A Place at the Bar

toast1.jpgI make beer for drinking. At face value that seems like a ridiculous statement, surely all brewers make beer to be drunk. And of course they do. But what I mean is that for our core range I have tried to make beers that are sessionable, beers that are sociable, beers that are complex and satisfying but which don’t demand to be the centre of attention. As a result of this I suspect our core range will never vie for the top of the untapped or Ratebeer ranking lists, I’m happy to be proved wrong though. At the end of the day these beers are designed for our brewpub, to be drunk by the pint and enjoyed by the rigger.

Our Amber is a case in point. I took inspiration from two great session beer styles when formulating the recipe. Firstly I looked to the wonderful yet terribly overlooked and maligned Mild Ale style from the UK. Mild is a malty, usually lightly hopped ale that can range from mid gold to almost pitch black and seldom packs to much of an alcoholic kick. In the UK mild is endangered, and if it is endangered in its homeland it is all but extinct in the new world. Mild’s woes are probably in part due to its slightly demure , straight laced name and to the fact that such low alcohol styles need a lot of care to ensure they are in good nick, in the modern British pub trade more robust styles have prospered while subtle milds have disappeared. But that is a real shame as Mild’s offer a lot. Rich nutty English malt character, earthy hops and fruity yeast strains combine to create beers that are satisfying, soothing and sociable. While New Zealand has a few very good dark interpretations, Parrotdog Dog and Mikes Organic Ale, my taste has always been for the amber ‘tawny’ coloured milds with Banks Mild from the Black Country being a firm favourite.
The other influence for Amber has been the American Amber style. Today American Amber Ales tend to be brimming full of citrusy fruity hop character having followed Pale Ale and IPA through the American obsession with ‘hopping everything up’. However there was a time when American Ambers weren’t so hoppy. American brewers had taken influence from the English bitters they tasted on holiday in Europe and imported in bottle. They created ales that had a rich malt profile, often darker, richer and stronger than the beers they were emulating and fermented with cleaner less characterful yeast strains. They showcased piny citrusy American hop characters but only as a support to the complex malt profiles. It was these ‘old school’ American Ambers I looked to as my second influence.
And so I created Amber, a sessionable malty , slightly fruity beer that uses a number of malts from New Zealand and Europe to create a complex slightly toasty, slightly caramel tinged flavour and aroma, New Zealand hops to create a light citrus fruit note and a clean American ale yeast to bring it all together. At 4.4%abv it is stronger than most Milds and weaker than most American Ambers, but perfect for a few pints at Long Beach after a day on the beach or in the garden.  Cheers