Buxton Beauties 11/08/2011
Craft beer brewed in Buxton, in the Derbyshire Peak District
It's always a little awkward when you find yourself waxing lyrical about a particular beer. I've noticed that some people view this kind of feedback with suspicion, or at worst with an air of contempt that there may be an ulterior motive. But having considered the fall-out from such declarations, I have decided that the only thing one can do is to proudly stick a hand-in-the-air and shout it out loud!
A couple of months ago I was made aware of the Buxton Brewery. Now, it's no longer a secret that these guys are turning out some fantastic beers and they have received some well deserved applause from many. But once in a while there is a beer, or in this case a brewery, which makes me pay a little more attention. It's not the marketing as I'm yet to see anything other than what I see on Twitter, and it's not that the bottles jumping off the shelf, as with the greatest respect the labeling is standard and tells you what you need to know with no unnecessary frilly-bits. The reason I mention this, is that there is a case for selecting a beer based purely on its looks and there are a few breweries that commission artists or other creative types to design their range of labels (check out Ghost Drinker's blog on 'Detour to Beer Art' or Real Ale Reviews 'Like Trousers, Like Brain!' for an insight into the importance of label design). Well in the case of Buxton, it appears to me that there is no emphasis on the look of the bottle and they are letting the beer and its growing reputation speak for itself. Having said that, if you read the bottles you may well be swayed by their liberal utilisation of big American and New Zealand hops. So it's not the marketing; the packaging or indeed due to a personal connection with this brewery; it is the beer that maketh me doth my cap to their excellent ale and the honest brand they continue to grow. Bravo!
So, onto the beer. I've said this before, but for anyone who hasn't read it, I'm not a 'beer reviewer', I was not gifted with the tools necessary to reverse-engineer each beer I taste and inform the good people what they are missing out on. I am an enthusiast and a beer drinker, an enthusiastic beer drinker if you will, and I either like the beer or will choose not to drink it again and move on. However I have, and will if asked again, dabbled with reviewing beers, but in this case I won't attempt it. But having chewed the ear of the local bottle shop owner to stock Buxton's beers, I felt it only proper to buy some and report back. From the full range available I selected: Moor Top, Buxton Spa, Axe Edge, Black Rocks and Buxton Gold. You can find reviews for Black Rocks on HopZine & The Beer Prole, so I won't mention much other than it is a 5.5% abv Black IPA with predominantly blackcurrant, liquorice and grapefruit flavours. The Buxton Spa is a 4.1% abv Special Pale Ale and the bottle I had was really fresh; lively and had really impressive hop aromas. The showcasing of Citra in this beer brings a whack of citrus on the nose and juicy tropical flavours and I'm told that it's propped up with Columbus, Amarillo and Nelson Sauvin. In my opinion it is on a par with their Axe Edge Double IPA, but is obviously much thinner in the mouth and much less boozy. I think Buxton Spa makes for a great session beer!
4.1%abv Special Pale Ale
Buxton Gold is described as a Golden Ale and in comparison to the Spa has a noticeably bigger mouth-feel and its 5.2% abv is reassuringly warming. Again, a huge hop presence, this time through Amarillo, Liberty and Nelson Sauvin. One thing with these beers is the strength and freshness of the aroma. I think this may be due to the fact that I have bought them so soon after they have been brewed and are quite possibly at their best? Finally, and I would say my favourite of the bunch, is Axe Edge, a Double IPA weighing in at 6.8% abv. I was lucky enough to try this at Mr Foleys on cask as part of last weeks International IPA Day celebrations, and it did not disappoint!
It was Axe Edge that introduced me to their beer, which is probably a little unusual as I would guess that a standard bitter or pale ale would usually be the first beer you might try as a way of introduction, followed by specialty beers or stronger niche varieties like the Double IPA. For it's mighty 6.8% it does not wield any destructive sharp edges, it is smooth and rounded and delivers more of a pleasant bludgeoning. In short, I love it and its complex flavours and it goes straight onto my list of 'beers of the year'. So, if you haven't already tried Buxton Brewery's offerings then I would encourage you to do so. In my opinion they are a shining 'broad-spectrum (400-700nm) photon emitting' example to any budding brewers! Follow @kempicus if you want to read what's what in the brewery, and @BuxtonBrewery for general info and banter. Keep up the good work guys!
If you want to read more about Buxton Beers then it is testament to them that they have also been enjoyed and blogged about by: Are You Tasting the Pith, Reluctant Scooper and The Good Stuff, and you can find links to these via Eating Isn't Cheating.
Thanks for reading!
David Bishop, 33 year old Bradfordian, born in East Yorkshire. Garage brewer and novice blogger with grand designs to own a micro-brewery. It's early days!