BY MICHAEL SMITH

I had planned to write about some nice red wine this week, but then our new keg of Cloudwater Biscuit Town arrived, and as soon as I poured the first half with its ambery body and caramelly head and that rich wintry deliciousness first passed my lips like some minor revelation, I knew I’d be evangelising it to anyone who was listening and a quite a few who weren’t for the foreseeable.

Over the last few summers Cloudwater has consistently set the gold standard for English craft beer and determined the direction the scene has developed with its avant-garde brews. They were the first English brewers to introduce the dank, hazy, juice-bomb style that was initially known as a ‘Vermont’ or ‘New England’ IPA in the States, which has evolved under Cloudwater’s direction into a ‘Double Dry Hopped’ or ‘DDH’ IPA over this side of the pond.

When they started making this style a summer or two ago, no-one had ever tasted anything like it; by this summer everyone was making a version of it, with varying degrees of success. Never cheap, about a fiver a can, lads would come in and buy 30 quid’s worth on Friday, to the extent it drove sales in our shop – it was the beer style everyone wanted to drink this summer, and securing pallets of Cloudwater’s latest versions became increasingly like looking for Willy Wonka golden tickets, as they struggled to keep up with demand. It was a golden summer for English craft beer but the question at the back of my mind was, would people still want to drink a big grapefruity tropical breakfast smoothie of a beer come the bleak midwinter?

As always, Cloudwater has proven to be one step ahead of the pack. They have just invented the winter version of this most summery of beers. Still juicy like a big over-ripe mango, still heady with dank, pungent hops like a bud of sticky, smelly green skunk, they’ve somehow combined this with a comforting, biscuity, malty base. There’s even the vague memory of a creamy real ale in there somewhere. You want to get in from the wind and the drizzle of the dismal English winter and soothe yourself with a drink like this. It’s coming out of a tap in our wall at Borough Wines on Robertson St for a limited period, before (like all their strictly limited one-off experiments) it vanishes forever so please, be our guests.

Michael Smith is a writer, film maker and, with his other half Jess, the proprietor of Borough Wines Beers & Books on Robertson Street.

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