Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: 2018

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Beer review: Track Brewing Co.

Based in a railway arch a stone's throw from Manchester Piccadilly, Track Brewing Co have been on our radar for a good few years now. Making some of the finest cask and keg around, they made the move into bottles in November last year, so we grabbed a few of their new releases to give the range a try.


Sonoma, 3.8%

Track's flagship, and enormously popular pale ale. This beer is regarded by many as the absolute epitome of what a sessionable cask beer should be all about, so we were excited to see how the journey into smallpack had treated it. Soft citrus on the aroma as we would expect from this beer, with a beautifully delicate hoppy bitterness on the palate balanced by a sweet malty backbone. Crisp finish, perfect for it's ABV. Easy drinking, refreshing, and whilst definitely reminiscent of its counterpart in cask it's just not quite the same. We couldn't put our finger on exactly what was missing, maybe we need to start pulling our bottled beer through an Angram... but having said that it's still bloody delicious. Stock the fridge high.

Koda, 6.5%

A brand new to us lactose IPA. On the nose it's all orange sherbet; creamy, fruity and with just a hint of enticing sharpness. A good punch of vibrant hop character (it's brewed with Mosaic, Centennial and El Dorado) sits happily alongside the silky smooth mouthfeel. It's ridiculously well balanced and manages to simultaneously leave behind both bitterness and a lovely sweet reminder of what was in your glass.

Tenaya, 8.0%

A Citra and Galaxy Double IPA that pours a very pale hazy yellow. The aroma reminded us of mango Rubicon, but with that characteristic New England yeasty bite bursting through too. Tropical notes galore with flavours of passionfruit and more tasty mango, with hints of apricot lingering in the background. The bitterness doesn't overpower, which can so often be the case with this type of beer. A great example of the style.


Overall, then, it's fair to say we were pretty impressed with our first taste of Track's bottled releases, not that we expected anything less. The bottles themselves look beautiful, and it's nice to see a brewery new to smallpack choosing to package into glass rather than can - an increasingly rare move, but it certainly seems to be working for them so far. Their taproom is open on Fridays and Saturdays now too, so it looks like a trip across the Pennines is on the cards for us soon.

Cheers!

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Gin cocktails

I'll be honest, my gin collection is starting to get a tad out of control. I used to think gin was just gin - a simple spirit, with little to distinguish one brand from another. This assumption is increasingly wrong in a market which is continually improving, with a greater variety of different distillers producing gins which are carefully thought out, innovative and ultimately delicious.


It's upon drinking them neat that the nuances of flavour can be picked out and pondered upon, but many of the gins on my shelves lend themselves equally well to cocktails, with the characteristics of each neat gin determining the additional components I like to try alongside them. Here are a few of my current favourites.

NB Navy Strength Gin


A Craft Gin Club discovery, NB Gin hails from East Lothian, Scotland. Neat, it's very balanced and a beautifully classic London Dry style gin, however at 57%, although it remains smooth and has a good burst of citrus, the strength is a little too apparent for me to appreciate the gin fully without a lot of ice (which helps to open out the flavours) and a lemon twist for garnish.

Craft Gin Club labelled this the perfect gin to make into a martini, and who am I to argue with perfection?! To a very cold glass (this is important), pour a double measure of NB Navy Strength, add 10ml of extra dry vermouth, stir and garnish with an olive - simple as that, but so much more complex on the palate than it is to make. My olive garnish was another item from my Craft Gin Club box - Alco Olives, themselves infused with NB Gin! Overall, I'd say this is a heavyweight gin which although tasty gains greater balance and drinkability from a cocktail.

Sibling Gin


I absolutely adore this gin. The first time I tried it (in the Devonshire Cat in Sheffield, which has an excellent gin menu), it absolutely blew me away with a massive hit of what I perceived as bubblegum flavour - something I've never experienced before in a gin! According to the Sibling team (actual siblings themselves!) it's quite common for people to pick up on bubblegum notes from the blueberries used as one of the botanicals. It's got a gorgeous, very slightly earthy, fruity edge to it and it's so unusual. Highly recommended.

In a cocktail, I thought I'd play more on the blueberry elements within the drink and stirred the gin down with a small spoonful of blueberry jam and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, before topping up with prosecco. Decadent and delicious. This gin also makes a beautiful G&T, with Fever Tree tonic and a few blueberries to garnish.

Robin of Locksley Gin


Our most local gin! Based just a ten minute walk away from our house, we absolutely love this gin and the folks who run it are fantastic as well. The gin neat is light and zesty, with a slightly floral aroma and an incredibly smooth, balanced palate bursting with fruity citrus.

For the cocktail, I decided to use an ingredient from another of our local favourites - Birdhouse Tea Co. The citrus and grapefruit notes in the gin I felt would work really well with peach flavours, so I iced a cup of my favourite Princess Peach sencha green tea and added a good splash of Locksley gin. The cocktail was finished off with a squeeze of lemon juice, a tiny splash of sugar syrup (to taste, my friend preferred it without the additional sweetness) and garnished with a piece of pink grapefruit. As an aside, Birdhouse have just opened their own tearoom, bar and restaurant and it is STUNNING. Sheffield, pay attention - they have a tea cocktail menu too!

Brandon's Gin

An American gin for my final choice - this one hails from Rocktown Distillery in Arkansas. This one was recommended to us by the fantastic Starmore Boss, one of our local booze purveyors and without a shadow of a doubt the most knowledgeable. Neat, it's crisp, fresh and almost a little creamy on the palate, with a beautiful honeyed character for an almost silky finish.

For a cocktail, we chose a Souped Up Negroni. Now, the classic gin, vermouth and Campari mixture is boozy as hell as is. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to mix up the Brandon's with the bourbon from the same distillery - a Negroni/Boulevardier hybrid, if you will. We mixed a shot each of the bourbon and gin with half a shot of red vermouth and Campari. The result was bitter, ridiculously boozy and very grown up, full of Seville oranges with an oaky backbone from the whiskey which helps set it apart from your standard Negroni. Not one for the faint hearted, but definitely and defiantly delicious.

Cheers!

Laura