Sometimes, just sometimes, you get a sense of a brewery on the up. One that is consistently putting out excellent beers. Punchy, full of flavour, balanced flavours that make you want more.
For me – at the moment – that is Rammy Craft.
In January, I was approached by CAMRA locally, given an advanced view of the beer list for the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival at Manchester Central and asked if I’d like to recommend some beers to try. One of those beers was Titch. A 3.6% hoppy Pale Ale.
It wasn’t brewed in a central Manchester railway arch. It wasn’t brewed by an uber trendy craft darling. It was brewed in Ramsbottom. And I was vindicated in its selection by the drinkers that tapped me on the shoulder and thanked me for recommending it.
So, when Malcolm Bastow of Five Towns Brewery, the founder of the East West Fest asked me for the third year running to select the Manchester area breweries for his superb Northern beer bash, Rammy Craft were foremost in my thoughts. And I was pleasantly surprised that Matt Holmes fancied brewing something special together…
The choice of beer style was influenced by Malcolm, who wanted to guarantee some dark beers – I know all too well how easy it can be to overload on “Pale and Hoppy”. Now Matt had made some lovely dark stuff, but I fancied a full bodied Stout, with hop character. Which Matt re-interpreted….
7am. On my day off, that seemed a harsh time to start. But given Matt’s original plan of 6am (you read it right), he was being gentle.
The plan? A deep roasted, full-bodied Stout with a good whack of hops to balance against the roast. So we mashed in a good dose of roasted barley, roasted wheat and Chocolate malt along with the bulk grist of Golden Promise.
The mash and boil revealed some seriously deep roasty aromas flooding from a wort that was darker than the pits of Hades. Seriously dark. Coffee grinds and chocolate filled my flaring nostrils. Yum!
And to balance that up? Hops. Lots of hops. Insanely resinous and sticky Aurora, fruity Columbus and oh so fragrant Simcoe. Lovely Simcoe. The Aurora were so sticky I had to break them up with that most technical piece of a brewers kit. A sharp chisel.
The bitterness in this will come from the roasted malts with the hops added late. First Aurora followed by the other aromatic beauties in order. The smells were amazing!
There won’t be much of this. Just 8 casks. And orders were coming in whilst we were brewing – stimulated by last night’s blog post!
It was nice to get into the mashing and digging groove. The world has changed since last time I brewed and it felt like being hugged with a great big beery blanket. It felt like I was “home”. Doing something I love. And fortunately, I was doing this with a damned talented brewer who should get more plaudits than he does.
And I was doing it for a good friend – in Malcolm – someone who has helped me over the last 6 months, more than he could possibly know. And for my favourite beer festival – which is donating part of the proceeds to CALM, a charity close to my family’s hearts.
This year, there are a bunch of us going to Wakefield. To sample the delights of The Red Shed. And to get to try this roasty hoppy beauty first.
And the beer is to be called Ragnar’s Wrath. In honour of my love of the lead protagonist in the series “Vikings”. And my good friend Lee.
I wouldn’t miss this festival for the world.
Thank you Matt, Andy & Lysha. The pleasure was all mine.
Back soon (Brewing again on Saturday with Five Towns)
Be kind to one another.