Set in the beautiful Teign Valley, just outside of Exeter and right on the edge of Dartmoor, is the Black Tor Brewery. Recently under new management and in the process of rejuvenating some familiar recipes, along with adding in some new ones, Black Tor are ready to deliver some fine ale, to not just their local Devonians, but to as far a field as their beer may be requested. As Jonathon, the head brewer, personally delivers casks of beer to pubs dotted about the South West and further afield when called upon.
Using traditional brewing methods, along with combining local and natural ingredients supplied by Tuckers Maltings, Black Tor are producing some fantastic classic ales, which, offer a nice distraction to the rat race that is the world of Craft Beer. And sometimes it’s nice to take a step back and relax with a fine ale instead. Just take a minute, or twenty, and sit and ponder over the exquisite, deep, and long lasting flavours that a proper hand crafted ale can give up. Take your time, enjoy, and savour every last drop. You mustn’t forget, that traditional ales are the heart of our country, and deep in the depths of our counties, there’s many a fine brew being laboured over as we speak.
In addition to the well travelled casks, Black Tor are now offering their beer in bottle conditioned form. I was fortunate enough to be able taste a sample of Raven whilst on a recent work call to the brewery, and I was delighted by the fact that this beer would be available in bottles along with two others, Devonshire Pale Ale (DPA) and Pride of Dartmoor.
All of the trio are staple brews and offer a good insight to the brewery’s work, and I’m sure, once you’ve managed to empty your glass, slowly, you’ll be on the hunt for more.
So let’s get started shall we? Pull up a chair, preferably your favourite one, set the dog on it’s bed and go. Grab yourself a bottle of Raven and a glass. Crack the top, release that gentle fizz, and now pour. Nice and slowly, leaving the sediment behind, or not, its your choice after all. Now sit down, put your feet up and admire that glorious, glowing, reddish copper liquid before you.
Allow your nose to take in the sweet caramel and berry aroma, breathe deeply now, we’ve only just begun and you’re in for a treat. Follow that aroma, and dive in for a taste. The smooth caramel butteriness develops into some further summer fruits, leaving you with a medium bitterness that just craves another gulp.
When you’re ready to move on from the Raven, it’s time to get acquainted with the DPA. Offering another fantastic show of colour, the DPA sits before you proudly showing off it’s rich golden depth. The aroma starts off a nice hint of caramel with a dusting of a fruity funk. And it’s the gorgeous caramel that initiates the soft mouthfeel, leaving you with a lightly bitter and bready finish.
And if you’re ready for your final instalment of the evening, then reach for the Pride of Dartmoor. That beautiful, deep, autumnal glow lets you know that something good is sat before you. With it’s grassy, biscuity aroma leading on to a taste that’s almost like a toffee apple, the soft mouthfeel leaves you with a lovely toffee taste and a light bitterness in the back of your mouth.
As is often the case with bottled ales, I do feel that they have lost a little something in the bottling process. The Raven, at least, has a slightly fuller flavour when drawn from the cask, and it’s a shame that the same flavour profile isn’t present in the bottle. But, all in all, these three are really nice ales, and Jonathon should be commended for his efforts in taking the brewery on and the work he has done in order to make these beers available.
He has the enthusiasm and also the will to create something good, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish him all the best in his brewing venture and also to thank him for providing the beers that enabled me to write this post.