Saturday, 27 August 2011

a year on......

and i'm still going. Happy 1st Birthday to me, Cheers!!!

Yes its been a year since I started this blog, mainly as a personal record of the beers i'm trying, but its also great to get feedback and opinion from others reading and drinking the same beers.

I was hoping to get a special bottle for tonight but in the end was unable to get it together to get any  Cantillon in, which is what i was hoping for. So in the end I thought I'd better stick to the title of the blog and go for some stouts.

I started with Hook Nortons Double Stout. 500mls, 4.8% and bottle conditioned.
The information on the label states it is brewed to a 100 year old recipe, and expect a smooth and full bodied beer.

It has a dark earthy and coffee aroma, very enticing indeed. Colour is black with dark ruby red edges., lovely creamy light brown head.

It has a nice medium body, with coffee, bitter hops that are quite noticeable, burnt undertones, and roasted malts. Lovely chocolate sweetness throughout.

Very enjoyable and a good start to the evening.


 Next was the Cream Stout from the St. Peter's Brewery, a recent addition to supermarket shelves here.

Lovely light green bottle, presentation is nailed by this company, 6.5% abv, 500mls.

It poured in the glass a very nice very dark red/brown with creamy head. Its aroma was light but sweet with chocolate and coffee.

A nice medium body that's very drinkable, smooth chocolate, some vanilla,alcohol warmth, some spices that linger nicely.
The evening progresses nicely!

Third beer of the night is from the Welsh brewery Newmans, and its their Cave Bear stout , which is 330mls, 4.0%abv and packaged with a nice wrap around label.

Pours excitedly into the glass, well carbonated at first but calms down,  but little in the way of a head.
Aroma is roasted malts and fruit, a little coffee too.

It has a light body, see-through darkish red/brown in colour. Its quite dry, light on the coffee and chocolate, moderate bitterness too.
Overall an easy drink, too thin in the body for me, it has nice dry and earthy tones, but sits well behind in third place on tonight's drinks.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Hay on Wye Beer & Literature Festival

This august bank holiday weekend is the 2nd annual Hay on Wye Beer & Literature Festival run at the Kilvert's Inn, a weekend of good beer, food and entertainment from the world of beer's celebrated authors, including Pete Brown, Mark Dredge and Adrian Tierney-Jones.

Food Matching this evening is in the hands of Pete Brown, a menu for viewing is in the website above, and the weekends beer list can be found here. Good luck to all involved, i'm sure it'll be another success.

Photo borrowed from their Flickr page, see website for more photos of last years event.

Kilverts, The Bull-Ring, Hay on Wye HR3 5AG.  Tel  01497 821042

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Untapped Brewing Co. 'Crystal'

I previously reviewed the Untapped Brewing Co. beers here, here and here, and on the whole they are pretty good, certainly the darker the better with these guys I thought.
They are based in Cardiff, but brew in Gloucestershire, I met them once as they do the rounds of farmers markets here in South Wales and they were very nice chaps. I actually picked this beer up at the Cardiff Discount Supermarket where they had their full range.

This is the most recent beer in their line, Crystal, a wheat beer which is 6.0% abv, I paid £2.45 for it, and it was bottle conditioned.

Great carbonation, 95% of the yeast firmly on the bottom of the bottle. Colour was a golden yellow, nice bubbly off white head.

It was light on the aroma, certainly some sweets, possibly bubble gum, apple and sweet but light tropical fruit.
Taste - a medium body, there is a moderate alcohol presence, very slight citrus but thats beaten back by sweet grain flavours, malts and wheat. Faintly fruity, but minimally so, not much spice or the characteristics i have experienced with other wheat beers. Overall the taste was a bit lacking, not bad just limited.

I think my initial opinion still holds, their darker beers 'Triple S' 'Eclipse' and 'Ember' for me are their best beers and well worth checking out.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Kaiserdom & Krombacher Dark lager

The two new dark lagers i picked today, and i'll  review them together

Starting with the Kaiserdom Dark, 4.7% abv 500mls, its has a very dark brown/red colouring and a nice brown head. The Krombacher Dark, 4.3% abv, seems a little lighter, marginally more see through when held up to the light.

Aroma was reasonably strong chocolate malts, nutty, and light coffee for both, but the Kaiserdom seemed creamier. They also had similar light to medium carbonation, medium bodies.


The two have chocolate, light bitter coffee, some sweetness all in common, the main differences were that the Krombacher, maybe its because of the lower abv, seemed thinner and lighter. It was a little creamier but less bitter overall.  However both were enjoyable, easy drinks for the evening.

The shelves weigh heavy with more new beer!!

After my last post about exclaiming surprise at the new bottles in my local Tesco, the choice has become even wider this week.
It looks like the Goose Island lines are starting to get through, with their IPA finding its way into my trolley, it was the only one of theirs there so hopefully Honkers Ale will soon make an appearance.

In the 'European/World' beer section was two new German dark lagers, Kaiserdom Dark 4.7% abv, and Krombacher Dark 4.3% abv which both took my fancy and joined the Goose bottle. They also had the Hoegaarden Rose, and another called Mongoose Premium Beer but neither took my fancy.

In the new Stout section they now have the excellent Meantime's London Stout, and one 'Glencoe Wild Oat organic stout' although there was only the ticket and no stock currently. This seems to be brewed by 'Traditional Scottish Ales', and they also had 2 others of their ales listed but not available.

Marsdens VSOP is in good supply but now no sign of the Brewdog Alice \porter, shelf cleared! 
In the Welsh section new arrivals also from the Conwy Brewery, first time i have seen their beers in a supermarket other than briefly in an ASDA. These were the 'Honey Fayre' a 4.5% golden ale with honey, and 'Celebration ale' a 4.2% bitter which looks familiar to me but i'm not sure that i have had it.

Good job it was pay day today, i can start planning!!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Brewdog Alice Porter

Another welcome addition to the Tesco shelves is Brewdog's Alice Porter. Its a 6.2% abv 330ml bottle of a 'Baltic Porter', looks stylish with an off red colouring, kinda looks the colour of some of my autumn  raspberries currently growing in my plot.

This looks almost black in the glass, held up its the darkest of browns at the edges topped with a great light creamy brown head.

Its aroma is a little muted at first, you notice more as you further in. I got some deep fruits and caramel, coffee, and later the vanilla beans come forward alongside some alcohol.

Medium body, and a herbal taste is one of the first things i notice, coming with caramel and coffee again, those rich fruits, and chocolate although only a little bit. There's a woody bitterness and it lingers.

This was very good, i really enjoyed it. And it surprises you initially as your expecting the usual Brewdog assault with flavours in your mouth but its calmer than that and therefore you prolong the pleasure. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Westmalle Dubbel

 After 2 long days at work when I got home yesterday I fancied something strong and something to sip.

The Westmalle brewery is in the Belgium province of Antwerp, and brewed its first beer in 1836. The Dubbel is a 7% Trappist beer and apparently is still based on the 1926 recipe.

A dark brown pour with a thick tan head, the aroma is deep - plums, raisins, yeast but I was expecting more of a boozy hit to be perfectly honest.
The taste was also deep, again the plum, raisins, candy sugar - all the things you would expect from a beer of this style. Very carbonated, right ' til the end in fact, and it has a great solid body. The malts and sugar sweetness balance together so well, and accompany some great spice notes.
Again I was expecting a stronger alcohol presence, but never the less enjoyed it to the last drop.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Williams Brothers 'March of the Penguins'

Another of the new bottles on my local Tesco shelves. 500mls, 4.9% abv.

Into the glass and its black, held up its almost impenetrable, and has a lovely off white colour head.
Its giving me a nice smoky, chocolate flair on the nose.
Its body is a good medium, fills you mouth appropriately, with coffee and roasted notes, and ticks the dry and bitterness boxes. A nice sweetness of toffee comes through as it warms.
Buy it if you see it, a good example of well made stout.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Kernel Brewery Pale Ale Cascade

This is the first time that i've seen a Kernel Brewery beer, i was hoping some might be at the GWBC festival this year but it was not to be. So when i saw some bottles recently i picked this one up, although i did leave behind some of another Pale Ale, Nelson Sauvin i think. I sure some of you are thinking 'idiot!' now, and so am i now after drinking the Cascade.

The blogosphere is always heaping praise on the Kernel and i can now see why, this has been one of the best beers i drunk in ages.

500mls, 5.2% abv, i paid £3.29.

Beautiful orange hue, small bubbly white head.
Amazing aroma of grapefruit, orange, reminds me of opal fruits.
I get a good light bitterness, orange, maybe grapefruit, its perfumery also. Tangy is a word that is very apt i think with this bottle.

Overall a hugly enjoyable beer.
The only thing i would day that slightly, and i mean slightly, let it down was the very soft carbonation. By the time i got to the bottom half it felt almost flat, tasted great but a little lifeless.
Still i want, no need, to get that other bottle!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Nethergate Old Growler

One of the new lines i picked up in my Tesco's. Also one of the '300 beers to try before you die' according to R Protz, so another tick there! 
This is a beer based on a 1750's recipe and has won many awards, although I'm confused if i have the 'Growler extra' version or not, the difference being 0.5% abv unless that only relates to the cask version perhaps.

The bottle is 500mls, 5.5% abv, its style is a porter.

Colour is almost black,with a small off white head.
There is a light chocolate and coffee aroma, plus some roasted malts in there. 
Its taste is on a medium light body that is very easy drinking, its got rich fruit but its not heavy hitting, but balanced well. There are also hints of pepper and as i got further down it was almost a sweet milky chocolate taste that was very pleasant overall. 


Friday, 5 August 2011

The perfect camping beer?

Last week i was away on holiday, down in Dorset with my folks, with some camping thrown in. We stayed outside Weymouth, had good weather and compostable toilets. Yup, they were real nice.

Anyway in planning the trip, supplies etc we were planning to stop at a Sainsburys near my Dads. This meant i could buy and have room for, in my insanely full car, very little beer (what with the kids needing food and all).
But i was sure i could get hold of the perfect camping beer. Small enough to pack in little spaces, fresh tasting to match with the great outdoors, strong enough for a couple to mellow your mind as you relaxed and gazed into the campfire.

the answer?
plastic beaker sir?
Kids in bed, sound asleep after running around a field in the fresh air all day, the darkness drawing in and the sight of campfires springing up beside almost every tent. The smell of sausages drifting on the air.
Relaxing with a beaker was heavenly, the peach and mango aroma, medium body that sings with fruit, bitterness, peaches, pineapple, soothing, my cares and stresses melting away into the flames licking around the logs.  
the cans fit perfectly under the car seat too.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Brain's Stouts - Original & Black

Newly launched by Brains is their Original Stout, 500ml bottle 4.1% abv. They've scored a big deal with Tesco for their beers, and this stout is part of the deal.

Seeing as they only launched their other stout 'Black' last year it does make you wonder about its future. I like Black (also 4.1%), its nice and easy to drink but if 'Original' is a success then where does that leave Black?
Was Black a test launch into the market? if it succeeded, which it has, then launch a proper named stout and maybe let Black fade away. If black had failed, well chalk it up as experience, you were up against Guinness after all! Perhaps wait a few years and try again?
The drinks.

Original stout - small light brown head, aroma initially chocolate but soon disappears and left with light nutty aroma, faint though. Bitterness coats the mouth, lingers at the top of the mouth well after you swallow.Medium body, medium roasted malts too.

Black - my previous notes said "Nice and smooth, excellent head that stays and laces the glass all the way, nutty aroma and good but light burnt caramel malt taste."
This time, as i seemed to drink more of the 'Original' first, when i got to the Black it was slightly warmer and seemed remarkable similar to the first although less bitter.


Probably an unfair taste test, black only comes in cans, nitro widget gives it smoothness and lasting creamy head. As i said i wonder if in a years time Black will still be around if 'Original' takes off,
Perhaps a bottle comparison with bottled Guinness would be a better test, seeing as that's the market it needs to swim in.

Overall, the new bottle is nice, neither to be honest are really exciting stouts, but they make for pleasant drinking. Which is preferred?  for me i think it is the new one, not having the widgetted smoothness is better, and the hop bitterness comes across better making it more rounded.

Jever Pilsner

"The secret lies in the water, which is still taken from the same well used well over 100 years ago. The water from our well is unusually pure and soft. That allows us to add a touch more hops to create the Friesian-bitter taste that distinguishes Jever Pilsner from any other beer."
Yes, another lazy description quote to start a post, this being their own commerical description.

This bottle was 500mls, 4.9% abv, and i got it for £2.29.

It was a golden yellow colour, a sweet and grassy aroma.
I got a clean light and crisp taste, an earthy mineral element, mild malt sweetness and there was at the end a little bitterness.
Pretty decent overall.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Gaffel kolsch

"The laws protecting the brewing of kolsch are as strict as the German Purity Law of 1516. Kolsch beer can only be brewed within the city of Cologne. As the best-known kolsch brewery, Gaffel’s flavor is derived from an ale yeast that is "lagered" (or aged) in cold cellars. Gaffel is pale, faintly fruity with a crisp, hop finish."
My first Kolsch.

Pale yellow in colour, light carbonation, small fluffy white head that diminishes soon.    
Its got a very faint aroma of lemon and floral notes from the hops. Its crisp, light, but very little else, not unpleasant or bad - just not very exciting though.

500 mls  4.8% abv  (paid £2.55)

Refreshed Tesco beer line up

Whilst away on holiday, more about that later, my local Tesco seems to realised they have a bottled beer section and refreshed it, some might say dramatically. That might be a little OTT but considering one new line occasionally is all that changes here, to see 10+ new lines was a surprise.

As well as moving them all down the aisle, and it looks like Fullers my have lost out here as some of their range seems to be relocated to a top shelf above canned products rather than in the mix with the rest of the bottles.
First noticed was Brains newly launched 'Original Stout' , recently blogged by Brew Wales here. As we discussed there we wonder how it will affect the current stout they offer, Brains Black, which is quite decent. I'll try for a side by side tasting i think later this week.

I picked up these bottles today

Gales 'Summer Breeze', Brewdog 'Alice Porter', Nethergate 'Old Growler' and Williams Bros ' March of the Penguins'.
I left behind for another day: Morland 'Old Golden Hen', Marstons 'Oyster Stout', Wychwood 'King Goblin', Castle Rock ' Elsie Mo', Worthington 'White Shield', Shepard Neame '1698', St Peters 'Cream Stout'.
They also had at £1 a bottle Badger 'Golden Champion'

Some i've had before, some i haven't, and i know a lot of these are available in other supermarkets, but its good to see Tesco springing a bit of life into my shelves. And seeing as i think i read somewhere that they will soon be supplying Goose Island beers also its all good news.

Edit: i forgot, they also had new - Hook Norton Double Stout, and Youngs Double Chocolate Stout.