Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Brains 'Santa's Beard'

Brains Santa's Beard"What with Brains Craft brewery busy producing literally everything from the 'big handbook of beer styles', you could easily forget that occasionally the big brother SA Brains does sometimes bring something new/seasonal out."

That was my opening words in the draft post but then I looked at the Brains website for a hyperlink address, to find that the craft brewery had indeed been involved in the test brews of this beer before being scaled up for production.
So when is a craft beer not a craft beer then?!!
'Perfected' in the craft brewery, and then brewed and bottled in the main building, does that 'un-craft' it?
Who cares, what matters is if it tastes any good to my mind.

Santa's Beard is a 4.5% abv milk stout, bottle only i think (with other Christmas cask beers coming out), 500mls, £1.99 (Tesco). Good body, an initial sweet hit but that goes with the subsequent mouthful's. It's replaced by a slight acidic sharpness, burnt flavours, toffee and coffee as Brains say, a good head that stays.

I really quite liked this, it was nowhere near as sweet as other milk stouts i have tried, and possibly will pick up another couple of bottles next time I see it.
They recommend it goes with rich Christmas puddings and strong cheeses.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Welsh Cider: Gwynt Y Ddraig and Dunkertons

Like many others this last summer I have been indulging in cider.

What's different about that is that I've not drunk cider for about twenty years. As a teenager trying to find out what it was that I was going to waste the next few years drinking I tried some cider's but always got an instant blinding headache after about 1 pint so that crossed it of the list.

Gwynt Y Ddraig Farmhouse ScrumpyForward to this summer just gone, and one day the wife and I fancied something cold and refreshing so bought a few lagers and I also picked up a few cider's from Spar, including their own brand bottles. And we liked them. The dry cider's seemed to be our preference, and so started a new avenue for me seeking out new bottles on shelves that had gone untried. Packing boxes of cider/scrumpy for camping was a great move, and exploring some well known Welsh Cider producers was very enjoyable and tasty.

I still think it unlikely I'll be drinking pints of it in a pub but in certain circumstances I can see myself sipping the apple stuff.
A few that stand out over the summer for me were not always for good reasons. Some of the Bulmers fruit flavoured bottles were just so sickly, red pressed grape springs to mind. A Perry that was so acetone it was undrinkable, and the Cidre Pear by Stella Artois was foul (sorry to my mate who gifted it to me but it was).

Gwynt Y Ddraig Black DragonHighlights include 2 from the Welsh brewery Gwynt Y Ddraig, their Farmhouse Scrumpy,  5.3 % and the 3 litre box is a bargain, delicious full flavoured with good body, some cider seems so thin, this scrumpy on a campsite in August just hit the spot perfectly.
The second from them is Black Dragon, a 6.5% medium sweet oak matured cider. This is probably the one that I've drunk the most. It's a darker colour than most cider's, perhaps that lends some gravitas when judging by eye rather than some straw urine you might pour (as a nurse I see plenty of different shades of urine produced trust me!) A dry aroma, red apples and woody, a bit 'funky' if truth be told. For a medium sweet it seems quite dry to me, a pleasing bitterness creeps in too. Perhaps bitterness is the wrong word, tartness is more appropriate.
Dunkertons Black Fox Cider

Another nice one was a bottle that I picked up as a present for a friend, and got another for myself was Dunkerton' s Black Fox cider. What is it with cider names and black animals?!
Black Fox is a 7% medium dry bottle, from a cider mill in Pembridge, Herefordshire. Quite a solid tasting cider, tart dry and musty, and a great sweetness pushing through. Certainly if I see anything else by Dunkertons I'll snap it up, suggest you do the same. Nice label too, simple and striking design.

This new found avenue also looks like having benefits when my friends and I go on our annual Cornwall holiday next year as I'm sure that there is a cider producer nearby, a tour could be our boys day out sorted I think!!