Once upon a time in a wine merchants not at all far away (us in fact) we had so many wines that we couldn't resist stocking that we struggled to fit everything on the shelves. As a result the poor old beers didn't really get a look in. We stocked a small range of well-known brands so that anyone organising a party or event would have something to offer the beer drinkers but that was about it. But in 2012 this all began to change.
What brought about this change was simple - Space. When we opened the new shop on Dovehouse Parade the layout meant it had more shelf space more than the Livery Street store. This clearly meant we needed more delicious drinkables to fill that space, and rather than fill it with more wines we realised it was about damn time that we got a decent range of beers. Sensibly we started with a small, well-chosen selection that filled up one bay of shelves. Rather predictably, given our love of high quality hooch of any description, it didn't take long before one bay had become two. Two proved so popular we somehow crammed five in and there are two more waiting in the wings just awaiting the application of our somewhat remedial carpentry skills.
And that was just the start. The work that we've done in the Livery Street shop has allowed us to jump from having no more than a handful of beers to having a full eight sets of shelves awaiting filling. As a result we've seen a steady stream of new beers coming in on a weekly basis as we uncover new gems to take advantage of all that lovely space. Last week saw a particular bonanza so we thought that it was only fair to give you a quick(ish) run-down of the new treasures we have available.
Mad Hatter - Mad Hatter produce, in their own, wise, words "Boss beer from Liverpool". Like a lot of the microbreweries that are driving the current upsurge in British craft beer they've only been brewing for a relatively short time (founded in February 2013) but that hasn't stopped them from crafting a vast range of unusual and delicious beers.
Liverpool Tart 4.2% (2.89) A perfectly balanced Gose based on the traditional Scouse sweet treat. Sharp, crisp and zesty. The tang of salt halts any sweetness and gives a satisfying finish.
Absence of Strawberries 5.5% (2.95) This strawberrieless beer is a light Belgian style saison containing no strawberries, just the essence of their absence. Enjoy in the absence of strawberries and cream.
Bretter Than Life 5.5% (2.95) 100% fermented sour with a blend of six different strains of brettanomyces for a complex and fruity profile, and finished with Nelson Sauvin hops and elderflower
Sorachi Face Hugger 6.3% (2.99) Brewed with a Belgian yeast that provides notes of banana and clove, and single hopped with Sorachi Ace to give a lemon and coconut hop aroma. This beer hugs your face.
Unhinged Amber 7.4% (2.99) One of their original brews and everyone`s favourite mad amber ale stuffed full of dank (their word, not mine), resinous hops.
Imperious IPA 12.0% (5.00) Now more imperious than ever. A double mash and lots of blood, sweat and tears made this beer. Oh, and plenty of big juicy hops.
Hook Norton Brewery - No Johnny-come-latelys here. This family owned brewery dates back to 1849 and the current Victorian Tower Brewery boasts what is probably Britain's last steam engine that can still be used for its original purpose, things clearly change slowly in this corner of the Cotswolds.
Flagship 5.3% (2.69) Bottle conditioned. Originally brewed to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, Flagship is an India Pale ale style of beer. Admiral hops contribute to a full fruity mouth fell, and a sweet fruity aroma.
Loose Cannon Brewery - Opened their doors back in 2010 with just one beer, the Abingdon Bridge. Since then brewer Will has been crafting great beers that have brought him a string of awards. The Abingdon Bridge was a 2013 SIBA Regional Winner Gold in the Best Bitters category and Robust British Porter was 2015 SIBA National Silver & 2014 SIBA Regional Gold
Abingdon Bridge 4.1% (2.69)
Robust British Porter 5.0% (2.69)
Stroud Brewery - As well as being the birthplace of the lawnmower Stroud also boasts a very fine organic brewery. The brainchild of Greg Pilley, Stroud Brewery sprang into life in 2006 after Greg left his job at the Soil Association to pursue his love of brewing.
Tom Long 3.8% (2.99) Amber session beer with spicy citrus aroma. Good body for the low ABV.
Five Valleys 5.0% (2.99) Traditional chestnut coloured, rich and fruity strong ale.
Wiper & True - These Bristol based gypsy brewers have been creating quite a stir for themselves in their brief two and a half year history and now that they are setting down roots and building a new brewery all of their own there are going to be even more exciting things to come.
Small Beer 2.7% (2.95) Don't let the low ABV fool you - this is packed with flavour
Brewdog - Since 2007 Brewdog have been shaking things up on the UK brewing industry and tweaking noses left right and centre. From a standing start their growth has been nothing less than amazing and are undoubtedly Britain's best known craft brewer. With bars on three different continents it's probably fair to say that their reputation is now global.
Vagabond Pale Ale 4.5% (2.50) Gluten free, with a foundation of caramel malt, buttressed by a resinous bitterness and plenty of citrus and tropical fruit.
Nanny State 0.5% (2.15) Another beer where the modest strength belies a huge amount of flavour
Flying Dog - The Flying Dog Brewpub opened its doors in Aspen, Colorado in 1990, making flying Dog something of an elder statesman on America's craft brewing scene. Not that you would know it from their gleefully puerile, innuendo strewn beer names or their hallucinatory labels crafted by Ralph Steadman (who was introduced to Flying Dog by the legendary author, journalist, Colorado local, and connoisseur of all things booze and guns related, Hunter S. Thompson).
Easy IPA 4.7% (2.29) Aromas of grapefruit and subtle spice meld into lemon and pine hop notes balanced with crisp cracker malt. Pair this with tailgates, mowing the lawn, and anything else that calls for a light, yet flavourful, beer.
Anchor Brewing - Anchor Brewing can trace their roots back to 1849 and the California Gold Rush, when German brewer Gottlieb Brekle arrived in San Francisco. Despite a variety of setbacks over the centuries including a number of unforseen deaths amongst subsequent owners (including one being run over by a street car), the earthquake and fire of 1906 which destroyed the brewery, thirteen years of prohibition, the newly reopened brewery going up smoke in 1934, a year's closure in 1959 they are currently going from strength to strength.
Summer Beer 4.5% (2.29) Refreshing, light, thirst-quenching American-style filtered wheat beer.
Anderson Valley Brewing Company - One of California's most ecologically friendly breweries (which must put them pretty high up there on the world rankings). Over 50% of their electricity comes from their own $860,00, 125 kilowatt solar array. Water in the distillery gets used three or four times before it gets naturally filtered and used for irrigation afterwards(don't worry, for those of you with an overactive imagination the first time it is used is for cooling, then for heating, then for actual brewing or to clean up). And pretty much everything else that can be recycled can, even their brewhouse was recycled from two closed German breweries.
Boont Amber Ale 5.8% (3.25) Rich, crystal malts give a deep copper hue and a slight caramel sweetness while the herbal, spicy bitterness from carefully selected whole-cone hops impart a crisp, clean finish. Hints of sun toasted grain, toffee, and fruity esters compliment the mellow, noble hop aroma
Hop Ottin IPA 7.0% (3.49) Brewed and dry-hopped with copious amounts of Columbus and Cascade hops so it is a showcase of the bright citrusy aromas, bold grapefruit and pine-like flavours, and resiny bitterness that hop heads crave. With a brilliant, deep amber colour and solid malt backbone, hints of citron, roses, and bergamot climax with a dry, herbal finish in this well-balanced interpretation of a West Coast IPA.
Poleeko Pale 5.0% (3.19) Exceptionally flavorful and well-balanced. With a bright, citrusy hop profile and mild maltiness reminiscent of biscuits, the aromas of pink grapefruit and lemon zest
Sly Fox Beer - Like so many of America's current crop of craft breweries Sly Fox's roots lie in a brewpub when the Giannopoulos family started up the Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. As is often the case when the beer is so good local demand outstripped the ability of the modest on-site brewery to keep up so in 2004 a dedicated brewery was opened up.
Grisette Cans 5.6% (2.80) Grisette is a Belgian style ale which was originally brewed in the Hainaut province to be the beer of the miners in the area, just as Saison was the beer of the farmers. It was lighter than Saison and frequently contained wheat as well as barley malt (as does the Sly Fox version). The name is derived from the French word for "grey," referring to both the drab factory frocks worn by the young women (the Grisettes) who doled out pints as the men exited from the mines, and also the color of the cobblestone rock being mined.
Hitachino Nest - In 1996 the Kiuchi Sake Brewery decided to apply their Sake brewing know-how to making beer and the Hitachino Nest range was minted. Driven by the principles of Kodawari, a Japanese word (こだわり) meaning the uncompromising and meticulous engagement of perfection, and harnessing uniquely Japanese techniques and ingredients, they have earned something of a cult following.
Sweet Stout 4.0% (2.60) A perfect mixture of coffee, chocolate, and roasted flavors in the nose and on the palate. No bitterness, but sweet notes throughout to the very finish.
De Halve Maan - The only brewery whose products are actually brewed and lagered in Brugge (Bruges).
Brugse Zot Dubbel 7.5% (3.19) Classic dubbel with lots of dark, friuty malt, nicely spiced and good body.
Duvel Moortgat Brewery - A brewery that almost doesn't need introducing. Their classic Duvel is pretty much the definition of the Belgian Strong Pale Ale style. In 2007 they released a one-off edition where they added American Amarillo hops to the Saaz and Styrian Goldings hops that they normally use (boosting the alcohol from 8.5% to 9.5% at the same time). Fans had to wait for 2010 for another version when more than 10,00 people joined the 'We want Duvel Tripel Hop' Facebook page in response to a challenge from the CEO of Duvel Moortgat. The 2015 version has seen the of Equinox hops from the US
Tripel Hop Equinox 2015 9.5% (4.39) Just bursting with grapefuit, lemon and hints of green pepper.
Severn Cider - The Bull family have been making cider in Awre, Gloucestershire for three generations now and work with heritage varieties that they source locally from orchards that have been neither sprayed nor fertilised.
Severn Cider Dry Sparkling Perry 6.3% (3.10) Made predominately from Blakeney Red pears with a blend of other old varieties. These pears originate from the nearby village of Blakeney. Delicious as an aperitif
Severn Cider Dry Sparkling Cider 6.3% (2.89) Made from heritage varieties grown in Gloucestershire, an amber colour, dry, full apple flavour.