Southend & Crewe for Beers No.249 Fraoch Heather Ale, No.250 Erdinger Pinkatus, No.251 Chouffe N’ice, No.252 Kriek De Ranke, No.253 Manns Brown Ale and No.254 Our Special Ale. 

Southend & Crewe for Beers No.249 Fraoch Heather Ale, No.250 Erdinger Pinkatus, No.251 Chouffe N’ice, No.252 Kriek De Ranke, No.253 Manns Brown Ale and No.254 Our Special Ale. 

Crewe has a population of around 80,000, Southend on sea 180,000 more than twice as many. Crewe has a brewery and tap room, a place that specialises in Belgian beer, a bottle shop with over 3000 different beers and a variety of craft beer bars including a new one that has just opened in December.

But Crewe isnt an anomaly. Colchester has many craft beer places and Queen St Brewhouse with one of the finest selections of Belgian beers I have ever seen. Chelmsford has the Alehouse, the newly opened Moulsham tap, the hop beer shop, and a population 60,000 less than Southend on Sea.

I in no way want to be negative to the businesses we do have in Southend but it certainly seems slow to embrace the revolution. There is Mawsons, a micropub in Southchurch and the first one of the new wave really. I had a few off my list here so it has been mentioned before.cof

There is The West Road Tap. Which is more craft than Mawsons which are more Real Ale and Belgian. West Road is a small renovated toilets, there is usually 4 keg and 4 cask options available, which are always varied and often exciting.22002303

Then there is the Crafty Half, which is the towns bottle shop. They sell a nice selection of beers including one from my list I had never tried before called Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Brothers in Scotland.cof

Though this beer does contain some First Gold Hops which wouldn’t have been available at the time, they are only used for preservation. The taste is pure 2000BC. This beer, based on how beer was made that far ago, has the traditional flavourings of bog myrtle,  ginger and of course lots of heather.mde

It’s not as challenging as you may think and is really rather enjoyable. Floral notes with a pepper flavour, it’s quite sweet  but with a dry finish.

But that’s it for Southend really, there’s the occasional good one in the Alex and it’s a good pub but it’s not a beer destination by any means.

Hopefully I can add something to the beer scene with the opening of my bar in the not too distant future, and sometimes scenes can emerge with a single spark. So fingers crossed. We’ll soon find out.

Crewe is geographically between Manchester and Liverpool, but in terms of size and feel I think it’s between Rayleigh and Southend. It’s bigger than Rayleigh for sure but it’s not sprawling like Southend, more confined to a town centre like the former. As we were visiting Michelle’s parents we decided to go on a little pub crawl with Charlie and Karen.

We only went to a couple of places but both had great choices for such a small town. The first is called The Borough Arms. Not much to look at from the outside but an Erdinger pub sign hanging outside was a welcome sight. 9 real ale taps and plenty of kegs with lots of bottles too. I spotted one I needed too, and it was an Erdinger! Maybe the sign outside was a sign if you know what I mean.2008428

Erdinger Weissbrau is a large family owned brewery just north of Munich. They sell more wheat than any other German producer and they date back to 1886. Erdinger Pinkatus is a departure for them though. Its a 7.3% weizenbock that was first brewed in 1968 when Werner Brombach was revitalising the brewery after realising Bavarian wheat beers were not in demand as much and fearing the trend would continue. mde

The beer itself is a lovely full bodied beer with a dark red colour and is lovely and smooth.

After finishing up we made our way round to a bar called Hops. Hops is a Belgian Style Cafe Bar just off Crewe high street. Its got a great range of continental bottles and kegs and also some lovely cask ale from across England that has earned it numerous awards from CAMRA amongst others.getlstd-property-photo

I started with a bottle of Chouffe N’Ice and at 10% ABV its certainly a strong start. The Achouffe brewery from the little Belgian village of Achouffe is very recognisable due to its “chouffes” which means gnomes. The N’Ice beer is a seasonal winter beer from 1998 which has survived to become a regular. It’s a similar colour to the Pinkatus and has a lot going on for it in terms of both aroma and flavour. There is fruits, nuts, herbs, sugar, honey all coming through. A very enjoyable drink, especially in the winter as it’s a real warmer.mde

I followed that up with a bottle of Kriek De Ranke, more for a challenge to my fellow drinkers than anything else really and it didn’t disappoint! dav

Kriek which means “cherry” in Flemish is a cherry lambic. These beers are always difficult for people who have never tried them before though something like a Timmermans is still much more accessible than some gueuze. I always presumed they were old beers and of course traditionally they do go right back, but this example Kriek De Ranke, was first brewed in 2000. Its sharp, tart with lots of farmhouse notes. Its a good beer but expect to be drinking it alone if you are trying it with people who are used to the mainstream.

To bring it back to the old school my next beer was Mann’s Brown Ale which have been continuously brewed since 1902 and is now produced by Marston’s. This beer was first brewed in 1902 and at just 2.8% it’s certainly a lot lighter than most of the beers I had been drinking that night. Charlie told me it used to often be used as mixer with other beers such as mild. It was certainly not unpleasant but I felt it was lost amongst the other big hitters of the evening.dav

And finally they had a bottle of Anchor Brewery’s Our Special Ale from 2016. This is their winter warmer they have been releasing every year since 1975 which makes the one I tried the 42nd annual release. It changes its recipe very year but is always made with seasonal spices with a malty backbone. mde

Anchor Brewery who hail from San Francisco were originally founded in 1874 and seem to have quality running through them as a company. This beer was no different and I really admire its a different beer each year and they change the label ever so slight by featuring a different species of tree on the label.dav

So there we are, that was a small section of Crewe, and as I mentioned at the beginning really opening my eyes to what is possible in a small town with beer choices.

Southend is sadly lacking in the amount of variety but hopefully I can go someway to changing that. Watch this space….

 

 

Advertisements

Oslo for Beers No.242 Ke To Re Porter, No.243 Re Ale, No.244 Oskar Blues G’Knight, No.245 Ardenne Blonde, No.246 Dark Horizon and No.247 Norwegian Wood

Oslo for Beers No.242 Ke To Re Porter, No.243 Re Ale, No.244 Oskar Blues G’Knight, No.245 Ardenne Blonde, No.246 Dark Horizon and No.247 Norwegian Wood

We got an overnight ferry from Copenhagen through Kattegat and Skagerrak into the Norwegian fjords and on to Oslo. It was definitely a ferry not a cruise ship. The ballroom was full of inebriated Scandinavians clapping hands in a large circle to the Venga bus is coming.

Needless to say I was in my element.IMG-20180319-WA0009

After a surprisingly comfortable night in a cramped cabin it was a beautiful still morning to wake up gliding across the fjords.IMG-20180319-WA0012

We moored up at Oslo harbour and found our way to the hotel. After dumping our stuff we made our way to the beautiful Opera house.IMG-20180319-WA0007

It’s a splendid building with an interior full of Scandinavian designs.

sdr

Even more impressive you can walk up the roof to the top, I’ve never seen anything like it but it’s a fantastic way to see the views of the harbour and the city itself.IMG-20180319-WA0011

We were getting pretty peckish and it was a lovely day so we decided to get something to eat on one of the outdoor tables on the waterfront.

Oslo was looking pretty pricey, we had already noticed a wrapped plastic cheese sandwich sets you back 7 quid, but the place we found, Olivia’s, was a really pleasant looking Italian with a very reasonable lunch time meal offer.

To cap it all, after a lovely pizza, pasta combo I notice they had a couple of Italian beers from my list!

sdr

Ke To Re Porter has all the wonderful flavours of a stout but in a milder version.  A really nice daytime stout, this is actually brewed with a little tobacco for some sweet aroma. Though you wouldn’t know unless you were told to be honest.

sdr

Re Ale was the second beer I had there and the second beer from Italian Brewer Birra del Borgo. This was one of Leonardo Di Vincenzos first beers and it was the one that made him famous. It’s amber in colour, and light for a 6.4% ABV. It has a fleeting flavour of blood orange and just about pick up able bitter grapefruit.

sdr

After lunch we walked up to the Amundsen Bryggeri & Spiseri. It was really like an old English pub before everything was modernised and had one of the smallest breweries I have ever seen in what I can only describe as a glass cupboard at the end of the bar.

sdr

Amundsen, I presume named after the Norwegian geezer who was the first person to the South Pole, are very cool at the moment with their brightly designed cans backing up their exciting range of beers like Everyday Hero IPA which is a strong example of the style.

It’s pricey there though. Cor dear is it pricey. Michelle had a house brewed Porter. Not Imperial just standard and seeing as it was brewed in house so minus transportation and maybe packaging you would think it might be less in price than others, but you’d be wrong. It came in at a princely £6.60 a half, £13.20 a pint.

I saw an American beer on my list Oskar Blues G’Knight. It was a can, it’s not that hard to get hold but still set me back £15.60!Christ alive. We were starting to feel glad we were only here for one day!

cof

The beer itself is an Imperial Red IPA and it’s very red. Its kind of scented without being perfumey. Loads of caramel and hops, resiny yet still refreshing.

I hadn’t found a single Norwegian beer I was after yet so we decided to push on as I only needed 3 from here.

We made our way to Dr Jekyll’s pub and I really liked it. It was practically a theme pub as they went all out on the horror memorabilia. It had a super cool toilet which is hidden behind a bookcase like you see in the big film houses. Nicely laid out it felt like  a dangerous pub as in it seemed to be inviting people to get very drunk there. They had a great beer list too, a very helpful young lady behind the bar and some Norwegian beers I was looking for.IMG-20180319-WA0002

The first was Ardenne Blond. This is a saison that is unmistakably made with Brett yeast. It’s clearly very refreshing on a summers day but I found it a little tart.

mde

My second felt like the polar opposite. Dark Horizon is a thick very strong (16%) dessert beer. It’s double fermented with brown sugar and coffee. I thought it had loads of interesting flavours but the one that was most pronounced was frazzles the crisps with loads of bacon coming through from somewhere.

mde

The night was drawing in early as to be expected in Scandinavia, so we ventured forth into the darkness to find the last pub which I hoped would hold the last beer I needed.IMG-20180319-WA0008

We arrived at Handverker Stuene and our initial impression was that it was the most authentic bar we had been in all night. It was very busy but that may have been due to the theatre next door. It had a great layout, feeling like a traditional Scandinavian inn, though I’m not sure what that’s like, just a hunch. They had a great selection of Norwegian beers including my final beer I should try before I die from this country I was increasingly enjoying.

sdr

Norwegian Wood was our second beer from HaandBryggeriet which means hand brewery with Ardenne Blonde being the first. This, just like Ardenne,  is real craft beer. Sculpted using locally harvested juniper branches, German and English malts and American hops. This like many others I have tried on this journey are a million miles away from commercial continental lagers I grew up smashing my way through. I found it had a bitter sharpness with a smoky mouldy orange coming through. If the Dark Horizon reminded me of Frazzles this was definitely more in the Walkers Smokey Bacon camp.

cof

So there we have it, Oslo. Very clean, very friendly, very expensive. So much more to do than our little skim of the service, it felt relaxed, with a city confidence of a well maintained infrastructure.

Worth a visit, but again, bring your wallet. Bowl of chips? £16. Forget about it.

Prague for Beers No. 213 Stiegl Goldbrau, No. 214 Uneticke, No. 215 Bernard Dark, No.216 Primator Weizenbier, No.217 Old Gott, No.218 X Beer 33, No.218 Cerna Hora Granat and No.219 Bud Super Strong.

Prague for Beers No. 213 Stiegl Goldbrau, No. 214 Uneticke, No. 215 Bernard Dark, No.216 Primator Weizenbier, No.217 Old Gott, No.218 X Beer 33, No.218 Cerna Hora Granat and No.219 Bud Super Strong.

 

Hello everyone, it’s been an age, but I’m back for another rock rollicking adventure in my beer pursuit. Next stop was Prague, a bit of a beer Mecca for those who are on a stag.

The Czechs are famously the biggest per capita beer drinkers in the world, and there are so many beers I need to try from this country I knew this won’t be only visit.

We got there by train from Vienna, and on the way I had my last Austrian beer I picked up from a supermarket.sdr

No.213 Stiegl Goldbrau from Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg is probably not supposed to be drunk out of a plastic cup, but then as it’s Austria’s biggest selling beer I doubt I am the first. First introduced in 1912 the brewery had already been going for 420 years.  This Marzenbier was a lot lighter than the Marzens we and particularly the Germans think of. Michelle really like it, it had a bold flavour yet light as it is after all an amber lager.

We had booked our accommodation from Air B&B again and this time (like every time to be fair) we were on to a right winner. We had booked a houseboat just for something different, and the fact it was moored on the Danube made it special, and wow, it lived up to expectations.

It was a really cool place, moored on a small island a quick taxi trip from the centre. We couldn’t believe how well made and solid it was. I don’t know what we expected exactly, but we have never been on a houseboat before and to be honest once inside there was nothing to give away the fact it was a boat except the views out the window.

We loved it so much and felt at home instantly, so much so in fact we decided to stay in for the first night there and order what turned out to be two of the biggest pizzas we’d ever seen!20170419_232145

So Prague was off to a good start, and the following day we decided to have a walk around this beautiful city. There was plenty to see, from the modern history of the Beatles wall20170420_143949

To the historic Charles bridge which was constructed in 1357 with its numerous stone statues and even more numerous tourists and caricature artists.

It’s a nice historic city but a little too touristy for me, some the streets were literally jammed packed with walkers, like a London Underground station at 5pm. Luckily we were beer tourists and that often takes us off the beaten track. Our first stop had to be the famous beer museum. It was a nice place, but I was underwhelmed by the choice. I mean there was 30 or so to choose from, including 3 from my list but maybe I am little spoilt by England as I am used to this amount in many a craft beer bar or Bruges that blew me away with the amount of choice. Besides this was the bleeding Prague Beer Museum! I was expecting to never leave, but like nearly all this city it was just for the tourists and they did just enough to satisfy them.

So to the beers…

sdr

Beer No.214 Uneticke was our first of 3. And what a great start. The archetypal Pilsner, a perfect pale lager exactly what I was hoping for on my trip to Prague. They may have only been brewing since 2011 but Uneticky Pivovar clearly know what they are doing. Clean, crisp and light with Saaz hops lingering in the cheeks. Why cant the lagers we have in England taste this good, why have we settled for tasteless Fosters and even worse, Coronas? As the writer Pete Brown wrote, “this (lager) is flavourful beer brewed to be drunk in large quantities. If flavourful beer was somehow challenging or difficult to drink, the Czechs wouldn’t be the biggest beer drinkers in the world.”

Next up beer No.215 Bernard Dark.

One of the reasons the lagers we have in our pubs are bland, tasteless and, as the famous joke goes, like making love in a canoe, is pasteurisation. This can diminish the aroma and flavour of lager and this is why Stanislav Bernard leaves that part of the brewing process out. This beer is lagered for forty days for a rich, malty body. It’s lovely and thin but that’s mainly due to the fact your brain is expecting a thick porter due to it’s colour. The roasted malts come through a little at the end but disappear again quite quickly.

For our final beer in the Prague Beer Museum was No.216 Primator Weizenbier

cof

This wheat beer tastes of fruit salad, caused by esters left by the yeast. A lovely beer with lots of citrus and clove notes from the specialist in specialities brewery Pivovar Nachod.

After these we were off exploring again. We found an excellent market that was quintessential Europe.

I was wearing my “I met Lil Sebastian” T-shirt whilst having a browse around the market and by pure coincidence I met Lil Sebastian whilst wearing it.

20170420_153928

I was suffering from pretty bad toothache at this point so Michelle grabbed a table looking on to the square and I made my way to the poshest dentist I have ever been to.

sdr

I was a little worried I was seeing the orthodontic Hannibal Lecter. Luckily he told me it was a little gum disease, gave me some special toothpaste and sent me packing.

After all this excitement I needed a beer, so we decided to head to a brewery.

Mini-brewery U Medvidku is the smallest Czech restaurant brewery which also makes the Czech Republics strongest beer. It is situated at the back of a beer hall which was built in 1466.

Whereas stainless steel is abundant in nearly all breweries worldwide U Medvidku still uses wooden vessels.

Our first beer was their Amber Lager No.217 Old Gott.

cof

It’s a complex lager that’s their house favourite. It smelt like a brewery whatever that means. With an amber, dusty, creamy taste. I wasn’t that keen on it to be honest had a bit of a carboard taste, but it was certainly one of the freshest beers I’ve ever had, have a look at the taps it come from in the picture above.

Our second beer was at one point the strongest beer in the world, and at 12.6% it must still be up there for the regularly produced beers. This isn’t a crazy one off, or a Christmas special, this is one of their lines.

20170420_204729

No.218 X-Beer 33 is made without any addition of alcohol, sugar or wort, it reaches its extraordinarily high ABV after being fermented with two types of yeast and conditioned for at least seven months. It’s the Czech equivalent of a barleywine and the sweetness really comes through. It doesn’t seem crazy boozy but the price and the sweetness give the strength away.

We found one last pub of the night that seemed typically Czech. There’s a quote again by Pete Brown that says “There’s no tourism like beer tourism. See the world with beer as your guide, and you’ll see it in a more interesting way than any tourist brochure or guidebook could tell you.” This is certainly true in us finding the tiny little brewery of U Medicku and likewise this last pub.20170420_224048

Away from the tourists, no one speaking English, this is what we prefer. Of course a quarter of the price of everywhere else to boot. Unfortunately I don’t have many photos of the pub, just the one above and I don’t know the name of it. The only record I have is of the beer we drank there.

20170420_224506

No.219 Cerna Hora Granat tasted like a roasted lager to us. Which is exactly what is is. Black lagers actually predate the more familiar golden ones. This offering was first brewed in 1896 but Cerna Hora beer was first mentioned as being drunk in 1298! Unbelievable history and practically impossible to comprehend.

So that was Prague, to be honest we were a little disappointed but maybe that’s because we came straight from the exhilarating Budapest and wonderous Vienna.

Before we left we snuck one more beer in on our houseboat.

cof

No.220 Bud Super Strong is a million miles away from what most of the world consider a bottle of bud. A 7.6% its certainly not that super strong as the name suggests but it does have a winter warmer feel due to the fact that it’s rare to have a lager that strong. It’s hopped with 100% Saaz hops and conditioned for at least 200 days.

I’d certainly go back to the Czech Republic again, I cant wait to do so in fact. But just like Dublin in Ireland, there’s a Cork round the corner and we are excited to discover it.

Our only regret is we didn’t go to the pub next to houseboat, we chickened out and I wish we had gone in. It wasn’t the most welcoming though…

20170420_141213

 

 

London for Beers No.200 Petrus Aged Pale, No.201 Dochter van de Korenaar Belle Fleur IPA, No.202 Cantillon 100% Lambic Bio, No.203 Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus, No.204 Tannenzapfle, No.205 Sharp’s Doom Bar and No.206 Wells Bombardier.

London for Beers No.200 Petrus Aged Pale, No.201 Dochter van de Korenaar Belle Fleur IPA, No.202 Cantillon 100% Lambic Bio, No.203 Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus, No.204 Tannenzapfle, No.205 Sharp’s Doom Bar and No.206 Wells Bombardier.

As we all know London is a fantastic place and at the cutting edge of all the new fads so of course it’s been rocking craft beer for years now. Obviously with the company I work I am involved daily but it’s still great to go and see different pubs to see which inspiring innovations they are bringing. Michelle and I traveled to Bethnal Green to check a New York inspired Tap Room I had heard a lot about.

It’s called Mother Kelly’s and I must say I was very impressed. Its situated down Paradise Row which sounds like it’s out of Grand Theft Auto and it’s all very modern and hip.

It’s 21 taps were fitted to the back wall in a very fashionable and the taps in the bathroom were super cool being a beer tap themselves. They had lots of beers in fridges along the side wall which were nicely sorted and labelled by style. We were particularly impressed by the food option. It was a choice of meat board, cheese board, veg board or dessert board. All for £7 to £10. Surprisingly we went for the veg board and it was excellent. It had fat olives, crisp peppers some cheese, bread and other things I can’t remember now.

cof

It was excellent, we really enjoyed it. the good thing about it from a business side is it can be all prepped in advance so that bar staff can sell them. This of course eliminates the need for the space and money of having a kitchen. It also gets rid of the requirement of a chef which can hold your hold business to ransom. Finally it means the food can be served right up till closing time at 1am not have to finish at 9pm or whenever. All in all a great idea that I am definitely nicking when I open my own place.

Of course with all the beers on offer, of which there was plenty, there was a couple I needed for my list.

My 200th beer is Petrus Aged Pale by Brouwerij Bavik. Supposedly thrown into the publics eye (or mouth) by Michael Jackson (the beer writer) when he paid them a visit and requested some to be bottled for the US. It’s nice and creamy not sour or challenging very close to an English pale.

We followed that with No.201 Dochter van de Korenaar Belle Fleur IPA is made in a Belgian enclave in the Netherlands near the border. Its a new beer first brewed in 2011 yet it is labelled in a style a lot older. It’s a nice hoppy yet smooth IPA, its quite fruity upfront with a very bitter finish.

After the drinks we met up with my mate Jack in one of the Craft Beer Co’s pubs. This time in Clerkenwell which is the highest rated bar in the whole of the UK by ratebeer, and 26th in the world!

There we got a couple of bottles of Cantillon to share.

The first one No.202 Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio is the second time I have had a beer from this brewery that opened its doors in Brussels in 1900. Lambic means a spontaneously fermented beer from the area around Brussels. Spontaneously fermented by wild yeasts. Gueuze is made when young and old lambic beers are mixed together. In this case they use one, two and three year old lambics. This creates a super sour sharp beer with grapefruit overtones.

We followed this with No.203 Cantillon Rose de Gambinus. My word this is a challenging beer. Very sour raspberries, you can taste them but its tough to get to them, this is a million miles away from Fosters and want I wanted from this journey, if not to enjoy them wholeheartedly but to experience them and expand my palate.

Back to my pub in Limehouse and we’ve got a new bottled beer in, and just happened to be on my list.

cof

No.204 Tannenzapfle,or Rothaus Pils as we call it at work, is a lager from the black forest first brewed in 1956. It’s really really nice, one of my favourite lagers I’ve ever had and it’s massively popular in Germany. Supposedly it has its smoothness from the soft water of seven natural waters. Either way it’s fandabedozee.

The last two beers on this small portion are two I’ve had many times before but revisited for the sake of completism.

Michelle and I went to The Axe and Compasses in Aythorpe Roding, West Essex for lunch. It is an ward winning 18th century building surrounded by beautiful countryside, well worth a little trip out. There they had No.205 Sharp’s Doom Bar. Obviously I’ve had this one before as it really revolutionised the way English Ale is seen by a lot of young people and out sells nearly all others about 4:1 when I was at The Trading Rooms. Named after a sandbank in Cornwall, it’s an easy drinking very accessible ale.

Followed by another classic, this one I just drank at home. No.206 Wells Bombardier is one I’m sure you are all familiar with. Famous as much for it’s taste as the hilarity of those who pronounce it in a French accent this beer has been around all my life. Well not quite all as it was first brewed in 1980 but I wasn’t sinking many up to the age of three anyway. This self proclaimed Beer of England is the Official Beer of The English Heritage so you are doing a little bit of good with every pint you drink. Made with Challenger and Fuggle hops,it’s a lovely malty, fruity bitter. With many youngsters chasing the hottest APAS from across the pond and the craziest flavours from all over the world it’s easy to overlook some of our own, more solemn, masterpieces.

Beers No.98 Buxton Black Imperial, No.99 Moorhouse Black Cat, No.100 Black Adder, No.101 Summer Lightning, No.102 Schiehallion, No.103 Ola Dubh 30 and No.104 Ripper

Beers No.98 Buxton Black Imperial, No.99 Moorhouse Black Cat, No.100 Black Adder, No.101 Summer Lightning, No.102 Schiehallion, No.103 Ola Dubh 30 and No.104 Ripper

We visited the Thornbridge Brewery in Bakewell. Bakewell is a jawdroppingly beautiful little town in the Peak District, Derbyshire. The views on the drive there were simply breathtaking. The brewery itself is on an industrial estate but even that is unlike any industrial area  I have seen in Essex, in the photos above with the little bridge and where Michelle is sitting is part of the industrial estate!

After we bought a few beers from the Brewery we had lunch in the town. A Robinson’s pub called The Manners was our destination after a little Trip Advising and it didn’t disappoint. I had the ribs to start follow by the venison burger and Michelle had the duck to start followed by Lamb. I must say it was one of the best pub lunches I have ever had in my life. All 4 courses were scrumptious, I would highly recommend it there.

After lunch we drove to Buxton. There we went to the Buxton Brewery Tap House and had the first drink listed on this blog.

Buxton Black Imperial is strong and dark. It tastes like an IPA (which of course it is) but your palate is expecting a stout or a porter. It’s quite fragrant but drinkable for it’s strength.

The Tap House itself is a fantastic fashionable modern pub. Nothing quirky about it just clean lines and friendly faces with some good indie playing in the background. It’s from these that I bought my first Growler.

A Growler is an American term for a sealed beer jug. Like a Kilner jar these allow you to buy a few pints from tap houses and breweries and take them home. With the increasing popularity of craft breweries in America they are becoming more and more popular over there so expect to see more of them over here soon!

On Thursday I went to the Chelmsford Beer Festival…

I had a really good time with Mike who so kindly modelled my beers for me. It was free to get in, the parking was free, the food was excellent and varied and the bands were 80’s. With over 300 beers and ciders to choose from I can’t recommend it highly enough. The beers I manage to track down off my list were…

Moorhouse’s  Black Cat – This former CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain is chocolaty, tobaccoey, dark and nutty. It was pleasant but nothing unusual.

Black Adder – Another Champion Beer of Britain this beer is black. Black like an oil slick, you can imagine a hapless seagull washed up on the side of the glass. Slightly sweet with licorice undertones I could pick up seaweed on the palate for some reason but that maybe simply due to the fact it felt like I was in the middle of an oil spill in the North Sea.

Summer Lightning – With a name taken from a P.G. Wodehouse novel Summer Lightning was one of golden ales ever made in Britain. I found it fruity but quite non-descript and watery. It was very drinkable though and I got through it no time without even noticing!

Schiehallion – Winner of the WBA World’s best Pilsner Award in 2008 I was looking forward to this one. Named after a Scottish mountain this lager didn’t let me down. With peachy, pineapple and tropical fruits on top of biscuit like a cheesecake, this is a really good beer.

Ola Dubh 30 – Whisky! Whisky! Whisky! This beer is matured in casks previously used to mature single-malt whisky and doesn’t it tell! Ola Dubh is Gaelic for black oil and it has the same viscosity. Only available at the beer festival in halves as it’s 10.5% this was certainly the most challenging beer I had that day.

Finally… Ripper – Ripper is a barleywine. Not sure if I have had a barleywine before but I liked it. Supposedly it would be called a Tripel if it was brewed in Belgium but its called a barleywine as it is brewed in England. It tastes quite appley to me and I could feel it in my cheeks. That’s probably due to the fact that it’s 8.2%!