One of the many joys of writing this blog is that people have a tendency to tell you about their favourite small brewery, which is often a new discovery. If you’re extra lucky, that person is so enthusiastic that they’ll haul back a selection of said brewery’s products for you, which is why I have five intriguing bottles from the Marble Brewery, a micro brewer in Manchester.
Marble have been around for a few years, and although they haven’t appeared in my local supermarkets all the way down south, they’re well represented in the various online shops that are starting to make tracking down interesting small brews so much easier. I think the bottles I have cover all their regular brews, although as their website isn’t yet up and running it’s a little hard to know just what they have available.
All of their beers are bottle conditioned (hooray!) and a number of them are organic as well.
Manchester Bitter, Ginger 6%, Lagonda IPA, Dobber and Chocolate Marble
On to the beers, then. I’ve attempted to go from light to dark, in the interest of being up to at least some sort of sense by the time I reach bottle number 5.
We open, then, with Manchester Bitter, at 4.2%. A surprisingly light, almost straw coloured beer, far lighter than I was expecting. The initial head is a little concerning with large, fizzy-drink style bubbles but left to sit for a few minutes, these form a pleasingly foamy, lingering head. Big, strong hoppy aromas, almost fruity. Those hops are just as big hitting when it comes to the flavour as well, a delicious floral bitterness that lingers but doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The beer has a smooth, almost velvety texture and it all comes together to form a delicious, very quaffable ale. Over time as it sits in the glass, more citrusy notes become apparent, although it requires considerable self control to leave it long enough for that! If this is in any way representative of their range, I’m going to have a very pleasant afternoon.
In fact my only real criticism is the name; it’s very pale for what I’d expect from something labelled as a Manchester bitter. It should have said “Spring Ale”. In fact, I might have to order myself a box in the spring!
Next up is Ginger 6%, which is (obviously) 6%. A slightly darker, Golden Syrup colour, less fizzy out of the bottle and only a light film of foam lingering. Lots and lots of ginger aroma initially – pretty much to the exclusion of any other hints. This fades pretty quickly to a more general hint of gingeriness, which leads through to a subtle ginger taste. There’s a clear ‘beery’ base with just a slight tang of ginger on the tongue. There’s a certain sweetness to it, but not so much that it overwhelms the beer flavours. There’s a bitterness to it as well, but not the good, hoppy kind, and the mouthfeel is a little odd – almost soapy – which makes me wonder if perhaps the bottle is a little long in the tooth.
An exciting smelling beer when first poured, this one doesn’t really deliver for me.
Edited to add: Since this post, I’ve been able to get hold of more bottles and I’m happy to report that my original suspicion that I just had a bottle past it’s prime was correct. The ginger is much more pronounced and it’s an excellent ginger beer!
And so, on to the Lagonda IPA, 5%. Pale gold (just a little darker than the Manchester Bitter) with a more open head. Buckets of malt and hops on the nose, but with less of the floral, fruity overtones of the Bitter. The taste reflects those, with a decent malt punch nicely balanced by buckets of hoppy bitterness and a slightly more pronounced citrus edge. Not as velvety at the bitter, with a light but not watery body. There is a darker fruitiness to the taste and an almost honey-like (or maybe a light caramel) sweetness.
Another excellent beer; less seasonal tasting than the Bitter and after the wobble with the Ginger, I’m starting to see why Marble have such a passionate following.
Next up is Dobber at 5.9%. Another pale golden beer, this time with virtually no head on it. A wonderful collection of smells; fruity, floral, hoppy. All of these come through in spades when tasting; a flavoursome, medium bodied beer dripping with maltiness, heavy hitting hops, nice fruit notes and a lingering bitterness. You can taste the higher strength through it all, and everything comes together to give a very well constructed beer.
Another big winner – probably my favourite of the lot.
Finally, the Chocolate Marble, 5.5%. A black stout, with a thin but lingering fine head. The sweet, chocolate maltiness is very apparent on the nose – when it comes to tasting it, those flavours remain, with burnt sugar present as well. Those burnt notes lead into a nice bitter touch. A good, rich flavour but retaining a relatively light body; not as sickly and sludgy as stouts can sometimes become, although some might find it almost too light. My tasting notes have “very drinkable” and “yummy” scrawled all over them.
Once again, a delicious beer; Marble wisely allowing the chocolate malt to do the talking and resisting the urge to get clever.
So, the final score is four excellent beers, and one miss. Looking around, my experience with the Ginger 6 is atypical, which makes me even more suspicious that I had a bad one – I shall have to keep my eye out for another bottle and give it a second chance.
It’s an interesting collection of well crafted, tasty beers and even bottles even look stylish.
These were bought for £3.25 each from behind the bar at the Marble Arch pub (73 Rochdale Rd, Manchester, M4 4HY). They can also be bought from the Marble Beer House (57 Manchester Road, Chorlton, M21 0UE) or the 57 Thomas Street pub (57 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1NA).
Alternatively, they can be purchased online by the case from where 12 bottles cost £27 + £6 postage. That’s £2.75 a bottle.
Hooray!I'm sorry you didn't take to the ginger. Unfortunately when I was buying the bottles to bring back they were out of ginger so I had to sub in one from my personal hoard from a previous visit much earlier this year. I was a bit worried it might not be up to it's best for that very reason. Damn. If I manage to get my hands on some newer bottles any time soon I'll make sure to pass one your way for a second look as the ginger really is my favourite and it's a shame you just got an old bottle because of the delivery girl!Also worth noting is a couple of pubs I've recently heard of serving Marble Beers to those of us down South. Although I haven't verified this yet The Southampton Arms http://www.thesouthamptonarms.co.uk in Kentish Town is rumoured to have some and I know that The Euston Tap http://www.eustontap.com in Euston certainly does, including Pint which is in my opinion one of their best brews and not one they currently bottle.Great post, thanks!
Also, not relevant to the post but I just had the best captcha phrase ever! “trollwar” hehehe ^_^
I like the labels on these bottles, nice and simple. I have yet to try a chocolate beer, but it's getting closer to my “I really must try this soon” list.
Excellent summary of one of my favourite breweries. I'm very lucky to be able to buy these in my local deli (Source Deli in Ormskirk, Lancashire) and they are all great.I'm in the process of arranging “The Ormskirk Baron presents: Marble Beers” tasting night at Source Deli and you have just confirmed the order in which we will be tasting them! ;)Glad you enjoyed them, they are ace, their specials are good too, including the wonderful Vuur & Vlam (think it might be sold out now)
Becca: thanks once again for being a most excellent delivery girl – sounds like just another reason I need to get down to the Euston Tap :)Choclette: yeah, I'm liking the labelling too; simple, consistent feel across the range. I half intended to mention it, but, well, beer, you know?!Baron: Glad you like my (fairly arbitary, to be honest!) order. You're lucky to have them nice and close!
Pete, would you be happy for me to use your photo of the bottled line-up? Would love to have it as the background image on the tasting night flyers?
Certainly – if you want you can grab a higher resolution from here : http://www.flickr.com/photos/ganders/5187813160/But only if you send me one of the flyers for my portfolio 🙂
Sounds like a deal to me, shall I email the address on this blog?
Baron, Howdy, yes please, just use that email, I will fwd to Pete, or if it's our address you need, can send on his behalf. Hope the tasting night is fantastic!x
I didn't do a poster in the end but I did use your excellent photo on my blog post about it:http://www.theormskirkbaron.com/2010/11/ormskirk-baron-presents-marble-beers.htmlThanks for the use of the photo!