Monday, 28 February 2011

Londis Belgian Lager 5% and 7.9%

Quick couple of days last week during half term down in Tenby, South Wales, and i had a little hunt for new beers to end the days of walking on the beach with the kids.

Unfortunately the deli in the high street where i previously picked up bottles from the Preseli and Cwrw Cwm Gwaun  breweries seemed to be closed down, the Sainsbury offered very limited choice so went to the Londis  which has pleasantly surprised me in the past with some bottled beers it has stocked. This time however it was a very boring choice, the usual suspects, nothing welsh or local either.

I ended up with a couple of cans of their own 'Premium Belgian Lager' 500mls, 5% abv. Very little actual information to say who or where it was brewed, it does tell you 'made in one of Belgium's oldest family breweries, established in 1758........ based in Limbourg province in Flanders'.
It was crisp, lively, good malt base coming through, and not to thin. A little syrup sweetness and dry apple flavour too. Overall not a bad lager, it hit the spot nicely.

The following day i thought i'd sample its big brother the 'Super Strength Belgian Lager' weighing in at 7.9%, - proper 'tramp fuel'!
I was expecting a sickly sweet affair but was pleasantly surprised, nice strong malty base again, less syrupy than the 5% lager in fact, biscuity and it didn't make you think you were drinking rocket fuel, and overall I think i preferred this one on taste alone. 

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Sharp's Monsieur Rock

Just as Sharp's head brewer Stuart Howe embarks on a year's round of brewing collaborations i managed to get hold of his last effort, brewed with Orval maestro Jean-Marie Rock.
'Monsieur Rock' is a lager brewed with Saaz Hops, full details are are on Stuarts blog throughout last year.
Its a beer that's been widely talked about on the beer blogs, and those reviewing are ranging from generally positive up to gushing (nothing wrong with that either, its still an opinion).
Probably one word which has been used in a lot of those reviews too was 'drink-ability', and rightly so. It has the thirst quenching factor in spades, but combines it with what i would call the 'nod-factor' (or is it the 'head tilt' factor?!). When you take a mouthful of a beer and for that second you pause, nod to yourself saying 'damn that's good!'.Thats what this beer has.
Not wishing to be crude, but as a nurse i would say its colour is a good urine sample pale yellow. Sorry.
Lots of carbonation, a little bubble bath head on top. Aroma was to me a whiff of light lemon, and fresh apricot when you tear one open. On the tongue i thought it reminded me of a recent kids sherbet sweet I had, light and lemony fizzles, some pine and grassy notes, dryish apple. Afterwards there is a nice light bitterness, but you soon cover that with your next mouthful, as reported: drink-ability. A very good beer, buy some if you can, if its still around in the summer (if we get one) it'll be the perfect drink.
Its also a damn photogenic bottle!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Sharp's St Enodoc Double

Bought last may (2010) whilst on holiday in Cornwall, this was from the Sharp's Brewery shop in Rock itself, bought alongside their Massive ale, and some Single Brew Reserve 2009 bottles.
We're taking the same holiday this year we had such fun, so another visit is definitely on the cards, who knows that i might be lucky to see Mr Howe himself!
I was trying to keep this for, well i'm not sure really, perhaps this years holiday but decided to open tonight.
It popped open with a good smoke arising, aroma was a rich alcohol, caramel and plummy.  It is a reddy brown colour with a lovely white bubbly head, bubbles rising nicely. Drinking this was lovely, its a small 330ml bottle and i wish it was more, as i got towards the last 30mls i really wanted another few mouthfuls of its brown sugar muffin top taste,  toffee, sherry, a rich alcohol warmth, and a sharpness from the hops. After some dried fruit, raisins, it was short in the mouth but as it warmed it was welcoming you, but teasing almost as you came towards its end.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Evan Evans Cwrw (Welsh Ale)

This is the first time i've seen Evan Evans beers down my way in S.E Wales, interestingly not long after the financial news of its 'complicated company restructure'.
I would link their website but it does not appear to be working.

This is their 'Cwrw' which is welsh for beer or ale. Its a bitter 4.2% abv, darker golden in colour as you can see, small bubbly head that stayed all the way down. Fruity aroma, malty too.

As you are drinking it you'll get light caramel tones, melon, a fruity malt taste comes over the top and its a bit grassy too. A nice drying finish.

I was a little surprised as i was expecting some standard unexciting bottled bitter, but its a little bit more than that, though not a huge amount.
It stopped me thinking i'd wasted my money on it, but i do wonder if I get to try Evan Evans other beers that they are all similar to this, that this is their style, and therefore it is in-distinctive after all. Suppose i'll just have to try more then.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

M&S Southwold Dark Ale (Adnams)

Another beer in the range from Marks & Spencer's, a Southwold Dark Ale brewed for them by Adnams in Soffolk. This time they've produced an apparently limited edition barley wine thats been brewed every October since 1880 (7.2% 330mls £2.19).
Sound familiar?
From the description it sounds like it a rebottled/rebranded Adnams Tally-Ho, a beer thats usually 7% on cask but 7.2% when bottled conditioned, although this M&S version does not appear to be conditioned.
On pouring there was very little head and that soon went to the smallest of rings around the glass, colour is a dark red-brown. Aroma - Rich fruits, dark burnt caramel, slightly medicinal. Taste has some lingering coffee bitterness, prunes, toffee, heavy malts. Notable hop bitterness also, within its medium body, but punchy alcohol thats upfront not a warming sensation you can get with older barley wines.
Overall its not a bad evening sipper. I'm nowhere near an expert in these things but from what I've read this could be one that perhaps could benefit from time in a cellar and tried again at a later date. I'm going to buy another couple of bottles and do that, why not?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Lancaster Black

A bottle picked up in a dash to Asda the other day, 500 mls 4.6% stout. Nice simple clean design on the bottle. Pours a nice deep brown with light tan fluffy head, an aroma of caramel and light chocolate. Its quite a smooth drink, moderate in everything - chocolate, roasted malt, earthy bitterness, light bodied but not thin.

Its all very pleasant but nothing jumps down your throat saying 'here i am'! But there's nothing wrong with that, i'd happily drink this again, if the abv was a little lower it would make a great session beer too, probably very good on cask.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

a few new bottles

Managed a beer run early this week in Cardiff, and now i'm tingling with excitement at my purchases.
On my last visit i chatted with the owner about possibly getting in more US beers, and i was pleased to see a chance to try something other than the Pale ale from Sierra Nevada as on the shelves was their Torpedo IPA.
Turning the corner and amongst the very recently newly stocked shelves was Sharp's Monsieur Rock, which i think most beer drinkers who read blogs will have read about, a brilliant tasting and extremely drinkable bottle from Stuart Howe and Orval's Jean-Marie Rock apparently. I picked up three bottles, kept looking at the others on the shelf though, i might go back sooner rather than later.

 Next in the box was something i've seen around in books and online but never actually on a shelf, that is Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Joining it was Saltaire brewery's Cascade Pale ale 4.8%, Naylor's brewery Bradford Lad 7.2% strong ale/barley wine.
Ridgeway brewery's Bad King John, a 6% black ale which going by the label is supposed to exported to the US.
Now from the other side of the English Channel comes:
Saison Dupont 33cl 6.5%, Lindemans Faro Lambic 4.2%,
Maredsous Abbaye Blonde 6%, and Westmalle Trappist Dubbel 7%.
Again there was so many i picked up and left behind, 3 Monts, Bosteels Tripel Karmeliet, so many british breweries, Thornbridge's pilsner also was hesitantly put back (this time). He only had the Marzan smoked beer left no Urbock unfortunately, and i was hoping for a couple of different wheat beers but his German supplier is not as good as it used to be he tells me. And i got a free glass!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentines Black Velvet

Valentines Day, the day in the year where men are expected to fork out for the woman in their life, and usually get little in return. Fortunately my wife is sensible enough to suggest that money spent on cards and ridiculous gifts could be better spent on a decent bottle of wine and a bloody huge slab of steak.
Nothing says i love you more than congesting your partners colon and pickling their liver!

Anyway last week I received a gift at work for being good at my job, and whilst my colleagues enjoyed their box of biscuits, I am looking at a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne.

I'm not a big champagne fan to be honest, a little at a toast is more than enough for me, and so the sensible part of me thought immediately of Valentines night. Obviously i was not going to be able to tell the wife i had got it specially for the 14th, she'd never believe me, but i thought we'd enjoy it.
I then remembered in a Nigella Lawson book a drink called a Black Velvet - Guinness and Champagne.
I used Guinness FES for this. You are supposed to pour the champagne first, then the guinness on the back of a spoon and it looks like this.

Anyway, I'd liked to say it looked bloody marvelous... but it didn't, they both mixed together. But it tasted smooth, hint of the bitterness with the dryness of the champagne sitting in the centre, quite nice.
Actually i was most surprised that i quite enjoyed the champagne on its own, obviously I have to have the quality stuff to appreciate it!!

Beer post next time i promise, i'm aiming to be at the Cardiff beer shop tomorrow so hopefully i'll post goodies galore.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Gotta Lotta Bottle pt 3.

Some examples of the photos taken in the lightbox in this post.
As i said in post pt.2 it still requires a better light source and currently i'm editing them by adjusting the brightness post picture.

Pen-lon Chocolate Stout

Meantime London Porter

 Some pictures I've taken have shown quite a bit of reflection in the bottle, i'll have to learn how to prevent that.
Practise shot.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Six nations Blues.

A Mitchell & Butlers Blueberry ale review.

As an Englishman from the south coast rugby was not a huge part of growing up, i think i may have played it at school but it was briefly if i did.
When i moved to Wales i soon became aware how big rugby was to them, but was surprised at the hostility to English people. I'm a football man, and obviously support England but if my mates and i watched a Wales, Scotland or Ireland football match we would be cheering them on. Since living here i've found it hard to continue supporting Wales because of the xenophobic attitudes i encounter. It doesn't offend me as such but it kinda disappoints and conversely amuses me, i mean i've had learn about rugby in order to be able to joke with/take the piss out of, my colleagues.

Anyway this is a beer blog isn't it? So a friend asked suggested we go to the Athletic club across the road from me to watch Wales vs Scotland, although if i say the only sport conducted there seems to be Crown bowls, you understand what type of athletic club it is, but its kinda cool in a old style way, comfortably ageless.
Unfortunately  its awash with Brains smooth this and smooth that, Brains dominate this area with dull and smooth keg beer, occasionally you find cask Dark which is good, and i've recently become taken with Brains Black, their attempt to take on the Guinness market in Wales. It does have two cask beers on though, recently its always Courage Directors on one, the other today was Mitchell & Butlers Blueberry ale.
So after watching England rollover Italy easily and wandered over for the match and started with said Blueberry ale. Served in good condition, good carbonation, nice medium to light body, underlying malt base  and light hop aroma. The blueberry is evident in the aroma too, and i feared it was going to be overly sweet and sickly but it not, its a strong flavour but the drying aspect of blueberries comes through nicely to balance it.
Wales won the match, poor match it has to be said from my limited understanding of the game, and i went home and drank a bottle of Meantime's London Porter. 750 mls of (English) quality.
Lets all hold hands and sing.......... we are the world...............

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Pen-lon chocolate stout

A bottle from welsh producers Pen-lon Cottage Brewery. Its a brewery that you hear about in South Wales but i do find it difficult to find their beers on the shelves, Waitrose aside. And thats a shame because their range always looks interesting, their philosophy and style looks honest and very drinkworthy.

This is their Chocolate Stout, 4.5% abv 500mls. A milky medium body on the tongue, small head, and it was eager to get out of the bottle! A little spillage on the wife's newly washed floor but what she doesn't know.....
Anyway its smooth, light on the roasted malts, slight metallic hints and a light chocolate follow through. Its certainly got a dairy'ish quality about it, and it has a long dry finish too. Earthy aroma noted too.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock

This was the second smoked beer i picked up last month, the other being their Marzen. This is their Urbock, strong at 6.5% abv, volume is 500mls. Its brewed once a year, and is stored for a month longer than the Marzen, and uses more malt in the brewing process too.
Rather than apprehension like last time, its excitement on opening this one.Once again you get the definite smell of smoked ham, and a more richer malt aroma.

Quite smooth and creamier, but a little more carbonation i think which helps in it the mouth. Smoke, spicy, sweeter also a little i think.
This is a brilliant beer, i enjoyed it so much more than the Marzen, and i honestly think its less smokey than it also, because it seems really well balanced. So so good, go out and find one!

I had this with a pepperoni and chizio pizza which went really well together. The smoke, meat and creaminess of the cheese matched the beer.