Paul, Jack and their accomplices are sat slightly nervously at the end of the room in the Conservatory of the Clove Hitch and seem eager to start, with this MTB taking place the evening before the Liverpool Craft Beer Expo, the audience is palpably ready for their beers. Two kegs of Anspach and Hobday’s beer made the trip north to the Expo in 2014; for 2015 this has grown to a 16 keg haul thanks to some dedicated brewing on their 450 litre (2.5 barrel) kit back at the brewery. The guys estimate that some 90% output of their beers comes in kegged form, as neither of the brewery’s founders claim to have been massively influenced by cask beers during their earlier drinking experiences. Something they have taken on board is the growing trend for a more unique approach to use of yeast in their beers, with having a stock source of yeast held by a business partner in Surrey that they use in most of their beers, they have experimented in many batches by using yeasts that indigenous to their brewery environment.
Speaking of their yeast, they do enjoy their bit of writing now and again, with a few interesting blogs of their own [http://anspachandhobday.com/anspach-hobday-blog/], which has a run down of their penchant for and adventures with yeast and also had some of Paul’s thoughts on his own ‘desert island beers’.
There is a six beer haul on for the evening and some are eyeing it with trepidation; whilst the beers are no doubt delicious, the abv for the latter four beers is slightly eyebrow raising for what is still a school night session!
The Funky Pale
This cloudy, straw coloured ale with a lightly frothy head has a huge amount of aroma and deep esters to offer. At 5% it has banana, cloves and deep sweetness on the nose which belies how the beer actually tastes; an incredibly savoury tang and a muting of the fruity aromas leads to a more bread-like and yeasty taste. The acidity is nicely balanced with a borderline tartness and the body is quite chewy but not overly residual, this all pushes towards a dry and pleasingly clean finish that does linger slightly. One of their newer beers, they’ve used a pale ale base and fermented using a yeast strain derived from the clever collection and propagation of bottled residue from sour beers, giving the savoury and reminiscently saison character. Hopping includes citra and mosaic with some dry hopping, occasionally (but sadly not here) using simcoe.
The Best Bitter
Now this is something… a very clever iteration of a classic style which tastes rejuvenated and eschews quite a lot of the character associated with ‘boring brown beer’. At 4.4% on this keg, the thick ruddy to light brown ale carries a white crisp head and has aromas of carob and chocolate oddly emanating; strangely the first thought in mind was a reminder of the smell of Weetos breakfast cereal! The use of rye gives a dry and slightly earthy flavour to the Best Bitter, finely tuned with the raisins, maltloaf, chocolately notes and overt roasted cereal, also complimenting a crisp and smooth mouthfeel with very little residual character. The dry finish (partly down to the use of rye) comes from the use of some British hops, namely the currently fashionable Admiral and the berry laden Bramling Cross. This is usually available on cask, which would be a slightly different proposition, but one which should not be passed up.
A punchy 4.9% rhubarb and gooseberry laden aromatic ale, with a witbier-esque appearance and a thin, lacy white head, this sour also has plenty of aromas of ripened crab apples. A deeply acidic ale with a champagne yeast character, this is acerbically puckering and carries a slightly savoury note in the finish. Very much of a palate-stripper this sour ale has a very light body but seems a little unbalanced with regard the lack of the rest of the structure in standing up to the acidity. This experimental effort from Anspach & Hobday uses very little by way of hops and combines the use of sour Berliner-weisse mashing, repitching of lactobacillus with malts and use of saison yeast. There is plenty of lingering fruit in the finish, but could benefit from a little change in the structure.
Double IP Saison
A red coloured saison with plenty of hops and a smack in the mouth at 8.9%, the Double IP Saison is incredibly pine-fresh and acidic on the nose, plenty of unripened tropical fruit and there are abundance of other light and fruity esters lingering on the fringes of the core aromas. The flavour is spicy and carries the pine rather well; wood, red berries and other orchard fruit also come through courtesy of the US hops (centennial, chinook, cascade and citra). The body is big, bold and resinous giving a heavy mouthfeel and a slightly cloying nature to go with the delicate funkiness from the yeast strain used; imagine an APA crossed with a saison. This certainly doesn’t taste as the strength would suggest, a proverbial iron hand in a velvet glove - a very good ale with a dry finish that clings to the middle of the tongue.
The Black IPA
A dark ale with plenty of chocolate, liquorice and freshly dug earth on the nose courtesy of the heady and dark malts used, this black IPA is a little more restrained than the previous beer at 6.7%. A combination of pale and munich malts in the initial mash has the addition of black malts added in the final sparge, allowing a leach of colour and different flavour set into the brew. The use of German pelletised TNT and Galaxy hops allows for a fruitier set of flavours and aromas to be gently emergent above the malt character of this beer, they sometimes look to the addition of nelson sauvin or simcoe to supply more floral, fruit and resinous character. The finish is pleasant and the body is reasonably chewy and slightly residual.
The Stout Porter
This is the oldest recipe used by Anspach and Hobday, initially brewed on their homebrew kit and is what they call an ‘amplified porter’. A black (although when held up to the light, very dark red) stout with a beige to tan head, the earthiness of this 8.9% ale shines through. Nutty, gentle smokey and peaty, there are a multitude of dark roast flavours present here and the aromas give a portent of all of the above. The body is oily and slick, giving way to a dry roasted cereal finish which lingers in a soft and gentle manner. The use of EKG hops and a simple 4 malt base gives a stout which is around 30-40 IBUs and notably also has some flourishes of coffee and liquorice in aroma and taste. An excellent and nailed down recipe from Anspach and Hobday, which you get the impression is one of their solid and most consistent performers.
That’s almost your lot everyone! Thanks for reading and hopefully you’ll get to try some of the Anspach and Hobday beers before too long, since they have been on recently at 23 Club/Clove Hitch and at the Liverpool Craft Beer Expo. Paul, Jack and their gang managed a round of golf after this MTB, although quite how things ended up after their foray to the Expo… fingers crossed they made it back to Bermondsey in one piece!
Anspach and Hobday
118 Druid Street, Bermondsey, London. SE1 2HH
Tel: 0208 617 9510
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