If you like craft beer and you want it fresh from the microbrewery, Zerodegrees is worth a look. It’s one of my favorite places in Bristol not only for the yummy freshly baked pizza but also because they serve a cracking pint. Since I haven’t had the pleasure of taking a trip to Bristol for a while, I was starting to miss their lovely Black Lager (4.6%ABV). Lucky for me, they also have a bar in Reading where my OH was working this week so the lovely chap hauled a whole 5litre keg all the way home on the train for me! How’s that for service! Now I know for some folk ‘lager’ might still be a dirty word. Most of the tateless upright-drinking chav-fuel you see in your local pint-and-fight venue unfortunately go around calling themselves lager which gives the style a bad name. Contrary to popular belief, lager is a style of beer which has been fermented and conditioned at low temperatures and can be as complex and tasty as any other style. For a cold, light, easy drink, black lager is one of my favorites. When I’m up north and near to Pivni or the York or Sheffield Tap, I’m a big fan of Bernard Black. Back in the South, if I get a chance to go to Bristol, I rely on Zerodegrees for my black lager fix.Everything on the taps at Zerodegrees is brewed on site and they prefer not to pasturise it or remove the yeast which allows it to develop character which sets it apart. However, this means the only way to get it is to go to one of their bars or have some kind and lovely soul bring a mini-keg back. There are no bottles. This is fine if you can get through 5litres in the reccomended 3 days (it does actually start to go on the turn after this – trust me). Previously this has resulted in pretty drunken long weekends in the hotels of Bristol but I’m sure we’ll be more sensible this time as this bad boy is coming to a party with us tomorrow. OK it’s a first birthday party but the kid’s gotta start somewhere.
One neat thing about getting a mini-keg is you get a little tap on the front to dispense it. I don’t know why I find this exciting – maybe it’s because I never fulfilled my secret ambition to work behind a bar. Dispensed into the glass, the lager is a deep black as you would expect and has a pretty thin tan head which fizzes away fairly quickly. The aroma is lots of dark roasted malts with coffee and chocolate characteristics. It’s packed with delicious flavors and is almost like a light, carbonated take on a porter. There’s a little bitterness at the back when I swallow it down but the sweet, smooth coffee flavours steal the show, highlighted by a small hint of dark fruit and vanilla. As lovely as it always has been.