Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to Imbibe Live, an annual exhibition for those involved in all aspects of the drinks industry. For little me it was, frankly, overwhelming with so much to see, taste and do. Unfortunately, at the time I was able to make it there wasn’t much beer stuff on, but there were lots of interesting talks I wish I could have gone to, such as Ben McFarland’s Beer Trends for 2014 and the Beer Academy’s master class. Oh well. Next time!
While there I bumped into my friend Susannah of Drink Britain, who plonked me on to a Beer Safari with the one and only Jane Peyton, current Beer Sommelier of the Year. Who better to show me the good stuff?!
We started at one of my favourite places: Meantime. Of course the downside of this was that I knew what I was getting, but when what I was getting was Yakima Red, one of my favourite beers OF ALL TIME….it wasn’t so bad.
But then, out of the corner of my eye, I spied a sparkling gem…
Look at this! It’s beautiful! It comes in a tube! It is, as you might expect from the name, an imperial stout. At least that’s what it said on the label, but…this is no imperial stout, it’s clearly a black IPA. Dark and roasted notes, but with a sharp citrusy nose and bitter finish, this is one I need to get my hands on. Perfection.
After that we were whisked off to Marston’s for a taste of their hefeweizen from the Revisionist Series. I don’t want to dwell, but the most accurate description came from another safari attendee who said, ‘It’s like they made a decent beer and then diluted it’.
Annnnnnnnnnnnyway! With that behind us we popped along to see WEST Brewery, a brewery that I have a lot of time for and particularly love their ‘German head, Glaswegian heart’ ethos.
The difference in their hefeweizen was incredible. The look, the smell and the taste just screamed quality. Packed with bananas and cloves, it had the perfect balance of tangy citrus flavours and smooth, creamy vanilla with a dry finish. Yum yum in my tum. I must find some more of this and fill the fridge with it.
We also tried their Munich Red, another crowd pleaser, although perhaps it had a little less impact after the beauty of the hefeweizen.
Next up was another brewery I like a lot: Palm. Palm is my trusty beverage that I always come back to if I fancy something uncomplicated and refreshing. I always associate it with chilling out on the South Bank, as they have it at the BFI bar and Studio 6 (one of my favourite restaurants) so overall Palm has good connotations for me.
I hadn’t tried it out of a can before, but was pleasantly surprised at how completely undifferent (yes, that’s a word now) it was, with no metallic taste to it at all. I haven’t seen these about- are they available yet? Can I buy an additional ‘summer fridge’ to put these in please?
Andy, their UK Brand Manager, was on hand to give us some interesting facts about Palm, including the reason for the use of the Belgian Draft Horse on the label. The Belgian Draft Horse has an amber coloured coat and a thick white mane, precisely the colours of a pint of Palm! Not only that, but they now have initiatives in place to preserve it from extinction. You can find out more here.
But what Andy didn’t tell us is that he was saving the best for last. Ahh, Rodenbach Grand Cru, the daddy of sour beers. Can you believe I’d never tried it? I think it’s because, ultimately, sours and guezes are not styles I would usually go for (sharp jelly sweets make my eye twitch). Anywho: my god. Rodenbach Grand Cru is one of the most delicious beers I have ever tasted in my life. It’s just pure perfection. Cherries and red wine and sweet and sour and every tiny sip presenting a new and exquisite taste sensation. Just absolutely wonderful. This is the sort of beer you would serve at a wedding (watch out friends with upcoming nuptials- present spoiler!)
Can we do beer safaris every weekend please?