The Northern Powerhouse Brew Series

Monday, 2 July 2018

I may be a beer writer based at the very bottom end of the UK but that doesn't mean that I don't recognise and appreciate the amazing craft ale being brewed by our friends in the north. For example Magic Rock are one of the true original trail blazers of the scene, Cloudwater's hazy IPAs and DIPAs are sought after all over the world and there doesn't seem to be a style that Northern Monk can't nail. Which explains why I was so excited when it was announced that Wylam, one of the hottest breweries in the UK, was releasing a series of collaborations inspired by the Great Exhibition of The North. 

Only 6600 cases were produced and I was able to grab mine from local bottleshop The Beer Musketeer.

You can read my thoughts on each individual beer below but in summary the quality of across the various styles was of a very high standard. What helps is that compared to the most recent Rainbow Project collaboration releases, none of the beers were too "out there" in style. That's not to say that there wasn't a certain degree of experimentation (American wheat ale with jasmine flowers and orange peel) but there wasn't a can amongst them that wasn't incredibly drinkable. If this becomes an annual project you can be sure I'll grab myself a case next time!

001 : Wylam x Buxton Brewery Company : Chocolate Chip Vanilla Imperial Stout 
ABV 10.5%
It pours glossy black with a caramel head that doesn't hang about and has an aroma of caramel, dark chocolate and digestive biscuit. It has very little carbonation, is not as heavy bodied as I'd hoped but does have a lovely smooth mouth feel. The taste is a heady mix of thick black treacle, cocoa, vanilla cream and digestive biscuit with a warming alcohol finish. This is a typical Buxton stout which if you've ever had one, is all the praise that it needs.

002 : Wylam  x Cloudwater Brew Co : Strong Brown Ale
ABV 6.3%
It sits in the glass an opaque, almost foreboding, dark brown with a small latte coloured head. The nose is a sweet blend of chocolate and vanilla, which follows through into the taste along with hazelnuts, a slight hint of floral hops and a sweet creamy finish. This takes the a traditional nutty brown ale and drags it into 21st century. 

003 : Wylam  x Black Lodge Brewery : Mixed Fermentation Farmhouse Ale with Apricot, Peach & Mango
ABV 7.5%
This looks stunning; bright cloudy orange with a small white head. Apricot and mango are both strong on the nose, with mango then dominating the flavour with a hint of banana esters on the finish. The mouth feel is smooth, almost creamy, with the whole package feeling like a Saison/New England IPA fusion and I love it.

004 : Wylam x Thornbridge Brewery : American Wheat Ale with Jasmine Flowers and Orange Peel
ABV 5.5%
This one pours a straw yellow with a small white head that offers some lacing. The aroma of orange peel is obvious with the delicate perfume of jasmine flower present but not overpowering. It's well carbonated with light mouth feel and is quite floral upfront on tasting, then pithy citrus bitterness comes strong. At the end there is a perfume like quality that threatens to overpower but is just about kept in check by the orange peel. 

005 : Wylam x Magic Rock : Forest Fruit Kettle Sour with Blackberry, Blackcurrant & Raspberry
ABV 4.5%
This is one eye catching beer, pouring a rich vibrant pinky red, with a white head that laces well. The nose is a wonderful punch of blackberries and raspberries and those fresh forest fruits are front and centre on tasting with a finish which is tart rather than face puckeringly sour. It has a light body with lovely carbonation and is one of the most refreshing beers I've had this year. This is top stuff and one of my favourites out of the box.

006 : Wylam x Hawkshead Brewery : DDH Pale with Citra BBC, Chinook BBC & Amarillo
ABV 5.0%
This has that classic modern pale ale look, hazy sunshine yellow with a tiny white head. The nose is grapefruit, mango and apricot and the body, whilst not as soft as some I've had, is light with a nice carbonation and a pleasing mouth feel. Stone fruits follow through strongly into the flavour before a pithy drying finish. It's a very solid session pale ale and one that I could happily drink all day.

007 : Wylam x Northern Monk : India Pale Ale with Citra BBC, Mosaic BBC, Vic Secret & Galaxy
ABV 7.2%
Straight from the can you know that this is going to be good, pouring a hazy creamy yellow with an aroma full of pineapple and mango. It has a creamy, medium body and the taste is ripe juicy mango, a little bit of sticky pine, before a slightly drying finish without any real bitterness. This is a great example of a New England Style IPA.

008 : Wylam x Box Social Brewing : DIPA with Citra Cryo, Amarillo Cryo, Bru 1 & Galaxy
ABV 8.5%
This DIPA pours a pale yellow with a haze that glows when the light hits it. The nose is a refreshing hit of citrus and it's pithy grapefruit that dominates the flavour, with hints of sticky pine before a drying finish with a nice smack of bitterness. It's not got the slightly cloying heavy body of some recent DIPAs and this beer overall is brilliantly executed.

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