Dark Star Brewing - The Grand Triumvirate
Dark Star Brewing - The Beer Sessions
The breadth of variety and the quality of British beer constantly surprises. And that can be from a single brewer. Take our dear friends at Sussex-based Dark Star Brewing.
We recently enjoyed a mini beer festival at Tweed Towers, sampling three from Dark Star:
- Six Hop
Conditions for tasting session: Beers were drunk on a picnic rug in the back garden in early summer sunshine (between rain showers).
Thinking of a preferred order, we went for Sunburst first as it was the lightest of the beers. A seasonal summer golden ale, this was Mrs T's favourite. The beer has a light citrus flavour amongst the bite of hops. Delicious. A good picnic ale.
Next up was the sophisticated and stronger Six Hop. I like this bottle and label. Something of the Victorian about it. You could see Charles Darwin carrying a few on to HMS Beagle.
As the name suggests, this IPA-style beer is brewed using six varieties of hops, which gives the beer a satisfyingly hoppy complexity. Medium-bodied, the beer has fruitiness amongst the crisp bitterness of the hops. Refreshing.
It seemed sensible to finish with a coffee, or rather the Espresso beer. After consuming the first two beers we thought it amusing to go with the contrived photo above. For some reason I donned my very old John Partridge quilted jacket. I forget what that was meant to signify.
Anyway, about the beer. What we have is a stout made with freshly ground espresso coffee beans. I'm a big fan of stouts. Milk stouts. Chocolate stouts. Oyster stouts. Being a tea man, I'm never quite sure about anything coffee-flavoured.
I needn't have worried. Very tasty. The coffee aroma and taste are certainly in evidence, along with stoutish malt and caramel flavours to provide a balance of sweetness and bitterness. Nicely full-bodied.
A successful little festival. We may do another.
The Fall and Rise of the British Pub?
We're often bemoaning the decline of the British Pub at The Tweed Pig, normally in a nice pub with a good pint, so it was interesting to hear James Cuthbertson's take on the situation. James is the Company Director of Dark Star Brewing,
He tells us:
"There's no doubt that the smoking ban took its toll on many pubs, as has the recession, the tie that exists on some brewery agreements and the constant increases in duty.
"However we must also recognize that as a country we were probably 'over-pubbed'. Depending on who you listen to, we're losing pubs at a rate of between 20 and 40 a week, but whatever the source, the rate of decline is slowing. With the decline, I think we've also seen a rise in the quality of pub you'll find, licensees are getting better at the whole 'meet and greet' customer service thing, and it seems to be that food and drink standards are also on the up. On that basis, I'd like to think that whilst the industry is shrinking, the quality is rising and we'll soon find the right balance, so that licensees can make a living and pubs can remain at the very heart of the fabric of our communities."
Positive words. Let's hope that quality will out in the survival of the British pub, which, at their best, offer so much more than bland North American coffee chains that say nothing about the environs in which they're plonked.
Great Pub Tip
James provided us with the name of a hidden gem of a pub close to the Dark Star Brewery: The Royal Oak, Wineham. "A 30 minute cycle across country from the brewery and worth every turn of the pedal."
Tweedy's Request: Are you a quality pub, perhaps of historical interest, that serves great beers? If so, please get in touch. And if you're encompassed by a nice bicycle route, my Pashley Roadster would like to hear about that too.