Saturday 17 January 2009

Friday's beers

Despite my modest drinking ways I managed to get to three pubs on Friday. I went to Twickenham and managed to have half in the Prince of Wales. Despite the fact the had St. Austell's Tribute on I had to go with the local Twickenham Fine Ales Sundance, a pale hoppy beer. Then it was on to the Real Ale shop to stock up on goodies. They didn't have as many beers as I'd expected but there was still a good selection and very well chosen.

My trip to Twickenham meant I was running a bit late and didn't have time to put the dinner on so we ended up in the Sovs for a meal and a couple of pints. Harviestouns Haggis Hunter was the first one, another pale hoppy beer followed by Wychwood's January'Sale which had a whiff of wet dog about it but a lovely fruity taste, with a bit more body than you usually find in pale beers.

Lastly when I was getting ready to settle down for the night with my cup of coccoa I got dragged down to the Rowbarge where I had a couple, OK four, pints of Pride.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Oz Clarke and James May

Drink to Britain' was on telly again last night and I prefered this episode compared to their first effort. As a hardened beer nerd I'd still have loved them to go into more detail but I guess it has to be aimed at the non-nerds out there and it is only on for half an hour. It was interesting to see them at two breweries of vastly different sizes and I was mightily  impressed by the gleaming copper brew machine James May got from his car boot. I'm still not sure if a caravan is the best place for homebrewing though!

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Steve Brooks

I see the cheery face of my old boss, Steve Brooks, is grinning away in this months Brewer and Distiller International. He gets a mention in the magazine as he's the new head brewer at Highgate Brewery in Walsall. They say he was previously the head brewer at Marstons but have missed out the bit about him being head brewer at the Hogs Back. Still, he probably wants to forget about that too. 

Steve Brooks out on the pull

Sunday 11 January 2009

Saturday down the pub

Ended up at the Rowbarge pub last night.I've not been too keen on this pub in the past as it's a bit too much focussed on the restaurant side and bar service was often very slow. But it is handy for where I live so I've so we ended up there last night anyway. Beers on draught were Spitfire and London Pride. I have drunk a few pints of Spitfire in my time, particularly when it was the cheapo beer at my local Weatherspoons, but with Pride as the alternative it didn't get a look last night. The Pride was well kept and the service speedy so itwent down all too easily, though it was a bit on the steep side at £3.05 a pint.

Saturday 10 January 2009

Friday's beers

I stayed in last night with the lovely Lisa and drank some beers from Morrisons. First up was the every wonderful Timothy Taylors Landlord, a beer I'm always happy to drink. Then we had some beers brewed for Morrisons by the Titanic brewery. They've made a green hop ale with fresh rather than dried hops. I'd been intrigued how a beer made with fresh hops would taste for some time so I was quite interested in this one. The taste certainly did seem a bit different with a definitely lemony flavour but there was also a hint of vegatables in the taste reminiscent of a lager so a bit of a mixed bag. We preferred their Chestnut beer which had a sweet caramel flavour but with a definite chestnut taste to it too. Sadly as alcoholic drinks don't need to list their ingredients I don't know exactly what's in it except the rather vague  'natural chestnut flavour'.

Heading back to more conventional beer we had Wayland Smithy from the White Horse brewery. This is one Lisa picked and a good job too as it was a very nice, easy drinking beer. Then it was on to one of my favourite IPAs, Twisted Thistle from Belhaven.  A good clean hoppy beer with a touch of citrusy cascade hops to it.  We were starting to slow down at this point so I decided to finish off the night strong one, Rochefort 8, another tick in the list of 300 beers to try before you die. Which come to think of it means we've  moved one step closer to our deaths. It wasn't worth it either as Lisa thought it was awful and even I didn't manage to finish it. I used to really like Trappist beers but I haven't really enjoyed the last few I've had. The overpowering flavour for me in this beer was phenol, which is not something I'm really fond of drinking. Perhaps it's more a beer for those that like their peated malt whiskys (which to me taste like TCP).

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Beer - it's not just for drinking

Inspired by research showing that cooking with beer is good for you (and becuase it's freezing) I decided it was time to do a beef and beer stew. Handily I had a can of Old Speckled Hen sitting in the fridge, some left over booty from having mates round on xmas eve. Being a beer snob I don't normally drink the canned stuff so this seemed a good use for it. 

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Todays Brew

I spent the day homebrewing today. I wanted to make something special for my brother and sister who have both recently had kids. Well, OK, one of the kids is nearly a year old now but I've been plotting this for some time. In the excellent Old British Beers and How to Make Them there is a recipie for a very strong beer that was brewed by Youngers brewery to celelrate the birth of an heir and be drunk on the luck offsprings 21st birthday. Now the chance of  booze lasting 21 years in the houses of any of my family is pretty slim but the idea still appealed to me. 

To try and avoid the cloying problem many strong ales suffer from I've used only pale malt and used cane sugar to bump up the original gravity to a hefty 1.120. I hope this will ferment out enough to be strong but still drinkable. I pitched a lot more yeast than normal and I'm considering adding a Champagne yeast as well if I don't get the attenuation I'm after. 

Here a picture of the sparging:


I think that's enough blogging for today, there's Oz Clarke doing some boozing on the telly soon.

Stag brewery to close

London's biggest brewery, the Stag brewery at Mortlake, is to be closed by ABInbev next year.It currently makes only bland keg lagers so will be no great loss to discerning beer drinkers but it's still sad to see a brewery close. There has apparently been a brewery on that site for 600 years. 

Back in May last year I was due to have a job interview there but was unable to make it for family reasons. And my girlfriend said she'd lose all respect for me if I worked at a place making Bud. Funny to think that if I had ended up with a job there I'd currently be facing unemployment. As opposed to being unemloyed which I am now :-\

Monday 5 January 2009

Something to keep out the winter chill

My Sunday night tipple was a bottle of Fullers Vintage Ale:

This is an 8.5% bottle conditioned barley wine brought out each year in time for Christmas. I drank an awful lot of this last year when I was living in Edinburgh. I didn't seem too popular in the supermarket I mainly shopped in so ended up being reduced and reduced until it was entrapment really and I was forced to buy up all they had left! 

It does suffer from the problem most British strong ales do of being too thick and cloying so really does benefit from being left for at least a year before drinking. Not that I managed to do this in Scotland but hey, I was a student at the time. Last night though I drank one of the 2006 vintage and very good it was too - it still had the strong, sherry like aroma, rich fruity taste balanced by the hops and the aging had got rid of the cloying thickness. 


Sunday 4 January 2009

Welcome to Ed's beer blog

Here I'll be posting my musing on beer, breweries and all things related to them. I will no doubt be having a beer or two later today so full details of which delectable drop I'm drinking will follow soon.