In this day and age it’s very easy to get swept away in the wave of modern and rather creative branding, but Timothy Taylor was very much a real person. Born in Bingley, Yorkshire he set up a brewery many, many years ago back in 1826. The brewery is still family owned to this day and continues to make cask conditioned ales and traditional styles such as Landlord Pale Ale.
The Landlord brew didn’t arrive on the scene until 1952 and although a youngster in terms of the brewery's lifetime, that makes it 70 years old this year! It’s traditional in style, but there is a lot that goes into its creation which, in my opinion, pushes it to the next level.
Firstly, super pure water is sourced from the Knowle Spring which sits beneath the brewery and which the founders put in place in 1894. I love this fact and wonder how many modern breweries would go to such lengths to get their hands on decent water?
Next up, the brewery only uses Golden Promise malted barley, a top notch barley which in turn is milled to a very tight spec. The process is gentle so as to generate less flour and minimise damage to husks which introduce more phenolics, but, at the same time, strong enough to break apart the kernels.
Timothy Taylor is also one of the last brewers in Britain to exclusively use whole leaf hops. These are introduced in the boil and also via a hop back after the boil (a process that is also becoming rarer and rarer amongst larger breweries). This results in the retention of spicy, floral and fruity notes and increased aroma from hop oils that would otherwise be blown off in the boil.
Lastly, and arguably most importantly, the brewery uses its own unique yeast strain called, appropriately, ‘Taylor’s Taste.’ It is repitched each day and is over 2,000 generations old. Yeast really is the unsung hero of brewing and there’s often little mention of just how many flavour and aroma notes are the result of good ‘ol yeast, working hard to make sugars into alcohol and generating carbonation in the process.
The Landlord nose really is a fruity cornucopia and most of these will be esters generated by the yeast doing its thang - let’s see if this bottle does the job…
It pours a beautiful red hued orange colour, not dissimilar to a wine cask finished whisky. Ah, the malt is strong in this one - lovely caramel notes infused with raisins and orange driven citruses meld with bitter hints that have me thinking of a rusty Morris Minor at a scrap yard (in a good way of course!). There’s honeysuckle and aley esters surging from left right and centre. The palate carries the same sweet fruit/malt weight but the finish is all about tart hops that add real zest and zip to the experience, leaving the palate crying for more…
This is a style that, whenever I come back to it, has me wondering why I drink so much beer that tastes of little other than hops. Landlord is as much about malt and ester notes as anything else. Super traditional in this day and age in every respect (just look at the label) but in the cluttered world of modern beer - arguably this now makes it stand out from the rest.