“Remember, remember the 5th of November” goes the traditional Guy Fawkes night rhyme, the annual commemoration of an infamous moment in British history. On this night, bonfires are lit, and firework displays are observed, as thick smoke gathers in the air.
To celebrate the occasion, I thought that it was only appropriate to have some beers by Torrside Brewing, as a feature of some of their brews is the addition of smoked flavours. Find more information about Torrside Brewing at Meet the Makers.
Mandatory “Sto Lat” Facts
- Untappd Rating: 3.39 (at time of writing)
- ABV: 2.8%
- IBU: 24
- Style: Wheat Beer (Grodziskie)
- Serving: Bottle, 500ml
This is Chris’ (one of Torrside’s brewers) favourite beer: a Grodziskie, historically Polish, brewed using wheat malts dried with oak smoke. Given the wheat beer style, I HAD to serve it in my Erdinger glass. Wheat beers typically have a large fluffy foam head and “Sto Lat” was no different: the foam top was bright white, about 3 inches in height and held its shape throughout most of the drink. There was a slight dark stain on the foam head, which reminded me that the beer was unfiltered, meaning some sediment remained at the bottom of the bottle. The beer itself was a hazy, pale yellow and almost looked completely transparent where the glass was at its narrowest point. Aromas were very characteristic of a wheat beer, with scents of banana and clove, but with the addition of a deep smoky note. On sampling, I initially tasted a lightness from banana, but this quickly dissipated into the dominant smoke flavour, complementing the cool, highly carbonated liquid. At 2.8% ABV it was a great table beer and despite the deep smoke, it remained surprisingly refreshing.
Diagnosis: 3.5/5. “Sto Lat” is light, easy drinking and although I’m not out celebrating Bonfire Night, I can taste the atmosphere within this beer!
Mandatory “One Way Ticket to Pluto” Facts
- Untappd Rating: 3.6 (at time of writing)
- ABV: 6.8%
- IBU: 65
- Style: West Coast IPA
- Serving: Bottle, 500ml
I loved the name: so random, that I couldn’t really pick up any other beer. This time, an amber beer was poured, with a bold white foam head. Aromas were resinous and citrusy: the flavour matched the aroma profile, where an initial intensely bitter pine was lifted into a tropical fruit and melon mix. As the fruitiness faded, a dry and boozy bitter finish tasted almost artificial.
Diagnosis: 3.25/5. “One Way Ticket to Pluto” is a good beer and I really enjoyed the first half; however, the artificial, almost soapy taste started to come through in the latter sips.
Mandatory “Hopfenrauch I” Facts
- Untappd Rating: 3.27 (at time of writing)
- ABV: 4.0%
- Style: Bitter
- Serving: Bottle, 500ml
Another smoked beer, this time a bitter: I was expecting the flavour of smoke to work well within this variety. A deep brown colour, slightly hazy in appearance, with a huge white foam head towering above the glass’ rim. The aroma was intensely smoky with a subtle fruity end. On sampling, the beer started off with a light caramel tone before building into a savoury flavour that can only be referred to as “rich and meaty”. This bold tone gave way to a dry smoke and herbaceous finish. It was a complex, well-rounded beer, with a good mix of hop and malt notes. At 4%, it was very mild on the alcohol front and had moderate body.
Diagnosis: 3.5/5. “Hopfenrauch I” confirms my prediction: the smoke really complements the flavour profile of the bitter. It could easily be enjoyed in front of an open fire during the darker, colder months of the year.
Mandatory “Take Me To Your Lemur” Facts
- Untappd Rating: x (at time of writing)
- ABV: 9.5%
- Style: Barley Wine
- Serving: Bottle, 330ml
“Mmmmmm… Madagascan vanilla”. It was promised on the label, so I was really hoping it would come through in abundance! It poured a deep amber-brown with a minimal white head. Given the 9.5% ABV, it was hardly surprising that it was packaged in a smaller bottle than the others! Again, there was a moderate haze to the beer, with aromas of vanilla and the strength immediately noticeable on the nose! On sampling, it was incredibly sweet, though I felt this was needed to balance the boozy elements of this beer. There was a wonderful mix of sugariness from both vanilla and caramel, along with a fruity creaminess that was washed away by a bitter boozy end. The beer was full-bodied with little carbonation. It reminded me of other beers I’ve tried that have been aged in oak barrels, generating the complexity I desire in beers.
Diagnosis: 4.0/5. “Take Me To Your Lemur” is big, bold and boozy! A beer I thoroughly enjoyed, but will probably never have more than one at a time.
There we have it: a very strong selection by Torrside Brewing. I’ve got 8 more bottles from them in my fridge, so don’t be surprised if I update you again about this wonderful brewery in the not too distant future!