Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Farnham Beerex 2013

This year's Farnham beerex was particularly exciting for me as I'd been contacted by the bloke designing the logo before hand. As one of the worlds foremost Farnham hop bores I've had well over two people (50% over in fact!) contact me with questions about them.

As it turned out Farnham's most famous son, William Cobbett, went on the logo, but I don't hold it against him. A friend of Farnham hops, and a beer drinker I was happy to raise my glass to him.

A couple of London breweries, Redemption and By The Horns produced the beers that stood out the most in a night without a clear winner. And though the weather was miserable again so we couldn't enjoy drinking in the maltings courtyard, it was still a cracking night.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

The return of the Farnham whitebine

For over a century considered the most prized hop in Britain, the Farnham whitebine suffered the ignominy of being grubbed up from the last farms growing it and replaced with Fuggles in 1929. The recently introduce disease downy mildew had proved too much for it.

But this was not extinction, merely exile. Cuttings had long before been taken to Kent and Worcestershire, where they were known as Canterbury whitebines and Mathons. In these much larger hop growing areas it continued to be grown as part of the Goldings group, and when Wye College selected four clones from this group to provide a range of Goldings plants with different maturity dates the Mathon was one of them.

 It continues to be grown today, which is handy, as it means it means rhizomes can be easily obtained. The one I planted out the front has now sprouted, and though may not be in Farnham, it's in Surrey, so I think it can revert to being a Farnham whitebine. Just in time for Farnham beerex too. Oh how delighted my friends will be now I've got something else to bore them with about Farnham hops.

Could this be even more exciting than a hop pocket with a Farnham Bell?

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Back at Botanix

I was back at Botanix on Monday for a hectic evening of hop based business. 

Hop products were tasted, vital questions were answered (such as they use liquid CO2 for their hop extracts), and an awful lot of hops were rubbed.

I'm sure most there will agree though that the highlight of the evening was seeing a pocket of hops marked with the Farnham bell.

It doesn't get much more exciting than that

Chatting to a Goldings guru later I tied up another loose end about Goldings hops and I think I've got everything pretty much sorted, perhaps chase up a reference or two and I may even think about doing another bit of serious writing.

The rest of the lovely Lisa's pictures are now on the IBD website here.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Stout saved my life!

Invalid Stout. Now isn't that a beer you'd like to drink?

The lovely Lisa has got hold of a postcard of an old invalid stout advert from back in the days when beer was healthy. In fact not just healthy,  more like bleedin' miraculous. They don't make adverts, or sadly beers, like that anymore.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Habemus stoutam!

I've finally got my hands on the revived Courage Imperial Russian Stout. It was over eighteen months ago I heard it had been brewed again by Wells and Young's, but for most of that time it was black smoke pouring from the chimneys of British beer shops as the bastards from Bedford sent all of the first batch to the States. It was then sent to New Zealand, Ireland and for all I know the Isle of Man before it bloody well appeared in Britain. But in February I sighted the first plume of white smoke as it went on sale on Amazon.co.uk.

Not keen to pay pricey postage for a pricey beer I passed on the chance of a parcel delivery and decided to wait until it appeared the shops. The moment arrived today when Cobbetts Real Ales got hold of some and I could finally say "Habemus stoutam!" Thanks to their 10% discount on Tuesday it was £5.85 a bottle, so much better than Amazon but definitely sucker juice. Still, there are times when everyone's a sucker and I'm definitely a sucker for this beer. I can't remember how many years it is since I last drank it, and since then I've brewed beers based on its recipe a few times myself, so I'm think it's fair to say I'm looking forward to tasting this one.

Journal of the Institute of Brewing archive

At last, the entire archive of the Journal of the Institute of Brewing has gone online. Going back to 1890 they can be found here.

I don't generally find much of interest in the JIB, as it's all a bit academic, though the 125th Anniversary reviews have been excellent. But searching over a hundred years of back issues I've already found loads I want to read, but where to start? Maybe a Horace Brown lecture or two...

Monday, 15 April 2013

No war between nations, no peace between glasses?

Craft keg fans have been spluttering into their schooners of late. First there was the outrage about the entertaining rant against craft keg in a Wandsworth Common Beer Festival programme (behind away for Easter I didn't get to the latest festival but I did enjoy the author's previous effort).

Then the BBC went and said that craft beer is often pasteruised, which, as with the Wandsworth programme, lead to furious denunciations of CAMRA, despite the fact neither were written by CAMRA.

As I'm as likely as the next man to get offended by an ill informed rant about cask beer I do feel a bit bad about enjoying the spectacle of people getting so het up. But I guess, like preference for how beer is served, it all comes down to personal taste.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Brew day of the Beast

"Woe to you, Oh Earth and Sea, for the Devil sends the hangover with wrath, because he knows the time is short...

 Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the gyle for it is a human number

its number is Six hundred and  sixty six."

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Easter on ice

As the cold weather has dragged on and on we decided to see if we could actually get to enjoy it over Easter. So the muckle big boots were taken down from the loft where I thought they'd be staying until December, and the ice axes were taken out from under the bed where I thought they'd be staying until the zombie apocalypse.

The drive to Langdale was particularly grim so bottle caps were popped as soon as we got to the hut. We still needed to stretch our legs though so a hike to the Sticklebarn was in order. It's now run by the National Trust and the beer range seemed a bit duller than before. A couple of Molson Coor's cask beers were amongst those on offer, so I tried the Worthington's Winter Shield, which turned out to be an unexciting amber ale. Despite having blown a million quid on the brewhouse and hired a rock star brewer I still get the feeling that Molson Coors are a bit clueless about what to do with Worthington's. Still, there is a lot of potential so we can only hope.

The hills were hard work as both the snow, and myself, were mostly soft. One of these days I'll get back to regular training.

The lovely Lisa dicing with death on a cornice
After a day wandering over the Pikes a pint of Old Peculier in the ODG did wonders for easing the pain in my weary legs.

The beer of the weekend though was when we found Stringers No.2 Stout in the Wainwright after heading over Side Pike and Lingmoor Fell the next day.

You can't beat a good cask beer
Only 4% ABV but full bodied and full of flavour so we stayed for a couple.Then it was back to the hut to toast crumpets in front of the fire.