Our Beer Man’s Verdict
In fact, there are so many excellent events – including beer launches and meet the brewer sessions – it can be easy to get blasé about what’s on offer.
But a double header by brilliant Berkshire-based brewery Siren caused a bit of a stir, with the meet the brewer event at the Hanging Bat selling out in a couple of hours.
I was one of the lucky few to snag a ticket, and was excited to see what was on offer.
All 20 draught lines at the Bat were completely given over to Siren, and it’s an indication of the quality of their output that everything looked tempting.
Boss Darren Anley and head brewer Ryan Witter-Merithew, unsurprisingly, made a good double act, talking us through their work and fielding questions.
The traditional approach at these things is to start off with session beer and work up in strength. Not here, though – we’re chucked right in at the deep end with the 9.3 per cent Quadrophenia, a Belgian quad style beer. It was good but a bit raw and would benefit from ageing to smooth the rough edges.
Next up was the tart, mouth-puckering Calypso, which was paired with some retro canapés on cocktail sticks.
The Life Is A Peach followed, a cracking IPA with a soft fruity aroma. Then it was Love Of Work, a light tea IPA which had a pleasing dry Early Grey finish.
The soft shell beef tongue tacos were wonderfully rich and spicy, although I’m not convinced the beer stood up to them.
The Even More Jesus was an 11 ABV monster, a dark, decadent imperial stout aged in Ardbeg casks. Not a whisky fan, it was too aggressive for me – however, it was absolutely sensational paired with the white chocolate romanoff with summer fruit compote. The subtle saltiness of the white chocolate complemented the peaty whisky notes to produce one of the best beer and food pairings I can recall.
The Liquid Mistress red ale with grapefruit was a light refreshing way to end the night, cleansing the palate nicely.
For beer aficionados and novices alike, these Hanging Bat events are excellent value and I would strongly recommend trying to get along if you can.
The following evening took a different approach when the Bat’s sister bar Spit/Fire devised a dinner menu to match Siren’s stronger, barrel-aged beers.
The beers were great, of course – although a little relief from the high ABV, barrel-aged onslaught might have been welcome – and the pairing of the starter sea trout tartare with the sharp Calypso, aged on cucumber and basil this time, was a particular highlight.