Following on from last week’s Beer Hawk University: Navigating the taproom, our Beer Sherpa Patrick Gengler visits Magic Rock’s Huddersfield taproom, and with it, gets a little taste from home.

How to feel a bit like an American in England? My wife and I went on an excursion this weekend that was the closest we have felt to being back in the States for some time. We drove down from our home in Harrogate to the Peak District for a hike with the dog, but with the real goal being a visit to Magic Rock Brewing’s taproom. I don’t know if this is how a lot of younger adults in America spent their free weekends but for my friends and I, this is pretty common. We would pick a nice sunny day, jump on our motorbikes and ride two hours to the beach for some Dogfish Head, and growlers to take home with us. On the rainy weekends we would go the other way to Fredrick MD for some fancy loose leaf tea and beer from Barley and Hops.

We haven’t done anything like that for ages. Our trip to Magic Rock was a lovely experience, so why haven’t we done this sooner? Working in the beer industry, I know Magic Rock very well and that their beer is (while a bit hop heavy) outstanding. The taproom at Magic Rock is, for lack of a better word, ace. The decor is minimal and on brand, the taproom seems like a section of the brewery that they decided to allow people into, pretty cool. They don’t have a kitchen like many taprooms so they came up with a clever way to offer food anyway. I would refer to it as the ‘Food Truck initiative’. While there aren’t actual food trucks parked outside, there is a covered area just outside where different companies come and make their street food for the evening.

The street food we got to enjoy was from a couple of guys that call themselves “Oh my Glaze” and serve really tasty wraps and sweet potato Inside, the guys at Magic Rock had put on a few small batch collaborations on the board which were IPAs but they were certainly interesting. So interesting that I decided to bring some home in one of my growlers.

There were two particularly nice ones on the board. One was called ‘Cross Pollination’ that had honey and heather in it, both of which were evident in the flavour. The other beer, the one I needed to bring home despite my wife’s fervent distaste for it, was Demonali. It’s a 7.2% IPA with Denali and Lemon Drop hops. I had it in a taster and there was something about it that I really loved but just couldn’t put my finger on what it was. It was a flavour that I was very familiar with but I couldn’t place it to a fruit. I thought, pear? No… plum? No... nectarine? No… when finally it hit me. This beer tastes like Huckleberry. It has been since June of 2009 that I tasted anything with real huckleberries in it (a trip to Glacier National Park, arguably the most beautiful place on earth if you get the chance, go).

All in all, a really fun day out and a worthwhile trip that I’m sure will be repeated again soon. It does leave me wondering though; what other taproom are lying in wait for us to discover?