Monday, 26 December 2011

Frog In Your Throat

You know when you've stayed up till 2am the night before. You were drinking all day from 10am; Mikkeller Beer Hop Breakfast, Orval, Great Heck Bah Humbug, Westmalle Tripel...

You promise yourself you're not going to drink today, after all you've been drinking for the past five days.

And then you spot that bottle. You can't take your eyes off it. You get itchy. Before you know it the cap's been popped... there's a frog in your throat.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Famous Last Words

You're not going to find me in the pub on the last Friday before Christmas. Oh no.
If you think I'm fighting my way to the bar pushing amateur drinkers out of my path just for a pint of my usual you can think again. Sharing the room with idiots in Santa hats, leaving the pub at 23:10, heading home skipping over puddles of vomit, no thanks!

I'm going straight home.

I think.

The next day....

Urgh! Where am I? What happened last night?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Confessions Of A Craft Beer Co Alcofrolic (X)

I have a confession to make. I was in a bad mood the first time I went to the Craft Beer Co. I was hacked off with the fact there was a load of men in suits buying beer with credit cards taking up a third of the elbow space at the bar. What a grumpy git, their money or rather their plastic was just as good as mine.

Anyway, I drank some bloody fine beers that day. Beers by Mikkeller, Stateside Artisanal, Evil Twin and Nøgne Ø. I knew I wanted to head back when it wasn't so busy.

So, I'm back at Leather Lane again, where a pasty from Greggs costs about £1.20 and where the same folk that brought you the excellent Cask Pub and Kitchen have this wonderful watering hole. Yes, I love the place. The clean coolness. It's unfussy, smart and even has its logo printed on the wallpaper. The mirrored ceiling, you know you've drank too much when you can see your reflection in it. The friendliness of the knowledgable staff. Tasters seemed to be encouraged by the staff rather than asked for by the customers.

What are there, 21 keg fonts and 16 cask lines? Something for everyone here. The Lord Marples was very popular with the afternoon session crowd, whilst I drank the Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Imperial Milk Stout and Magic Rock Bearded Lady.

It's easy to spend a lot of money in here on draught beers and bottles you're not going to see in other London pubs. If you run out of cash you could always sell some jewellery to a shop on Hatton Garden.

The Craft Beer Co
82 Leather Lane

"Mind your guppies."

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Got To Ouse: York Tap and Pivni

A visit to York usually means trying to cram as many pubs into the day or days as possible. Brigantes, The Three Legged Mare, The Blue Bell, The Rook and Gaskill are just a few of the places I've bent my elbow.

This time I couldn't be bothered to crawl for a couple of reasons; it was freezing cold and I needed to sit by the warmth of a fire, plus I was heading to a pub that was going to have about 32 beers on draught.

OK, my fellow drinkers and I did have to visit a couple of other places too. Firstly, the Trembling Madness shop on Stonegate to pick up some bottles. This shop improves its stock on each visit. Loads of The Kernel, Buxton and Mikkeller amongst UK, Belgium and US beers.

We also bent our knees in Pivni. You probably know Pivni, it's like the Sheffield Tap in miniature. I don't mean it looks like the Sheffield Tap, I mean it sells the kind of beers you'd also find at the Sheffield Tap. So we drank Summer Wine Brewery Diablo (keg), Magic Rock Dark Arts (cask), Magic Rock High Wire (keg), and Pivovar Broumov Opat Kvasničák Coriander lager. That lager was one of the highlights of GBBF this year, so we were really chuffed to see it here.

It was hard to drag ourselves away from Pivni, but we managed somehow.

York Tap was busy. Travellers with suitcases, Christmas shoppers, professional alcofrolics. All kinds of folk.
Magic Rock Cannonball, Magic Rock Curious NZ, Cantillon Gueze, Black Isle Chilli Porter, Thornbridge Raven, Magic Rock Rockstar, some Tempest beers, the usual Bernard lagers. All served from a huge central circular bar. I never had to wait longer than 15 seconds to be served. These guys are good.

I will always have a soft spot for the original Tap in Sheffield, but the York one with its stained glass windows and domes has an opulence that cannot fail to impress. You've got to go and see it for yourselves, and spend a few hours working your way around that circular bar.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Golden Pint Beer Awards 2011

1. Best UK Draught Beer - Magic Rock Curious, Oakham Ales Green Devil IPA, and Buxton Brewery Axe Edge

2. Best UK bottled or Canned Beer - The Kernel Imperial Brown Stout, BrewDog Hops Kill Nazis

3. Best Overseas Draught Beer - Southern Tier Imperial Crème Brûlée Stout

4. Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer - Stone Brewing Sublimely Self-Righteous, Bear Republic Racer 5, Paulaner Salvator Doppelbock

5. Best Overall Beer - Buxton Brewery Axe Edge

6. Best Pumpclip or Label - Uinta Crooked Line Detour DIPA

7. Best UK Brewery - The Kernel

8. Best Overseas Brewery - Stone Brewing

9. Pub/Bar of the Year - The Sheffield Tap

10. Beer Festival of the Year - Derby Winter Beer festival for the company, Buxton Axe Edge and total carnage.

11. Supermarket of the Year - Morrisons

12. Independent Retailer of the Year - The Offie, Leicester

13. Online Retailer of the Year - My Brewery Tap, Beers of Europe

14. Best Beer Book or Magazine - London's Best Beer, Pubs & Bars by Des de Moor

15. Best Beer Blog or Website - Ghost Drinker

16. Best Beer Twitterer - Simon H Johnson. Who else could I have a public conversation about the price of bull sperm with?

17. Best Online Brewery presence - Summer Wine Brewery

18. Food and Beer Pairing of the year - Buxton Axe Edge and Pipers Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar crisps

19. In 2012 I'd most like to drink less

20. Hype of the year - Scotch Eggs. They're just Scotch Eggs. Get a life.

Monday, 12 December 2011

When In Camden: BrewDog

I remember this place well. It used to be the Laurel Tree pub. When Britpop was about to explode there used to be a club night upstairs called Blow Up. You'd see members of Blur, Buzzcocks, Prolapse and Huggy Bear drinking whilst the DJ threatened to play Scott Walker to calm the dancing crowd. Yes, it really did feel like the floor was going to collapse at times.

So here we are 17 or more years later in BrewDog Camden. Who'd da thought it?
What's it like? It's like a BrewDog bar. If you've been to any others you know what to expect; bare bricks, second hand furniture and the kind of beers some folk call "world class".
It looks nothing like the Laurel Tree, that's for sure. It's small but there's a downstairs bar too.

On the bar: Wasabi Stout, AB:06, BrewDog/Lost Abbey Lost Dog, Prototype 17, Tokyo*, Riptide, Mikkeller Vikings Revenge plus more.

I like it. Another great boozer for pre gig drinks in Camden.
BrewDog Camden is a short walk from Camden tube on Bayham Street.

Location:Bayham St,London,United Kingdom

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Do. Blue Monkey Brewery Shop

Guy and Biggins finally made it to the Blue Monkey brewery shop. It's only been open about a month, but as soon as they knew it had opened they wanted to go. They'd heard the Blue Monkey bottled beers were only available at the brewery shop and possibly another couple of places. In a word, rare.

They had some trouble catching an omnibus at first until Guy disguised himself as a human and Biggins hid in his bag. They caught the Rainbow 1 on Derby Road, Nottingham. Guy asked for a return ticket to Ikea in Giltbrook and handed £3.70 to the driver.

Around 20 minutes later they were there.
Bottles of Big Blue, Evolution, Guerilla, BG Sips, Magic, Nuts and loads more packed the shelves. There were stacks of 5 litre mini casks and Blue Monkey mugs for sale too.

Biggins loves a bargain and the friendly chap working in the shop told them that if you bought 12 bottles you get a discount meaning you only pay for 10. At £2.60 each that means you pay £26. Biggins was so excited he wanted to jump around and fling his poo. Guy told him to calm down, he could chuck his muck when they were at the bus stop.

They thanked the friendly man at the brewery and headed home, bags clinking, to impatiently watch the sediment in the bottle conditioned beers drop.

Blue Monkey brewery shop
Open Monday to Saturday, 9:30am until 16:30pm

10 Pentrich Road
Giltbrook Industrial Park
Giltbrook, Nottingham.
NG16 2UZ

Sunday, 4 December 2011

A Beer Too Many In Derbyshire

A friend's birthday and the chance to try a new pub, The General Havelock in Ilkeston, Derbyshire.

First stop, The Brunswick Inn, Derby. I've been drinking in this pub for more years than I care to remember. I love the building. I always drink the beers brewed here. Sadly, the beer quality recently has been hit and miss. The last time I was here I ditched a sour pint of Father Mike's for Budvar. Today the Triple Hop was better. It wasn't outstanding, but it wasn't off. The pub sells up to 16 cask ales at once, and I wonder if that's too many if the quality is going to suffer.

We jumped on the Ilkeston Flyer bus and were outside The General Havelock in about 20 minutes.

First impressions on entering the place are jaw-dropping. A fair bit of cash has been spent on doing the place up, and it shows.
Lots of the original Art Deco features have been uncovered in the restoration. The floor alone looks amazing.
The Gents urinals are in posh black marble, I noticed if I stood in one spot that it was almost like a mirror. I made sure I stood in a different spot when I went to spend another penny.

The beer then, loads of it. I didn't count how many cask ales were on but there were at least 12 by names such as Marble, Oakham, Blue Monkey, Abbeydale and Marston's. I've heard this pub can have up to 30 beers on at a weekend. If they can shift that many pints before the beer goes off then that's some going. There must be a lot of thirsty people in Ilkeston.

If I'm honest I have to say a couple of the beers I had were under conditioned; we went on a Tuesday so maybe they'd been on since the weekend. The Marble Little Jim was excellent though, but at 6.9 % abv I was only going to have the one. I will definitely be returning, preferably at a weekend to drink in the cellar bar where you can choose 3 3rd pints with cheese for £4.99.

Back in Derby we just had time for a short visit to the Exeter Arms, the Dancing Duck brewery tap. Another interesting pub interior, we sat in a room that looked like it hadn't been altered for at least fifty years.

A swift pint before we made a move for the train home. Out of time again. Too many beers.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Oakham Ales: Baby Belma

Oakham Ales have pulled off something special again. A couple of years ago they were the first UK brewery to brew using Citra hops. This time they're the only brewery in the world to brew commercially with the Belma hop.

So what does it taste like?
It definitely tastes like an Oakham ale, it's got their typical dry bitter finish. More bitter than JHB but less so than Citra. The citrus flavours are understated, so it does taste more like a UK hop than an American hop, as others have also said.
Easy drinking. You could quite easily drink this all night.

There were only enough hops for one brew, so you best hunt some down whilst you've got the chance. The more I drink the less chance there is of you getting some. Sorry, that's how it goes sometimes.

Location:Grange Ln,Leicester,United Kingdom