In April 2010 I wrote about the Wickwar Brewery in Gloucestershire. At the time I was writing about “Banker’s Draft” from their ‘counterculture’ range of beers, but I also mentioned that the brewery had a ‘heritage’ range that seeks to recreate classic beer styles.
One of these ‘heritage’ beers being Wickwar’s 6.1% ABV Ruby ‘Station Porter’; It was CAMRA’s 2008 Winter Beer of Britain, came third in CAMRA’s 2008 Champion Beer of Britain awards, and was highly commended in the 2009 World Beer Awards. Of course I tend to be sceptical of awards, but that many are a clear indication that this is a well respected ale.
It pours with a thin, but coffee coloured head that leaves some lacing as it dissipates; the beer itself is a rich ruby colour when held up to the light.
The nose is subtle, it’s not ‘in your face’ but there are hints of coffee in there.
The flavour is much the same, the mouth-feel is perhaps lighter than you might expect from a porter, more a dark ale, but the taste is well balanced with hints of coffee and chocolate, and then a satisfying underlying bitterness.
It improves as it warms, too. Cradle the glass in hour hand like a fine brandy, and the coffee and chocolate becomes more obvious.
Overall this is a very well balanced beer by a brewery that clearly knows what it’s doing; and after long consideration (and a second bottle) I’m giving this three and a half stars. I have a few more on my shelf which bodes well for the future.
The brewery has recently launched a dark porter, brewed to 5% ABV and boasting dark chocolate flavours – Penny Black (named for the world’s first postage stamp – but you knew that). Thus far, unfortunately, it’s only available on draught in Gloucestershire, but I have hopes that it might be bottled in due course.
Bob the Brit