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Curious Brew is a range of three beers that are a fusion of brewing and wine-making techniques. They are the result of a co-operation between Owen Elias, head winemaker at Chapel Down (and three-time winner of the UK Winemaker of the year), Frazer Thompson, the CEO of English Wines Group (formerly Heineken Global Brand Director), and Andy Hepworth (multi CAMRA award-winning brewer from King and Barnes now at The Beer Station in West Sussex). It is certainly an interesting fusion of beer know-how and winemaking expertise.

Curious Brew Cobb IPA
Alcohol 5/6%
Very efficacious, as a pal of mine would say. A really long, strong finish. Hints of orange and clove, quite gentle on the bitterness front. A slice of Lancashire cheese from Neals Yard Dairy was a superb match revealing yet more complexity. IPA, or India Pale Ale signifies that this ale has been brewed in the style of 19th Century British Brewers who made beers that were ‘hoppy’ and strong enough to withstand the long journey by sea around the Cape of Good Hope to the territories in Indian and beyond.

Curious Brew Brut
Alcohol 5%
This is more of a lager styled beer. Interestingly they use sparkling wine yeasts during the ref-fermentation; I know not what this actually adds to the brew. It is quite light in colour with a heavier flow of bubbles than the IPA. Lighter in flavour too, very refreshing. A greatly improved flavour than a standard lager; I like it.

Curious Brew Admiral Porter
Alcohol 5%
A very different style again – an oak matured, bottle-conditioned porter. Dark and brooding with a deep roasted coffee/treacle aroma. While it has the appearance of being heavy, sticky almost, it is surprisingly light and well balanced; the palate lifted by the effervescence. Plenty of flavour though – dark chocolate and coffee again with a lingering touch of meatyness on the finish. The twist from the winemaking angle is that this Porter is matured with oak as in the ageing of some wines. This supplies a delicate balance of sweetness and bitterness.

All of these beers are available from specialist independents (such as Only Fine Beer) or direct from the English Wine Group. Each is priced at £1.49 per bottle.

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