A three-beer study into Vocation Brewery - Based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire
Wherever you turn online in beer circles at the moment, you will find pictures, opinions and positivity revolving around Vocation’s entire range of brews. I’m literally yet to see a negative word said about them. The power of the internet has obviously worked its wonders on me, and with that, I had to have some.
So, I was in Leeds for the night and had been informed to check out Raynville Superstore in Armley. I’d set the satnav to its postcode and an hour and a half later informed "You have reached your destination on the left" but I was a little perplexed on my arrival. ‘Is this it?’ ‘It’s not exactly what I had in mind’. It’s pretty much just your run of the mill corner shop from the outside. My doubts soon disappeared as I took my first step inside. I turned my head in all directions in desperate search of a basket and quickly started filling it. So many different beers from so many fantastic breweries, and then, there they were –Vocation. Three different cans of the guys I’d heard so much about. Needles to say, they went straight in the basket. This article will talk about those 3 cans. Were they any good? Did they live up to the hype? Scroll your mouse down and manoeuvre your eyes south to find out…
It’s a random Friday off. The girlfriend was at work. The dog had been walked and bathed. An IKEA chest of drawers had been built. I think it’s time for a beer. I went for the first can in my reach. The pour left a perfect frothy head, closely knitted bubbles like whipped egg whites. The aroma was tangy, like fruit salad sweets. The taste wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but that's not a bad thing. There is a slightly sour gooseberry taste which is a little unusual for a session IPA. Then I picked up raspberries and black cherries. It reminded me of a black forest gâteau, the sort I'd have as a child. It’s really quite sharp which is surprising for the style and alcohol content. Then some bitterness as to be expected, but it only arrives after a few sips. If I was the sort of person that liked to drink the same beer time and time again then I’d certainly make an evening out of this beer. 4.25/5
The girlfriend had been picked up; dinner had been cooked and eaten. Bums now firmly on the sofa and feet up. Prime time for another beer. There was another good, long lasting head on this one. On the nose it smelt very earthy. Quite grassy. My initial reaction was at how crisp it was. The hops are quite considerate. You can feel them dancing all over the palate. There is a faint helping of mangos and blueberries with a piney forefront. This was a smooth pale ale with a dry finish. There's a subtle bitterness but nothing too over-powering. The thing about this beer is that it’s pretty understated. It delivers exactly what it needs to do without trying to go over the top or lean slightly in one direction with the flavours, and for me that’s the mark of a brewer who knows exactly what they want to achieve. 3.75/5
My day of Vocation beers came to an end in the form of their black IPA, Divide & Conquer. The head on this one didn’t stick around long and soon disappeared. The colour is jet black and velvety. In the forefront of this one is dark roasted malts. I picked up dark chocolate elements which offered slight bitterness and a nutty quality like 'The Purple One’ from a tub of Quality Street. The next thing I noticed was just how smooth it was; like silk. There’s a touch of fruit in there too with mango and blueberry tones which brought it all together and helps to identify it as an IPA. This is another one that doesn’t try to go over-board, but understands the beers style and how to bring is all together. 4/5
So, did this fairly new West Yorkshire brewery live up to the standards I was hoping it would? In a word – Yes. For me, the best of the bunch was Heart & Soul. It packed in so much into such a low ABV. The other two were both really good examples of their styles too and I would very much continue the current trend of recommending these guys to others. I’m yet to try their normal IPA ‘Life & Death’ which I’ve heard is their best brew, but I will certainly keep on looking. This brewery has quickly gained a following and rightfully so. They compete in flavour and marketing with some of the best these British Isles have to offer.
Words - David Dickinson (beer_baron-Lincoln)
Tel: 01422 410 810