Monday, 25 March 2013

Durham Brewery - four classic beer styles.

The Durham Brewery began brewing nearly twenty years ago.  Despite this long history it was not until about 7 years ago that I discovered their beers when I puchased a couple of their bottles at the Hogs Back Brewery bottle shop.  I think the first two beers I bought at the time were St Cuthbert and Benedictus.  They were both strong and full of flavour.  More recent visits to the same shop were not so productive though and I had to wait until last year when I visited Cotteridge Wines in Birmingham to try more of their beers. 

During my last visit to Cotteridge Wines I selected four of their beers to try over a single weekend.  This is no easy task as the beers I chose were all very strong and my doctor may have been horrified at the 18 units of alcohol I consumed over the three nights.  It was only four bottles of beer doc honestly!!

The Friday night beer, Bombay 106 (7.0% ABV), had the lowest strength. I really should have left this one for drinking with my Saturday night curry but next time I'll get it right.  It was very lively when I poured it due to taking it straight from my cold garage when I should have let it warm up a little first.  Despite these two errors I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It is a strong and full-flavoured traditional golden IPA made with traditional English hops.  It was quite bitter with a subtle citrussy hoppiness.  There was also a little spiciness to it initially before progressing to a lovely clean finish.  All Indian restaurants should stock a beer like this.  It would be a perfect accompaniment. 

I was now left with three beers over two nights which I brought out of the garage on Saturday morning giving them time to warm up a little.  I began my Saturday evening with Redemption (10.0% ABV), described as a ruby old ale.  This is a classic old ale.  Plenty of dark roasted malts with a nice thick hoppiness provided by the Fuggles hop.  It is like a liquid Christmas cake.  Plenty of rich fruits and it has a lovely smooth finish.  This has to be one of my favourite winter beers ever.  It is stunning.

It was my intention to just have the one beer and finish off the last two bottles on Sunday.  However, after drinking the Redemption rather quickly (it goes down so easily) I decided to open the Bede's Chalice (9.0% ABV).  Not a good idea really as they should probably not be consumed in the same session but hey ho.  Bede's Chalice is described as a Belgian Tripel.  It has that slight sourness common with the finest of Belgian beers and infused with coriander.  It has plenty of sweet fruit flavours such as peach and it has a complex malt character.  It is a magnificent example of this style of beer. 

Sunday evening and a single bottle remains to be consumed.  Temptation (10.0% ABV) is a classic Russian stout.  It is jet black with a full aroma of roasted barley.  It has a full thick sweet flavour once you get past the initial bitterness.  It is a sensational beer and I took my time with it and savoured it for well over a hour.  The aftertaste lingers forever and it complemented the strong cheddar cheese I was eating at the same time to perfection. 

So four very different beers from a single brewery.  Each beer is a stunning example of a classic beer style.  Each beer comes highly recommended.  My next task is to find a Durham Brewery beer in a pub.  Something I am yet to do despite the brewery being around for nearly two decades.  Perhaps a visit to Durham is in order. 

Happy drinking.

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