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Gaffers beer tasting: Briarbank Brewery

There was serious business to be done at the Briarbank Brewery – honestly! But that did not get in the way of 14 East Coast old Gaffers having a really good evening, representing seven gaff rigged boats which are all safely tucked up for the winter. Briarbank Brewery have agreed to produce a special brew next summer, for OGA60, so the reason (excuse?) for this gathering in Ipswich on Saturday 3 December, 2022 was to sample some beers and decide what sort of brew would be suitable. Predominantly attended by Essex Gaffers (with a sprinkling of Suffolk representation) the majority travelled to Ipswich by train, which was quite a jolly outing in itself. From Harwich (hosting a contingent from further afield) and Mistley, with one change at Manningtree, and then a brisk walk into town where the microbrewery sits near the docks with its bar above.

First taster for most was Briar Bitter which is their stock session ale, a traditional English bitter and just 3.7% ABV. This met with all-round approval, and Grapefruit IPA (4.5%) was another popular brew – a fresh and fruity summer beer. Pete the Knife made copious tasting notes on his beer mat and whilst sampling Perpendicular (4.4%, a golden ale) informed us that he and colleagues had invented the word “horidicular” –  a useful technical term to note.  Fortunately we all remained vertical, and although a slight challenge to this was presented by Insanity Claus (6% – dark Belgian style), the real threat lay with 11% imperial porter interestingly named Grounds for Divorce. Third of a pint measures are available!

After a pre-ordered supper, head brewer Rob Pyke joined us for an informal chat about beers and brewing. He impressed us all with his knowledge and enthusiasm as well as his keenness to provide us with a good brew for OGA60. It was thought that a summery beer might be best for our events but also that some input from our younger members should be sought, so no decisions have been made yet – perhaps  the perfect excuse to have another tasting session. Many thanks to the committee for a great winter event – please let’s do it again.

Visit Briarbank Brewery online

Photographer credits: Daniel Hydes (header), Gavin King (gallery)
Photos copyright Briarbank Brewery
Words: Sue Lewis