Not a week after the shenanigans at Sandinista! Cantina, Yelp Leeds was abuzz with activity again, this time playing out at MOJO bar for yet another fabulous evening of funzies. For this CMYE (Community Manager Yelp Event) the folks flooded out into the night for a specialist introduction to Craft Beer, hosted for us by the fantastic Ben of James Clay Beers, in the cosy Rhum Room in one of Leeds' favourite cocktail spots.
To start the event, folks were welcomed downstairs with a local tipple, a bottle of the delectable Mary Jane by Ilkley Brewery. If you've yet to sample it, this seriously drinkable beer is one of their more widely renowned ales, coming in at a sociable 3.5% ABV, with delightful notes of citrus on the nose and a sweet start with a tangy finish on the tongue. It also happens to be a gold medal winner at the SIBA Northern region beer competition 2009/10 and bronze medal winner at the SIBA national competition.
Once everyone had arrived folks were herded upstairs to let the James Clay session begin. After a brief introduction to Ben, the evening began with a short palatable history on American craft beer, where it was divulged that there are a number of strict criteria that allow a beer to be classed as such – for example, it has to be produced under a certain volume per annum, and must use only the highest quality ingredients.
The first beer delved into was Anchor Steam Beer that, with its light caramel notes, is both sweet and incredibly moreish. Bronze in colour, with a thick creamy head, this *'unique beer is universally recognised as a world classic that traces back to the Gold Rush era.' It took folks no time at all to get through the initial sampling, nattering and chattering as they sipped, testing Ben with the odd question or two.
The next beer was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which was consumed with equal anticipation. Whilst it was a little more complex than the prior tipple, everyone heartily got involved in the drink, taking in the notes and tips from Ben. Sierra Nevada is considered to be one of the premier craft breweries of the states, so it's no wonder that it disappeared so very quickly that night! *'It has a deep amber colour and an exceptionally full-bodied, complex character. Generous quantities of premium Cascade hops give the Pale Ale its fragrant bouquet and spicy flavour.' After this sumptuous sip, everyone got a handy sampling of Brooklyn Brewery's Brooklyn Lager. As well as learning that the brewery suffered quite a tough start with their business given the area of their start up, folks learned about the fantastic beer they were sampling. *'Brooklyn Lager has won numerous awards, beginning with first place at the Great American Beer Tasting in 1989. A superb balance of sweet malt and crisp bitter hops. Dry hopped for more flavour.'
The penultimate tipple on the list was the delicious Goose Island India Pale Ale, which was the strongest in ABV thusfar, and despite having made merry of three fabulous drinks beforehand, everyone relished the flavour and aroma. It's perhaps a little strong for some to make a night of, but if you're after a sumptuous sip to remember, it comes highly recommended. *'Quite simply a hop lover's dream – this classic ale adds a fruity aroma, set off by a dry malt middle, to ensure that the long hop finish is widely regarded as a modern classic.' Once those were done folks assembled to leave, believing this to be the end, and it was then that the lovely Ben broke out the pieste de resistance: Local 1. Of the guests in attendance, one or two knew of the delights to come, but no one expected such a treat! At 9.0% ABV, it packs a punch, but the Brooklyn Brewery's take on a Belgian beer is a dynamic delight for true beer fans. They use the old technique of 100% bottle re-fermentation to create this drink, and it was the perfect way to end the evening!
A huge thanks goes out to Ben, of James Clay Beers, the amazing staff at MOJO, Matthew Kitchen our faithful photographer, and the wonderful Cheryl of SLB, who worked together to make this fabulous event. Armed with some super craft beer knowledge, and a taste for more, folks sauntered on into the night to hunt down their next exciting tipple… Want to hear it from the horses' mouths? Here's a sampling of their thoughts!
"Ben was very knowledgable about beer and its history and delicate balances of flavours and types. this is a man who has spent a lot of time studying his craft, i'm guessing in the classroom as he doesn't look like the typical beer specialist. far too healthy looking and has way too many teeth for a beer expert.
i have to find out who distributes the Brooklyn brewery's Local 1 beer. me and that beer are going to do a lot of damage to one another!" Jim E
"Have to agree with April and Jim, I wasn't sure what to expect from a bunch of American craft beers having been a bit of a one for the old 'Real ales' of Blighty, but goodness, lordy and all that, these craft beers are excellent. My favourite being the Anchor Steam beer, followed by the Broklyn No1, but all of them were very nice and Ben was very knowlagable about brewing and beer in general, with an interesting history of American beer pre and post prohibition." Joe C
And, until next time, I'll be seeing you on Yelp!
*All beer quotations from James Clay Beers.