I have to do this post; Mainly because a man has offered to lend me his bottling equipment. That is more than enough reason to give him air time on my blog. Additionally, he gave me a bottle of his beer. That is also, in most cases, enough incentive for me to blog about the beer. Unless of course the beer is so bad that I'd embarrass the brewer by giving an honest account.
The beer in question is Loweswater Gold 4.3%. It's light, as you'd expect from something with "gold" in the name, and got a distinctly grassy nose. Bittering is well balanced against a sweet body to give a "Tropical fruit flavour" and a long lasting finish. For a light beer it has quite a good full body, often lacking in the light hoppy genre of today's modern beers. I'd prefer something a bit more malty to balance out the hops, like their Grasmoor, which is just delicious.
Originally this beer was brewed at The Kirkstile Inn at Loweswater. Roger decided to buy the Cumbria Legendary Ales brewery to help him achieve efficient throughput and keep up with demand at the pub. As a result the majority of the Loweswater beers will now be brewed at Esthwaite Old Hall rather than The Kirkstile Inn. Purists might lament this change but I know very well that the economics of small breweries such as my own and Loweswater, both capable of little more than 2 barrels per brew, are very tight.
I visited the brewery at Esthwaite recently, which was when I was given the bottle of beer I've just drunk. Situated next to Esthwaite water it's a most tranquil place to situate a brewery. When I got there everybody was outside finishing lunch sat in the June sunshine. Why do people like to work in cities again? What I can't work out is why I never took a picture of the view out of the brewery window. Hayley is such a lucky brewer to have a view like that out of her "office".
Another change Roger has instigated, and possibly to my advantage, is the change from hand bottled to contract bottled with Cumbria Contract Bottling. I've used this method myself to get beer into bottle. Nick and friends at Lillyhall do an excellent job of bottling and making the beer taste very similar to the cask version. I am reluctant to use any other method for bottling general session ales. OK, it's not bottled conditioned, but the costs associated with bottle conditioning at our volume cannot really be justified for session ales at the low price they can command. The Loweswater Gold mentioned here has been from Esthwaite to Lillyhall, back to Esthwaite and now found its way to my tummy while I'm sat here typing at The Woolpack Inn. Despite my slight reservations about it being too light for my tastes, the transfer to bottle matches the cask version very well indeed.
However - hand bottling stronger special beers, now that might be a different matter. Watch this space, as they say.