Beer sellers: Westholme Store
Origin: Melmerby, North Yorkshire, England
Nick Stafford’s Hambleton brewery is one of the most technically accomplished of British micros — and its founder is one of the more prominent characters on the beer scene. As commercial director of small brewers’ organisation SIBA, among other achievements he established the Direct Delivery Scheme enabling small brewers to sell to pubs owned by pub companies without the beer being trucked through central depots.
The brewery, which makes much of its Yorkshire identity and its roots in the community, has expanded and moved twice since being founded in 1991 — since 2005 it’s been on an industrial estate in picturesque Swaledale. The logo is a representation of the Kilburn White Horse, a local landmark cut into a hillside not far from the brewery in the 1850s, and many of the beer names have equine themes.
The bottled beers don’t get round as much as they ought to, which is a shame, as bottling capacity is one of the brewery’s strengths — they also contract bottle for around 30 other breweries and are proud of their quality record. They make no apologies for not bottle conditioning, instead cold filtering their beers, and the results demonstrate that if bottled with care, filtered beer can rival “real ale in a bottle” at its best.
Nightmare is a great example. This “stout porter” was one of the brewery’s early award winners in cask, and the bottled version lives up to that reputation. I’d place it as a particularly smooth and lighter coloured example of a stout, but the standard beer judging guidelines published by the BJCP in the USA cite it as an example of a “brown porter”. It’s made from four malts — I suspect brown and chocolate malt amongst them.
The beer is dark brown with a burgundy tinge and a fine beige head. A burnt toast, caramel and blackcurrant pastille aroma forms a prelude to a smooth and complex palate with lots of fruit — physalis, raisins, plums — and notes of toffee and liquorice, offset by a pleasant chocolate dryness and a touch of acidity. A slight sweetness mellows a chewy, burry hop fnish with more fruit that finally turns gently pursing.
The name is one of the brewery’s horsey puns but the beer is the stuff much more pleasant dreams are made on.
Read more about this beer at ratebeer.com: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/hambleton-nightmare-bottle/5545/