Sadler's are a black country brewer who've been around for over 100 years. But their brews are as modern and exciting as any start up, while holding onto traditional flavours.
They're very proud of their black country heritage, continuing to be based in Lye, just outside Stourbridge, where they have their brewery, their tap house and their brewhouse bar.
Despite being a local outfit their beer can be found in many an excellent pub outside the area and even in the big supermarkets. Including one that was brewed for Aldi's craft beer range.
A homage to the dark and murky world of the post world war one crime gangs of Birmingham (immortalised by BBC television show of the same name). Despite 'Black IPA' being a signature of current trends in heavily hopping any beer, dark or light, this is a thoroughly traditional beer. The brewer aimed to brew a beer as close as possible to what would have been drunk in the midlands between the wars.
It is the beer that introduced me to this wonderful brewery. It's unique taste is closest to some of the dark beers I've tasted in Prague's traditional beer halls. A deep roasted, almost burnt flavour, mixed with spices and berries finished by a smokiness, which makes me imagine the factories of early 20th century Brum. Hop flavours are most definitley their but they are an after taste and not front and centre like many Black IPAs.
A more evocative beer I am yet to find!
Not all beers can live up to the delight that is Peaky Blinder but Sadler's have some pretty good beers in second place. Thin Ice is a lighter, more refreshing beer. A tropical, citrusy taste it feels more like a beer for the BBQ than the Brummie back streets (although I have been known to have a BBQ on the back street, they aren't mutually exclusive)! This beer has a much more contemporary feel than Peaky Blinder and shows this brew can hop it up with the best of them, while keeping it all about the taste. There's no soapy finish or unnecessary additions here. This is a beer drinkers beer, enjoyable for hipsters and their dads.
One of the joys of Sadler's is that they have a whole family of bars where you can sample their beers. In Lye they have The Windsor Castle, friendly local with food to boot, and The Brewhouse and Bar, with live music and a party atmosphere. There's also a Southampton branch which is a little out of my jurisdiction.
A blog about both of these places coming soon in my Pubs blog.
The Newport based Tiny Rebel started in 2008 by two fellas in a garage and has blossomed into one of the most exciting breweries in the British craft beer scene. Tiny Rebel has two top notch tap houses in South Wales with such a wide range in their own back catalogue that they can stock an entire bar (a very well stocked bar). But their beers are everywhere. From Brighton to Glasgow and around the world.
Tiny Rebel's range is ever changing but Cwtch has been there from the beginning and it's clear why it's still their signature brew (and one you'll see the most in pubs outside of south Wales). Welsh for cuddle, this is a hoppy, malty cuddle in a glass. The flavours are familiar but blended in a way that feels new. The rusty colour makes it look like a traditional bitter but it's caramel hit and american hops make it feel modern. I love Cwtch and can see exactly why it won Champion Beer of Britain 2015.
A newer addition to the Tiny Rebel range is Clwb Tropicana, only released in 2016. I stumbled on this one in a pub in Brighton. I chocked on the initial sip, realising it had cost me £6, but loved every other mouthful. Don't worry they're Brighton prices and if you find it elsewhere it is much less likely to burn a hole in your pocket and you can concentrate on the surprisingly fruity and vibrant tropical IPA. Fruit flavours up front with mango, passionfruit, pineapple and peach all discernible flavours. Finishing with a gentle bitterness left by those fruity hops. Not to everyone's taste but if you're a fan of an IPA (or Wham) it's worth a taste.
Dirty Stop Out
Like lots of modern craft brewers Tiny Rebel do have a focus on lighter coloured IPAs and golden ales but the stouts and porters they do do can hold their own with the best. Tiny Rebel describe Dirty Stop Out as 'Dark and smokey' and they aren't wrong! The smoked oats and multiple malts are right up front, making me feel like I'm drinking in a smokey old saloon. This is a complex beer though, not just oldie worldy but full of the bitterness of the modern hop fetish. Sounds a little strange but every mouthful is a delight.
This is just skimmed the surface of the Tiny Rebel range. If you see the little teddy give it a go, but be prepared..... these beers are not the expected!
Look out for a a take over near you!