Daniel Thwaites, Crafty Dan Range
"Whichever crafty Dan beer you've ended up with you can be confident you've got a winner" - Matt Curtis
Both the times and our palates are a-changin'. Just as "crisp, refreshing" lager poached drinkers of traditional British brown bitters in the 70's, bright, zesty pale beers that use new world hops from the USA, Australia and New Zealand are converting an entirely new generation into beer lovers.
Thankfully thanks to the efforts of CAMRA our love for traditional bitter never died and now ales such as these are arguably more popular than ever. However with a burgeoning amount of smaller 'craft' breweries brewing increasingly accomplished beers larger more traditional breweries are losing their once firm grip on the nations ale drinkers.
Blackburn's Daniel Thwaites are one such brewery. Their beers such as the classic Wainwright Bitter and Lancaster Bomber have been satisfying the thirsts of England's North West and beyond since 1807. Realising that a change was upon them Thwaites reacted by installing a 20-Barrel brew kit inside their existing brewery in 2011 with the aim of creating modern, flavour forward beers that appealed to the growing new wave of craft beer drinkers. This microbrewery-within-a-brewery was christened 'Crafty Dan' and so the Crafty Dan range of beers was born.
Building Crafty Dan also allowed Thwaites to reinvent themselves and create a new brand to appeal to lovers of modern beers. I'll let you judge for yourselves if this was the right choice but it's certainly opened new avenues for a brewery that is seen by many as very traditional. In your Beerbods box you'll have found one of the three core beers in the Crafty Dan range; Triple C, 13 Guns and Big Ben.
Triple C The malts are really dialed down in this beer to show off the juicy grapefruit character of the Chinook, Centennial and Cascade hops.
13 Guns is a homage to the hop forward IPAs of the USA that have become modern classics. This beer fuses several North American hop varieties with a robust blend of both malted barley and rye. You can expect waves of mango and lemon zest with a little added pine resin that's balanced out by a bready sweetness from the malts and followed by a dry, bitter finish.
Big Ben uses a blend of British and American hops to create notes of lychee, orange peel and gooseberry that's followed by a pillar of big, spicy malt flavour that's reminiscent of a slice of granary bread smothered in golden syrup. It's not cloyingly sweet though as the bitterness from the hops smooths this out and you may even detect a little bit of a roasted, almost coffee like character too.
Whichever Crafty Dan beer you've ended up with you can be confident you've got a winner. My advice is to drink it straight from the fridge. Keeping it cold will retain the carbonation which helps emphasise the aroma and fruity character of the hops.
This week's write-up is by Matthew Curtis, a London based freelance beer writer and member of the British Guild of Beer Writers who got hooked on beer in 2010 and hasn't thought about much else since. In 2012 he started writing his blog Total Ales (totalales.blogspot.com) and in 2014 he co-authored Craft Beer: The 100 Best Breweries in the World which is available now in good newsagents and online here. You can follow him on twitter @TotalCurtis and if you see him in a bar and would like to buy him a drink then the answer is "yes please, mine's an IPA".