Last week we held our inaugural No More Heroes live tasting and it was a real hoot. We worked our way through some fantastic yet criminally underrated beers, some which we’ve already featured here, and raised more than £500 for Mind the mental health charity. In the end it wasn’t just about raising the money or flipping the bird at big beer, it was about the coming together of people in a great space and enjoying some great beers.
One of the surprises on the night came in the form of a scotch ale all the way from New Zealand. It would be criminal to host a beer tasting at Hop Burns & Black without ripping into some Kiwi beer and we felt that Marlborough’s Renaissance Brewing Company deserved to be put in the spotlight. Renaissance make some great beer but they’re often sidelined over here in favour of some of the louder, brasher New Zealand breweries. Their fresh hop beers such as Black the RIPA Black Rye IPA and Grandmaster Fresh Double IPA are up there with the very best examples of these styles.
At No More Heroes we turned our attention to Renaissance's flagship beer, Stonecutter, a scotch ale inspired by the dark, sweet beers that emerged from Edinburgh in the 18th century. Its blend of nine malts gives the beer a flavour reminiscent of the highland toffee bars you could buy for ten pence from the school tuck shop. There’s a raisin-like sweetness in there too and a hint of white pepper in the drying finish.
Of all the beers we tasted on the night, this one surprised people the most. Not because it was remarkably different but because our continued enthusiasm for hops has made us forget just how good a rich, malt-focused beer such as Stonecutter can be.
You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter@totalcurtis. Thanks too to Claire Bullen for her great photography on the night (of which the below shot is one).