There are something like 2,000 breweries in the UK but we find ourselves going back to the same handful time and again, mostly because we know and trust them.
Well, in 2019, we want to break that habit, just a bit, by forcing ourselves to try at least one brewery that’s new to us every week.
When we’re on our travels, it’s easy (Dancing Man in Southampton, for example) but in Bristol, where we spend most of our time, it will need a little dedication.
It will mean ignoring that Bristol Beer Factory pale-n-hoppy we know we love in favour of something that will probably, experience suggests, be less enjoyable.
But then again, it might also turn up another Stroud or Cheddar.
Our first conscious attempt to fulfil this mission came in Small Bar on King Street, Bristol, on Wednesday night when we ordered two-thirds of Manual Brewing’s ‘This Elevator’, a 5.5% American-style pale ale. The brewery is based in Dundee.
It didn’t look immediately appealing, being a foggy orange-brown, but the head was attractive – whipped cream and other delights.
We both had similar reactions on lifting it to taste: non-verbal expressions of delight at a frankly wonderful aroma hot raspberry jam and cut grass.
We had to step back from expectations of the style to really enjoy the way this beer tasted: it didn’t tick the American pale ale boxes, but absolutely did work as the kind of unfiltered amber/red/brown beer you sometimes find in Germany.
That is, as something wholesome, wholemeal, nutty and spicy.
There was nothing stale, nasty or jarring in the flavour, which counts for a lot.
Of course we can’t judge the brewery’s entire output based on one beer, on one occasion, but we’d certainly be inclined to buy again.