Thursday 18 June 2009

Liquid Gold

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.


Alistair Reece said...

Any chance of shipping said beers to the US? Would love to try them and write about your stuff!

Unknown said...

Shipping beer to the US seems to be difficult. We've found that non of the various carriers permit alcohol to be shipped. I've tried but it seems the liquor laws in the States prohibits it unless done via an authorised importer.

Our normal stuff is expensive to produce due to the economies of scale involved. For instance the minimum supply price for a 3.8% beer would be around £24 for a case of 12x500ml which I think most people would baulk at. Shipping would add to that.

But still, we are working on a stronger hand bottled product probably in 750ml bottles that I hope will be of interest. The value of the product in the bottle will be greater than the bottling cost. If I can find a way of getting a sample of that to you I will be only too pleased once we are happy for the product to go out.

Perhaps there is a UK address I can send some samples to and then somebody else can take responsability for transit across the pond?

Jeff Pickthall said...

I'm an experienced international beer smuggler. Look no further.

Unknown said...

Ah, yes Jeff, and I believe you are extremely adept at it.

Velky Al, If you buy Jeff a plane ticket he'll carry beer wherever you want.