Caught by the River

Pint by the River

Ben McCormick | 30th August 2012

This month Ben McCormick enjoys a drop of Summer Wine Brewery Diablo – 6%

Odd where inspiration comes from sometimes. You can spend days looking for it with no success. You can wait months in the vain hope it’ll come knocking unannounced. Or you can watch simply hours of television, glibly flicking through the channels while feeling your life slowly ebb away.

Safe to say it was during one of these seemingly fruitless self-inflicted bouts of broadcasting blood-letting when something stirred in the synapses. It’s difficult to explain quite how hearing the gruff, nasal twang of Peter Sallis for fleeting minute on Freeview’s excellent Yesterday channel could cause anything other than a lurch for the remote control button. But seeing one of the later episodes of Last of the Summer Wine, its Pennine rolling hills instantly redolent of a rainy upbringing in the bleak north west, reminded me of something else. A lightly chilled Diablo IPA from Summer Wine Brewery, the best thing from Holmfirth since Compo, Clegg and Foggy first delighted Sunday evening light entertainment seekers.

It’s hard to imagine they’ve been inspired by one of the world’s longest running if least amusing sitcoms – Summer Wine Brewery thankfully puts out something far more refreshing. A tonic for what the brewery sees as the tired industry in which it operates. Or, in its own words, “Yorkshire beer is slumbering and we are the triple espresso for this lumbering giant.”

While you might not agree with that bold statement, and it’s doubtful nearby Huddersfield’s Magic Rock Brewery would thank its neighbour for tarring it with that sweeping, sleepy brush, it’s hard to dispute Summer Wine Brewery are shaking up beer making in what is a pretty staid and traditional part of the world.

Diablo has a beautiful, flowery tropical fruit aroma which greets the nose like you’ve taken the top off a juicer before switching the thing off, spattering the nostrils with scatter-gun ripe blueberries. Then crunch. A venom-spitting Indian cobra of hop bitterness cracks a vial of thirst-ravaging citric tang sharper than a whole box of diamond-tipped tacks. There are almost Lambic levels of sourness here. And it’s dryer than a desiccated salt towel in the Atacama Desert. In fact, it’s almost vicious; a sneering cynical critic sniping at a pile of bilge coming out of the latest stardom-craving Britain’s Got X-Factor Idol Talent Starz celebrity-in-the-making. And it produces the kind of scowl you’d expect to see from some young, pie-eyed, red-blooded male waking up with a cracker of a hangover with his arms round Norah Batty. Sucking on a lemon would be sweet by comparison. But in a good way.

If Diablo’s anything to go by, and I’m reliably informed it is, Summer Wine Brewery will be delighting the taste buds of drinkers for years to come with its engaging, uncompromising series of beers. If it has the longevity of its sitcom namesake, I’ll be a happy old man.

Summer Wine Brewery.
Beer Advent Calendar.