Finding a new Vocation
Curiosity killed the cat they say and though I’ve never actually died as the result of trying out a “new to me” brewery, there have been a few occasions where the beer tasted as if some element of it may have passed away or at the very least been stricken by a debilitating illness.
Now you would think with so many great suds on offer these days that I would learn to just go back in for those trusted pumps, cans and bottles. But nay, like some kind of promiscuous malt munching member of the Lepidoptera family, I continue to be drawn to the mysterious flickering flame of the unknown.
In fairness to date, I’ve tasted a lot more average beers than bad ones. But every so often my penchant for rolling the dice pays off and did so with aplomb when I plucked up that textured trio cans from Vocation Brewery. For some reason, three seems to be the magic number when I am testing out a new brewery, feels as though I’m getting a good overall impression of what they are capable of. (There could may well be some kind of subconscious biblical undercurrent as well.)
Going by what I supped, Vocation are truly a brewery at the top of their game.
Opened in a Hebdon Bridge (I actually went through there on the train recently and felt a strong urge to leap from the carriage despite it not being my stop. Now I know why.) business park in 2015 by former Blue Monkey Brewery co-frontman John Hickling after he decided to go out on his own. In a short time, this West Yorkshire brewery seems to have impressed its fair share of punters. Well, that’s if you put any stock in Untapped’s ratings, as at the time of writing Vocation currently find themselves number four in England. Impressive.
Enough grandstanding, on to the beers.
For me, the ultimate litmus test for a brewery is its pale ale or a sessionable IPA. Vocation hit it out of the park with this pithy, punchy breakfast juice of a beer. Loads of tangerine, so crisp you could snap it in half, subtle floral notes and the happiest juiciest mango you’ve ever tasted. The finish was firm, held together with hoppy bite and lemon boiled sweets. Super duper!
A style that was very popular a few years ago, and if done well still one of my favourites. The nose had some nice milk chocolatey and roasted coffee bean elements plus hints of fresh peach. Flavours of burnt toffee, savoury marmite yet the texture was quite lush without feeling heavy. There was a blood pudding iron element to the finish that I found quite agreeable as well.
Poured a bit like melted chocolate with aromas of rich beef stew, cold espresso and dry cocoa. Now I’ve become quite picky when it comes to Stout these days. It has to deliver on texture and man oh man did this deliver! Luxurious fine dark chocolate velvet caressed my tongue and cheeks. Rich to be sure, but perfectly balanced and held together. There were some mature meaty undertones and a touch of chilli, but honestly, I was enjoying it so much I stopped taking notes. We had ordered an Indian takeaway and I was blown away with how brilliantly the N&N stout coped with the varied spices, sauces and heat. I kept oohing and ahhing as it soothed, lifted and cleansed. Easily one of the best beer and food pairings I have ever experienced. Stellar. Note: This is a limited edition release and am not sure who currently stocks it.
I can’t commend John and his Vocation Brewery team enough. You can buy online from Eebria or Beer Ritz but I picked mine up from my local beer shop Fresh Fields Market in Croydon (Yes you heard right. Check out my blog here), who continue to discover and stock new and wonderful beers for me to try.
As for me, I’m keen to try the rest of their range. Providing of course something new and shiny doesn’t catch my eye first.