Weird Beard Brew Co – Meet The Brewer – Port Street Beer House – 24/02/2014

IMAG0763(Image dedicated to Camden Town Brewery)

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)

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

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(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?)

Slainte!

Weird Beard – Great Beer From West London

Weird Beard

The first time I heard about Weird Beard was on Twitter earlier this year, I think from Burnley Dave, from The Rake at Borough Market, London (a cracking bar BTW!). A new brewery making their name in the ultra competitive London beer scene. The first time I tasted one of their beers was in Port Street, late in the evening. It was OK, but I was over refreshed and pledged to give them another try.

Last month, I got the opportunity at Font. Black Perle,a coffee milk stout. What a belter! Ticked so many of my taste boxes! A lovely creamy beer with more than a hint of latte.

Shortly after that, I found myself in contact with Damian O’Shea (known on Twitter as @TheAleManMcr). Damian kindly offered to send me a couple of bottles to try. In the year I have been wittering on about beer, nobody has done that before. A strange feeling! However, for various reasons, we never quite “hooked up”. Damian has a stall at Castlefield Market some weeks and it was there that Jaz met him (and bought me a bottle, lovely fella!). Then one Sunday, I got a text to say he’d picked up a couple from Damian for me. Needless to say, I got in the old jalopy and high tailed to Manchester to pick up my loot!

Damian is the “Northern Distributor” for this brewer from Hanwell, West London. They only started brewing commercially earlier this year but have already started to find their way consistently onto some of the city’s better bars, making a name for themselves, with hoppy pales a speciality. I’d been smitten by the Black Perle (one of my top 3 of 2013), but how would I like the pales…….

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Five O’Clock Shadow

A 7.3% abv American style IPA (7% on draught). This 330ml bottle conditioned beer was deep copper coloured with a fine white head and abundant tropical hop on the nose. Made with 3 malts and 4 hops (Summit, Apollo, Citra and Columbus), this had an initial biscuit malt sweetness more than offset by some assertive hopping with the grapefruity Citra well up there, taste of apricot too with a dry grassy/herbal aftertaste. A cracking start!

20130702_213006(“A Boring Brown Beer”?)

Chinook

What to expect from this beer, labelled “A Boring Brown Beer”. Well. It certainly wasn’t an aroma with licorice and spice! A deep ruby brown colour, those aromas hit me straight away. Confused me, because I wouldn’t expect licorice in a beer like this. 2 malts (pale and crystal) and single hopped, more licorice in the mouth with a little barley sugar sweetness from that crystal. 7.2% abv this and some of the alcohol warmth comes through. Nice bitterness in this beer which, to me,  I can only say (boringly) tastes dark! Which works for me! And, it’s certainly NOT boring.

Mariana Trench

(Damn! Can’t find my pic!)

At 5.1% abv, this (for their pale beers) is probably about as close as you get to a “sessionable” beer! Gold coloured with lots of citrus on the nose, mostly grapefruit (Hops being Citra and Pacific gem). Nicely balanced and surprisingly easy drinking beer this, a nice marriage of citrus hops with rich tea biscuit malt. Really refreshing beer with a nice bitter dry finish.

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Nelson Saison

Well, this was a lively little puppy! It virtually exploded into the glass! Golden to copper coloured with abundant foamy white head. Aromas of Belgian yeast funk with some floral notes and as the beer went down, more than a hint of marmalade. A surprisingly warming beer this with some elderflower in the mouth and a spicy grassy tinge. The warmth reminded of the same feeling I get with the afterglow of a nice cognac. A nice slightly spicy finish. I’m not that big on Belgian styled beers, but it surprised me how much I enjoyed this.

To sum up. If pushed, my favourite would be the Five O’Clock Shadow. A 4.5 rating for me. The others merit a 4. Considering that they’ve been commercially brewing for less than 6 months, they’re making some cracking stuff in Hanwell!

As far as getting the beers up here, Damian has a stall at Castlefield Market some Sundays. He’s a nice bloke to talk to who is evidently passionate about what he sells. His beers are from a variety of areas, I popped down last weekend and picked up my first bottle from Cheshire Brewhouse as well as stuff from the likes of Magic Rock, DeMolen of Holland, Rocky Head from London etc…nicely priced too. I picked up a DeMolen Imperial Stout for £6.Pop down and see him. He’s a decent bloke (and that has nothing to do with the samples he offers!)

Final point, some of the best labelling I’ve seen since Magic Rock. Attractive, with detailed ingredients! Not bad at all.

Right. Time to settle to see Germany beat Iceland in the Womens Euros!

On that note….til next time!

Slainte!