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.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Pretty Things 'Field Mouse's Farewell'

With my first day off this week it coincided with the first day of the new school term, convenient that huh!  A great friend and colleague of mine has moved onto other pastures in work, so i needed to get him some appropriate presents, bottle shaped ones.
This meant a dash to the Cardiff beer shop, and of course i had to get a few bottles for myself.
I finally got the one i had been promising myself, a Cantillon, also a Flying Dog Old Scratch, Goose Island 312 Wheat, Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest, Traquair House Ale and a couple of others.
The Sierra Nevada bottle was quite a find i thought, but alongside it was a even more interesting one, a Pretty Things 'Field Mouse's Farewell'.
I needed to do a little research. Pretty Things are gypsy brewers, they rent out the facilities and time at another brewery to do their magic. I'm still a little unclear on some of the details, like bottling, distribution and storage. It sounds very romantic breezing in, brewing, and leaving but their must be a lot more to it than that!

Anyway, the beer.
 A lovely bottle, beautifully presented label and it has a nice wrap over the cap, giving you the details 'Bottled May 2011 Batch 2'.

'It's our late spring seasonal beer. Mostly inspired by Nord Pas de Calais "biere de garde" and Wallonian saison styles, this rustic ale of 7% alcohol is chock full of different grains: Rye, Oats, Wheat and Barley. We wanted to brew a beer made of what a mouse would eat.'
As they say, a Saison style ale, 7%, and 1 pint(US) 6 fl oz. The only other Saison i have had is the gold standard one ' Saison Dupont' which was amazing. 
I paid £ 6.89, which yes i a lot but i suppose when you consider its relative rarity in this country, import costs, and that most US bottled beers seem to be smaller than this in my experience i was happy to pay it. Was i right?

Orange gold, a little hazy, nice white head. Aroma is a little floral, certainly wheaty, herbal almost.
A nice mouth feel about it, earthy and a little sharp, it has a bready grainy taste which is then overtaken by the lemon and spice. There is not much sweetness here, certainly it leans into the hop bitterness camp more. Strange in that the strength starts of by reminding you of a lighter Belgian beer, avoids the sugar, then skims along the border inviting bitterness and teasing sharpness.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Saint Bernardus Pater 6

 Saint Bernardus Pater 6 an Abbey Ale style in a bottle 330mls, 6.7% abv.

Popping open the bottle with big  fizz, it appeared very carbonated when pouring, the colour was a dark amber brown. The small head soon goes, and gives an aroma thats syrupy, sweet, figgy.

Taste was syrupy, spices, pepper certainly. It had a reasonable alcohol kick that seems more than the abv actually is. Soft sweet fruit.
At the end there is a nice bitter dryness and overall  enjoyable but too carbonated, far to fizzy and therefore other Abbey Dubbels certainly appeal better to me.