Brains are Wales’s best known brewery, founded in 1882 when Samuel Brain and his uncle Joseph Brain bought the former Thomas Brothers brewery in Cardiff – which itself dated back to 1822. They continued brewing on the site until 2000 when brewing moved to the former Hancock’s brewery, again bought by Brains.
The old Brains brewery is now a bar and restaurant complex, but Brains have recently started a new ‘ten barrel’ craft brewery. For its first ‘craft’ brew they invited beer video blogger (his YouTube Channel is here), and fellow member of the Guild of British Beer Writers – Simon Martin – to assist.
The result is Barry Island IPA, but before we get to the beer, a little background on Barry Island. While Brains brew in Cardiff, South Wales, Barry Island is a coastal resort some 10 miles south west of Cardiff. It’s not the sort of place you would describe as glamorous, indeed its most recent claim to fame is as the home of ‘Stacey’ in the BBC sitcom ‘Gavin & Stacey’, which, I believe, aired in the United States.
So, back to the beer, which Brains developed with the aforementioned Simon Martin, it’s inspired by American craft pale ales and features Summit, Cascade and Zeus hops.
It pours a medium gold, not too light, not too dark, with a crisp white head that’s quick to fade, but leaves a healthy lacing down the glass.
The nose is hoppy, but not as ‘American’ hoppy as I was expecting, particularly considering those exotic hops.
The flavour, yes it’s hoppy, slightly metallic, older school hops. Again, not the citrus I was expecting, there’s a hint of treacle (molasses), maybe some vanilla, and a malty backbone.
This is a pleasant enough, hoppy enough, but just not ‘American’, which is, I guess, a pre-requisite for a brew that describes itself as an ‘American Style IPA’.
After due consideration, I’m giving this just two Brewclub Stars, it doesn’t quite do what it sets out to.