Wednesday, 13 November 2013

BrewFist MTB: Smacking you up'side the head....

Although it's not long been open, the Red Willow bar is already doing good work for the beer drinking community. Not only is it the venue for the newly formed Macclesfield Homebrew Club, due to commence next week, but it's also going to be hosting numerous Meet The Brewer events throughout the year. The first meet took place on a cold Tuesday night in November with ace Italian brewer BrewFist

The evening kicked off with an introduction of the Italian beer scene by Giulio from Atlas Brands, the British distributor of some of finest brews from a country that is largely known for its wine production. There is a scene there, not a massive one, but it is gathering steam and recently I've sampled some damn fine brews from the likes of Toccalmatto and Birrificio Italiano. With the background set it was time to kick things off with our host - Pietro Di Pilato, founder and head brewer at BrewFist. The plan was to sample six of his beers and he would give a short talk about each one (as is the case with these MTB events). So enough chit-chat, lets get on with the drinking!

Terminal Pale Ale - Pale Ale (3.7% ABV)

Marketed as a session ale due to the low ABV, this little number was very light, with great fruity flavours created by the mix of Citra and Summer hops. The beer was named to keep in theme with the brewery's own airport themed bar - Terminal 1.

Caterpillar - Pale Ale (5.8% ABV) 

This is a collab beer with Danish gypsy brewer Beer Here. Pietro told us that the first attempt at this brew turned into a bit of a mistake, but it ended up selling very well and they stuck with it. If this beer is a mistake then I hope to God I royally screw up my attempts at homebrewing! This is their 2nd bestselling beer after their flagship Spaceman IPA. Apparently they caused some offence with a family-friendly retailer in Australia with regards to the weed smoking caterpillar on the label. I've sampled this beer before and really rated it, everything about it is just so subtle and mellow. There's some slight spiciness that comes through, which we're told comes from the rye rather than the hops.

Czech Norris - Walker Imperial Pils (6.7% ABV)

Apparently the best beer known to man is brewed with a single drop of Chuck Norris' blood, but as it's impossible for him to bleed no one has ever made it. This is BrewFist's vision of what said beer would taste like, and it's probably not far off. The name comes from the use of Czech hop - Saaz, and with a name like that this brew demands to be sampled! They initially had a bit of trouble getting this tipple into the US, not that there were any objections to the Chuck Norris reference, but the fact the label features the Czech flag! Silly Americans! The beer is sweet with honey tones that really start to come through with the more you drink. I'm not normally a pilsner fan, but this was very palatable.

Heimdall - Galaxie Saison (7.6% ABV) 

This is another collab brew, this time with German brewer Freigeist. It's a fresh beer that's more hoppy than an average saison, making good use of the fruity flavours of the galaxy hops, with an essence of spice lurking in the mix too. This one is supposedly very popular in the US of A.

Fear - Chocolate Milk Stout (5.2% ABV)

One of the first four core beers BrewFist started out with. Pietro told us that Italians are afraid of dark beers and the name came from the Iron Maiden track "Fear of the Dark". There's nothing to be afraid of here. It's a lovely, rich, chocolatey stout that holds its own against the other big chocolate stouts already out there. Apparently buying pure lactose (a plain white powder) in any great quantity in Italy arouses suspicion as it's also commonly used to cut cocaine! FACT!

Green Petrol - Black IPA (8.2% ABV)

We end the session with a big hitter. This beauty was as black as my soul and hopped to the max with a real lingering after taste. Once again the guys had problems in the US with the name, as it raised some kind of confusion whether it actually contained petrol or not, but at 8.2% it's probably potent enough to at least power a Lambretta. This is the lowest selling beer in of their range, but then it is a beast of a drink!

. . .

As the session drew to a close Toby of Red Willow announced that he will be working with Pietro on a collab brew the very next day, a Red Pale Ale, which will be available on the bar as soon as it's ready for consumption. I shall be first in line!

Drunken Blurry Cam.
Giulio, Pietro & myself.
What became apparent with the more drinks we consumed was that BrewFist is a very competent brewer that enjoys to put their twist on each style, but at the same time remaining subtle. I spoke with Giulio about this and he stated that because Italy doesn't have a history of beer, no one feels bound down by styles therefore allowing the freedom to run with it without aficionados turning their noses up.

The missus then turned up with a half of Burocracy, another one of their fine ales (a really hoppy IPA), and I seized the chance to have a chat with Pietro. Obviously being a homebrewer I wanted to know if he could offer any advice to someone that might want to brew for a living, but he doesn't have homebrew background, instead learning his trade working for Fullers in the UK, but what he did say is that it's a lot of hard work and there's more cleaning involved that you would imagine!

It was a brilliant night with some fabulous beers from a top brewer, quite an act to follow, but I've already ear wigged who is possibly lined up for the next MTB event and if it comes to fruition, let me tell you, it'll be a doozy! Stay tuned...

Update: Another decent write up on the night can be found over on Beersay.