The last meet-the-brewer at Port Street for 2012 turned out to be a real humdinger. No surprise, really, as the party concerned were Hawkshead; who consistently brew some of the finest beers in the land. And who, with Windermere Pale, have one of the most suppable beers that money can buy.

Although the Cumbrian massive came down mob-handed, it was left up to Matt Clake, the brewer, to do all the talking. As you would expect from a fella from the land of hobbits, it was informal and pitched just right. We had an interesting discourse throughout the night, but unfortunately (not for him) as their beers are too damn good, I was unable to offer my usual services in brewing correction.

Of course WPA had to be drank, as did far too much of the tweaked New Zealand Pale Ale which, despite being boozy, is seriously addictive. There was also a welcome outing for the often overlooked Brodie’s Prime. This is a tasty dark treat that was one of the forerunners for many of today’s black IPAs.

However, it was the presence of two very special offerings on cask that had the beerati on their knees thanking the Great Spirit in the sky. Both of these were unique as usually they’d go straight for bottling. Both were Imperial Stouts of 8.3% that had been aged for six months in oak whisky barrels from Bladnoch Distillery in Lowland Scotland.

The first was full of beautifully balanced coffee-whisky flavours with a little bit of chocolate thrown in. Very nice for sitting by a fire with on a cold winter’s day. The second one was made with Lyth Valley damsons; with the addition of vanilla to offset the sourness. It was an interesting concoction that split opinion. Some people raved about it, others (me included) preferred the first one and, for some, it proved an Imperial Stout too far. 

An excellent finale to the 2012 MTB events. And 2013 promises to be just as interesting.


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