After a few months of laying low, Chester Beer Appreciation Society has made a much anticipated come-back under new management. After the Father of CBAS Andy Tabberer took a step back from fronting the group to concentrate on other adventures, the fate of CBAS was uncertain.
It’s good to see the return of the jolly group of beer lovers under the guiding hand of Simon Tiplady. Last month CBAS gathered in the Artichoke for German beer and German food and organised fun in the form of beer education by Ben Hodgkinson from James Clay Beers. There were prizes to be won on beer trivia (and sometimes sheer luck) and the overall night was a glorious success. A glass was raised to absent friends (Andy) and a there was a solemn wow to keep the meetings going.
And so they did. Yesterday beer lovers of Chester gathered again to celebrate their love towards all things ale, this time under the roof of one of Chester’s oldest pubs; the Pied Bull. There was a promise of American beers, some brewed on the premises, and some good old home-cooked grub. These were all delivered in a relaxed and informal manner.
Yesterday’s beer event was very different to last months’. Where as last time the beer knowledge and history-buffing was part and parcel of the overall organisation of the night, this time the emphasis was on enjoying the different varieties of beer and discussing the differences between them. A few words were said about the beer as it was being served, but this was not the emphasis of the night. If you had questions, Tom Sinclair, head brewer at the Pied Bull micro brewery (and personally responsible for brewing some of the night’s offerings) was at hand at all times to fence them.
The overall feeling of the night was very different from event, but so were the venues. Pied Bull is a traditional pub whereas the Artichoke is a modern bistro bar. The beers were very different as well; German beers just cannot be compared to American beers, especially since some of the beers offered were brewed on premises and fresh from the tap.
It’s good to see that CBAS is staying true to its history of diversity. They have never concentrated on a certain kind of place or certain kind of beer, and their mission has always been to educate as much as entertain. I learned a lot about American beer and Tom got his views confirmed. A win-win scenario.
And now on to the beers. We were offered six different American (or American inspired) beers, and whereas we on some cases disagreed due to my undying love towards malty dark ales and Tom’s unwavering affection to the paler side, we have tried to gather as coherent and comprehensive notes as possible. Here goes:
Maui Brewery – Mana Wheat Beer 5.5%
There is a distinctive taste of tinned pineapple, and the pineapple cuts through the wheat so completely it’s almost unrecognisable as a wheat beer, although it
does have the haziness you come to expect from a wheat beer. The beer starts out as sour and goes sweeter towards the end, with the numbing taste of cloves at the back. It’s not too sweet, doesn’t become sickly, nor is it unpleasant, but definitely could not have more than a half pint on a hot summers day in a sunny beer garden to start of a session. Two out of five.
Pied Bull Micro Brewery – CBAS American Ale 4.0%
Tom could smell the Cascade and Chinook hops immediately on this one. According to him, all hops that start with a “C” are good. Exact science, that, you see. The beer was brewed especially for the CBAS night, so we felt really privileged to be one of the first to try it. The beer had a very welcoming aroma, and hit you with the hops in the first instance. However the taste washed away very quickly and there was no real aftertaste, for me anyway. Tom thought he was left with a sour note. However, we also got served a sample of the beer poured with a sparkler on the nozzle, and this seemed to bring the taste together. It had a much rounder taste and there was no sourness and it seemed to achieve what it had set out to be: a fuller, rounder session beer. Goes to show that pouring the beer Southern style sucks. Three out of five.
Pied Bull Micro Brewery – Sitting Bull American IPA 5.0%
Second beer brewed by Mr Sinclair, this beer had a floral aroma, a tangy taste of orange peel or tangerines and leaves you with a bitter finish. Massively dry-hopped with Amarillo hops, which gave the beer it’s dryness. An extremely pleasant beer that gives you great depth and texture. Definitely one of the best beers the hop-loving brewer of Pied Bull has created. Four out of five.
Pied Bull Micro Brewery & Quantum Brewery – Sinclair APA 5.7%
This beer was a collaboration with Tom from the Pied Bull and Jay from Quantum Brewery. A malty number that doesn’t make it easy to decide upon it. A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure, and that is definitely the case with this one. Our resident brewer expert sat on our table suggested this beer might have been mashed too hot at the brewing stage which would have caused the slightly schizophrenic taste, but we really could not put our finger on this beer. It wasn’t unpleasant in any way but it lacked a certain amount of depth. Tom would have another one just to make up his mind, I would move on. Average three out of five.
Flying Dog – Raging Bitch 8.3%
Perhaps it’s the Belgian yeast that separates this gem from the other American ales, perhaps it’s the exquisite hops, but whatever it is this exciting, interesting and enticing beer is one of my personal favourites, and Tom is a keen fan of this dark amber produce. It has the balance of a much weaker beer but really, you only notice the voltage in it after the effect kicks in. Great depth of flavour and a deep malty aftertaste, this beer stays with you
long after you’ve drank it. Five out of five.
Stone’s – Ruination 7.7%
By this point I think it’s fair to say the effects of the Raging Bitch were upon us
as all we have in our notes is “TOP MARKS” and “so sweet and so hoppy”. This is a familiar beer to us from before, and we are so glad it was included in the beer list. Nothing exceeds like excess and that is exactly what this beer is. It’s an ode to hops and has a sweet and deep taste that attacks the palate. It’s a beer everyone should try. Five out five on this one.
Long story short, long live the new CBAS. Here’s to many more successful events.