Sunday, 28 February 2010

King William the Fourth/Sweet William

On a bus journey to Walthamstow on the number 20, looking out the window to the rainy morning it was a surprise to see a pub with a sign boasting a microbrewery. So once my partner and I had achieved the purpose of the shopping visit to the market we decided to head back. Sadly the bus went a slightly different route on the way and after a brief discussion (or better known as an argument where I was forced to admit that the iphone gps system is useful after all) we were soon seated inside the pub with the first (of many) drinks in front of us.

The staff are frankly wonderful, the landlord was unbelievably helpful as when I went up to get a bottle of Pink Pride he asked if I wanted a pint as it was ready to go on but they were waiting for a spare pump. He happily went off to the cellar to get me a pint and this is unusual in my experience to get such a helpful landlord. Bottles of their beers are £2.90 but a pint from the pumps cost £2.00, this is not a pub or brewery which is money-oriented at all, instead they seem to enjoy a pub which has happy customers! And here is the other part of this place’s charm; the microbrewery is Brodies which I know a fair few people have heard of. Their beers are the prices mentioned before and they do sell their beers for take out which we did. Other drinks such as Guinness and lagers are a bit more but still cheaper than usual London prices.

They do food which is well done and tasty with good prices to match the drink prices. Again thanks to the staff, my partner ordered me a rare steak which they admitted they didn’t like doing…. fair enough! I have no problems with people saying that from the outset rather than just serving me a medium with glares if you suggest you ordered different. The steak was very nice, good cut of beef which was prepared very well and tender as medium, I prefer rare or blue for steak but it was good so no problems here. My partners chicken was good too and I only wish for the meal he ordered me a jacket rather than chips to go with the steak as his was lovely. He snaffed some of my chips so confirmed they were good too.

The beers are well kept and they are varied, whilst I wasn’t keen on the honey beer (my partner was though), the Pink Pride a hint of raspberry beer was spot on. This was a lovely pint with a kiss of fruit, not too sweet and the right touch of dry. We were both impressed by the sheer selection of beers that Brodies brew and for those of us who like lagers they do a London Lager although we didn’t try it this time. Don’t know if Cooking Lager would drink this lager but at two quid a pint surely he would try it? :) The Porter was gorgeous, I enjoy dark beers and this was brilliant although potentially lethal as it did not taste the 7.8% ABV rate it is! We brought the stout to take home and try as that was over 12% and from a home tasting it was gorgeous too. There will be beer reviews to follow I am sure this week, extensive testing on site was done and I have bottles to do follow up testing as well.

The pub itself is a Victorian type affair with the usual mounted animal heads and walls filled pictures. Clean and charming bar with two bars with the unusual bended bar in the main which(I assume) the original purpose so you can fit more pumps on and to get more people to the bar. My partner was happily surprised by the Holy Trinity of gent’s loos which is to say; door with lock, loo seat and loo roll. You may laugh but terrible toilets are the bane for pub goers and unfortunately the usual experience but not the case here.

Other put offs for myself is mainly loud music and sport, yet even though this pub has both they weren’t an annoyance, the TV screens are well placed so that there are areas for non-sports fans to sit and enjoy a chat and pint even if their partner is jumping up to watch their beloved Chelsea be trounced by Man City every so often. :)

This is a fantastic gem of a pub (and brewery) and I recommend that people do try it. We noticed from their website that they are doing a beer festival on the same weekend of the Wandsworth one, I think I will have to force myself to attend on the Sunday. Hard life but someone has to do it!

For more information:

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Meer Not Meh!

Yes I have had a few awful pints but I won’t moan about it until it has been followed up with the same again. If a beer is brewery awful or a pub can’t manage a cellar for toffee then I will moan about it here but for one offs I really can’t see the point. It is easier to order another pint and enjoy my past time.

This is the point of this blog for me, I enjoy drinking good beer and going to pubs. Part of my whole enjoyment is sitting in the pub with a good pint (or half) and people watching, occasionally I actually talk to folks but usually I will sit at the bar and enjoy a pint and the surroundings. And this ladies and gentleman of the internet is the reason why I started this blog, to share my enjoyment of something with others.

If you enjoy something there is no reason why not to share and let others who like similar things find new beers and places to try out.

I admit my tasting notes for beers are foody but that is because I do compare things with tastes I have experiences of (ie food and drink). Maybe one day I will lift a beer to the light and describe the appearance with ‘spring like meadows’ and then take sip and compare the beer to ‘earth-scented loam’ but it is unlikely. Sadly the children’s book is unlikely as well although it was tempting to write a post/story on Bully Blogger I just can’t write that way either.

Even when I have more experience and find more stuff to negatively meh about I still hope this blog will be primarily positive meer!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Wandsworth Beer Festival

This was an excellent event back in October, my friends and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in lovely surroundings and with the beer on offer. So as you can imagine I am looking forward to this March’s event to socialise and of course for the chance to try different new beers. Being more organised this year I decided to have a peruse and organise what beers are going to be my “Must-Trys”…….

and here is the problem……… I want to try near as possible the whole list! Just look at some of what is on offer;

Milton Cambridge's Minotaur Mild
Atlas Kinlochleven’s Latitude
Lymestone Brewery’s Stone Cutter
Twickenham Fine Ales’ Sundancer, Spring Ale and Grandstand
Skinner’s Ginger Tosser & Keel Over
Allgates’ Napoleon’s Retreat
Naylors Crosshills’ Pinnacle Bitter
Rudgate Brewery’s Odin’s Raven
Leeds Brewery’s Eager Owl
Titanic’s Lifeboat
Cathedral Ales’ Red Imp
Bushy’s Brewery’s Manx Pride
RCH Brewery’s Pitchfork & Old Slug Porter
Atlas Brewery’s Equinox
B & T Brewery’s Easter Eggstra

You can see my problem here, there are some great beers there. Luckily I will be going again with friends and we can try each other’s choices but at the moment I have only knocked 4 off the festivals lists as beers I don’t want! This isn't a bad place to be as we all know, but there is a high chance I will be standing at the bar with a manic expression trying to decide on my next half. So if anyone spots a short female with a crazed expression it's not alcohol that has done it but too much choice.

Choices, Choices! Looks like another great festival and I can’t wait!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Bath Ales – Barnstormer

ABV 4.5%

First off I will say this is an excellent name for a beer, it certainly raised a smile for me. I like a good name for beer, one that's amusing but not awkward to ask for in a pub.

Now the beer! This is a medium dark beer which pours from the bottle without much of a head and what it does have it loses fast apart from a fine line around the glass because of this it isn't the most attractive pint but it really delivers in taste! The barley malt smell that comes off the pint is very appealing and it backs this up with a nice bitter dark chocolate flavour in taste. It is fruity but more in a stolleny (without the marpizan) flavour rather than fruit as such, in fact this reminds me in taste of the dark chocolate stollen I made at Yule.

It is a rather morish pint and very drinkable, I prefer a pint with a lower ABV for a session beer but this is so tempting that it could end up on the list.

For more information:

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Sink the Bismarck

I haven’t really said much on the alcohol hot topic as many better bloggers than me have put some very good points out there, but today comes the news of Brewdog’s latest beer ‘Sink the Bismarck’ and at 41% it has already raised the heads of Alcohol Focus Scotland;

‘Over the past few months BrewDog have continued to produce stronger and stronger beers. By commenting on this irresponsible brewing practice we only serve to add to their marketing and therefore we have no further comment to make.’ From the BBC website

No doubt many more will be commenting on this but how many will see the point of what Brewdog are doing. They are creating beers which are finely crafted and they come at a price, these beers come in Brewdog’s customary 330ml size and cost an amount which makes most of us think about it.

I could understand the controversy if they charged £5 - £10 per a bottle but let’s face it £35 for a 330ml bottle in the case of Tactical Nuclear Penguin is hardly something anyone thinking of getting drunk for the sake of getting drunk is going to buy let alone the new one which according to the brewery is going to be £40 for 330ml.

A majority of supermarket deals make 750ml bottles of SPIRITS cheaper than Brewdog’s strongest beers and they are easier to get hold of too. These controversial beers are not sold in supermarkets but at places which do limit the amounts brought in a sensible manner and from this I am confident that the online buying of this latest offering is going to be as sensible and sane too. I wish though that they would brew a decent tasting low percentage beer as well as these stronger beers, that end of the spectum they have barely scratched the surface.

So in conclusion what we have is a brewery creating very strong beers which are priced to reflect what they are. There is a difference between a cheap supermarket bottle of vodka which costs £5 and a bottle of U'Luka costing £55, likewise with these beers.

Edited to add; Both 'Taking the beard out of beer' and 'Pumpclip Parade' have the right idea that the only real reason to be annoyed is the really bad naming of the beer.

McMullens’ Original IPA

ABV 4.8%

Quite surprised I actually got to try this given the difficulty I have had in the past finding McMullen’s specials however my local came up trumps. They have now had this for the last three weeks giving myself and other regulars more than enough chance to have a good tasting of this beer.

I am glad they have had this on pump; it is a nicely balanced beer. The pint itself pours well with a foamy head which fades to an attractive lacing around the top about half way though and has a clean hoppy scent which is rather appealing. It reminds me a lot of this brewery’s Hertford Castle bottled beer but without the alcohol kick which that one has.

Like many of McMullen’s beers it is a hoppy light tasting style of beer yet it manages to hold it’s own against strong flavours which is no mean trick. It finishes with an extremely clean end note which means it works well with spicy flavours such as chilli crisps although sadly I can’t try this with a curry until I order some bottles of this online but I hope to do this soon and unlike the Meantime IPA which I found fought with food flavours I hope this one will compliment instead.

One annoying point (as I find a fair bit with breweries) is that McMullen’s say that it is “One of our Head Brewer’s favourites” yet it is only available in the pub for such a short time. Why do breweries do this? If it is a favourite why not make it more available and allow it to become one of your customer’s favourites!

Monday, 1 February 2010

February’s Seasonal Warmers

Since doing a list for January I have been curious about the amount of seasonal beers and ales there are so I have decided for this year to do a mini monthly post rounding up some of that month’s seasonals to attempt to taste in this fine month.

February is a cold and wet month so what better than to settle down in a warm pub preferably near to the lit fire and sample the brews which have been created especially for this month? After all it makes the weather outside more bearable knowing that there is something special about the month, namely these;

Gales – Swing Low 3.8%
Loddon Brewery – Sorry Not Available 4.3%
Adnams – Oystar 4.3%
Marston’s – Sweet Chariot 4.8%
Tom Woods – Wagoners Ale – 4.8%
Little Valley – Red Dyke 3.9%
Brakspear – Special 4.3%
Fullers – 5% But name yet to announced (Oooh the suspense!)