Five underrated breweries for Tryanuary
18 January 2016, By Jonny Garrett
The joy of craft beer is how many breweries there are – so many beers to try, so many people to meet, so many places to do both. The other joy is that we all pick a team to some extent, championing our local brewery, or some obscure one from the other side of the world. That’s how knowledge is spread and discoveries made. But sometimes a brewery falls through the cracks, for myriad reasons that have nothing to do with their beer.
These breweries are all successful businesses making fantastic beer. They range from British micros to one of America’s biggest, but we think they all deserve a bit more recognition from our readers. So hopefully this will convince you to try some in the next box!
Manchester’s Marble have a large chapter in the history of modern beer but not everyone realizes it. Founded in the backroom of the Marble Arch pub the space was nearly used for a karaoke room, but thankfully taste prevailed. Growing from the initial 4.5-barrel plant in 1997 it has tripled in size, and former head brewers have gone on to Thornbridge, Buxton and many other fantastic craft breweries. Doing what they did well before the craft beer revolution took guts and imagination, and there’s not a British brewer that doesn’t love Marble for that or their amazing range of delicious, sessionable (and not so sessionable) beers.
Tricky to find even in Belgium, we’re very lucky indeed to have some La Rulles to sell on Beer Merchants. Championed by the late, great beer writer Michael Jackson (not THAT Michael Jackson) La Rulles classic Belgian styles but not quite as you’d expect. For a start, it’s all fermented in open vessels without the use of any spices and the brewery have done collaborations with the likes of Tilquin. Their Brune is utterly sinkable – loaded with fruit and roastiness – and so is the clean, punchy Tripel.
London legends Weird Beard aren’t exactly underrated, it’s more that sometimes we try a beer and are reminded just how damned good they can be. We often question why they aren’t one of the most celebrated breweries in the UK, for sheer variety and daring. No other brewery would produce 3 forms of lager based on the same uncatchy title “Spreadsheet Ninja” or use so much Sorachi Ace. But their Black IPA, Fade to Black, is one of the best examples of the style, while Mariana Trench is a hugely underrated American pale ale.
This brewery makes one of the biggest selling blondes in Belgium, but receives little praise for it. Not only that, it’s one of our biggest selling beers thanks to UK tourists trying it in its home of Bruges and falling in love. It has a huge spicy depth but a clean finish. The brune is a different beast though, with lots of dark fruits and a thick, stout-like mouthfeel that makes it a brilliant winter beer.
If that’s not enough De Halve Maan also brew Straffe Hendrik, a different line of beers named after the brewer who made the first beer in 1981. They have a great tripel, a surprisingly light and fruity quad and then a funky, brandy-like barrel aged version called Vintage that is a must try beer. Try the mixed case here!
We don’t sell half as much Founders as we’d like to. Despite seeming a little long in the tooth, Founders are still at the forefront of craft beer. KBS is still perhaps the best year-round imperial stout in the world (seriously), and their All Day IPA wasn’t just the first of its kind, it’s still one of the best after all this time. Add to that the fact that they age all their beers in a disused mine, and come out with cracking, gluggable high ABV beers like Big Lushious, and you’ll start to wonder why you don’t have a fridge full at home.