Corinium Ales, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England: A Pint-Sized Brewery with Big Time Flavours!

Robert Hughey and Nick Waloff

Robert Hughey and Nick Waloff

Recently, while visiting England, I met with Nick Waloff, Waloff Associates Ltd. of Lechlade, Gloucestershire, in the Roman town of Cirencester. After a short pub crawl and a delicious crayfish salad roll lunch and a jar of the hop-driven Steady Rolling Man from Deya Brewing at Eat Wild, I was delighted to visit Lucy Cordrey and Colin Knight of Corinium Ales.

Lucy and Colin brew on a .5 barrel plant in a converted garage on their home property. I was invited into their house for a tasting of The Roman Collection, a trio of bottle conditioned ales they brew. Here I was to discover that their house serves as a storeroom for bottles, packaging, hops and finished beers, while they are looking for a nearby unit in an industrial estate.

Cirencester was second in importance only to London during Roman Britain, hence the link to the Roman Collection. Also of note, construction of the prominent Church of St. John the Baptist in the heart of Cirencester began around 1115.

DSC00193I. Corinium Gold, 4.2 percent abv, is a harvest gold coloured ale that releases fresh malt notes and a hint of hops on first pour. On the palate, malty goodness transcends a gentle hop bitterness. Hops step out of the shadow of malt as the tasting progresses. A luscious hop bitter finish ensues, with a slight spiciness popping out.

II. Centurian, 4.7 percent, is a glassy, pitch black stout having mild chocolate notes residing with roast aromas. On the palate, chocolate and roast are massaged by a soft bitterness that in turn has a hint of spice coming from its core. The finish is led by chocolate flavours enmeshed in roast alongside a subtle hop bitterness. This is a refined stout created with a deft touch of the brewer’s art, or is that hand?

III. Ale Caesar, 5 percent abv, is an amber coloured, non-citric, English style IPA. It has a spicy and hoppy aroma, with a hop forward earthy bitterness that is sustained by a fresh maltiness on the palate. The finish is pleasantly bitter with a kiss of malt to keep it all in balance.

corinium bottles2 - CopyCorinium Ales are showcased on tap at the nearby Marlborough Arms in Cirencester and at the Cirencester and Stroud farmer’s markets.

Cheers to Nick, Lucy and Colin!

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Coniston Brewing Company, Cumbria, Hits a Double

DSC00162Coniston Bluebird Bitter is a 4.2 percent abv ordinary bitter brewed at the Coniston Brewing Company, Cumbria, Engand. This polished golden coloured ale has a whitish head of foam. Initially, bold fruity aromas, both from hops, namely challenger, and the yeast, burst forth. This is followed by rich and vibrant malt notes from Maris Otter pale malt and crystal malt bubbling up from beneath. Body is low end of medium.

On the palate, a crisp bitterness strides forward confidently, ably backed by a stunning combination of the malts. Middle has notes of grapefruit hop bitterness riding herd on a sound malt structure. Long bitter finish eagerly delivers on its early promise of hops to the fore. Bottle conditioned, therefore yeast sediment in the bottom of the bottle. Pour gently in one steady motion, leaving about an inch of beer in the bottle, if you prefer a clear beer. CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain 1998.

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Coniston Old Man Ale is a 4.2 abv special bitter from the Coniston Brewing Company, Coniston, cumbria. It is a brilliant harvest orange red coloured ale derived from roasted barley, crystal malt and pale ale malt, having an almond accented head of foa. Bold fruit aromas, with rich malt undercurrents and a hearty grapefruit tang spring forth. Medium in body. On the palate, grapefruit citrus flavourings from the Challenger and Mount Hood hops step forward in a sprightly fashion, ably supported by an established malt factor.

Middle has a defining hop bitterness on a firm malt backbone. Finish is extended with a penetrating hop bitterness that is both sharply delineated and very moreish in nature. Old Man Ale is named after the Lakeland mountain at the foot of which sits the Coniston Brewery. Bottle conditioned, therefore yeast sediment in the bottle.

A Trio of Beauties from the Wye Valley Brewery

013Dorothy Goodbody’s Wholesome Stout is a 4.6 percent abv Irish stout brewed by the Wye Valley Brewery of Stoke Lacy, Herefordshire. This black ale with ruby hues pours has a thick crop of mocha coloured foam. The base is Maris Otter pale malt but the nose is definitely stamped by a blast of roast aroimatics.

 

On the palate, roast embraces a resolute hop bitterness from Northdown hops. A long, bitter finish has both hops and roast barley malt contributing to the rich flavour. Brewery recommended serving temperature of 12C. Real ale in a bottle as per CAMRA definition. A very fine yeast sediment clings to the bottom of the bottle, making pouring relatively straightforward.

 

Dorothy Goodbody’s Golden Ale is a 4.2 percent abv English style golden ale. Bottle conditioned, this polished pale golden ale has light aromatic scents of grassy hops and rich malt in the nose. On the palate, traditional English hop varieties, Fuggles and Goldings, deliver a persistent hop bitterness on a Maris Otter malt base. A crisp hop driven finish completes the picture. Brewery recommended serving temperature of 12C. Real ale in a bottle as per CAMRA’s definition.

 
Dorothy Goodbody’s Country Ale is a 6 percent abv strong English ale brewed by the Wye Valley Brewery. A hefty grain bill includes malted barley, malted wheat, flaked barley, crystal malt, amber malt and roast barley. An almond shaded head of foam sits atop this fairly full bodied ruby coloured ale. On the nose, roast notes, a hint of chocolate and luscious malt are evident.

 

On the palate, there is plenty of hop bitterness to balance all the malt flavours. In the middle, malt is penetrated by a sturdy and lingering hop presence. The long bitter finish is complex in nature, with hops and roast providing the lead elements. Bottle conditioned or real ale in a bottle as per CAMRA’s definition.

Fuller’s Imperial Stout–A Stellar Brew

008From Fuller Smith and Turner PLC of London, England, comes Fuller’s Imperial Stout, which slams in at 10.7 percent abv on the back of Centennial hops and rose buds, and presumably a sizeable addition of malt and hops. Aromatics of dark chocolate and a depth of malt present forthrightly.

 

This ebony coloured imperial stout reveals roast, lightly charred toast, black licorice and chocolate on the palate. Warming alcohol and a flash of marmite step forward as this beer warms in the glass. The finish is of roast, chocolate, and just enough of the hop to pull it all together.

 

It is bottle conditioned and therefore is real ale in a bottle by CAMRA’s definition. This  requires a steady hand and a careful and steady pour to leave the caked sediment in the bottle of the bottle.

Worthington White Shield–A Classic

worthington white shieldWorthington White Shield, brewed to 5.6 percent abv at The National Brewery Centre, a subsidiary of Molson-Coors, in Burton-Upon-Trent, pours a distinctive copper colour, with an off-white head of dense foam. On the nose, fruit and malt notes compete in a gentle way. On the palate, chewy malt folds into hop bitterness that becomes almost steely in nature.

 

The finish is of malt to the fore, and though not initially sweet in nature, it becomes more so as it warms in the glass. Still, it is a fine English brew. And while the brewery claims it to be an IPA in style, it is at the lower end of the alcohol scale. White Shield is bottle conditioned, showing clumps of fine powdery yeast on the bottom of the bottle. CAMRA noted as real ale in a bottle.

Mo–Golden Hoppy Delight

008Mo, is a delicious pale ale worthy of the style brewed by the Maine Beer Company of Freeport, Maine, USA, to a strength of 6 percent abv. This golden coloured ale has fresh yeast, malt and hops in the nose. On the palate, a crisp hoppiness attacks forthrightly, while the alcohol is neatly recessed.

 

A drying finish puts me in mind of enjoying another, but alas, I only have one bottle. It is bottle conditioned and therefore is real ale in a bottle by CAMRA’s definition. http://www.mainbeercompany.com

Uncompromising American IPA!

004Five O’Clock Shadow is an uncompromising American IPA hitting 7 percent abv. It is brewed by the Weird Beard Brew Company of West London, England. From the nose to the finish of this pale straw coloured ale, just think of having your head in a hop pocket drinking a sharply bitter beer.

 

Summit, Apollo, Citra and Columbus charm the pants off you in an aggressive but friendly way. It is bottle conditioned and therefore real ale in a bottle under CAMRA’s definition. http://www.weirdbeardbrewco.com/

Big, Bold and Bloody Good Beer

002Mariana Trench, 5.6 percent abv, brewed by the Weird Beard Brew Company of West London, England, is described by the brewery as a trans-Pacific pale ale as it uses both American and New Zealand hops, specifically, Citra and Pacific Gem. Aromatics of mango fruit and fresh green hops pulsate in the nose of this golden coloured beer.

 

On the palate, it is refreshingly stamped with pungent hop bitterness. A sharp and clean bitter finish on a sturdy malt structure allows for a full expression of the hops. It is bottle conditioned and therefore real ale in a bottle under CAMRA’s definition. http://www.weirdbeardbrewco.com/

Amsterdam–a Vibrant City of Canals, Bicycles and Beer

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I spent a most enjoyable week in this bicycle-mad city where the canals may be one of the main attractions but when walking you have to keep your eyes sharply peeled for cyclists of all ages in some kind of a bloody hurry.

 

The Van Gogh Museum was a certain delight, as was finding the Louis Bar Café De Dam at Singel 43, which overlooks a busy canal.

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Here in the small environs of this bar I discovered the very fine locally brewed and unfiltered Brouwerij’T ij IPA, a 7 percent ABV stunner, with rich floral hop notes and citrus flavours stamping the palate with authority. Refreshing grapefruit comingles with juicy malt to keep the drinker returning for more. And I did.

 

 

 

 

082 (2)Label details here reprinted on a poster in another Amsterdam bar.