Magical Mystery Pour #15: Durham Brewery Bombay 106

A 7% traditional English-style IPA designed to evoke the 19th Century? Yes please.

This is the sec­ond beer cho­sen for us by David Bish­op (@beerdoodles – web­site here). He says: ‘Big boned and no non­sense. I think this will be a nice beer for you to share – 250mls each that will leave you check­ing the bot­tle for one or two more drops.’

A cou­ple of years ago Durham Brew­ery was all the rage thanks in part, it seemed to us, to a cer­tain gen­eros­i­ty with sam­ples for blog­gers, Tweet­ers and raters. We had a few of their beers here and there and found that they ranged from decent (White Stout) to shod­dy. So we were pleased at the oppor­tu­ni­ty to give them anoth­er go although our hopes weren’t high.

We bought our bot­tle from Beer Ritz at £4.02 for 500ml. It is bot­tle-con­di­tioned and so, with our last messy Durham expe­ri­ence in mind, we kept it chilled. It actu­al­ly poured beau­ti­ful­ly, the yeast stick­ing to the bot­tom of the bot­tle through mul­ti­ple dips, deposit­ing a whipped-white head on a body a shade dark­er than stan­dard lager. The aro­ma was­n’t huge but there was some­thing fruity – peach-like, per­haps?

Durham Bombay in the glass.

The taste was, frankly, star­tling. It took us by sur­prise and left us momen­tar­i­ly dis­ori­ent­ed. Then we got it: straw­ber­ries. Not man­go or pas­sion fruit or grape­fruit or any of those oth­er mod­ern IPA nav­i­ga­tion land­marks but soft, sweet Eng­lish gar­den fruit. Peo­ple some­times talk about this as an off-flavour but we’ve always quite enjoyed it in, for exam­ple, the stronger Brew­Dog IPAs.

That was laid over a snap­py Great British Bake Off back­ground of bis­cuit and bread – whole­some stuff, though, with grains to chew on – fol­lowed by a sol­id but not over­whelm­ing bit­ter­ness, with a slight sea­son­ing salti­ness.

The flavours seemed to unroll dis­tinct­ly, check­ing and high­light­ing each oth­er – it’s too sweet, no it’s not, or is it? Not so much bal­ance as an ener­gis­ing back and forth. Stim­u­lat­ing.

Alto­geth­er, we liked it. It tast­ed absolute­ly Eng­lish, old-fash­ioned with­out being mum­mi­fied, and just boozy enough to feel like an adven­ture. The web­site tells us it’s all Maris Otter and Gold­ings so def­i­nite­ly the kind of beer the 1990s IPA revivers had in mind before C‑hops took over.

So that’s Durham out of the sin bin and back on the worth-a-try list.

Saisons Pt 8: The Last Two

As we draw near the end of this series of posts reporting our experiences of tasting British-brewed saisons, we’ve abandoned any attempt at theming: the only thing these last two have in common is that we bought them both from Beer Ritz.

Before we get down to our brief tast­ing notes, here’s a reminder of what this is all about: we want to have a short list of three we can whole­heart­ed­ly rec­om­mend. So, while ‘Do we like it?’ is a good start­ing point, whether oth­er peo­ple might like it is also impor­tant and, in prac­tice, that means we’re not after mad­ly left-field inter­pre­ta­tions.

  • Durham Brew­ery Rasp­beery [sic] Sai­son, 5.6% ABV, 500ml @ £4.20.
  • Weird Beard Sai­son 14, 6%, 500ml @ £3.52.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Saisons Pt 8: The Last Two”

Hitting the stash

Autumn seems to have struck all of a sud­den – it’s windy and wet and there are an alarm­ing num­ber of leaves on the ground for August.  It meant that for the first time for ages, we fan­cied a night in with the stash.

We’ve col­lect­ed quite a few odd beers. You know the type – you think they’ll be inter­est­ing but not nec­es­sar­i­ly nice, so you don’t get round to drink­ing them.  First up was the noto­ri­ous Speed­ball, by Brew­dog, which sound­ed foul from the descrip­tion (kola nut, guarana, pop­py, c‑hops and hon­ey) but was actu­al­ly very pleas­ant.  For all the look-at-me-I’m-con­tra­ver­sial mar­ket­ing, it tast­ed like a nice, non-extreme Amer­i­can Amber ale.  Maybe some of the extreme flavours had mel­lowed over time?  Speed­ball is now called “Dog­ma”, by the way.

Next up was Gin­ger Tom by Robin­son’s, a mix of their Old Tom and Fen­ti­man’s gin­ger ale.  This 6.5% strong ale did­n’t quite work – too much gin­ger and not enough Old Tom, mak­ing it fizzy and over­pow­er­ing.  You could see what they were try­ing to do though, because the after­taste was real­ly nice, like gin­ger­bread.

Expect­ing those two to be weird and undrink­able, we’d also laid out Temp­ta­tion, a “Russ­ian stout” from the Durham Brew­ery.  Can you go wrong with a 10% impe­r­i­al stout that says “best between Sep­tem­ber 2007 and Sep­tem­ber 2012”?  No.  It’s great, with loads of com­fort­ing flavours – vanil­la, choco­late, cof­fee, liquorice, sher­ry.  One to savour and our beer of the week.