I was joined by Samuel from Be Social Cambridge who was kind enough to invite me to a craft beer tasting experience at The Swoop Tap Room on Green Street.
I had never been to The Swoop before but I have heard a lot of good things about it from the Cambridge Foodies community, so I was excited to experience it for myself and see if all the fuss was about.
The Swoop’s entire ethos is made entirely around local products. They believe customers should be able to build relationships with the brand they buy from. This is why you will find selections of locally made items ranging from alcohol, chocolate, soaps, and sauces across the shop. First and foremost however, it is a tap room, offering locally sourced beers and cider.
Upon entering we were warmly greeted by Fiona, who was going to be taking us on our craft beer journey. She is everything you want for this type of experience. Friendly, fun, incredibly passionate about the alcohol industry, and a real character with tons of contagious positive energy.
The Swoop not only offers beer masterclasses but also cheese and drinks pairing sessions, a rude pottery class, and a cocktail mixing masterclasses. Prices vary depending on the class but the value of our beer class today was only £20 per person. Find more details here.
We were taken into their beer garden out the back which was small but more than adequate for us three. It had a real London vibe to it with benches, stalls, wired lighting, and brick walls.
Once we sat down the class began. There were six beers in total, starting with the lighter lagers and pale ales through to the darker porters and stouts at the end. We shared a can between us which came to around a 1/3 of a pint each. This was more than enough to get a good idea of what the beer was about.
During our sampling we were talked through the beers individually, learn a bit about the local breweries and their ethos, and even given history lessons on beer. We also learned interesting tips which you will find handy in the future.
I won’t give too much information away, so will keep details light and summarise the best I can, as not to spoil the class for yourself.
1. We started off with an Indian pale lager called Two Sheds from Brewpoint, a Bedford brewery going all the way since 1876, back when it was Wells & Co.
As it was the first beer, this was very light and accessible. A very easy summer drink which offers a clean, crisp taste with zesty notes. This was incredibly refreshing but lacked any real punch in flavour. This would be a great sessionable choice.
Brewpoint offers a selection of measurements on the back of their cans to give the consumer a way of gauging what to expect from the beer before purchasing.
IBU, which stands for International Bitterness Units, gives the consumer a number between 0-100 on how bitter the beer is. At 31 you can see that Two Sheds is towards the milder side of the bitterness measurement.
EBC stands for European Brewing Convention, which measures the colour intensity (darkness) of the beer. This is scored between 4-138. With Two Sheds being an 11.5, you can see it is a very light beer.
2. Next on our list was Pacific Pale V.1 from Wylde Sky Brewery, a Linton nano brewery. This was another light pale ale which offers a tropical fruit flavour, such as mango and grapefruit. This was right up my street and very much the easy going drinkable sessionable beer I enjoy. This was one of my favourites of the day.
3. Next on our list was Saison, also from Wylde Sky. This French-Belgium farmhouse style ale has an interesting history and I was absolutely charmed by the art on the can. This was another favourite of mine and I will no doubt be investigating into this one more in the future. A great summer time drink!
4. We were then given a chance to sample Turmoil, an IPA from one of my favourite local breweries, Brew Board. This is a Harston based brewery which I had the pleasure of visiting recently.
As we are in the middle of our selection, the beers are getting darker, with Turmoil being a stunning copper colour. This was bursting with flavour and had a very smooth bitter taste. In my opinion it was the best of both worlds. I struggled with it to start with but the more I drank it the more I enjoyed it.
5. Brewpoint made another appearance in the list with Ink Well. The clue is in the name with this one as it is a very dark stout. This had a very deep taste of carmel and nuts but was very smooth.
Unsurprisingly, this scores high on the EBC rating at 85. It also scores reasonably low on the IBU score of 35 suggesting low bitterness. I really enjoyed this feature with the Brewpoint beers and it is only going to make me want to look them up even more in the future.
6. And last (but by no means least) is one from Papworth Brewery (actually located in Earith) called Pass The Porter. A very rich and complex porter with hints of chocolate. I found this one much less intense than Ink Well and had a nice hoppy finish.
And just like that it was finished! The class took around 45 minutes but we were allowed to carry on drinking with what was left for as long as we liked.
I thoroughly enjoyed going through these local gems. I have found at least two which I will no doubt look into again and work them into my weekly (daily) drinking cycle.
It’s also great to know there is a brewery only in that next village me. Something I was unlikely to know unless I had attended this class.
What I loved about having Fiona with me was that she would talk you through the brewery in great detail and I found myself learning numerous and very interesting facts. I won’t give too much away by spoiling them for you but you’ll leave feeling like you’ve learned a lot.
If you are interested in trying one of their classes then make sure you get in touch via their website or by email on