A recent trip up to Newcastle for the TUSK arts festival gave me the perfect opportunity to go and visit the new home of Wylam Brewery in the old Palace Of Arts on the northern edge of town. The first thing you notice crossing the park is that the place is as grand as the name suggests, with large columns supporting a beautiful art deco façade perfectly positioned by the old boating lake. The stunning restoration work continues inside too, with a light and airy entrance hall stripped back to the original features. The taproom itself is in the west wing, with plenty of seats both there and in the large entrance hall in which to relax and soak in the grandeur (and the drink).
Whilst there is ample to marvel at in this fine building, I should probably move on the beer… There are plenty of both cask and keg offerings, ranging from pilsner to imperial stout to keep drinkers of all persuasions happy. Some beers were certainly more interesting than others, but all eleven we tried were of a high standard, regardless of dispensing method, style or strength. The two single-hopped pales, 002 Mandarina Bavaria on cask and the Nomi Sorachi on keg, were the two big winners at the lighter end of the spectrum. Both were big and bold, showing off their chosen hop in all its glory; the Mandarina with thick orange, marmalade tones that came across surprising well on cask, and the Sorachi was bursting with creamed coconut and lemongrass.
There were a number of unusual concoctions on tap for our delectation that raised a few eyebrows upon inspection, and grins upon taste. The lemon balm & rosemary saison Le Saisonnier was wonderfully balanced, with the citrus, herbs and yeast all coming through without any becoming overly dominant. Puffing Billy was a smoked black bitter, and again lived up to the billing; being on cask, the emphasis was more on being a bitter, but it was smoky enough to draw a satisfied smile out of me. The pick of the oddities though was Häxan; this black wit was smooth and sweet, with hints of cloves and banana to compliment the more bitter malts, and slipped down far too quickly.
However one beer stood head and shoulders above the rest – once it had warmed up! Club Of Slaughters is labelled as a vegan friendly slaughterhouse stout, which in reality translates as a dark and devious 8.8% imperial stout, with overtones of liquorice and dark berries that get stronger and more vibrant the closer the beer gets to room temperature. This is a perfect finish to a delightful afternoon, and illustrates what fantastic things this brewery is doing. Newcastle is a lovely place to spend a weekend, and I rather fell in love with the city; if you do find yourself up that way, a trip to Wylam is a must.