Skip to main content

Rainbow Project 2015

Sometimes a disappointment can lead to something unexpectedly wonderful.

The beer Rainbow Project entered it's third year in 2015. Originally conceived by Ryan Witter of Siren Brewery, this year the entire project felt much more like an event than I'd previously remembered.  This year's niche was that the seven UK breweries involved would be making collaboration beers with selected American breweries.

Like many recent beer phenomenons, the excitement surrounding this event seemed to reach peak levels this year. Announcements of each beer were dropped like birth declarations. Each stage was given the fanfare treatment. But little of it excited me. Sour after sour after sour. Though some playfully called out my sour cynicism on Twitter , no matter what different styles you refer to them as, we ended up with 6 out of 7 of this year's Rainbow Project beers being sours.

I was to be attending the Rainbow Project's Northern launch at the Magic Rock Tap. Opening in June this year, this on-site brewery tap has already become a must visit, after as much launch anticipation as Dr Dre's Detox album. I'd been a couple of times and was impressed with the potential the space offered.

The build-up to the Rainbow Project launch however was a continual build-up of low expectancies and further disappointments. My initial ticket was purchased as I was caught in the early fervour and before the beers themselves were announced. As time went on I was feeling a little cantankerous.

Then there was the e-mail the day prior to the event that revealed some pre-launch information. Like many others that had bought tickets for the launch, I thought the £10+ was not only for entry but to include at least a taster of all of the Rainbow project beers. The night before revealed this to be 7 TOKENS and that third’s of the rainbow beers would range from 2-3 tokens. I don’t want to say I was deceived, but as I was certainly not the only one to be miffed by this penultimate evening announcement, I must have got the idea I’d be getting all the beers from somewhere.
Perhaps I should have read through the launch material a little more thoroughly to understand the scope of what was happening. I was prepared for an evening spent in the bar area of Magic Rock Tap, sat with good people and politely sampling each of the seven rainbow beers and probably hating them.

What I was greeted with, on a day the weather found it's glory, was a small but packed mini-festival that encased all that is right about such spaces. Magic Rock had turned all of its outside section into an ample seating area with food and beer coming at you from every side. I was welcomed with the words "Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA is here." I had no idea it was going to be like this.

I had to start with the 90 minute IPA (I've written about my love of Dogfish Head before, though somewhat tragically now re-reading it) but I was determined to try the Rainbow beers, despite the other delights on offer. Firstly out of curiosity, but secondly because it felt like that was what we were there for. I may not be much of a sour fan, but I know one's that are crafted well and in turn can find enjoyment in that. I wanted to turn that obstreperous Mark into a repentant one.

Rather unsurprisingly, I gave up on the Rainbow Project after four of the beers. The Magic Rock/Cigar City Red IPA Cigarro Roja Mágica felt like a lesser version of Rapture and Big Top. The Buxton/Arizona Wilderness Deep Rainbow Valley was certainly flavoursome but with a sour zestiness that was too much for me. The Hawkshead/Crooked Stave Key Lime Tau delivered none of the flavours I was searching for. The Beavertown/Dogfish Head Ajna... well it was sour, I know that much. I couldn't even tell you what colour this beer was supposed to be but it evoked nothing and wasn't enjoyable. At this point I realised I was wasting my tokens on beers that were all hips and no ass. I'm sure much fun was had in creating them, but I think back to the images of people forming large queues at Beavertown that were posted in order to buy a box of these beers, and think that their time and money would have been much better spent picking up 7 different untried beers from their local bottle shop.
People queueing for Rainbow Project beers at Beavertown brewery

Let that not take away from a special day at Magic Rock Tap. The rest of the beers consumed during the day were often incredible, especially those big rarities brought by the collaboration breweries. The atmosphere was that of the best UK beer festivals. There were many families here. There were many familiar faces. There were many new faces to befriend. There were many great beers. There was also some very good food on offer.

I don't want to disparage the Rainbow Project. This year's beers were obviously not to my taste, though if I spot the missing three - as I almost certainly will at Indy Man Beer Con as they're always there - I might give them a go for confirmation. The well packaged boxes of the entire set certainly made these beers look appealing and there will be those that enjoy them. I just think back to the more memorable - and now rebrewed - beers from previous years, such as Buxton/Omnipollo's Yellow Belly and can not imagine this year's beers making a reappearance or being as memorable.

I'm happy for more occassions like this one, though, at venues as good as this. I wrote a (so-far) unpublished post about the Magic Rock Tap, after my visit to their first Food & Drink festival in August, that finished by saying: With this event they've shown that the capabilities of the tap room have been thought through before the move, rather than a secondary thought whilst hunting for a brewery. The space inside and out makes the potential for such events to become frequent. Whilst the British weather will probably destroy the odd event, warm and dry days like this weekend can still favour us. 

Magic Rock Tap will indeed be on many’s lists of future beer pilgrimages. Whilst there may be the odd person looking for the next trend or odd beard looking to try and spout their Wikipedia-found hop knowledge, for those happy to drink a cask Rapture feet away from where it was brewed, this is a beer must. As time grows and expands this could be the best thing to happen to Huddersfield since the Grove. That is big indeed.  



Popular posts from this blog

"They Had Their Issues, So..."

      There’s a set of garages to rent as storage units near my workplace. One of them is taken by a local florist that uses it to store flower arrangements for various events, that are more often than not funerals.   As such, at least once a week at 8am I will pass a car being loaded up with flowers arranged into heart shaped patterns or the letters M U M. It is a grounding reminder that, as I mentally grumble my way through the upcoming arbitrary grievances of my ordinary working day, a group of family and friends locally is going through the hardest time. It provides much needed perspective on days when I could do with being reminded of all that I have to be thankful for.   These little moments explain to me why it is possible for us to share a communal loss when a celebrity passes away. Grief is often a personal and lonely experience, shared between a minority of people in your life. When a co-worker loses a relative or friend, it has little affect on me, bar signing of

The Ten Pubs That Made Me - Part 3: Dr Okell's / My Foley's Tap House and Leeds

A pint in Mr Foley's Tap House from December 2022     This is Part 3 (the fourth post) of an ongoing project. Please see the beginning of Part 0 for details.    Come the end of this journey, there may be a lesson in procrastination that I am unlikely to heed. These posts stem from a list that I made three years ago and a series that I embarked on 18 months ago. We’ve only now reached a 30% completion rate and with this post we are back to fail for the second time.   This odyssey began with a trip to Mr Foley’s Tap House in February 2022 – named Dr Okell’s bar on my first visits in 2005 – only to discover that it was closed. It did reopen by the time that the post was coming out and I managed a brief visit in December 2022. However, my July 1 st 2023 trip to Leeds, on which this post is based, is met with this sign at the door of the bar:      A quick check of social media shows an Instagram post from the day before (June 30 th ) announcing the closure of the

LIVERPOOL - the City that Craft Beer Forgot Part II (and found...)

After visiting Liverpool, one of my favourite cities, in February this year, and not impressing people with my rather hasty but honest verdict on the city’s lack of craft beer, I jumped at the chance to return last week and hoped to come out with a more attractive judgement. A couple of friends and I visited on a day out, with neither of them having been drinking in the city before. It was left to me – or rather, I volunteered – to plan the day’s itinerary and places to visit. I had a couple of new or unvisited places in mind myself, but knew it would be unfair to miss out on some of the city’s famous gems. With around 10-12 hours in which to fit in an entire city, I opted to concentrate on the famous Georgian Quarter and see if we had time for the Dale Street end later on.    We planned to arrive in the city for around 11a.m. just in time to walk up Mount Pleasant to the new-on-me, though I believe it has been opened three years, Clove Hitch on Hope Street for breakfast.