Members' bottle share: Canalhouse, Nottingham

Canalhouse, 48-52 Canal St, Nottingham NG1 7EH

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This month’s members’ bottle share took place at the gorgeous Canalhouse pub in Nottingham. It’s one of the most unique pubs I’ve been to - it used to be a canal museum, and even has two narrow boats moored in the middle of the pub, since part of it sits over a canal. With an excellent range of both real ales and more modern experimental beers, as well as a huge beer garden, impressive food menu, and a ‘classic pub’ feel, it’s no wonder this is one of the city’s most popular drinking establishments. 

Joined by Castle Rock’s Lewis Townsend, Head of Marketing, and Carl Duke, Sales Representative, this bottle share was a smaller one than usual, consisting of the three of us and only six other Beer52 members. However, the smaller group meant more intimate chat and also that we could all sit around the same table, so I didn’t have to make my way round an area of the pub asking people the same questions, like usual! 

The first beer of the evening was Castle Rock’s own Festbier, which they brewed with Bauhaus 2.0 in Karlsruhe, Germany, to celebrate 50 years of Nottingham and Karlsruhe being ‘twinned cities’. They used German malts, brought their own Mandarina Bavariahops for dry-hopping over to Nottingham in a rucksack, and had their own wet yeast culture couriered over in sealed pressurised containers, so that the beer could be as authentic as possible. When Lewis talked to the group about the beer, you could tell it was a special one for the brewery - he says “I can appreciate that a ‘festbier’ isn’t the trendiest of beers to make, but it was an incredible experience […] because of how meticulous and unashamedly traditional they are in how they do things.”


This was a great example of a classic German festbier, and was widely enjoyed by the group. The maltiness was fantastic (not too biscuity, just very very comforting), it was perfectly medium-bodied and drinkable with a 6% ABV, and the hops were present but didn’t overpower. Rob, who is almost exclusively a dark beers fan, said that he liked the flavour, and Jonathon said he liked the fact that it was very full-flavoured. 

The second beer was something that, as a fairly traditional brewery that is renowned for its award-winning Harvest Pale blonde ale, veered from the norm for Castle Rock. Sourlero kettle sour, a 4% ABV fruity number brewed with passionfruit, mango, pineapple and peach purees to pay homage to a Solero ice cream, divided the group. I, for one, couldn’t drink it because I’m allergic to passionfruit, so I’ll spare my comments, other than it had a lovely full body for a sour, thanks to the added lactose, and that the smell was on point. Jonathon and Tom loved it with the former commenting that it’s “well-balanced”, but Hannah and Rob aren’t generally fans of sour beers so they didn’t enjoy it. Everyone agreed that it’s a very well-made beer, though. 


The penultimate beer of the night was Neon Raptor's Kilos and Pounds

Next up we had Stu Can Play at that Game from Nottingham-based Totally Brewed, a 4.4% hazy IPA brewed in collaboration with North Riding Brewery which I purchased from the takeaway fridge at Junkyard craft beer bar. The gang enjoyed this one, commenting that it’s really rich and has a strong aftertaste, and even Rob the dark beers lover enjoyed it! Chat descended into talking about Totally Brewed’s other beers, since a lot of the group hadn’t had this one before even though they were very familiar with the brewery - Rob and Elliott were singing the praises of the Sorachi Mango IPA which I will have to track down! 


The penultimate beer of the night was Neon Raptor’s Kilos and Pounds, a raspberry and pineapple sour IPA, purchased from local bottle shop Brew Cavern. Yes, another sour beer, but this time it’s a generously hopped IPA (Nelson Sauvin, Citra, Mosaic and Cascade - a great showcase of some of my favourite hops!), with lactose added for body, and the tart fruits added for sourness. It was perfectly balanced - aromatic, smooth, and zesty - and Hannah, who didn’t enjoy the previous sour, thought it was great! She commented that she liked it because it tastes of sour fruits, rather than ‘actual sourness’, and Jonathon and I agreed that it was definitely a more palatable sour beverage than the previous one, because it’s “more naturally sour”. 

Lastly, we rounded off the evening with a deliciously decadent milk stout from Black Iris called Rise and Shine, which is brewed with coffee beans from local roasters Outpost Coffee. A slight bitterness, a silky full body thanks to the addition of oats in the brew, and a rich flavour - this one went down very well with the group, and was a lovely slow-sipper to end the evening with, while everyone finished chatting and nerding out. Throughout the evening, discussions ranged from geeky brewing stuff to local pubs to beer styles and people’s beer-drinking patterns to Castle Rock Brewery to just beer in general, with Lewis and Duke being excellent hosts and knowledgeable, friendly drinking buddies. It was my first time in Nottingham - so I got some great tips for places to visit from the group - and it certainly won’t be my last.


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