A phenominALE experience at The Botanist

The Botanist

The Botanist offers a well stocked cellar of cask-conditioned ales, more than 40 bottled beers and ciders from around the world

Since it’s opening in 2013, Trinity Leeds has rapidly become one of Leeds’ most popular destinations for those looking for a spot of retail therapy, a trip to the cinema or a bite to eat. Not only does it look the business, showing that Leeds can go toe-to-toe with any city in the UK, but there are some real gems located within Trinity, not least, The Botanist.

Last week I received an email, inviting us along to sample one of their Ale Tasting Masterclasses, and without second thought confirmed that we would be keen to get involved. Then I saw the weather forecast…100 mile an hour winds, rain lashing down and train cancellation left, right and centre. Hmmm. Not sure how I feel about that.

However we Yorkshire lot are hardy folk, and, not to tarnish our reputation, wrapped up warm, put our heads down and made slow progress up to The Botanist and into the warmth. What a good decision that turned out to be in the end. The Botanist, if you’ve not been before, is a shabby-chic bar that seems to have a real buzz about it, whenever you go, and has a great food and drinks menu to boot.

We were greeted by our hosts for the evening, Katie and Warren, the latter of which would be leading the masterclass. After a short session where we were introduced to the different types of barley and malt that can be used (some smelt lovely, others less so…) we moved quickly on to our first ale called Nutty Black from Thwaites Brewery.

After claiming that ‘I’m not really a fan of dark ales, as they’re all too heavy’ we found that this ale was surprisingly light and refreshing and not what we expected at all. This would not be the first time that we would be caught out by previous misconceptions of what dark/light/golden/IPA beers taste like.

This was followed by a ale called Arizona from Phoenix Brewery, a hoppy beer that describes itself quite perfectly as “dry as a desert, but refreshing as an oasis”. Certainly something I would like to try again.

After this we had a couple of fruity ale samples where we had to guess what fruits were involved – the first, a Cumbrian ale called Loweswater Gold, had us completely stumped (turned out to be lychee and apricot), this ale had a very dry ending and split the group. The second was extremely fruity and one of our team managed to successfully guess elderflower – something our expert was highly impressed with. My peach guess was also correct but given the ale was called Peach Melbear (from Beartown Brewery), I didn’t get quite as much credit!

We sampled a few more, including Lotus IPA from Ilkley Brewery, a hoppy number with a lovely finish and Lancaster Bomber (Thwaites) that one of our group described as a beer that “asks the question, but only gives you half the answer – so you have to ask the question again”. I’m still not sure what this means, but it sounded good at the time…

We finished with a couple of weißbeers, an Erdinger that was fruity, light and refreshing and then finished with the Schneider Weisse (said best in a German accent) – a banana-smelling beer with the nickname “the ladykiller” as apparently it appeals to the lady’s taste palate but it’s high alcohol % means it doesn’t take much to knock your socks off!

The team top up their glasses

The team top up their glasses

All in all, the evening was a hugely enjoyable. Both Katie and Warren couldn’t have been more helpful and Warren answered all our questions, even the more ridiculous ones, with great knowledge and passion.

There are various different ale tasting masterclasses that The Botanist offer, ranging from the £15 per person package that we did through to a £25 per person package that includes some of The Botanist’s delicious food.

Aimed at groups of 6 people upwards, it is ideal for those looking for something a bit different for group activities or as part of a corporate hospitality event. At £15 per person, you really get an expert experience for an absolute steal. Highly recommended.

To find out more about these classes, head to http://thebotanist.uk.com/ale-tasting

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