Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

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April beers with Otter’s Tears

We welcome back Phil Hardy, owner of Otter’s Tears in Burslem, for more beer recommendations this month… Following on from last month’s instalment, I thought I’d focus on breweries that…

We welcome back Phil Hardy, owner of Otter’s Tears in Burslem, for more beer recommendations this month…

Following on from last month’s instalment, I thought I’d focus on breweries that have meant a lot to me over the years – people who have become firm friends as well as brewing the beers I love and can trust to deliver.

Torrside brew in New Mills up in the High Peak. It’s a democratic set-up between 3 experienced home-brewers – Chris, Nick, and Peter – with support from their long-suffering partners, one of whom is the talented artist who designs the labels for each beer. The guys started out with the mindset of wanting to brew what they loved to drink, and this is reflected in their smoked beers, imperial strength monsters, and well-balanced hop-bombs. With that in mind, I’ve sneaked in two beers for one here.

Torrside Sto Lat GrodziskieZenkai Pale Ale, 3.7%
Part of a two-way collaboration with Bramhall’s Made Of Stone. A simple, crisp malt base allows Mosaic and Chinook hops to come shining through in the aroma. With plenty of grapefruit and mango flavours, Zenkai is a delicious session pale ale perfect for the changing season.

Sto Lat Grodziskie,  2.8%
Grodziskie is a traditional Polish beer style brewed using 100% oak-smoked wheat, and Sto Lat stays as true to the style as possible. Ultra-pale with plenty of fizz, it owes its refreshing bitterness to Polish hops. The smoke comes through particularly well in such a low ABV beer, with an end result lying somewhere in the unexplored hinterland between champagne and smoked ham! Head Brewer Chris thinks this beer perfectly represents Torrside; I think it will also appeal to the flavour loving readers of Sauce.

Northern Monk Seismic Shift DDH IPAI’ve followed Northern Monk from long before their first brew. Back even before current head brewer Brian’s mammoth, year-long training journey with some of the world’s finest brewers across multiple continents, we have a long history and friendship. The Northern Monk Patrons Project is an initiative set up to foster collaboration, creativity and community between artists, athletes and creatives across the North. This is their latest release, which features peel-able label art from amazing street-style artist Tank Petrol.

Seismic Shift Double Dry Hopped Double IPA, 8.5%
Simcoe hops feature prominently in this beer, bringing passionfruit, grapefruit and dank pine to the forefront. It carries tangerine notes of Amarillo, the tropical flavours of Citra and Mosaic and finally a touch of floral, citrus Loral. A high percentage of flaked oats in the grist, plus a touch of wheat, ensure a soft mouthfeel. Fermentation with their IPA yeast of choice leaves an accentuating sweetness with generous peach and apricot esters.

Durham Brewery DiabolusOur final beer is from Durham Brewery and is a bit of a beast. Durham have been at this brewing malarkey for a long time, so they know a thing or two about good beer. I was first introduced to them around 2010 and was immediately hooked by their mastery of tradition and willingness to embrace innovation. I helped launch their White Stout, a beer with the qualities and flavours you’d expect to find in something black as pitch, whilst being pale and transparent. I also built a Twitter-led international Imperial Stout tasting session around their beautiful Temptation Russian Imperial Stout, which leads perfectly onto the third beer: Diabolus, a variation on that brew.

Diabolus Rum Cask Aged Imperial Stout, 11.5%
In a very limited edition of just 600 bottles, this batch of Diabolus – like all the others – is a variation on the theme of Temptation. Durham have matured the beer in oak rum casks, resulting in a deep dark colour with flavours to match. Aromas of rum and black treacle with hints of oak precede a body that’s creamy and full, with strong liquorice flavours. Sharp, fresh morello cherry and damson notes cutting through this rich umami body, and the finish is long and lingering.

You can pick up April’s picks at Otter’s Tears this month, and find Phil’s March beer recommendations here.

Otter’s Tears
24 Queen Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 3EG
www.otterstears.beer

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March beers with Otter’s Tears

Otter’s Tears is an independent beacon calling out to beer lovers on Burslem’s high street. The bottle shop is owned and run by Phil Hardy, who opened it in 2015…

Otter’s Tears is an independent beacon calling out to beer lovers on Burslem’s high street.

The bottle shop is owned and run by Phil Hardy, who opened it in 2015 with the goal of supplying customers with great quality, interesting beers from across the UK and the Continent. You can read the full story of Phil’s love affair with craft beer in the Spring 2019 edition of Sauce, out next week.

Beer connoisseur Phil kindly put together these tasting notes on his top picks for what you should be drinking this March. Find these beers at Otter’s Tears while stocks last, and look out for more recommendations from some of Phil’s favourite breweries in April and May.

Elusive Brewing x Weird Beard
Lord Nelson 2019, 6.8%

I met Andy Parker, owner and head brewer at Elusive, around 2010. He was in IT back then, a beer blogger and keen home-brewer. Knowing my love of saison style beer, he sent me a bottle of this to try long before he ever brewed it commercially at Weird Beard and now at his own brewery in Finchampstead. It blew me away then and still does today. Lord Nelson is a single-hopped saison designed to showcase the wonderfully aromatic Nelson Sauvin hop from New Zealand. Expect a pale and hazy beer with aromas and flavours of Sauvignon Blanc grapes and gooseberries from the hop, with bubblegum notes brought into the mix by the saison yeast.

Siren Craft Brew x Track Brewing
Strawberry Praline, 7.4%

Literally over the road from Elusive you can find Siren, joined for this brew by Manchester’s Track Brewing. The first thing that hits you as you take a sip is a tang of sharp strawberry purée, quickly enveloped by dark chocolate and roasted hazelnuts. This is a robust but smooth and creamy stout, subtly sweet with a hint of strawberry syrup. It slips down like a chocolate and strawberry milkshake topped with toasted nuts. A full-flavoured treat!

Burnt Mill x Cloudwater
Lying Low IPA, 7.4%

Cloudwater, established in 2014, took the world beer scene by storm. With a definite slant towards hazy hop-forward styles they quickly reached number two on the world brewing stage according to Ratebeer. Burnt Mill are only a couple of years old, but are clearly going in the same direction – a definite one to watch. This collaborative India Pale Ale brewed at Burnt Mill’s Suffolk brewhouse is a proper juice-bomb. Soft sweetness gives way to pithy bitterness in perfect balance. Heavily hopped with a blend of Citra, Mosaic, Enigma and Idaho-7 for aromas of ripe peach and passionfruit. With tropical fruit flavours and aromas to match, this definitely deserves a space in your beer fridge.

Otter’s Tears
24 Queen Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 3EG
www.otterstears.beer

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Full of Christmas spirit

Bottle dispensary Doctor’s Orders only opened its doors in February 2018, but the passion and expertise of owner Ben (and a dash of adorable in the form of shop spaniel…

Bottle dispensary Doctor’s Orders only opened its doors in February 2018, but the passion and expertise of owner Ben (and a dash of adorable in the form of shop spaniel Billy) have seen it go from strength to strength since. Sauce caught up with Ben for our Autumn/Winter edition to gain some insight into trends in the spirit industry and glean some stellar ‘gift’ recommendations, from rum to whisky and gin.

Revel in rum

As the seasons change, so too does your palate. The colder months call to mind brown spirits, but rum has a foot in both camps. It’s at home in tropical summer cocktails, but works equally well as winter comes around as a sipper over ice.

Traditionally kept in the Caribbean or with specialist providers, rum is now more accessible to a public who are waking up to its great value proposition: You can get a 10 or 12 year old rum for the price of an 8 year old whisky. Spiced rum can be turned around in months rather than years and has a wide appeal; there are some on the sweeter side, some very complex examples, and none are taking themselves too seriously.

The wide range of island styles, distillation styles, ageing profiles, and interesting cask agents mean rum is no longer viewed as a dark, medicinal liquid that has to be mixed with coke. Foursquare are setting the standard, having won three gold medals and two trophies at this year’s International Spirit Challenge awards, including Supreme Champion for their 2005 release.

The wonder of whisky

Appreciation is growing for the very experimental whiskeys coming out of Ireland at the moment. Distillers are using a variety of different casks for ageing to enhance their flavour profiles and some of the emerging local porter cask ageings are fabulous. Whereas Scottish whisky has tended to be seen as a ‘male’ drink, especially the heavier peated examples, the new Irish whiskeys seem to appeal to both sexes. Experimentation and variety appear to be opening peoples’ minds and palates.

Meanwhile, Japanese whisky has been winning plenty of awards. Unconstrained by the same straitjacket of legislation and tradition as Scottish whiskies, we are seeing a level of innovation from Japanese distillers. They have unique flavour profiles, but we inevitably end up paying a premium for them here in the UK.

The ever popular gin

Pink and flavoured gins have been the drinks of the summer, easily overtaking the London Drys, but whether that popularity carries on into the colder months only time will tell. People have a sweet tooth, but a gin has to have prominent juniper flavours to be gin.

People are more interested now in pushing their palate and understanding why something is different. This means they are more open to experimenting and trying spirits neat, but the rebirth of gin and proliferation of tasting parties has also had an impact on manufacturers of mixers, with more premium brands coming through.

What was once seen as a throwaway is now an integral part of the drink and is carefully chosen based on whether you want it to complement or contrast with the spirit. Brands like Double Dutch are moving to develop more mixers for brown spirits.

Ben recommends…

£30-£40 price range

Garden Tiger (47% ABV): An interesting and complex gin, perfect for those who enjoy the London Dry style.

Teeling’s Small Batch (46% ABV): A fabulous everyday sipper made with a blend of malted and unmalted barley, aged in rum casks.

Doorly’s XO (40% ABV): A great example of a good, honest, unadulterated rum with none of the added sugar or flavourings you get in some other styles.

£40-£60 price range

Trevethan Chauffeur’s Reserve (57% ABV): An excellent example of a navy strength gin, perfect in a spirit-forward cocktail like a negroni or dry martini.

Redbreast Lustau Edition (46% ABV): A super Irish whiskey matured in oak before finishing in Oloroso Sherry casks from Bodegas Lustau for a year.

Foursquare 2005 (59% ABV): Simply aged in bourbon barrels in Barbados and bottled at cask strength, this is a stunning rum with plenty of flavour and nuance. One to warm the cockles.

Doctor’s Orders Bottle Dispensary
Unit 4a, Heart Of The Country Shopping Village, Lichfield, WS14 9QR
www.facebook.com/DoctorsOrdersLichfield 

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