Thursday, 30 September 2010

Harvest Pale v Easy Rider at The Johnson Arms

The Johnson Arms, Dunkirk, 29th September 2010

Leaving the University Park at 8pm it is a ¾ of a mile walk east to The Johnson Arms pub in Dunkirk. I enter the pub whilst talking on the phone, but as I go to the bar only a passing quick glance at the 5 different beer clips is necessary. My good comrade asks what I would like to drink and a little tap on the bar towards Kelham Island brewery’s Easy Rider starts the evening off. We take our drinks to a table in the corner away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the pub. The Johnson arms is a great place which holds many happy memories for me, as I used to live round the corner from it. If I was to describe it, friendly would be the word. Cain, Zoe and Kay who run this fine little establishment are lovely people, who are very passionate about serving great beer as well as quality simple pub grub. The patrons of the pub cover a diverse group of people, from students, to doctors at the nearby QMC, to a slightly older local cliental. The one thing that can be said about everyone in the pub is that they care about quality ale.

So back to the beer, and why was the choice so ‘Easy’?  I am from the fine (former) city of Steel and the draw to a beer from the sensational Kelham Island brewery is strong indeed! The Kelham Island brewery has been at the centre of Sheffield’s rejuvenation as possibly the finest Real Ale town in the UK.

Drink 1. A pint of Kelham Island Easy Rider (4.3%). The Kelham Island brewery is situated in the old industrial part of Sheffield by the River Don. Easy Rider is a premium strength Pale Ale brewed as an easier drinking version of Kelham’s legendary Pale Rider. On the nose you get sweetness and a hint of orange. The beer has a lovely creamy body to it and it is wonderfully drinkable. Easy Rider goes down very nicely indeed. There is a nice biscuit malt character to it combined with a great aromatic bitterness. Floral tones come from the American Willamette hops, as do lovely fruity orange flavours, which make the beer balanced to perfection.  You will not find a better drinking beer. A sensational 9/10.

Easy Rider (left) and Harvest Pale (right)

Drink 2. A pint of Castle Rock Harvest Pale (3.8%). The Castle Rock brewery is another fantastic producer of ale. Castle Rock and Kelham are certainly in my favourite few breweries. I have been a big fan of Castle Rock since my arrival in Nottingham 6 years ago. Harvest Pale is the breweries most famous beer and it was my beer of choice in Nottingham for many a year. This year Harvest Pale was crowned champion beer of Great Britain which added to some of its other prestigious awards. Harvest Pale is another Pale Ale so a comparison with Easy Rider is inevitable. The nose of Harvest Pale does not excite when compared to Easy Rider. The beer has a lighter body and a less creamy head. Once again American hops are used which give Harvest Pale a zesty nature, with grapefruit, lemon and lime tones coming through. Harvest Pale is not as smooth as Easy Rider, but it does have a nice sharpness to it. It is a very nice beer but in my opinion is not to the same standard as Easy Rider. 7.5/10.

I feel that I am a very lucky chap to be able to compare these two great beers in one night, with the company of the finest friend one could hope to find. The night was still young, so a little bit more banter and a wee bit more ale is called for. So I go to finish the night with a darker beer.

Drink 3. A half pint of Moorhouse’s Black Cat (3.4%). The Moorhouse’s brewery is based in Burnley and has a long history going back into the mid 19th century. Black Cat Mild is probably Moorhouse’s best known beer and is another Supreme Champion beer of Britain (2000). Black Cat is a very dark ale with an attractive light brown head. The nose of has nice earthy and coffee aspects to it. It has a light body which leaves malty tastes of treacle, molasses and chocolate. It is a good clean drinking beer which is surprisingly refreshing. 6.5/10.

Moorhouse's Black Cat Mild.

No comments:

Post a Comment