Thursday, 4 February 2016

Birmingham, the Black Country and its Beers - Fixed Wheel Brewery


With my taste buds firmly placed back into the world of all things beer and wine flavoured, I thought where better than to delve back into the region of my birth and see what hoppy delights await me. You may remember the last article I wrote about Sadlers Ales in Stourbridge and the fantastic beers that they have gleefully given to my ale-drinking brethren of the Midlands, but I have recently discovered a wonderful and small brewery that has only recently popped up not a couple of miles away from where my folks still live! But before I get Ma and Pa to tear up the plans for turning my old room into the snooker room my Dad has always dreamed of, I ventured to discover what suitably tasty wares they had on offer for good ol' Joe Public to get stuck into.

Fixed Wheel Brewery was started by Sharon Bryant and Scott Povey in a suburb of the Black Country called Halesowen as recently as 2014, based on their mutual 'foodie' love of cooking and recreational cycling. A bit of passion and one lock up on an industrial estate and Fixed Wheel was up and running. They are very passionate towards helping project the image of brewing being an integral part of the Black Country's heritage, so are one of the founding members of the Mercian Alliance of Brewers, a group of brewers helping to promote the area's small brewers.

They have a core range of 4 ales, but as any self respecting craft brewery these days should, they love to do a bit of reckless experimenting and constantly come up with one off brews and special seasonal treats to tempt people to keep on supping their wares. All of the beers that they produce have a bike-themed name (examples that I haven't tried here are 'No Brakes IPA' or 'Chain Reaction Pale Ale' - perfect for me to keep drinking as it keeps up my road fitness training image, whilst training my tastebuds at the same time). As I browsed the beer section of a local off licence, I picked up 3 fine examples of what they have gifted the ale world, which I have (for the benefit of you fine people) tasted and noted down in my best descriptive words... *hic*...

The first drop to grace my lips was the Carbon Black IPA. A style that was seen as a bit weird when it first entered the market, it's now becoming increasingly popular. A dark colour automatically makes you think it will be very Porter-esque in its taste, but it catches you unaware with its freshness and zesty nature. Loads of orange peel on the nose, but with a slight dark cocoa bean smell too, it has great balance and is a really refreshing beer.


Next up is the seasonal beer Summer Smiles American Wheat Beer. I'm a massive fan of the German styles of Wheat beer, so tucking into this, I'm glad to see that it doesn't try to emulate the sweet, spicy nature of them, but tries to make their own creamy, fruity, yet subtly spiced, effort. Super drinking when the weather gets warmer.

Last one on the sip-list was Blackheath Stout, a beer named after a place where I used to kick a football around and left a few smashed windows. Lovely colour with a roasted malt and coffee bean scent, it has a great creamy texture and the bitterness associated with good Stout doesn't catch the back of the throat as it sometimes can.

This is definitely a brewery on the up, proven by the host of CAMRA and SIBA awards that the place has on its proverbial mantlepiece. In the words of Oleta Adams, and if she was the go-to woman for advice for a grand pint on a cold Thursday night in the Midlands, then she would definitely say "You can reach it by railway, on a bike up the motorway, I don't care how you get there, just get there anyway you can"...

Fixed Wheel Brewery is based in Halesowen and open to the public every Saturday from 11am til 4pm, where you can meet the Brewer and try a fresh cask pint!

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