For this post I will be focusing on a brewery that I had seen around for a little while but only very recently had the pleasure to sample.
Alphabet Brewing Company, founded in 2014, is based in Manchester, which is fast becoming a craft beer Mecca in the UK. Their website states that their modus operandi is to make kickass beers, brewing modern styles and re-interpretations of old ones, all using the best ingredients they can get our hands on, and sold as fresh as possible. For that first part, they are definitely hitting their brief. Looking at their range there are definitely a lot of interpretations of classic beer styles (Gogglebox, a raspberry and vanilla pale ale and Flat White, reviewed below, a white breakfast stout being among them)
The second point is a little harder to define!
Whilst I know that brewers these days are incredibly tuned in to the need for the freshest possible product, and will always bottle/can and ship almost the same day, once a beer leaves the brewery that’s when things fall down. This may have been the case with the can of ‘A to the K’ oatmeal pale ale that I had (See below).
My general rule of thumb, especially for unfiltered craft beer, is that the paler it is, the sooner it should be consumed for the best flavour. For an IPA, I would normally want to be drinking it less than 4 weeks from canning/bottling. Of course, this issue lies with the fact that most breweries still do not print the production date on the can/bottle. I’ve only ever seen this on some American produced beers and, more recently, the Cloudwater DIPA’s.
A brewer can get the freshest beer possible out of the brewery but how long that beer sits in a shelf or in a dusty stock room is another thing altogether. The first review below highlights this issue for me.
Please brewers… Print the canning/bottling date on the label!
A to the K oatmeal pale ale
This was the first beer I had had from Alphabet and was, to my palate anyhow, not the freshest. This pours a relatively clear golden colour, despite being unfiltered with aromas of mild citrus and tropical fruits balanced with pale malts. So far, so good..... initial taste is quite pleasant, soft fruits, citrus and grapefruit, but it's the aftertaste that lets this down, there is an overpowering bitterness that lingers for some time on the palate. It's a very dry, earthy bitterness that might be due to the oats but I can't really say. I really don’t mind a bit of bitterness, in fact, so long as it’s well balanced it is encouraged, but this overpowers each following sip to the point that you would almost need a palate cleanser inbetween. Without that lingering bitterness, this would have been a solid 8-8.5 pale ale as the initial taste was wonderful but alas it was not to be.
the great beer dad rating - 7/10
Flat White pale breakfast stout
After having seen this floating around social media I jumped at the chance to pick this up when it was in my local shop. To quote Bones, ‘It’s a stout Jim, but not as we know it!’ As soon as I poured this, that big roasted coffee hit on the nose and the pale redish colour was a complete juxtaposition. I’ll tell it as it is, drinking this is just like knocking back a double espresso. The coffee completely dominates the flavour, which isn’t all bad for a coffee addict like me, but I would have liked some more chocolate notes and roasted malts to come through. Something else lacking was a body. This is very thin for a stout, I would have liked a more heavy mouthfeel from this style of beer but that personal taste and others may prefer the lighter variant. Overall, I actually like this. There is a huge flavour packed into this beer but the lack of complexity and the thin mouthfeel let it down a little for me.
the great beer dad rating - 7.5/10