They say…

Des de Moor
Best beer and travel writing award 2015, 2011 -- British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Accredited Beer Sommelier
Writer of "Probably the best book about beer in London" - Londonist
"A necessity if you're a beer geek travelling to London town" - Beer Advocate
"A joy to read" - Roger Protz
"Very authoritative" - Tim Webb.
"One of the top beer writers in the UK" - Mark Dredge.
"A beer guru" - Popbitch.
Des de Moor


Allendale Best Bitter and Wolf

First published in BEER February 2008.

ABV:  3.8 and 5.5 per cent
Origin: , Northumberland

Allendale Brewery beers

The small and remote riverside town of Allendale, just shy of Hadrian’s Wall, is home to one of England’s most youthful breweries. For brewer and co-founder Tom Hick it’s his first job since leaving college: he went from a zoology degree to a brewing masters at Sunderland then set up his own business with the help of his father Jim.

Last year they branched into small scale bottle conditioning for the local market, with such success that they’ve now had to supplement their own bottles by contract bottling two beers in filtered form at Hambleton Ales. Tom says the bottle conditioned versions sell best at farmers’ markets, while lager drinkers are more easily persuaded to try filtered beers.

Tom sent me both filtered and bottle conditioned incarnations of his standard session ale and local best seller, Best , affording the rare opportunity of a direct comparison. This is a pale amber ale with a traditional grist of Maris Otter pale and crystal malts, hopped with Goldings, Fuggles and English Target and pouring with a fine yellowish head.

The filtered version has a lightly malty, brambly aroma leading to a crisp, dry and quite sternly hoppy palate, with notes of boiled sweets and burnt toast. Bitterish, lettucey resins in the finish are balanced by slightly syrupy malt – a straightforward, pleasantly drinkable beer on the hoppier side of bitter.

The “real” version is clearly the same beer, but with extra freshness and complexity and no slightly cooked notes – a clear demonstration of the extra dimension live yeast can bring. It poured with a more pillowy head and a spicier aroma, with sulphur and yeasty banana notes that recall wheat beer. These persist in a fresh and creamy palate that does a better job of offsetting the stern hops, with a good citric tang. Juicy malt softens an assertive hoppy finish that turns quite bitter at the end.

Wolf, only available in bottle conditioned form, occupies the stronger end of an imaginative range. This is dark reddish-brown with a low but smooth yellowish head and a tart fruit and toffee aroma with a herby, coriander-like Belgian dubbel hint.

Spicy, juicy orange emerges on an intense palate with notes of vanilla, pepper, blackcurrant and roasty malt – Challenger hops give an emerging bitterness while US variety Willamette adds some fruity notes. A fresh, tart and bitterish finish has a whiff of smoke and green herbs. It’s a characterful and robust beer, with a touch of wildness worthy of its name.

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