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

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Roosters Baby Faced Assassin

ABV: 6.1%
Origin: Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, England
Website: www.roosters.co.uk

Brewery

Long before many of the current crop of in-yer-face British “craft” brewers had even reached legal drinking age, Roosters Brewery was challenging a market drenched in traditional brown bitters with the complex and distinctive aromas and flavours of imported US hops. Sean Franklin, who founded the Knaresborough brewery in 1993, was an early advocate of the beauty of hops in the UK, helping to shift the prevailing nervousness among breweries, and particularly brewery marketing departments, of the International Bittering Unit (IBU) dial creeping above 30.

At a time when British awareness of the great things starting to happen on the other side of the Atlantic was limited to a handful of enthusiasts and an even smaller scattering of specialist pubs, Roosters beers were some of the very few UK cask products that could line up alongside the likes of Brooklyn, Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada without causing too much of a double take. Yankee, a lovely pale ale focused firmly on the fragrant delights of the Cascade hop, was once a regular at the London’s legendary White Horse.

Then in 2011 Sean announced he was selling the brewery as a going concern and moving to Canada. Thankfully it’s been passed into what appear to be very safe hands, well placed to take advantage of the hard work of the past couple of decades, now that tastes are starting to catch up with it. The new owner is Ian Fozard of Market Town Taverns, a small Yorkshire pubco with a specialist beer focus, and the brewery is being run by his sons Ol and Tom. Both are longstanding homebrewers with professional beer credentials, the former with Copper Dragon, the latter with importer and retailer Beeritz.

Baby Faced Assassin is an IPA that originates from one of Tom’s favourite homebrew recipes, using a single malt – pale Golden Promise – and a single hop – Citra. It was first brewed at Roosters, on the trial kit, as a cask special for the live beer blogging event at the European Beer Bloggers Conference in Leeds in May 2012, but hopefully it will become more common as it has considerable potential.

The yellow-gold beer had lots of dense pinkish head, thanks to traditional Yorkshire service through a sparkler, smudging a slightly sweaty coconut and pine aroma with a slight but pleasant note of buttery diacetyl. The palate had plenty of soft body to support a complex mix of tropical fruit, mint and pine flavours, subtly stated against cereal sweetness. A crackly burr of hops, like bitter salad leaves or young nettles, made itself felt on a slightly salty finish, rounding off a subtle and interesting beer.

I’m coming to the conclusion, as more British brewers experiment, that strong and heavily hopped IPAs aren’t always best suited to cask dispense, as they can easily become too thick and cloying, and work better in bottle or from a keykeg with a more assertive carbonation. Baby Faced Assassin is a happy exception – despite a robust ABV for a cask beer it was an easy drinking delight.

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