Showing posts from December, 2013

Merry Christmas


Christmas Eve Breakfast Beer Tasting: Weird Beard Saison

It’s Christmas Eve and so why not kick off this very traditional day with a very traditional drink? Well, traditional if you’re from Belgium or France, perhaps. But it is made by one of our own brewing upstarts, so it is as English as apple pie. It’s actually part of the Weird Beard single hop series which gives them a chance to play around with various styles using, you guessed it, a single hop. In this case; Nelson Sauvin.
It’s 500ml and bottle-conditioned. Now it’s styled as a Farmhouse Saison which I always think of as weaker, but in fact a lot of them are stronger: this one is 5.6%. It was very lively and poured golden with a large off-white head. The aroma was spiced yeast, honey and a little mango. Taste wise it delivered a good Saison kick of floral spice and some tart fruit flavours that led to a medium/fruity dry finish.

Tyson says: Does what it set out to. Recommended for the Saison fans.

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Beavertown Smog Rocket

After last night’s party excesses; no more reindeer hats, please, it’s time to steady the ship. London’s Beavertown have made an impact on the micro-brewing scene and won over a new legion of fans with their meet the brewer night at PSBH. With their Gamma Ray being one of the beery highlights of the year, it’s time to shake off the cobwebs with Smog Rocket, their smoked Porter.
This is a 330ml bottle-conditioned little number and weighs in at 5.4%. It poured very dark brown with good carbonation and settled down to have a medium tan head. The aroma was very pungent: lots of dark chocolate, damsons, a strong burst of roast malt and most definitely a healthy dose of peatiness. The beer itself was quite heavy and felt nearer 7% than 5%.

Taste wise there was a little spice and some hops, but mainly all of the aroma but in spades. It felt like chain smoking had been encapsulated in a beer with the finish leaving an unpleasant half-lit cigarette tang in the back of the throat. Any balance…

Golden Pints (Live)

Well it’s that time of year again when the great and not-so-good dish out the awards for the year’s best offerings. In something of a pilot experiment I’m doing mine whilst out drinking as (a) everything, except driving, is better that way and (b) it’s a good excuse for any memory lapses. So before I spill another drop of my Hawkshead, I proudly present...

Best UK Cask Beer: Oakham Citra. An easy choice as I’m using the simple criteria of what I’ve supped the most of and enjoyed the most.

Honourable mentions must go to Allgates, Arbor, Buxton, Hawkshead, Magic Rock and Summer Wine who continue to set the standard. Also as one-offs, the Wetherspoons American beers have produced some crackers: Stone Supremely Self Conscious Ale and Devils Backbone Eight Point IPA were outstanding.

Best UK Keg: Ooh, this is tough. Either Summer Wine and their Devil Loves series or Summer Wine Diablo. Or maybe Beavertown Gamma Ray. Or possibly the Harbour Pale Ale series. Christ, if I know.

Best UK Bottle/C…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Thwaites Big Ben

Hot on the heels of local brewery Ramsbottom Craft yesterday, today we see us move just up the road to Lancashire proper. Daniel Thwaites should need no introduction-well I’m not going to give them one-as they’ve been a presence on the brewing scene since before even Big Brother started. They’ve stepped up to the plate in recent times to meet the challenge of the emerging craft beer scene and have produced some excellent specials on their in-house micro-brewery. This beer is part of their Crafty Dan range and aims to carve a place for them in the lucrative take home market.
It’s a craft sized 330ml and is a 5.8% Brown Ale. The packaging is excellent and the label tells you all you need to know: the hops (Fuggles, Goldings, Challenger, Citra, Chinook, Summit), the malt (Pale Ale & Crystal), the brewer (John Williams) and even the recipe (LBA14, in case you were wondering). It poured lighter, more ruby, than a true Brown Ale: to be expected with the malts involved. There was good c…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Ramsbottom Craft Lanky Stout

Dark nights. Dark days, in fact. No, I’m not talking about the state of the country but, as usual, beer. Yes, with winter nights drawing in, the taste buds have had been trying a few more than usual from the dark side.And so to this morning’s little offering. No help from Santa required It’s a 500ml, bottle-conditioned, ‘White Label’ pressing and promises to be a “Lancashire Stout with New Zealand hops.” Sounds fun.
It poured nice and dark with only a little light passing through. That’s always a good sign as too many so-called Stouts are transparent. This had good carbonation and settled to having a small tan head. The aroma was a balance of roast, dark chocolate and some dried fruit. It was medium bodied and had a smooth, almost silky texture. Roast flavours came through but were matched by presumably the NZ hops to give a dry, slight fruity finish. Tasty and easy to drink.

Tyson says: A well-balanced and accomplished Stout with a twist.


York is one of the top destinations for real ale in the country and has a fantastic array of old and new boozers to keep you entertained. Just when you think they couldn’t fit anymore in, they do. As it doesn’t take much to get me drinking there, the opening of 2 new outlets was reason enough. Throw in a Jolly Boys outing and the day was set for merriment and profligate consumption.
The obvious place to start and finish a crawl is the Station Tap. Handily located at the, erm, station, this former tearoom is now a real ale Mecca with no less than 18 handpumps. Frankly it’s tempting to stay there all day, but then that wouldn’t be a crawl would it? We had to show some of the old geezers the Minster Inn with its multi-roomed layout to remind them of their youth. This is a classic pub where it’s all about the ambience rather than the beer; which is sadly just Marstons.
Another classic is the Blue Bell which no trip to York is complete without a visit to. Don’t bother looking in the GBG…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Ramsbottom Craft Fuggly Do

It’s Christmas. Or so the continuous cacophony of Yuletide tunes that have assaulted my eardrums in Tesco for months, tells me. Time to check Santa’s sack and drink some mediocre Christmas themed brown beers? Bah humbug. I think not. Let’s carry on as usual seeking justice, liberty and fine ale. And as I’m off today, I thought I’d start by a dip in the beer randomiser. That’s the big box under the stairs, in case you were wondering.
And that brings us to Fuggly Do. A “white label” beer. What’s that, I hear you echo. Well a white label record is a test pressing and something of a rarity that is prized by collectors. Matt at Ramsbottom Craft seems to have brought this philosophy to beer and describes this series as when a “batch is so small that printing labels is too costly to consider.” So, a bit of a collector’s item. Perhaps it is Christmas. But will it be Christmas cheer or Christmas fail?

It’s a 500ml bottle-conditioned 4.2% beer. It poured very lively and settled down to an appea…

Local News

It’s nice to have a bit of positive local news to report. And while both the town centre Wetherspoons continue to dip in form; there’s a new kid, or should that be monkey, in town. The Monkey House Brewery Inc is situated on Silver St and brings a welcome cask outlet not only to the Silver St crawl but to the town centre generally. This one-roomed bar has something of the Belgian brown bar about it and while it is a work in progress, the early signs are promising. Three handpumps adorn the bar and all three, including the house beer, are from the Marstons stable. However, it is free of tie and this may well change in the future. The manager is very keen and so is the pricing. £2 a pint during the week had even Uncle Albert singing its praises. One to watch.
Meanwhile the refurbishment of the Greene King estate continues its roll-out. The Wellington on Bolton Road has been done and the good news is that part of the makeovers seems to be an expansion of the guest beer policy. Black She…

Turn That TV Off Now

Do not watch this advert. It will warp your mind. You will lose all grounding in reality and enter some alternative reality.

So say the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) anyway. The advert, part of the Let There Be Beer campaign, funded by the Coalition of UK Brewers, was found guilty on four counts of breaching the ASA's code.. That the ad implied alcohol could contribute to an individual’s popularity, that drinking alcohol was a key component of social success, for portraying alcohol as indispensable and that drinking could overcome problems. Not convinced? Watch it again. You can clearly see that that alcohol accounts for the lad’s confidence when meeting his girlfriend’s father. And alcohol is blatantly behind the office worker’s relaxed attitude to a mountain of work. Imagine the damage that could be done if office workers throughout the land aped this approach.
Now the Coalition of UK Brewers, which represents the ad’s creators AB InBev, Carlsberg UK, Heineken UK, Miller …

Is The Reinheitsgebot A World Treasure?

A few eyebrows were raised on the news that the German Brewers Union have submitted a bid to have the Bavarian purity law designated a UNESCO world cultural treasure. Probably because when one thinks of UNESCO and heritage, images such as Stonehenge tend to come to mind. However, UNESCO expanded its remit in 2008 to include things such as customs and traditions. And this is where the purity law, the so-called Reinheitsgebot, comes in.
According to the statue, first enacted in 1516, only water, barley and hops are to be used in brewing. The president of the Brewers Union, Hans-Georg Eils, said: “It is thanks to the beer purity law that Germany, up until today, is unchallenged as a beer nation. It guarantees purity, quality and salubriousness.” Of course this is nonsense as the purity law actually allows for (perhaps understandably) yeast as well as things such as wheat malt, cane sugar and no longer allows the use of unmalted barley.
The measure probably had more to do with controlling …