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.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Mikkeller Tomahawk Single Hop IPA

Mikkeller Tomahawk IPA, from their single hop series, one of a number of breweries running with this concept, their occasional collaborators Brewdog being another.
I did look for tomahawk on Wikipeadia to learn that its a trade name for Columbus, a well known American hop.

Really good hazy orange colouring , with a massive head that reduces to frothy white covering.

An amazing hoppy aroma of grapefruit, pine, dilute orange juice.
Its oily, has pine and citrus, obviously the bitterness is foremost,  The flavours dont quite live up to the aroma though.
The bitterness lingers at the upper back palate, its quite intense but not harshly so.
Fresh, spiky, very enjoyable.
330mls, 6.9% abv.

Wye Valley Dorothy Goodbody's Golden Ale

Wye Valley Dorothy Goodbody's Golden Ale  4.2%, 500mls.

A golden ale, obviously,  made with Goldings and Fuggle hops.

Pours a golden yellow, and its quite well carbonated.
It had little to no head after the initial pour,
Its got sweet malts and citrus on the nose.
Its a little oily, good hits of bitterness with a light fresh citrus bite, some sweetness comes in like a mild honey.

Very good golden ale, well rounded, you could very easily sink a few of these in a session, on a hot day it would be perfect.

When I made notes I forgot to look to see if it was bottle conditioned, I do recall a minute sediment at the bottle of the glass so it might well have been.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Asahi Black

Asahi Black, an odd volume in the bottle at 334mls, and its 5% abv. Bought in Tesco last week, for £1.89.

Nice bottle cap and label, proclaiming this is Munich style, black lager.

Very dark brown, almost black and it started with a reasonable white head which reduced to a frothy white ring that stayed throughout.

Aroma was light, mild coffee and cream.
Light medium body but not to thin, light chocolate, grains, again a little coffee.
Nicely smooth, pleasant enough, overall though not very exciting.

Cardiff Discount Supermarket - New beers

Just as the Pub Curmudgeon was posting about Independent beer sellers and supermarkets, i was spending money that had only been in the bank for a matter of hours (electronically i suppose, not real money).
Fortuitously my wife had left her lunch at home and rang to see if i was going over her way to drop it off. Seeing as travelling into Cardiff was not on the list of jobs she had given for my day off i took this as an order rather than a request.
But this meant i could combine it with a trip to the beer shop.

Now i know i have mentioned them once or twice, but it is really a fab shop.

View Larger Map

You wouldn't guess the depth of range from the outside, pretty much any Belgian beer you can think off, British from up in Orkney down to Keltek in Cornwall. The US is represented regularly by Anchor, Brooklyn and Flying Dog now, dotted with specials from Sierra Nevada and others. Many other countries are represented by their more well known breweries, such as Australia and Little Creatures.
He also has a good range of changing German beers although he admits supplies are not as varied as before, the proprietor is friendly and good for a chat about what's new and good.
They have however found new suppliers and the shelves have been brightened recently with the likes of Thornbridge, The Kernel and Bristol Beer Factory. They certainly have come up trumps this time though, with small supplies of Mikkeller and Nogne O.
If you love beer and are in or around Cardiff then you have to visit,  at 97-99 Whitchurch Rd, Cardiff, South Glamorgan. 

What did i buy? My beer geek heart skipped a beat when i saw the Mikkeller, and he only had 2 bottles of the Nogne O so i took one. Beer Geek Breakfast and from their single hop series the Tomahawk IPA, the Nogne O is the Brun belgian style ale.
The one and only Kernel I've had was brilliant so from the range of 5 or 6 there i took the Pale Ale Citra and Cascade, and from an equally wide selection from Thornbridge i fancied the Saint Petersburg. 
My first Odell Brewing Co. beer will be the St Lupulin, and from Anchor is the large bottle but low abv 'Small Beer'. 
Following Ghostie's post i also picked up Berliner Kindl Weisse - wonder how much he paid for it in The North Bar? 
In the photos you can see the others i bought, hence i think that will be my last trip to the shop this side of Xmas!
 Speaking of Xmas, I got the seasonal offering from the Bristol Beer Factory 'Bristoloe' and one from Ridgeway Brewery who seem to brew for export to America more often than not, but I had their Reindeer Droppings before and it was quite good so took the 'Reindeer's Revolt'
And while we mention Christmas I see Tesco have a Leffe gift pack on sale. The post i did last year about a similar present is surprisingly one of the most read here, often through the google images picture I took. The gift I saw today is a 330ml bottle, glass and bottle opener, I think it was £5.99.

Whilst there i did also pick up two bottles I've not seen before, Asahi Premium Black lager, and Crabbie's Black Reserve. This is a 6% abv giner beer oak matured with extra spices, citrus and ginger for longer than normal.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Great Orme 'Orme'

The Great Orme brewery, based in the Conwy Valley, have been going since 2005, and I believe they sell quite well in North Wales, but this is however the first time I've seen their beer outside a festival.

'Orme' is a 4.2% bitter, 500mls bottle, not bottle conditioned.
Colour is deep brown, briefly had a head but soon gone.
Aroma was malt, caramel, a little smokey and woody.
It has a thinnish body, the malt and caramel dominate, again smokiness comes in, fruity and some butter too.
To be honest i didn't really enjoy this, I didn't think it was balanced, the caramel and fruit sweetness are spoiled by the butter overtones, and a hop bitterness smothered by the woody smoke that's not pleasant.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Jacobi Brewery of Caio "dark roasted ale"

I'm afraid I know little about this brewery but what i manage to find out is:

- Based on one of the few National Trust lands in Wales, the Dolaucothi estate in West Wales.
- Started in 2006 by Justin and Jane Jacobi, i met Justin at a recent food festival and he's a very nice bloke.
- He told me that they were hoping to convert a nearby building into a brewery tap and shop.
- This is the website but there's nowt there!

 So, the Jacobi Brewery of Caio produce 4 regular beers plus seasonal offerings, I picked up the dark, Light ale, and Red Squirrel bitter. I also tasted a locally sourced honey beer (i forget its name). They sell locally, festivals, realbeerbox online and through some National Trust shops.

Tonight i fancied the 'dark roasted ale', 500mls, 5% abv, not bottle conditioned. When opening it i feared it was going to be a flat beer as there was hardly any 'pffft' but this was actually no problem i the end, it stayed perfectly carbonated through to the bottom the the glass. Head retention was reasonable also, an off white head.

Strong roasted aroma, creamy chocolate, a little spicy.
With the fizz and its dark brown colouring its similar looking to Coke, plus a head.
Light body, not as strongly roasted as the aroma suggests but nicely smooth to start with light chocolate, a dryness, sharp berry fruits sneak in too. Ends with a mild bitterness.
Very pleasant overall, look forward to trying the other beers from the brewery.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Purple Moose Brewery 'Myrica Gale'

The Purple Moose Brewery are based in North Wales near Snowdonia whose range of beers in their 6 year history have won quite a few awards at national and international level, including Champion beer of Wales in 2009.

My bottle tonight is this years winter seasonal 'Myrica Gale'. A stout brewed with Hallertau hops, 500mls 4.1% abv, and with bog myrtle added.
Bog myrtle is also known as sweet gale, and has a long history in brewing, being frequently used for bittering, its 'intoxicating' effects and was used in place of the hops when brewing.

A nice very light brown head that settles to a ring in the glass. Colour is near black but deep red at the edges when held up.
Aroma is chocolate, spicy which reminds me of dandelion and burdock.
Light to medium in the mouth for a stout, carbonation is good.
The spices are more evident in tasting, herbal and bitter tones, although they dont linger to much in the mouth. As it goes on the chocolate and roasted malts come through more.
Easy to drink and overall its quite nice, refreshing, interesting. I found the spice dominating over your normal stout flavours however, although not in an offensive over the top way.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

International Stout Day

is November the third, you can find more details here.
But what more do you need to know?  just get some stout and drink it!!
Except i cant. I'm working a couple of night shifts this week.
Poor show for a blog with stout in the title huh!

Anyway on the next available evening i'll retrospectivly celebrate and drink some black stuff, namely these two welsh bottles.
The Jacobi brewery of Caio  i picked up three of their bottles a month ago, the Dark roasted ale will be perfect for stout night, the sample i tasted was tantalising. 
Next will be the Purple Moose brewery  and their seasonal offering "Myrica Gale"  'a sumptuous stout brewed using Hallertau hops with the added extravagance of bog myrtle' 
Sounds interesting!!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival 2011

The last weekend in October, the 29th and 30th, is again the Food and Drink festival in the Vale of Glamorgan historic town of Cowbridge.

We've been every year for quite a few years, with baby in papoose one time!
Always a great selection of exhibitors, demonstrations, and stalls to buy from. My 4 year old son has to be dragged away from the cheese producers freebies, and we always succumb to either the hot pork rolls or the Thai dishes and soups.

Always an abundance of Welsh producers, you can see the list here.
The important ones for me will be:

Otley Brewery Award winning real ale bottles & presentation boxes
Penlon Cottage Brewery Bottle conditioned beer

and of interest to cider fans might be:

Gwatkin Cider Co Ltd Real farmhouse cider & perry
Gwynt-Y-Ddraig Cider Ltd Draught & bottled Ciders & Perry

A couple of the talks certainly appear worth attending:

2.15pm James "Arfur" Daley,   (you may know him as Brew Wales)
Gwatkin Cider with Llanblethian Orchards
Arfur and his partner are local cidermakers, collecting fruit from local orchards. With the help of Gwatkin Cider, they will talk about the process of cidermaking, their local plans and offer tasty cider samples.

1pm Bev "The Beer" Robins
Otley Brewery
Exploring brewing traditions in Wales as part of the "housewife's duties". And celebrating Otley Brewery's past, present and future with the launch of "Oxymoron". Including a few good slurps of light ales and traditional bitters, including past winners of the Champion Beer of Wales.

There is usually a couple of beer festivals going on although its not on the website, so i'm just assuming the details are the same as past years. Ring and check before attending to confirm they are going ahead.
If they are, I'm hoping to attend the one at the Vale of Glamorgan pub on the high street as i did last year. An excellent real ale pub normally they have stillage out in the courtyard, it was packed last year.
At the Duke of Wellington literally over the road is usually the cider festival. This Brains pub has recently had a complete refurbishment so i'm sure we'll go and check that out also.

EDIT:  No cider festival at the Duke this year, see comments below.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Maisel's Weisse & Weltenburger Kloster Anno 1050

Two reviews sitting around in draft form, and must be a month or more since drinking.

Maisel's Weisse original, a Hefeweizen and 5.4% abv.
Vibrant orange colour, a little hazy, sitting on top a creamy white head.
Aroma of banana, cinnamon, quite yeasty and citrus.
Flavour wise I got a lot of vanilla and clove, banana again, lemon.
Soooo drinkable, smooth and enjoyable.

Weltenburger Kloster Anno 1050 - 5.5% abv.
Clear golden colour, foamy white head.
Sweet malty aroma, caramel.
Flavour was a little thin though, some more caramel sweetness, some herbal tones.
Overall a little disappointing, I found it a little bland, the sweetness a bit cloying too.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Bullmastiff Welsh Black

A quick lunch out was taken today at the excellent Boars Head in Tyla Garw, South Wales.

We both had the excellent Aberdeen Angus burgers, and to accompany it i had a BullMastiff Welsh Black stout.

Bullmastiff are a Cardiff brewery, run by two brothers since the late 80's, and naming the brewery after their own dogs as well as a lot of the beers (As far as i can see they have no website). Your most likely to find their beers in the Wetherspoons in Penarth.
I first came across their beers in another less than salubrious establishment in Penarth a few years ago, perhaps it was the (dodgy) atmosphere, and the name of their main beer 'Son of a Bitch' but I didn't form a great first impression back then. I have not really seen their beers outside of the Penarth/Cardiff areas really so a surprise to see 3 on tap today, but i went for the Welsh Black.

Light to medium body, light cappuccino creamy head that lasted very well.
Aroma was fruity, sweet berries that certainly had me thinking blackberry, and little roasted notes.
The fruit i first thought was blackberries now appears in abundance but its not as earthy as i would expect so raspberries would be my second guess, its not sharp enough to be blackcurrants.
The sweetness does dominate the mouth, but you do get some creamy, oily texture alongside light bitterness.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Banks's UCB - Ultimate Curry Beer

In my previous post I mentioned that Aldi were selling today a beer from Banks's that on ratebeer hasn't been reviewed in 5 years, although i did see that the cask has been very sporadically  available in those intervening years.

Banks's UCB Ultimate Curry Beer, 500mls, still 5.3% abv, not bottle condition. Available at Aldi for £1.49.
I bought two bottles today, drank two bottles tonight, will buy more very soon.

I wasn't expecting much to be honest, an average beer perhaps trying to pick up sales in an area of a market that is associated with beers such as Cobra and Kingfisher. An ale that would fail and be overcome by the spices and flavours of a dish that's sometimes hard to pair a drink with.
We were not planning on having a curry any time soon, but i needed a beer after a day of violence and aggression training at work.

Light golden brown in colour, reasonable white bubbly head that reduced to a ring. Aroma - well here was my first surprise - really hoppy, rich orange, really nice.

Good solid mouthfeel, good carbonation. Its not light and clean but neither is it heavy and sticky. The hops are reasonably upfront, but not overly assertive and in your face.

They are coupled with a toffee sweetness, hoppy resins are sitting in the roof of my mouth as I type, its a little spicy although i'm struggling to pick out anything dominate.

Even to the last drop I drain now the hoppy bitterness and surprise is the same as the first mouthfull.

Its one of those beers that you know is not best beer in the world but its a hell of a lot more than you was expecting, and really enjoyable.

Is this a beer to go with a curry? It could well be, the strength of flavour didn't diminish  as it went along, and its reasonable strong to possibly stand up alongside distinct spices. Its certainly worth giving it a go.

Buy some, tell me you weren't surprised.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Tesco (and Aldi) beers offers

The Tesco 4 for £5 seems to be back on, stocking up for Xmas for £1.25 a bottle seems like a good idea.

Most of the main shelf fillers, Fullers, Badger, Thwaites, Adnams, Brains, are on offer, plus many others. One new to the shelves and in the offer is Bath Ales 'Ginger Hare'. Some good winter warmers included are Adnams Broadside, Fullers ESB and 1845, and Morelands 'Old Crafty Hen' which normally retails at £2.79!

Brewdog's Punk IPA is also on the offer which means 4 bottles is currently cheaper than you can get their Punk four pack cans at Sainsbury's.
Also new was cans of Sapporo 'imported', which are huge, 600mls + and look very special, just like the price of £2.25, but seriously, check out the can!

As well as some of the above i predict a few Thwaites Wainwright and Fullers Bengal Lancer might be sitting in my shed before too long.

Also popping into my inbox was news that Aldi this week are stocking Banks's Ultimate Curry Beer!! I checked it out on ratebeer i see no reviews for the bottles for over 5 years, a line revived from the back of the brewery obviously. £1.49, 500mls, it used to be 5.3%, wonder what it will be now.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Atlantic Discovery Rich Cornish Porter

This was another of the bottle's I bought in May on our Cornish holiday, from the Atlantic brewery its one of their Discovery range. These are their 'fine dining ales' produced in collaboration with chef Michelin starred chef Nathan Outlaw. 

This range also includes a smooth blond beer with elderflower and lemon; a pale ale with lime, chilli and ginger; and a red Celtic bitter with cinnamon and orange. All have food matching advice, and the Rich Cornish Porter was supposed to go with stronger meats, venison, beef or wild boar.

I'd been waiting for suitable meals to try one of the 'dining ales' i've accumulated, including the Blond Beer above, and another two, some Sharps/Rick Stein bottles.

For a change on a Sunday roast we had beef, normally its chicken or pork, the last time we had beef the kids were not keen on it, but we tried again this time slow cooking brisket. That turned out fantastic if I do say so myself!

Onto the beer itself.
Lightly carbonated, perfect for the style, small head that soon faded away though.
Its body is light to medium, not to thin just right.
This porter is brewed with blackcurrants and molasses, and you certainly get a rich sharp fruity aroma.
The blackcurrants follow through in the taste, sharp, with the dark malts giving it body, nice bitterness, all went with the rich meat really well.
Overall its a nice porter on its own, and it went very nicely with the roast beef.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Bad King John rules all

The winner has been announced by Sainsbury's of the Great British Beer Hunt, and sitting with the crown (sorry) is the Ridgeway Brewery Bad King John, a 6% black ale that now has space on national shelves for 6 months.

The runner up  was from Williams Bros Brewing Company with their Caesar Augustus, a 4.2%  lager IPA.
Unfortunately I never got the chance to buy any of the bottles in this years competition, but there has been plenty blogged about them here and here amongst many others.
I have however had one of the 12 originally selected beers for the competition before, by coincidence it was the winner!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Brubox North German Pilsner

I started writing this back in june and it got left behind for some reason, probably as i finished the beers and moved onto newer professionally and competently made ones.

Following on the from the disapointing effort that was the London Bitter, my fault not theirs, I cracked on with the Pilsner.

resisting the urge to let out gas!
Instructions were similar, with small variations on the Bitter ones.
This time you actually place the grains bag into a pan off boiling water, take of the heat and leave before pouring into the cube. This is then repeated with the same bag, but you then remove the grains bag replace it with the hops one and boil for 15 minutes before adding the liquid to the brubox.

Adding the malt extract, attaching the air tube, adding yeast and storing at the correct temperature was as the process as before.
I was able to keep this brew at a pretty even temperature this time, at 16c, the recommended range being 12c - 16c.

After approx 10 days when it had slowed fermenting enough remove the tubing and closed the tap. Following the advice in the commenst from the previous blog post I released as little Co2 as able, only when the bag looked seriously straining at the seams!!

After a week I sterilised bottles and equipment and started to bottle. I quickly realised that popping sugar into bottles required a funnel of some kinda so quickly fashioned one.

Otherwise, three hands would have helped, but bottling was quite straight forward. They were kept in a warmer place for one week then moved to the shed and stored in a much cooler corner.

The end result.

Actually I was quite impressed, pretty spot on carbonation in all bottles, good fluffy head, light flowery aroma which also came subtly in the finished product. Good colour, a little haze noted.
To be critical it still had a little yeasty twang, but eminently drinkable still. I wouldn't say the Saaz hops came through with any bitterness as in the description though.

I'm currently debating whether to order the Irish Stout or the Scottish 80 Schilling pack.

Monday, 26 September 2011

M&S duo

The first one up is the 'Cambridgeshire Summer ale' which is brewed by Oakham and is a re-labeled 'JHB'. Currently on sale in M&S for I think it was £2.19.

This is a 4.2% abv beer, which in its original incarnation is styled as a golden ale, and the bottle informs us that it uses some Challenger and US Mount Hood hops.

 As you see from the photo, its a very pale yellow, and produced a small white head.
 Its aroma was very light fruit, a little pine, citrus mostly. A medium body that gives us a good crisp citrus bite, floral somewhat, some spice dryness, perhaps pepper, honey provides the sweetness, and a good lingering dryness.
Very good overall, you could certainly drink several of these for a very pleasant session.

The second bottle of the night was the 'Yorkshire Best Bitter'. This has been produced by the Hambleton brewery, its a 4.3% bottle conditioned bitter, same price as the first?

Initial impression is the smoke on the aroma, some nuttiness too.
This is a good strong bitter, malty on a medium body, it gives you a sharp bitterness alongside its  strong rich fruit, and woody ash dryness.
Something odd as well, the smoke dryness comes and goes almost with each mouthful. Perhaps I was thinking about it to much, who knows.  This was also perfectly carbonated as a conditioned bottle.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Gwaelod Y Garth Inn

The Gwaelod Y Garth Inn is based in a village on the outskirts of Cardiff, to be honest you need to know where you are going to find it, its only because my wife occasionally drove around here due to work that she knew where it was. Well worth it though, and locally known as just 'the Gwaelod'.

I was aware of the Inn though because it had won 'Cardiff CAMRA Real Ale Pub of the Year 2011' and when it was suggested that since the kids were now back at school we might have our first lunch out together at this pub I hastily agreed.

Nicely presented pub, a few low beams for me to duck under, although partially open plan, its distinctly old style with some divided area's such as one for the pool table, and a small room called 'The Old Cellar' complete with pub form of the game skittles I believe is called  "Devil among the Tailors" ?

I wont list the beers on offer you can see them in the above photo, and the main food area is in a more modernised room upstairs. My wife had a steak and ale pie which certainly appeared home made and was nicely rich and tender, and i had a very good ribeye bordelaise. Friendly and professional service from all staff.

I had a pint of the Wye Valley Butty Bach, 4.5%, lovely clean lightly malted and smooth bitter, with fruit and hop bitterness rounding off in the mouth.
To finish i had a half of the RCH East Street Cream, 5% bitter, again a smooth mouthfeel similar to the Butty Bach but a little more full bodied, sweeter and fruitier, also woody notes.

A lovely pub, enjoyable lunch and I think we'll be back, certainly it gives us an alternative to the excellent Otley Bunch of Grapes for a midday midweek escape.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Isle of Purbeck 'Purbeck IPA'

This is a bottle I bought during our July holiday in Dorset, and although I have been to the Bankes Arms many times which is now the home of the brewery, I got this on the farm shop at the camp site we stayed at.

When I last visited the Bankes Arms, (one of the most beautiful pubs you'll ever see, click the link) my mum and I tried a few of their beers on cask, and whilst nice enough they were all a little too similar to each other.

This IPA is 500mls, 4.8% abv, and bottle conditioned.
Lightly carbonated, minimal white head upon pouring. The yeast stayed firmly in the bottle also.
Bronze in colour, light woody aroma firstly, some dark fruit also.
First mouthful and i'm getting alot of woody burnt ash, not totally pleasant to be honest. Medium body, some malt sweetness, dryness but little hop bitterness.
Overall it was not a great drink unfortunately, perhaps this was a duff batch, but the tobacco and wood dominating was not nice.

I'm pretty sure I tasted their IPA when I lasted visited, and I'm sure I would have remembered it if it had tasted like this back then, which I don't think it did so I'm not sure what to make of this.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

a few beers in Cardiff

I mentioned in a recent post my friend at work leaving for a new post, so on Friday it was the works meal for him, in Cardiff Bay.
Three of us meet up early to get a few pints in before the meal as we didn't anticipate getting any decent beer in the restaurant or bar we were expected to visit later that night.

Harviestoun's American IPA

We first headed to The Packet but I was diverted by a sign for Marston's EPA at the Eli Jenkins, a M&B pub. In the rare sunshine the grass free beer garden was packed, mostly office workers it seemed. I was then diverted from the EPA to a pump displaying Harviestoun's American IPA, and my friends plumped for the same.
Wonderfully aroma, lemon, peaches and cream. Taste was fresh, zingy, sherbet and citrus.
Grapefruit bitterness and background sweet malt, this was a perfect first pint, set us up for the night.
Why its an American IPA i'm not sure, perhaps its the hops they have used, as its taste profile whilst very nice, is not has hoppy as most US IPA's i've had.

We then moved onto the Marston's EPA. My soon to be departed colleagues first impression was not favourably, far to sickly sweet for him. A light golden brown with nice creamy tight head, medium body. Aroma - caramel, as was the taste. All three of us found it like drinking a Caramac bar, the first half was manageable but we struggled further down the glass. Not great, thumbs down from us all.

We headed over to The Packet, an older style Brains pub stained glass windows, open style interior which seemed quite retro with the old disco LED lights flashing everywhere. Very limited cask option i remember, so we plumped for the keg Brains Black as it was the first chance I've had to sample it not out of a can.
As we settled down we all exclaimed about the frostbite we just received from the glass! Served ridiculously cold, flavour was suppressed for about 20 minutes before any bitterness and chocolate came on. Hugely disappointing, we soon had to leave and couldn't wait any longer for it to warm up.

On to the meal, at Cosmo, not somewhere I'd been before, but my wife has and said I'd enjoy it. And she was right, not a style of restaurant I have been in before, very open plan, long tables and buffet stations of different Asian food styles. The sushi and Thai were excellent, not so keen on the dim sum though. Very enjoyable overall.
Beer wise we were quite surprised to find Spitfire on the list amongst the usual lager options. Served at a reasonable temperature (!) and also reasonable price of £3.10 for a restaurant. Seeing as you are normally offered 330ml bottles and higher prices this was a pleasing option to have.