Monday, 17 November 2014

Beer and Boards

On Saturday I was on the trail of a new surf board from a like minded surfer friend. "How many boards is that now Phil?", I hear Scooby say; but the trick of frequently moving similar looking boards around the house means that I never have to reveal this classified information to her! For the new acquisition in question we crossed over the border heading north east across Devon, almost to Somerset. Scooby came along for the ride (or as she puts it "to be shown pretty things"), which is always a pleasure in Miles our camper van.  The sky was filled with dark foreboding clouds, bursts of golden sunshine and rainbows galore.  With the surfboard deal completed, and the days surfing analysed and suitably dissected with the surfboard seller, we headed for a place where we knew we could peruse a good range of foodie treats.  

We usually buy a few bottles of ale from this place, as they have an excellent selection of vegan brews on offer.  Today we happened to turn up while the lovely people from Gyle 59 were doing a tasting.  They were busy with happy samplers when we first spotted them, and so we walked past and had a crafty look at some of their bottles on the shelves, just in case they were labelled up as being suitable for us.  Indeed they were, and when we returned to sample their wares it was a very pleasant surprise to find out that ALL of their products are unfined and therefore suitable for vegans, including their cask ales!  As Jon (the founder) said, "Well, if we make them vegan then everyone can have them".  We thanked them profusely for their clear labelling and brewing ethos, and were soon sampling everything they had to offer, along with a fascinating commentary about how each brew is made.

Such are the vegan friendly credentials of the company, that their next promotional opportunity was doing a vegan food/beer matching event in Kent.  We've got to admit, the idea of expertly matching beers to foods is not our area of expertise.  We like what we like, and tend not to think about it much further than that. However, after talking to co-owners Jon and Amanda it is certainly something we are going to be paying a lot more attention to in future. Their knowledge and passion was contagious, without a hint of any 'hard sell'.  For us this was the best sales tactic they could possibly employ.

Taste is a very personal thing, and trying to gauge which beers were 'the best tasting' was further complicated for us by the fact that they had such varied and interesting styles on offer.  Our efforts to choose a few favourites was made even harder by the fact that they were all really good!  In fact, the only way we could narrow it down was to try and discern which ones we liked slightly less than the others.  This also proved quite difficult, especially after sampling the 7 or 8 beers they had to try.  Indeed, if we didn't have to drive for nearly 2 hours to get home, an awful lot more 'sampling' could have been done!  The conclusion we finally came to is that they make some of the best beer we've ever tasted.  Obviously we left with a good selection, to investigate and 'taste test' at our leisure on our return home.

Maybe it is the pure spring water, or the quality and variety of ingredients, or the masterful alchemy that takes place under their careful hands, but whatever it is, these are fantastic beers.  We encourage you to have a look at their website (where they also do on-line sales) or get in touch by email to find your nearest stockist.  Here's hoping if we all spread the word enough we might one day be able to buy Gyle 59 ales in our local pubs, shops or wherever quality beer is sold! 


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