Earlier in the year we went to Burton in Trent Beer Festival; held in the beautiful vaulted Town Hall in Burton town centre. It was an excellent festival and gave us a chance to try some really good beers. I checked through the beer list in the festival programme I decided to start on a lighter coloured beer, before moving on to the darker ones. Firstly I tried Golden Pippin (I know the brewery and they are usually great) and then went for a new beer for me ~ Golden Salamander.
The Salamander Brewing Company is a relatively new business. It was founded in 2000 on the site of an old pie factory (Dehner’s Pies) in Dudley Hill, Bradford, West Yorkshire. The building dates back to the 1870’s and was a derelict building when they took it over ~ they have since transformed it into a thriving concern. The brewery produces 10 barrels and uses equipment from the old Lancashire Mitchells Brewery and from the Hogs Back Brewery in Suffolk. They produced their first beer, called Sleigher in the Christmas of 2000 and have continued to grow ever since.
They now supply beers to a number of pubs around the Bradford area and at free houses in the surrounding area, as well as at Beer Festivals nationwide. Many of their beers are named after varieties of Salamander and include Axolotl (a pale easy drinking beer at 3.8% ABV), Mudpuppy (an amber premium ale at 4.2% ABV) and Hellbender (a stronger light coloured beer at 4.8% ABV).
*A Bit of Background*
As with many Salamander Brewery beers this one also has a salamander connection. This one is also a legendary lizard! The legend of the Golden Salamander is celebrated with a festival, held each year in Central Slovakia (in the mining town of Banska Stiavnica to be precise). The story is linked with alchemy (the transmutation of base metal to gold), gold mining and mythology.
The Salamander is the hieroglyph for fire and is also the symbol for Sulphur and of the Secret Fire. There is a quotation that says “As the Salamander Lives in the Fire so does the stone”. Golden Salamander beer is the colour of gold and was brewed with the legend in mind!
Golden Salamander weighs in at 4.5% ABV and is brewed using Styrian Goldings and Challenger hops. At this strength it is just in the bracket of a Premium Ale or strong bitter.
*Look, Aroma & Texture*
As the name suggests, Golden Salamander is a clear golden coloured beer. It has a small, off white head that doesn’t linger and just leaves a faint lacing on the glass. The predominant aroma is that of the hops, giving it a citrus (I would say mainly grapefruit and lemon) and peppery (lightly spicy) scent. I also found there was a slight aroma of toasty malt. Texture is crisp, light and fresh and light to medium bodied.
*Tange’s Taste Test*
The hoppiness that was present in the aroma carries through nicely into the taste. It comes through in a grapefruit and lemon zestiness, balanced out by a slight biscuity malt undertone that is present throughout. The beer starts off with a definite sweetness but gets increasingly bitter, leading to a finish that is very crisp and dry. What we end up with is an aftertaste that is also extremely bitter and lingering. It is a refreshing and certainly one for the hop fans!
~~~WHAT TANGE THINKS.
I think that Golden Salamander is an excellent example of a hoppy, light premium ale. It is certainly dry, bitter and thoroughly hoppy. I think that it would appeal to a wide range of drinkers and has enough flavour to appeal to those who normally go for a more robust darker beer. At 4.5% I would class it as just at the edge of the Session Beer bracket, but advise anyone drinking it to bear in mind that, even though it may look like a low gravity beer (like Deuchars IPA at 3.8%) it is stronger and should be treated as such. It was refreshing and I found the bitterness worked really well with the grapefruit and biscuit flavours. A good all round beer and especially suitable as a thirst quencher on a summer’s day.
As I said before, I had my Golden Salamander at Burton Beer Festival, where I paid 1.10 for a half pint measure. I have also had it as a guest beer in my local Wetherspoons where it was 1.59 a pint (their current Guest Ale price). I think that it is a good quality beer from a good quality brewery and is well worth looking out for. The colour is appealing (it might even tempt in the lager drinker) and it is a lovely beer that I have no hesitation in recommending to beer drinkers everywhere.
Salamander Brewing Company,
22 Harry Street
01274 652 323