Back at the European Beer Bloggers Conference we had a meal presented by the guys, but mainly Stuart Howe from Sharps Brewery. During the course of the meal he was presenting a new range of beers called the Connoisseurs range.
During the meal, there were so many beers on our table, and we were just having fun drinking everything that was put in front of us (especially Tandleman and Mark Fletcher - out of the big 'oversized wine glasses') I thought it would be good to give two out of the three some serious consideration tonight. I did try the beers on the night, but like I said, there were so many beers on our table, I managed to take two of these away with me.
First up comes the Honey Spice Triple. Lovely pale gold in colour with a buzzing carbonation and big 10% punch. The most obvious points about the aroma are big waves of honey, caramelized bananas, some candy floss and Belgian sugars - it's sort of Belgian Triple meets Cornish Honey Ale. It's dry and spicy. Good juicy fruit flavours - apples and pears with a little citrus peel. Good caramel mixed with the Belgian sugar, and a certain sweetness mixed with the drying spicy finish that makes it a beer that drinks nowhere near it's strength. A super beer, which went really well with the 'Poached pear, watercress with a minted melon salad' and the 'Pan seared hake with a light horseradish and pea cream' on the night - A great all rounder.
Next up comes the Quadruple. Another fire starter at 10%, it looks like a devilishly dark Ale which is not to be taken lightly. I'm getting a surprising aroma from what I can remember. Lots of fresh fruit; lychees and grapes with a juicy melon and apple scent, with a bit of banana and brown sugar in there it's a regular fruit salad! It's a big sweet fruity boozy beast of a beer for certain! Once again a slight drying spicy Belgian influence, with a hint of vegetal flavour in the long powerful finish. Good caramels and toffee flavours mixed with a perfect warming sensation. It's a great desert beer, which would go equally well with the fine cheeses, or the sweeter options. I will say it went pretty damn well with the 'Banana and rum toffee pie' on the night.
The bottles themselves look very nice - well designed, and with a look of quality about them. The spiel on the back of the labels is incredibly (and refreshingly) informative, I'll give many props to that, but I think the text is far too small. I know my eye sight is crap, but I don't really want to be squinting though what is an excellent description of a beer.
It was a pleasure to meet Stuart Howe, if only for a brief conversation. Something that was made blatantly obvious from his key not speech at the conference was how much passion (and balls) he has in this industry. I loved the story he told about when they merged with Molson Coors; He went up to the interview with his resignation letter and told them that if they wanted to try change anything he did, then here was his letter - Stuart, you are hardcore.
It's because of Molson coors' money that Stuart has been able to produce this range of beers. The Triple and Quadruple as well as the Sharps Single Brew would be very welcome additions to the Beer Ritz shelves, and I would point that if Zak and Stuart are as good friends as they keep going on about, then I hope it's only a matter of time before I get to sell these beauties.