In other news, Liverpool has seen the arrival at the end of March/start of April of two new beacons of beer, with Sanctuary opening on Lime Street, possibly on the same spot of former computer games lovers paradise, Liversoft (for those of use who remember Saturday afternoons browsing local shops for new software!) and also a new establishment on the former Moparts premises on Smithdown Road in the form of CRAFT Taproom. Both these newcomers have different remits, with Sanctuary looking to appeal to CAMRA members and those who prefer a cask-dispense (boasting six lines, along with a few keg) and CRAFT catering for keg-dispense only. Though both places offer a significant line in bottles and cans to broaden their appeal to the city's drinkers. A piece on CRAFT Taproom has been written and will be published soon!
For now... on with the reviews:
Black Lodge Brewery / Alphabet Brewing - The Dance of the Dream Man
Yet more David Lynch inspired madness from Black Lodge in this 6% strength canned collaboration with Manchester's Alphabet Brewing. This Vienna -style Lager pours a hazy deep golden to very light brown colour and in thick fashion, retaining a soft, frothy white head. Thanks to the maple syrup and rye in the brew, the body is effervescent and round, carrying a residual character and plenty of dry acidity. The nose also benefits from the use of rye and maple; toffee, bitter cereal, wood and treacle all come through to varying degrees, leading into an array of flavours.
Dry woody cereal drives the taste of this beer, but is backed up with flavours reminiscent of autumnal leaves, more treacle and some red fruit. This leads on to a finish which is bitter, woody and with no shortage of rye and candy corn which all last well after the swallow, leaving a mouthwatering feeling. This would work well with a lasagne or Italian ragu dish, maybe even a burger or other savoury staple.
(Sourced from Black Lodge, Kitchen Street, Liverpool)
Ghost Brewing Company - Reaper
A self-proclaimed 'Deathly Pale Ale' from Ghost Brewing and at 4.4%, it pours a light gold colour with a gentle haze and bubbly white froth. The aromas are quite pleasant, with lots of citrus present in the form of tangerine, clementine and light orange notes backed up by an odd, surprising and quite enjoyable subtle almond and coconut driven hint along with a touch of spice.
The flavours present are of toasty cereal, first and foremost, along with a taste of bitter oranges, tangerine, a hint of coriander and lemons along with a very 'soda' flavour. The body is thin, but quite refreshing given the level of carbonation, leading through to a finish which is acidic, quite clean and gently spicy owing much to the orange citrus flavour, but also carrying an unusual savoury note that lingers late on into the finish. Enjoyable, unusual and flavoursome if a little odd in the balance.
(Sourced from Holborns Trade, Malthouse Business Centre, Ormskirk)
Marks and Spencer (Butcombe Brewery) - Simcoe Pale Ale
Brewed for Marks and Spencers by the West Country's Butcombe Brewery, this 4.5% single hopped Simcoe pale ale pours a pale gold to straw colour, carries a fair bit of haze and initially carries a good head of white froth; this sadly diminishes quite quickly. The nose is full of fruit, with passionfruit, cereal, lemons and some grapefruit backed up with hints of other underripe tropical fruit. The flavours are also in the same vein, with plenty of passion fruit, lemon, rhubarb and blueberries present to taste, there is a background of cereal and biscuit from the malts used, along with a subtle hint of grapefruit and clementine.
The body is a bit thin, but pleasingly juicy, the residual character leaves a slick but fizzy impression on the mouthfeel and leads to a finish which is fruity, dry, with touches of cereal and quite soft without delivering any real length. A pleasant, balanced and easy to drink pale ale, making good use of the hop, but perhaps lacking in a bit of body.
(Marks and Spencers Food Hall, Speke Retail Park, Liverpool)
Siren Craft - Proteus IPA (or PRΘTΣUS φPΔ)
Part of the series of the Proteus IPAs, this was iteration v2, hopped with Mosaic, Chinook and Cascade to give the 6.9% 'shape shifting IPA' some different character to its namesake counterparts. Volume 2 of Proteus pours a deep and hazy golden colour and the heavy carbonation provides plenty of head which stiffens up consideration following the pour. The aromas float off even from the pour, with heady orange notes the first to come to life, following a brief period of settling, mango, candied peel, grapefruit, pine and cereal can all be picked out along with a very light hint of toffee thanks to the significant malt bill.
The flavours are more of the same, with the hops and malt providing lots to consider with mango, pine, grapefruit, starfruit, orange and gentle amounts of woodiness all discernible on the palate. The body is gently chewy and residual, it feels very round, resinous and full-bodied at first, but lightens up through the drink. This leads through into a finish which is overtly bitter, dry, fruity and crisply balanced with an interesting 'tingly' sensation present which resides at the back of the tongue, giving a total package of another excellent IPA from Siren.
(Sourced from HonestBrew, Online)
Savour Beer - British Saison
This 5% strength British Saison pours a very hazy, deep dark gold colour and forms a crisp then soft and gradually diminishing white head, which laces well down the glass. The aromas of this saison are quite typical of the style; plenty of peppery notes, green fruit, cut grass and fresh cereal along with a slightly confected or candy note present.
The flavours translate well; plenty of green fruit, followed by a big peppery kick, rhubarb along with some cereal and floral flavours. The body is pretty thin, but carries quite a coating and residual character despite strong carbonation and good acidity. The finish comes through with dry, fruity and floral elements with the peppery notes teasing their way back onto the palate. A solid and enjoyable saison which ticks many of the right boxes of the style.
(Sourced from Booths Supermarket, Burscough)
Cheshire Brewhouse / Elusive Brewing - The Caribbean Crossroads
A 7.3% strength barrel aged stout brewed under collaboration, Caribbean Crossroads undergoes secondary fermentation in oak barrels with the addition of black treacle before bottling, giving it some series depth of flavour. It pours a thick black colour and holds a dark beige head, which does gradually diminish on drinking with a big drop sadly after the pour. The nose offers up aromas of allspice, whisky, vanilla, toffee, coffee, milk chocolate and plenty of the treacle that has been added.
The flavours follow the path laid out by the bouquet and replicate them closely, with the whisky, vanilla, chocolate and treacle leading the way. The body is just over medium in relation to many 'bigger stouts' and quite oily; though Caribbean Crossroads carries plenty of carbonation to make things a bit easier to swallow. The finish on this barrel aged stout is relatively dry, treacle driven and has a bit lingering spicy note which holds onto the palate well after swallowing along with minor notes more akin to an acidic, fresh liqueur. This would pair very well with sticky toffee pudding, spotted dick or a treacle sponge - something steamed or custard based.
(Sourced from Holborn Trade, Malthouse Business Centre, Ormskirk)
Beer Nouveau - Peterloo
Brewed to commemorate the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, this black to very dark brown Mancunian Porter comes in at 4.0% and is brewed to 19 IBU, using a combination maris otter, chocolate malt and wheat for the malt bill and Challenger hops. Peterloo pours giving a beige soft and bubbly head which is retained quite well.
The aromas are of nutty and roasted malts, toast and a background of acidic cola and milk chocolate. The flavours then follow with bitter milk chocolate, toast, roasted nuts and light but fruity coffee; this all works with a medium to light bodied dark beer which is pretty balanced and easy to drink. The finish continues to provide a lot of roasted flavours, relying heavily on the malt bill; it lingers briefly on the palate and is generally a decent porter. Make sure to serve at room temperature and also to allow a bit of a time to breathe, given the way this beer opens up once in the glass.
(Sourced from Londis, Penny Lane, Liverpool)
Marble Brewery - Damage Plan
One of Marble's 'Metal Series' beers, Damage Plan is a big IPA, brewed to 7.1% with wheat for some extra body and using a combination of Equinox (or Ekuanot - there's been a bit of a to-do over the name of this hop!), Nelson Sauvin, Mosaic, Citra and Summit to give a crisp and fruity blast.
Damage Plan appears bright, light gold in colour with a soft and quickly flattened white head after pouring, the aromas from this are of pineapple, white stone fruit, papaya and mango, along with some lesser notes of lemon and lime sour tangs. The flavour carries things on if slightly in reverse; the lemon and lime poke through first and are accompanied by pineapple, mango and some subtle wheaty notes along with a lot of pine and other green fruit. The body is very silky and smooth, medium bodied at a push and has a good gentle level of chewiness and a touch of residue to balance out the acidity and carbonation. The finish is sharp and freshly aggressive, loads of fruit continues to make its presence known and this is followed by a very crisp cereal bite which lingers with pine notes on the palate some time after the swallow. Great stuff, which would pair quite nicely with some spiced Mexican food; perhaps meatier seafood and certainly white and red meat based dishes.
(Sourced from Londis, Penny Lane, Liverpool)
And that's your lot for the March Beers - until next time!