Blackjack beers are now a familiar sight around Manchester and, increasingly, further afield. Last week gave the crowd at Port Street Beer House to chance to meet the man behind the brand: Rob Hamilton. Rob used to work for Marble (not a bad way to learn the biz) before setting up in Gould St with their redundant 4.5 barrel plant. He made no secret of his terror at public speaking; hold the presses, not all brewers are loudmouths! But everyone who spoke to him that evening came away with the same impression: he’s a nice guy who would rather let his beers do the talking. And there’s nowt wrong with that.
Named after a New Zealand slang term for slot machines. This light and refreshing 3.6% pale ale boasts Pacific Gem, Pacific Jade and Wakatu hops and went down very well indeed.
CAMRA members drinking kegged lager? Some mistake, Shirley? Even worse, CAMRA members drinking kegged lager and liking it. This 5.2% offering was another winner, pleasantly fruity and not overly gassed. I’d agree with Rob that it would be even better if a tad dryer, but it’s still excellent, nonetheless.
The standard Blackjack IPA offers a triple-hop citrus kick and hides its 5.5% strength very well. Had this at the Marble Arch the next day and that merely consolidated my initial impression.
The new single-hop IPA at 5.2% was quite fruity with a more rounded finish than the Aces. As good as it was, there was some talk that this could be even better on cask.
King of Clubs Stout
This is the strongest beer that Rob can produce on his kit and comes with 6 different hops packed in and was left to mature for 6 months. Some lovely liquorice and chocolate in the nose, but perhaps a little too much alcohol in the finish for me. Another one I’d like to try on cask.
A very enjoyable evening was had by all: with the added bonus of some excellent cheese sandwiches. Cheese and beer, what's not to like?