This time last week, I was invited to pop along to a launch event at The Cambrian Tap in Cardiff to try out the new range of Brains Craft Brewery cans.
This gave me an opportunity to try each of the cans in the range, marking the five-year anniversary of the Brains Craft Brewery.
There was even cake too!
You are never far away from a stockist of the new range, with the cans being available in over 100 Brains managed pubs across England and Wales, as well as leading supermarkets within Wales.
I even had a chance to catch up with Simon Martin from Real Ale Craft Beer and beer writer \ Blogger Arfur Daley of Brew Wales to discuss all things Brains Craft Brewery, beer and cider in general.
I can even be seen here reaching for a sweet potato fry or two, in a photo by @Jollyblogger1.
Without further ado, Lets take a closer look at the new range and see what the latest brews are all about?
Point Break • Lager • 4.0 % ABV • Cardiff, Wales
“A new smooth, refreshing, full flavoured lager brewed with 100% lager malt, Californian lager yeast and the Hallertau Blanc hop. Sweet and fruity with distinctive passion fruit and melon flavours leading to a crisp finish with hints of pineapple and white grape“.
Point Break is pale straw in colour, clear and produces a fairly lively white head.
At the front there is a very subtle sweetness which may come from DMS (Dimethyl Sulphide), which occurs in beers that use purely lager malt and is perfectly acceptable.
There was very little in the way of hops or yeast esters but a graininess comes in towards the back from the lager malts. A really clean beer on the nose.
In the flavour, there was more of the graininess, sweetness and a touch of biscuit from the malts. A spicy bitterness comes in at the end from the hops which lasts, but certainly not at the fruity levels described in the product guide above.
Point Break is a light bodied lager with a light level of carbonation and was fairly smooth. Generally a clean, refreshing and pleasant lager.
Point Break is most definitely a sessionable lager, which makes a great craft alternative to the mainstream lagers out there. I would swap them out with Point Break in a heartbeat.
Gin Lane • Specialty Gin Beer • 5.0 % ABV • Cardiff, Wales
“Lemon and lime aromas give way to herbal, spicy hop flavours and finally a dry, pleasantly bitter aftertaste created by adding gin botanicals to the brew, including ground juniper berries and crushed coriander seeds. Crisp and sharp, with a distinctive gin flavour“.
Gin Lane is crystal clear and golden in colour, producing a huge white head which holds itself for some time after pouring.
The aroma starts with subtle fruit but leads very quickly into dry juniper which tingled the tongue and the back of the throat. You are then hit with citrus and zest as well as a tonic like, level of carbonation.
The flavour gives lots of citric dryness and zest along with a gin like bitterness. The retro nazal allows you to pick up more of the biscuity malts which reminds you that this is still a beer. A sharp and zesty bitterness comes in at the end, which lasts and lasts.
Gin Lane is a light bodied beer with a lively level of carbonation, which helps create a creaminess in the body through its fine bubbles. It really gets the tongue singing and is surprisingly similar to the feeling of a gin and tonic.
Gin Lane is a really accessible beer that helps bridge those that love their beers and those that are looking for something crisp and refreshing. The flavours really stand, out the longer the beer rests on your tongue.
The gin flavours really shine whilst still retaining that beery edge.
A great speciality beer that hits the brief exactly!
Barry Island IPA • American IPA • 5.0% ABV • Cardiff, Wales
“Created by Simon Martin, aka Mr Real Ale Guide, this India Pale Ale was inspired by the ‘IPA revolution’ across the pond. The boy from Barry has used a trio of hops from the US in this pale coloured ale, which is bursting with citrus aromas. A unique smooth malt taste upfront is finished off by a vigorous bitterness and a ‘tidy’ clout of citrus and berry hop flavours“.
Barry Island IPA is deep gold to pale amber in colour and produces a small head which settles quite quickly though lingers around the edge of the surface. The IPA has a richness to it as a result of the colour and is perfectly clear.
The aroma seemed to be really subtle for an IPA when left standing. A little agitation pushed more of the hop character but it was difficult to identify specific characters other than a little citrus. There were some very subtle caramel notes too.
The flavour is certainly hoppy but not at the intensity that you would expect the more current and modern IPAs to be. Toffee like biscuit flavours can be picked up at retro nazal and a fruity\resinous hop bitterness takes over at the end.
Barry Island IPA has a medium light body with a light seltzer like carbonation level which aids some creaminess in the texture.
Despite the big American hops used in Barry Island IPA, the aroma and the flavour seemed to fit somewhere between a British IPA and an American IPA in terms of intensity.
Current American IPAs are hard-hitting big and exciting whilst Barry Island IPA feels a little more safe and accessible.
This aside, It’s still a perfectly drinkable and inoffensive IPA. I would just like to see more oomph behind it.
Black Mountain • Black IPA • 5.0 % ABV • Cardiff, Wales
“Black Mountain was brewed in collaboration with The Craft Beer Channel and if you close your eyes it smells like a classic American pale ale, but Black Mountain is bigger than that. It starts with coffee, liquorice and burnt toffee. Then, after a few seconds there’s an explosion of hops from the mountain of Amarillo, Pacifica, Citra, Summit and Apollo, before the final say goes to the chocolate malts and their moreish smoky finish“.
Black Mountain is rich and black in colour with a massive, light tan head which lasts for ages. Shining a little light through the beer reveals a perfectly clear, Ruby brown IPA.
The aroma starts with a coffee roast and leads into a chocolate/malt sweetness. These combined offer similarities to a mocha with the addition of dark fruit from the hops.
Lots of chocolate, coffee and a subtle toast malt kick things off in the flavour. Forest fruits such as black current and berries start to move in next. The hops play a big part in this black IPA but the malts have a prominent place too.
The balance between the darker malts and the vibrant hops create a really pleasant and resinous bitterness.
Black Mountain is a medium -full bodied Black IPA with a high level of carbonation yet still smooth in texture. the hops and darker elements of the malts offer a dryness on the tongue.
Black Mountain is a solid Black IPA which hits all the marks. The mixture of malts and hops give plenty of depth and complexity, whilst the texture is smooth and rich.
I’d have no problem enjoying more!
This was a great tasting session and a brilliant opportunity to try each and every one of the beers on our terms, whilst having the experts on hand to find out more.
The gems of the day were definitely the vibrant and tangy Gin lane, as well as the hopped up and dark Black Mountain. Point Break makes for a great and accessible alternative to large-scale lager companies out there.
With variety comes the chance to come across a beer that isn’t for you. Barry Island IPA unfortunately falls into this category but there are many more Brains Craft Brewery beers out there that more than make up for this.
Give me a Cafe Phoenix, Atlantic White or a Crafty Chairman any time!
Following the Brains Craft Brewery event, Simon, Arfur and I went on a micro tour of Cardiff to enjoy some high strength brewskies and a few cheeky sours.
Thanks for the Invite Brains, it was a blast!