Monday night saw The Beagle in Chorlton launch its first Meet The Brewer event. As a longtime fan of the Port Street events and an enthusiast of Magic Rock beers it seemed natural to go. However, following last week’s abrupt closure of The Beagle’s kitchen, you can’t help but wonder what’s going on with the place at the moment. So it was with some curiosity that I made the trip down to hear Richard Burhouse, one of the founding brothers behind the brewery, talk about his beers.
First of the night was Curious, Magic Rock’s everyday pale ale. With this one Magic were aiming for a session ale high on hops flavour and aromatics. Drinkability, as well as consistency in product, seemed to be the intention here. Richard likened the fermentation process to producing beer with a ‘hops cafetiere,’ which makes sense considering its lightness. This ale would be perfect cold on a sunny day, but personally I found it a bit lacking in body. Not a bad ale, and certainly it has a time and place, but not one I would order regularly.
Next up was High Wire, which is described as a tribute to American West Coast pale ales. With this beer Richard explained that they were aiming for a pint that worked as a cask beer as well as a keg, with dry hopping giving extra aroma post-fermentation and the cask adding roundness and balancing out the aromatics. The ale itself had a strong citrus aroma with refreshing grapefruit tones.
Following this half came a platter of lightly seasoned grilled asparagus with a pot of whipped basil mayonnaise, and at my table we pondered why The Beagle decided to abruptly change its food offering last week. Having been for dinner there on two occasions I felt that the menu was sound in concept. After all, when you have the well-reputed Aumbry’s Lawrence Tottingham as ‘chef-at-large’ you figure that you can’t go too far wrong.
However, I found that while the menu struck just the right balance between contemporary and classic there were some flaws with the food proposition. Prices veered towards the expensive and on one occasion they served my mum raw chicken, embarrassing given that I had raved about the place to her following my first meal there. Whatever the issues (and it should be stated that staff were great in their response at the time) were while munching on those tender asparagus stems, it seemed a shame they couldn’t be resolved.
Onwards and upwards, though. The next half was my favorite and what I like to (try) and make my session Magic Rock pint, Dark Arts: Surreal Stout at 6%. Where to start, I love this beer so much. The finest dark chocolate, dried Christmas fruits, blacker-than-night espresso, silky treacle; all of these are in a glass of Dark Arts. There is a velvet sweetness as you sip, which fades to roasted after-notes.
Following this came Cannonball, a 7% IPA. Richard said that Magic Rock always aims for ultimate drinakbility in their beers, and that is difficult to achieve the higher you take the percentage. So gas was added and Cannonball is served cooler than other IPAs to help keep the drinker’s palate fresh.
Human Cannonball came next. This double IPA doesn’t pull any punches. It’s full of hops, deep, sweet yet bitter, and fragrant with spiced citrus fruit. A great beer, but at 9.2% it has to be handled with care.
Last up was the Inhuman Cannonball, of which only six kegs were made so it felt quite special to get to try it. It was a treat of citrus and sweet malt. For a beer at 11% it’s dangerously drinkable too, so probably a good job that this one was served in thirds.