Saturday, December 10, 2011


Redwillow Brewery from Macclesfield have been gaining a lot of plaudits for the quality of their cask beers. So I was interested to see a selection of their beers on sale in bottle-conditioned form. Now, I know I’ve had some bad experiences in the past with BCAs from micro-breweries, but these had to be worth a try, so I ended up with a bottle of their 4.1% “classic bitter – but a bit more so” Feckless. The bottles have attractive, stylish labels with the brewery’s distinctive branding theme.

It was crystal clear in the bottle, with the yeast firmly sticking to the bottom, and I was able to pour it clear without any difficulty. However, it was almost totally devoid of any condition, so I ended up with a glassful of flat brown liquid. Even though it was clear, there was a distinct yeastiness in the taste akin to poor-quality homebrew. Sorry, guys, you’ll have to do far better than that.

I’ve described drinking BCAs from micros as a bit of a lottery, but it seems that this is a lottery you are bound to lose. Wouldn’t it make more sense for breweries like Redwillow to just bottle one flagship beer and make sure they get the quality control right?

It’s worth noting that the label didn’t have the questionable “CAMRA says this is real ale” logo.

If anyone out there runs a micro-brewery and thinks I’ve just been unlucky, feel free to send me a sample of your beer. I’ll store it upright in a cold dark place for a week or so and then give it an honest tasting without prejudice. But if I can’t (with a bit of care) pour it clear, or it shows zero or minimal condition, then it won’t even get out of the starting blocks.