If 2010 saw the release of some wonderful beers on both sides of the Atlantic, this year has been even more memorable. As the range of imported beer increases, British breweries have been defying the recession and the taxman, to produce some fantastic new beers. Over the next six days we’ll be highlighting our pick of British beers launched in 2011, in order of their release. We begin all the way back in January – the epic snows were still cloaking Scotland, but down in Cornwall the product of a partnership was breaking the thaw…
Monsieur Rock (5.2%)
Sharp’s Brewery, Rock, Cornwall
(500ml bottle, released January 2011)
Back in 2010, Sharp’s wonderfully experimental head brewer Stuart Howe departed these shores for a continental brewtrip of a lifetime. The man that brought the world Jellyfish Red and Offal Beer (amongst many, many other things) spent a significant amount of time with one of the grand old dukes of European brewing – Orval brewmaster Jean-Marie Rock. Their collaboration – produced in Cornwall when Jean-Marie came over to the UK – was Monsieur Rock.
A Saaz showcase, Monsieur Rock was lagered for six weeks amidst sackfuls of Czech hops. It was then run past the tasting panel at the Abbaye Notre-Dame d’Orval, not to mention their state of the art laboratory. Having passed with flying colours – and more importantly having been personally approved by the original Monsieur Rock – the beer that bore his name was released to the British drinking public.
Almost immediately, response on the blogs was overwhelmingly positive – and with good reason. Soft, grassy citrus aromas, before a creamy, lemon flavour with a lovely herbal edge from the Saaz. As we said in our review, it was hard to pin down into any particular category – it felt like a Belgian golden ale, but looked like a lager. The balance was beautiful – giving that softness that made it so drinkable. A fantastic beer, and a great way to start the year.
Join us tomorrow for our second best new British beer of 2011. Shortly after releasing Monsieur Rock, Sharp’s announced they had been taken over by Molson Coors UK – the implications of which have yet to fully pan out…