Monday, 30 September 2013

Aldi - whats happened?

Over the last few years I've always found that Aldi, the discount supermarket, would on occasion stock some great deals and one off 'specials' when it came to beer.  Schofferhofer hefeweizen 
Often these would be linked to various international celebrations, like Samuel Adams Boston lager at July 4th/Thanksgiving. Oktoberfest would see some German beers, in fact given that Aldi is originally based in Germany you used to see beers such as Franziskaner Weissbier and Schofferhofer Hefeweizen at random times in the year also.

Arcobrau Weissbier Hell was another example of a great beer, they followed that with the same brewery's Winterbier which was a good example of it's style.
It was this time last year we saw the Schwaben Bräu brewery 'Das Helle' and 'Das Schwarze' which were okay to be fair.

But it is now a year since our branch, and another couple I have visited on occasion, have had anything interesting, the only 'special' on in the last few months is cans of Courage Best.

The regular stock on the beer shelves is the same boring unchanging line up, even Batemans do not seem to have supplied any celebration/sporting event/holiday seasonal beers that I noticed .

I was wondering if this is a regional or national thing, is your Aldi still stocking good beers or have they disappeared too?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Tiny Rebel - Urban Tap House - now open!

So two first's here yesterday in South Wales, Tiny Rebel opened their first bar/pub and I laid some lino.
Photo from the Tiny Rebel blog, mine was a bit blurry!

I was quickly decorating the utility room on my week off....

Oh, you don't want to hear about that?

More about Tiny Rebel then?
oh Okay.

Following on from the death of craft beer bar Fire Island it was quickly announced by Tiny Rebel that they were taking it over.
Phew! went a collective sigh in Cardiff.

And going from the announcement date quickly to opening night last night it was obvious that it interior was going to be largely unchanged, mostly cosmetic changes, pictures, furniture, logo's etc. And some spankingly large bottle fridges!! Filled with goodies from your dreams.

The bar is called the  Urban Tap House which thankfully was a good choice, esp. considering some of the others that were suggested on their blog. Externally the building is largely unable to be altered due to regulations.
Staffing wise they managed to pull of a coup, imagine Man Utd selling their most recognised player to Swansea, the young kids on the block playing a beautiful game. That's what happened as they hired Chris, formally of the Brains pub The Goat Major (well how many other Cardiff landlords can you name/would recognise).

I hopped on the train  yesterday and got there early evening, quite busy inside but not rammed with people. Loads of staff on, some obviously experienced but there were a few young guys with 'rabbit in the headlights' look in their eyes.
Eight cask lines and ten keg lines are on offer, plus some cider lines and a smaller fridge with a good range of bottled ciders including some US ones.
I started with one I knew would not disappoint, The Kernel's Pale Ale Cascade Citra Galaxy. 5.3%, keg, hazy yellow, well carbonated, lovely fruits, pineapple, grapefruit, lovely bitterness but not tongue stripping. Excellent start.

2013-09-25 20.01.44

They have a separate line for experimental beers, with the Dogfish Head Brewery Randell 3.0 you can infuse hops and spices on the bar into the chosen beer. This was not on last night but stands prominently on the corner of the bar .
2013-09-25 20.01.52
Arfur had already raved about the Camden Town Brewery USA Hells on untappd, which sat alongside their unfiltered version which I went for.
 Really good stuff, a golden haze, lovely hop and fruitiness to it with a great bready/cereal taste also. I really enjoyed this, wouldn't hesitate to have this again if it was on next time I visit. And look there's Arfur over the other-side of the bar.

Around the place is their beer menu, a list of over 100 bottled beer from around the world, many names you'd all expect to be there, prices from reasonable to insane for the sharing/rare/v.strong bottles, although I'm sure that's what you'd pay for those bottles in other craft bars.
What I was pleasantly surprised with was the bar prices for craft and keg, I was expecting to pay more really for the two mentioned beers above, both London based and on keg, but prices were competitively placed. Which means I can buy more then.

2013-09-25 19.47.05
Look a man bun! although the only one I spotted. Top bloke, very helpful.
I'll have the IIkley Brewery Siberia, the Rhubarb Saison. Thin in the mouth, you certainly get the rhubarb, some malt, its a good palate cleanser, different but I liked this.
Unlike the Caveman Brewery's Neolithic, which was poor, a bitter but the hops seemed unpleasant, a bad soapy taste and I didn't finish this one.

So I thought I'd finish the night with one of the house beers, Tiny Rebel's Dirty Stop Out which is my favourite beer they make I think. Great condition, a little smoke, burnt malts, smooth, the best way to end a night definitely.

Overall a welcomed edition to the Cardiff beer scene, and a well deserved step forward for Tiny Rebel. I'm sure over the next few months they, with Chris and his team, will turn this place into a success and put their own stamp on the place.
It felt comfortable there, relaxed even though it was busy, and enough choice to keep your mind whirring.
It'll certainly be my first choice venue drinking in Cardiff going on last night.

For another photo and opinion read Craig's post here.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Bristol United Brewer's Colaboration 2012 Smoked Porter

Lots of people in the mix here, a who's who of the south west brewing scene really.

*intake of breath* Collaboration beer brewed by  Arbor Ales, Bath Ales, Bristol Beer Factory, Great Western Brewing, RCH & Zero Degrees, with the bottle coming from Bristol Beer Factory and the cask was from RCH. *phew*
This was brewed for the 2012 Bristol Beer Festival, so my bottle has been sitting around for a while obviously then, but I actually drank this back in June.

Bristol United Brewer's Colaboration 2012 Smoked Porter

Pours so dark, lovely depth of inkiness with a great lingering head. Coffee, chocolate and cream aroma, and plenty in the mouth too.
Rich, almost a strong toffee, kinda burnt element, a little oily but the creamy part balances it. Its not as smokey as I was expecting, perhaps that has dissipated with age?