Drygate Brewery – Craft Beer Rising Event

I’m not a beer drinker but this was too good an opportunity to let pass so instead I sent along Matt, colleague and beer afficioniado in his own right. It looks like he had a great day, here’s how he got on….


Matt Robinson is the Design Director at Tayburn and has rebranded Black Wolf, Bill’s Beer and even taken his own real ale to market (Maid in Leith). You can check out his website here or find him on twitter here.
Drygate_breweryLast Saturday, Drygate brewery co-hosted a beer tasting event with Williams Brothers brewery and Craft Beer Rising – one the UK’s biggest beer event organisers. Forty beer-savvy attendees arrived, lured with the promise of tastings, testings and a lunch menu with matched beers.

First, a bit about the brewery. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid the recent buzz around Williams Brothers’ and Tennents’ joint venture, you’ve done well. The last 12 months have seen Drygate in a frenzy of promotional activity, all in the pursuit of carving their name into craft beer and modern creative culture. They’re young, passionate and already making big waves. Not just for creating great beer; they’ve opened their doors in the hope of opening minds – hosting, collaborating, educating, and even offering a ’studio kit’ for keen home brewers to take their own recipes to the next level.


Drygate’s mantra is emblazoned on the wall next to the towering fermentation tanks: ‘Achieve the Exceptional’. And helping them live up to that promise is Melissa Cole – one of the UK’s few resident Cicerones. If you’re wondering, a cicerone is the equivalent of a winery’s sommelier – an expert who can distinguish microscopic differences in flavour and aroma, detecting minute off-flavours and successfully pairing drinks with any given dish of food. Honestly – test her. Her experience is enough to give Gordon Ramsay an inferiority complex.


And this focus on flavour was the theme for the day. After a brief tour of the brewery from Scott Williams (of Williams Brothers fame) and an even more brief walk-through the brewing process, Melissa presented us with a range of deliberately spoiled beers, safely spiked with chemicals that replicate common ‘off-flavours’ in beer. The idea was to test our palettes – were we genuine beer connoisseurs, or lager-swilling philistines? Our drinks were tainted with three chemicals: Diacetyl – a butterscotch flavour created when yeast works too hard to convert sugars; dimethyl sulfides – a canned veg characteristic caused by insufficient boiling – and lastly, trans-2-nonenal – a stale, cardboardy flavour resulting from poor storage conditions. Having reassured us these chemicals weren’t going to cause our hair to fall out, we commenced swilling.


I scored top marks (yusss) and we quickly moved on to some much anticipated food/beer pairing. The tasting menu was the work of The Vintage – a restaurant group familiar to most Edinburgh foodies, and now resident at the Drygate brewery. The idea was to show how a beer can deliver one of the ‘four Cs’: Cut-through, Compliment, Create and Combine.

First up was a rich mackerel pate, paired with Williams Brother’s Ceaser Augustus lager/IPA hybrid; its bright, zesty hops cutting through the oily, smokey richness of the fish. Next was a home made black pudding, paired with Drygate’s Apple Ale – the sweet, malty apples complimenting the strong, stocky flavour of the black pud. If anyone felt this tasting session was getting a little high-brow, things were brought crashing down to earth with the arrival of a supreme mac and cheese, topped with a rosemary and garlic crust. This created an umami showdown, as the deep flavours of aged cheddar sparred with Williams Brothers’ Kelpie Seaweed ale. Finally, a trio of desserts heavily themed with raspberries (Eaton mess, chocolate brownie and a lemon posset) smartly paired with a lactose-fermented framboise sour beer. Creamy, rich, sharp and fruity – spoon after spoon.


Top marks for an fun and insightful day, and a big thanks to Craft Beer Rising for putting it on. If you’re in Glasgow in September and fancy topping-up your knowledge of craft beer, you could do a lot worse than head over to their festival.

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