Tasted and tested: The Magic Rock beers

Last night was the official launch of Magic Rock Brewing at The Grove in Huddersfield, and what a night it was.

Most breweries do a 'soft launch'; with their new beers slowly making it into different pubs and beer bars as they begin to spread the word, and build up a loyal following over a few months or even years. Magic Rock on the other hand took a leaf out of the BrewDog book of Marketing, and decided to kickoff the brewery with a wollop rather than a whisper, inviting anyone and everyone to come and try their brand new beers fresh from their fledging brewery. The potential pitfall of this strategy of course is that once you've got everybody's attention you run the risk of the beers not living up to the expectation, in other words, not fulfilling your own hype.

However I'm very pleased to announce that this wasn't the case in any way, shape or form when it comes to Magic Rock. These beers deliver.

The place was absolutely packed and there was a genuine buzz in the air, with a heady mix of beer geeks, bloggers, brewers, beery Biebers (see @GroveBri's twitter for clues) and slightly bewildered old regulars, all mixing together happily and discussing, assessing and most importantly enjoying the fantastic range of beers from Magic Rock.

I did what everybody did for my first pint and went for the session strength
"Curious" Pale Ale 3.9% - which was so good the first cask went in 30 minutes and at one point there was a 12 pint queue.

"Curious" has that quenching, juicy-yet-bitter citrus hop flavour that great session strength pales like Hawkshead's Windermere Pale or Ilkley Mary Jane achieve, along with just a hint of sweetness and a finish which is bitter yet balanced, making it very drinkable. I spoke to Rich from Magic Rock briefly at the event and remember saying to him that I could see this beer selling like crazy. With a mix of drinkability, flavour and relatively low ABV it's exactly what most cask drinkers are looking for in a beer.

Next up was the beer I'd been looking forward to most, the
"Rapture" Red Hop Ale 4.6%. The taste definately lived up to my hopes and this was by far my favourite beer of the night, and the beer I chose to buy a second pint of when I only had time for one more before my train back to Leeds. Which in itself says a lot.

"Rapture" hits you with a big juicy smack of fruity orange peel hops, which combine with a stewed fruit, raisin and mixed berry malt body to create a hugely satisfying beer. It's also got a very slight chocolate note - that fruity, juicy flavour you sometimes get with really high quality, 70+ cocoa dark chocolate. For me the berry pushes through stronger than the chocolate though, and combined with the strong hop profile makes Rapture remind me a little of BrewDog's 5am Saint, which I hope the Magic Rock guys will take as the compliment it's intended.

My third beer of the evening was the "High Wire" West Coast Pale Ale 5.5%. If "Curious" is the beer that regular cask drinkers will lap up then "High Wire" is definately the beer bar staple, where the regulars won't touch anything under 5% ABV this is going to be a winner.

"High Wire" was the one beer that wasn't quite what I expected. Slightly lighter and more balanced than I thought, making it hugely drinkable. I think I was expecting a sort of mini AIPA, but actually this is a true West Coast Pale, with mango and a touch of passionfruit hop flavour sitting atop a lightly bitter body and just a hint of crisp malt, it finishes bitter and clean, and is another great beer.

Last, but by no means least, was a half of the
"Cannonball" IPA 7.4%. Unlike the other three beers this one was, in my opinion quite rightly, being served on key keg with an added spritz of carbonation and an ever so sligthly cooler serving temp. It was initially pouring a bit frothy, which someone mentioned to me could be down to the fact that the key keg hadn't been racked upside down. I've got no idea if this is correct or not, so don't shoot the messenger if it's way off the mark.

By the time I bought my half the beer was pouring perfectly, obviously just some first night jitters, and my doubts were pushed aside after the first sniff. Wow that's a good smelling beer! It's got a sweetly floral, fruity aroma from the dry hopping, with tropical mango, orange pith, passionfruit (Nelson Sauvin?), lime citrus and a little pine resin all coming through, even before you take a sip. The taste is a continuation of the smell, but there's also a slightly unexpected amount of sweetness that acts well to balance out the onslaught of bitterness that your palate is bracing itself for. It's a very rich beer, with a definate slickness to the mouthfeel similar to something like Sierra Nevada's Torpedo IPA, which again highlights the amount US Craft beer has to play in the flavour of Magic Rock's brews.

So there you have it, four great beers from a brand spanking new brewery, how often can you say that?

I'll hopefully be getting my hands on some of Magic Rock's bottled beers soon too and will let you know what they are like compared to their cask and keg cousins, so keep your eyes peeled.

On a final point, we all commented on how much we liked the branding, particularly the frankly beautiful pumpclips, and it's reassuring to find out for myself that the beers match up to the hype. No amount of eye catching branding or social media marketing (both of which are good things for a brewery to do) will cover up bad beer, and I couldn't be happier to say that this is one brewery that have the full package, and certainly can't be accused of style over substance. The fact is, their just lucky enough to have both.

Visit Magic Rock's website here
www.magicrockbrewing.com for the latest information on where to buy their beers, although an obvious place to start is of course www.mybrewerytap.com

8 comments:

  1. Nice write up, brilliant that this was launched as it was & really pleased that it all went so well at The Grove. Shame about the hater on the night(I was watching the tweets as they happened), but I think the sales spoke for themselves.
    I'm really looking forward to tasting all of these beers now, so first chance I get I'll be in like a shot.

    Great looking glassware too!

    Cheers

    Phil
    @filrd

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  2. There's always some toe-rag with an agenda. Plainly it wasn't the beers he had an issue with, they sound amazing. Wish I was there, bring on North Bar.

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  3. I'll try and get to North bar as well if I can. If not, let me know how th beers are tasting!

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  4. Great write-up. The beers sound superb and I can't wait to try them. Lots of good things said about Curious in particular and that's exactly the sort of beer I'm loving right now. I know their beers have been sent south so fingers crossed I'll get them soon!

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  5. For some reason I had it in my head that the North bar one was tonight rather than next week so think I'll definately be making it. Sounds like it'll be a really lively event, with some circus I've heard!

    Plus thursday is almost the weekend....

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  6. Didn't quite manage to sample the Curious on the night, but the other three were very tasty indeed. My first visit to the Grove as well - great pub, will definitely be back before too long.

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  7. Really looking forward to trying their range. Hoping The Sheffield Tap will have a Magic Rock night at some point in the near future.

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