Day 11 – #12BeersofXmas 2015
Brewery – Allgates & Northern Monk
Location – Wigan, Grt Manchester (historically Lancashire) & Leeds, West Yorkshire.
The Drink: Northern Gates
ABV: 8.2% – 750mL (or maybe 660mL)
Style: Barley Wine
This collaboration between the red and the white rose was a limited bottle release from 2013. Each bottle was labelled “1 of 500” which though correct probably got a few people to soil themselves thinking they’d actually got bottle number 1. As such this bottle has been aged by me for about 2 years.
It had to happen and when it does it comes to how we approach the situation.
In this instance I’m referring to an under performing bottle. Choosing 12 drinks in advance for the #12beersofXmas pens you in to only reviewing those 12 and only being able to do so when near both the drink itself and a computer, hence the delay in Day 11 (and 12) of these reviews.
When I tweeted my 12 bottles one response was from a concerned follower about the Northern Gates as the reviews for it had been less than glowing.
A quick scan of Untappd showed that not only was this the case but that, rather conveniently, those most recent reviews had come from people I “know” via twitter/Untappd and beer gatherings in general and therefore people whose views I would trust.
A bit more research (and really I should have contacted the breweries directly and for that I apologise) from others close to the brewery suggest that a faulty batch of caps had lead to what was really a 50/50 shout. Some closures hadn’t sealed properly, some had even gone rusty, others would be OK.
Funny thing is the more I think about it the more I think I may have had this on keg and Indy Man upon its initial release…who knows, this review is about the bottle…
The bottle opens with an audible hiss and pours a glorious deep amber colour and is clear as a bell. A small, white sticky head forms but quickly dissipates.
Sadly this is where my hope that I was lucky with my bottle. The smell was tart fruits but a pungent aroma of something that wasn’t quite right. Perhaps all the negativity was impacting and I was just being to trepidatious but sadly upon tasting my worries were confirmed. The taste was as it smelt, overly acidic and quite unlike any beer let alone barley wine I’ve tasted in some time.
It is a shame, less because of hope it would be good or from any money being wasted but because both breweries are very near the top should I ever compose a list of my favourites. Allgates themselves won my 2015 Golden Pints award and I really enjoy Northern Monk beers (and even chocolates made from their wonderful Strannik) and had a great time at their Refectory.
Breweries big and small do make a duff beer sometimes (regardless of how much sycophantic fans wish to laud every beer released by certain breweries) but sometimes luck plays a part too. You can get everything right up to delivery to the customer and still a beer will never hit 100% of the intended aim set out to achieve.
But then that is the joy of beer; if you got nothing but great beer served properly in great pubs by highly competent and attentive bar staff then I for one wouldn’t have much to talk about and you lot wouldn’t waste your time reading this amateurish nonsense.
Thanks for reading.