Little Looks are the reviews of brews that may be new to me or to the market, a local beer I want to shout about, or simply a classic revisited.
Based in Devon Powderkeg was opened in 2014 by John and Jess Magill, with John having brewed professionally for over 10 years. The brewery currently has three core beers; Cut Loose, Speak Easy and Sixes & Sevens, and describes itself as taking influences from both US craft brewing and more traditional European brewing but the team also state that “we care little for definitive beer styles, or craft or real ale, or any of those tags. Or maybe we’re post-craft? Beers for when you’ve been to the edge of craft beer and made it back to reality.” They go on to say “Whatever the label, we aim for full flavour, fine balance and effortless drinkability.” and “New world hops play their part, but the malt does too, as does the meticulous brewing technique. The flavour is robust, but still nuanced. The finish is always clean and refreshing. We try to make beers that you can easily drink a few of and still enjoy every mouthful. Every-day beers for lovers.” and that, to me at least, is all they need to say. Focus on the ingredients and the integrity of the beer, forget about whether you fit into the ‘craft’ world and what it all means because it’s good beer that people care about and I’m certain that good beer is all the Powderkeg crew care about too.
Cut Loose Pilsner was named Best Lager at the IWSC Beer Awards in 2016 and it’s easy to see why. It sits at a sessionable 4.7% and pours with a good carbonation bringing with it cream crackers, black pepper, grass and sweet syrup on the nose. It’s the same again over the palate with fruit (peach?) joining the party. It’s crisp, spiced & dry and a bitterness builds that urges you to gulp rather than sip. It’s a full flavoured, refreshing lager without being overly hopped. It’s certainly suited to the summer months but definitely worth keeping in the fridge year-round and will appeal to those of you who like a well made, flavourful Pilsner without the modern hop-heavy hit that many seem to have.
Sixes & Sevens is billed as a West Coast Amber, getting its name from the six malts and seven West Coast hops used in the recipe. It’s a rich and chewy fruit salad of a beer dunked in caramel sauce and slapped with peppery rye to finish. There’s a ribbon of lime that seems to lift the flavour profile which makes it super glugable and stops it from becoming too heavy. Powderkeg state that this “a beer that reflects our typically playful plan to brew something that is in no way sensible, only loosely categorisable and designed to leave the drinker somewhat discombobulated.” On the whole this brew is reminiscent of beers that I was drinking a few years ago when everyone wanted in on some West Coast vibes, I like it and my glass was emptied very quickly but the only thing that’s discombobulated is the jargon that accompanies the beer.
It’s clear that the beers coming out of the Powderkeg camp are of a great quality, they’re full of flavour, they’re complex without becoming muddled and they’re beers that I’d happily session. The language of the brewery does seem muddled though, but if it’s fine-tuned to focus more on descriptors such as “we try to make beers that you can easily drink a few of and still enjoy every mouthful” then the image will match the quality of the brews. Powderkeg beers are going to be well known among those of you in the South West but it’d be nice to see these beers more widely available. In the meantime though I’d be more than happy to travel to get these beers again.
Read more about Powderkeg on the brewery website: www.powderkegbeer.co.uk
Disclaimer: These beers were sent to me for review by the brewery. I do believe that has affected my opinion.