When I think of Manchester, I first think of the fantastic music that the city has spawned. It’s responsible for seminal bands such as Joy Division, The Smiths and perhaps one of my all time favourites, The Chameleons. You might be thinking: “Who the hell are The Chameleons?” and rightly so – they never quite broke through to the mainstream but if you listen to tracks such as ‘Don’t Fall’, ‘In Shreds’ and ‘Tears’ you’ll struggle to understand why.
Much like the early 80s, the last 18 months has seen an explosion of innovative new breweries, such as Cloudwater and Track Brewing Co, emerge onto the Manchester scene. One of these breweries, perhaps one that hasn’t quite been getting the attention it deserves, is Chorlton Brewing Co – and quite interestingly it’s a brewery that is concentrating almost exclusively on sour beers.
They might not be to everyone’s taste but sour beers are rapidly gaining popularity, encouraging a whole new wave of palates to discover great beer. Chorlton produce a range of sour beers, from dry-hopped kettle sours such as its Yakima Sour, to the beer I have in front of me now, Farmhouse IPA.
This isn’t an IPA as you know it, in fact it’s a combination of two beers that have been blended together or ‘vatted’ to produce the finished product. In this case it’s a blend of an IPA that has been aged with the wild yeast Brettanomyces (Brett) and another that has been fermented with saison yeast.
Farmhouse IPA absolutely honks with the characteristic cedarwood and barnyard aromas that typifies a beer fermented with Brett. There’s also a hint of lemon juice on the nose. On the palate there’s a twisted combination of funk and resinous hops that somehow holds it together. The flavours are chaotic, but gloriously so.
It’s by no means a refined beer but then that’s not the point. Much like The Chameleons, it’s harder to get than what you’d consider mainstream but once you do get it, you simply can’t put it down.