As we know, real ale is enjoying a surge in sales and popularity. Microbreweries appearing here,there and everywhere. The choice of real beer seems to widen from day to day, as brewers increase production, to cope with demand. Over 900 breweries now in the UK. Who would have thought that a few years ago? Not many, would be the deafening response!
One part of the industry that has seen change over recent years, is the number of female brewers that have risen to prominence. Or 'Brewsters' as they are commonly known. They are brewing some wonderful beers, that spark your taste buds into life. And I recently had the ideal opportunity to attend a beer festival, totally dedicated to female brewers.
It was run by Moorhouse's Brewery in Burnley, at their impressive visitors centre. It was a most enjoyable evening.
Mind you, the main reason for attending, was to sample the tasting session, conducted by renowned and respected beer writer, Melissa Cole. One of Melissa's books, 'Let Me Tell You about Beer', is a great read, and one I would thoroughly recommend.
The session was most educational, and gave me the chance to sample many of these great tasting beers.
I have highlighted four of my favourite beers. Ones that 'stood out from the crowd', so to speak.
First beer to impress me was by Sophie de Ronde, head brewer at Brentwood Brewery in Essex. Sophie had brewed a great 'old ale' named 'Chockwork Orange'.A deep chocolate, long malty tasting beer. Brewed with oranges, to give it a nice, zingy,citrus flavour. Wow! What a beer.And full bodied too, at 6.5%!
Second on the block, was another dark beer. Pam Honeyman's 'Midnight' from the Monty's Brewery in Montgomeryshire , Mid Wales. It was a sensational stout. Arguably my favourite of the night.It had everything in a quality stout, and more. This creamy delight was heavy on fruit flavours, and typically roasty and malty. At 4% ABV, I could quite happily have supped it all night. Take a bow Monty's Brewery. In production for only three years. Rapid progress indeed, since 2009.
The quality quaffing continued and the Prospect Brewery from here, up north, in Wigan, had 'rolled out' a great, refreshing, light, golden ale named 'Silver Tally'. It also had a full hop flavour, which I love. No wonder its their best seller. Patsy Slevin is the head brewer, and she has brewed one classic beer here. One is amazed at the skills required to cram so much flavour in a beer.
Prospect, as the name suggests, theme their beers on mining. Wigan has a long history of mining, as you probably know, and its nice they pay tribute to a great British industry.
Last, but not least, was another superb stout from Wales. Sue Hayward from Waen Brewery, Caersus in Powys, Mid Wales, had really got the taste buds dancing, with her tasty Blackberry Stout at 3.8%. It certainly must have impressed the tutor at the tasting session, Melissa Cole, as she had devoted a full page to it, in her book,'Let Me Tell you About Beer'! A roast coffee flavour, typical in stouts, but with a definate fruity, blackberry finish.How blooming skilful is that! Well done Sue, quality in the extreme.:-)
In conclusion, I must pay homage to the 'Brewsters' who are producing beers of the highest quality. The different tastes are a delight. An array of flavours, unheard of in beer, only a few years ago. Aye, real ale continues a pace in popularity and production. And feminine skills are certainly playing a part in that. Long may it continue......:-)