The Big Bang for Atom came in early 2014, meaning that Atom is a relatively young brewery. Allan was working at Tempest Brewing Company in Kelso, before setting up his own project with partner Sarah Thackray in the form of Atom along with a frenzy of welding, building and bodging (that’s a scientific term – just watch an episode of scraphead challenge).
There isn’t total harmony for Atom locally however, with the local market providing only 2% of its sales and the local council failing to see the wisdom in having them fully involving the forthcoming Capital of Culture (which benefited Liverpool tremendously) events for 2017. A very myopic outlook on brewing and beer culture from the Local Authority only serve for a very depressing attitude within this country to our own brewing traditions, something we only know too well at the other end of the M62 (see recent objections to the now-welcomed presence of Brewdog). Thankfully, it is unlikely to be adversity that will stop Atom moving forward and creating some very exciting fission in the future.
There is rumour of a Tap Room to be ready in 2015 for Atom, so if you’re in the Humberside area, you’re best having your ear to the ground for when it launches.
Without further ado, it’s time to put the scientifically slanted beer from Hull under the microscope….
A relatively new beer from Atom, this is a very drinkable and pale golden ale with a 4.2% strength which has a deceptively quiet nose. Although stringently dry, it has an abundance of floral character and herbal flavours thanks to the calming infusion. There is some residual sweetness and a very bready or cereal like character and with some light carbonation, there is a pleasing smoothness to the Camomile.
One of the core beers produced at Atom’s premises and with a pale copper colour it comes in at 4.5%. Using four different types of malt with predominantly Cascade over Summit or other hops, this is usually a heavily hopped pale beer. There is a slight sweetness to the beer, although nothing is remotely out of balance and it carries a robust citrus character and a good dry finish hitting between the middle and the back of the tongue. Although it supposedly carries a heavy hop hit, the aroma seemed a little muted on this occasion. A good beer for a core range nonetheless.
Uncertainty Principle is a golden and pale IPA style beer, which has a strength of around 6%. Carrying a much heavier punch of hops than the Pale and Camomile, there are some woody and pine aromas that linger well into the finish of this IPA. Using a combination of Citra, Summit and Centennial, there is a focus on some additional conditioning of this ale in order to increase the juiciness whilst toning down the more aggressive flavours within. The reduced malt content in this IPA means a much drier finish, pushed further with a double-dose of hops in the dry hopping stage. Every batch of the Uncertainty Principle (as its name would suggest – useful!) is a bit different from the last, with room left for the brewer to play with the hop content and other inputs to the beer.
Sea of Tranquility Saison
This saison style beer has tonnes of layers to the nose, coming in with mostly fruit notes of gooseberry, elderflower and honey amongst others. The acidity is very cleansing to the palate and gives rise to a very tart mouthfeel, although, not out of balance with the beer as a whole. The finish is very dry once again, and is very reminiscent of a New World white wine. Light carbonation of this 6.5% saison gives a very pleasant body and smoothness to the Sea of Tranquility, which is part of a suite of saisons named after moon landing sites. Unlike the technology used to land there, this is very simple, but very elegant.
This is another flagship beer of Atom, although the absence of any hops in this beer might be a concern for some beer fanatics, there is a rather historical slant to this. Dark Alchemy was the first beer brewed by Atom Beers and was conceived by Sarah, the co-founder with Allan, using ‘gruit’ instead of hops to provide the flavour of the beer. Gruit is a generic term used for herbs and other plants that were traditionally used to flavour beers (and in some cases, wine) before the arrival of hops in the UK in the late 16th Century to Kent, most likely from the low countries in mainland Europe. In the case of Dark Alchemy, the gruit is composed of cardamom and coriander (not typically traditional gruit ingredients), giving a slightly spicy hum alongside a herbal freshness and verdancy in a very dark ale. Dark Alchemy is very rounded, but surprisingly light bodied for a dark ale. The finish is very mellow and has some nutty and slightly acidic notes poking through.
Phobos and Deimos
A rye IPA which at 7% is the heaviest of the bunch from Atom on this evening. With a name taken from the moons orbiting the red planet via Hunter S. Thompson (from Fear and Loathing – the latin names of Phobos and Deimos), it was the first beer which Jack has been given free rein to experiment with. Packed with cereal notes, red berry fruit and carrying a reddish-brown hue, Phobos and Deimos has an excessively dry finish, lingering heavily on the middle and back of the tongue. The mouth feel is very thick and has some floury and almost gluey character. The use of a packed hop-roster in Citra, Cascade, Summit and Centennial gives plenty of layers to the flavour and floral aromas. It would be a difficult beer to try and drunk much of, certainly one to be paired with some robust food or to have towards the end of session.
Phobos and Deimos Mango
The final beer of the night was an absolute stunner. Although incredibly lively, the addition of mango to the previous original beer (described handily above), really augmented the flavours of the hops used, bringing out the sweet and refreshing tropical fruit simmering within this ale. A similar beer to this would be something I personally hold in extremely high regard, in Thornbridge’s Kipling there is a typically bright expression of New World hops and the addition of the mango somehow fills out the beer, making it a smoother proposition all round.
This was yet another entertaining experience with Allan and Jack, with yet another sumptuous meal provided by the Clove Hitch who worked long and hard to ensure this event went as well as it did. At this point, I’d probably try and make a pun or gag about smashing Atoms or something to do with the large hadron collider, just to round things off. But I was warned off it; besides, you can’t trust Atoms as they make up everything.
Atom Brewing Company
Unit 4, Food & Tech Park, Malmo Road, Sutton Fields Industrial Estate (West), Hull. HU7 0YF
Tel: 01482 820 572
Twenty Three Club / Clove Hitch
23 Hope Street, Liverpool, L1 9BQ
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TwentyThreeClub or https://twitter.com/theclovehitch
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Tel: 0151 709 6574