I suppose I should start this blog post with an enormous SLAINTE to Damian O’Shea (aka TheAleManMcr). Without Damian and his peripatetic market stall that has been selling exceptional beers in Manchester for almost a year now, I wouldn’t have come across the fabulous beers brewed by Gregg & Bryan at The Weird Beard Brew Co of Hanwell in West London and, by default, wouldn’t be in a packed Port Street Beer House for a hotly anticipated MTB event.
For a change, I managed to get to Manchester in advance of start time, only to find Port Street RAMMED! Damned if this wasn’t the busiest I have seen on a Monday evening! Once I had spotted the trademark hat, I knew that Gregg Irwin was in the house! A quick hello to Jamie and I was into the first beer (courtesy of the 5 raffle tickets received on entry)
The Little Things That Kill 3.5% abv – I love this beer. previously only had it on keg and in bottle though. How would the cask stand up? Gregg – after his initial introduction about the brewery (going for just over a year now) – described the beer. Mashed at a high temperature to achieve a fuller body than a beer of this strength should have, it is indeed quite full bodied for a 3.5% beer. Named after a track by the No-Hit wonders Bush (incidentally HUGE in the US – and Gavin Rossdale being the lucky hubby of Gwen Stefani!) Hopped with the lovely (Come & have a go if you disagree) Sorachi Ace, loads of Galaxy, Summit & Apollo this is a fabulously tasty “Session IPA” and one of my favourite beers in the WB canon.
Single Hop Series No 4 Citra Pilsner 5.5% abv – A pale hazy & golden beer. Initial impression was of some apple both on the nose and in the mouth. Not quite what I was expecting from Citra. Gregg, during his lead into the beer noted this fault and bravely hung it out there and apologised for it. Impressive honesty for which he earns respect. Still, far from a bad beer and quite fruity (if not as intended) with a resinous and lasting bitter finish for a pilsner.
Five O Clock Shadow – Was next up at the bar and was an unexpected addition for Gregg who had obviously prepped up something else, which, upon tasting, wasn’t up to it. A damned fine replacement though! More bronze then golden, nice orange in the nose (Amarillo perchance ?) and in the mouth too, smooth easy drinking for a relatively strong beer 5%+. Nice and bitter with a little bit of sherbet fizz to it and some sticky resins in the aftertaste. Classy.
Fade To Black – 7% abv During his talk about this, Gregg eulogised about the versatility of the Sorachi Ace hop which is in this beer and (to Gregg)lends a toasted coconut note to the darker roasted beers. Gregg likes his Black IPA on the roasted side and this does indeed lean toward a Stout in its roasty notes and coffee whilst retaining its resinous fruity hop finish. Another cracker and – according to Ratebeer (more later) – is their highest rated beer. Idiots! Mine comes next!!!
(The busiest I can remember for a MTB!)
The collective (as they describe themselves) are justifiably proud of the fact that (according to ratings on RateBeer) Weird Beard are one of the Top 10 new brewers in THE WORLD! 5th place out of over 2600 breweries is a remarkable achievement. Well done!
Finally we came to the last beer of the event. Weird Beard make some – quite frankly – astonishingly good dark beers. Black Perle (Coffee Milk Stout) was one of my top 3 beers last year on draught (cask) AND bottle. Fade To Black and then it’s BIG brother, Something Something Darkside which earned one of my #Beergasms when I rated it in bottle. This last beer is just about my favourite and was my second favourite bottle of 2013.
Decadence Stout 5.4% abv of roasted coffee and chocolate joy! All I wrote in my notes was “Sugar & Spice & All Things Nice!” (Except – obviously – without the sugar and spice bit!) Beautifully full-bodied, like a mini Imperial, but MASSIVELY drinkable. A lovely mocha note achieved without the use of ANY coffee. The mocha continues into the finish which has a simply joyous bitterness. Just YUM. OK!
Gregg did touch on a subject close to the hearts of the WB collective – The subject of the renaming of their stunning Camden Beard to K*ntish Town Beard and the dispute with Camden Town over the naming of the beer. Camden Town, as a new brewer, should really know better than to bully a London fellow brewer over a word that is a district of their city. Not only that, but home of the beers collaborators, Brew Dog Camden (THAT word again!).
I’m sorry, but Camden behaved like tossers and deserve no better than to be ranked alongside the likes of Red Bull (Redwell of Norwich) and Crabbies / Halewood International (our own Tickety Brew of Stalyvegas) as corporate bullies! As for the alleged attempt to register the word “Camden” as a trademark? Does the A-Z mapping company have to reprint all of their TENS OF THOUSANDS of maps?
Finally plucked up the courage to say hello to Gregg and his lovely wife Alison. Gregg even remembered serving me a pint (it HAD to be) of Decadence at IndyMan and even remembered our discussion about the hops therein. I just WISH that I had such a good memory! Just a damned good bloke. (and, as they say, “behind every good man….”)
With an extra pint of LTTK (So Damn Good!) it was time to chat and soon to bugger off! A quick shout out to some damned nice guys I chatted with. Paddy & Kev (whose blog just tickles me!) & Mark Welsby who I’d seen at these things on many occasions and never chatted with. Hoping that his new venture takes off soon!
Time to go (via a deserted Soup Kitchen for a sneaky pint of Ilkley Gold!) and grab the bus – which tonight failed to show! Cheers to Jeff & Jaz for their always fabulous company!
On that note….’til next time…(In that there London all next week…hmmm…what can a boy do down there?)