Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Three Hampshire Beers

On the Easter Good Friday, 6th April,  I visited Portsmouth and sampled three beers from Hampshire microbreweries. At the White Swan, Guildhall Walk, a Wetherspoon outlet (left), I first tried a half of Upham Stakes Ale. Upham Brewery are based at Stakes Farm, Cross Lane, Upham, Hampshire. They began brewing in 2009 using a 3.5 barrel plant.

The Stakes Ale is a chestnut coloured beer with low carbonated head. Distinctive stilton notes on the nose with toffee-caramel and just a hint of grassy spearmint. Stilton again on the first taste along with toasted malt is followed by very peppery, spicy hop notes giving a lingering astringent finish. The flavours are restrained rather than demonstrative and rather too subtle for my personal tastes. The mouthfeel is smooth but a little thin and understates its 4.6% strength.

At the same pub I then sampled half of Oakleaf India Pale Ale.

Set up in 2000 by Ed Anderson and his father-in-law Dave Pickersgill, Oakleaf Brewing Company Ltd are at Unit 7, Clarence Wharf Industrial Estate, Mumby Road, Gosport, Hampshire. The IPA is a gold coloured version of this historic style with a froth of white lacing. Marmalade, tangerine, citrus hops - even peaches and cream are conveyed in the intense and complex aroma. The smooth and creamy body conveys the full alcoholic 5.5% strength. Hop bite carries through into the taste, initially underpinned by fruity malt but building to a powerfully bitter finish. Very enjoyable.

Later at the Sir Loin of Beef, Highland Road, in the Eastney area of the city, I had a half of Vibrant Forest Stormbrew. Experienced home-brewer Kevin Robinson is the Vibrant Forest Brewery. He began commercial brewing in the summer of 2011 from his home in Totton, Southampton, on the 1-barrel plant previously in use at Havant Brewery.

Stormbrew is a 4.7% dark amber/copper coloured beer with low carbonated head. Liqueur at first on the nose with plenty of milk chocolate notes. Chunky malt mouthfeel and burnt sweetness with dark fruits, treacle and even more chocolate define the character before an emerging bitterness becomes predominant. An excellent beer in my opinion.

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