A little light [beer] relief in a week we find our nation in a state of flux, one consistent beverage we can all rely on is a fine craft ale.
The recent phenomena and the dearth of micro brewers and privately / co-op managed ale houses is a good thing in my mind. The seasonality and historical regional flavours offers any visitor to the area an option to choose something made locally, with care and attention.
With the thousands of imaginatively named IPAs, stouts, amber ales and porters to choose from in my area of the country, it is often a challenge to find something that sticks out for the duration of the time at the bar or in a local bottle shop. This also is a good thing, long gone are the days of bland, insipid mass production brown liquid, offering only a guaranteed hang over from hell the next day, mainly due to all the additives and preservatives. Thankfully no more terrible TV ads for hooligan Lager full of cliches and less than clever macho strap lines.
Living in the convergence of both Manchester and Sheffield’s commuter belt, bordering the Peak District National Park, one would be happy to know we have dozens of local brewers hard at work each day making and mashing their delectable brews.
Having a small brewery on one’s doorstep is yet another reason to support local businesses that serve us with something so much more than the ambivalence we expect from many of the inner city hipster bars.
It is quite evident that these stalwarts of single mindedness, mavericks, revolutionaries and masters of individuality are the future of our brewing industry and with the current shenanigans in Westminster, exporting our wares will start to prop up the economy as much as our fading bars.
If you find yourself in the Peak District this year, make time to enjoy the new line of ales from Whaley Bridge Brewery, the innovative methods Mike (Master Brewer extraordinaire) explores with the finest hops and the excellent clear waters of the Peak combine to produce a very irresistible result.
You will be first attracted by the creatively designed packaging and labels, a nod to a much more contemporary rather than hairy eared trad design. Each beer is named after an area of this historical town and each offer a completely different flavour and gravity.
The two new ones to the growing collection are Crow Hill and Mount Famine. Crow Hill being a very fine American Amber Ale, offering an explosion of caramel maltiness, refreshing citrus fruits and the bitterness from the excellent hops Mike doesn’t scrimp on. So if its the hell or high watermelon you like in a lovingly crafted beer, using a combination of alchemy, science and experience, this newcomer to the market is for you. This ale is one for a lazy summer evening, swallows darting over head, enjoying the fading summer sun after a great day on the hill.
Mount Famine is a totally different brew – a little more lively ale that offers an instant hit of Tropical Fruits – including Passion Fruit (how he does this is beyond a laymen such as me) and more robust bitter notes, this triple hopped beer offers an excellent session ale for any occasion. I found to my delight it was a fine accompaniment to some Stilton and a borderline offensively ripe Brie.
They join the WBB family and can be found in a growing number of ale houses and pubs in the region.
Recently as this week, you can find all four of the collection in 500ml bottles at the National Trust Eyam Hall courtyard, The Eyam Real Ale Company, right next door to the Hartington Cheese Shop, to anyone living in the area and knowing the latter – a perfect match I am sure you will agree.
Goyt Wines in Whaley Bridge, The Tickled Trout, Barlow near Chesterfield, and as of yesterday, the Beer Dock in Crewe and Barley Hops in Congleton, Cheshire. With a pending launch event, the newest ale shop to populate the High Peak, Beer District in Buxton (4a Colonnade, Buxton) will be opening the first week of July, starring amongst others, the four Whaley Bridge Beers. Once they get the shop fitting complete, they will be offering a growing number of excellent beers and ciders to discerning locals and visitors to the Spa Town.
I would expect to see this collection of delightful beers in an ale house near you quite soon.
Remember, it is people like Mike that make the world a better place, a happier place, and for every pint of Carling not sold this week, we can all applaud those who get up at the crack of sparrows each day to pint-by-pint remove this despicable drink from our pubs and replace it with something made from simple ingredients, not stakeholder pension plans. Life is far too short to drink cheap beer.
If you have an event or wedding looming in the Peak District, do your bit to support a local trade and give Mike a call.