Posted on 23/05/20
Without wanting to dwell on the obvious, summer 2020 feels like no summer before. Hopefully as you read this the sun is shining and, while your industrious neighbours busy themselves revamping gardens and installing patios, you’re lazing around in true Idler style. You’ll need good beer to compliment your summer lounging, of course. So I have one or two suggestions to make.
If you can, hunt yourself out a can or two of DEYA’s Steady Rolling Man. It’s difficult to put into words what makes this beer so alluring. It could be the whimsical musician on the can. Even more likely is the seemingly careless extra 60ml of the stuff you get, pushing the volume up to half a litre. Perhaps it’s the uncompromisingly subtle yet floral liquid inside? Or all of the above and more packaged together?
Whichever way you look at it, DEYA have nailed the summer pale ale here. Many claim it’s the best in Britain. It’s proved so popular via the Craft Metropolis website I’ve had to impose a limit of two cans per order. It’s not all that easy to come by. If you get the chance, grab a can, light a roll-up and prepare your uke for an evening in the garden, man.
If either of the next two recommendations have made it onto your radar already, congrats. You are truly a beer king. I say as much because, for me at least, both are what I’d call “I told you they would be amazing back in summer 2020!” beers. If you too are so insecure that you also try to impress strangers with frightfully useless beer knowledge, then take note, first of all, of S43 Brewery. S43 has been kicking about since 2012 but has made a serious impression in the last six months. After rebranding (the brewery was formerly Sonnet 43 – a nod to the local Durham poet Barrett Browning), S43 has focused on getting its beers out into the wider world. Previously, S43 brewers were cask champions. Today they make the kind of modern and hazy juice-bombs advancing markets applaud. Fortunately, the new focus seems to be more than a marketing ploy: the brewers themselves admit that their tastes have evolved as modern beers have emerged.
Keep half an eye out for S43’s Snickers-themed You’re not You When You’re Thirsty (a 9% peanut butter fudge stout), but go ahead and seek out Juice Cannon this summer. The latter is one for the sunshine. As the name suggests, the beer is tropical and fruity with popular notes of passionfruit and mango. Somehow, it’s also smooth and creamy. Best enjoyed from a deck chair.
The second of my “new breweries to look out for” is Pentrich Brewing. Thinking about it, you’d be forgiven for mixing these guys up with the reborn S43. The cans themselves are similar. But that’s hardly where the similarities end. Again, Pentrich is another “long standing” craft brewery that has been chugging along since before the true craft beer boom. The tale is a familiar one: pre-2013, home brewers Joe and Ryan had eyes on something more. We hear it time and time again in the industry; beer lovers hoping to make a buck from doing something they enjoy. And it’s fair to say the (growing) team has smashed it since inception. They’re hardly retiring just yet, but the beers here are so damn good that, assuming they end up garnering half the attention they deserve, it won’t be long before the founders will have the freedom to do so.
Pentrich’s name comes from the Derbyshire town where the beer is made, the best of the bunch being the aptly named Birthdays in Isolation. This is a 10% Imperial IPA made with a smash-bang-wallop of citra, simcoe and nelson hops. Don’t be afraid of an overpowering ABV. Birthdays in Isolation will blow more than your socks off on the flavour front.
My last recommendation for summer 2020 brings us back full circle. We started with a much-talked-of must-have in DEYA’s Steady Rolling Man. Arise by Burning Sky snuggles into the same corner.
Without wanting (or at least intending) to create a theme here, Burning Sky is another brewery that straddles the “old” and “new” beer worlds. Still incredible cask producers, Burning Sky’s brewers aren’t afraid to both embrace the traditional and plough on with the modern. It’s a philosophy that ensures all Burning Sky beers deliver, cask or keg. With Arise, the brewery has a flagship pale that’s hard to fault. It’s as bright and hoppy as you’d hope. It’s just the right side of ripe and flowery. At 4.4%, it’s far from a monster, and the fruity notes from the hops sit in perfect harmony with the malt bill. Glorious and easy-drinking, it’s a perfect summer pale ale.
Grab yourself one of the above. Or grab them all. Then sit back and let the bees buzz (note: Bill Anderson’s column will likely have more appropriate advice) and the long evenings whisper on. Happy drinking and stay safe out there.