Sunday, 29 January 2012

Keg Beer: Back To The Future

The Salmon in Leicester had a retro drinks night on Saturday.
Manns Brown, Cherry B, Babycham and Snowball in bottles, and Double Diamond on draught.

I thought Double Diamond had gone the way of the Dodo, so this came as a surprise.
Out of the tap it dribbled, looking somewhat like flat Tizer.
The taste was of cardboard dipped in syrup. Not an experience I'm in a hurry to repeat, even though it was a bit of nostalgic fun. It seemed to take forever to drink as I watched the other punters handing over cash for freshly pulled cask ale. It wasn't long before I joined them.

It was good to have that choice. Perhaps we have CAMRA to thank for that.
Even better is that more and more forward thinking UK breweries are putting some of their excellent flavoursome beers into kegs. More choice.
Keg beer anyone? Back to the future.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

I'm Not In Norfolk

But it feels like I am.
Thanks again to The Salmon in Leicester for sourcing the beers I'd usually enjoy on holiday in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Green Jack Mahseer IPA hit the spot as the first pint ordered and slugged. One of those IPAs that slaps all parts of the tongue; fruity, hoppy and salty.

Grain beers I've only ever drank in Norfolk. Always impressed.
Drank at The Plough in Norwich and The Village Inn, West Runton. Never in Leicester until now.
The Blonde Ash is as good as a British version of a Belgian Wit is going to get.

Humpty Dumpty beers I've mostly drank in Norfolk, sometimes in Cambridgeshire, never in Leicestershire.
This is the first time I've drank Reedcutter, a pale 4.4%. I will drink it again. Tonight though, I will drink another pint of Mahseer IPA.

Location:Butt Close Ln,,United Kingdom

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Oakham Ales Whakaari

I apologise for beginning to get predictable, another Oakham Ale comes along and I have to stick something on here about it. Well, everyone else is going on about Magic Rock Magic 8 Ball at the moment, so I reckon I'll share a different beer with you.

The Swan and Rushes had a cask of Whakaari, another one of those Oakham Ales in the Oakademy of Exellence series. They appear unannounced, drain in a few hours and disappear, never to be seen again.

It's a 4.3% abv pale ale with a flavour that can't be compared to orange pith, mango, lychees or any other fruit.
It just tastes of hops, Pacific Gem and Nelson Sauvin to be exact.
Very bitter. Very very dry. The kind of flavour a true hop head craves.

One gulp and I was imagining drinking outdoors on a hot summer day, not huddled next to a radiator in January. I stuck around and had a few until there was no more. The more I drank the less I could taste. My tongue was hop-lashed senseless.

Time came to sling my hook when the new Oakham Preacher was pulled through. The gunslinging vicar on the pumpclip bears an uncanny resemblance to head brewer John Bryan. Preacher was a pretty decent brew, but nothing like the smoking Whakaari.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

BrewDog and The Lost Abbey Lost Dog

Lost Dog is the BrewDog and Lost Abbey collaboration beer. It's an imperial porter that has aged in rum barrels for about 9 months.
At the time of writing this, the bottles haven't been listed for sale in the BrewDog online shop, but a few have turned up in specialist off licences.

The packaging looks great, the bottle comes in a small gold and black box, but how's the beer?

It poured quite flat. Any trace of a head disappeared almost instantly.
It smelled woody from the barrel it's been aged in. Whiffs of the rum too.
The taste was pretty much of the alcohol and wood with a lot of sweetness. There's quite a thin mouthfeel. In an 11.5 % abv beer I prefer something a bit more thick and chewy, something the gorgeous Alice Porter has at only 6% abv.

I think this one for the die-hards.
I might get another bottle and stash it away to see how it is in a year or two. Meanwhile, we have the Paradox Jura to look forward to.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Tap House Brewery and Leatherbritches

January. What a month.
Decided to have a month off the old beer tourism due to saving pennies. Stay local is what I'd told myself. Then the opportunity to visit a brew-pub on the South Derbyshire and Leicestershire border cropped up.

I've been intending to visit The Tap House in Smisby for months. Just over 12 months, in fact, as they started brewing in October 2010.

First impressions of the actual pub were of going back in time to the early nineties, with a carvery in the dining area and the smell of roast meat under hot lamps pervading into the bar.

I was here for the beer, and more to the point, the pub's own brewed stuff.
There were four on the bar;

Gold 4% abv

Ashby Pride 3.8 % abv

Dark and Dangerous 5 % abv

Malt Teaser 4.6 % abv

The Gold was impressively hoppy and bitter. Yes, the brewer had certainly used bucket loads of hops in this brew. I had another swig. Yes, HOPS!
After the glass was drained I wanted to try the other extreme so I ordered the Dark and Dangerous.
A rich chocolatey porter that ticked all the right boxes. I will definitely have to return to try the other brews.

Time for a nose around the brewery before we headed off and surprise as a familiar face appeared from behind the Mash Tun. Ed Allingham, Leatherbritches brewer and host of the legendary Booze 'n' Blues festivals at Fenny Bentley was here.

The Leatherbritches brewery kit had recently been installed in place of the Tap House one. Ed is brewing for The Tap House and Leatherbritches. The day I was there was the first brew on the kit since its move from Ashbourne.

If you find yourself in this part of the country, make sure you check out the beers too.

The Tap House
Annwell Lane
LE65 2TA

Monday, 16 January 2012

Gimme A Cheese and Onion Cob

Just give me a cheese and onion cob with me pint.

Stuff yer Gastropub food.

Never take me to a "Two meals for £10" fake pub, those pubs are reserved for plastic families eating plastic chips and drinking plastic beer.

Nothing pairs better with the lunchtime pint of bitter than a cheese and onion cob.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Oakham Ales Straw Bear Ale

Each January we come to Whittlesey to drink Straw Bear Ale by Oakham Ales.

It's a straw coloured beer, no less, with more than enough bittering hops to wake you up on a sub-zero January morning.

We drink it in The Bricklayers Arms, we drink it in The Letter B, we drink it in The George Hotel. We drink it in the streets watching a man dressed head to toe in straw.

There are other beers celebrating this unusual event; Elgood's Straw Beer and Tydd Steam Beartown. Straw Bear ale by Fenland brewery has long gone.

The Bear dances from pub to pub and thousands of people drink and watch. Some follow. It's a great start to the year's drinking calendar.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

BIG BUX! Buxton Brewery

What does Buxton bring to mind?
Echo and the Bunnymen at the Pavilion Gardens in Shine So Hard? Hinge and Bracket at the Opera House? If those left a bad taste in the mouth then the award winning beer brewed by Buxton Brewery certainly won't.

I'll be honest and say we don't see much of their beers in Leicester, apart from bottles at The Offie, so whenever I've seen them elsewhere they're usually the first beers I'd order at the bar.
Just a few of my favourites;

Buxton High Tor
An India Red Ale at 6.2% abv.
Sweet fruity mouthfeel with a massive dry finish. Tons of hops.

Black Rocks.
Not as heavy as some black IPAs can be.
Zesty, like someone had squeezed a lime into a mug of porter.

Axe Edge
6.8% abv.
A massive tropical fruit punch. One of the best Double IPAs out there and my favourite Buxton brew.

One of the easiest drinking Imperial stouts I've ever had. Chocolatey and roasty. Drinks more like 6% than 9.5%. Certainly isn't cloying gloop like some stouts of this strength.

Wild Boar IPA
5.7% abv. Full of the orange pith bitterness you want to find in a well hopped IPA.

What's not to love? Hunt them down. Hopefully, as the brewery expands you won't have to look too far.
There's a line-up of their other beers on their website.
Take a look.
Other folk can drink the water from St. Ann's Well in Buxton, I'll stick with a drop of carnage, thank you very much.

Twitter: @BuxtonBrewery
Twitter: @Kempicus

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Tap East, Stratford

Stratford, London. I'd not been there since 1994. I can't even remember why I was there in 1994 apart from buying the LP This Is Reg Varney On The 88s In Abbey Road in a charity shop. An LP that was the start of a, some might say unhealthy, admiration for the Brylcreemed entertainer.

Anyway, I returned recently to check out Tap East. I took the Central Line tube from Liverpool Street and walked through the Westfield. Thankfully, it's only a short walk and I picked up one of the maps near the entrance so I didn't get lost in Primark.

Someone has done a grand job here, creating a brew-pub where you can easily forget you're in a shopping centre, particularly if you face towards the shiny brew kit.I counted 6 beers on cask and 9 on keg. Two of the cask ales were Tap East brews, JEB at 4.2% abv and Stout at 5% abv.

I made a good choice with the stout as the first drink of the day, it was an easy drinking beer, the kind you could drink a few of without it becoming too heavy going on the taste buds. I followed this with one of my favourite kegged porters, Henley Dark by Lovibonds. The beers are available in thirds pint measures if you can't manage a whole pint of Delirium Noel.

The Ploughman's lunches here look pretty good, and they also sell Mrs. King's pork pies. There's quite an extensive bottle menu. It's worth noting that there is 10% off the price of bottles for take-outs.

Love it or loathe it, this part of the East End is undergoing a massive transformation at the moment, at least you know there is somewhere to get a decent pint.

Tap East, Great Eastern Market, Lower Ground Floor, Westfield, Stratford City E20

Twitter: @TapEast

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The New Year of Beer

He awoke where he'd collapsed seven hours earlier. He felt different now. A layer of grease seemed to cover his whole face, his hair was a filthy matted tangle like the hairs on dog legs after a paddle in a fetid stream.
Something halfway down the bed rasped and blew hot gases.

Welcome to a new Sunday morning.

Before he dare move he lifted his eyelids slowly and stared at the closed curtains. Would it be too light to open them, lest it burnt his retinas? The eyes shut tight. He lay still. Any sudden movement would result in nausea.

Trying to recount the last couple of hours of the evening before he fell into bed was difficult. Perhaps whisky was involved? It was easy to remember how the session had begun, heading towards the city centre. That couple of pints in the first pub, then on foot to other watering holes.

How did he get home? A taxi? "Where's my wallet?!" Oh, it's there on the bedside table.

He wishes he hadn't spoken out loud, his dry tongue stung as it peeled off the roof of his mouth. He thought he might just lay there a while. Perhaps another hour or two. Or four.

To be continued....For the remaining fifty two Sundays of 2012.

Monday, 2 January 2012

DAte With DAda

Did DAda on a DAy off.

DAncing along Trippets Lane in Sheffield we came across the latest Thornbridge pub. You can't miss it, DAubed in large DAda logos.

We downed DAmned good drinks in DAda.

The kegged Halcyon was DAngerously drinkable. The Steelmaker was DAzzling and we DAbbled in a drop of Thornbridge Yule Scotch ale.

Left in a DAze and decided we'd definitely DArt there again.