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/

 

Craft beer at the Indian? The Standard – Walton Street, Oxford

20140726_193933How bloody nice is that, eh?

I went out for a curry at the Standard on Walton Street in Oxford with some friends on Saturday night and was astounded to find that they had a craft beer menu.  Yes, you read that right.  A CRAFT BEER MENU.

James told me that he booked the restaurant solely because they had Thornbridge Jaipur as a drinks option.

I salute him and The Standard…which, as it turns out, was far from standard: really excellent food, cooked to perfection.  I had a bit of Pand’s poached prawns in coconut, lime and chilli and it was heavenly.  My Mirch Massalla (not far removed from Chicken Jalfrezi) was magnificent, too.

And if you don’t like Jaipur (maybe because you’ve got something wrong with you) there’s also Isis Pale Ale from the Compass Brewery – which is also an absolute corker of a beer, plus a whole small supporting cast of other choices.

Go, book a table and enjoy first class food served with first class beer:

http://www.standardoxford.com/drinksmenu/

Goose Island IPA

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No preamble for this one.  Let’s just get straight on with it.  With beer this good there’s no time for pissing about…

Hoik off the cap, pour it out. Observe that topping of fluffy white head, check out the 15ish EBC golden colour.

Get down and dirty with that nose of yours, inhale deeply. What do you get? POW! Bright, bright hops: ozoney, bracing walks on deserted windswept beaches; tart lemon, comely sprigs of tarragon, the enticing pungent note of finest Dutch nederweit.  Heady stuff indeed.

Taking a sip brings a brief sweet ‘n’ dry malt distraction before 50 or so IBUs of bitterness mounts an assault on your senses; but this is just the warm-up act…after that a ton of hoppy sour-grapefruit rinds and crushed pine needles queue up to prickle and provoke the back and sides of your tongue.

After a short while the bitterness is back upon you and redoubles as you swallow. The aftertaste is bitter and citrus-piney and goading you to drink again and again.

Punk IPA is like this, but not as joined up. Goose Island IPA is modern classic.  Don’t buy it if you see it…actively seek it out and buy it.

Oh and everything…

I got my bottle – the empty of which I wept over as I put it in the recycling bin – for £1.80 from everyone’s favourite supermarket shysters: Sainsbury’s*.

(*I am expecting a letter from their solicitors soon.  But hey, Sainsbury’s, there’s only one thing worse than being talked about and that’s not being talked about.  There…does that help?)

http://www.gooseisland.com/pages/india_pale_ale/18.php

The Craft Beer Company, Leather Lane, London, EC1N 7TR

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First off, thanks to Oracle for organizing their CloudWorld seminar in the Excel centre yesterday, and thanks to my colleague Karl for plotting us a route back to Marylebone via the Craft Beer Company’s Leather Lane establishment.

The premises are an old, slightly dingy, wood panelled, corner pub at the bottom end of Leather Lane.  Nothing really has been done to the internal decor, so it’s not been poncified, jazzed up or anything else – lending a corner boozer, old-world charm to the place…you know, a bit like city pubs were before the chains came and replaced all the old features with new, reproduction, pretend old features…

All of which means that you get to concentrate solely on the beer, and by crikey have they got some!  We counted at least 18 on keg, and another 16 or so on hand-pull/beer-engine.  The fridges are literally bulging with extraordinary bottles, some of which I’ve only ever seen in books – cuvee rene gueze being one of them, amongst a ton of other exciting UK and US craft specialities.

I felt the need for something over-the-top hoppy, so asked the chap behind the bar for “something with far, far, too many hops in it” and got a half of an unbranded keg IPA, which was supremely bitter and so stuffed with hops I thought I would faint.  Marvellous stuff and at 6.9% kept me satisfied throughout.  (This is precisely the type of beer that I try to make at home, and will be soon…hops and grain will be ordered in the next day or so)

Continuing my hoppy theme, I plumped for a half of Jaipur on tap (as I’ve never come across it on tap before) and that was a touch thinner than the preceding IPA, but more spritzy in it’s hoppiness and was again just what I was after on a wet and grey London afternoon.

Karl, meanwhile, had a Kernel single hop pale ale, brewed with Nugget hops.  I had a small taste and as with all Kernel beers was excellent, slightly grassy and pleasantly resiny with a good bitter edge.  He then went for the Buxton US Rye Amber ale, which was pleasantly malty with just enough hoppiness to help things along…I’m afraid I don’t have much else to say about this particular beer as I was lost in hoppy no-name IPA and Jaipur reverie by this point!

I need some sort of excuse to get up to Leather Lane again (or one of the other branches – see the website, below) in the near future as there’s just too many interesting beers to get down my hairy throat.

The beer selection is also “reassuringly priced” and with no TV, games machines or other guff means that it keeps the “pub wankers” out…

Great stuff!

http://thecraftbeerco.com/