Go West

I was recently contacted by West Berkshire Brewing. They're completely new to me, but as they've just resurrected Dogbolter (the infamous Firkin brew pub chain strong beer) with its creator David Bruce* I decided it would be interesting to try a few. The aforementioned wasn't yet bottled and the beers I was mostly interested in trying were out of stock; so I got a session bitter and a couple of specials.

Beers arrived in an attractive 3 bottle case - as if peeking out from under a bridge arch, though this one's certainly not in Bermondsey. Each beer is represented by a character - Mr Chubb looks scarily like a colleague (though of course he's not a sea captain) and the apiarist somewhat resembles Carrie Fisher. That aside the labels are striking in a traditional real ale sense, single colour background and plenty of information including CYCLOPS tasting notes of which I am a fan.

Up first was that creepily facaded session bitter Mr Chubbs,  at a quaffable 3.7%. Pours attractive pale brown with frothy off-white head as you can see from the picture. Looks like a freshly pulled pint, its great when breweries manage to get their conditioning correct in bottle. 
Caramel malt and herbal hops on nose its very much in the brown beer category, but that's of course no bad thing. Medium body, carbonation, excellent session bitter in the English tradition with good bitter snap in finish. 
Reminds me of Gales Butser, which was one of my favourite pints to drink until Fullers ditched it (sad face).

On to the first of the seasonals and we have Gold Star a 5.2% Honey beer. Honey beers can sometimes have a weird off-note alongside a lack of body due to adding not enough speciality malts, not an issue here however.
Pouring burnished gold with tight off-white head. Theres a dry bready nose with with the dusty note that often accompanies honey beers. Medium body, gentle carbonation, shortcake malt, dry with low residual sweetness. Well integrated honey character to make a decent golden ale with some herbal bitterness in the finish.

Maharaja is the strongest of the trio at 5.9% and again very much ploughing the traditional furrow. Its given a suitable name gleaned from the nearby Maharaja's Well. Slightly hazy mid amber with rich candy sugar and sweet citrus peel on the nose. Full bodied, moderate carbonation, rich malt, some warming alcohol, fairly high residual bitterness, burnt caramel, fairly dry pithy bitterness providing a long dry finish. This is up there with Worthington white shield as a UK IPA and deserves to be a part of the core range.

A good showing then for this brewery which will definitely prompt me to seek out more from them. I think its important that there still be breweries that provide beers of this calibre, not least as they help to ensure the viability of the British hop crop. Whilst I enjoy big bruiser imperial stouts and hop shock IPAs I'm also partial to a decent malt led beer or two and West Berkshire have now earnt a place in my circle of trust. Thank you to Caroline for sending these through to me.

*Find out more about Dogbolter in Boak & Bailey's new book Brew Britannia, which I just finished at the weekend. Its very good indeed, but if you don't want to believe me then there are plenty of other more respectable proponents who think you should too.


  1. Mr Chubb's was at the Hilden festival the year before last (as were you, I recall). I really liked it too.

    1. I was indeed but didn't drink very much due to overindulgence (on abstrakt) the night before. hope to return this year after a year off.

  2. Smashing review again - I love seeing beer taken this seriously. Wouldn't mind getting my hands on a few of these....