On thursday next week we are changing the beers in the Library and Brasserie. This is the result of nearly two years worth of tasting and discussions with Wyn Reece of Fantone distribution. About a month or so ago, Andre, Henning and myself drove down to Altrincham to visit their HQ and taste a few beers. The visit was very educational for me, as beer is something that I havent really gotten into since my student days visiting the Camra beer festivals (a reasonably cheap way to get trolleyed!!).
So for me the beers that really stood out and excited my palate were these:
Little Creatures Pale Ale - a fantastic pale ale from Freemantle in Australia that is made by a consortium of winemakers including Janice McDonald of Stella Bella/Suckfizzle and Phil Sexton of Devils Lair and Giant Steps Winery. The bitter elements of the flavour come from their use of the whole hop flowers, and this is kept in balance with crisp grapefruity flavours with a touch of honeyed sweetness.
Orval - genuine Trappist beer from the Vallee d'Or in Luxembourg. Their use of wild natural yeasts results in a slightly sour edge to the otherwise hoppy, and autolytic yeasty flavours.
Mort Subite Kriek - one of my favourite beers of the tastings - a Lambic beer, that is one that is allowed to begin fermentation spontaneously from wild airborne yeasts. Cherries are added to the beer during fermentation to sweeten the otherwise sour flavour, giving the beer a bright reddish colour and a fine fruity flavour with real smoothness to it.
I must try and find a way of integrating some of these into the gastronomic menu, to create a wider tasting experience.