By Arthur Green-King, Real Ale Enthusiast, and Beer Critic For ‘Athletes Foot Sufferers Monthly.’
Having first met in March 2014, the Griffin MALTS (Monthly Ale Lovers Tasting Sessions) have met at the Griffin on the third Tuesday of each month to taste discuss and rate a selection of different beers, in a friendly, convivial atmosphere.
And there are such a wide range to try. Plunger’s ‘Old Latrine,’ Rottweiler’s ‘Best Biter,’ and King Arthur’s Brewery ‘Excali-beer’ are just three that we have thankfully not been exposed to, due to Gilly’s unerring instinct in finding an excellent and unusual selection of beers from across the country.
So then what have we tried? Across ten tastings last year we tried seventy four different beers, as well as a further twenty which were rated at the Beer Festival in July. At each tasting we rated each beer for appearance, aroma and taste, giving a score of up to a maximum of five for each of these areas. Yes, it was hard work, dear reader, but despite water-logged throats, sore livers and severely tested kidneys we battled on awarding marks, looking, smelling and sipping, sipping, forever sipping.
As you will no doubt have seen Essex breweries scored well with strong performances from Red Fox, Mighty Oak, Round Tower and Colchester beers, all of which are brewed within a twenty five mile radius of the Griffin’s hallowed bar. When it comes to local brewers, however, the one that took the biscuit….well, not so much the biscuit as the whole Peek Frean Luxury Assortment box, was Braintree’s own Bishop Nick Brewery. Not only did there golden ale, ‘Heresy,’ win the overall Beer of the Year, but three of their other beers won the Beer of the Month in June, September and December; a quite magnificent result for them and well deserved it was too.
Other breweries from across the country were also well represented. Havant Brewery from Hampshire had two of its beers feature in the overall top ten for 2014 and others that fared well included Skinners and Woodfordes breweries, from Cornwall and Norfolk respectively. Two of our regular MALTS members, Chris and Dave are keen brewers and provided a couple of their own brews for us to try, with their ‘Friar Tuck’ ale being particularly well received.
And now we are into 2015, and the task, onerous and ceaseless though it may be, of staring at, sniffing and tasting (oh will the tasting EVER end?!) the beers placed before our small but dedicated band to decide which will win the honour of being the Griffin MALTS Beer of the Year this time.
Why not come along and help us decide? Third Tuesday of every month. 7.30 pm. £5 a head. Make it the one New Year’s resolution that you keep in 2015.