Member's bottle share: Wiper and True's Barrel Store
Unit F, Bicknells Yard, Merstham Road, St Werburghs, Bristol BS2 9TG
Words: Siobhan Buchanan
Photos: Jon Rowley
Saturday 18 December 2021
This article is from
Brewing the Future
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I know I say this pretty much every single time, but this bottle share was honestly one of the best I have ever hosted. It was held at Bristol-based Wiper and True brewery’s barrel-ageing facility, which was a wonderfully unique setting for an intimate tasting evening.
As our guests started to arrive, Michael Wiper (co-founder) and Alice Howells (marketing manager) greeted them with a pint of Wiper and True Helles straight from the tank, which went down well with everyone - both in terms of beer quality, and in terms of the novelty of having the beer as fresh as it could ever be. A refreshing Munich-style lager, this was an ideal beer to sup while introductions took place, and while everyone was chatting and getting to know each other.
Once everyone was settled in their seats, we started on the second beer of the evening: Lost and Grounded’s Märzenbier amber lager. This followed on wonderfully from the Helles, as both are malty with a bit of a lift from the herbaceous, earthy, slightly spicy hops, but the Märzenbier is more amplified - more biscuity malt flavour, a bit more bitterness, and more of a rich aroma, but extremely quaffable and comforting. Rob, one of the attendees, commented that he had tried this one before and was actually really glad to have it - he usually associates lagers with being outside on a warm day, but was appreciating the darker maltiness on this very autumnal evening. Martin said that it was a nice change from the crisp lagers he’s used to, and he liked the biscuity flavours that came from it - a sentiment which was echoed by the rest of the group.
The next beer of the evening was Infinite Horizons IPA from new kids on the Bristol block Newtown Park, which had mixed reviews from the group. The hop bill (Cryo Simcoe, Amarillo, and Centennial) meant that the beer smelt like an absolute treat - think juicy mangoes, papaya and blood orange - and the body was refreshing, with a big punchy hit of bitter hops and a nice carbonic bite. Some guests thought this was a bit too much, though; Abby thought it had too bitter an aftertaste, and Kitty and Martin thought it was a bit sharp and it was like drinking two different beers, since the smell and the taste are so different. However, Rob liked the contrast in the taste and aroma, and enjoyed the fact that there was a lot going on, which elongated the flavour profile. Alistair and Xavin enjoyed it just fine, thinking it was a bit on the bitter side but it had a nice boozy character. I love it when the group has a collection of different viewpoints, as it makes the discussion interesting.
I love it when the group has a collection of different viewpoints
The penultimate beer was another Wiper and True one - this time a barrel-aged pale ale made in collaboration with local folks Arbour, called Dream Work. I absolutely adored this beer after the first sip, so I was looking forward to Michael telling us all about it, and boy did he deliver. We both got to nerd out about barrel-ageing, wild fermentation and ~bacteria~, which I love. The beer itself wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, but everyone found it exceptionally interesting, and we all had good discussions around the funkiness, the tartness, and how the beer was made - it’s a blend of three barrel-aged beers of different ages, mixed with some of Arbour’s pale ale which was aged on strawberries for two years. Alistair thought the overall taste was reminiscent of gooseberries, which a lot of us agreed with, and Martin and Abby quite simply thought it was a really great beer and wondered where they could get their hands on some (it was actually due for release the week after the bottle share, which means our guests got a super-special sneak preview).
The fifth and final beer of the evening was one I spotted in a shop with Michael when we were meandering towards the venue after a pint and a catch-up. It’s Wiper and True’s brand new barrel-aged wee heavy called Swally, which they collaborated on with one of my favourite Scottish breweries Tempest. I live in Edinburgh, and the wee heavy is one of my favourite historical beer styles; since this one is brewed by a Bristol brewery, I knew I just *had* to end this bottle share with this wee swally.
When I say it was perfection, know that I am serious, despite my predilection for hyperbole. It smelt like a campfire over which people are making smores and toasting marshmallows, and tasted like Christmas pudding. Xavin commented that he doesn’t tend to enjoy darker beers, but this one changed his mind; Alistair chimed in saying he felt content while drinking it, “like being in an outdoor jacuzzi on a cold winter day.” We did discuss the taste and aroma of the beer, but mostly agreed that it was a very comforting beer that feels like a cosy hug. Since it was a special treat and it was the final beer of the evening, Michael and I brought along an extra bottle - it’s safe to say, those of us who didn’t have to be particularly compos mentis in the morning didn’t hesitate to accept a top-up.
Maybe it was the strong beer, but I felt the warm fuzzies once the tasting finished, and it felt like a great success - everybody seemed to have fun, the chat flowed all evening, and most people stayed for another pour of the lager from the tank (thanks Michael). Plus, our guests seemed genuinely interested in learning more about the beers and asked questions, and no one minded me going off on long rambles - about the history of Oktoberfest and of Scottish and English beer styles, the nuances of different hop characters and types of malts, and all the millions of dark beers there are out there to try - I’m looking at you, Martin.
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