Taking a flight with the @WarpedWing brewery

warpedwingOn Wedenesday evening last, my boss (Bill) took a group of us out for a trip to Warped Wing brewery in Dayton…

The brewery takes it’s name from the kink that the Wright Brothers -Dayton’s most famous sons- engineered into the wings of their first “plane” that allowed the first human flight.

Situated in down-town Dayton, Warped Wing has been in operation for just over a year now and seems to be garnering the interest of a good chunk of the region’s craft beer crowd with it’s range of eclectic and lovingly-made ales and beers.

20150225_215835We rolled in to the old converted steel foundry on Wyandot street that is the brewery’s home, just after 8pm, where a youngish crowd were enjoying some of the 5 or 6 beers available that night on tap; there was a good background hum of conversation and relaxed revelry all against the backdrop of the brewery plant itself – a magnificent vision of stainless steel vats, fermenters and pipework – where a magnificently-bearded brewery employee was busily washing off the plant after that days brew session.

The atmosphere inside was warm, convivial and welcoming – laden with the aromas of an earlier mash and heavily-hopped boil.

As I wanted to try everything in sight, I opted for a full flight of Warped Wing beers: Ermal’s Belgian-style cream ale, Flyin’ Rye IPA, Hop Smuggler IPA and Pirogue – a Belgian Quad style ale.

20150225_203603First-up, Ermal’s Belgian Cream Style Ale: this was a lovely hazy yellow and had ample spicy notes in the nose – with a satisfying peppery-spicy dryness that really quenched my thirst, even though it was just a small taste.

The Flyin’ Rye IPA was assertively hoppy, yet restrained enough to allow the cracker-bread, spicy, graininess of the rye to shine through – I liked this one a lot, as I have a peculiar fondness for beers brewed with rye.

Hop Smuggler was an odd choice of name for the next beer, as it makes very little attempt to smuggle the hops past you, preferring to allow their full power of their resinous dankness to smack you fully in the face; slightly hazy and beautifully balanced this was a great IPA.

Next the Pirogue.  Belgian Quad style ale is not something that we get a lot of in the UK, but I wish we did –  complex and powerful (9%!) it satisfied with every sip, and if I was only allowed to have one more glass of any of the Warped Wing beers, it’d be this one…just excellent.

And then as if it wasn’t enough to be sat in the brewery itself; drinking excellent, achingly fresh beer that had been brewed not more than a couple of feet away from me; Bill looked around and said “Hey, there’s Joe!”.

Bill explained that Joe was one of the founders of Warped Wing and we should go say hello, as Bill works closely with Joe’s brother Andrew.

20150225_215228As we talked, I handed Joe a YIMB card and he insisted – despite only coming in to the brewery for a post-basketball beer with friends – on giving me and our small party a whistle-stop tour of the plant.  I can’t tell you how good it is to be given a tour by someone so obviously knowledgeable and proud of their brewery and business.

Warped Wing is doing all the right things: they’re brewing twice a day, six days a week, they have a modern canning line (they’re the only folks in Dayton who are canning their own), they have a barrel-ageing program on the go, and are supplying their excellent range of beers to 50 or so outlets – including at least one local stadium.

Warped Wing’s head brewer is a guy that came from the New Holland brewery and – unbelievably – doesn’t run a pilot system.  He just runs full 66BBL test batches by dialling them in on the kit, and as Joe testifies: 99.9% of the time he gets it smack on and a great beer ensues.

I really enjoyed my evening at Warped Wing and now wished I’d asked more questions and taken many more notes and pictures…

I’d like to extend my thanks to Joe for taking the time out to show us around and telling us exactly how they do their thing.

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I guarantee you’ll be seeing a lot more of Joe and his folks’ beers – the quality, branding and style, plus their obvious passion for doing what they love will see the Warped Wing empire expanding rapidly.

I insist that you go there and take in some of their beer and hospitality if you’re in the area.

http://www.warpedwing.com/

 

Adnams getting all “crafted up”…

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Ok, ok, I know.  “crafted up” is such a wanky turn of phrase, but on a pub-less Friday lunchtime I couldn’t help myself.

Anyway; It seems Adnams are producing some very exciting beers, either in partnership with other brewers or all by themselves.  Folks, this is precisely the sort of thing that all brewers should be doing: keep a good solid range that’ll always get drunk and give yourself license to experiment..and when you do, shout it from the rooftops.

Look at these last couple of press releases from the Adnams site:

A double IPA in collabortaion with Mitch Steele from Stone Brewing:  http://adnams.co.uk/about/news/beer-news/new-wetherspoon-beer-stone-brewing-double-ipa/

Jack Brand Mosaic Pale Ale:  http://adnams.co.uk/about/news/beer-news/jack-brand-mosaic-pale-ale-coming-soon/  (I’m first in line for this when I go to visit the in-laws in Suffolk)

A red Ale with Camden Town Brewery:  http://adnams.co.uk/about/news/beer-news/adnams-collaborates-with-camden-town-brewery/  (Red ale doesn’t sound that exciting, but look at the hop bill: Topaz, Summer, Ella and Galaxy – it’ll be a fruit salad of a beer!)

Well done, Adnams,  I look forward to trying these beers and putting my thoughts into print.

Siren: Sound Wave IPA

SoundwaveAs I was still reeling about after drinking Sound Wave, I forgot to photograph it.  If this is your photo let me know…

Ah.  Siren’s beers…this is where the effusiveness-o-meter generally starts going off the scale a bit; I’ll try to be objective and not gush too much.

Sound Wave pours a really lovely clear amber-gold colour. I don’t know how they work out their carbonation rates (I’ve tried working it out for my beers and always go with a half to a quarter teaspoon of unrefined cane sugar – with variable success) but Siren have it pretty much smack on.  As I never tire of saying, thoughtful carbonation can only do your beer good.

With a delicious looking head atop and a slight haze – most probably from dry hopping (yum) – this is a tasty looking and pretty beer.

The aroma is gorgeous: candyish sweetness, floral and citrus hop notes, fruity yeastiness, and with a smooth malt note running through, it’s bloody glorious.

On the taste I get resin, pine, citrus and floral notes from the hops, a little bitterness and a subtle honeyed malt character, with a dry and not over-the-top bitter finish.

On the after-taste lingering echoes of bitter and pine needles and floral dominate.

This is a special beer and is something that a lot of other brewers would do well to study in order to understand what beer should be aspiring to in 2014 and onwards.

On balance, I think I prefer Siren’s Liquid Mistress (https://yeastismybitch.com/2013/11/07/siren-liquid-mistress/) as that has a smidge more malt sweetness, whereas Sound Wave is a touch drier…but that’s just me.

Pick either of them and enjoy – they’re both bloody marvellous.

http://www.sirencraftbrew.com/our-corebeers/

North Cotswold Brewery: Cotswold Best

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Very pale for a best, with a decent stickyish-looking head and a slight haze…but it was served rather cold, so might have been a touch of chill haze?  The nose was pleasant and grainy and didn’t contain much in the way of hop character – but why should it?  It’s a best bitter…

The body was generous, and had a light maltiness about it with an almost nutty quality.

There was a good strong bitterness in the after taste, and a nice long lingering maltiness about it, too…

Not my idea of a best bitter, seemed more like a summer beer to me.  In any case it was tasty, thirst-quenching, refreshing and just what I was after on a lunchtime in Stratford-upon-Avon.

http://www.northcotswoldbrewery.co.uk/our-beers/

We ate at No.9 Church Street (http://www.no9churchst.com/) which we always make a beeline for whenever we’re in Stratford.  They do a nice fixed price lunchtime or pre-theatre menu, which is always excellent – especially the Steak Bavette.  Mmmm.  Their friendly and knowledgeable staff are an additional bonus, too.

Flying Dog: Raging Bitch

20140103_195432Hold onto your hats, we’re off again with another offering from Flying Dog…this time it’s the charmingly named Raging Bitch.  As I said previously I’m kinda liking Flying Dog’s style (if maybe not all of their beers)

I was particularly interested in trying this one as it’s a US IPA made with Belgian yeast and I like an IPA, and I most definitely like Belgian beer too…

Raging bitch pours with a really charming looking sparkly dense head and has a really lovely amber colour about it.  Extraordinarily, the Belgian yeast is detectable in the aroma from over a foot away; in my book that’s a very good thing indeed.

On the nose I got clean floral hops and some of the sweet Belgian yeast phenolics, plus a nice background dose of bready malt too.

To be quite honest I expected the hops to leap and punch me on the nose in the typical IPA manner, but they didn’t…but I guess too much hoppiness would rob one of that pure joy that is a nice Belgian yeast aroma.

 In the taste, both the hops and the yeast character arrive together – making for a powerful hit, couple this with a powerfully alcoholic wallop and you really get something to think about.

The aftertaste has a lovely lasting hop note and echoes of the Belgian character.  There’s also a good long, lasting, bitterness too.

It’s all very interesting but I just don’t know if the hop-forward and yeast-forward styles can be melded together like this.  I guess, a bit like Magic Rock’s Dark Arts, it’s something that I’ll have to try and reconcile as I taste, enjoy and re-evaluate many more bottles of it.

Definitely worth a punt if you should see it…

http://flyingdogales.com/beers/raging-bitch/

Flying Dog: Underdog Transatlantic Lager

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Hmm.  Lager is one of those styles that seems to carry more baggage than Joan Collins on a trip to Barbados.

The English drink more lager than any other type of beer – an interesting fact that I’ve just made up, but surely must be true…  Theoretically the English should be connoisseurs of the style…

…but unfortunately they’re not.  The English tend to like mass-produced fizzy piss in cans or served out of kegs “down the boozer”

Generic Lager is usually a bland, tasteless, uninteresting vehicle to oblivion…and if that’s not bad enough, big breweries encourage English drinkers to “enjoy” it ice cold (it’s all the rage you know) so it tastes of even less.  Your average punter may as well be drinking yellow soda water…

So with all of that in mind, I buried my prejudices and took an objective stance when tasting Underdog from Flying Dog…hoping that it might be a revelation and open a whole new avenue of beer enjoyment to me.

My beer arrived in it’s bottle accompanied by a dirty glass – a glass with someone’s phone number in lipstick on it that was only partially washed off.  Nice.  Fortunately the staff at The Pinto Lounge in Banbury were able to replace it with minimal fuss.  I’m afraid that I can’t be too effusive about the burger that I ordered, I mean it was nice enough, but it was so small and measly (as was the portion of chips)…and was a complete non-snip at nearly a tenner.  Look:

 

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Anyway, the Underdog bottle itself is a work of art…literally.  Good Old Ralph Steadman – my edition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is illustrated by him…

Underdog was a typically lagery yellow with sprightly running beads of carbonation.  The aroma was fresh smelling – just like a lager should be – with a slightly grainy note and a faintly bready malty sort of thing about it.

The taste was fresh, clean, and not that remarkable. I know lagers are supposed to be clean-tasting but this was too clean – almost empty tasting, I was able to detect some hoppiness and then an inevitable clean bitterness.

Maybe I’m just not a lager liker…I think I’ll have to try a couple of others to see of I can find an example I really dig…

http://flyingdogales.com/beers/underdog-atlantic-lager/

Gentse Stadstbrouwerij: Gruut (Bruin)

 

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Well this is exciting isn’t it?  A beer without hops, instead using a variety of herbs and spices to bring flavour instead…so far as I understand the herbal mixture that goes into Gruut can be anything along the lines of: sweet gale, mugwort, yarrow, ground ivy, horehound, and heather.

Other herbs used over the years have included: black henbane (which I thought was a constituent of witches flying potions – as it is powerfully and sometimes fatally hallucinogenic?!), juniper berries, ginger, caraway seed, aniseed, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sometimes even hops!

Like all good producers of Gruut, the Stadstbrouwerij folks are letting on what’s in theirs.  Suffice to say that I’m sure there isn’t any Henbane…at least I’m fairly sure there wasn’t as I definitely wasn’t flying by the end of it…

Out of the bottle it was best bitter brown and bore aloft a fine, off-tan head.

The aroma was yeastily fruity, a little phenolic, with some banana, and a nice background note of sweetness – also in the mix was a little spicy note, too.

Once I’d ploughed through the ample effervesence, the taste was sweetly malty – or maybe even herbally sweet?  With bubblegum, phenol and some considerable alcohol.

The aftertaste was of lingering sweetness, a nice alcoholic warmth with a touch of peppery spiciness on the end.  There was pretty much zero in the way of bitterness, but that’s to be expected…I suspect a herbal bitterness is very different animal to a smooth hop bitterness, so I can see why the style ended up being sweetish.

On the whole, I liked Gruut, but would have liked some bitterness, if only to trade off against the alcoholic strength.  This is without doubt Belgian in origin as the yeast is so much a part of the overall product.