Lady A, Welbeck Abbey
Added: Tuesday, November 1st 2016
Welbeck Abbey Lady A 7.1%
An abbey beer aged in tunnels beneath the main buildings and brewed by a Monk – in this case Claire Monk: it’s a good story and a good beer for the time of year. This is Claire’s interpretation of a Belgian Dubbel or strong dark ale and it’s named after one of the ancestral owners of the Welbeck Estate.
When the abbey, near Worksop in Nottinghamshire, was dissolved by Henry VIII it became the property of the Dukes of Portland who also owned Portland Place and Harley Street in London. Lady Anne Cavendish-Bentinck, who died in 2008, allowed the estate to be run as places of learning, especially for cooking and food preparation.
The site is famous for its complex maze of tunnels and it’s here that Claire Monk has stored and aged her Lady A Dubbel. Claire studied biochemistry at Sheffield University and worked on secondment at the Kelham Island Brewery founded by the late Dave Wickett. Welbeck contacted Dave with a view to adding a small brewery on the site and he installed his first brewing plant there. Claire Monk, who caught the brewing bug at Kelham Island, went to Welbeck and brews in outbuildings on the estate.
She has been remarkably successful and brews a range of cask and bottle-conditioned ales, including Henrietta, named after another member of the Portland family, Red Feather, Harley, Portland Black and Cavendish.
As well as taking on staff to cope with the demand for the beers, Claire has opened her first pub, the Portland House in Sheffield.
Lady A is brewed with Belgian brewers’ yeast to give the rich, fruity notes typical of the country’s ales. Following fermentation, the beer is aged in oak wine barrels for additional fruity complexity.
It has a ruddy brown/chestnut colour with a funky aroma from the action of wild yeasts in the wood, with a Brettanomyces “horse blanket” character evident on the nose. There are also powerful notes of oak, vanilla, caramel and vinous fruits. The palate is acidic, dry, fruity (sultana), with some notes of vanilla and caramel balanced by gentle hop bitterness. The finish is bittersweet, with rich toasted malt, oak notes, ripe fruit and light hops notes.
£3.25 a bottle from the brewery shop http://www.therealalestore.co.uk/welbeck-abbey-lady-a-2551-p.asp Portland House and the Bottle Shop, Sheffield.