Beer Engine: the modern side of Real Ale
My visit to the Beer Engine goes beyond the usual: Sunday roast, DJ set and grilled food.
The Beer Engine is the CAMRA Pub of the month of August 2016. I visited it in a sunny Sunday, tempted by a great English classic: the Sunday Roast. Pub crawling, though, is not just drinking. It means digging in the soul of the visited premises. The pub has built a good cuisine reputation – with beer firmly remaining the main offering. The offer is twofold: during the week there are Spanish tapas and an 8 dishes menu which changes weekly; Sundays there is the already mentioned Sunday roast in three variants (meat, vegetarian and vegan).
As proud omnivore I had no doubt: meat.
Three slices of pork roast accompanied by plenty of sides: red cabbage salad, vegetable cream, applesauce with raisins, caramelized carrots with orange and thyme, boiled broccoli, cauliflower in cheese cream, roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and the inevitable gravy. Pairings were not the best but with all these ingredients it was funny trying all possible combinations. The best one? Roast pork and cauliflower in cheese cream.
At the Beer Engine you drink modern Real Ale.
It claims it from the entrance: huge white walls with black writing, clear and large font. The furniture confirms even though it shuffles the cards. I would imagine a minimalist pub with street furnishings, home of hipsters and beer nerds. There are as well as tradition: a long bar full of beers, the details (chimneys, brick paving) are all in classic style. The choice of wood is elegant, in clear and bright colors.
3 rooms and a beer garden make it a cosy pub.
The hall houses the bar equipped with heavy artillery: high abv tap list, especially the kegs. While drinking you will enjoy the ambient/chillout music, inviting to quiet and staid pace. In the beer garden the situation changes radically: the DJ set takes over with Reggae and dance hall music. Chicken, rice and peas, along with vegan food, are being served in the beer garden. Eating, though, puts a certain thirst. It ‘time to drink!
Blonde, Neepsend Brew Co., Blonde Ale from 4% abv.
Thin but dense foam, creamy in appearance and colour; persistent and adherent. Very light golden colour with straw nuances; clear appearance. The nose is American with an English stamp. I refer to the malty backbone, fragrant and almost chewy. Sugar fruitness with a pulpy residue (melon, peach, orange, tangerine). The prevailing malty note is that of bread crust. Toffee, crackers and orange honey close the circle.
The first sip shows more than what its modest alcohol content would had imagine. Texture and sweetness, balanced by hoppyness and a sour end. Bread, honey and cereals. Then orange peel, melon, peach and a bit of canned pineapple. Watery interlude, after which the fruit returns, here reaching fullness. The grassy notes clean the palate from any residual sugar. A light peppery final grain is left perceived in the back of the tongue. Zero bubbles, medium body, liquid bread mouthfeel. It is a magical beer: fulfilling, flagship for the “less is more” advertise. This is the result of English malts combined with stars and stripes hops (Cascade, Citra and Brewer’s Gold).
Best Bitter, Dark Star, Best Bitter from 4% abv.
Incredibly consistent foam. Fine texture, creamy and beige in colour. Copper colour with orange nuances; clear appearance. The aromatic welcome is offered by the caramel. The body turns to crackers, crusty bread and a bite of toast/pizza crust. The heart is orange honey.
In the mouth it is fleeting: no carbonation, medium body, slight watery consistency make it go down like down a slide. Bread, cereals, caramel, toffee, honey. No traces of its passage but a slight roasted bitterness (toast, hazelnut). Ethyl aftersmell, dry aftertaste (butterscotch). A classic bitter which deserves a nutty accent and a fuller body.
Millionaire, Wild Beer, Milk Stout with salted caramel and chocolate by 4.7% abv.
Thick, firm foam. It is like a cappuccino: creamy, hazelnut color, to eating with a spoon. Ebony and ruby highlights; limpid aspect. The nose is weird but delicious, exactly as stated on the label: caramel, dark chocolate, milk/cream and salty tinge reminding of the crisps. The body is sweet and malty, with black bread and toffee notes. Spicy heart, between paprika and curry.
It is the divine goodness what is revealed in the mouth. The sweet prevails but a wise work ensures no cloying. Black bread, toffee, full caramel (Twix), salty chocolate, cocoa powder, sugared charcoal. Even milk and candy fruit (cherry). Medium-bodied, velvety mouthfeel. Nesquik aftersmell, chocolate aftertaste. I’m not greedy but I “devoured” it in a matter of minutes.
The Beer Engine is worth a visit. It might lack the charm of the old fashioned English pubs. But times change, the taste as well and the modern side of the Real Ale is not bad.