Two recent pints got me thinking about the craft tsunami which is seemingly about to engulf us.
I was drinking in a group at Dulcimer (a bar in Chorlton) when one of my friends suddenly called out, “Can we have a vote on Phil’s pint?” He got me to hold it up and asked the room in general, “Does that look right to you?” Explanations were required. I was drinking Wild‘s Evolver (“Hops+Brett+Hops”) and, yes, it did look almost exactly like a bad, end-of-barrel pint: almost completely flat; heavy-looking somehow; and cloudy without being turbid, as if every drop of the beer itself was a bit less than clear. Not only that, but it tasted almost exactly like a bad, end-of-barrel pint – i.e. sour. It was quite an interesting and complex sour flavour, I’ve got to give them that, but it got to be hard going – just a bit too sour, and flat, and, well, off-tasting. (On a side note, more recently I had Wild‘s Fresh on keg and was musing on how drinkable the cold fizziness made it, when it struck me – anything is more drinkable if it’s cold and fizzy; with a mouth full of froth the beer just slips down, and if it’s cold enough you barely taste or smell it anyway. So all credit to Wild for putting Evolver under the more unforgiving spotlight of cask.)
On another occasion I was in a Spoons’ and happened to spot their Alchemist collaboration, made by a legendary brewer who is so modest that nobody knows his name. I’ve seen this beer described as an ‘American brown ale’; I’d call it a black IPA from the colour and the pineyness. I had a pint – £1.85 with my beard token – but by the end I would have been glad of a smaller measure. What that beer does it does extremely well, but the thing it does is so full-on – I can practically taste those resiny hops even now. It was nowhere near as much of a slog as the Wild beer, but it was a slog.
I seem to be getting out-geeked all round; it looks as if rampant craft-driven extremophilia has landed, both at Dulcimer (a bar with three handpumps, one of them usually devoted to Wainwright) and, er, at JDW’s. Craft beer may not exist, but it’s arrived.