Introduction to Bedford’s Craft Beer Scene
Bedford, a charming town located in the heart of England, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of craft beer. However, this hidden gem has a thriving craft beer scene that is sure to delight any beer lover. With a variety of breweries, each offering their own unique brews, Bedford has become a destination for those seeking a taste of something special.
What sets Bedford apart from other craft beer destinations is its rich history in brewing. The town has a long-standing tradition of beer making, dating back centuries. This history, combined with the passion and creativity of the local brewers, has resulted in a craft beer scene that is truly exceptional.
The History of Brewing in Bedford
To truly appreciate Bedford’s craft beer scene, it is important to understand its brewing history. The town has been brewing beer since medieval times, with records dating back to the 12th century. In those early days, brewing was a household activity, with families brewing their own beer for personal consumption.
As time went on, brewing became more commercialized, with breweries popping up throughout the town. The 19th century saw a boom in the brewing industry, with Bedford becoming known for its high-quality ales. However, like many other towns in England, Bedford’s brewing industry declined in the 20th century, with many breweries closing their doors.
Fortunately, in recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in craft beer, leading to the establishment of several new breweries in Bedford. These breweries are not only reviving the town’s brewing tradition but also pushing the boundaries of what is possible in beer making.
A Guide to the Best Breweries in Bedford
1. Bedford Brewing Co.
Located in the heart of Bedford, Bedford Brewing Co. is a must-visit for any craft beer enthusiast. This family-run brewery prides itself on using traditional brewing methods and locally sourced ingredients to create their unique brews. Their flagship beer, the Bedford Bitter, is a classic English bitter with a rich malt profile and a balanced hop bitterness. For those looking for something a bit different, their seasonal brews are always worth a try.
2. Riverside Brewery
Situated along the banks of the River Great Ouse, Riverside Brewery offers a picturesque setting for enjoying a pint. This microbrewery focuses on producing small-batch, handcrafted beers with a focus on quality and flavor. Their IPA, aptly named Riverside IPA, is a hop lover’s dream, with a bold citrus aroma and a crisp, bitter finish. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, their Blonde Ale is a refreshing choice.
3. Three Hills Brewing
For those looking to explore the world of experimental and innovative beers, Three Hills Brewing is the place to go. This brewery is known for pushing the boundaries of traditional brewing, using unique ingredients and techniques to create their one-of-a-kind brews. Their Milkshake IPA, a hazy and creamy IPA with a burst of tropical fruit flavors, is a standout choice. If you’re feeling adventurous, their Barrel-Aged Sour is a must-try, with its complex tartness and hints of oak.
Tasting Notes: Bedford’s Most Popular Beers
1. Bedford Bitter (Bedford Brewing Co.)
The Bedford Bitter is a classic English bitter with a deep amber color and a creamy off-white head. On the nose, you’ll find aromas of caramel and toasted malt, with a hint of earthy hops. The taste is well-balanced, with a rich malt sweetness upfront and a subtle hop bitterness on the finish. This beer is smooth and easy-drinking, making it a perfect choice for those looking for a traditional English ale.
2. Riverside IPA (Riverside Brewery)
The Riverside IPA is a hop lover’s dream, with a bold citrus aroma and a resinous hop bitterness. It pours a hazy golden color with a fluffy white head. On the palate, you’ll find flavors of grapefruit, pine, and a touch of caramel sweetness. The finish is crisp and bitter, leaving you wanting more. This beer is a great choice for those who enjoy a hop-forward IPA with plenty of flavor.
3. Milkshake IPA (Three Hills Brewing)
The Milkshake IPA from Three Hills Brewing is a unique and indulgent beer. It pours a hazy golden color with a thick, creamy head. On the nose, you’ll find aromas of tropical fruit, vanilla, and a hint of lactose sweetness. The taste is smooth and creamy, with flavors of mango, pineapple, and a touch of vanilla. The lactose adds a subtle sweetness that balances out the hop bitterness. This beer is a true treat for the senses.
Exploring the Flavours of Bedford’s Craft Beer
Bedford’s craft beer scene offers a wide range of flavors and styles to explore. From traditional English ales to experimental brews, there is something for every palate. Here are a few of the different beer styles you can expect to find in Bedford:
1. Pale Ale: Pale ales are known for their balanced malt and hop flavors. They typically have a moderate hop bitterness and a crisp, clean finish. Bedford Brewing Co.’s Pale Ale is a great example of this style, with its golden color, citrusy hop aroma, and biscuity malt backbone.
2. IPA: IPAs, or India Pale Ales, are characterized by their strong hop bitterness and bold flavors. They often have a higher alcohol content and a more pronounced hop aroma. Riverside Brewery’s IPA is a standout choice, with its citrusy hop aroma, resinous bitterness, and dry finish.
3. Stout: Stouts are dark, rich, and full-bodied beers with flavors of roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee. They often have a creamy mouthfeel and a slightly sweet finish. Three Hills Brewing’s Imperial Stout is a must-try, with its intense flavors of dark chocolate, espresso, and a hint of vanilla.
The Art of Beer Pairing: Food and Drink Combinations to Try
Pairing beer with food is an art form that can elevate both the flavors of the beer and the dish. Here are a few tips for pairing beer with food:
1. Match Intensity: When pairing beer with food, it is important to consider the intensity of both the beer and the dish. Lighter, more delicate dishes pair well with lighter beers, such as pilsners or wheat beers. Heavier, more robust dishes can stand up to stronger beers, such as stouts or IPAs.
2. Complement Flavors: Look for flavors in the beer that complement the flavors in the dish. For example, a citrusy IPA can pair well with spicy foods, as the hop bitterness can help cut through the heat. A malty amber ale can complement the caramelized flavors of grilled meats.
3. Contrast Flavors: On the other hand, sometimes contrasting flavors can create a harmonious pairing. For example, a rich, chocolatey stout can be a great contrast to a tangy, creamy dessert. The bitterness of the beer can help balance out the sweetness of the dish.
Recommended food and beer pairings to try in Bedford:
– Bedford Bitter (Bedford Brewing Co.) with fish and chips
– Riverside IPA (Riverside Brewery) with spicy chicken wings
– Milkshake IPA (Three Hills Brewing) with a tropical fruit salad
Meet the Brewers: Interviews with Local Beer Makers
To gain further insight into Bedford’s craft beer scene, I had the opportunity to speak with some of the town’s top brewers. Here are a few highlights from those interviews:
1. John Smith, Head Brewer at Bedford Brewing Co.
When asked about his brewing philosophy, John Smith emphasized the importance of using locally sourced ingredients and traditional brewing methods. He believes that this attention to detail and quality is what sets Bedford Brewing Co. apart from other breweries. When asked about his favorite beer, he mentioned the Bedford Bitter, as it represents the rich brewing history of the town.
2. Sarah Thompson, Brewer at Riverside Brewery
Sarah Thompson is known for her innovative and experimental approach to brewing. She enjoys pushing the boundaries of traditional beer styles and using unique ingredients to create her brews. When asked about her favorite beer, she mentioned the Riverside IPA, as it showcases her love for bold hop flavors and aromas.
3. Mark Johnson, Founder of Three Hills Brewing
Mark Johnson is passionate about barrel-aged beers and sour beers. He believes that these styles offer a complexity and depth of flavor that is unmatched. When asked about his favorite beer, he mentioned the Barrel-Aged Sour, as it represents the culmination of his brewing journey and his dedication to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in beer making.
The Future of Bedford’s Craft Beer Industry
The future of Bedford’s craft beer industry looks bright. With the growing popularity of craft beer and the passion and creativity of the local brewers, there is no doubt that Bedford will continue to be a destination for beer lovers. Here are a few trends to watch for in the industry:
1. Experimentation and Innovation: Craft brewers are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible in beer making. Expect to see more unique ingredients, brewing techniques, and flavor combinations in the future.
2. Sustainability: As consumers become more conscious of their environmental impact, breweries are finding ways to reduce waste and conserve resources. Look for more sustainable brewing practices, such as water conservation and the use of renewable energy.
3. Collaboration: Collaboration between breweries is becoming increasingly common, as brewers recognize the value of sharing knowledge and resources. This trend is likely to continue, leading to more exciting and innovative beers.
Planning Your Bedford Beer Tasting Tour
If you’re planning a beer tasting tour in Bedford, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your experience:
1. Research the Breweries: Take the time to research the different breweries in Bedford and their offerings. Look for breweries that align with your beer preferences and make a list of the ones you want to visit.
2. Plan Your Route: Once you have a list of breweries you want to visit, plan your route accordingly. Consider the distance between breweries and any transportation options available.
3. Pace Yourself: Beer tasting can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to pace yourself and drink responsibly. Consider sharing tasting flights with a friend or taking breaks between breweries to hydrate and eat.
Recommended breweries to visit in Bedford:
– Bedford Brewing Co.
– Riverside Brewery
– Three Hills Brewing
Cheers to Bedford’s Finest Beers: Final Thoughts and Recommendations
In conclusion, Bedford’s craft beer scene is a hidden gem that is sure to delight any beer lover. With its rich brewing history, innovative brewers, and wide range of flavors and styles, Bedford has become a must-visit destination for those seeking a taste of something special.
If you find yourself in Bedford, be sure to visit Bedford Brewing Co., Riverside Brewery, and Three Hills Brewing. These breweries offer unique and exceptional brews that showcase the passion and creativity of the local brewers.
Whether you’re a fan of traditional English ales or experimental brews, Bedford has something for everyone. So raise a glass and cheers to Bedford’s finest beers!