Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A West Coast Amber ale by THE BEAK BREWERY - LEEDS.

Celebrating Leeds collaborators Tall Boys Beer Market and Welcome Skate Shop on an exhibition by Reece Leung

The independent scene in Leeds has grown rapidly in recent years, you only need to look at the line up for the upcoming Leeds Indie Food Festival to be blown away by the wide spectrum of places out there, so many people taking a chance, setting out on their own and doing what they love.
Tucked away in Thornton’s Arcade are two of my favourite independent stores in Leeds, Welcome skate store, founded in 2010, and Tall BoysBeer Market, opened last November. Skater owned and operated stores like Welcome are rare, the real life blood of local skate scenes, and although Leeds is already blessed with a handful of amazing, well established bottle shops, Tallboys have settled into the scene perfectly, bringing together a staggering range of beers in a high quality setting.

In the spirit of Leeds indie culture, the two stores are collaborating on an exhibition of local skate photographer Reece Leung’s work, opening at Tallboys this Thursday at 7pm, with a beer being brewed for the event by local nano-brewer The Beak.
I caught up with The Beak himself, Daniel Tapper, to chat about the exhibition, brewing, and of course the beer itself. Daniel is primarily a food writer, but has been home brewing for 5 years, and like many people picked up the process through books and YouTube videos. He was eventually inspired to brew commercially after touring US craft beer giant Brooklyn Brewery, and UK trail blazers The Kernel Brewery. His beers have been popping up in bars and bottle shops all over Leeds in recent months, and when Welcome skate store co-founder and childhood friend Tom brown asked if he wanted to brew a beer for the upcoming exhibition, he jumped at the chance...

‘I decided to brew a west coast amber ale, I wanted to make a beer that you could decant and savour after a hard days skate, but that you could also just drink out of the bottle, enjoy it without worrying about it too much… I’m a big fan of balanced classic beers like Anchor Steam and Sierra Nevada pale, so this is my little homage to west coast amber ales.’

I was lucky enough to snag a limited edition bottle ahead of the opening night, and was very impressed. Things start out with a solid biscuit and toffee malt base with a touch of chocolate, followed by tropical fruits, some light pine and mildly bitter grassy hops. The balance is great, not quite a session ale at 5.8%, but goes down easy whilst being full of flavour.
This beer was brewed with Tallboys in mind, but a portion of the batch has already been on sale throughout Leeds as the West Coast Amber Ale. There are 50 bottles with a limited edition label set aside for the exhibition, with these bottles forming part of a special goody bag available to buy on opening night, alongside a Welcome/Tall Boys tote bag, stickers, zine, and a T-shirt.

If you do happen to miss the amber ale, Tall Boys also currently stock The Beaks most recent brew, an English farm beer which brings together his love of English hops and saison yeast (I also drank this and loved it!).
Sharp citrus fruits and yeasty esthers jump out of the glass when poured, the taste is more lemons, oranges, a touch of ripe peach, followed by a big hit of funky, peppery yeast, all set against a light and sweet bready malt base.
I asked Daniel what was next for The Beak, and he talked about producing cask beer sometime in the near future... ‘It’s such a delicate living thing, unlike anything other beer, so for now I’m just reading everything I can about how to make good cask beer before I even dare to decant a beer into a cask, maybe I’m being too careful though!’.
Expect more events and collaborations from Tallboys and Welcome skate store soon, and more beers from The Beak.

Words - Nat Colley

The Reece Leung exhibition opens at Tallboys from 7pm Thursday 02.04.2015, and runs until Sunday 26.04.2015. Check out more of his work here;