Showing posts from June, 2012

Camden Town Brewery@PSBH

Last night saw a Southern invader take the helm for the latest meet the brewer evening at Port St Beer House. Jasper, from Camden Town Brewery, had come a long way. Although Camden does seem like the other side of the world, Jasper origins actually lie in the land down under and this was his first visit to Manchester. Hopefully, having seen the good life, his return to Camden won’t be too depressing.

The proceedings went very well; just the right amount of information and not too much waffle. And when he praised the use of sparklers, it became clear that the lad knew what he was talking about.
Hells This is their 4.6% signature dish. The idea is quite clever; match up two of their favourite beer styles. So you have the dry backbone of a Pilsner and the gentle hopping of a Helles. They consider it the perfect drink for London. I’m not sure what it says about London but-with one dissenter-we found it, dare I say, rather dull.

Wheat This is a classic 5% Hefeweizen: made in an open fermenter…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Kernel Red IPA

Another morning, another bottle of Kernel. I’ve tried various versions of IPA from single hopped to black and back again, but I’m not sure what Red is supposed to signify-apart from the colour, naturally.

It’s the usual 330ml bottle-conditioned and is 6%. It poured quite murky deep amber with a very large tan head. The hop aroma was not as pronounced as some of their other beers, but still had promising notes of citrus and marmalade.
Taste wise, it was medium bodied, but quite sticky on the palate. There’s some citrus with marmalade, tangerine and oily pine resin. However, there’s also a sour dough aftertaste that neuters the hop effect and leaves the finish short and unsatisfying.
By some other breweries standards, this would be considered solid, if unremarkable. By Kernel standards, it’s got to be seen as a decided disappointment as its cloying nature leaves the palate unfulfilled.

Old Amsterdam

Old Amsterdam is an interesting twist on the traditional Gouda cheese and is considered something of a Dutch classic. The basics we know: only weekday milk-weekend milk isn’t as good-from Frisian Holstein cows is used. The magic then takes place with a number of master cheese makers slowly ripening it using a culture unique to the Westland family who produce it.

The result is an aged cheese that is unlike the dry, salty standard Gouda. This is firm and ripe with butter and walnut tones. One of the secrets of its success must be its tiny ripening crystals that are formed when bacteria interacts with lactic acid. These are found in some of my favourite Italian cheeses and are a sign of a well-aged product.

I grated it over pasta, but I’ve found it’s also excellent on its own with a good quality cheese biscuit.

Sniff & Drink

Readers of a blog as cutting edge as this will be used to me breaking the big stories. Yes, it might be vanity, but I like to think that my mother and her senile pal can handle the shocking truth that I sometimes have to reveal. Today’s announcement is quite significant: alcohol is history. Well I’ve been saying it’s passé for some time now-it’s so Noughties, isn’t it? But now it looks like others are finally embracing the future as well.

American scientist and French designer Phillippe Starck have come up with the WA/HH spray. This is a small aerosol which will deliver the effects of alcohol without the boring bit; drinking. Edwards is based in LeLaboratoire in Paris where he and his staff work on their own vision of the future. That’s one where food and drink are delivered direct to the senses. Hence his use of terms such as “breathable food” and “aerosol cuisine”
The idea behind WA/HH is simple. There are times, according to Edwards, when people need the “light-headed distraction” th…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Kernel Double Black IPA

Monday rolls around with the same inevitability as morning following night and the Pope shitting in his hat. To take the edge off, you need something that will kick you where it hurts and set you up for the day. Step forward Kernel Double Black IPA.
It’s a 330ml bottle and is bottle-conditioned. Its claim to be a double Black IPA is given weight by its 9.8% strength. It poured with plenty of condition and with a moderate tan head. The first thing you notice from the aroma is the hops; there are plenty of them. Grapefruit, pine, chocolate and earthy herbal tones dominate.

The taste, as you’d expect, is bold and takes no prisoners. Medium bodied, there’s no mistaking its power, but it slips down pretty easily. The strong citrus and pine resin bitterness puckers the mouth and is followed by some coffee and dark fruits. There’s also some chocolate, but that is soon swept away by the long, dry bitter finish.

Kernel have produced yet another fine beer. Whilst obviously intended to be sipped s…


Another night, another meet the brewer at the Port Street Beer House. This one was rather special as the brewer concerned was Doug Odell, as in Odells the rather fine American brewery. Doug proved to be a personable guest and we learnt a little more with each beer sample. Founded in 1989 in Fort Collins, Colorado; from small acorns a mighty brewery has grown that now encompasses some 45,000 square feet and produced 58,000 barrels in 2011.
90 Shilling The first beer they produced in 1989 and still is-although IPA is catching up-their best seller. An American twist on the Scottish style, it undoubtedly was an accomplished brew. Unfortunately, it’s simply not a particularly well liked style round these parts. My reason for dislike lies with the use of crystal malt, but even John Clarke (he’ll sup nearly anything) wasn’t that keen

IPA This is a classic. No crystal malt. Just bags of aromatic and flavoursome hops precisely grafted onto a malt backbone to give a beautifully balanced drink.


ROB CAMRA@AllGates Brewery

Saturday saw the good, simple folk of ROB CAMRA adventure into the wastelands of Wigan. Now Wigan is nominally part of Lancashire, but it exists in a time zone of its own-about 30 years behind everywhere else-and the good, simple folk there have their own ways and customs. One thing that should be cleared up immediately, though, is that their nickname of “pie eaters” is historic and nothing to do with their fondness for Greggs.

First stop was the Good Beer Guide listed Anvil which is one of six pubs owned by the nearby AllGates brewery. This kept us entertained until the main event: the AllGates brewery visit. Since they started brewing in 2006, they have steadily built up a reputation for producing some innovative and classy beers. Quality remains very high and you usually know what you are getting with an Allgates beer.
The brewery itself is in a lovely restored Grade 11 pre-Victorian building. Lovely but, as was explained to us, not very practical. Looking at the narrow steep ste…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Kernel Citra IPA

Don’t you just love the smell of napalm in the morning? Hell, who doesn’t? But you know there may be something to top even that: Citra. Yes, we’re talking tropical fruit hoptastic here. And precede Citra with the word Kernel and Friday is looking promising.

It’s 6.5% and is a bottle-conditioned 330ml. It poured hazy amber with good carbonation and a thin white head. The aroma was-as you’d expect-very pungent. Lots of tropical fruit: lychee, peach, and mango in that order with some paprika thrown in for good measure.

The beer itself was medium-bodied and very smooth. There are even more tropical fruit flavours in the taste and you get tangerine and pithy orange in there as well. It’s all very refreshing even without the presence of grapefruit which you often associate with hoppy IPAs. The slightly herbal bitterness reaches a crescendo to leave a dry finish that demands you try some more.

Kernel have tweaked their legendary IPA up from its previous 6.2% and it’s a smash success. This is a…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

Today’s little morning perk-me-up beer is from Brooklyn Brewery. They are, of course, from New York and are one of the best known American brands on these shores. This is Garrett Oliver’s take on a classic British style.

It’s a 355ml bottle and is 6.9%. It poured light amber with good carbonation and a fluffy white head. The aroma was what you might expect: mainly earthy hops, malt and a little bit of pine. Mouthfeel was quite smooth and the flavours hit you straight away. The main hit is a surge of tingling bitterness. You certainly get the herbal characteristics of the English hops and whilst there is some biscuit malt and citrus tones, they are in the background.
The flavour surge gives way to a nice dry finish and leaves the impression of a quite pleasant English IPA. It’s not the best I’ve had-not enough balance and, if anything, tasting a little too weak despite being nearly 7%, but it’s certainly worth trying a bottle or two.

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Nøgne Ø God Jul

With the summer (hopefully) soon upon us, what better way than to start the day with a Porter. This is a Porter from the very well-renowned Norwegian brewer Nøgne. It’s 8.5% by alcohol and has 30 IBU. It poured very dark with a good tan head. The aroma was cocoa and dark malts. There was also a hint of the fruit tang that goes along with the big C hops.

The taste was rich with a smooth-medium mouthfeel. You soon forget it’s 8.5%. There’s lots of caramel and dark chocolate malt. There’s also some of the sweetness you might expect, but it’s very well balanced by a clever combination of those infamous C hops. You’re getting some Christmas spice and then a nice tart finish. Perhaps not the best summer session beer, but this really is excellent. Complex, with lots of flavour and a good finish mark this out as a class act.

And there's More

You wait ages for a binge drinking related story to come along and then three come at once. Coincidence that this all happens during the Jubilee celebrations? A conspiracy theorist might think otherwise.

Anyhow, the latest one to catch my eye is the report of a study that seems to suggest that it’s not what you drink, but how you drink it that matters. So whilst having two drinks a day for seven days is good for your heart; consuming the same amount over a weekend isn’t.
Commenting on the report, published in the American journal Atherosclerosis, research team leader Dr John Cullen said: “We still don’t understand why moderate alcohol consumption benefits cardiovascular health or how heavy drinking episodes hurt it.”
For those of you interested in the detail, the study worked like this. Mice were put on a typical high fat Western diet that can lead to blocked arteries, heart attacks and strokes. They were then split into moderate and binge drinking groups. The moderate drinkers saw a fa…

Au Contraire

What are we going to do about the booze epidemic sweeping Britain? People are consuming more than ever and ignoring the recommended limits. And what about the kids who are binge drinking themselves to an early grave. It’s terrible, isn’t it?
It is. Except...

A newly published study confirms that people are actually drinking less.

I don’t believe it. Sheer heresy. What idiot is making these claims?

The same NHS who are always being quoted as saying alcohol consumption levels are at epidemic levels and we’ll all be dead soon?
Yes. A longitudinal study has shown that alcohol consumption has fallen over the last decade. In 2001, 25% of secondary school pupils aged 11 to 15 drank at least once a week. But in 2010 the figure had nearly halved to 13%.

Yes. And of the youngsters quizzed, the number who thought it was acceptable to get drunk was almost halved as well.

Ah, but what about the rest of us? I bet we’re still knocking it back like Flynn?
Not really. In 1998 75% of men a…