Monday, 24 June 2013

The Wild Beer co. 'Bliss'

(Entirely coincidentally I wrote this post yesterday with the children/pubs comments, before today's topic du jour)

After a cycle ride with the family we went into the excellent Boars Head (often mentioned here) at Tyla Garw. After having an excellent 'American Rye' from Buxton, 4.3% abv, my attention was brought to the fact that they were selling new bottles from the Wild Beer company. (Those interested, or not, in the craft vs camra yawn-a-rama might like to read their thoughts on it).

Whilst my kids were behaving well playing trumps and reading, disappointingly so to the 'children ruin pubs' brigade out there, I picked up two bottles.
'Epic Saison' 5% is a  "transcontinental fusion of Belgium’s eclectic beer culture and the feisty hops of North America brought to life with the aid of West Country artisanal brewing wizardry and judicious use of the US-grown Sorachi Ace hop".
First though tonight I'm trying 'Bliss' described on the website as Belgian-style saison into which they've added "a dash of funky Brettanomyces yeast plus roasted apricots and a hush-hush blend of spices".

Pours a murky light brown colour, very lively, needs a moment to settle to get it all in the glass. Aroma is lightly fruity, dry, and yes funky. Initial taste to me is quite spicy, a lot of pepper coming through alongside a dry fruitiness. As it went on I found the pepper/spiciness smoothing and the dry fruit of the added apricots does come out.

The bottle comes with a lot of information on it, regarding their brewing ethos and each individual beer, this one they also suggest food pairings of chicken jalfrezi or a lamb tagine.
Certainly it was interesting, I'm looking forward to the next one, and the chap at the bar who pointed the bottles out was very impressed with the 'Wildebeest' their Imperial Russian Stout.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival 2013: Friday

For once it was sunny, warm, and shorts weather on the trip into Cardiff for the GWBCF 2013.

After catching the lunchtime train in I waited for one of my friends to catch his (slow) train in. As he was delayed I moved myself into the Prince of Wales, a Weatherspoons pub, and ordered a Celt Experience Bledynn 1075. One of the Breweries that I was keen to visit once at the festival, this is their excellent IPA which I've had in bottle many a time, but this was the first time on cask and wow it was a palate stripping hopped up pint, superb and juicy. I could only hope the rest of the day's beers will be this good.

I pick up my glass, programme and tokens and head in. As much as I was eyeing up the specials on offer I thought sensible to start lower down the abv scale, and so picked on Brains 'Touch. Paws. Engage.' their rugby themed golden ale and 4%. Light, moderately fruity and refreshing citrus edge, very good start.
Always an impressive stand, the Otley boys and girls had an huge array of pumps, I went for the 'Hop Angeles' 4.8% an American Red ale which uses 9 different hops apparently. It had a nice light citrus aroma, with a dry woody strong bitterness in the mouth. I'd certainly seek this out again.
Next came a tick. One from the '300 beers...' book that I'd planned to get was the 'Oscar Wilde Mild' from Mighty Oak and I was glad I did. Bags of flavour, a great example of what a mild can be.

My good start continued as I moved onto the Tiny Rebel stand. A busy stand soon to get busier. Standing proud nearby was a pimped up old ice cream van in their colours.

Flux, a black IPA at 4% which was fantastic, juicy, citrus, roasted malts, another great beer from them.
The time then was just before 3 pm and it was the announcement for the Champion Beer of Wales results.
Okay, lets remind ourselves of my prediction in my previous post " will be interesting to see how many gongs they pick up. Champion Beer of Wales for Tiny Rebel?? I wouldn't be surprised."
 Well, no not very surprised, (perhaps at the clean sweep though) and yes feeling a little smug, but hey I called it!
Frankly though anyone drinking in the capital this last year probably is also not that surprised, such is the quality and consistency of the Tiny Rebel beers. A quick chat with Gaz and congratulations followed.
I also managed to publish my first post then on my mobile successfully, announcing the result (previous mobile attempts never worked).

 Violet Cottage were listed as a Cardiff brewery, one I'd never heard of, so i thought I'd try their 'Zigzag', a 5% IPA, which was nice and light, uncomplicated, a little lighter with the hops compared to others but as nice as many other IPA's out there and reminded me of Wye's HPA. When reading the programme a bit later i realised that they are from the award winning Gwaelod-y-Garth pub.
Back to one of the main stands now for one from Celt experience, 'Cat Scratched Celt' 5.8% a big amber ale, with nice strong malt backbone, caramel, pineapple from the hops, another great beer from Celt.
A side step takes me back to Otley and '09', a clear wheat beer I've not had before, lovely and light with orange and very spicy, 4.8%.
Redstone Brewery , based in Brecon Beacons only started last year, had just the one beer, 'Gorsey' 4.2%  a pale ale, lots of lemon and woody.
Brains Craft Brewery Low Hanging Fruit 4.8% - this was really good, 4.8% dark/mild?, on untappd I posted "Good dry earthy, sour aroma, a real lactic bitterness. Cherry lingers"
The only beer I didn't enjoy unfortunately was from Artisan, 'Alt' 5% although I cannot remember what was putting me off it but I didn't drink much off it.

Back to Brains Craft, and 'Stars and Stripes', an American wheat 5%, hazy, light and easy to drink quickly, citrus but not to bitter, fruity too.
I thought I'd go strong for my last beer and went for one of the Tiny Rebel specials, their 'Grand Regal Stout' this one aged in an 'Ardbeg Barrel' 7%.
My god, this was thick, chewy, so strong, like chewing a cigar. I couldn't finish it, wrong choice for the last beer of the night. Another night with this being the only beer in front of me I think I could give it more time but that night at that point it was palate overload. Not saying its a bad beer at all, my friend who enjoys whiskey liked it but agreed that it was a monster mouthful!
Thus I high-tailed back to the champions stand and got a 'Full Nelson' 4.8% with buckets of Nelson Sauvin hops, which refreshed my mouth immediately.

Overall this was one of the best GWBCF I've been to in recent years, a great range of beers from the headlining breweries, and all but one beer were thoroughly enjoyed which was a greater return for me than last few years. Loads more tables/chairs - excellent!
Many thanks to Arfur and the rest of the CAMRA guys for putting on a top show. I also managed to have a quick word with Arfur, although poorly timed as it was five minutes before the awards were announced, his steely focus on the stage as he wafted the results under my nose with a wry smile.

Main disappointment was not meeting Craig (top post btw) despite our girlish untappd posts pinging back and forward!
In sober hindsight I realised that 1 - telling him I'm by the winners stand was not making it easier, and 2 - me trying to spot a man just by identifying his beard at a CAMRA festival is like <insert cliché here> A real shame as I fancied a good chat, which is something, as he says in his post we'll have to sort out soon.

Full results:
Champion Beer of Wales 2013
1. Tiny Rebel Dirty Stop Out
2. Tiny Rebel Fubar
3. Tiny Rebel Urban IPA
Category Winners
Rhymney Dark
Purple Moose Madog's Ale
Best Bitter
Brain's Rev James
Strong Bitter
Tiny Rebel Urban IPA
Golden Ale
Tiny Rebel Fubar
Bullmastiff Welsh Black
Facers North Star Porter
Tiny Rebel Dirty Stop Out
Barley Wine
Tiny Rebel Hadouken
Old Ales/Strong Milds
Breconshire Ramblers Ruin

Friday, 7 June 2013

Tiny Rebel sweep Wales festival

Tiny Rebel sweep the board at the Great Welsh Beer and Cider festival, for the first time ever one brewery has taken all the top three places. Announced minutes ago, Fubar, Urban IPA took second and third, with Dirty Stop Out taking the Champion Beer of Wales.
Fittingly I'm currently supping their Flux, an excellent black pale ale, another top beer from the guys. Well done fella's

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

A (sort of) Ode to Magic Rock Dark Arts

Magic Rock beers
could drive a geek to tears,
and I know I've only tried two
which is far too few,
but damm they taste good.

An aroma of roasted malts and coffee
Beautiful tan head on a medium body
Dark, dry with a lingering bitterness,
Hints of chocolate, make a perfect sweet kiss.

Its a shame there's so little left in the glass
this is one you just want to last
and taken with a strong cheese
this will not fail to please

why am I doing this review in this form?
I wanted to try something that wasn't  the norm
whether it was a success i doubt,
In a week I'll check my post count

So now to all you readers i must say sorry
subjecting you to such poor standard poetry
I'll go back to my normal photos and reviews
which I suppose is (slightly better) news.

(yeah sorry!!! but you have to do something outside your comfort zone every now and then!
If you want to read real poetry, often alcohol inspired (i.e he was a drunk) I suggest you try Charles Bukowski)

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Great Welsh Beer + Cider Festival, Cardiff 2013

Yes its that time again to roll up in Cardiff and sample the delights of an increasing number of excellent Welsh Breweries offerings. The Great Welsh Beer and Cider festival runs from this Thursday to Saturday 6-8th June.

For updates I would keep an eye on the offical site and twitter feed, or the organisers well known blog Brew Wales .

I'm attending on Friday again, and this year I'm probably more excited than for many years. Why? A few reasons.
Tiny Rebel last year - sold out before you knew it

1 - Tiny Rebel - I think its fair to say they stormed the event last year. Now that they are eligible to be entered into the national competitions it will be interesting to see how many gongs they pick up. Champion Beer of Wales for Tiny Rebel?? I wouldn't be surprised.

2 - Brains - What?? A couple of years ago I commented on why do people at the festival crowd the Brains bar, they can get SA and Dark everywhere in Cardiff, why? But with the Brains Craft brewery I am actually looking forward to standing at their bar and being caught in indecision over what to choose. Never thought I'd say that, and I almost can actually picture the Head brewer Bill  skipping to work these days, getting to play with his brewkit rather than overseeing a gazzillion pints of SA. Excellent work Brains. Tiny Rebel could have a fight on their hands for those gongs!
Also read this great recent article on Brains by Craig. In it he proposes an excellent point, a craft dedicated Brains pub/bar. My opinion - they have so many establishments in Cardiff centre, next time they focus on a refurbishment they should go the whole hog and strip out and SA and Black lines and go just Craft.

Okay a little of point there so....

3 - Celt Experience - what with their new funky website and range of beers they have seriously stepped up a gear it would seems. Their 'standard' range has always been very good, and I've yet to try the new range but Simon's reviews at CAMRGB over the last few weeks have me very excited also, and I've recently discovered where I can buy these new bottles so a little tasting before is in order.

4 - New beers from Otley - always good to see.

5 - Foreign bar - gone through a few changes in recent years, so interesting to see the festival team up with a local shop 'The Bottle Shop' to supply the foreign beer. A small but enticing selection, I really hope this works and expands in years ahead. Really need to get to the shop soon also!

And who knows I might bump into Arfur there to shake his hand and say thanks, I bump into him on occasion at food&drink festivals throughout the year but not here yet!!

Okay.... race you to the chairs!!!!