Beers No.193 Brodie’s Prime, No.194 Saison Rue, No.195 Red MacGregor, No.196 Dark Island, No.197 La Meule, No.198 Uerige Alt and No.199 Modus Operandi.

Beers No.193 Brodie’s Prime, No.194 Saison Rue, No.195 Red MacGregor, No.196 Dark Island, No.197 La Meule, No.198 Uerige Alt and No.199 Modus Operandi.

Edinburgh is an excellent place to visit, its great if your on a beer hunt like me, but just in general it seemed to have nearly everything you could require from a city break. A great mixture of centuries old heritage and modern, up to the minute, bars and locations. More on Edinburgh later as I was successful in tracking some beers down but first a little up date on where I work.

I am very lucky to work in an industry that is a passion of mine as I have mentioned before. It has allowed me to meet bonafide rock stars like Band of Horses,IMG-20170223-WA0023

meet bonafide Beer Stars like Tiny Rebel Brewing Co,

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and try some of the beers I’m after on draught which is obviously getting rarer and rarer.

One example of this is No.193 Hawkshead Brewery’s Brodie’s Prime.

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This beer from the Lake District is surprisingly new, only being created in 2004. Named after the brewery’s founder Alex Brodie, this dark premium beer has all the classic traits of winter ale, being a little thin for stout, but also can boast the fruity herby flavours Cascade hops can bring to it.

I also get to try rarer beers in bottle too, like No.194 Saison Rue by The Bruery.

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Strangely enough this is another beer named after the brewery’s founder. This time it’s Patrick Rue, who is the creator of The Bruery. Saison Rue is an unfiltered, bottle conditioned take on a Belgian beer complete with Brettanomyces yeast.  It’s got a nice bright orange colour and flavour with a lingering Champagne dry finish. It was very good, maybe the best saison I have ever had, but then again it wasn’t very saisony, more like Brett Pale.

Then on to..

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As I mentioned earlier Edinburgh was a great place, I was warned by the locals on more than one occasion not to bother coming up for the Comedy Festival, as its simply too busy, overpriced and if you want to watch comedy in Edinburgh there is plenty of options available to you all year round regardless.

My wife and friend went up off season (is there is a season) and it was really well priced, I think the flight cost 40 quid return from Stansted and our apartment which was simply fantastic was less than 100 for the night. I’d highly recommend where we stayed actually. It was in a great location, spotlessly clean and very spacious. It was a little noisy at night due to its location, but with so many beers available you’ll be conked pretty quickly after your head hits the pillow anyway. We stayed at St.Giles Apartments, Google it, it’s great. Actually I’ll try and put a link up, hold on…

https://www.stgilesapartments.co.uk/

There we go, don’t know if it’ll link anywhere but you can’t say I didn’t try.

Being the geek I am I had already done some research and planned a little pub crawl which I knew had some of my beers. Its geeky but I really enjoy doing it this way as you get to go to some out of the way little places you had no way of knowing existed before, an sometimes these can even open up whole areas of the town which you wouldn’t know were there, which is what we found in Edinburgh.

After to a trip to Tiles Bar which reaped no reward for me we traversed to The Royal MacGregor where I found 2 beers both by The Orkney Brewery. It was also the scene of my favourite photo from our trip…IMG-20170314-WA0034

It may not look like much we like it, Michelle was talking to a tramp, and we’re disgusted by this fact as we’re so middle class.

The place itself was small and friendly, and my first beer, No.194 Red Macgregor, was excellent.

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It had a classic bitter taste, red in colour just like its name suggests, it had a lovely creamy head, all three of us enjoyed it. Interestingly after the previous 2 beers in this blog, this beer may not be named directly after the names of the brewery’s creator but it is indirectly so. The beer takes it’s name from the MacGregor clan of Scotland who the original owner of Orkneys Brewery claims he is a descendant.  Either way it’s an excellent beer and probably my favourite of the trip, which as good as it’s Scottish.

The second Orkney offering was No.195 Dark Island

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A dark beer that poured with no head. Michelle thought it was like a pint of fizzy liqourice whilst Heather was surprised how nice it was calling it like a lager with a smoky bacon finish. It was thin for how dark it was and not creamy at all. So much so Michelle invented the word uncreamy for this very beer.

After a stroll about the old town we found our 3rd and most profitable in my eyes bar. The SaltHorse. With a smorgasbord of different beers it didnt take long to find some beers I liked (well wanted to try at least). 3 in fact!

First off was No.196 La Meule by Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes and my first from Switzerland.

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Made with sage leaves this is an interesting beer. Michelle thought it was like a honey cream whilst Heather thought it was really sweet and tantalised the tastebuds. It was very pleasant with a nice wheaty flavour.

Next up was No.198 Uerige Altbier

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I need to mention the bottle first. My photo does it no justice, it was really cool with some nice artwork very similar to the Fallout game series. Now this beer is a lot older than the rest, dating back to 1862 and it’s one of the most famous in Dusseldorf. It is supposedly a secret recipe having not changed in that time. It’s very dry with quite a food smell due to it’s maltiness. It was quite creamy with dark undertones. Heather described it as almost like wine whilst Michelle described it as almost like sawdust. I’m starting to doubt my travel companions credentials as professional critics.

Our final beer of the journey was the hallowed Wild Beer Co. No.199 Modus Operandi.

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Brettanomyces are not these girls game. This revered beer was described them as nail varnish remover in smell and taste, proper horrid, completely disgusting without one ounce of goodness. Pretty harsh reviews showing how dividing the Belgian style can still be. It does have a lot of balsamic vinegar coming through mixed in with cherries. At first I didn’t like it either but I think that may have been just through making the jump from a different, easier style because by the end of the glass I didn’t want it to finish!

So that’s that then. Edinburgh ticked off. I highly recommend it. One thing though, make sure you leave plenty of time to get to the toilet as we found in nearly every bar the toilets are miles away and usually involve stairs!

Ta Ta

 

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Beers No.185 Deus, No.186 Windsor & Eton 1075 Conqueror, No.187 Arrogant Bastard Ale, No.188 Stone Ruination IPA, No.189 Espresso, No.190 Southville Hop, No.191 Schneider Weisse and No.192 Timmermans Framboise Lambic.

Beers No.185 Deus, No.186 Windsor & Eton 1075 Conqueror, No.187 Arrogant Bastard Ale, No.188 Stone Ruination IPA, No.189 Espresso, No.190 Southville Hop, No.191 Schneider Weisse and No.192 Timmermans Framboise Lambic.

 

Hello everyone and welcome to this action packed blog of fun, action, laughter and beers. Well one out of the four anyway. I visited my friend Jack up in London. We met at Lowlander Grand Cafe which is a cool little Belgian/Dutch joint on Drury Lane. We had a nice mixed platter…wp-1487339782194.jpg Followed by, more importantly a great bottle of beer.

Brouwerij Bosteels Deus is a crazy complicated beer and certainly made with love. After normal fermentation it is refermented with Champagne yeasts in Epernay. Epernay is in the Champagne Region of France so it’s certainly authentic. Thats not even the end of it, the beer is then kept at a steady temperature for nine months then tilted and rotated for a week for yeast removal. It really is a crafted beer in the truest sense of the word. It’s served in a champagne bottle with flutes and comes in at 11.5% but doesn’t taste it. It’s light and quite wheaty even though not made with it. It’s really good and definitely worth your effort.wp-1487339754934.jpg

I persuaded Jack to move on to The Maple Leaf near Covent Garden to try some Canadian Beers. Complete waste of time. It was just an English Sports pub really. Fosters and Amstels on tap, football on the telly (Premiership). They had one tap called Maple Leaf lager, but I found its Canadian authenticity spurious.

On the stroll home we decided to pop into the local Wetherspoons, Penderel’s Oak. Lo and behold there was only a beer on my list.wp-1487339853188.jpg

Windsor & Eton’s Conqueror 1075, a stronger hoppier version of their Conqueror named after the year William the Conqueror built the original Windsor Castle. It was surprisingly sweet, on the side of being sickly, with a little bit of smoke in there.

Good to see Wetherspoons keeping up their diversity. They have a lot of knockers for a lot of valid reasons I’m not going to go into now, but you can certainly pick up some interesting beers there from time to time.

This months ever excellent box from Beer52 was centred around one of my favourite’s, Stone Brewery. It included a couple of beers including Arrogant Bastard Ale, I couldn’t wait to try.

One of the many reasons I don’t like Brewdog is what is written on their Punk IPA bottles, though I’m not sure it still includes it. On their 2007 released bottles it read:

This is not a lowest common denominator beer…This is an aggressive beer…We don’t care if you don’t like it…It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sopistication to appreciate the depth, character and quality of this premium craft brewed beer.wp-1487344188862.jpg

Now compare that to what Stone have been writing on their 1996 Arrogant Bastard Ale.

This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory – maybe something with a multimillion-dollar ad campaignwp-1487339998854.jpg

I’m sure they’ll say thput it on as being a homage, but I just don’t like the fact a company who are so rebelliously original have to practically cut and paste another beer’s blurb.

Arrogant Bastard Ale is the best selling large bottle craft beer in the US. This beer alongside their IPA has launched Stone Brewing into the stratosphere allowing them to even open another brewery in Berlin. Not bad for a beer that was supposedly created by accident.

I thought it was a great bitter drink. The girls who I drank it with wasn’t sure though with their reviews being:-

Michelle: Lingering bitterness at the back of your throat. On impact its not that bad, it’s not horrendous, it is very hoppy but that bitterness takes away the goodness.

Heather: YEURRCHK no goodness, tastes horrible, tastes like tut tut tut Eurgh proper lingering Eurgh

So maybe Stone are right when they write on their can “You probably won’t like it”.wp-1487340020415.jpg

Stone Ruination IPA was the second Stone I had from Beer52. This was another great strong beer. I really am becoming a big fan of Stone and look forward to going to visit them in Berlin in the summer. It’s very hoppy and very bright. Everything you want wish from an American take on an IPA and more.

The next day Michelle and I took a lovely trip down to Brighton.

We were really lucky with the weather and had a great day. After a spot of lunch at Café Rouge, where Michelle particularly liked the French Onion Soup, we strolled up to The Craft Beer Co. Brighton. It was good to see one of our sister pubs and it had a nice atmosphere. Unfortunately it had no beers I needed so after a couple of stouts we pushed on.

We arrived at The Evening Star, which happens to be the birthplace of Darkstar Brewing.wp-1487340089876.jpg

I went there expecting to pick up one or two Darkstar beers but as luck would have it they had an excellent selection and I found 4 I needed.

The first Espresso was the only Darkstar beer I had from where it all started. It’s made with real coffee supplied by a Coffee House in Brighton and you can certainly taste it. In fact Michelle remarked it tasted more like cold coffee than cold coffee does. It was dark, bitter and very good.

Southville Hop by the Bristol Beer Factory was next and this 2012 SIBA Gold medal winner didn’t disappoint. It’s golden thick and very hoppy. The English name of both brewer and beer doesn’t give away the massive tropical hit this beer delivers.

Cross the North Sea into Germany next with Schneider Weisse. First brewed in 1872 this beer certainly has the heritage it will take the previous two over 100 years to attain. This beer is a classic Weissbier, it is orange in colour with banana on the palate. A great example of this refreshing style of beer.

Finally Timmermans Framboise Lambic. These brewers have been around making Lambic in the Senne Valley since 1781. It is matured for six months before raspberries are added to start a secondary fermentation before being left for a further six to months. It really delivers what it promises. Loads of raspberries. It’s red in colour and though being compared favourably to pink champagne it also closely resembles a cider you’d pick up whilst sitting down the Peterboat on a sunny day.

So that’s it. Just time to tell you we stopped off on the way back at The Darkstar Brewery where I bought some socks as I’m a nerd

Thanks for reading, as I always say it’s doubtful anyone has made it this far but if you have I am grateful. Give us a like to let me know you’re there. Thanks, see you next month!

 

 

Beers No.177 Dirty Stopout, No.178 Gonzo Imperial Porter, No.179 Cantillon Iris, No.180 Combined Harvest, No. 181 Dorothy Goodbody’s Wholesome Stout, No.182 Evil Twin Hipster Ale, No. 183 Rising Sun Pale Ale and No.184 Echigo Stout.

Beers No.177 Dirty Stopout, No.178 Gonzo Imperial Porter, No.179 Cantillon Iris, No.180 Combined Harvest, No. 181 Dorothy Goodbody’s Wholesome Stout, No.182 Evil Twin Hipster Ale, No. 183 Rising Sun Pale Ale and No.184 Echigo Stout.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone. Bloody hell doesn’t that seem like an age ago already. I can’t believe New Years eve was less than three weeks ago, I think it just starts so early nowadays that by the time it comes around it seems like it’s already over if you know what I mean.

Anyway blah, blah, blah. Its been yonks since I last wrote a blog and so much has happened. I started my new job at The Craft Beer Co. and I’m glad to say I love it. It’s a great little pub in Limehouse with a really cool, friendly clientele and obviously an unbelievably good selection of beers. I would recommend anyone coming to pay a visit and I’m not just saying that to see me! It’s directly opposite the train station and has just got a really nice vibe, and of course impeccable service.

There’s certainly better pictures of it out there but you get the idea.

For our training we went to a couple of breweries. We went to the Kernel brewery in Bermondsey who make the Export Stout I reviewed (if you can call it that) in a previous blog. It was quite a big affair with everyone who worked there being beautiful girls or wooly hatted bearded hipsters looked over by a Glastonburyesque tied died public school bloke. You know the sort. It was all very hip but something about it seemed a bit self aware.

But then we went to something that really oozed effortless cool. The Partizan Brewery just down the road was as sexy as hell. It was just one lot under the railway arches, a bit like Kernel but much much smaller. They made their own beer in this one little room and had even constructed a little bar with 6 taps to sample their wares. The brewer was very welcoming and super natty. I loved it there.

The brewer is the blonde haired bloke on the side not the doofus in the cap whom I work with.

It was a great introduction to such a small, exciting and vibrant scene. We had a preview night and many of the brewers including those from Partizan and Kernel came down. The owner of Beavertown came down too who just so happens to be Robert Plant’s son!fb_img_1484856824385.jpg

The first couple of beers on my list were no way connected to work though, I picked them up from Marks and Sparkles when I was doing my Christmas shopping in Bluewater.20161130_222419.jpg

Dirty Stopout is a rarely made stout by those in demand Welsh boys Tiny Rebel. It has 9 different malts with some dry hopping making this complex beer and it’s worth it. It’s a lovely drop. Tiny Rebel are really doing some great stuff at the moment. Someone said to me that Brewers are judged on consistency and from what I have tasted from these chaps they consistently knock the ball out the park. Cwtch is obviously a great beer but try Clwb Tropicana too. It’s a taste explosion and available on draught from your local Craft Beer Co. outlet. 😉

The last beer I picked up from M&S was Gonzo Imperial Porter.

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This Hunter S. Thompson inspired beer won a gold medal in the 2008 World Beer Cup. It’s a very nice sippable beer with a marmitey, soy sauce smell. It’s dark and warming and tastes stronger than it’s 7.2% ABV.

After I went on my brewery tour with work we visited a few of our sister pubs. In the covent garden bar I found a bottle of Cantillon Iris.20161202_173551.jpg

We were joined by Tom Cadden, who is the Operations Manager at The Craft Beer Co. He is the one on the far left, not the doofus in the cap whom I work with.

Tom has got very good pedigree. He was Brewdogs first ever customer and has invoice 001 from them for some Punk IPA he got for his pub. He is now paid vast amounts for his beer tasting skills and is in high demand from all the brewers. I thought it was a perfect time for me to ask him for his tasting notes on the Cantillon Iris and they were obviously far superior to anything I was going to think of! He first informed me straight from his fountain of knowledge that it is the only Lambic that is made without wheat and is dry hopped so it isn’t actually a Lambic at all.

He remarked the smell was of lemon, grapes and horse blanket(!) Whilst the taste was reminiscent of walking through a Romanian field then face planting into a citrus fruit bowl.

A whole other level from my “nice but a bit marmitey” reviews but hey ho. He said a lot more and I feel I’m not doing him justice but I was a bit merry by then and didn’t write everything down.

More locally I went to The Broker to watch the football. When it finished I popped over to Costcutter to pick up a couple of takeaways and lo and behold there were a couple beers I needed.

Combined Harvest is a lovely Amber from Batemans Brewery. It is a gold medal winner from the International Beer Awards and unlike any other beer I have tasted. It has a great nose, and it’s use of oats, rye, wheat and barley (hence it’s name) gives a lively bouncey mouthfeel with bubblegum coming to the fore.

Dorothy Goodbody’s Wholesome Stout made by former Guiness brewer Peter Amos’ Wye Valley Brewery is a nice, dark and, though it sounds funny to say, very stouty. God I am a million miles away from Tom’s tasting notes aren’t I?! Very stouty, ha ha, don’t quit the day job. It’s a great beer though and did pick up the 2002 Champion Winter Beer of Britain Award.

To make the run up to Christmas a little more bearable I bought myself an Advent Calendar from Beerhawkfb_img_1484860517515.jpg

It was pretty good and had some interesting Belgian, Brewdog and American beers. It was a nice variety of cans and bottles and came with a lovely glass. It only had one beer I needed at this stage of my journey (plenty if I had just started). That was Evil Twin Hipster Ale.20161211_020639.jpg

Evil Twin are a funny old lot, the make some really interesting beers, their forte seeming to be the super strong dark stuff like Yin and Even More Jesus. The brewery was created in Denmark by the brother of the even more famous Mikkeller. But now after moving to the states I have a feeling Evil Twin may be suppassing his brother in terms of recognition and and certainly excitement. Thats what Evil Twin seems to thrive on, excitement. Quirky names like “Christmas Eve at a New York City Hotel Room” for their Imperial Stout has definitely created  a buzz. Hipster Ale isn’t quite as out there but it’s still bursting with flavour and a bloody good drink. If you see any Evil Twin out there have a taste, you don’t know what you’re gonna get but it’s always impressive, if from a technical aspect alone.

Finally, my old mate Ad Rads who I miss dearly paid a visit from his new home Japan over Christmas. I had spoke to him a few times before he came back and he really enjoyed hunting a few beers down for me. He said it reminded him of his record buying days which was a really nice way to put it as I feel the same. He very graciously brought me back 3 beers to try. One was a Hitachino Nest Dai Dai Ale which even though it wasn’t on my list was actually my favourite of the three. It was very refreshing and pleasant, no doubt lovely on a hot day, unfortunately I was drinking it January but it was still great.

The other two were on my list.

Rising Sun Pale Ale is made by an American who created Baird Beer in a small fishing town called Numazu. It certainly tastes American and that is, of course, because of the use of West Coast hops. For me it tasted like marijuana and nettles. I wasn’t that keen on it (sorry Ads) and with so much competition with these beers it didn’t have any distinguishing features.

Echigo Stout is made by Japan’s first microbrewery. It stems from a brewpub that I would love to go to visit. The beer itself has an OXO personality with a little copper thrown in. It has a licourice bitter sweet taste that goes quickly.

All in all some interesting beers from Japan but ironically by far the best one was the one that was included on my list.

OK thats all for now. Thanks for reading anyone who’s made it this far. Give us a like and all that just so I know you are there!!

Cheers My Dears

 

Beers No.174 Dead Guy Ale, No.175 Stone IPA and No.176 Old Hooky.

Beers No.174 Dead Guy Ale, No.175 Stone IPA and No.176 Old Hooky.

So I’ll start this blog with some good news. The book 1001 beers to drink before you die has already taken me on some adventures. I’ve visited towns in England I didn’t know existed, have made a pilgrimage to Belgium, found little unknown bars in Malaga and Cork and just generally had my eyes opened to brewing and even made my own. Now though it’s influence has gone one step further.

If you were lucky enough to read my previous blogs you may recall I travelled all the way to London to visit a Craft Beer Company pub in St Mary’s Axe. Well they are now employers! It’s a very exciting prospect for me, I was interviewed by Martin Hayes who I was actually reading about in a book called Brew Britannia at the time! Here is a little extract about their first pub….

The Craft Beer Co. Clerkenwell was hailed a beer lover’s paradise with 16 cask lines and 21 keg taps, as well more than 200 bottles. In fact, before the year had ended, the pub had been crowned Best Bar in the UK on RateBeer.

So all in all I am chuffed, to work for a small company that have the best bar in the UK is such an honour. The Craft Beer Company Limehouse opens on Wednesday 7th December, come on down for that bottle of Alesmiths Speedway Stout I know you are after.

Anyway to the beers.

I have signed up with Beers 52. It’s pretty cool. For 29 quid a month you get a box of 10 or so beers, a magazine and a little snack (this month was hot pitta bites from a little place in London somewhere). The beers are always interesting. Michelle had the best milk stout she has ever had (Mochachocolata Ya Ya! by the Electric Bear Company ) and she’s becoming quite the expert, so that’s no mean feat!

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Included in this month’s box was Dead Guy Ale by Rogue Ales. This beer from Oregon is perfect for Halloween supping as it comes in a glow in the dark bottle (I’ve heard, I didn’t try mine). It’s got quite a weird taste with some quite toffee flavours coming through. It’s another one of those beers that’s makes my mouth water for some unexplainable reason. Lots of malt coming through too. An enjoyable tipple but quite difficult to describe, try one if you see it!

The next couple of beers I picked up in Marks and Spencer’s in Bluewater. Their Craft Beer and Real Ale selection is pretty darn impressive. They have beers produced exclusively for them from the likes of Meantime, Adnams and Robinsons. Michelle picked up a Spiced Porter made by the aforementioned Meantime and I saw they had Champion Beer of Britain Cwtch by Tiny Rebel in there too. They also had…20161129_192214.jpg

This beer seems to be a bit of a classic, a stalwart and a trend setter even though it has only been around since 1997. Stone IPA doesn’t contain any Cascade but it does contain plenty of bold flavours. It’s really bitter and quite woody, it has a strong flavour with a little bit of peach. I could knock this back all day long.

Finally after my little liquid sojourn to the states I end with an English classic.20161129_215055.jpg

The label says handcrafted on it. These old classic ale breweries are really the original craft breweries but there seems to be a divide. Craft beer is an umbrella term in my eyes, and I think the real ale brigade is desperate to be included after they have seen the rejuvenation from the young start up businesses like Brewdog et al. Hook Norton’s Old Hooky won the silver medal medal in 2015’s International Brewing awards, which is bloody impressive for beer that’s been in production since 1849, fending off the competition from those young businesses.

I think when I drank it I served it too cold as it was put in the fridge when |I put away the shopping. I think the temperature consumed a lot from it as there was no aftertaste and hardly any smell. There was one big burst of flavour which vanished very quickly. I could pick up cherry and this copper beer was an enjoyable sup.

So there we go. Only 3 beers this time. Hopefully there will be a lot more doors opening with my new job. I would recommend anyone who has a passion to chase it, or a hobby to throw yourself at it. It’s not too late to decide what you want to do, and if you’re not doing it, change it. Only 3 years ago I had been working at HMV for 5 years with no real plan. So much has happened to me in those 3 years because I decided to chase a dream of having my own pub it’s unreal. And Christ if I can do it you sure can.