Last week I had the opportunity to visit Wetherspoons Beer Festival in Brighouse and sample a couple of the American Craft Brews I mentioned earlier in the month, and I am glad to report that they were both nice beers. The Mordue Red Rye Riwaka and Odell Ninety Schilling had a nice amount of hops as expected, but well balanced with the malt and citrus flavours in both cases.   The Thatchers Cheddar Valley Cider was a nice drink to round the night off with as well, if the Irn Bru-esque colour didn’t put you off, with a nice dry flavour and robust, but naturally cloudy body.

A visit to Dirty Dicks also saw an excellent hoppy beer on offer as well from Stroud Brewery called Brewers Garden Pale Ale (4.2%).  The beer had a fresh taste, nice pale colour and a lovely combination of hops which dictated the flavour without overpowering it.  The hops are grown by members of the breweries “hop club” in their own gardens the year before brewing to allow drying, and the effort put in definitely shows in the beer.  This beer is only available until the end of the month as a seasonal brew, so worth catching before it runs out.  More generally available is the Stroud Organic Ale (4.0%), which is a good pint, golden in colour, which was again sampled at Dirty Dicks.  It is not as distinctive as as its brother, but worth a try.

Switching tack, Molson Coors released their new “brewed for women” beer Animee, in 3 flavours (clear filtered, crisp rose and zesty lemon), and is marketed as ‘lightly sparkling’ not fizzy.  The beer is a result of interviewing tens of thousands of women over 2 years.  When you involve so many people you design by committee, not an ideal methodology in a trade when you generally have one brewer in charge even at massive breweries like Heineken’s in the Netherlands.  The hedging of bets with 3 flavours shows that they are still not sure which will work even after all the research and the fact that it is clear or rose coloured makes it look more like an alcopop than a beer.  £2 million is going into the advertising campaign for this “beer”, and I’m sure they will have limited success with this drink, but they are wrong to market it as beer when it clearly isn’t.  Molson Coors do not have good track record for interesting beers, with the exception of the purchased Sharps Brewery in Cornwall, so I expect this to be no different.

However one company will be making and selling many more of its own interesting beers in the future. Brewdog have now hit £2 millon of investment via their Equity for Punks share issue.  It has also announced plans to open at least 5 new bars, including the already announced Manchester and Newcastle outlets, along with three new additional sites in Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham which are now being sought.  For a big fan of their beers who works in Sheffield and lives only 25 minutes from Leeds / 40 minutes from Manchester, I don’t think they could have picked better locations from a personal and commercial perspective.  On the brewing side, they plan to open the new £7 million brewery near Aberdeen in 2012 which will take them from 25,000 to 200,000 hectolitres in brewing capacity.   From a small company who only opened less than 5 years ago to go to having outlets in 8 major cities and a state of the art brewing facility in such a short period of time deserves praise, given this has all happened in the midst of a major recession, while maintaining the same ethos and commitment to high quality interesting beers that caused its creation.

Not that CAMRA will be sending them a card of congratulations on their expansion, as their opposition to the keg product they produce is well known, even if the reasons for their exclusion from the Great British Beer Festival is disputed by the two parties.   However going back to May this year, the chair of the organisation made his feelings clear about keg beer criticising (see page 10) the “Bloggerati for calling for them to embrace keg beer”, a group of online writers I am happy to be lumped in with, as this is published via my blog as well.  He also dismissed those who were making the call both on and offline as being a threat to the organisation and not being interested in the 40 years of achievements by CAMRA as “the next beer is always best they have ever had”.  His choice of words regarding “Rapacious” Supermarkets and “Abortionist” Taxation and Legislation give you an idea of where he was shouting from, and its not a high place.  You can find a fellow bloggers view on this here who sums this up perfectly.

Until next week, Happy Supping.