To avoid any confusion, this brew comes from the Lancaster Brewery in Lancaster, the county town of Lancashire, in the far north west of England. That’s not to be confused with a similarly named brewery based in Lancaster PA.
Lancaster is about fifty miles north west of Manchester and 210 miles north west of London.
The whole ‘Lancaster’ thing gets further confused by the Thwaites brewery in nearby Blackburn, who have been brewing their own ‘Lancaster Bomber’ brew since 2002 – named after the famous second world war bomber, famed for its ‘Dambuster’ missions ‘Operation Chastise’ in 1943.
There are some pictures of the two remaining airworthy Lancaster bombers here.
This particular ‘Lancaster Brewery’ was founded in 2005 and, like many craft breweries, they brew seasonal ales each month plus a core range of four brews which are easily identified – Blonde (4% ABV) , Amber (3.6% ABV), Red(4.8%) and Black (4.5%).
Lancaster Black is their most widely available brew, and has won both Bronze and Gold medals from SIBA, whom I’ve mentioned in the past. SIBA are the Society of Independent Brewers, but the acronym comes from their former name – the Small Independent Brewers Association – founded back in 1980.
‘Black Ale’ describes itself as a stout, and as the name suggests it pours bible black, with a fulsome creamy-white head. There’s not too much of a nose, but there are hints of smoke and chocolate.
The good news is, however, the flavour is a revelation! The first hit is chocolate and coffee, followed rapidly by a rush of hops… spicy, resinous and piney. The chocolate and the hops do a tango on your tongue, while black liquorice and treacle (molasses in the colonies) tap you politely on the shoulder seeking to interrupt the dance.
The hops are Challenger, Perle and Cascade, while there’s Chocolate and Maris Otter malt in there. There’s also wheat and oats, the oats presumably to add a little body.
It’s not quite as full bodied as I might have liked, but it’s an enjoyable brew, and perhaps surprisingly, it works well chilled where more hints of smoke reveal themselves.
I also liked the bottle cap, which features the red rose of Lancashire – presumably the label was kept monochrome to reduce costs. However, I’m happy to give this three and a half Brewclub stars.
The brewery has three hotels around Lancaster, and offer brewery tours, there’s also a ‘tap house’ on site, which the brewery describes as a ‘drinking den’. Worth considering if you ever find yourself touring the north west of England.