Showing posts from December, 2011

Christmas Day Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog Prototype 17

Take 77 lager, Belgian yeast, several old single grain Scotch casks and some local Scottish raspberries. Mix together and you get Brewdog’s take on a Belgium fruit beer. But will it pass the Christmas Day Breakfast Beer test?

Basics: It’s a 33cl bottle, 4.9% and pours a very lively golden hue with a large white head. The aroma is promising; lots of citrus hops and ripe raspberries.

Taste: Medium bodied, the Belgium influence was evident throughout in the form of a slightly sour, dry bitterness that lingered on the palate. No sign of the sugar candy effect that bedevils some Belgium beers. Just plenty of tart raspberries that are matched by a good hop bitterness.

Finish: Dry, slightly sour.

Conclusion: I’ll confess to not knowing what the Scotch casks gave to this brew, but I liked it. It comes down just on the right side of tartness and slipped down very easily.

A good start to the day.

Merry Christmas

In this era of austerity, cuts and enforced reclycling, I present you with last year's season's greetings. Just substitute 2011 for 2010.

Christmas Eve Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog Scotch Ale

Basics: It’s 7.5% and is brewed with eight different malts and some honey thrown in for good measure. It poured a very dark brown, almost black, with good carbonation and a large tan head. The aroma was a strong belt of chocolate and caramel and a hint of smoke.

Taste: Quite rich. It’s a heady mix of bitter dark chocolate, caramel and toffee as the malts battle for dominance over the hops. There’s definitely some peat in there as well

Finish: Slight honey tinged dryness.

Conclusion: Presumably Brewdog’s take on an American Scotch Ale? It’s different enough to be distinguishable from its traditional counterpart, but it’s not really my cup of Brewdog. Still, if you like honey and malt sweetened beers; this may be the one for you.

What Price A Pub?

It’s no secret that pubs are having a hard time of it and have been for some time. There are various theories espoused for this, but one partial explanation is the behaviour of the pubcos themselves. Far from nurturing their assets, it seems that they far too often frustrate their licensees and put barriers in their way.

Whilst they stand accused of poor management and restrictive practices; they themselves act as coy and innocent as an Irish dairy maid. But what is the truth? Do they really mislead potential landlords as to the viability and potential of pubs before tying them up in punitive contracts? Or is it a case of caveat emptor?

Well, to try and find out, when the lease of a pub I know well came up for sale, I took myself along to the open day to discover just what Punch were offering. The Railway is located at the tail end of Ramsbottom. Its main asset is its proximity to the East Lancashire Railway which is particularly useful in summer and during special events. However, it…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog Blitz!

And now for something completely different. They tried, and failed, with Nanny State, but now they’re back with another low vol, high-hop beer.

Basics: It’s 2.8%. It poured deep amber with a medium beige head. The aroma was very promising: plenty of citrus and grapefruit and a little pine.

Not as thin as Nanny State-what could be-but still not very much body. The taste experience goes very quickly from zero to an explosion of rough, almost woody, resinous hops. There’s also a harsh bitterness that’s like biting into a bitter leaf that makes you wish you hadn’t.

Finish: Brief burst of woody bitterness.

Conclusion: Nanny State was just a mass of hops dumped into cold tea. This is much more accomplished with the feel of more than just a gimmick. However, the lack of depth to fulfil the early promise, and an unwelcome aftertaste means the search for a sessionable sub 3% beer continues.

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brewdog Hops Kill Nazis

Basics: It’s 7.8%. That’s it. No other information is given. I did have this on draught several months ago, but a lot of piss has washed down the urinals since then, so I only have a vague memory of it.

It poured deep amber with low carbonation and a large beige head. The aroma was pungent: floral, spiced and citrus hops.

Silky smooth in body, it belies its strength. Completely unbalanced, hop aficionados will have no trouble picking out Chinook and Centennial as they are there in bucketloads. A sliver of malt tantalises you before the hops batter your tongue into submission. It's like 5am Saint on acid.

Finish: Long and bitter. Leaves you panting for more.

Conclusion: Do hops kill Nazis? Damn freakin’ right they do.

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Meantime Yakima Red

Basics: This is 500ml and only 4% by alcohol; a veritable stripling by breakfast beer standards. It’s unpasteurised and gets its name from the Yakima Valley in Washington where the five different hops in the beer originate. It’s copper in colour and had reasonable carbonation with a large off-white head. The aroma was a quite pungent mix of pine and grapefruit. Taste: A light to medium body is packed with a level of hops you don’t usually get in a beer of this strength. Less pine than in the aroma, there is much more grapefruit and zesty citrus flavours. Not much evidence of malt at all. The pine eventually comes through and lies on the tongue. Finish: Medium bitterness leaves the throat comfortably dry. Conclusion: If you like your hops, but not your beer, strong, then you’ll enjoy this. Punching well above its weight, this American style IPA really is a breakfast treat

Blood Money Booze

Giving blood is a worthy cause and a reward in itself. However, there’s a never ending demand and only so many willing donors. How then to encourage more people to donate? A PR company in Leeds thought they had come up with the perfect solution by offering teenagers free booze in return for their blood. Students would register online and, in return for their donations, would receive free samples of the 4% Turbo Shandy.

Sadly, a po-faced NHS spokesperson said that “they do not welcome or condone this sort of promotional activity.” Taking the hint, the promotion has now been dropped, But, apparently, there is a shortage in sperm donations, so...

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Rogue Brutal IPA

Basics: This is a man size 650ml bottle and is 5.8% in strength. The beer is brewed using three varieties of English malt: Pipkin, Cara Vienna and Cara Wheat. The only hop used is Oregon Crystal which is a triploid variety that combines the best of Cascade, Brewers Gold, and Early Green.

It’s amber in colour with an off-white foamy head. The aroma was quite noticeable citrus; pineapple, grapefruit and some sweet malt.

Taste: Medium bodied, it appears very well balanced. The expected hop blast never happens. Not brutal, in the literal sense, at all. There is a good initial hop bite with clear citrus tones, but the biscuit malt soon comes through to tilt the scales. You're left with a quite mellow mix of malt and grapefruit.

Finish: Short blast of medium dryness.

Conclusion: An accomplished piece of complex brewing. Nicely balanced and easy to drink, this is a class act.

Two Out For The Count?

In less than seven days, doubt has been cast on the future of two of Bury’s pubs. In Ramsbottom, the onetime Good Beer Guide stalwart and corner pin of the Rammy crawl, the Good Samaritan, has been having extensive renovation work. And, despite earlier soundings suggesting a positive future, the reality looks somewhat different.
In a planning application to Bury Council, the Glasgow based owners have signalled their intent for the Peel Brow premises. And that is to operate it as a restaurant. Submitted plans signify toilets and kitchen downstairs and main dining on the ground floor. The previously private upstairs area is to accommodate overflow seating and a function room.
Meanwhile, the future looks even grimmer for the Bird I’Th Hand on Manchester Road. Another ex GBG pub, this mid-terrace boozer has been ordered to remain closed by the local authority licensing committee.
Originally closed voluntarily by Admiral Taverns after a number of complaints, the premises licence has now bee…

British Guild Beer Writers Awards & Camden Brewery

London is a strange town. Or so the Jam said way back in 1979. And indeed it is. However, despite the early closing, congestion and lack of decent pizza, there are actually people who work and live there. And everyone from the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers to the British Guild of Beer Writers hold their piss-ups there.

So it was once again that I found myself wandering the lonely, mean streets of the Big Smoky with nothing in my pockets but hope and fortitude. Now, one has to make careful preparation before attending a function such as the BGBW awards. And, being one for correct form, I did my bit by having a little tour of the capital’s watering holes.

Conveniently, the Euston Cider Tap had just opened the previous week and I was the first in on that day. The very helpful barman kept me company until I was joined by some chirpy cockney sparrows newly arrived from Manchester. After sampling sparkling, still and some Normandy cider, the bonding was complete and I…