Little Looks are the reviews of brews that may be new to the market, a local beer I want to shout about, or simply a classic revisited.
The likes of Zig Zag and Funky Monkey are beer names that I’ve been aware of for quite some time but I rarely see them on cask around Sussex. Hailing from the West country, Frome, Milk Street are a family-run brewery that’ve been based in Somerset, brewing with local ingredients since 1999. The brewery knows it’s craft then, and to quote the brewery website, “Director Rik Lyall brings years of brewing experience, creativity and passion to each individual brew. In his words:’It’s all about the beer’.”
Same Again is a 3.9% English Bitter/Session Ale. Pouring a dark copper with little head it gives off aromas of pineapple, delicate pepper, digestive biscuit and brown sugar. Sticky marmalade is present upfront on the first sip, balanced by a full, digestive biscuit malt body with hints of pepper and apricot playing throughout. A crisp, clean and bitter finish ensures I would indeed have the Same Again, erm, again.
Funky Monkey is next up, a 4% English Pale which seems fairly typical of the style with its copper coloured hues, although there’s no real head to speak of when pouring. Interesting dank aromas mix with dark fruits and bready malts. Floral hops hit the palate alongside a dab of raisin, orange rind and a smattering of caramel with a hazelnut character accompanying the bitter finish.
RA American Pale Ale follows suit on the pour with this 4.1% amber colour brew being another with a light head which dissipates quickly. It presents a different medley on the nose; all citrus and herb. Prickly grapefruit and hazelnut lead flavour over palate with a smattering of peppery cracker-esque malts and a light caramel sweetness completing the show. It proves a tad thin on the finish compared to the others but otherwise this is another good session beer.
Last in the lineup is Zig Zag, a 4.5% Stout. I like stouts to pour with a frothy, creamy head that lasts but this beer was intent on staying lifeless in that department. The aromas are classic; chocolate digestives dunked in coffee with a little liquorice poking through. The palate is washed with a similar profile with those biscuit malts playing alongside dark drinking chocolate, almost overdone toast and a little more liquorice. I think i’d prefer this one on cask, I can imagine it’d be smoother and creamier than from the can, but still, this is a good beer.
Milk Street strike me as being one of those breweries that sit at the more traditional end of the artisan spectrum but with a clear view of what modern drinkers are looking for and aren’t afraid to play around with new hop varieties and put little twists on traditional styles. I like that that these beers are all well within session strength and carry profiles that harness the best of the old and the new. These beers aren’t about pushing boundaries and stealing the show, they’re not beers that slap your around the face, hog the limelight and scream for attention. Instead they’re balanced, they’re nuanced, they’re for drinking on repeat. The can designs are unique and stand out with a good level of info on each of the beers, and honestly I’d like to see them in a pub fridge near me, not least because they’d make decent ‘background’ beers to a night out.
These cans were kindly picked up for me by my former employer and friend Will George, a long-time fan of Milk Street and the reason I’ve always been aware of the beers and the good reputation the brewery has. Some of you may know Will as the co-organiser of the Frome Beer Festival held at The Cheese & Grain. I hear it’s set to make a return in 2017.
More about Milk Street, the beers and the best food pairings for each can be found at www.milkstreetbrewery.co.uk
Disclaimer: Despite not paying for these beers, I do not believe that has affected my opinion.