Spectrum Series - March 2019
Books and beer are arguably two of the foundations upon which civilisation is built. No, really.
Books permitted the accumulation and distribution of knowledge; they democratised learning and made information widely accessible, as well as preserving words, stories and concepts far beyond the lives of those who first imagined them. Beer, in some form or other, has been brewed for millennia; the settling of nomadic tribes is often attributed to the farming of grains for the production of beer and bread.
“Books are a uniquely portable magic,” said Stephen King. There is certainly a magic inherent in the combination of beer and books. There are few pleasures in life as simple, yet rewarding, as settling in with a novel and a beer; both come in a plethora of styles, meaning there’s someone for everyone.
To celebrate World Book Day, we are pleased to announce that from today onwards, we will manage a book-swap library here at Drygate, for anyone to make use of. We’ll ensure there’s a selection of fiction and non-fiction - students, please feel free to donate textbooks - and although we’d love to see books being swapped and read on-site, if you haven’t got one handy to trade in (or you’re in the mood to read on the long train journey home), we don’t mind if you just take one away.
World Book Day also happens to coincide with our March Spectrum release. So, we decided to honour one of our favourite authors by basing the beers on a series of beloved novels - Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. These uplifting stories inspire children and adults alike. They move us, and motivate us to work hard to make this planet a better place for everyone; to shun endless self-indulgence, and to seek out joy in the world around us. We think that’s a wonderful philosophy, and it’s one we intend to pursue here at Drygate.
Now available on tap, we have...
NORTHERN LIGHTS- 8.2% Melon Weizenbock
The first volume of the trilogy introduces us to an alternate universe, with the story building towards the bridging of Lyra Belacqua’s world with a parallel one. Separated by a shimmering veil - the northern lights - these overlapping worlds are vastly different. Our first Spectrum beer this month (which we’ve also bottled) bridges two disparate styles; a toasty wintry weizenbock meets the fruity, summery flavours of a New England pale.
This strong wheat beer has been brewed with the unconventional addition of melon puree, accompanied by Hüll Melon hops. The result is surprising, but inviting and fun. A rocky, snowy white head caps this hazy amber ale. Aromas of cantaloupe and banana nestle alongside notes of caramel brittle and vanilla. Fruity weizen esters harmonise with the melon character, while the aromatic hops span the gap between phenolic spice and juicy fruit. The palate encompasses toasty spice, hints of banoffee, and a soft yielding fruitiness, reminiscent of pomegranate. The velvet texture comes with a prickle of boozy warmth, but is lifted by fluffy carbonation.
We weren’t sure exactly what the final flavour profile of this beer would be, but now that the Dust has settled, we’re glad it’s this. Grab a few bottles here.
THE SUBTLE KNIFE- 5.8% Schwarzbier
Æsahættr, the subtle knife, led us to create a beer of complexity, with a delicate yet keen edge - and few beer styles compare in finesse to the humble schwarzbier. Brewed with dark malts (thus predating the invention of the golden pilsner) and historically cold-conditioned in caves, schwarzbier is the elder statesman of the lager family. It is the sole beer on offer in Prague’s oldest brewery, U Fleků. Modern interpretations utilise lager yeast strains, and tend to incorporate only a small proportion of carafa, avoiding the bitter astringency of roast malt.
A pale tan foam sits atop this opaque, peat brown* beer. Roasty aromas of espresso and charred lime blur into rich cacao and earthy cascara. There are undercurrents of blackberry and redcurrant too, that can be found woven through the flavours of sweet biscuit malt and toast crust. Modern German hop varieties Mandarina Bavaria and Hallertauer Blanc add complexity. Schwarzbier eschews the potentially oppressive acrid notes sometimes found in stouts, but the light, dry body does boast a deft, bitter roast edge, which leads to short, pointed finish - after all, lager is inherently sessionable beer.
*no, not that Pete Brown.
THE AMBER SPYGLASS- 5.7% Red IPA
With its colour largely predetermined by the titular lens, we knew our third beer should be some variety of amber or red ale. We quickly thought of red IPAs, laden with American hops, redolent of resin, pine oil and pollen; the perfect flavour representation of towering, redwood-like wheel-trees. Our recipe features a blend of pale, cara, and crystal malts (including Carabelge and Special B), and a combination of Cascade, Centennial, Mandarina Bavaria and Triskel hops.
This vibrant red ale shines with a warm, ruby hue. Aromas of caramel, spice, and toffee are dusted with light floral notes, while a creeping dankness evokes a dusky forest floor. The palate brings flavours of orange rind and chewy toffee, with toasty malt notes adding depth and structure. And, like its namesake, this beer is deeply bittersweet - an assertive woody bitterness tempers the speciality malt, rolling into a long, medium-dry finish.
LA BELLE SAUVAGE- 8% Belgian Tripel
The fourth beer is inspired by the first volume of The Book of Dust; or, more specifically, the canoe after which the volume is named. Although a graceful, elegant beer, tripel packs an unexpected punch. An abbey style, this strong pale beer is named for its triple malt bill - roughly three times the mass of malt used in a standard table beer. Our version has been brewed with 100% extra pale malt, and hopped with Strisselspalt, a classic French varietal.
Pale gold, with a diaphanous haze, La Belle Sauvage rides a wave of inviting aromas; lemon zest, banana, bubblegum and nutmeg. Fragrant and warming, the nose gives way to mellow flavours of orange madeleine and butter biscuit, spices like comforting clove, and a biting bitterness. The body is dry, with a soft alcoholic kick adding depth to the palate of this Belgian-style pale.
So there we have it. We’d love you to join us at Drygate to try our four new beers (pouring from noon today), or to settle in for a few hours with a book. Whatever you’re doing on World Book Day, we hope you feel as inspired as we do!
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