MAGIC ROCK/VOCATION BREWERY DOUBLE-DOUBLE

Tonight sees a confluence of Northern magick, as I immerse myself within a double-double header courtesy of Magic Rock of Huddersfield and Yorkshire brethren Vocation Brewery of Hebden Bridge. From the Rock we have  High Wire Grapefruit pale ale and Cannonball Indian pale, while Vocation bring us another IPA with Life & Death, as well as darker fare in the guise of Cascadian IPA Divide and Conquer.

Separated by around 30 minutes of road travel, Yorkshire brew houses Vocation and Magic Rock are relatively recent arrivals in my favoured vendors of booze ‘n’ brews here in Bristol. Both favour the short and stout 330ml can bedecked in intricate design, yet both manage to forge a visual niche within the realms of the redoubtable tin. Sitting alongside each other on the shelf one is quickly drawn to their sub £3 price point and the ergonomic satisfaction derived from picking up two cans per hand. The damn deal done, I repair with haste to my research centre to compare the contents of these mysterious shiny cylinders…

IMG_1975Craving a return to a sunnier season after this winter of rain and cloudy mildness, the orange and yellow garb of the enticingly citrussy-sounding High Wire Grapefruit by Magic Rock was a natural choice to begin this evening’s studies. Scant seconds post ring-pull the familiar aroma of grapefruit reaches the senses. Pink grapefruit to be exact. Indeed if you are a fan of this juicy fruit, you will not fail to love this thirst quenching, slightly sharp pale ale, which in terms of nose and taste is exactly as it states on the tin. A great and inevitable idea really, almost perfectly realised.

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Vocation’s Divide and Conquer represents a complete volte-face in style and content. Have at ye, taste buds! This falls into Cascadian dark ale/black IPA territory. In my brief experience this fantastic sub-genre straddles the boundaries of the porter, the IPA, and the milk stout to varying degrees. In this instance, the palate is initially flooded with strong yet subtle hops, before a late wash of malt flushes the fizz of the hops away. Residing between sweet, thin milk stout or a creamier, flatter porter, the roasted malts of this tasty drop scores 4.

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Having taken radically different paths this evening, these two regional neighbours convene on the middle ground of the Indian pale with the relatively similar Cannonball and Life & Death. In a head to head it’s a precariously close run thing, Cannonball scoring for the fruity hops disguising the decent 7.4% abv, while Life & Death take the prize for the most refreshing use of hops. In the end the score is 3.5 GOATS each, both worthy efforts yet outdone by the innovation of their stablemates.

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All in all these cans represent a fantastic advertisement for the thriving Yorkshire brewery scene. We’ve got a bit of catching up to do here in Bristol, let’s get these on tap for the warmer months!