together to blast their way across your palate clearing away all before to dominate long after each mouthful.

Chilled or not this beer just works, I can really understand why the brewer recommends serving cold as it’s most definitely a refresher. I reckon this would be great on keg on a summers day so I’ll be keeping my eye out for that when I’m out and about. I also think that it also works at the other end of the serving spectrum too though just in a different way, try both and see what you think.


OK, OK here’s the naked lady…. (don’t worry it’s not rude) 😉