BeerCast #12 – Red Rose Beers

Posted by on Feb 23, 2008 in BeerCasts, English Beer | One Comment

The BeerCast’s 12th podcast is a trip close to home for panellist Richard, as we explore more beers from the North West of England. We’ve sampled beers from the region before, during episode three, which uncovered two of the four eventual Beer of the Year candidates for 2007 (Daleside IPA and Coniston Bluebird) – so we all had high hopes for the next batch. The first one tasted this time is Tirril’s Academy Ale (4.2%), from Westmorland in Cumbria (so not strictly a red rose beer). Then we move on into Lancashire for Joseph Holt’s Thunder Holt (5.0%) – a drink brewed in celebration of Manchester’s predictably damp weather. A short distance away is Blackburn, home to the Thwaites empire. Producing beer for two hundred years in the same family, they recently launched a celebration ale called Double Century (5.2%), which is our third beer. Finally, we try a brown ale from Liverpool’s Cains Brewery – Dragon Heart (5.0%). On the panel today – Richard, MrB, and BeerCast first-timer Stuart…

1. Academy Ale (4.2%abv)
Tirril Brewery, Appleby, Cumbria.
500ml glass bottle

The Tirril Brewery began life in a pub – the Queen’s Head Inn in the Westmorland village on the River Eamont. Tirril was famed throughout the country for it’s nearby academy, which in the early 19th Century was said to be on a par with Oxford or Cambridge for the teaching of mathematics. In celebration of this history, Academy Ale is a three-hopped malty beer produced by Tirril – who now inhabit slightly larger surroundings in Appleby than their original pub. In between, they operated from a stately home which was previously used by a WWII tank regiment. During the army days, the notable door knockers of Brougham Hall were taken down for safekeeping – and it’s a picture of one of the giant clangers that gives Tirril their brewery logo.

What They Say“A dark, full bodied, very traditional rich and malty ale flavoured with three varieties of English hops.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – Nice malty ale, although the hops are drowned out 7
MrB – Not much of a smell, tastes slightly caramelly 6
Stuart – It’s quite fizzy, I don’t mind this at all 6

2. Thunder Holt (5.0%abv)
Joseph Holt’s Derby Brewery, Manchester.
500ml glass bottle

Manchester is renowned for it’s terrible weather – but Joseph Holt have the perfect solution. Thunder Holt is their longest standing seasonal beer, and it chooses to celebrate the rain and showers rather than hide from them. Founded in 1849 in Oak Street in the centre of the city, Holt’s has been in the same family for four generations. They overcame the American Civil War – which you wouldn’t think would harm a northern English brewery – but the sudden lack of new world cotton to feed Manchester’s mills plunged the city into recession. They are now tied to 127 pubs, all of which are within 25 miles of their home city.

What They Say“First produced over five years ago, Thunder Holt is a delicious red russet traditional premium ale with the light citrus flavours of challenger cone hops and dark crystal malt.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Stuart – There’s a nice kick to this, I can’t stop drinking it 9
Richard – Has an almost aniseedy aftertaste 8
MrB – This has a great back of the mouth taste, it’s fantastic 8

3. Thwaites Double Century (5.2%abv)
Thwaites, Blackburn, Lancashire.
500ml glass bottle

Another local family brewery are Thwaites, founded in the east Lancs milltown of Blackburn in 1807. In 1843 the original founder Daniel died, leaving the brewery to three of his twelve children. One of whom was also called Daniel, and under his stewardship the operations flourished. He eventually became MP for Blackburn, and the Thwaites concern today is one of the UK’s top ten breweries by volume. They also own over 400 pubs in the north of England. To celebrate their 200th birthday, last year they launched a celebration ale in a fancy embossed bottle, called Double Century. Will we be joining in the celebrations?

What They Say“This refreshing amber coloured premium ale is well balanced with a malty character. Double hopped using English golding and fuggles with the late addition of Bramling Cross, it has a bitter orange finish.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Stuart – This has a wow factor from the first taste 9
MrB – Warm alcohol feel to it, that’s the absolute business 9
Richard – Tremendous, light and moreish with that orange finish 8

4. Cains Dragon Heart (5.0%abv)
Cains Brewery, Liverpool.
500ml glass bottle

In our last North Western edition we ended on a seasonal beer from Liverpool’s Cains brewery, and we do likewise for episode twelve. The Dusanj brothers have breathed so much life into the formerly ailing outfit, that they turn out a special ale every month of the year. January sees them release Dragon Heart Brown Ale, and with this particular variety of beer endemic to the north of England it’s a must-taste. Others include a strong bock, a dark lager, a wheatbier, and the raisin beer we sampled back in podcast three. But will our panel take to the Dragon Heart – particularly BeerCast debutant Stuart – a self-confessed fan of the brown ale genre.

What They Say“This strong brown ale is brewed to a 19th Century recipe and fermented in traditional open vats. A blend of premium ale malts and the finest of English hops combine to produce a fruity and complex character.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – Got some treacle in there, it’s nice but not amazing
Stuart – This is slightly too sweet for me 6
MrB – Tastes like a northern bitter, a bit stouty 6

BeerCast panel verdict

Thwaites Double Century – 26/30
Joseph Holt’s Thunder Holt – 25/30
Tirril Academy Ale – 19/30
Cains Dragon Heart – 18½/30

Panellists – (from top left) MrB, Stuart, Richard



We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with an organic beer special, and another debutant BeerCaster joins the panel. Stay tuned for details…and please leave us comments on the blog or iTunes, or emails. Cheers!

1 Comment

  1. Craig AS
    March 19, 2008

    Hooray! Rock City rules!

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