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Whether you like it or not, Beer is full of trends. As with fashion, music and film, you choose what you want to take from trends; you either see something as innovative and vital to the forwarding of the cause, or you take the cynic’s view and dismiss it all as flashes in the pan, as unwelcome distraction from the real issue. Class, as they say, is permanent.
As a drinker, I’ve got one foot in each camp (there’s a surprise, I hear you all groan). I enjoy the coming and going of trends, be it flavours (remember the ‘Saison Boom’ of mid-2011?) or packaging (opening those first cans, sniffing the beer for traces of metal, and realising it’s all bollocks and the beer just tastes good*). But what keeps me smiling through the changing seasons of beer are little islands of class, breweries that you will just drink anytime and who, by and large, probably don’t get as much credit as they should. (Tandleman wrote an excellent piece on this here).
One such brewery for me is Mordue; who at once seem both faithful and exotic – despite only being ‘up the road’ in Tyneside we see a poor amount of their*beer here in Yorkshire. So when I do see Workie Ticket or the substantial IPA on the bar, that’s me set for the night.
Tasty, tasty, beers – simple as that. It may surprise you, but Workie Ticket (4.5%abv) *is a long-time favourite of mine. It’s just the sheer heft of it; the unashamedly brown colour of it, the mouthful of toffee-lollipop malt that you get from it. Almond and Cherry Bakewell Tart all say hello, before finishing in a fruity, earthy bramble-bush finish that’s pleasantly crisp. This is brown beer with life, brown beer with elan, brown beer with hidden depths.
A quick hop to their website illustrates the sheer range of beers that the lads at Mordue try their hands at. Newcastle Coffee Porter is one to seek out; supremely drinkable and moreish. Radgie Gadgie (4.8%abv), brightly amber, *ploughs a similar furrow to Workie Ticket; all biscuit and flowery aroma, but then – bam – a raspingly dry finish that’s high and sharp cleans everything up. A surprise package, for sure. These are beers that are packed with flavour, strong and stout.
Brewer Rob Millichamp writes the Rob’s Beer Quest blog (link on the right), where you can track his adventures with offshoot Panda Frog Brewery. He’s a lovely chap and a bloody good brewer. And as we all know, good brewing transcends trends. There’s a lot to be said for a solid core range of all hits and no misses, clean, modern branding without fanfare and – perhaps most importantly – consistency.
*I’m not suggesting the Canning is a trend, by the way. It’s here to stay, in a big way – trust me. But when it appeared, it was sooo shiny and new…