When the MBCF team first thought about curating a bar entirely of beers served direct from the wood, the first brewery we approached was Manchester’s own Beer Nouveau. The North Western Street based brewery and room specialises in brewing and maturing beers in the most traditional containers alongside a range of contemporary beers. Owner Steve Dunkley has become a respected guru on the subject of heritage beers and wood ageing.
So when we’d completed the list for the Beers From The Wood Bar, we asked Steve for his thoughts…..
Beer in the Wood isn’t just barrel-ageing and hopefully the bar at Manchester Beer & Cider Festival will be able to highlight the difference and showcase how brewers are using the complexities of wood cask to both recreate heritage styles and develop new flavours.
To help you with an introduction to beer in wood, here’s our own particular “dance card” (excluding our own X for fairness, although you really should try that too!), as @BeersManchester would say!
Abbeydale – Bretted El Dorado.
Recently Abbeydale have proven that they’re not just a great cask brewery, but that they have talent when it comes to sours and wood beers too. Bretted El Dorado looks to showcase all these combined talents of this great brewery, providing an interesting session ale.
Cheshire Brew House – Govinda.
There are only four breweries in the UK that specialise in historic brewing, and Shane at Cheshire Brew House stands out as being the first and continues to be a trail blazer in the field of heritage malts (no pun intended!), last year winning the International Heritage Malt Brewing Award. Govinda is an original IPA, and one of the best on the market.
Theakston – Old Peculiar
Theakston’s are proof that wood cask beer has never gone away, and Old Peculiar is a perfect example of beer designed to be conditioned and served from wooden casks. These folks have the track record of consistently brewing good wood cask beer, and if you think you know Old Peculiar, but have never had it in wood, then you need to rethink.
Blackjack – Smoked Farmhouse Porter
There are very few beer styles that Blackjack don’t do, and even fewer that they don’t do well. This beer promises to be interesting, as the Belgian yeasts used are usually more associated with sweeter beers, and the farmhouse yeasts with drier. This combination alone could produce some great flavours from the wood, but then add to that the smoked malts and that mixture of hops and this promises to be something to head for.
Brass Castle – Quench
I’ll be honest, I don’t like New England pales. But I’m definitely going to be trying this one. Citra and Mosaic hops are both instantly recognisable, usually in sweeter, juicier beers, so having this beer aged in a gin barrel could provide a tartness to compliment those hop flavours and provide a well-balanced beer.
Hawkshead – Tonka Shake
As with Marble Brewery putting a barley wine in to cans (I still can’t forgive them for that heresy!), this beer should absolutely not work in a wooden cask. But I also thought that of their Key Lime Tau in a white wine cask, and that turned out to be truly amazing. The folk at Hawkshead keep quietly getting on with pushing what can be done with beer (again like Marble), and keep producing stuff that shouldn’t work, but just does.
Beer Nouveau is located at 75 North Western Street, Manchester M12 6DY.
Brewery Tap Opening – 4pm to 10:30pm every Friday and noon to 10:30pm every Saturday.
Learn more at beernouveau.co.uk or follow at twitter.com/BeerNouveau
Try their X Stock Ale & Heritage East India Porter on the Beers From The Wood Bar and Peterloo porter on Bar 1.