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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


Box Steam Funnel Blower

Funnel Blower

Southwest porters and strong beers

ABV: 4.5%
Origin: Colerne, Wiltshire, England

Family-owned Box Steam, founded in 2004 near Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s celebrated Great Western Railway tunnel under Box Hill in rural Wiltshire, is a brewery well worth keeping an eye on. I bumped into them in Bristol at a regional heat of the innovative Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt. Unfortunately the beer they put forward at that event, the very decent Dark and Handsome, didn’t make the final. Maybe they should have entered their special vanilla , Funnel Blower, as the review bottle they gave me turned out to be splendid.

This dark and dense brown beer, previously known simply as Vanilla Porter and dosed with roasted barley and real vanilla, has won numerous festival awards in cask form. My bottle conditioned sample poured with a fine light beige head, throwing off a rich chocolate and vanilla aroma with plenty of cakey malt. There was more vanilla, though subtly blended, on the palate, along with some fruity flavours that were more reminiscent of darker cask ales, and an almost whiskyish note. The smooth, slighty stony palate turned roasty and tarry. The vanilla softened the sharpness of the roasted flavours, keeping the beer accessible and attractive while adding to its complexity.

The curious name, by the way, follows the same Brunel theme as all the brewery’s beers. It refers to an accident aboard the engineer’s steamship the Great Eastern, one of the largest ships in the world when launched at Millwall in 1858. During its maiden voyage in the English Channel, one of the five funnels was blown off by a buildup of excess steam caused by an exhaust mistakenly left closed. Six crew members died and several more were badly injured. The results of enjoying the beer that commemorates the event should, I hope, prove less catastrophic.

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