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


Marble Decadence and Special

ABV: 8.7% and 10.7%
Origin: Manchester, England

An extended review of a beer featured as a strong and special beer  on the bottled beer review page in the November 2010 issue of BEER magazine, sent free every quarter to CAMRA members, who can also view it online. The magazine is additionally available in selected newsagents.

Special and Decade. Pic from the Beer Emporium:

In a city with more than its fair share of great and bars, the Grade II listed Marble Arch, in rather unpromising surroundings just north of the city ring road at Ancoats, is one of the real stars. Connoisseurs of historic will admire the narrow but high-ceilinged single bar with its impressive ceramic tiling, and diners the excellent food, but the highlight is the first class beer. Most of the cask choices are supplied by the in-house brewery, which is also winning a reputation for itself in the free trade as one of the most imaginative and reliable micros in northern England.

This reputation can only be enhanced by a relatively new line of very special strong limited edition beers, conditioned in 750ml Bordeaux-style bottles with wired and waxed corks, the elegant presentation matching the quality of the content. Many drinkers will raise their eyebrows at the price tag – around a tenner a bottle from the pub, but I for one am glad to see a British brewer daring to up the stakes by putting a realistic price on a fine, rare, artisanal product, a practice now relatively common among the craft brewers of the USA and Italy.

I tasted both Special and Decadence – both were excellent but the stout impressed the most. It’s near black, with a deep beige head and a dark malt and spice cake aroma with notes of Marmite and tropical fruit hops. A malty, cakey and very smooth palate develops rich fruity flavours – pineapple syrup, lemons, raisins, plums and crystallised ginger – but all with an intriguing bitterish hop lift. More bitter hops assert themselves in a long, drying, lightly roasty finish that develops pineapple, chocolate and charcoal notes. There’s a touch of American influence at work in this very fine example of the style that could clearly withstand some ageing. Frambozen (raspberry) and kriek (cherry) versions are also available.

The barley wine pours a hazy, reddish amber with a fine orangey-white head. There are coconut, farmyard, glucose, grapefruit and boot dubbin notes on very American-influenced hop dominated aroma, and the palate is rich in tropical fruit, pineapple and peach with a lightly bitter and very distinct hop bite. A mouth coating swallow leads to a long-building finish with peach fruit, grapefruit zest, nuts and some alcoholic weight. The hops are firm but not overpowering. The best before date is set 10 years in advance – December 2019 for my sample of brew 1500 from 2009 – and I suspect that with five years in a good cellar the beer will be an absolute knockout, but it’s well worth drinking young.

Buy this beer from as part of a special pack containing all the beers featured on my beer review page in BEER this month. BEER readers receive a special discount by entering the voucher code shown in the magazine.

To download BEER if you’re a CAMRA member, see

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