You might wonder why I’m writing about a service station on the M6 on a beer blog. The simple answer, is that the Tebay Services has rather a good selection of beer. I don’t normally go on that part of the M6, I prefer the A14/M1/A66/M6/M74/M8/M90 to get home and back, rather than the A14/M6/M74/M8/M90; it’s not quite as busy, or as long. The only problem can be the A66, which has a nasty habit of being closed, as it was the other week when I was taking the kids to Scotland for half term. I really don’t like having to go on the A1 North of Alnwick, as you always get stuck behind a slow moving lorry or tractor on the single carriageway sections; which doesn’t do anything for the blood pressure.
As we were leaving really early to come back home and I was still quite tired from some epic Munro bagging a couple of days before, I decided to try going all the way down the M6, rather than cutting across on the A66. Partly as we’ve not been that way in ages, so I’d forgotten how long it takes, partly as I wanted to switch off and cruise the whole way home on the motorway and partly to drop into the Tebay Services to see what beer they had. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as I’d heard they’d probably have some Hardknott, it was worth stopping off to see.
Luckily for me they had bottles of Editions I and II of Rhetoric, Hardknott’s one off, slightly more experimental line of beers; I’ve been wanting to try them since I’d first heard about them. In addition to the great selection of Hardknott beers, they also had a pretty good selection from all over the country, with both large and small, English and Scottish breweries represented. It’s definitely worth stopping and popping in if you’re passing, especially if you’re either not going to, or can’t stop at Booths in Penrith*.
I really like the branding on these Rhetoric bottles, so clean, simple and uncomplicated; totally unlike the contents! Edition I is a star anise infused quasi-bombastic Belgique quad and was like drinking a sweet, highly alcoholic liquid aniseed ball. It was totally unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before, there was so much going on. It sounds like it’s going to be terrible, but the aniseed and that Belgian beer spiciness worked really well together, especially once it had sat for a bit, warmed up and smoothed out.
Edition II is a black cherry matured grandiose stout; imagine drinking a boozy, but smooth and soft, liquidised black forest gateaux and you’re on the right track. Again it took a while to reveal all of its flavours, there wasn’t a lot of cherry to start with; but once it had sat and warmed up a bit, the cherry flavours really came out. I think it’s probably one of the best, if not the best, beer that Dave has made yet, I really, really enjoyed it and wish I’d bought more than one.
Both of these beers are worth hunting down, especially the Edition II. If you can’t find them locally, can I suggest a day trip up the M6 to the Tebay Services?
* The only bad thing I’d say about it is they weren’t cheap, but when have service stations ever been cheap…? Hardknott are selling Rhetoric I on their website for £3.85 a bottle, I think I paid £4.60 for each of these, which to be honest, I’ve not got too much of a problem with. I’ve not been to a Booths yet, but I hear their beer selection is excellent and they’ll be getting Hardknott beer in the near future…