Added: Sunday, September 1st 2013
|Style||Pale Ale||ABV 4.5%|
Stroud Brewery Budding (4.5%)
You can’t buy this beer in supermarkets because owner Greg Pilley doesn’t supply them. Greg is a passionate supporter of the environment and also of local enterprises that don’t just make profits but put something back into their communities. He supplies 40 to 50 pubs and sells bottled beer in such environmentally-friendly businesses as Vintage Roots and Essential Trading as well as the garden centre group Notcutts.
The brewery was set up in 2006 with a five-barrel plant and has moved to bigger premises with a 20-barrel kit. With head brewer Rob Handy, Greg uses organic Maris Otter malting barley from Warminster Maltings in Wiltshire and as many organic hops as he can buy: organic rules laid down by the Soil Association allow for a small proportion of non-organic hops to be used.
Budding was Stroud’s first beer, a pale ale that remains their leading brand. The cask version has twice been named CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Gloucestershire. It’s brewed with a touch of wheat alongside the Maris Otter malt that is part of Warminster’s guarantee of origin scheme: brewers are told the name of the farm and even the field where the barley is grown. The hop regime is complex, with Challenger and Fuggles for bitterness, American Amarillo for aroma and New Zealand Pacific Gem and Sovereign as late addition hops during the copper boil. The Amarillos are not organic.
The pale bronze beer has spicy and floral hop resins on the nose with honey malt and a ripe pear fruit note. Rich cracker biscuit malt builds in the mouth with spicy and resinous hops and a continuing note of ripe fruit. The long finish is bittersweet with juicy malt, pear fruit and increasingly bitter and spicy hops. For its strength it’s a complex beer that ends dry and quenching.
Visitors to the brewery (Unit 11, Phoenix Works, London Road, Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 2BU; 01453 887122) can buy single 500ml bottles for £2.50. Online sales (www.stroudbrewery.co.uk/stroud-brewery-online-sales) are based on a case of 12 for £27.50. Single bottles cost £2.79 in Notcutts (www.notcutts.co.uk). See also www.vintageroots.co.uk and Essential Trading, a Bristol-based co-operative that specialises in distributing organic food and drink: www.essentialtrading.co.uk.