Norwich for Beers No. 264 Tres Monts, No. 265 Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel and No. 266 Weltenburger Kloster Asam Bock. 

Norwich for Beers No. 264 Tres Monts, No. 265 Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel and No. 266 Weltenburger Kloster Asam Bock. 

Norwich is a beer city, but it hasn’t always been that way. Situated in East Anglia surrounded by some of the barley fields in the world, including the globally successful Maris Otter, Norwich was an important brewing city up to the 20th century. Tragically through a system of mergers, acquisitions and mergers the amount of breweries declined over the last 100 years from dozens to the last one being closed by Watney Mann in 1985.

Thankfully there has been a reversal of fortune and this historic brewing area has now a plethora of exciting new breweries in its local area and hosts one of the biggest beer festivals on the calendar for the customary three years. The Great British Winter Beer Festival is held in the magnificent St Andrew’s & Blackfriars’ Halls and was the reason we were in the city.

The evening before the festival we went to a fine dining beer and food pairing evening, hosted by the engaging Beer Sommelier Cheryl Cade from Thirst Consultants.

It’s a fantastic way to spend the evening, informative, amusing and you get to meet some really interesting people as the table is invariably set in a big circle. Frosty at first, after the seven local beers that matched the three exquisite courses, the conversation was unsurprisingly flowing and we were delighted to find we were sitting with one of the breweries who’s beers was being represented during the meal and I was frankly fascinated by someone who worked in the National Collection of Yeast Cultures which is also based in Norwich.

The following day we went on a little pub crawl round Norwich and there is some really good ones. Popular brewery tap The Fat Cat  was a great place to start and a must for anyone with an interest in Breweriana as they have all their walls adorned with some great signage.

The Duke Of Wellington is a nice enough pub, with a great array of beers and friendly bar staff this could be a great place to stay the whole afternoon on a rainy day.

The Plasterers Arms was far more hip and happening than the other two, with a good selection of ales and craft beers.

Finally The White Lion, which is more of a cider specialist place, but they did have a good range of well kept ales, and some of the best bar snacks we’ve ever had! 


We finished up the evening with a meal in The Belgian Monk, and what a meal it was. Steak Forestiere that we could not fault and great service. 10/10 and a fantastic way to finish the evening.

The next day was Beer Festival day, we left our great little Air B&B which at £45 a night was a great deal. Its definitely worth looking about on Air B&B if you going on these little trips, there is often some great spots that are cheaper than hotels.

St Andrew’s & Blackfriars’ Halls is a cavernous set of friary church and convent buildings, dating back to the 14th Century. This year, last year and the next it is hosting the CAMRA National Winter Ales Festival. This festival is to showcase the best real ales available in the UK (such as stouts, strong ales and winter warmers). These are Michelle’s favourite styles so she was more than happy whilst I made my way to the foreign beer bar to try a couple of beers I knew were on my list.

No.264 Trois Monts is a French beer from the beautiful sounding La Brasserie de St.-Sylvestre. This beer which was first introduced in 1984 is brewed in France but in a town only 10km from the Belgian border and you can tell. It even calls itself Biere de Flandre on that label, and of course Flanders is the Dutch-speaking Northern portion of Belgium. I really enjoyed it, it was very carbonated, dry as a wine, like the Brut style thats going round at the moment and it reminded me of one of my favourite beers Deus by Bosteels which is treated like Champagne.

No.265 Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel is a dark beer which was well suited to the Festival. Weltenburg Abbey in Bavaria, Germany, is the oldest continuously operating monastery brewery in the world, dating back to at least 1050AD! A Dunkel is a dark lager that was the most popular beer in Bavaria. We found it had a burnt, dirty taste with a grassy aroma. That doesn’t sound very pleasant but it was!

Finally No.266 Weltenburger Kloster Asam Bock which is obviously from the same brewery. These beers look similar too both being dark lagers. Bock of course are stronger beers and this comes in at a not too shabby 6.9%. Its dark, rich and meaty, like beef stock in fact. Its one of those beers that tastes historic.

So there we are, that’s Norwich. As I have mentioned the Winter Beer Festival will be on in Norwich in 2019 and it’s well worth a go. It could move anywhere after that, its previous three years were in Derby, so take advantage whilst it’s relatively close by. If you do I highly recommend the food pairing evening that takes place just before the festival starts, and the Steak at The Belgian Monk!

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.123 Trade Winds, No.124 Harvest Pale, No.125 Pendle Witches Brew, No.126 Taras Boulba, No.127 Zinnebir, No.128 Bush Ambree Triple, No.129 Gouden Carolus Classic, No.130 Popperings Hommel Bier, No.131 Etoile du Nord, No.132 Augustiner Lagerbier Hell, No.133 Lindeboom Pilsener, No.134 Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout and No.135 Thornbridge Kipling

Beers No.123 Trade Winds, No.124 Harvest Pale, No.125 Pendle Witches Brew, No.126 Taras Boulba, No.127 Zinnebir, No.128 Bush Ambree Triple, No.129 Gouden Carolus Classic, No.130 Popperings Hommel Bier, No.131 Etoile du Nord, No.132 Augustiner Lagerbier Hell, No.133 Lindeboom Pilsener, No.134 Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout and No.135 Thornbridge Kipling

I love my wife Michelle, I will do anything for her. That’s why for her birthday I took her to the 39th annual Peterborough beer festival. To be fair it was a nice day. We stopped off at a beautiful pub called The Plough in Cambridge and had lunch. Michelle decided she was going to write her own blog called “Around the world in 80 Ploughs” where she would travel the world only stopping in places called The Plough. It’s quite ambitious but certainly original.

After Lunch we went to our hotel in Peterborough. The Pearl Hotel is pretty crazy as it’s above a Thai restaurant and it feels as though it’s combined with it. Our room was beautiful though.

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We dropped off our stuff and went to the festival. Peterborough itself is pretty mental. The section called The Broadway was pretty rough and we both felt a little intimidated even though it was about 3 in the afternoon. Then you reach the cathedral and the same street turns into a much nicer area with plenty of al fresco dining. It retained it’s edgy side all along the high street though. Plenty of skinny men with their tops off restraining dangerous dogs. It’s kind of like Southend.

The beer festival was O.K. Michelle prefered the Canterbury beer festival and I the Chelmsford festival but we did discover Scorpion Death Chocolate.

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That’s right, a chocolate so hot it’s called Scorpion Death and has a printed disclaimer.

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Of course there was lots of beers to try. Especially lot’s of foreign bottles.

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I was excited about this, but really both Michelle and I would have prefered sitting with a few nice pints of ale than pissing about with half a bottle each of extreme flavours, but that’s what we were here for!

Cairngorm Brewery’s Trade Windis a Scottish beer laden with awards including Britain’s Champion Best Bitter in 2006. It is very refreshing and easy to drink. It tasted of peach to me and the elderflower which is added to it.

Castle Rock’s Harvest Pale is another Champion Bitter of Britain, incidentally the year after, in 2007. it is flavoured with a blend of U.S. hops, but I didn’t find it that full. It was very light and seemed to have more aroma than flavour, in fact it maybe even seemed a little watered down.

Moorhouse’s Pendle Witches Brew is a very nice, creamy amber beer with plenty of grapefruit coming through. Thoroughly enjoyable but then I do like a Fuggle.

Brasserie de la Senne’s Taras Boulba is a dry beer with a low strength for a Belgian offering. Named after a Russian novel this beer dries your mouth out and has a lot of quinine flavouring that leaves a bitter finish.

Another of Brasserie de la Senne’s offerings Zinnebir is a lot sweeter. Kind of like a honey lager though it’s an ale, it’s caramel sweet with a powerful bitter kick.

Brasserie Dubuisson’s Bush Ambree Triple is a completely different kettle of fish. At 12% it’s a classic challenging Belgian beer. It is smokey and has a syrupy treacle mouthfeel. It tastes clearly strong and to be frank reminded me of Tennants Super.

Brouwerij Het Anker’s Gouden Carolus Classic is a very famous Belgian beer that is so award winning and popular it has a range of beers also bearing the Goulden Carolus name. We found it quite unpleasant though. Sweet and licouricey, it’s quite the acquired taste.

Poperings Hommel Bier is a hoppy little number for a Belgian beer. It’s quite sour but still very drinkable, surprisingly so for it’s 7.5% ABV.

Brasserie Thiriez’s Etoile du Nord is a French brew which is pretty new, first brewed in 2003. The beer pours with a frothy white head. It’s quite cardboardy but not unappealing. It has a long dry, bitter finish.

Where Brasserie Thiriez doesn’t have much history Augustiner-Brau is absolutely steeped in it. First established in 1328 and Munich’s oldest brewery their Lagerbier Helles itself is a couple of hundred years old and it’s lovely. It’s quite lemony and has a bit of hop in there too.

Lindeboom’s Pilsener is another lager over 100 years old. It’s certainly refreshing but we found it unassuming on the verge of being non-descript.

Nøgne Ø’s Imperial Stout was our last beer of the festival. It had a strange tang to it. It was smoky and had licorice tones but Michelle, who is my stout expert, exclaimed it tasted of ashtray water. When she had drunk ashtray water to make this comparison is beyond me.

Last weekend I went to The End Of The Road Festival in Wiltshire. On the way I stopped off at the Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham to pick up a bottle of OTT.

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I was pleasantly surprised to find they had a well stocked shop where I picked a few of the beers I am after for my list.

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This included Thornbridge’s Kipling. This beer I couldn’t get at Thornbridge’s brewery in Bakewell so it’s quite strange to buy it from another pub. It was the last of the beers I needed from this brewery and I must say they have established themselves as one of my favourites. Kipling itself didn’t disappoint. Titled a South Pacific Pale Ale, this beer which only uses New Zealand’s Nelson Sauvin hops is refreshing, fruity, and pretty much perfect.

 

 

 

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%!