Irish Red – Cheshire Valley Brewing

Know what I like?  Beer.  I think that goes without saying.  I am particularly fond of Cheshire Valley, the “virtual brewery” of Paul Dickey (his words).  Paul makes some of my favourite beers in Toronto.  His mild might well be my desert-island beer now.  It’s that good.  His Robust Porter (which will be arriving at your local bar this week, if your local bar doesn’t suck) is just amazing.  I could go on.  So when I started planning the beer selection for my mother’s 64th birthday (which she had decided would be her “big” birthday, as opposed to 60 or 65, “Will you still need me? Will you still feed me? When I’m 64”.) an immediate thought was “I wonder if I can get a cask of Cheshire Valley?” So after an email conversation with Paul, it was all settled.  One 20 litre cask (a Pin, in our vernacular) of Robust Porter.  Until Paul emailed me to say he felt like doing a pilot batch (a small batch) and was wondering if there was a style my Mum was fond of.  And there was.  She loves red ales.  Paul said he would see what he could do, and duly emailed a few days later to say it was in the fermenter.  So with excitement akin to Christmas morning, I headed out to Black Oak on Saturday to pick up the beer and transport it to the party location. I must admit to having a lot of pints of this last night, and while I certainly took some quality time with it then, I thought I ought to do a review proper today.  And here it is!

Cheshire Valley Irish Red

Cheshire Valley Irish Red

Poured from a 20 litre pin that I just so happen to know was drawn from the fermenter on Friday, vented Saturday and tapped last night, Cheshire Valley Irish Red pours an opaque red hinting at brown in the middle.  A thin frothy bit of head drops fairly quickly, but there is still a bit of carbonation activity on the surface. I wish I could have drawn this through a sparkler (a hand-pump fitted with a nozzle that gives a nice thick head).  Aroma is is beautifully malty, a bit of caramel and hints of casky yeast.  This is totally bakery-shop lovely, nearly doughy.  Add to that a nice bit of spicy hops, with a hint of black tea and a bit of woodiness, and this is promising to be one hell of a beer.  Taste is rich and sweet, a little caramel and brown sugar, but it’s subtle.  Malts are the show piece, but there is a nice dry and bitter hop that cleans up your palate well and keeps the malty sweetness in check.  There’s also a slight yeast tang, though I did have to transport the cask last night, so it’s undoubtedly not as settled-out as it should be.  A perfectly balanced beer, it’s weight on your palate is velvety and smooth, aided no doubt, by it having been cask-conditioned.  There is a little bit of carbonation but it makes Molson M’s micro carbonation look monolithic by comparison.  Delicate little bubbles that just give a slight pop on you tongue.  The body is just textbook, so smooth and comfortable.  This is a perfect session beer.  I do hope Paul decides it’s as good as I think it is; I would love to have it on at Castro’s.

Many many thanks to Paul Dickey, and cheers on a (not surprising) job well done!

About the Brewery

Cheshire Valley LogoCheshire Valley is a contract brewery, working out of Black Oak Brewing in Etobicoke.  Brewmaster Paul Dickey produces some of the Province’s finest English-style ales, as well as new-world influenced brews.  Paul is one of the most well known and respected brewers in the city, and his various batches are anxiously awaited by fans of good beer throughout the GTA.

One Comment

  1. Posted January 19, 2012 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    I would also love to have this at Castro’s!

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