The Nook Brewhouse beers - Blond & Oat Stout

'The Nook Brewhouse' are exactly what they say on their bottles - a brewhouse, not a brewery. It's only been running since summer 2009 and even calling it a 'microbrewery' feels a bit too grandiose, most of the beer they produce is sold in the attached pub 'The Nook' (aka The Rose & Crown) in Holmfirth West Yorkshire and they are a genuinely small, independent upstart.

Brewpubs are pretty big in America but have become a rarity over here in recent years, so if you ever get the chance to visit the aforementioned pub I'd say 100% go for it. What could be better than a pint of real ale thats travelled just a few metres from brewery to glass?

The Nook Brewhouse is a family run five barrel brewpub situated on the site of an 18th century brewery by the River Ribble, in the heart of Holmirth. Their aim is "Striving to produce good quality, hand-crafted real ales, the Nook Brewhouse is one of very few bespoke real ale breweries in the country. Its uniqueness, being designed with brewing in mind, can be seen in its layout and use of natural resources."

A bold claim but looking at the photos of the site I think I know what they're getting at, the use of local resources such as the cooling river water and lay of the land are more akin to traditional brewing practices long removed from the stainless steel, industrial estate look of many upstart brewers. They go on to say "Our ales are produced in a seven stage process during which all temperatures, ingredients and timings are carefully monitored. We test and taste at all stages so that our finished product is exactly to specification. We use natural resources wherever possible; using gravity to aid the brewing process, and utilising the cool cellar built deep below the water line of the River Ribble to condition our ales."

They've only recently started bottling their wares and selling it to a few local outlets, so readers in other parts of the UK might want to try the online shop if you fancy giving them a go. I picked up a few bottles from Latitude Wine & Liquor Merchants, located under the railway arches to the left at the end of Call Lane in Leeds, after hearing they had some local beer for sale from small breweries. They had three beers from The Nook Brewhouse on offer - Red, Blond and Oatmeal Stout. The Blond was reccomended by the very friendly guy in the shop so I decided to give that a go, and the Oatmeal Stout had already caught me eye so both were snapped up for a tasting.

So what did I think? I'll start with the Blond which is billed as an 'English Style Wheat Beer'.

There's a citrus note on the nose and just a very faint whiff of sweet caramel malt. The Taste is light and quenching with citrussy notes, lemony, and slightly sweet and juicy but dry in the finish. It's an uncomplicated but decent golden ale, to me it has very little wheat beer character and tastes more like a summery golden ale. There's also a slight grassy note in the finish when the hops come in. It's a very good golden summer ale, but I think describing it as an 'English Style Wheat Beer' is a bit misleading. Nothing wrong with using a bit of wheat to add smoothness to a golden ale, but unless it has a real wheat beer character I think just calling it a Golden Ale, or even just a Blonde Beer would be better. I also must admit that it might be better on cask, preferably drank in a sunny beer garden.

Nook Brewhouse Oat Stout
This 5.2% stout pours with a great big, fluffy, rocky head that sticks around throughout the glass. Roasted coffee on the nose, with a slight burnt malt edge, not a huge aroma but really nice and rich smelling. The flavour isn't as smooth and creamy as I expected for an oatmeal stout which isn't neccesarily a bad thing as it makes the beer more refreshing. There's a nice big roasted flavour but with a slightly fruity, almost blackcurrent edge, that becomes lightly hoppy in the finish and then that turns into an after-an-espresso dryness, with roasted coffee and nice slightly burnt malt flavours. It's a lovely stout all told and my favourite of the two. Really nice. Will have to try the 'Red' next!
Some nice beers from a really promising Brewhouse that I'll be making a special effort to visit in the future. Here's hoping more brewpubs start cropping up in coming years.


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