March 24th, 2012Desert Island Beers
This week we have a friend coming to stay on our desert island; welcome Xavier Baker. Born and bred on the Isle of Wight the diamond Island of England, (Xavier’s description not mine!) Xavier has always had an interest in home brewing, beer & cider after watching and helping his father and pinching the odd bottle from the larder! Also growing up on the island, Xavier used any excuse to be in or out on the water and with his family sailed every inch of the Solent. At 15 he found his passion for surfing and still surfs at every given opportunity.
Xavier started brewing at Ventnor Brewery just before his 18th Birthday. He was lucky to be taught the traditional methods and dark arts by Fred Martin retired Head Brewer of King & Barnes of Horsham. He had been brewing for 13 years or thereabouts at Ventnor when the brewery closed.
Afterward Xavier says he had some fantastic times and memories, traveling as far as Japan & Singapore, creating some great beers, some he would like to revitalise one day and meeting lots of great people. On the Interbrewery Regatta he also met Tim O’Rourke, who’s family used to own the original Burts Brewery on the Ventnor site, with Tim subsequently becoming a good friend and brewing influence. A brief spell then followed working for Molson Coors as Account Manager.
Xavier then took the position as Head Brewer of a new Brewery in Ireland and after 2 weeks of meeting the owners found himself on the most westerly tip of Europe; the sunny Dingle Peninsula in SW Ireland. That was April 2011. The Dingle Brewery is going from strength to strength with Creans now flowing in Dublin, Kildare, Cork and of course on the Dingle Peninsula.
The brewery is based in an old creamery and Xavier says it feels humbling to think that it is back at the heart of the community. The Brewery is already working on expansion plans to keep up with the overwhelming response of Creans and this Autumn a distillery should be commissioned producing Shackletons Whiskey!!
So Xavier, which five beers would you want to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island, and why?Tags: betty stogs, dingle, ireland, jaipur, skinners, thornbridge
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December 13th, 2011Beer Reviews
Some beers demands attention through garish pump clips, whilst others scream from ad campaigns and yellow and red shelf edge labels.
Some beers don’t bother with all that, they say all they have to say on the inside of the bottle. Such is Coalition, a celebration of brewing jointly created by Thornbridge of Derbyshire and Dark Star of Sussex.
£7 – one for each percent of alcohol by volume – means you’ll want to savour every last one of it’s fifty centilitres. Probably won’t be hard though…
Its richness is visible when poured, it settles majestically in an over sized wine glass with a thick, mustard head. Booze cuts through the herbaceous aroma of roots and spices, cloves and fresh tobacco.
Maybe a Belgian chalice should be the glassware of choice – this could be a caliginous callow tripel with it’s raw incense of sugar cane and a potent, plant stalk bitterness.
But there’s little coalition between the fascinating flavours: this bottle is green, premature. Its brothers from the same gyle are in the beer cupboard and will be laid down for another years to develop and mellow in the bottle, because even this rough version shows signs of becoming something very special indeed.Tags: thornbridge
June 17th, 2011Desert Island Beers
The thing about enthusiasm is that it’s infectious, and Kelly Ryan is a man who exudes a passion for beer like there’s no tomorrow.
Kelly is best known for his time at Thornbridge Brewery in Derbyshire but is now safely back on native New Zealand soil brewing at Epic Brewery.
We’ve been fortunate enough to meet Kelly a few times at beery tasting events (like this one at the Sheffield Tap) and the odd twiss up and have seen his knowledge and excitement about good beer first hand.
We’re guessing there’ll be some big beers on Kelly’s ideal desert island…Tags: Desert Island Beers, epic, kelly ryan, thornbridge
November 8th, 2010Comment
In a list of New Zealand’s exports you can pick from lamb, kiwis, exciting rugby union, Bret and Jermaine, Nelson Sauvin hops and even non-league football and World Cup legend Shane Smeltz, who helped guide his national side to become the only unbeaten team in the 2010 tournament in South Africa (unfortunately he didn’t help Halifax Town too much although I have seen him play at the Shay a few times).
But you beer lovers might just want to pop Kelly Ryan, brewer extraordinare at Thornbridge Brewery, to the top of that list. Kelly leaves the UK this week to head back to his homeland but his legacy will live on with a number of beers that are achieving cult status in the UK – Jaipur India Pale Ale, green hopped Halcyon, Saint Petersburg Imperial Stout and the rare and enigmatic Bracia stout. Kelly’s influence goes beyond simply brewing though, but through hosting tasting events, becoming a resident and local at The Coach and Horses in Dronfield and generally being a positive ambassador for beer.
So as a brewer whose helped change real ale for the better and someone we’re honoured to call an acquaintance, to Kelly and Catherine, all the best in New Zealand and we hope to see you again (hopefully for a twissup style curry!).
Tags: halifax town, kelly ryan, new zealand, shane smeltz, thornbridge
Kelly& Cat, thanks for the great beers, the inspiring chats and the twissup adventures. All the best in New Zealand, we’ll be having a Mac’s Gold and selected Thornbridge beers in your honour this weekend! PS. Did you and Shane learn those faces at school or something?!
Why buy fresh fruit smoothies when you can have beer instead?!
Remember Reefs? Smirnoff Ices?
Remember Hooch and Barcardi Breezers?
Well this summer you might struggle to fnd the above, but fear not as beer has come to the rescue. If you want sweet fruity flavours and a drink to get you a little on the tipsy side, why fork out for dirt cheap alcopops when you have quality on your side:
Kernel Centennial Pale Ale
Um Bongo aroma with a touch of Blackcurrant Ribena. ABV of 5.4% and a body of yoghurt and oats, it simply glides down your throat like Yop. Not too bitter, though the bitterness that there is lingers long-time…
This beer knocks most pale ales for six and is quite frankly amazing. I was lucky enough to get this as an added extra from my #beerswap partner and it outshone the other brews. Beers like this can make a brewery…if it’s not a fluke then Kernel have a lot to live up to.
Halcyon by Thornbridge
(2009 Green hopped, oh yeah!)
It’s more tropical than last years Halcyon, the dominance of grass in the nose has disappeared in favour of exotic fruit. I used to love that damn prairie grass, but hell do I now crave that beautiful pineapple explosion.
What a quandary! What hops have they changed or replaced? You may have sold out your grass roots Thornbridge, but you’ve replaced them with a beer that I could have sex with.
Thornbridge Halcyon is Innocent Smoothie on acid (or something stronger). Get me another fix, now.
Marble Manchester Bitter
A passion fruit hell pit, this is the sort of beer Adam threw away paradise for. And rightly so, Adam, who wants a garden of fruit trees bending under the weight of it’s luscious produce when you can sit back and knock the crown cap of a Manchester Bitter. I’d give up my Eve and all pasta based dishes for this beer. I’d be tempted to call Charlie Brooker’s bluff and offer a little finger perhaps. Maybe even a thumb. I’ll definitely give up all hoofed animals to maintain the existence of this beer perhaps in doing so rid the world of half it’s methane emissions too.
This might just be the beer that saves the world.
Beer: Centennial Pale Ale
Brewery: Kernel Brewery
Style: London Pale Ale
Area: London, England
Beer: Thornbridge Halcyon
Brewery: Thornbridge Brewery
Style: Imperial IPA
Area: Derbyshire, England
Beer: Manchester Bitter
Country: Manchester, England
Tags: kernel, marble, thornbridge
Thanks to mybrewerytap and beermerchants for supplying the beer. Yep, they were freebies, and I’m proud to say I’d pay a significant amount of my hard earned cash to drink these again. Which I have actually just done. And I would recommend that you also try them.
March 17th, 2010Beer Events
The Sheffield Tap is arguably one of the best stocked pubs in the North of England, with a regular range of Thornbridge beers on cask (the venue is a joint venture between the Derbyshire brewers and the chaps behind Pivo in York) and an inventory of bottled beers that make most beer cabinets look like a beery footnote. It’s a case of any excuse will do to persuade me to hop on the 42 minute train from Leeds, and last night the excuse was the chance to meet the team that brew Thornbridge’s beers who were hosting a Meet the Brewer session in the former first class refreshment lounge of Sheffield’s main station.
On arrival the tiny bar was busy – not quite heaving but certainly a far cry from quiet. A bustle of artisan beer fans, jaded commuters and groups of talkative drinking buddies crowded over the small tables and lined the restored bar. Tucking our elbows in we (Rob from HopZine, Tom from Reet Good Leeds and me) joined the fray to admire the array of beers on offer, a veritable beer geeks heaven Read the rest of this entry »Tags: black ipa, brewer, brewery, exposed, hops, imperial stout, jaipur, kipling, lord marples, mcconnells, raven, saint petersburg, sheffield tap, thornbridge
January 1st, 2010Desert Island Beers
Pete Brown – beer writer and marketer
Picking our first post of the New Year was easy. The ‘Bill Bryson of the beer world’, Pete Brown is one of the UK’s best loved beer writers, his three books Man Walks Into A Pub, Three Sheets To The Wind and the much celebrated Hops & Glory are responsible for much laughing, beer drinking and fits of coughing when we do both at the same time.
Fresh from his coronation as The British Guild of Beer Writers Beer Writer of the Year, 2010 is Pete’s year to enjoy so what better way to nestle up with one of his books and try some of his favourite tipples too.
A quick reminder on the island rules: Pete can pick three beers to take and a meal to eat with the beers, plus a handful of personal effects to keep boredom at arms length: a book to read, a record to listen to and a luxury item. For the pedants amongst you we’re going to assume that the friendly island gods will take care of opening your beer bottle (or cask!) and the playing of your selected music…Tags: bracia, Desert Island Beers, goose island, pete brown, thornbridge, white shield, wothington
This is an IPA that I’d been eyeing up in my cupboard for a few weeks before I sat down with, and boy, did it not disappoint!
Halcyon IPA by Thornbridge has a hugely hoppy aroma – a grassy rather than floral scent that tingles your tongue on the first sip. It’s initial taste is full of spices and contrasting flavours, and that’s only the beginning! Texture and colour wise it looks uniformly opaque (although I poured it pretty quickly), but even this doesn’t reflect it’s deep and multifarious taste.
This is a glorious IPA, remaining refreshing whilst being charismatically strong. It’s strength lingers throughout, becoming more complex with each gulp.
Let’s use Goose Island IPA as a benchmark of floral, tasty, downright excellent IPAs. Put simply, Halcyon is stronger, deeper and brings more to the table. Let’s not downgrade Goose Island, it’s in my Top Ten Beers Of All Time, but I can have a few Goose Island on a night out (my last night out in Leeds passing through Reform Bar proves that) but I might struggle to drink more than one Halcyon in a bar.
For a hoppy night in however, I don’t think you could do any better than this, another hop affair from Thornbridge. I actually took a break from drinking Halcyon to sample a Sam Smith’s Strawberry beer that Sarah was drinking (fruity beers so far are all she can stomach!) and coming back to Halcyon after it was an absolute joy. The explosion of taste in my mouth seemed twice as powerful and twice as enjoyable as before.
To sum it up, Halcyon is bloomin’ brilliant, and, like Radiohead this weekend at Leeds, I’m glad it’s something I had to wait a few years for despite the glowing and unrelenting reviews that tempted me so often.
I can honestly say this is a beer that isn’t caught up in hyperbole nor ballyhoo (yes I used a thesaurus for that one!)…it really is a very, very, very good beer.Tags: halcyon, india pale ale, IPA, thornbridge