Friday, 30 December 2011

Saltaire Brewery Cascade Pale Ale

Good evening all. Tonight's beer is from Saltaire Brewery, who I first encountered during the early stages of my beer advent calendar in the form of Raspberry Blonde. I found this to be a great fruit beer that managed to achieve a fine balance between the raspberries and the malt, with neither getting in the way of each other. Saltaire Brewery describe themselves as using "traditional brewing methods to produce great ales with a contemporary twist", and I think it's safe to say that that ethos has gone into this offering, Cascade Pale Ale. Review after the pic....

Cascade Pale Ale (4.8%) is an American Pale Ale brewed with, unsurprisingly, Cascade and Centennial hops. The beer pours a rich golden colour with a white head that lingers briefly before dissolving to nothing in the glass. The aroma is composed of light malt with a subtle citrus hoppiness. Tasting the beer brings up citrus flavours that are well-balanced with the malt, and a pleasing bitterness that doesn't linger for too long on the palate. The mouthfeel is very light and only slightly carbonated. Reading the ingredients list for the beer, it seems they've added calcium-containing minerals to the water used in the brewing process, which no doubt helps to increase the hop quality imparted to the beer. If that's the case, it's worked very well! Overall, this is a very English take on an American beer style (that was derived from the English Pale Ale anyway!), and reminds me of beers like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale quite a bit. It's a very drinkable, relatively light beer that would go well with meat dishes to cut through the rich flavours and provide a refreshing, palate-cleansing bitterness. Another excellent beer from a fantastic brewery!

Until next time....

Bath Ales Gem

Good evening all. Today I made my first tentative steps into the world of final-year revision... by revising the easiest parts of one module. Regardless of the merit of that exercise, I feel like I deserve a reward- and luckily I have just the bottle for this occasion in the form of Gem from Bath Ales, gifted to me by a good friend on Boxing Day. I've been fortunate enough to encounter Bath Ales' beers a number of times at my local pub, the King's Arms in Kingsbridge (that I must write a review of in the future), and I haven't been disappointed with their offerings. Definitely a brewery steeped in tradition but unafraid to embrace modernity in their execution of familiar beer styles. Let's get the review started....
Gem (4.8% ABV) is a beer I have enjoyed on tap many times, so I'm interested to see how the bottled version compares. The beer pours a rich amber colour with a white head that quickly dissolves to virtually nothing in the glass. The aroma is very light, with some malt coming through and a subtle bittering hop aroma. There is also some caramelised sweetness in the background. Not a lot going on really. The taste is still light on the malt, with virtually no bitterness from the hops and a sweet finish (not reminiscent of burnt sugar though, just more of a sugary flavour). The mouthfeel is very light and not particularly carbonated, with swirling bringing up very fragile wisps of foam that disintegrate quickly. Overall, whilst I love Gem on draught, I feel it doesn't transition to the bottle very well. It certainly doesn't seem to be bottle conditioned (I might be wrong but I don't see any sediment in the bottle), which might be the reason why the carbonation that would normally elevate the hop flavours and produce a more rounded experience just isn't there. Not a bad beer in this form, but I'd go to the pub to enjoy it rather than the supermarket.

Addendum- after some time out, and with the temperature of the beer slightly warmer, the experience has been significantly improved. More bitterness in the finish, with the hops and the malt intertwining well and the sweetness becoming less noticeable.

Until next time....

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Dorset Brewing Company Chesil

Good evening all. I was intending to wake up early and start revision today, but after being roused from my sleep at 11.30am, I opted to watch True Lies and listen to Frank Zappa. There's always tomorrow of course! Even though my activities were hardly physically draining, I was looking for something thirst-quenching and light when I opened the fridge. Despite what the last few posts might have led you to believe- one stout after the other in the build up to Christmas- I am a fan of lighter beer styles. Except for average golden ales of course, they can remain on the shelf where they belong. My sister got me a selection of beers for Christmas from the counties of Hampshire and Dorset (local to her for the majority of the year), so I decided to have one of those this evening. Therefore, read on for a review of Chesil by Dorset Beer Company....

Chesil (4.1% ABV) is a pilsner brewed with Sovereign and Lubelski hops, seemingly with the intention of combining UK and Polish noble-type hops to create a recognisable beer but with a unique twist. The beer pours a pale straw colour with a wispy white head that quickly dissolves to a halo around the inside of the glass. Swirling the glass does bring up a lot of carbonation and a thicker head. The aroma is composed of light malt with a subtle bittering hop aroma- no floral or citrus notes, more crisp and reminiscent of noble-hops like Tettnang. The taste is malty with a slight bitterness during tasting, but this doesn't translate into the finish. The hops are well-balanced with the malt so neither is taking precedence during drinking. The mouthfeel is light and reasonably carbonated. Overall, a good beer in the pilsner style with a pleasing malt backbone and a subdued noble hop flavour. If I had to make one alteration, I would have added hops with higher alpha acid percentages to get a bigger bite in the finish, but that's purely a personal preference. If you're a fan of BrewDog 77 Lager, Meantime London Lager or Windsor and Eton Republika, then give this beer a try. You won't be disappointed!

Until next time....

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Bowman Ales Swift One and Acorn Brewery Gorlovka

Good evening all. I hope everyone had a good Christmas and a relaxing Boxing Day. Since you already know what I got up to during the former, I'll briefly mention the latter! I spent last night with some good friends at the local pub, putting back a few pints of Festive Totty (Cheddar Ales) with a dram of Bowmore 12 Year Old, before heading back home to polish off a mini-keg of Acer (Bristol Beer Factory). Tonight's beer choices have a lot to live up to as a result! Let's get started with Swift One from Bowman Ales....

Swift One is 3.8% ABV and pours a light golden colour with a very lively head that remains on the surface of the beer. Upon opening the beer I was even treated to a bit of entertainment as a generous amount of foam erupted from the bottle! The aroma has a light hop character (more floral than citrus) with some malt in the background. There is also a slight sulfur smell reminiscent of golden ales and bitters. Tasting the beer brings biscuit and malt flavours, with some floral notes from the hops and no bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is surprisingly light despite the excessive carbonation. Overall a pleasant beer that, whilst certainly not outstanding, is still worth investigating. The ABV makes the beer very sessionable and the subtle flavours will appeal to the majority of beer drinkers.

On to the next beer, Gorlovka from Acorn Brewery. I've had one beer from Acorn Brewery before- during the beer advent calendar series- and found it to be fairly average, but I always like to try more than one offering from a brewery to properly evaluate their output. Time for the review....

Gorlovka (6.0% ABV) pours a deep black with a small beige head that dissolves quickly. The aroma is quite malty, with some chocolate and coffee notes in the background and a subtle caramelised sweetness. The taste is rich, bitter and malty, with the alcohol coming through quite heavily behind dark chocolate flavours. The finish is very dry but not cloying on the palette, inviting more sips. A very moreish beer! Further drinking reveals the sweeter flavours and some coffee notes. The mouthfeel is not overly thick and slightly carbonated, which works well with this particular beer. Overall, a very nice stout with a lot of rich yet well-balanced flavours. Although I wouldn't consider this to be an imperial stout as the flavours aren't amplified enough, it's still a great beer and I highly recommend it!

Apologies for the poor quality photos tonight readers, but they still allow you to get the idea. Hope you enjoyed the reviews! Until next time....

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 25- A Plethora of Beers and a Message

Good evening all. Well, the big day has finally arrived, along with the end of this epic saga. After 25 beers, two pubs (including a review of a newly opened one) and a lot of pontificating, Christmas Day is here. Tonight's post has a lot of beers, so let's get straight into it with the first choice, BrewDog There Is No Santa....

There Is No Santa is a 4.7% ABV Spiced Beer, making it attractively sessionable and appropriate for the first beer of the day. The beer pours a light black with a generous, foamy beige head. The aroma is rich in cloves and ginger, with a lot of sweetness coming through in the background. No sense of a malty presence. A lot of ginger flavour in the taste, with additional spice flavours present throughout. There is a slight bitterness in the finish, but this is occasionally offset by the sweetness in the background. The mouthfeel is carbonated, but not overly thick. Overall, a very good Christmas beer with plenty of spicy, warming flavours and aromas. Well done BrewDog, you've virtually encapsulated the spirit of the festive season in a bottle!

The next beer of the day was a very special one- Mikkeller BA-Red Wine Santa's Little Helper 2009. This beer is an 11.0% ABV Belgian Strong Dark Ale aged in red wine barrels for 4 months. The appearance is dark brown, verging on red, with a foamy beige head. The aroma is very vinous, with some dark fruits and a lingering sweetness in the background. The flavour of the red wine is immediately apparent in the taste, accompanied by a fruity sweetness and a light caramelised taste in the finish. Mouthfeel is very carbonated but light, with a dry finish. Overall, a fantastic beer from Mikkeller. The barrel ageing adds a great dimension to the beer, making it extremely drinkable despite the high ABV percentage. Highly recommended!

The third beer was Hop Back Brewery Pickled Santa. This beer is a 6% Spiced Ale brewed with spices. The appearance is copper/chestnut brown with virtually no head. Some of the sediment managed to make its way into the glass despite my attempts at careful pouring! The aroma is very malty, with hints of the spices coming through (predominantly ginger, nutmeg and some cloves). In regards to the taste, the coriander and nutmeg come through the most during drinking, with a light malt presence and a subtle hop bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is quite thick and not overly carbonated. Overall, quite an average offering from a good brewery. The whole presentation (bottle design, name, beer) feels like a forced effort to try and produce a Christmas ale to cash in on the season. Not recommended.

The fourth beer was Goose Island Christmas Ale 2009. This beer is a 7.0% American Brown Ale. The appearance is chestnut brown with a small beige head that quickly dissolves. The aroma is malty with some light hop character in the background. The taste is also malty, with some citrus flavours from the hops coming through in the finish. There is also a caramelised sweetness present. The mouthfeel is slightly carbonated and quite thick, but this compliments the flavours very well. Overall, a light yet malty beer with a sweet aftertaste and a noticeable hop presence. There may not be anything "Christmassy" about this beer in terms of the ingredients used during the brewing process, but this is quite refreshing and certainly an improvement on the previous beer. At this point, Mikkeller Santa 2009 was my favourite, with this beer taking second place.

The fourth beer, and the accompaniment to a lovely dinner, was Mikkeller Red/White Christmas. This beer is 8.0% ABV and is presented in a magnificent 1.5 litre magnum. The beer is a combination of two styles- a Red Ale and a Witbier. The beer pours a light red colour with a lot of carbonation and lacing in the glass. The aroma is gorgeously hoppy and malty, with a light sweetness in the background. Looking forward to this beer a lot now! The taste is composed of fruity hops with a light bitterness in the finish. There is also a pleasing sweetness in the background that compliments the bitterness very well. The mouthfeel is very thick and chewy but it works so well with this particularly beer- seems to amplify the hop character marvelously. Overall, this is a fantastic beer that would be perfect at any time of the year. It's very similar to Mikkeller's "A Pale Ale", so if you can find either and you're a fan of insanely hoppy red ales, don't think twice about tasting them. A perfect beer for a fantastic dinner!

Although I'll have a couple more beers before the end of the day, I'll finish the blog post here as it seems very appropriate. I'd like to take the opportunity to thank everyone and anyone who has taken time out of their day to read my disjointed and potentially incoherent musings over the last 3.5 weeks. This has been a very rewarding exercise for me and has forced me to focus on what makes a beer good or bad rather than just deciding on the first sip. I've tasted a lot of fantastic beers, a few average ones and a couple of duds, but they've all been vital in helping me to develop my palate and further my interest in the ever-exciting beverage known as beer. If I've inspired even one person to rethink their approach to beer, either in regards to how they evaluate it or through joining the consistently increasing craft-beer movement, then I've achieved a great deal. This blog will continue to be used for beer reviews and possibly even music reviews in the future, and I have every intention of doing another beer advent calendar next year. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year readers! Until next time....

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 24- Bristol Beer Factory Imperial Stout Aged In Glenlivet Whisky Casks

Good evening all. Christmas Eve is finally upon us, with only a few hours until the start of the big day. In these circumstances, and because I've been staring at them since I received the delivery at the start of the holiday, I've chosen one of the two cask-aged stouts from the "12 Stouts of Christmas" series brewed by the Bristol Beer Factory. Tonight's choice is their Imperial Stout, aged for 6 months in Glenlivet Casks. What a beer for the penultimate advent calendar post!

This stout comes in at 10.7% ABV, making it a great after-dinner stout to mull over the events of the day with. Shame I haven't had dinner yet and I've only been awake for 4 hours! I opted to serve this beer in a Teku glass to fully appreciate the flavours and aromas from the volatiles supplied by the whisky cask ageing. The beer pours a deep black with a very small, chestnut-brown head that dissolves relatively quickly. The aroma is rich and complex, with lots of roasted malt and chocolate initially present, followed by some sweeter caramel notes. This beer almost smells like a scotch ale, but with a noticeable whisky kick in the background. The taste doesn't disappoint either- plenty of roasted malt flavour accompanied by a caramelised sweetness from the whisky. The finish is very reminiscent of candy floss, quite bittersweet. Despite the high alcohol content the mouthfeel is surprisingly light, with virtually no carbonation. Overall, I would describe this beer as a scotch ale masquerading as an imperial stout, which is certainly not a bad thing when executed so magnificently as this! Highly recommended and very warming for the colder yuletide moments.

Tomorrow evening, the last advent calendar post of 2011 and an alternative Christmas message. Until next time....

Friday, 23 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 22 and 23- Bristol Beer Factory Hazelnut Latte Stout and Milk Stout

Good evening all. Tonight’s blog post will feature two beers to make up for the absence of yesterday’s review. I spent the evening with a couple of very good friends, had some fine Christmas ales at the local pub and got through a mini-keg of Thornbridge’s Jaipur- can’t really beat that! For this evening, I’ve chosen two more stouts from the “12 Stouts of Christmas” series brewed by the Bristol Beer Factory. By the end of the post, there will be four more left! Let’s stop wasting time then, and move on to the first choice….

Hazelnut Latte Stout is 4.5% ABV and has been brewed with roasted hazelnuts and Java coffee, using Milk Stout as a base. As a fan of coffee stouts (Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, Dark Star Espresso, Founders Breakfast Stout) I was looking forward to this beer a lot, especially when considering the lower, and certainly sessionable, alcohol content. Aesthetically, the beer is dark black with no head formed during and after pouring. The immediate aroma is composed of rich coffee with no sense of the hazelnuts being present. The roasted malt is incredibly subtle in comparison, being heavily masked by the coffee. The taste starts off quite piquant, with the coffee really impacting on the front of the tongue. This leads to a slightly tart bitterness during consumption which lingers in the finish. The creamy flavours from the milk stout come through after the initial coffee burst, mixing well with the bitterness from the coffee. If there are hazelnuts in the beer, I can’t personally detect them. Clearly they don’t impart much flavour when combined with the richness of the coffee. The mouthfeel is quite light with no carbonation. Overall, this beer is a fantastic example of a lower-alcohol coffee stout that would go well with chocolate-based desserts, or as a substitute to after-dinner coffee. Another great stout experiment!
The second stout of the evening: Milk Stout. Considering I’ve had this stout in several altered forms over the last few days, I wasn’t expecting a lot. The beer is 4.5% ABV and pours a dark black with a small beige head. The aroma is very light, with some roasted malt and a slight sweetness from the lactose sugar. The taste is much of the same, with a refreshing subtlety to the beer but nothing that stands out. Mouthfeel is light and creamy, with low levels of carbonation. Overall, a fairly boring beer, but certainly not a bad one. I wouldn’t pair this with anything as the flavours would easily be lost. Still recommended, but not if you’re in the market for something spectacular.

Tomorrow evening, the penultimate advent calendar post! Until next time….

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 21- Bristol Beer Factory Ultimate Stout

Good evening all. Accompanying tonight's beer tasting is the hip hop-era opus from R. Kelly, "Trapped In The Closet (Chapters 1-12)". Hopefully it won't cloud my judgement too much! After the picture, a review of Bristol Beer Factory's Ultimate Stout, part of the "12 Stouts of Christmas" collection....

Ultimate Stout is 7.7% ABV, which makes it quite a departure from the more subdued stouts I've been enjoying over the last few days. This particular stout has been fermented with a Belgian yeast, which is quite an interesting concept that will hopefully be detectable in the aroma and taste. The appearance is dark black with a small beige head that dissolves fairly quickly (most likely because of the higher alcohol content). The aroma is very rich, with lots of roasted malt, chocolate and coffee coming through. There is a slight phenolic character in the nose, but this is not immediately apparent. Tasting the beer, I'm greeted with bitter chocolate and some coffee. The finish is rich and malty- very reminiscent of Marmite or a similar yeast extract. Some nutty flavours also come through, close to pecans. No real sense of any flavours contributed by the Belgian yeast, but this could be because of the density of the other flavours. The mouthfeel is quite thick but not overly carbonated. Overall, a very nice higher gravity stout with a plethora of interesting flavours. As recommended on the bottle, this would go well after dinner with a similarly-flavoured dessert. Another winner from the Bristol Beer Factory!

Tomorrow, there may or may not be a post. If not, it will be combined with Day 23. Until next time....

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 20- Bristol Beer Factory Choc Orange Stout

Good evening all. After a nice family outing to Totnes (where I managed to up a bottle of Highland Park at a very good price, looking forward to having that over the Christmas period), I'm ready to put myself into seclusion briefly and dissect another one of the "12 Stouts of Christmas". Tonight's choice is Choc Orange Stout. Let's advance below the picture....
Choc Orange Stout is 5.0% ABV and has been flavoured with orange zest and orange juice. The appearance is dark black with a relatively small head in comparison to the other stouts in the series. The aroma is rich with plenty of chocolate and roasted malt. No orange aromas can be detected though. The taste brings out a lot of orange flavour, with the chocolate background complimenting this very well. It actually tastes like slightly chocolaty orange juice, with no real sense that this beverage has alcohol in it. No lingering bitterness in the finish either. The moutfeel is very lightly carbonated and velvety smooth. Overall, a very interesting stout that lives up to its name excellently. This beer would work well with a similarly flavoured dessert or as a good accompaniment to gammon. In conclusion, as with the rest of the stouts, I highly recommend it!

Tomorrow, another beer and another discussion. Until next time....

Monday, 19 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 19- Bristol Beer Factory Vanilla Milk Stout

Good evening all. You know you've already reviewed a few of these stouts when the auto-complete option in the title barely needs to be altered! That's right, it's another Bristol Beer Factory stout, Vanilla Milk Stout. Described as a "dessert in a glass", I've opted to have it before dinner, so hopefully it won't ruin my appetite. Onwards....

Vanilla Milk Stout (4.5% ABV) pours a deep black with an initially lively head that soon dissolves to the familiar halo around the inside of the glass. The aroma is light and malty, with the typical stout aromas barely coming through. As I seem to be leaving the bigger, fuller-bodied stouts for the end, this will still be a continuing theme for the next couple of days. Not that I'm complaining of course, I'll probably be longing for subtlety after consecutive tastings of the Glenlivet and Laphroaig-aged imperials! The taste is wonderfully smooth and creamy. The vanilla comes out in the finish with a taste that is reminiscent of custard, whilst the malt supports this taste without ever really adding to it. The first sip left me quite disappointed, but subsequent mouthfuls kept revealing more. Mouthfeel is rich and quite thick, with relatively low carbonation. Overall, another winner in the series. This stout would probably be a perfect accompaniment to dessert, but not after a heavy meal as the flavours would most likely be lost. Highly recommended!

Tomorrow, another stout that will no doubt be fantastic. Until next time....

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 18- Bristol Beer Factory Chocolate Stout

Good evening everyone. Tonight's beer choice is another stout from the "12 Stouts of Christmas" selection brewed by the Bristol Beer Factory. Let's discuss Chocolate Stout....
Chocolate Stout weighs in at 5.0% ABV and has been brewed with 5 different malts, cacao nibs and lactose sugar. The appearance is crimson, verging on black, with a thin beige head that dissolves to a halo around the inside of the glass. The aroma is predominantly roasted malt, with the sweetness from the lactose sugar coming through in the background. The taste is velvety and creamy, with the chocolate coming through heavily in the finish, accompanied with an underlying sweetness. The mouthfeel is very smooth and slightly carbonated. Overall, this is another fantastic stout in the series. The chocolate flavours are subdued but work very well with the lactose sugar, whilst the malts support these additions and balance the beer effectively. Looking forward to the next one already!

Tomorrow evening, libations and dictations. Until next time....

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 17- Bristol Beer Factory Bristol Stout

Good evening all. Another stout from the (so far) fantastic "12 Stouts of Christmas" selection, brewed by the Bristol Beer Factory. Tonight I've gone back to basics with Bristol Stout, a simple Irish Dry Stout. You'll notice in the picture this evening that I've gone for a more festive feel. The tree is up, the decorations have been lovingly (and angrily, in some cases!) placed upon the branches, and the Christmas spirit is almost starting to appear. Anyway, let's get down to the details....

Bristol Stout (4.0% ABV) pours a dark black (good start!) with a decent white head. The aroma is very subtle, with roasted malts and some coffee coming through. Not expecting a flavour explosion with this one, but still looking forward to it. The taste is also very light, with the coffee coming through more. No lingering aftertaste or bitterness. The mouthfeel is slightly thick and creamy, which works well with the flavours. Overall, this is an enjoyable stout with an attractively sessionable ABV. Not a lot to say about it, but that's because the flavour profile isn't too complex, making it an ideal beer for someone looking to delve further into the world of stouts and porters. Although I prefer the fuller-bodied imperials, it's still good to come back to the lighter examples as they commonly surprise you with their softer approach. This one certainly did- highly recommended!

Tomorrow, another beer next to a Christmas tree (guess which brewery and beer style!) and some words about it. Until next time....

Friday, 16 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 15 and 16- Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper 2011 and Bristol Beer Factory Chili Choc Stout

Good evening all. Tonight finds me sitting at my desk in Devon after a nice journey back from Southampton. Whilst I was there I had dinner with some relatives, and brought along something quite special- Santa's Little Helper 2011 from the gypsy brewery Mikkeller. Unfortunately I didn't get a good glass/bottle photo and didn't get the opportunity to make extensive tasting notes between the roast beef and chocolate roulade, so another capsule review seems to be in order.

Appearance: dark brown, thick beige head with some lacing in the glass
Aroma: phenolic, sweet
Taste: cloves, bit of spice in the background, no significant bitterness
Conclusion: good Belgian strong dark ale, but could have done with more pronounced "Christmas" flavours and aromas. Got a couple of bottles of Santa 2009 aged in red wine barrels in the cellar, so we'll see how they compare!

Now onto the main event, Bristol Beer Factory's Chili Choc Stout....

Bristol Beer Factory decided, at the start of the year, to brew 12 stouts to form a collection referred to as "The 12 Stouts of Christmas". These will probably make up the remainder of the advent calendar posts for this year, but I'll also try to pad out the reviews with some other, more unusual beers (it's such a chore, I know, but someone has to do it!). All of the stouts are bottle conditioned and each one is incredibly unique. From barrel ageing in Glenlivet and Laphroaig casks to brewing with roasted hazelnuts and coffee, they've come up with an incredible lineup. Tonight's choice is 5.0% ABV and has been brewed with habanero chilies and chocolate. I've heard that these two work quite well together, so let's see what they're like in a drink.

The beer pours a deep black with a light brown head that dissolves to a prominent halo around the inside of the glass. The aroma is reminiscent of lighter stouts- chocolate and coffee notes predominate, with a slight sense of the chilies in the background. The taste is equally as subtle as the aroma- no particular flavour jumps out, but a small kick from the chilies is definitely present in the finish. Overall, a well-balanced stout with an interesting finish. I would've liked more spice and some more chocolate coming through in the aroma and the taste, but this would've no doubt enforced an ABV increase to balance the flavours effectively. If you're looking for something with a more pronounced kick, then I'd recommend Mikkeller's Texas Ranger or Dark Star's Winter Meltdown (the latter, whilst not a stout, has a warming, spicy finish reminiscent of mulled wine), but if you like your stouts and your chilies subdued, you'll enjoy this!

Tomorrow, more beer and dialogue. Until next time....

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 14- BrewDog Prototype 17

Good evening everyone. Tonight is my last advent calendar blog post from the flat in Guildford, as tomorrow I'll be starting the journey back to Devon for Christmas. Because of this, I decided that another BrewDog Prototype beer would be a fitting end to this portion of the saga. Even though I tried them all on tap at BrewDog Camden, I feel they should be given proper reviews in this context. Onwards then, with BrewDog's Prototype 17....
Prototype 17 (4.9% ABV), a pale ale with American hops, Belgian yeast and raspberries, pours a golden colour with a thick head that drops down to a thin, broken coating on the surface of the beer. The aroma is fairly heavy on the phenols, characteristic of the Belgian yeast used to ferment the beer. The raspberries add an unusual funk to the proceedings, but it's not overly offensive like a pungent lambic so don't be too worried! The taste is reminiscent of a diluted Belgian beer- i.e. weaker flavours than expected- with the raspberries complimenting the experience without overpowering the taste of the beer. No sense of the hops in the aroma or the taste, with no bitterness in the finish. In conclusion, another unusual beer from the guys at BrewDog, but the sum of great ingredients and brewing concepts doesn't always equal a great beer. The taste of the beer when the Belgian yeast combines with the raspberries is slightly too "out there" for me to really like it, but if you're after something quite different, give it a try. Hops Kill Nazis still remains my preferred Prototype so far!

Tomorrow, there may or not be an advent calendar post. If not, I'll combine it with Friday's beer. Until next time....

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 13- Saltaire Brewery Raspberry Blonde

Good evening all. Slightly later post compared to previous days, as I've just come back from an impromptu trip to London to see a friend and try out the new Camden Town Brewery beers at the Craft Beer Co: Bleeding Hops, Gentleman's Wit and Camden Ink. All of these were fantastic, with the standout being Bleeding Hops, a gorgeous 6.4% IPA/red ale brewed with Simcoe and Motueka hops. Fantastic stuff- if you ever get the opportunity to try any of these beers, don't hesitate. Even managed to bring back a bottle of Rogue Chocolate Stout, which shall be enjoyed at some point before Christmas! Now, onto tonight's beer, Saltaire Brewery's Raspberry Blonde....

Raspberry Blonde pours a light golden colour with a decent head that soon dissolves to nothing in the glass. The aroma is beautiful- the raspberries aren't too imposing, which can be the problem with a lot of fruit beers, and the malt still seems to take precedence. Already looking forward to this one! The taste is incredibly light- no bitterness at all, delicate raspberry flavour and just a hint of the golden beer during the tasting but not in the finish. Mouthfeel is quite carbonated but not excessive. Overall, a very well balanced beer with enough of the raspberry flavour to add another dimension, but not so much that it masks any of the flavours contributed by the malt. Any fans of Bacchus or Mort Subite should try this beer, along with anyone who doesn't normally consider themselves to be a beer drinker. You'll be pleasantly surprised!

Tomorrow, my last post from Guildford. All subsequent posts shall be from Devon, with the possible exception of Thursday, when I shall be in Southampton. Busy few days ahead! Until next time....

Monday, 12 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 12- Acorn Brewery Conquest

On the twelfth day leading up to Christmas, I gave myself the opportunity to have my first stress-free beer since this began. Couldn't resist trying one carol modification! That's right folks, the mountain of coursework (that I promised to tackle as soon as it had been set as opposed to completing it the night before it's due in) has finally been conquered, meaning the next three days are going to be more relaxed, with the possibility of actually getting into the festive season! Unfortunately, I'm so tired that today's review might be quite halfhearted, but let's plough on regardless. Without further ado, I give you Acorn Brewery's Conquest....

Conquest pours a light copper colour with a decent head that dissolves away fairly quickly. The aroma is predominantly malty, with a slightly hoppy background. The taste delivers a lot of malt and honey, with the hops providing a decent kick to the finish. The mouthfeel is very light, with virtually no carbonation. Overall, a fairly average beer, but one with enough substance to set it apart from the never-ending selection of mediocre golden ales that are available. I'd recommend this beer if you're looking for something light and drinkable, or as something to pawn off on your friends when you want to have something more distinctive! Either way, it's a winning situation.

Tomorrow, hopefully more enthusiasm and another beer! Until next time....

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 11- BrewDog Camden and Fyne Ales' Hurricane Jack

Good evening all. I've just come back from BrewDog Camden, and the majority of this post will be devoted to the day's events, concluding with tonight's advent calendar beer, Hurricane Jack from Fyne Ales. Let's jump straight in....

BrewDog Camden is situated at 113 Bayham Street, a very short walk from Camden Town Underground Station. The bar opened officially this week with the appearance of a tank driving through the streets around the premises (clearly a bit of fun aimed at the critics of BrewDog's excessive marketing campaigns!), and as soon as I had learnt about this I was eagerly following twitter feeds and blog posts in the run up to my visit.

Today was the big day, so I decided to get in early and head over to one of my favourite pubs in London, The Draft House by Tower Bridge. The friendly welcome from staff who actually remembered me from previous visits was great, and I promptly ordered one of their great roasts and a half of Sambrook's Wandle. I've had this on cask before and was disappointed, but this was very well kept and exploded with great malt flavour. Must not travel very well! After the roast had been demolished, I went on to try Windsor and Eton's Conqueror 1075, an imperial black IPA from one of my favourite new breweries. Fantastic stuff, with all the bitterness and fruity hop quality of an IPA, but a significant amount of roasted malt supporting it. Another half of something followed which I've since forgotten the name of, but it was average in comparison to the previous choices, so I decided it was time to head on.

Walking back to the underground, I decided to pop into The Rake to see what was on offer there. My eyes focussed immediately on the Schenider Weisse Nelson Sauvin, a beer I've been meaning to try for some time now. It's a wheat beer with the unusual inclusion of Nelson Sauvin hops, so I was expecting something quite unique. It certainly delivered, with the usual clove tastes being amplified significantly and the hops creating an aroma and taste reminiscent of lambic beers. Heavily recommended, even if the price for a half was just under £5!

After my lunch had turned into a pre-drinking session, I decided it was time to head to my chosen destination, BrewDog Camden. The familiar shield lit the gradually-darkening sky like a homing beacon as I approached, and stepping inside I was taken aback at how busy the place was at 3.30pm on a Sunday. The bar area is surprisingly small, but in true BrewDog style is decorated with reclaimed materials and furnished in a mundane style to ensure the focus is drawn towards the beer rather than the surroundings. Getting to the bar itself wasn't too much of a challenge, and I was greeted with around 6 keg taps and an array of bottles behind the bar, both in fridges for consumption and as decorations just below the keg boards, with an empty bottle of "The End of History" making an amusing centerpiece. I opted for a third of the Lost Dog, a collaboration between BrewDog and The Lost Abbey brewery. Billed as an imperial porter, this beer was incredibly sweet, with the tartness masking the majority of the tastes usually associated with porters or stouts. An interesting beer, but I would definitely choose this for the end of the evening rather than the beginning! After milling around for a bit, the Equity for Punks tasting session began in the basement downstairs, which is when things got even more interesting!

The small basement room was packed by the time the talk started (surprising really as anyone deciding to be in the second group was promised free samples of Black Tokyo Horizon for having to wait so long!), with James Watt and Martin Dickie taking everyone through the history of BrewDog, accompanied with a snifter of their flagship beer Punk IPA, before discussing the future of the company with their recent Prototype releases. It was good to try them all on keg to be able to compare them to the bottles I have in the cupboard, and my firm favourite was definitely Hops Kill Nazis, the amplified, hoppier cousin of 5 A.M. Saint. After a taste of AB:08, a blonde imperial stout (please tell me how that works, pale colour but significant amounts of coffee and chocolate in the taste, very reminiscent of De Molen Bed and Breakfast) and the latest in their ultra-exclusive Abstrakt series, the talk was over, and I left feeling that that one talk was worth the amount I paid in the first place to become a shareholder. More talks from the guys themselves and exclusive events with different brewers would definitely keep me coming back for more. Well, that and the unrivaled quantity of BrewDog beers available! Give this place a go, you won't be disappointed.

Anyway, after that I feel like the purpose of this post has been forgotten. On to the second highlight of the evening- Day 11's beer, Hurricane Jack from Fyne Ales Brewery.

Hurricane Jack (4.4% ABV) pours a very pale golden colour with a decent head that diminishes to a nice whispy covering over the surface of the beer. The aroma consists of light, fruity hops over a slightly malty backdrop. The taste is much of the same thing, with the hops providing a subtle bitterness. Definitely lacking in something- either more bitterness or more fruit from the hops is required to balance out this beer. Mouthfeel is moderately carbonated and very drinkable. In conclusion, an average beer that promises a lot in the aroma but doesn't quite deliver. I would recommend Oakham Ales' Citra or Black Hole Brewery's Super Nova as better examples of lighter, relatively low ABV beers with a sufficient hop kick.

Tomorrow, a significant decrease in the number of words and another beer! Until next time....

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 10- Fuller's 2011 Vintage Ale

After a day of online Christmas shopping (well, possibly half an hour, but let's not get bogged down by semantics), it's time to extend charity towards myself in the form of Day 10's choice, Fuller's 2011 Vintage Ale....

Fuller's 2011 Vintage Ale (8.5% ABV) is the latest offering in the Fuller's Vintage Ale range. Since 1997 these beers have been released once a year, with each one aiming to showcase the best malts and hops from that particular year. This year's hops are choice English bad boys, including Goldings, First Gold and Sovereign. This beer interested me greatly when I saw it on the supermarket shelf, so let's see if Fuller's can produce an interesting, thought-provoking beer to add some diversity to their usual tried-and-tested range.

The beer pours a copper colour with a decent, lively head that soon settles down to virtually nothing in the glass. The aroma is actually quite alcoholic, with a nice malt backbone and some fruitiness from the hops coming through. The taste is biscuity and sweet, with a significant alcohol taste- similar in intensity to spirits- in the finish. No real sense of the hops in the taste. The mouthfeel is light, with virtually no carbonation. In conclusion, Fuller's have certainly produced an interesting beer, but the noticeable alcohol content means it could do with a few years in the cellar to allow that aspect to die down and create a more well-rounded taste. Might just have to stock up on a few for that very purpose! I'd recommend it if you're willing to wait and see how this beer could develop with a bit of time.

Tomorrow evening, a potential review of BrewDog Camden if I make it to the EFP tasting event! Until next time....

Friday, 9 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 9- St. Feuillien Cuvée De Noël

Based on my choice of beer for this evening, I was going to introduce the post by listing different translations of the phrase "Merry Christmas", but swiftly decided against this. It's always hard coming up with fresh ways to introduce what is essentially the same task each day, but it seems it's even harder to actually go through with those ideas. Now that I've filled up a bit of space, it's time to discuss tonight's drink, St. Feuillien's Cuvée De Noël....

I picked this beer up at the wonderful Utobeer Ltd. stand in Borough Market towards the end of October, with the intention of drinking it around Christmas time. This was before the idea for this saga was ingrained into my mind, but it seemed fitting that on this evening, with a presentation and an exam in the bag, I'd finally give it a go. Cuvée De Noël is a Belgian strong dark ale weighing in at 9.0% ABV. In the glass, it's a deep amber colour with a strong head that dissolves to form a considerable halo around the inside of the glass. The aroma is typically Belgian, with a fair kick of phenols against a sweet backdrop. The taste is also sweet, with a hint of cloves and a light bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is quite thick, which definitely compliments the beer well. When I opened the beer, a considerable amount of foam began slowly oozing out of the bottle, showing just how carbonated it was! In conclusion, Cuvée De Noël is a very good Belgian ale with a lot of yuletide charm. I'd happily recommend it to anyone.

Tomorrow, more beer, more sentences. Until next time....

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 8- White's Brewery Garter Star 1344

Evening all. Contradicting my previous post, I'm here to review another beer as it's another day in December (the 8th to be precise). The beer I've chosen for this evening wouldn't have been on my list if it wasn't for its inclusion in the recent selection pack from the fantastic My lack of interest in it forced me to choose it for tonight, as I've got a presentation to give tomorrow and would rather save something special for after that traumatically nerve-wracking event. Therefore, read onwards for the dissection of White's Brewery Garter Star 1344....

Garter Star 1344 looks, based on first impressions, like the sort of beer the English Defence League would use to recruit new members in Royal Legion pubs. The patriotic, gold-bordered St George's Cross shield works perfectly with the war-inspired tagline and the clear bottle (clearly no regard for the final product at all!). I wasn't expecting much with this one, but decided to patrol onwards. The beer pours a pale golden colour with virtually no carbonation. The aroma is very average- malty and very typical of bog-standard golden ales. The taste is just as dynamic, with malt and a bit of honey-like sweetness coming through but nothing exciting. The mouthfeel is so light that it feels as if I'm drinking it after it's sat out overnight. In conclusion, another sub-par golden ale that shouldn't have been brewed in the first place. There are much better beers out there, so my recommendation is to take your money and time elsewhere.

Tomorrow, more beer and words. Until next time....

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 7- Hopdaemon Brewery Skrimshander IPA

Day 7 of the yuletide beer bonanza finds me temporarily shunning revision for the next beverage, Skrimshander IPA from Hopdaemon Brewery. I don't know anything about Hopdaemon Brewery, but a quick review of their promotional material reveals they're based in Kent and have been brewing for approx. 11 years now. Hopefully that amount of time will not have lead to complacency with this offering. Let's take a look, and a smell, and a taste....
Skrimshander pours a copper colour with a nice head that dissolves quickly to a whispy froth on the surface of the beer. The aroma is nothing special- quite malty, with the hops coming through slightly but nothing immediately distinctive. The taste is a definite improvement, with notes of caramel and burnt sugar accompanied by a refreshing bitterness from the hops. Mouthfeel is light with slight carbonation. In conclusion, I was expecting more from this beer but ended up getting an average drink that's definitely not worthy of its "IPA" description- more of an English bitter or pale ale at a push. I wouldn't recommend this beer as there are far more interesting ones within the same price range. It's a shame, but it's another stepping stone on this journey to Christmas Day.

Tomorrow evening I'm busy so I shall do another combination post on Friday. Until next time....

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 5 and 6- Magic Rock (various) and Buxton Brewery Buxton Gold

Good evening readers. As promised on Day 4, today's advent calendar post is a combination of some brief reviews from the beers I was able to try at the Magic Rock event at the Cask yesterday, combined with tonight's beer, Buxton Gold from Buxton Brewery.

Day 5
Magic Rock- a relatively new brewery based in Huddersfield- showcased all of their beers at the Cask Pub and Kitchen as part of a special Meet The Brewer event. Having been to one of these before (for Mikkeller at the same venue) I was disappointed that I wasn't able to stay for the talk itself, as it seems that the team from Magic Rock really take time to go through each of the beers and describe the processes that led to their creation (at least based on reviews from the events in Brighton recently). Based on the pictures from the Cask's twitter feed, it was a very good evening. Regardless, I still had some time before my prior commitment to sample a few, and based on the quantity I have opted to post small "capsule" reviews below. The picture included is of the first beer, Curious NZ.

Magic Rock Curious NZ (pale ale with New Zealand hops
Appearance: pale golden; whispy, foamy head
Aroma: light citrus hops, light malt
Taste: light, fruity hop taste; very bitter finish
Conclusion: enjoyable, highly recommended as first beer or to break up a session, bitterness might offend some

Magic Rock Dark Arts Stout (stout)
Appearance: deep black, light brown head (retains well)
Aroma: bitter chocolate, light smell of coffee beans
Taste: rich malty flavour, slight bitterness in finish, coffee is more noticeable
Conclusion: bottle and cask fairly similar, lovely warming stout with plenty of body

Mikkeller+Redemption Mild Interpretation (amber ale)
Appearance: copper colour, light brown head (good retention)
Aroma: malty, slight "golden ale" smell (sulfur)
Taste: malt, light hop bitterness and fruitiness in finish
Conclusion: nicely balanced drink, not harsh at all in the finish, very drinkable

Magic Rock+Dark Star Rock Star (brown ale)
The one that I was looking forward to trying, collaboration from two fantastic breweries. Unfortunately decided that the other new beer on offer, "Bearded Lady", was a bit too strong considering I was on my last drink!
Appearance: dark brown colour, 1cm of foamy beige head
Aroma: predominantly hoppy, light citrus with some malt in the background
Taste: sweet, fruitiness of the hops comes through, biting bitterness in the finish
Conclusion: great beer, like an amped up version of "Mild Interpretation". Highly recommended

Phew, that was a lot to type out in the end! Now, onto Day 6....

Day 6
Buxton Brewery have garnered a lot of positive attention from other beer bloggers, so I feel it's right that I should throw my hat into the ring and offer my two cents towards their beers. Buxton Gold is a 5.2% bottle conditioned golden ale brewed with an enticing selection of hops, including Nelson Sauvin, a personal favourite of mine. Therefore, I was looking forward to this beer quite a bit, hoping it would live up to the hype. The beer pours a rich golden colour with a thick white head- clearly the bottle conditioning has done its job well! The aroma is incredibly subtle, almost indiscernible- bit of malt coming through and some aroma hops (particularly the Nelson Sauvin). The taste is quite light- the Nelson Sauvin and the Amarillo hops can be distinguished more now- and the bitterness is pleasing. Definitely doesn't seem like a 5.2% beer at all, which is always a positive thing! In conclusion, Buxton Gold is an interesting, light beer that reaches much further than its "golden ale" description with some stellar hop inclusions. Definitely need to seek out their other offerings, which include an imperial stout and a black IPA. Interesting times ahead!

Regular service will be resumed from tomorrow. Another beer, another day. Until next time....

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 4- Stringers Dry Stout

The 4th day of this festive saga, and the first stout. I was contemplating having a stout to start these proceedings, as they always seem to go down well this time of year- the roasted malts deliver tastes of chocolate and coffee that really manage to warm the spirit- but for some reason I didn't. With tonight's refreshment, though, I'm glad I waited. Ladies and gentlemen, Stringers Dry Stout....

Having never heard of Stringers, my anticipation before trying this beer was even greater than usual. It is a marvelous experience in the beer taster's day to try a beer from a brewery that is completely new to that person. You have no preconceptions based on previous offerings and so the lack of bias is rather invigorating. Or something like that, anyway! Stringers Dry Stout (4.5% ABV) pours a deep black with a thick head that dissolves quickly. The aroma is gorgeous- dark malts and cocoa are immediately apparent without much swirling. You don't need to put your nose close to the glass to enjoy it either! The mouthfeel is surprisingly light, making this a very drinkable beer. The taste is, in one word, superb. Rich, dark chocolate with plenty of roasted malt in the background. Based on the ABV, I was fearing this beer would be quite thin (a common trait amongst lower gravity stouts) but thankfully this turned out to not be the case. All in all, this beer is a wonderfully balanced stout that is perfect for cold nights, or possibly even warm ones when you don't want to bust out an expensive imperial stout!

You'll be glad to know that tomorrow night, you shall not be exposed to my ramblings as I'm going to a gig, but I'm planning to make a stop at the excellent Cask Pub and Kitchen beforehand for the Magic Rock Brewery event. This does present an interesting opportunity in the form of either a travel advent calendar, or a review of however many beers I can get through in the space of 3 hours and still be able to find the tube station! Regardless of the choice, I shall no doubt combine it with day 6, so until next time....

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 3- Ilkley Brewery Ilkley Black

Today I was considering alternative ways to introduce these posts without resorting to modifying popular Christmas carols or referencing TV shows from the last decade, but unfortunately those were the only ones that stuck in my mind. Therefore, expect to see the phrases "Beer-mas" and "Day "X" in the Beer Brother House" in a future post. For now though, it's day three, it's Saturday, and it's time for another beer!

I've only had the opportunity to try one offering from Ilkley Brewery before today- their Lotus IPA (during my inaugural visit to the ultimate London beer temple, the Craft Beer Co.). I was rather disappointed by it, finding it to be an unmemorable experience that tasted like the majority of sub-standard bitters produced in this country. Their beers certainly seem to be popular though, as my last visit to the Craft Beer Co. demonstrated. All of the cask choices were Ilkley Brewery beers and they were definitely well-received by the punters. Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to try any of the beers during my stay (blame the keg choices for that evening!), and because I'm of the opinion that it's unfair to judge the quality of a brewery based on one product, Ilkley Black went to the top of my list for this evening's drink. Call it making up for lost time (and stronger beers getting in the way). 
Ilkley Black is a dark mild at an attractively sessionable ABV of 3.7%. It pours a deep amber colour with an inch thick head that quickly breaks down. The aroma is malty but very mild, and required a couple of swirls of the glass to get anything significant. Mouthfeel is very light. The taste is surprisingly malty, similar to yeast extract (i.e. Marmite), and lingers for a while on the palette after sipping. No bitterness at all. Reminds me of Left Hand's Milk Stout in terms of the light taste and pleasing mouthfeel. A very nice, mild beer that could be consumed over the course of an evening with ease, or as a break from stronger beers. 

Tomorrow night, another beer. Until next time....

Friday, 2 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 2- BrewDog Blitz!

Second day, second beer, and a potential one-off from the scamps at BrewDog. Today was fairly mundane, so I was looking forward to getting back home as I knew a certain order would be delivered. Suffice to say, the courier issues surrounding BrewDog's online shop have been sorted wonderfully, allowing me to discuss today's fantastic libation. Avid followers of BrewDog's online blog will be aware that they are planning to reshape their core range of beers from next year, and in the name of democracy they've decided to brew four prototype beers and let the consumer decide which one of these will form part of the range. I doubt staples such as Punk IPA will be on the chopping block just as much as I doubt Paradox will become a regular item on the supermarket shelves, but it's good on them to allow their loyal drinkers the opportunity to decide on the beers they want to drink. Regardless of the controversy they love to instigate, they genuinely want to get people interested in beer and change people's perceptions.

The four prototypes are as follows:
  • Blitz!- 2.8%, hop bomb with caramalt
  • Prototype 17- 4.9%, pale ale with American hops, Belgian yeast and Scottish raspberries
  • Hops Kill Nazis- 7.8%, 5 A.M. Saint's bolder cousin, red ale with Chinook hops
  • Scotch Ale- 7.5%, brewed with heather honey and 8 different malts
I managed to try Hops Kills Nazis when it was first released as a one-off beer a couple of months ago (still have a couple of bottles left in the cupboard) and thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, one of my favourite beers over the summer was the even more amplified AB:02, an imperial red ale brewed as part of the limited-release Abstrakt series. I think I can only deduce from this that BrewDog make some brilliant red ales, so I'll be looking forward to giving HKN another try in the future. However, I digress. On to tonight's choice....

Blitz! immediately grabbed my attention because of the low ABV. As most of you will be aware, BrewDog are infamous for their bold, high-ABV experiments that blur the lines between beers and spirits (whilst also incorporating taxidermy into the process). Described as being packed with west coast hops, I was already salivating at the prospect of trying this before I put through the order. The beer pours a gorgeous amber colour, with a decent head that reduces quickly to a halo around the inside of the glass. The aroma is subtle but definitely reminiscent of red ales- fruity hops but almost overridden by the malt. Very nice though, and still surprising when confirming the ABV on the bottle! The taste is predominantly bitter- a slight finish of fruity hops and some burnt sugar comes through after a couple of sips. The mouthfeel is quite light- a very drinkable beer. Overall, the aroma suggested the perfect beer- a sessionable, hoppy beast- but the finish was a bit too bitter for my liking. Yes, that might sound crazy when hops are used for bittering in the first place, but I would've liked a more pronounced fruitiness to supplement the bitterness. A very thought-provoking beer; the first smell and taste almost made me vote for it then and there, but subsequent sips have unfortunately caused me to retract that opinion. 3 more to go- democracy in action, what a wonderful thing!

Tomorrow, another beer and another day closer to Christmas. Until next time....

(Update- after a bit of time exposed to the outside world, the bitterness has diminished quite a bit and it's become a more rounded drink. Definite improvement but unfortunately still not up to the usual BrewDog standard.)

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Beer Advent Calendar Day 1- Meantime London Pale Ale

Evening all. A couple of months ago, I was pondering a way in which I could add a festive feeling to the experience of beer tasting, whilst also having an excuse to have a beer every day in the build-up to Christmas. After stumbling upon the fantastic blog, I decided to shamelessly plagiarise this idea. Therefore, this inaugural Beer Advent Calendar post is indebted to Ketsbaia and my flatmate Luke Albutt, who convinced me to put my beer-related nonsense on the internet.

The first day of December, a day I've been looking forward to since this plan was put into motion. Opening the beer cupboard in my flat to reveal a myriad of lovely bottles, I lunged forward to procure a Meantime London Pale Ale. I've managed to try a few Meantime beers in the last year, both on keg and bottle, and have found all of them to be lacking in something. Maybe it's my bias towards the full-retard, amplified beers of the US and the rest of Europe, but they seem to be a brewery with a lot of potential but a diminished execution. For example, their IPA was lacking the fruity, citrusy taste and bitter finish that I've grown to love from that style, and their London Lager doesn't have a crisp, thirst-quenching finish like, say, Windsor and Eton Republika. Not to say they don't create some great beers though- London Stout is a fantastically sessionable, light stout, and Wheat can go toe to toe with some great hefeweizens. So I approached this beer with some trepidation but a great deal of anticipation that this might be a different experience.

London Pale Ale pours a golden colour with a small head that quickly dissipates. The aroma is lovely- light citrus, hoppy and with a malty background. Very subtle and reserved, but then that's what makes these beers a refreshing change from the hop bombs and imperials. The taste is very light- the bitterness hits first but quickly falls back to reveal a creamy, malty finish. No real sense of the aroma hops in the taste. Overall a pleasant experience, but unfortunately it hasn't done much to change my stance on Meantime Brewery at the moment. Not that it will impede my search to find a fantastic beer from them!

Thanks for reading the first day of this yuletide beerfest. Tomorrow, another beer and another discussion. Until next time....

Friday, 1 July 2011


Afternoon all. This is going to be a blog about my main interests in life, namely music and beer. There will be a mix of reviews, rants and general recommendations on those and a myriad of other concepts. Hope you enjoy the stupidity that will ensue.