It is really nice to be involved with promoting and supporting a local business as it is just setting up. Earlier on this year we became involved with a couple of ex-schoolteachers who were hoping to set up a brewery near to Chesterfield. Since then we have been in regular contact with them and have been sampling their beers, both at the brewery and (thankfully for them) in a few of our local pubs. One of their seasonally produced beers is a stout and is called Sergeant Pepper.
Spire Brewery is based on the Ireland Industrial Estate in Staveley, Derbyshire. It was founded in the spring of 2006 by a former school teacher and Scot’s Guard Bandsman called David McLaren. David had always had an interest in brewing and decided to give up teaching to follow his dream and scale up from home brewing to commercial brewing. This new brewery is housed inside two industrial bays and is capable of producing 10 barrels; they have also just installed a bank of six handpumps, so are able to offer brewery tours.
At the moment the range of beers produced includes Chesterfield Best Bitter (a chestnut brown premium bitter at 4.8% ABV), Encore (a pale amber session bitter at 3.8% ABV) and Land of Hop and Glory (a golden hoppy ale at 4.5% ABV). Their beers can be found at selected pubs (especially in the Derbyshire and Yorkshire regions) and are beginning to feature at Beer Festivals around the country ~ in fact Land of Hop and Glory has recently been awarded Silver Medals at the 2006 Peterborough Beer Festival in the Best Bitter and Beers from New Breweries categories.
*A Bit of Background*
Due to the brewer’s musical background he decided that (wherever possible) the beers produced by Spire would have a musical theme. This is why we get Encore and Land of Hop and Glory (their specials have included Maestro for example). When they were developing the idea of a new dark beer they thought of adding pepper to stout and came up with the name Sgt. Pepper ~ after the Beatles song of course!
Sgt. Pepper weighs in at 5.5% ABV and is brewed using Northern Brewer and Fuggles hops, along with Maris Otter pale, Amber and Pale Chocolate malts. Along with this, as the name suggests, freshly ground black pepper is also added during the brewing process. The beer style is a stout ~ think a good stout like Brock, Black Mass or Espresso Stout, rather than something mass produced like Guinness!
*Look, Aroma & Texture*
Sgt. Pepper is a very dark brown, almost black stout with a long lasting coffee coloured head. The head stays with you throughout the pint and laces the side of the glass nicely as the dark liquid goes down. Aroma is a pleasant mix of roasted malt, fruit (a kind of raisiny scent), caramel and a spicy pepperiness that gives it a slight kick. Texture is creamy, rich and pretty full bodied.
*Tange’s Taste Test*
The taste of this brew is certainly peppery, but there is certainly a lot more to it than that! The base flavour is a toasty roasted malt, blended with complex notes of chocolate (dark slightly bitter chocolate), liquorice and caramel (giving a balancing sweetness). The pepper starts off as just a hint and is barely noticeable. This changes as you drink and the pepper taste builds in intensity. This all leads to a bitter hop and roasted malt finish and a long dry aftertaste that leaves a peppery tingle on the tongue and on your palate.
~~~WHAT TANGE THINKS.
I really rate Sgt. Pepper Stout! Not just because it tastes great, but because it is unique. It is refreshing to come across a beer from a new brewery that is original and shows the promise of being a real winner. The pepper flavour is a great touch and is just strong enough to be noticeable without being too strong and really overpowering. It is also a good example of a stout ~ it is full bodied, strong and full of flavour and the novel idea of adding pepper gives it that little bit extra and a nice bite. I expect great things of this beer and hope that it gets the exposure and recognition I think it deserves!
I have recently tried Sgt. Pepper in a couple of my local pubs and also at the brewery. I have also been lucky enough to sample the beer from the initial test brew right through to the finished marketable product. My latest two samplings have been at The Arkwright Arms at Sutton-Cum-Duckmanton and at The Industry in Newbold. The price was similar in each, so expect to pay about 2.30 GB pounds a pint. On both occasions the stout was roasty, peppery and full of character and taste ~ very pleasant indeed.
Look out for this top class stout at Beer Festivals and pubs in the future. It’s a well crafted and unique brew that I wholeheartedly recommend!
Unit 2-3, Gisborne Close
Ireland Business Park
Tel: 01246 476005
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