Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Purple Moose Brewery X-Mws Llawen (Merry X-Moose)

Purple Moose Brewery X-Mws Llawen  (Merry X-Moose)   5% abv, 500mls.

Merry Xmas indeed, lovely beer thats ruby red, little head but dry, light with fruit, plums, and its got a nice sourness/bitterness that cuts a little into your palate. Hints of smoke, perhaps a little thin in body but tastes strong if that makes sense. Very enjoyable.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Chimay Bleue

I am currently on a run of night shifts up until Christmas morning, so a few beer free days at the moment. This post then harks back to a couple of weeks ago when we put up the decorations one saturday afternoon.

I fancied my 'first xmas beer' whilst the kids argued over whose bits and baubles went where on the tree.
Something warm, cosseting, a beer to sip and blend into the occasion.
I opened the classic Chimay Bleue.

Dark brown, dense creamy head. Aroma of brown sugar, prunes, dark fruits generally, and malty.
Taste is rich and velvety, warming indeed, the 9% alcohol certainly comes through fantastically.
Sweet dark sugar, more dark fruits and rich malts. Chocolate and treacle is noted too.

A superb Sat afternoon soother.

Merry Christmas to all fellow bloggers, may all your beers taste brilliant this holiday.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Bristol Beer Factory 'Bristletoe'

Another christmas beer, this one is my first from the highly rated Bristol Beer Factory.

'Bristletoe' is 4.3%, 500mls, bottle conditioned.
It is according to their description "A special celebratory beer spiced with coriander, orange peel & ginger. Low in ABV for a Christmas beer, but packed full of flavour. Aromas of coffee, citrus and spice and flavour notes of coffee & chocolate that last long into the finish."

Dark red colour, nice creamy head. Aroma is certainly spicy, to me its with an overly strong herbal kick.
Taste - Good body, light chocolate, not sure if I get any ginger, but orange peel bitterness yes.

For me personally the herbal bitterness is to much, the spices harsh, and shamefully I didn't finish the pint.
Oh well, onto the next.......

Jacobi Brewery of Caio Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel is a bitter from the small Welsh outfit Jacobi Brewery of Caio, previously reviewed here.
Its 4% abv, 500mls, and I got it as part of a 3 bottle gift set at a food festival a couple of months ago.
 The 'Dark' ale of theirs was very pleasant, and I still have 'Light' to try.

On opening it pours a sort of red/brown, a little murkey to be honest.

Its aroma is upfront, its got some cherry sweets that dominate, also some sour/green apple.
Its body is a little oily, sweet floral taste, cherry again, its dry with a not totally pleasant bitterness.
As it went on the aroma became more appley, and the taste became a little buttery.

I suspect this beer is not supposed to taste this way, I'm hoping its a bad bottle for some reason or another, certainly when I had a sample at the brewery stand at the festival I do not recall noticing those flavours then. One to try again with fingers crossed.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Nøgne Ø Brun

Earlier this week the excellent Irish blog Tale of the Ale reviewed an impressive range from the Nøgne Ø brewery. As I commented it made me want to break open the Brun bottle I had, so I did.
This is their bottle conditioned belgian style ale, 500mls, 6% abv.
Pours a slightly murky brown colour, off white head.
The aroma was rich and sumptuous with prunes, toffee and chocolate.
Did the it follow through from that start?

Sort of. It tasted toasty, rich fruit, figgy and nutty, it has a good medium body, quite smooth, but also hits of sourness.

I thought it was interesting that Tale of the Ale found after their high abv beers he hankered after one of their lower strength ones, but with this Brun it just felt it was lacking an alcoholic punch, perhaps being 1.5 - 2% lower than it should be for it to be a great Belgian style ale. It had the fruit, richness, flavours but just lacked the lasting warmth that it needs to give you.

Good to drink though, and I certainly would try any of their other beers, a prolific brewery who by all accounts consistently produce high quality bottles.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Shepherd Neame Tins'Ale

This is Shepherd Neame's festive offering, called Tins'Ale  (which is a terrible name!). My first proper 'Christmas Beer' too.

500mls, 4.0% abv, not bottle conditioned, and bought from Lidl a couple of weeks ago, so it might still be available.

Light orange brown in colour, the head is surprisingly big to start with, reducing to a good white ring.
Light peppery aroma with malt and oranges.
The taste is quite spikey, spices and bitterness rule, although i'm not picking up anything distinct. Its got a strong malt backbone, pruney fruit too. Quite gassy.

Its an okay bitter, nothing more than average though.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Golden Pint Awards 2011

Well why not, we all love a list don't we!!!!

Best UK Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer: 
Oakham White Dwarf (although i understand its changed now so its no longer a wheat beer)
R/U - Brains Dark

Best Bottled Beer:
Kernel Pale Ale Cascade

Best Overall Beer:
Kernel Pale Ale Cascade

Best UK Brewery:  Kernel Brewery
closely followed by Otley Brewery

Pub of the Year:  The Boars Head, South Wales - consistent quality ales and food.

Beer Festival of the Year:  Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival

Best Supermarket: Tesco - Okay, surprising maybe considering their terrible marketing this year but my one has added many new lines this year I never thought I'd be able to buy just down the road.
New deals for Brains Brewery.
I can now choose from not just Guiness but 8 stouts including the excellent William Bros 'March of the Penguins'.
And take home bottles of Samuel Adams, Brooklyn Brewery, Goose Island and Duvel.

Best Independent Retailer:  Cardiff Discount Supermarket  of course!

Best Beer Book or Magazine: 1001 Beers... by ATJ

Best Beer Blog or Website:  For consistently a good read, opinions on a range of beer or pub related subjects, some I still don't agree with but enjoy the conversation - The Pub Curmudgeon

In 2012 I’d Most Like To…  Actually whilst continuing drinking great beer I kinda need to spend less!!
See the new 'craft' range from Brains
Hopefully see some from Tiny Rebel Brewing Company  - Newport's new kids on the block.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Newmans Red Stag Bitter

A couple of sundays ago we had been out for most of the day, got back and I had to crack on with a chicken roast post haste. I was absolutely parched though and grabbed something quickly to sate my thirst while i got a-peeling.

I have had a couple of Newman's beers on draft before, okay but nothing special, and one bottled beer which was the Cave Bear stout which followed that trend also.

Red Stag bitter is 3.6% abv, 330mls.
The colour was a nice red amber, aroma of fruit and malt, little bits of toffee sweetness.
 Solid malt backbone, reasonable body, a little over sweet with caramel but countered by a good bitterness.

Perhaps it was the thirst I had, it probably was one of those 'right time right beer' moments but this went down a treat that afternoon.

I suspect that if tried it again I would be a bit 'meh' and really overall its a good standard bitter.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Purple Moose Brewery 'Dark side of the Moose' and 'Snowdonia Ale'

Another two from the North Wales brewery Purple Moose, a porter with the excellent name of 'Dark Side of the Moose' and a pale ale called 'Snowdonia'.
The bottle label calls it a pale ale, and its won several awards under the bitter banner, it does seem to be putting a toe into the golden ale camp to my mind. But whatever it is, is it any good, thats whats important.

The Snowdonia pours a nice golden yellow, a small head that reduces but lingers down the glass.
Aroma is light citrus, little hoppy. Its body is on the lighter side also, not to thin though, and I get lemon,  small bittering hoppyness, creamy with a certain juicy quality.
Very drinkable, if I had more than one bottle I certainly would have quoffed it much quicker,and with its 3.6% abv this certainly puts it in the sessionable arena.
On the down side it doesn't have much to distinguish it from similar beers, on cask I would hope it had more body and fruit to make it a more rounded beer.

'Dark Side of the Moose' is 4.6% abv, 500mls.
Dark reddy brown, creamy chocolate and some fruit, I would say blackcurrant but its not as acidic as that.

Its smooth, delicious with raisins and rich tea biscuit coming on, good body, some spice and then sweet stickyness. 
Nicely dry, a bit metallic in the finish also, but I liked this porter.

Many thanks to my friend Doug and his family for these Purple Moose beers, cheers mate.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Andy Hamilton "Booze for Free"

A few months ago the kind people at Transworld Publishers asked if I'd like a copy of a book to review, it being Andy Hamilton's  "Booze for free".
The author is known mostly for his work on brewing and gardening, in publications such as The Guardian and the BBC Countryfile magazine.
I have read him before in Kitchen Garden magazine which is kind of aimed at those with allotments and small holdings, and also online at the He is also known for his brewing through the Bristol Brewing Circle which benefits from his foraging expertise.

Booze for Free is a combination of all these elements, hoping to providing a guide on collecting ingredients, brewing beers, wines, spirits and many other styles as you can see from the cover photo.
The first third of the book gives an introduction to foraging, wine, beer and cider making, equipment and processes. Whilst I'm no expert on making these drinks and therefore cannot comment on its accuracy, its presented simply and very readable, and I would suspect very easy to follow.

The main contents of the book is then presented seasonally, each chapter listing the forthcoming recipes.
At the end is helpful advice, websites and organisations, and a glossary.

Overall its a great little book, a great handful size (?A5) with a nice looking cover.
The range of seasonal produce is quite varied and interesting, that you can have an extremely cheap or free drink based on a little produce gathering and time is brilliant. The book is interspersed with amusing stories from Andy brewing/foraging past, and the general style is very readable.
Picking this up you autmatically think of what is in your garden and local area that could be used.
The inside page quality is possibly were publishing costs are saved in order to provide it at a reasonable price, with also drawn illustrations instead of photos.
This was obvious when the description of sloes was not quite like the produce I had picked, and I was unsure if I had the right fruit. A photo would have cleared it up, I had to google to ensure they were indeed sloes not bullaces (Which they were so looking forward to sloe gin this xmas).

However its a great book, an ideal xmas present. I could quite imagine my wife or dad seeing this and thinking of me, and I would have been rightly happy to receive it.
It sells with a RRP of £9.99 but I'm am sure its available for a better price in the run up to the present season.

Thank you to Kate at Transworld Publishing for sending me this for review.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Odell Brewing St. Lupulin EPA

Odell Brewing St.  Extra Pale Ale
6.5% abv, 12 fl. oz. , I paid £2.99.

The Odell Brewery are based in Colorado, and have been going since 1989, they significantly expanded in 2009 and on Ratebeer have some highly rated beers .

This EPA is made with Lupulin (pronounced 'Loop-you-lin') resin, its oils from the female flowers of the hop plant, which were used by medics in the past as a sedative.

Pours a golden colour, aroma is some citrus, deep/heavier herbal notes.
Taste - orange pith bitterness, lemon, oily, the hop bitterness is herbal and like the aroma to my mind kinda heavy.
I'm not totally swayed by this, its interesting, quite drinkable but the herbal bitterness is not quite to my taste.

Off topic - watching MOTD - isn't Alan Hansen looking old this season!?

The Kernel 'Pale Ale Citra Cascade'

The Kernel 'Pale Ale Citra Cascade'
5.4% abv, 500mls, and it cost me £2.99.

Like the excellent Pale Ale Cascade I had earlier this year, anticipation was high.
Again, it was satisfied.

Hazy orange, nice light bubbly head.
Typical Citra aroma - citrus, mango, simply heavenly.
Taste is probably as one would expect, good middle bitterness, tangy fruits, sweet maltyness, refreshing all round.

Well made, entirely satisfying, and after two lighter beers from The Kernel I'm really looking forward to the Export Stout I have waiting.