Friday 3 May 2013

Kubla Can-do

Kaite and Jason Loomes

In the verdant green of Taunton Vale, here in Lydeard St Lawrence, is the home of Somerset’s newest brewery (for now, as I keep hearing rumours of more), Kubla, as in the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, for whom a door on which a knock was heard from a man from Porlock interrupted the opium inspired reverie that left us with his great fragmentary poem Kubla Khan. And Coleridge lived over the hills and not too far away on the seaward side of the Quantocks in Nether Stowey, so Kubla it is.

Kaite and Jason Loomes are the brewery, she the brewer, formerly let loose in the food industry and a trained taster. I first met Jason in December 2011 after doing an event in a pub in Taunton. We’re planning a brewery, he said and handed me a couple of home brew bottles. Now it’s for real on a one-barrel kit with a couple of fermenting vessels, in a roomy space in this place where they used to make cheese.

Kaite brews twice a week, bottles most of the beer and kegs a little for use in the Plough, a pub that is close to Taunton station and has oodles of ciders on sale. You might pop in there prior to ambling down to the cricket ground and taking a chance on being Trescothicked, as nearly happened to me and my son last year.

So it’s definitely a micro and there’s a suitably sensuous boost about their beers — Rise: Pale Ale suns itself in the full glare of Nelson Sauvin with a nose of ripe white grapes and the sweatiness of a hop sack; orange and gooseberry notes harry the palate while a succulent mouth feel turns expectations turtle and lulls the senses. It is a beautiful beer and I would serve it with grilled chicken that had lain with the juice of a full lemon.

I had Rock: Saison several weeks back and in the brewery tried it again. To me it is not a saison, I don’t get the flinty, chalky note I would expect from saison and if it were entered into a competition I was judging I would be scratching my head. On the other hand, it has an appealing austerity, an appetising dryness, a lullaby of herbal notes and a fineness that makes it a rather special beer. Categories sometimes are for babies.

Try this one, it’s a new beer, I was told. It was also 5.5% (I think). IPA? Maybe. Chinook and Columbus in the boil, ripe papaya skin on the nose, a very dry finish that lasted and lasted and lasted. Cheddar for me with this I said, shame that they don’t make it here anymore. It’s a nameless beer at the moment but it won’t be for much longer.

I like Kubla, I like the fact that they are beavering away doing their own thing, but firmly getting their beers out there; they’re small, not noisy, but intrigued by how much they can do; they’re learning, they’re good; they’re curious, they’re in control and they’re brewing in a nice part of the world. Can’t ask for much more than that really can you?

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