February has been an excellent month for quality beers. I have been awarding gold medals out on a regular basis and there have been quite a few near misses too. I won't normally do an update each month but as it is now 6 months since I began my quest to sample a pint of draft beer from as many different breweries as possible I thought it would be a good idea to issue my latest awards along with an update on how my quest is going.
Firstly, I will dish out my latest batch of gold medals. In alphabetical order these are :-
Abbeydale Moonshine (4.2% ABV). I had a pint of this last night in The Oak at Warwick. An absolutely superb pint served in perfect condition. It is a very pale, hoppy beer with hints of grapefruit. I love the hoppiness and it is extremely refreshing. No hesitation in awarding a gold to this one.
Black Sheep Best Bitter (3.8% ABV). This beer really surprised me. It looked like a traditional session bitter with a beautiful deep chestnut colour. It had a fantastic crisp bitterness, a spicy fruitiness followed by a long bitter finish and aftertaste. I could not imagine this beer being any better in Masham. It was perfection and it was also consumed in The Oak at Warwick. Testament to a superbly managed cellar.
Byatts Brewery Urban Red (4.5% ABV). This beer was found at the Benjamin Satchwell, one of two Wetherspoons pubs in Leamington. I do tend to love red beers and this was a perfect example. A rich ruby colour, a subtle malty taste and plenty of spicy fruits and a gentle bitter aftertaste.
Byatts Brewery XK Dark (3.5% ABV). The second award for the fabulous Byatts Brewery of Coventry. This was a very surprising beer as I was expecting a mild but it had an intense roast bitterness along with a slight sweetness making it taste more like a stout. A complex yet stunning beer. This was consumed in the excellent Wild Boar in Warwick, a pub that is rapidly becoming my favourite in Warwickshire.
Sadlers Ales Red IPA (5.7% ABV). This was my favourite Sadlers beer when I did my brewing experience with them and I was delighted to see it served in perfect condition at The Golden Bee in Stratford-on-Avon with its lovely rich chestnut colour. It has a big malty taste finely balanced with a full hop flavour. This is my third gold award to Sadlers Ales following on from their JPA and Mud City Stout. Now I'm excited to hear that they are brewing a Mud City Russian Stout next month at 9.9% ABV.
Wood Brewery Shropshire Lad (4.5% ABV). An unplanned stop at the Coach and Horses, Weatheroak Hill last week threw up this lovely beer. This was a massive surprise as I have had this beer before at beer festivals and was not expecting this. A rich malty beer packed with flavour with a subtle bitterness. It was served in magnificent condition.
Six gold awards in a month has set a record I think and there were some very near misses from the Slaughterhouse Brewery, Wye Valley, Warwickshire Beer Co. and Yeovil Ales. Special mention must go to the pubs that have served these fine beers in such excellent condition. The Oak and The Wild Boar in Warwick have never served me a poor point. The same can be said for the Golden Bee in Stratford-on-Avon.
So how is my quest coming along. In six months I have managed to drink a pint of draft beer in a pub from 90 different breweries. With over a thousand breweries now in the UK I have a long way to go but I expect to hit the hundred mark in the next few weeks. I have tried 132 different beers and awarded 24 gold medals. With my time working in Warwickshire coming to an end I have ticked off all but four breweries from this fine county and working somewhere else will give me new opportunities. You can be sure I will be here letting you know the good and the bad from whatever I come across.