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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Tunnel Trade Winds India Pale Ale and Sweet Parish Ale

ABV: 4.6% and 4.7%
Origin: Ansley, Warwickshire, England
Website: www.tunnelbrewery.co.uk

Originally published in BEER, February 2007, as part of a review featuring reader recommended beers. For more, see previous post.

Trade Winds and Sweet Parish Ale

The Tunnel Brewery at the Lord Nelson Inn at Ansley, near Nuneaton in one of the more rolling and rural parts of Warwickshire, is a true enthusiast-driven operation. It owes its foundation to a group of friends who attended beer connoisseur classes at a local catering college.

The whole group pitched in to finance the brewery at the Lord Nelson, which, with the additional help of a grant from Defra, first fired up its mash tun in 2005 with Mike Walsh – tutor of said classes – as head brewer. Real Ale in a Bottle followed in 2006 and Tunnel’s reputation has continued to grow ever since.

Something of everything they brew goes into bottles, and I picked out two from a wide and varied range. Trade Winds – an IPA at a more contemporary, lower gravity with a nod across the Atlantic – makes an interesting comparison with Downton’s stronger interpretation discussed above.

It’s a warm golden-amber beer with a bubbly off-white head and a moderate, slightly grassy hop aroma with some pineapple and vanilla notes, also made with pure Maris Otter pale malt, and Cascade hops added twice during the boil.

Piney, citric hop notes soon assert themselves on a nicely malty palate, developing a peppery bitterness. The hopping remains prominent, though not overly so, on a slightly sweetish gingery finish with another citrus squeeze. While lacking the complexity of stronger IPAs, it provides easy drinking without sacrificing the hop impact.

Sweet Parish Ale, designated a “premium bitter”, is better still. It’s another Maris Otter product, this time coloured by a little crystal, with East Kent Goldings hops on the boil and Styrian Goldings for aroma.

The result is a deep reddish brown, with a thick yellow head that subsides to persistent bubbles. There’s a refreshing sharply fruity whiff on a notably malty aroma, with blackcurrant pastille notes.

The biscuity gingerbread palate also boasts nuts, fruit, slight smokiness and a touch of herbal cough pastille complexity. A refreshing swallow leads to a dry, leafy finish with well-balanced hops, faint roast and plenty of juicy fruit.

The stylish label designs include lengthy and imaginative but wholly spurious explanations of each beer’s origins under the heading “Rumour has it…”, penned by brewery partner Bob Yates. While I’m the sort of killjoy that would prefer some of the space to be given to more factual information, these pieces are eccentrically engaging and certainly contribute to brand identity.

The bottles also display numbers indicating the order in which the recipes were launched – the pair above are numbers 3 and 2 respectively – a ploy guaranteed to engage the collecting instinct. Bob reports that they now receive requests for samples of bottles and beer mats from all around the world.

If rumour has it that Tunnel brews some very good beers, you can be sure that on this matter at least, the rumours are true.

Read more about these beers at ratebeer.com:
http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/tunnel-tradewinds-ipa/51661/
http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/tunnel-sweet-parish-ale-spa/48933/

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