And so it is, the westcountry strikes back. Always happy to liberate a few Cornish Ales from the barrel, off I trotted to the double whammy meet the brewer of the Hogswood and Coastal breweries at good old Cask. Except it wasn't quite... the coastal brewer was for some reason absent (surely not still snowing down there?) and the Hogswood brewer disappointingly brief, speaking for about 3 minutes. But I have high hopes that my faith will be restored by Lovibonds next week, so for now onto the beer.
Fairly quiet night, having had a rather heavy weekend (December is so punishing for the liver), so I warmed up with some unusually weak beers for me (yes - below 4%!). Very pleasant they were too. Coastal's "hop monster" (well - how could I resist with a name like that? - gimmicky I know, but at least you know what you're getting, and it didn't disappoint) had a suitably crisp and pleasant grapefruit palate, which served as a nice entree.
Then onto Hogswood's "North Shore IPA". This was fabulous, I don't know if it was dry hopped, or they'd run out of hops and shoved a load of heather in it, but it smelt like the hop store in my local brewery - musky, aromatic and deeply enticing. It reminded me of a woodland, perhaps because it was so woody (as Squirrel put it, you almost expect splinters in the back of your throat) and was like drinking a taste of early autumn. Mmmm.
Thought I'd better give the hops a break after that, so couldn't resist another gimmicky name (yes I was one of those people who bought Old Git wine when I was a student). Hogswood's "Yo Crimbo" was a spicy mild, a little bit smoky, but overridingly smelt and tasted like liquorice through and through. Couldn't drink alot of it, probably because I don't like liquorice, but it's testament to the beer that despite this it was immensely enjoyable.
Back to Coastal for some "Angelina" - a nice clean citrusy session beer. Then rounded off with Hogswood's "Stoked" (barman's recommendation as a smoky bitter). Not wrong, it had a very subtle nose - faintly smoky and very faint hop, but a full-bodied ferrous smoky palate, smooth and very satisfying, after an unassuming nose. Not bad for a brewery that started in October last year after a redundancy and a car accident. Which just goes to show that the strangest clouds can have a silver lining.