For a Glasgow based beer drinker, Tempest Brewing Co and their beers have a near mythical status in my home city. Many have heard of them but very few have actually tried them. Anyone who tells you that they have tried and tasted them inside a Glasgow pub is probably lying. To the best of my recollection, no pubs in Glasgow have poured a single drop of their stuff. Which is a pretty poor showing given that there has been quite a word of mouth beer buzz about this new brewery and their beers north of the border for most of 2011.
Word of mouth is a wonderful thing in the world of beer and the word is that Tempest make some very special beers that aren't afraid to showcase big, bold assertive hop profiles and flavours that tantalise your tastebuds and leave them reeling in pleasure. They make the sort of beers that a certain Aberdeenshire brewery could only dream of.
The first time I tried one of their beers was at Edinburgh's Scottish Real Ale Festival in June. It was their Rye PA and, for me, it was one of the highlights of the festival. I've since been lucky enough to stumble upon a few of their beers when I've been through in Edinburgh. Lucky old Edinburgh drinkers for having the chance of tasting Tempest on a regular basis. It seemed that if I was wanting any more of their beer I would have to haul myself from west to east and it proved to be the case when I heard that one of the city's best pubs, The Bow Bar was planning a Tempest total tap takeover where ten of their beers would be available with eight on cask and a further two on keg.
If Jimmy Saville had done beer'll fixits, then this would have been top of my list.
I just had to go.
My timing was impeccable as I arrived just as the first pints of the tap takeover were being poured.. Within a half hour, a relatively quite boozer had been turned into a thriving hive of beery activity, three deep at the bar with an appreciative ale audience lapping up the range of beers on offer. It was a cracking selection that showcased pale ales to porter, gorgeously subtle to heavily hopped and relatively weak (4.1%) to deceptively strong (7%).
Tap Takeovers are a terrific idea. They are a great way of getting a bigger, more complete picture of a brewery's abilities and talents rather than just seeing one beer every once. I've done not too badly this year with tap takeovers. The Stone night at BrewDog, Glasgow and the Harviestoun event at Hengler's Circus were both great evenings with some lovely beers on show. The Tempest Tap takeover continued in a similar vein.
The beers included Into the Light, Emanation Pale, Long White Cloud, Rye PA, Elemental Porter, Canyonero, Caligula and Brave New World.
The stand out and outstanding beers of the evening for me were Long White Cloud and the Canyonero.
I had heard lots of positive things about the NZ dry hopped Long White Cloud since it's appearance at the Troon Beer Festival and those that tried it there informed me that it was one to look out for. For some, it was their beer of the festival. These reports of it's greatness turned out to be true. I adored the pungent fruit nose, the gloriously lush resinous hop kick and big, bold, crisp zing of the pineapple and passion fruit that's balanced beautifully with a robust malt spine. A solid and lovely drinking 5.6% gem. A wowser of a beer.
The Canyonero is a strange beast of a beer. It's 5.9% oak aged pale ale hopped with the New Zealand varieites Pacific Jade and Wai-iti. There was a slight oakiness to the beer but plenty of peppery spiciness from the hops joined with a touch of treacle toffee and caramel. There was even a cameo appearance from what seemed to be pumpkin. I was quite taken by it.
The Emanation Pale Ale cuts the mustard as a mid strength (4.5%) session beer that is full of crisp, fruity hops, sweet maltiness and lingering dry bitterness that really was rather nice and very moreish. I would say that it's more a bitter than a pale ale but that doesn't really matter. It is still a lovely beer, whatever you call it.
The only fly in the ointment of an otherwise excellent night was the Keg Caligula. It's a 6% Black IPA and I was expecting nice bold hops and some roasted, toasted malt but it was served just too cold for the flavours to come through. The temperature of the beer masked masked most of the taste. All I really got was cold and wet.
That aside, It was a great event and my abiding hope as I left the Bow Bar and headed back home to the west was that some of Glasgow's better pubs get on the phone to their beer suppliers and start ordering some of Tempest Brewing Co's marvellous beers.
You know it makes sense.