Showing posts from August, 2014

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Sierra Nevada Kellerweis

This morning we are trying of the fine brews from one of the big boys of American craft brewing: Sierra Nevada. The USP of this particular offering is that it is brewed in open fermenters thereby lending a certain unpredictability and uncertainty to the finished beer. This isn’t meant to be your usual run-of-the-mill American Hefeweizen but an authentic Bavarian one. But can the mighty SN pull it off? It’s a 350ml bottle and is 4.8%. It poured hazy amber with a small white head. The aroma is fairly subtle, as to be expected with this style, but there’s unmistakable banana and clove. Yes, it’s definitely clovey. Taste wise, it’s smooth on the palate with traces of wheat, lemon and of course, more banana and clove. No bubblegum kick, though. It’s a little tart rather than sour and there’s a balanced, slightly sweetened finish.

Tyson says: Does what it says. An enjoyable palate cleanser.

Things Really Are BIgger In Texas

You know those days when that 6 pack of Stella just isn’t enough. Sure you could get a 12 pack but please, what are you, a wimp? Well luckily a brewery in America has come up with the mother ship of takeouts. They’re offering 99 cans for $99. And it’s craft beer, no less. Brewdog, eat your heart out. But before you jump on a plane to buy one of these 8 foot beauties, be warned that the brewery, Austin Beerworks, has made it clear that this will be a limited release. It’s almost like it’s a marketing gimmick…

Are You A Brewhead?

Well are you? Is this you?
One who truly enjoys, supports, and loves BEER (craft beer, and homebrew). This may include (but not limited to) hopheads, beer geeks, beer connoisseurs, beer snobs, brewers, homebrewers, etc..A brewhead takes pride in what they drink and/or brew. Quality plays a large part in the beers they purchase or brew.They have appreciation for the work that goes into the beer they are drinking. They know there is more to beer than just alcohol. There’s a story, a person (or team), a craft…an experience under every bottle cap. One who is involved in the craft beer industry and/or community.Collecting coasters, caps, bottles, and beers is a common hobby. Trying new beers, touring breweries, attending beer events, etc are also common."
If so, rejoice in being celebrated in song

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Fourpure Session IPA

Today we are back in our nation’s beloved capital; London and that most excellent of Bermondsey’s brewers: Fourpure. One only has to look at the popularity of Founders to see how lower strength IPAs are really catching on. This one is inspired by New York and comes in that most discerning of craft containers, the can. It’s 330ml and is 4.2%, so bang in the Best Bitter strength range but, at 40 IBUs, there’s far more bitterness. Hence the style, I guess.
It poured clear amber with lots of carbonation (well it is in a can) and a large off-white head. The aroma was intoxicating-that cliché of citrus: lemon, pineapple and grapefruit with peach and a hint of caramel. Very nice. Initially it seemed quite prickly on the tongue and, given the lack of alcohol, a little weak but then the flavour hits you in wave after wave. Unmistakable Cascade hop n nature with plenty of the other ‘C’ hops as well. There is a firm malt backbone underpinning it that balances it all out rather smartly, but you ar…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Brixton Effra Ale

We’re staying with London breweries with this morning’s effort from Brixton Brewery. It’s named after the Effra River that flows under Brixton and is their take on an American Amber Ale. An ambitious brew that pairs five malts with Northdown, Pilgrim, Aurora, Ahtanum and Summit hops. The end result should be lime, pine and grassy hops. It’s 4.5% and comes in a 330ml bottle. It poured, not unexpectedly, amber with reasonable carbonation and a medium tan head. The aroma was a little bready with some woody notes and a touch of sweet red fruits. Taste wise, it was quite soft on the palate with an earthy dryness that was balanced against a jam-like sweetness of red fruit and a little toasted caramel. The finish was semi-dry but rather spoilt by a twang of malt sweetness.

Tyson says: Too many types of malt? The wrong pairings? I don’t know but I’m not convinced that this works at all. Instead of a complex, balanced beer, they’ve ended up with a so-so one that really doesn’t know what it is.

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Beavertown Quelle Saison

This morning’s breakfast pick-me-up comes courtesy of a dry-hopped saison from Beavertown. A canned dry-hopped saison, no less. I know what you’re thinking: “has the world stopped turning and nobody told us or has he been on the herbal cigarettes again?” But I kid you not; I told you canning was the future. And saisons are so retro; they’re still the future as well. The first thing to say is that I do like the Beavertown can designs. They’re very colourful and striking but, of course, I’m here for the beer.
It’s 4.1%. It poured a hazy, pale yellow with good carbonation and a large off-white head. The aroma was slightly subdued but a pleasant mix of pineapple, lemon, spiced wheat and a little pepper. The beer is light on the palate with the hops heavily dominating. Now the history of this is that it started out as a pale ale, had a French yeast infusion and then was dry-hopped with American hops. So perhaps that’s not surprising. It’s very dry with lots of tropical fruit tones and only …

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Stevens Point Belgian White

Ok it’s over the pond we go for this morning’s breakfast accompaniment. Stevens Point are in Wisconsin-rather them than me-and I’m quite a fan of their IPA, so was looking forward to this. It’s 5.4% and is a miserly 15 on the IBU scale; about what you’d expect from this style of beer. Ingredients wise, it has Hallertau and Saaz hops, a Belgian yeast strain and is flavoured with Curacao orange peel and coriander.
It poured hazy yellow with reasonable carbonation and a medium sized fluffy white head that didn’t hang around. The aroma was a little bready with some orange and herb in the background. Body wise it was light on the palate, hiding the alcohol well, with a gentle mix of bread, orange and a faint spiciness. Typical of the style, if understated. The finish was more of the same with a gentle fade out.

Tyson says: Acceptable but unremarkable.

Down Memory Lane: A Visit To The Clarence

The Clarence situated on the corner of Silver Street in Bury is the last surviving pub of that once proud street. Nowadays it boasts a rather less than stellar collection of part-time bars and wannabe pubs. But back in the day, the pubs were bold statements of intent from ambitious breweries. The Clarence, juxtaposed with the busy thoroughfare of Bolton Street, was an impressive multi-floored public house with guest rooms that gave panoramic views right up to Holcombe Hill. By the time I got to frequent it in the late 1970s, its glory days-like all the old-timers-were over but it still remained impressive. There were less travelling salesmen than there used to be but it still offered cheap B&B and still boasted a modified version of its original multi-roomed layout. This made it popular with under-age drinkers who could purchase their drinks and scuttle into an unobserved corner. I remember being fascinated as it had by then a rarity: an upstairs room with bar. I think this was th…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Barney's Good Ordinary Pale Ale

Today we are off to Scotland for our breakfast trick or treat. We try to escape their imperial yoke but the Scots continue to taunt us by sending their beer over here. Haven’t we suffered enough with Deuchars? Anyway Barney’s promises to be different and is brewed on the original Summerhall brewery site in Edinburgh. It’s a 330ml bottle-conditioned 3.8%.
It poured a hazy dark gold/amber with reasonable carbonation and a large white head. The aroma is sweet malt, a tang of orange and a little yeasty. It’s light-perhaps a little too thin-on the palate with a little lemon and caramel malt coming to the fore. The finish is medium dry with a little grainy residue.

Tyson says: Ambitious title but not quite hitting the mark.

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Fourpure Pils

A potentially interesting breakfast treat this morning with this can, yes can, of Fourpure Pils. Fourpure are one of the leading exponents of the now famous Bermondsey Mile and their beers, rightly in my view, are considered some of the best in London. As an up and coming brewery of note, it’s not surprising that they have decided to enter the canned market as its clearly the future for their kind of product. But is it any good?
It’s a 330ml can and is 4.7%. It’s brewed with Hallertauer and Saaz hops and is fermented, unsurprisingly, with a Bavarain yeast. It tips the scales at 35 International Bitterness Units, so not that far off Holts Bitter level. It poured a lovely clear golden colour with excellent soft carbonation and a large long-lasting head. The aroma was light breaded malt and a little hay.
It has a recommended serving temperature of 6’C and at that, it really has a clean and crisp refreshing bite. Let it warm up and you get even more of the mellow malt and slightly grassy h…

To London Once More We Rode

Another day, another tour round London. This time craft was definitely off the agenda. Why? Well because we were escorting Uncle Albert round. Now as he reaches for the defibrillator when prices reach £2 a pint and the only craft he thinks is in arts & craft, it was always going to be a more traditional crawl. First stop was the Royal Oak on Tabard St. This classic Victorian street corner boozer is of course Harvey’s only outlet in London and worth a visit on that basis alone. Next up was a visit to see how the other half live in Belgravia. The Grenadier should need no introduction: once the local of the Duke of Wellington, it has hosted celebrities such as Madonna and now Uncle Albert. Although smelling salts were needed when he saw the price of a pint of Landlord.

Blackfriars station has had some £600M spent on it and very nice it looks too. Just as impressive is the Blackfriars pub which boasts some interesting Art Noveua designs. It’s amazing to think that such a splendid pub w…

Meanwhile Elsewhere In London

The Craft Beer Co have big plans to conquer the world one postcode at a time. Their latest outlet situated at the corner of High Holborn and Endell Street seems designed to bring quality beer to the thirsty patrons of theatre land. The famous Shaftesbury Theatre is close by but then again, so is the Cuban Embassy and I’ve heard those lads like a drop or two of craft beer as well. Either way, it’s in a great spot for a mini-crawl encompassing the Holborn Whippet and the Cross Keys. Inside it’s what you’d expect: lots of nice wood, mirrors and shiny taps. It’s very small (location, location, location) basically just one narrow corridor of a pub with a larger lounge area downstairs. No surprises that the beer selection is excellent with a dazzling draught choice and a carefully chosen bottled range. Definitely worth a visit but perhaps not on a Saturday night.

Also excellent is the new Brewdog at Shepherd’s Bush. It claims to have the largest craft beer selection in the country and with 4…

Judging At The GBBF

The Great British Beer Festival at Olympia in London is CAMRA’s flagship event and is a massive undertaking by any measure. With nearly 60,000 visitors expected on site to help shift the some 900 beers, ciders and perries of offer, it naturally generates a lot of publicity. At the focus of all this activity is the announcement of the Champion Beer of Britain. This prestigious award not only generates publicity for the campaign but gives a visible boost to the winning brewery. Just ask some of the previous winners. Sometimes the award can appear baffling and often leads to head scratching in some quarters. For example, the award going to strong dark beers for the last two years led to mutterings about what CAMRA was playing at. The process is, theoretically at least, quite simple albeit little understood even by CAMRA members. A perceived lack of transparency coupled with a rather laboured category system has lent the process an aura of mystery. But that was to change this year.

Yes, th…

Breakfast Beer Tasting: Grain 3.1.6

This morning’s wake me up before you go-go is Grain’s 3.1.6. They’re from Norfolk and although we don’t see much of them in these here parts, I’ve heard good things about their beers. This has been recommended as a summer supper (as in supping) and it comes in a 330ml bottle and is a mere 3.9%. The twist here is it is brewed using lager malt. Anyway, it poured a pale golden with a fair sized fluffy white head and good carbonation. The aroma is digestive malt with lemon and a slight floral tang. Taste wise, it was quite dry and refreshingly fruity. Orange and lemon come through with perhaps a bit of lychee and a slight grassiness. A nice crisp finish wraps the package up nicely. 
Tyson says: Perfect summer refreshment


The latest addition to the Manchester city centre beer scene is Allotment on Dale St. Now tipping a hat to the craft beer movement/phenomenon/hype (delete at will) has long been de rigueur for any self-respecting new opening, but some are more serious contenders than others. For a long time installing a handpull was a badge of intent and although that isn’t now necessarily the case, it has to be said that only Brewdog have had the chutzpah to pull that strategy off successfully. For a good example of close-but-no-cigar, one only has to look at the recently opened Cane and Grain on Thomas Street. A nice enough spot that ticks some template boxes: quirky, exciting menu, exciting cocktails etc. And someone presumably thought they’d better have a go at craft beer as well. Que Meantime, Camden and six supposed American beers. I say supposedly as the likes of Sam Adams and Shipyard are faux craft at best and shouldn’t be listed as USA beers when they aren’t brewed there. For the record, the…

Hop At The Chop

Saturday saw a posse of Rochdale, Oldham and Bury CAMRA members ride over the border into North Manchester. Salford to be precise as they paid an official visit to the First Chop Brewing Arm. Owner Rik Garner was on hand for the full guided brewery tour and to serve the occasional pint. It’s hard to see past HOP when it’s on form but AVA certainly ran it a close second. Pictured is cider-loving Mike Robinson presenting Rik with the ROB award for 2014 Cider Pub of the Year for the First Chop in Ramsbottom. Yes, it sells a good range of cider as well as some cracking beers.
Now where to go to after a brewery tour? The pub, obviously. So it was round to the New Oxford in Bexley Square for an alcohol top up. Unfortunately they had just had an unexpected large party in and the beer board was looking a little bare. So after a quick one, we headed for the Salford Arms and settled in there. Tom, the gaffer here, is really enthusiastic about his beers and really gives the place a welcoming vibe…