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Sussex Bottle Share - part 2

This feels all too familiar… freezing temperatures, a light dusting of white to hide the green, and me losing the feeling in my extremities. Nevertheless, I wanted to update you on the third Sussex Bottle Share which was held at The Malt Shovel in Horsham.

A tighter clutch of enthusiasts this time but with one notable addition: Rach Smith (@lookatbrew), Beer Blogger and founder of the Sussex Bottle Share was in attendance and able to enjoy the delights the group had presented. We began with two Belgian beers, a Rodenbach Alexander and an Oude Geuze Boon. The first being an oak-aged red ale macerated with sour cherries and the second being totally unpronounceable.

The third beer to undergo rigorous quality control was my offering; Buxton’s & Stillwater’s collaboratory effort: Superluminal. Now, being quite new to the world of craft beer, my comfort zone is IPAs, however, based on the previous event when sours and stouts ruled supreme I wanted to challenge myself. Superluminal is a sour IPA with raspberries, a bit of what I know, a bit of what I don’t. I must say it was delicious and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to break out of the IPA mould.

Staying in the UK we found ourselves firstly in Scotland at Brewdog's Equity Punk gypsy brewery - Beatnik Brewing Collective and their Blonde Export Stout. This was a great beer and definitely one to mess with your head a bit. Just as the name suggests, the colour is anything but stout but the taste is rich, malty, and inviting. Secondly, it was back down South for Burning Sky’s Monolith, a barrel aged dark beer. Burning Sky really is to beer what Heston Blumenthal is to cooking; something of a visionary that has found mass-market appeal. We should feel very proud of this Sussex based brewery for introducing a British twist on classic styles and furthermore, being innovators in their own right.

Moving even closer to home we then tried Gun Brewery’s Imperial Whisky Stout. This is a beer we at SDC are familiar with as we had it on tap over Christmas. What surprised me was how well they have managed to capture the superior taste of keg in the can, maintaining the luscious mouthfeel and slight essence oak from the whisky barrels. We then shot across the pond for a stop at Modern Times Brewery, San Diego. The Mega Black House is a special edition of their Black House Coffee Stout and possibly my favourite beer of that evening.

Penultimately, we find ourselves in Manchester again at the World’s second-best brewery (according to RateBeer), Cloudwater. This was a vintage Imperial Stout that really piqued the interest of the more die-hard, (self-confessed) beer geeks. Patience paid dividends here as those who had guzzled it on first release commented on how it had appreciated with maturity. Lastly, it was Rach, who, as one would expect for someone with an extensive knowledge of beer, brought something a little different. Galway Bay’s Harmonic Convergence is a 12% barley wine, brewed in collaboration with Belfast’s Boundary Brewing. A remarkably smooth tipple considering the ABV but still wonderfully warming.

In amongst the tasting there was some interesting conversation to be had. A particular topic that really got everyone passionately and angrily agreeing with one another was the recent attempt by Brewdog to ‘celebrate’ International Women’s Day. In a move critics called “off the mark”, Brewdog changed the colour of their flagship beer, Punk IPA, to pink. Furthermore, they labelled it, “a beer for girls.” We agreed that their rationale for the campaign came from a good place in that they wanted to challenge lazy marketing gimmicks that serve to patronise woman rather than empower them. Our unresolved discussion centred around whether a corporate entity such as Brewdog can participate in a social campaign without appearing dishonest or self-serving. After all, they do want us to buy their product and what better way to get exposure than to coattail a trending issue.

Maybe we are just horribly cynical? In any case, the enthusiasm for one another’s company and the great beer that accompanies it has not diminished one iota. I’m delighted to announce that the next instalment of the Sussex Bottle Share is coming back to South Downs Cellars Lindfield on Friday 13th April. If you would like to join us the festivities start when the shop closes at 8pm.         


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