The only brewery within the walls of York, the aptly named York Brewery, are brewing some limited run beers for special consumption. This particular brew takes its name from the main thoroughfare into York with which they are closely tied, the local medieval gate and bar (gatehouse) being a stones throw away. The thoroughfare we are talking of is the mighty Mickelgate. Now we all love a bit of history with our ale and so here goes…

Micklegate Bar.
Micklegate Bar.

Micklegate is a street in the western part of the City of York, England. The name means “Great Street“, “Gate” coming from the Old Norse gata, or street. Micklegate lies on the Western side of the River Ouse, and holds the southern entrance into the city, Micklegate Bar, through which many monarchs have entered. Micklegate was the birthplace of the architect J. A. Hansom. Following the Battle of Wakefield, a battle during the Wars of the Roses, the heads of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York (father of Edward IV and Richard III), Edmund, Earl of Rutland (another son of Richard) and Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury were displayed on Micklegate Bar. Now we have the lesson completed the rewards can begin the tasting.

I sampled this beer on the very street it was named after, well not in the actual street but a pub that is situated upon it, you get the gist. The pump issues forth a slightly hazy copper-red liquid into its awaiting glass, marginally effervescent in character, crowned with a thick off-white spume. This russet ale’s perfume is of sweet, fruity malts redolent of prunes, plums and dried candied fruits. Molasses and a subtle whiff of spice all add to this rich, complex if a tad muddled aroma. In the time it takes to identify the myriad of odors the off-white crown has slipped slightly, now more like a thin ivory halo atop the ruddy fluid than the proud thick diadem of yore.

micklegateImmediately as this fluid was imbibed those fruity malts, so ever-present in the aroma, come to the fore once more. Raisins, prunes and dried fruit mingle and dance on the palate, one never really overpowering the next. These cavorting fruits dry the mouth with their boldness, their sheer intensity leaving the palate not overly sweet with their richness. Caramels, hops and cloves arrive for the secondary flavour infusion, slightly warming on the tongue which is only then accented by the alcohol content which certainly gives it a vigorous kick. Upon swallowing there is an obvious dry, bitter taste almost similar to an oxidised wine or sherry which at times becomes quite astringent. It does however counterpoint the sweetness of those malts and fruits fairly well.

All in all this beer, being a limited run, promised much and in short it did rather well. Not fantastic to be told but better than good. It’s like a good ‘general’ bitter that has been turbo charged with flavour and ABV which is ok by us although some may find it a bit too pokey for a session beer. I was hoping for a bit more balance in the bitterness side and maybe a few more subtleties in flavour but an accomplished beer worthy of a few more pints for sure.

ABV: 6%