Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Brooklyn Brewery – Black Chocolate Stout

ABV 10%
Winter 09-10 bottle

Came across this in Nelsons Off License in South Wimbledon, didn’t realise though until I looked at the Brooklyn website that I have had one of their beers before. Tescos for Halloween last year had their pumpkin beer which as I recall was a lot better than the English versions, fruity but interesting beer.

One of the reasons I was drawn to this beer was the chocolate, ever since Youngs changed their chocolate beer I have been trying various chocolate beers (I’m still awaiting a Saltaire) and many of them have been stupidly sweet, which for me is a no. However my luck changed with this one, it is an attractive drink. Dark toffee coloured head on top of a totally opaque brown/black liquid and a smell of dark chocolate.

It is a thick beer which coats the mouth at first with intense bitter dark chocolate and then the smoky tobacco cherries come out. The taste lingers very pleasantly in the mouth for ages after finishing it. There is a slight fizziness tending towards champagne-like bubbly feeling on the tongue which I thought was odd at the beginning but it seems to lighten the heaviness of the beer. Really nice beer.

According to various sites it is possible to age this beer which I am planning to do once I create a cat free area to store them, unless my cats develop ninja cupboard burglaring skills which is possible.....

For more information: http://www.brooklynbrewery.com/

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Recipes of Yesterday

The one thing that is nice about older recipe books both food and drink-wise is the recipes you haven’t heard of before such as Cock Ale and the things you learn because of them. Now, I always had assumed that this was misnamed ale like Milk Stout which is not named because it contains milk but because it contains lactose which is the sugar found in milk. However it does actually contain the remains of a cock which has been parboiled, flayed and stamped so the bones are broken, I do notice that the brewer from Sharp’s was as part of his 52 brews making an offal beer and from this recipe I can see now it is not as original or disgusting as I thought (1).

The book Home Brewed Beers & Stouts by CJJ Berry has a few suggestions in this tight economic time such as my favourite Nettle Beers although that has always proven…….. rather ‘lively’ shall we say (2) and a recipe for Parsnip Stout but no Peapod Lager one. But I now have recipes for Oatmeal Stout one of my favourites from the Sam Smith’s Brewery and I am seriously considering this as my second batch of beer once I succeed in using a beer kit first. I seriously doubt my brew will be a patch on the Samuel Smith's version but it will be an interesting recipe to do.

There is advice in the book for getting your own yeast from a shop brought bottle; purchase a bottle of bottle conditioned beer/stout and let it rest for 48 hours, then pour out the beer/stout making sure to leave the sediment in the last one and half inches in the bottom of bottle. Make up a solution of ¼ pint of hot water, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of malt extract and a pea sized lump of citric acid, when it is cool pour into the bottle, plug with cotton wool and stand in a warm place such as an airing cupboard. ‘The next day it will be “going like a bomb,” fermenting well, and ready for use’ according to the book. I have to admit this strikes me as a good idea or at least it is a cheap idea for using the sedimenty remains for a purpose.

(1) Actually, I still find it fairly disgusting..sorry
(2) More like volatile and likely to explode if you so much as think about looking at it.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Home Brewing & Thoughts On Taking The Plunge


Currently I don't have the space to try homebrewing but over the years I have gathered many a home brewing recipe book. Many of these are the old Pengiun guides that used to sell in old money that were either gained via my late Dad or from the odd rampage though a secondhand bookshop. Contained within them are barley wine beer, porters and carrot scaping beer recipes have for sometime been a source of thought but where to start brewing? Do I head straight into the stouts and porters which are my favourites or do I start with a bitter which seems to be the 'easier' of the recipes I have a post-it note by?

Of course I have attempted various small brewing recipes such as Elderflower Champagne and once Nettle Beer both of which exploded in the shed. This did not make me popular with my parents but at least I wasn't out wreaking their car.

Monday, 9 August 2010

The Queen's Head Inn - Old Harlow

After a wait of twenty minutes only to be served two pints which were left on the table after one sip we used the Good Beer Guide app to find an alternative pub to the William Aylmer in Harlow, as luck would have it there was one within a short bus journey from the town centre. The Good Beer Guide I have found is a bit of a mixed bag, the William was in there but judging from the sticky tables, awful ale and tragic understaffing (one member serving on a busy bar and one member delivering food to tables during a Saturday lunch time is not good) I’m guessing things have really changed since the reviewers of the guide went there.

However the Queen’s Head is a lovely little pub in a picturesque part of Old Harlow, which more than restored my faith in the Good Beer Guide! The walk from the bus stop didn’t take long and we were soon sipping good pints and reading the menu trying to decide what to have. They have four pumps with two Adnams beers on as well as Brewer’s Gold and Wonderful Wallop, from Beer in the Evening I guess this is their standard range although judging from the pump clips they probably have a few guests throughout the year. All were very well kept and cellar cool rather than frozen unlike the William’s beers we left back in Harlow Town Centre.

The food was as good as the pints, both of us deciding to have desserts as well, typically we managed to order one dessert which they had run out of but they did promptly come up to us and offer different alternatives including two which weren’t on the menu yet which was nice. For a small pub the food range is very big and all the food we had and what we saw others having was great quality, it does seem to get very busy during the lunch hour so be warned if you are intending on heading down for lunch getting there earlier rather than later is a good idea.

The pub itself is a lovely building which once was two cottages which have now been merged into one. Comfortable and charming surroundings with great staff will always be a winner, a fact a lot of places miss but they haven’t there. Certainly if we are back in Harlow this would be the place I would head to for a good lunch or quiet drink.

Queen's Head Inn

26 Churchgate Street


CM17 0JT

Monday, 2 August 2010

August’s Astounding Refreshments

Being as the weather continues to be summery what is needed for that long evening is a suitable beverage and as usual our brave brewers continue to bring out specials for this last summer month;

Rebellion Brewery’s Deflation 4.2% (Complete with very dodgy pumpclip)
Darkstar Brewery Dark Star Triple 8.5%
Loddon Brewery’s Check Mate 5%
Harveys Brewery’s Armada Ale 4.5%

There are others but to be honest rather than a serious list (or my do to list as my partner calls it) this is more to knock the squirrel down the page. A slight bit of pessimism in this post I guess, I can’t make it to the Great British Beer Festival due to wedding plans having taking all my leave for this year. Hopefully next year I will get to go to my first GBBF, as so far I have been to small festivals which have been great but I have wanted to do this one for a long time just never managed it.

To finish on a more positive note, I really like the symbol for the festival especially the lion’s face.