Last night saw the latest instalment of meet the brewer at Port Street Beer House. Yesterday’s lucky recipient of Manchester hospitality was Mark from Dark Star brewery. DS are considered among the premier league of current brewers in the UK, so you really should know all about them already. However, you can check their website out here.
The evening followed the tried and tested path of Mark telling us a little about the brewery and then introducing a series of beers. There were five samples, plus a bonus glass of Hophead.
Rye & Juniper 5.2%
This is a seasonal special based on a Flemish beer style.
Malts: Low colour Malt, Munich, Cara Gold, Malted Rye
Hops: Perla, Mount Hood, Amarillo, Columbus
The freshly crushed Junipers were an interesting twist that were more evident in the aroma than the body. What you did get was a pleasingly dry beer with some bitterness in the aftertaste. My favourite DS beer of the evening.
Malt: Pale Ale malt
Hops: Warrior, Crystal, Cascade, Columbus, Chinook
This was what their APA beer was supposed to be like 10 years ago. Back then, a 5.7% beer was considered unsalable, but times have changed. Hence this new beer. Although I have to agree with those that thought it suffers from comparison with APA.
We were given the opportunity to try both the cask and keg version of this. Mark made clear his preference for the cask version and most people seemed to agree. Certainly the subtleties were lost in the keg version with tangerine flavours erased completely.
Black Coffee Pilsner 4.8%
Malt: Cara Bohemian, Bohemian Pilsner, Acidulated Malt, Roast Barley
Hops: Zatec Saaz
Despite a large infusion of Union Roast Coffee beans, this left many disappointed. Unfavourably comparisons with their Espresso were made and “thin”, “lacking complexity” and “just coffee” were some of the comments made.
Imperial Stout 10.5%
Malt: Maris Otter, Flaked Barley, Roast Barley, Crystal Malt
Hops: Target, East Kent Goldings
This one polarised opinion. Many lapped it up, but I was in the camp that thought too much Crystal Malt and too much alcohol.
That brought the formal-but very enjoyable-evening to a close. However, as the bar was still open and it was the start of PSBH’s Best of British, it seemed wrong to leave.
Some exceptional beers were then had. And all on keg. Would you Adam & Eve it? Camden’s USA Helles was a revelation and went down quicker than the Titanic. Quantum’s Pale Ale was beautifully crisp and dry. But the star of the bunch was Kernel’s Citra/Amarillo Pale Ale which had a tropical fruit aroma that you would sell your mother for and a drinkability off the scale.
An interesting evening with some excellent beers, some excellent cheese courtesy of High Weald Dairy and some excellent tunes, courtesy of the Boss and Mr Zimmerman. And respect to owner Jonny who obviously knows his music pedigree and has called his first-born, Leonard Isaac Hayes.