Always take the weather with you
Saturday was chance for us to try something a little different. I’d snapped up an offer for a beer tour and tasting at Wild Weather Ales in Silchester. We headed out along country lanes, and found the brewery in the slightly surprising surroundings of a unit on an industrial estate. No sooner had we gone inside, and presented our voucher, than the first of many beers we were given to taste was thrust into our grateful hands. We wandered outside to relax by their bright pink and black beer barrels and chat to some of the other folks on the tour.
The first beer was a blonde, 3.5% ABV, going by the moniker “Sundowner”. The pump was illustrated with a funky white cat, looking like she was putting her lippy on ready for a night on the town. On closer inspection she turned out to be licking the top of the beer bottle, but I liked the idea of my first impression. The beer itself was hoppy and to my palate a little smoky tasting. Not bad, but not completely my cup of tea.
By the time the clock had rolled round to 2pm and it was time for the tour to start, a small crowd had gathered by the barrels, with a crowd of mostly men and a handful of women (most the allocated driver!) drinking in the sunshine. I wish we had found a way to get there that didn’t involve me driving home, the beer was flowing, and although I tried a very small amount of all the beers, I wasn’t really able to make the most of the experience. We were ushered inside and the second beer of the day poured into our cups. This was Black Night, illustrated with a rearing white stallion, a 3.9% ABV dark ale. This was more to my taste and I enjoyed sipping at my small sample while we were introduced to the brewery. This beer is currently also rebranded as HowlinGale a Co-Ale-ition ale, as a collaboration with the Monster Raving Loony Party. Love it!
Wild Weather Ales is a relatively new brewery, started in late 2012, with a mission to save the world from mediocre beers, one they are fulfilling with their interesting and wide range of brews. Having tried Sundowner and Black Night from the keg, cool and with a slight carbonation, we moved into the “cellar” at the back of the unit to try the same two beers from the cask so we could see the difference in how the flavours of the beer came through from the two different methods of storing and serving. There was definitely a difference, with the Sundowner from the cask more to my taste than it had been from the keg. While we were trying the cask ales there was a lively explanation about the Chocolate Ale they have recently brewed, which we were able to try a very small amount of at the end of the tasting, from the very last growler of it that was left. This beer was made with a lot of organic cocoa powder in it, and the result is a rich ale with a definite chocolatey taste.
Back in the main part of the unit we admired the beautiful wood bound liquor (or in layman’s terms hot water) tank, mash tun and copper where the magic happens, learning about the process of brewing beer, whilst sampling some more of their wonderfully named beers. These included a delicious pale ale “Sunbathe in the Shade”, what a great name for a brew! We also sampled a Black IPA “Sunset”, which I definitely could have sunk a couple of pints of, instead of the small sample I limited myself to. At this point I confess that despite only a small sample of each beer, rather than the half pint or more of each those who were not driving were being given, I began to lose track of which beers we were trying. At one point a small sample of a beer that was still conditioning, a stronger strength beer, was passed around for everyone to have a sniff of the amazing bouquet of tropical fruit flavours. It was a beautiful golden colour and smelt of mango and passionfruit. That man of mine, being at the end of the circle, was encouraged to neck it once it got to him, which he duly did, to laughter from the rest of the tour group. He said it tasted as good as it smelt. I really want to get my hands on some of it once it’s ready to go.
My favourite beer of the afternoon was Summer Breeze, a lemongrass sour, 5.8% ABV. We were encouraged to smell this first and then take a sip before diving in. It certainly wasn’t to everyone’s taste, being, as the name suggests, sour. However, it wasn’t as sharp as some other sour beers, and I found it tangy and refreshing. In fact, this was the one we chose to take away a growler full of when we left, which I enjoyed in the sunshine when we got home (driver’s prize!).
I really enjoyed our afternoon beer tasting, something a bit different for the weekend. It was interesting to hear about the brewing process, and the passion that the owner Mike and his sidekick Iain had for what they were doing. The tour and tasting was very relaxed, thanks to this friendly pair and the chatty bunch who were on the tour with us. The beers were a bit different from your ordinary 3.8% English Ale and I loved the colourful artwork that they use. After one further pint after the tour, and taking leave of the fab people we met, I finally managed to drag my slightly worse for wear husband away, clutching our Wild Weather T shirts and precious beer.
We’ll definitely be popping back in to fill the growler with something else delicious next time we’re down that way, and I’d recommend popping into their brewery of a Saturday to pick some up for yourself. Check out their website for more details.