There are lots of folks who want to brew beer for a living. For some it’s a pipe dream, for others it’s an organized goal. For the folks at Manor House Brewing, it’s a calling.
This struck me like a ton of bricks when I sampled their Cannonball Reserve, a Belgian Strong Ale that absolutely blew my mind. It was brewed on a 15 gallon system in a garage, and it was one of the best beers I’ve had all year.
The pour was inky black with an ambitiously fluffy head. The ale had a deeply seductive aroma of piny hops mixed with rich caramel and hint of Belgian funk. Underneath was the faint scent alcohol, which blended nicely with the other aromas and promised that this beer would be a big-character toe curler.
And it delivered in spades. The first sip revealed a dark malty character, which provided a sweet backbone to the firm hoppy finish. There were hints of chocolate, caramel, and sweet dark fruits that played perfectly with the beer’s spot-on hop bite. I could taste the alcohol as well, which contributed to the earthy, dark fruit character of the beer, and it warmed my chest without dominating the delicate dance that was happening in my glass. This is a majestic beer.
It’s also a dangerous one, because it has a massive ABV (I’m not sure exactly how big, but it’s BIG!) but its smoothness makes it far too easy to drink. I just kept taking pulls from the glass and marveling at the fact that this was made in a garage. Thank god my wife was there to help me drink this stuff, because I would have gone through the entire growler myself. It’s by far the most polished brew I’ve ever had out of someone’s home.
But don’t call it a home brew, call it a prototype. This is the kind of beer you could launch a brewery behind, and that’s exactly what the folks at Manor House are planning on. They set out with the goal to open a brewery, and they’ve been industriously working to make their dream a reality.
Knowing Manor House Brewing now make it easy for me to imagine what it must’ve been like to know the Rolling Stones before they hit it big. With beers like the Cannonball Reserve and their amazing Kellerweis (hands down THE most refreshing beer I’ve had all summer), these guys and gals are well on their way.
And I can say I knew them when they were still jamming in the garage.