Baron on Tour: Magic Rock Meet the Brewer

Last Monday was the Magic Rock 'Meet the Brewer' night at the Port Street Beer House (PSBH) in Manchester (5-10 minutes walk from Piccadilly station). Chris (my audio rating buddy), Paul (the owner of Source Deli) and myself got the train across to Manchester for the event and none of us had been to the PSBH before. It's a great bar, loads of really interesting ales on tap and in bottles.

We arrived and were given our strip of five raffle tickets, each one was swappable for a 1/2 of a particular beer - the first 'welcome ale' was a half of Curious. A 3.9% pale gold ale it had a crisp slightly sulphurous smell with a cracking bitter grapefruit taste and fruity bitter finish.

As we were waiting for the evening to start we opted to get a 750ml cork & caged bottle of Schneider Weisse Mein Nelson Sauvin in, a 7.3% peachy-lemon-smelling ale, a weisse beer with some lovely soft tropical fruits added (thanks to the Nelson Sauvin hops) which meant that even Chris and I (non-weisse beer lovers) really enjoyed it.

We were about to get another big bottle of something when the Meet the Brewer night started with Rich from Magic Rock taking centre stage and talking through the ethos behind the brewery and it's beers.

Unlike most breweries they don't add hops to the boil, they have a dedicated 'hop back' which they circulate the beer through in which to enrich it and pick up that massive hop presence - it can hold 30-40kgs of hops! They've not had to use it to it's full potential, even the massively hoppy Human Cannonball double IPA only fills the first 25kgs of it. They also use dry hopping in the fermenting vessels to gain more hop presence.

They are inspired by the US-style big tasting and smelling beers, and the brewery was custom built by Stuart. The kit is designed to produce American-style beers and they have been very lucky that they have been able to skip the local pub market and deliver straight to the craft beer bars throughout the UK.

After the initial talk halves of Curious NZ were handed out, this was the same malt bill as the regular Curious but with New Zealand hops, this resulted in a much softer rounded taste compared to the grapefruit-like flavour of the original but then with a massive pithy bitter finish - a great variation!

Following that beer was High Wire, their West Coast Pale Ale. We loved this in bottled form but were in for a real treat when it was served via KeyKeg - it was hazy with a mega fruity taste, superb bitterness,simply wonderful (I loved it so much that once the Meet the Brewer was over I opted for a pint of this over all the other great ales on offer in PSBH - it's awesome!)

Next up was Dark Arts, a 6% stout with a pale malt backbone and topped up with black, amber and brown malts for roastiness and colour. It was lovely, nice roasted flavours, some plummy fruitiness and very smooth. All this from a brewery that's just six months old!

The Queen of the night was brought out next, the first public tasting of Bearded Lady - a 10.5% imperial stout, the big sister of Dark Arts. Heavily dry-hopped with 'the cannon' - a device that can hold between 5-10 kgs of hops, the lady was slowly cycled through Amarillo hops for 3-4 days. It had massive coffee aromas, and tasted of sweet dark coffee with a hint of booze but it was hiding the 10+% very well. I can't wait to try this in bottled form...

We stayed around after the official meet the brewer ended, chatting with Rich and Stu from Magic Rock as well as talking to some fellow beer lovers (esp. @Filrd and @Jamesbwxm) that I know from Twitter. I got to try De Molen's Vuur & Vlam which was awesome as well as a few others that I can't remember.

Port Street Beer House is a wonderful craft ale bar, within easy walking distance from Manchester Piccadilly - a must-visit bar when you are next in Manc!
Paul from Source Deli and an angry Baron

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