So my laptop broke. I haven’t been able therefore (probably to many of yours relief) to write my usually regular, informative and downright scintillating blog.
Because of this I have a bit of a backlog so this post is more like tasting notes than my journalistic, adventure laden ones.
Lets start with the 2 I picked up from Cork Airport. O’Hara’s Irish Red and O’Hara’s Irish Stout are both nice beers from the Carlow Brewing Company. Red Ales are getting harder and harder to find and this is a nice example of how good it can be if done right. Sweet but not tart, it’s well worth a tipple. Their stout must have been a risk to launch, in a country known for the black stuff. It paid off and hold’s it’s own against the big boys with a chocolate smelling coffee tasting session beer.
RCH Breweries East Street Cream is a pleasant beer from Cider country. Not much too it really just very English. Nice and fruity throughout this was agreeable but forgettable.
Okocim Mocne is a popular Polish beer, pretty readily available in the corner shops around Westcliff (I found this one in the CostCutters opposite The Plough).I was certain whilst it was in my fridge that it was a stout. Just from the obvious black overtones on the can.
Obviously once I opened it I was to see it was light and golden. Quite strong at 7% and certainly strong compared to what we usually find in our corner shops (The word Mocne actually means strong) this does taste like it’s on the same road as Tennant’s Super.
Guinness Foreign Extra is, somewhat surprisingly, the Irish brewer’s biggest seller worldwide. This beer is stronger than the domestic at 7.5% and it certainly tastes it. Sharing a mouthfeel of what you would except from a Russian rather than Irish stout it’s not unpleasant but it isn’t as rewarding as the various Porter’s that are making a comeback at the moment.
I managed to get Hogs Back OTT from the brewery themselves as I past through on the way to the End Of The Road Festival. An excellent little brewery that has a nice selection of beers from round the world and from here (I also got the East Street Cream from them). Most importantly they make great beer. TEA is probably their more recognisable and accessible beer but OTT (which stands for Old Tongham Tasty) is definitely worth a visit as is their brewery. Darker in colour than I expected this Old Ale style beer is texturous and tasty like they suggest.
Chelmsford has gone through quite the transformation. Apart from the beer festival I went to earlier in the year, I hadn’t been to the city centre for about 20 years and a lot has changed. I really like it now, it has retained a lot of it’s history but has a whole new bit built (think it was called Bond Street) which feels very modern. Something about the place, feels exciting. In the new part was a big Walkabout restaurant. There we had poor food but I managed to get hold of James Boag’s Premium Lager as shown in the featured image. A nice enough lager it manages to be crisp yet smooth. Which is a difficult trick to pull off.
Up near the station in Chelmsford there is http://www.the-ale-house-chelmsford.co.uk/
It’s got a nice selection of beers, be careful if you are using the Perfect Pint App as I strolled up there hoping to find a Sharps Cornish Pilsner but unfortunately they didn’t have it so I’m not sure how often these things are updated. Luckily they did have a beer I was after…
Magic Rock’s Cannonball was an exciting beer to drink. Orange in colour and zesty in taste it is very drinkable for a 7.4%. It had everything about that screams craft beer revolution. Snazzy can, full hop aroma screaming American IPA. Very good, very fresh.
A few days later I went up to London with Michelle and Heather to meet my good friend Dan. We decided to meet at The Craft Beer Company at St. Mary’s Axe.
It was a good pub with an excellent downstairs area, but even though they had quite a few draught taps I thought their bottle menu could have been improved. There was 2 beers on draught I needed from my list though, and I do love finding a list one on draught, so rare.
The first was Marble Chocolate Marble from Manchester. I actually found this one a little thin. Though it has chocolate in it’s name I was picking up more of a biscuity taste. It certainly wasn’t bad I just think there is so many good chocolate stouts and porters out there, which was unheard of when I was growing up, that this was a little light to be memorable for me.
The second was Rothaus Hefe Weizen. Now this is a nice beer, and I’m not the biggest fan of whites. It had a malted fruit aroma but the taste was explosive. Mango, peach, opal fruits it was very nice. It was described by my merry bunch of travellers as well rounded but not quite circular. Whatever that means.
Went into The Elms in Leigh On Sea for a quick one before meeting Arthur. Luckily they had Anchor Porter.
A very smooth lovely beer. This is one of Michelle’s favourite porters. It’s a shame really that American’s are doing a quintessentially English style better than we are, or maybe that’s just backwards thinking. Alongside the Brooklyn offerings though I really believe they have stole a march on us, especially after the tasting of the Chocolate Marble only a few days before.
After a trip to The Alex we got back and decided to try a few bottles I had purchased earlier on my journey.
We started with Yorkshire Stingo by Samuel Smith. This is a strong ale that is aged in oak ale casks and matured for over a year. Surprisingly it was first brewed in 2008, it’s label, name and taste suggest older. We found it fruity but still with the toffee overtones we expected. A pleasant raisin taste.
We moved onto Strong Suffolk Dark Ale by Greene King. In the book this is Strong Suffolk Vintage Ale but I’m pretty sure it has just had a rebranding. In fact I’m extremely sure as I purchased this whilst on the Greene King tour of Bury St Edmunds and confirmed it on my visit. At their brewery they have a gigantic tun where they hold their 5X ale at around 12% which they add to Pale Ale to create this strong interesting ale. Dark coppor in colour, it hardly had any head. Not bursting with flavour it does hold however a sickly sweet quite syrupy taste.
Finally we had a beer from one of my favourite brewers. Saint Petersburg by Thornbridge doesn’t smell like a normal stout. It’s very black but thin with a grape flavour. It’s got a great starting flavour but is actually quite mild for it’s 7.4%. Another great offering from Thornbridge that never fail to please.
A week or so later Michelle and I had another little crawl through some previously purchased bottles from around the world.
Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock is a rare German beer at a knee knocking 12%. It is strong as it frozen, removing some of the water and leaving a stronger liquid behind, in strength and taste. It has a caramel smell and loads of flavour. It’s treacly and port like. Lots of raisin and alcoholic sweetness.
Thornbridge Bracia tastes like the reason I started and became so obsessed with this list in the first place. It’s such a shame it features in a blog as long as this where few will get to read about it as really it deserves a post all to itself. It’s beautiful to look at from a well presented bottle to a lovely thick pour. It feels thick to drink too, it has the bitterness of dark chocolate but a mouthfeel inbetween an ale and a stout. It’s so rich it feels up your mouth, coats it almost, maybe this is due to the unusual ingredient of honey being used in the fermentation. God I love Thornbridge and I feel privileged to have visited their brewery.
Next up we tried the impressively labelled Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout. We liked the label so much in fact that I emailed the brewery to see if it was available as a poster. Alas to no avail. I could probably do it myself on the old interwebs but I can’t really be bothered. Similar to their Yorkshire Stingo, Samuel Smith’s have gone for an olde timey look and feel. It’s a good beer that supposedly has influenced the Americans. Especially Brooklyn Brewery who name check it in my book. It’s frothy in the mouth but quite subtle for a stout. We took the label’s advice and enjoyed it with a cigar which did seem to work.
Woodforde’s Headcracker was another beer I purchased whilst on a tour of the breweries. Woodforde’s brewery is in the Norfolk broads and I would definitely recommend a visit. This was the only beer I needed to pick up from them though, having tried their Wherry (the other on the list) many times. It’s a barleywine and it’s very nice too. It has a big head and it’s frothy to the end, always bubbly and never clear. It is smooth, fruity, mellow and refreshing. An excellent tipple full of summer vibes.
And finally….. Hitachino Nest Beer White Ale is a Japanese number I picked up from the very same Hogs Head Brewery shop I mentioned earlier in the blog. This is a very popular beer in both Japan and the U.S. It is fruity, fragrant and a little weird. It has a white colour that is a little off compared to most white beers. It tastes a bit like orange juice and soda so I wasn’t surprised to find some OJ is added to it. It’s not unpleasant and quite refreshing but it’s only suppable.
So there we have it. 19 beers, 1704 words. If you’ve made it this far you deserve a medal. In fact, if you have, drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will buy you a beer somehow (terms and conditions definitely apply I know how this internet works, I’ll have 10,000 emails in my inbox tomorrow). Anyway ta ta.