Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Fullers Past Master Ol Burton Extra




7.3% ABV

This is the third beer/recipe from this series, so far I have, like many other bloggers, enjoyed them a lot. Old Burton strangely is my favourite, I thought the stout (number 2) would have been my favourite but this one just pips the top spot.

It has the typical Fullers marmalade scent and notes in the beer itself but it is more about the caramel this time, it is a good strong bitter but totally different from ESB. It starts off with a real hit of christmas cake before climbing with this soft chewy caramel end, lovely beer to end a day with or maybe start a night? Despite its strength this is a very smooth beer, drinkable and enjoyable.

Like the others in the series I don't expect this one to be around long, so try a bottle if you see it and let me know what you think.

Monday, 12 November 2012

By The Horns Open Day

Chilly morning on Saturday but that wasn't going to put us off heading to this microbreweries open day.

Neither did the bruises from falling flat on my face just yards from the OH's front door, but I was in need of good beer to help me feel better.

And By The Horns provided that good beer, first off for me was the Coffee Raspberry Stout, the raspberries were very soft in this, just coming though as a soft aftertaste. It was the coffee providing the bigger kick with a strongful scent to the beer and amazing flavour although I did feel this was more a porter than a stout maybe because the mouthfeel was a bit thin.

My OH went for Wolfie Smith, being a Tooting boy he just had to. I was only surprised by the lack of Citizen Smith puns. It was a lovely bitter but my tastebuds were being ravished by the stout still so I can't remember much apart from it tasting good.

Hopslinger was pretty much my favourite of the afternoon, this could be remade into a stunning barleywine I feel but in its current form it is still a great beer.

By The Horns are slowly appearing all over London, if you see one of their beers then give it ago. For such a small brewery they have already done some amazing beers and look set to continue this!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Fullers Brewers Reserve No4


8.5% ABV

These beers are usually very popular hence, mainly due to my forgetting to order online, I haven't tried each one. I missed No1 by days, No2 was fantastic and again I missed No3, so back on form to get hold of a bottle of the latest in the Brewer's Reserve, No4, brought whilst waiting in the rather lovely Mad Bear & Bishop in Paddington Station.

This batch has been aged in oak VSOP Armagnac casks for a year, this you can smell as your pour the beer, it mixes well with the Fullers ESB type scent. As you can see from the photograph the beer is a rather attractive looking drink.

The beer tastes of the sweet vanilla of brandy instead of the cloying bourbon vanilla that many other beers of this type have, backed up with a chocolate and molasses dry sweetness. It is a beer which is good at the start of the glass and wonderful at the end as the flavour increases with each sip due to its long finish.

Highly recommended indeed.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Pumpkin Beers

But no recipe in this post....

One of the American special, or should I say, seasonal beers I enjoy the most is pumpkin beer, not a beer we tend to do over here or in the case of the one time I saw a UK bottle in the supermarket we don't do well. Give us fruits whether it be raspberries, blackberries or another berries and we do a fine job at putting them into beer, fair enough it's not normally my taste but I have drunk a few that have been good, my husband loves fruit beers though and he isn't normally disappointed by these offerings.

Pumpkin beer isn't something we see a lot of over here, I really like Brooklyn's version when/if I see it at Halloween. I'm guessing because it is a seasonal our guys don't have the time behind them at perfecting the ideal pumpkin beer, it should be slightly spicy but sweet with the slight note of roasted pumpkin or at least that it my ideal one. The American brewers have had years to get their recipes right, pumpkins were used by the first lot of brewers over there to brew beer so it is a traditional beer style for them, we over here had over things to use.

We don't get that many over here in the export market either but then I guess it is an unusual beer to us British, Brooklyn's Post Road being the only one I have found in the last few years and this year so far locally none.

If you spot a pumpkin beer give it ago, you may not like it or you may just find yourself another lovely beer to enjoy.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Beetroot Beer

Or another of your five a day...

Recipes;
1 lb beetroot
0.5 lb malt extract
0.5 lb brown sugar
1 gallon water
Yeast (I note there is no quantity for yeast... This could be interesting)

Method,
Wash and slice the beetroots, place into boiling water and cook as you would do normally, then strain the liquid onto the malt extract and sugar and stir to dissolve, let it cool down to yeast happy temperature then drop in the yeast and ferment for three days, siphon and bottle. But you have to let it settle in the bottles for ten days before drinking...

Plus side you have cooked beetroots for making a salad with!

Boak and Bailey mentioned on twitter about vegetable beers, they probably have books with these sorts of recipes like I do. Sadly I can't find the carrot beer recipe though!

Again it is all a bit Good Life but still with the financial situation being what it is, homebrew I suspect will be making a comeback.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

68% beer afford brewdog

For those of you who read but don't have a blogger account, if you have an account you can view various stats on your viewers, which posts are popular etc...

You can also see search terms that people use to end up reading it and the title of this blog is the one which has been trending on my blog for the last month... seriously I have no idea how. Whilst I mention them on posts occasionally I haven't written about how a beer can afford to buy a brewdog.

Stats are bizarre!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

It's All Down To The Acoustics

Nope, not a music post but more the main problem of being to hear your companion when you go out for a drink.

Bars tend to be more modern and the old fashion boozer is more traditional, a broad generalisation I know but the modern bar/pub has tiled or wooden floors with wallpaper with maybe the odd poster and a lot of space.... Space that loud music and very loud voices bounce around in, making the place lively and busy I guess.

Now, your old fashioned boozer in my experience has carpet, curtains and pictures on the wall, all of which serve to absorb some of the conversation from the next table so I can hear the conversation at mine.

Why with all the money that is spent on expensive refurbs of bars and pubs that no one has bothered to recreate the acoustics so that you can hear folks without having to shout? A lot of bars end up with a group huddled outside and not just the smokers but folk who are trying to have a conversation and a laugh with their mates.

News flash, people love being able to meet up with their mates and catch up, not listen to the folks behind them.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Craft = Organic

The word craft is like organic for me to be honest.

Why?

Because ultimately it is a phrase that has no legal definition  backing it up and it is used to sell products.


Whilst I like the concept of craft beer, there are no legal requirements for it, so anything can be called craft. Plus to be honest you can argue Greene King IPA is as craft as say Marble’s Bitter or Brewdog Punk IPA or any number of beers, its all about perception.



So while this is going to a hot subject I think I'll bow out now. 

Monday, 1 October 2012

Hop It

Or rather what to use instead of hops....

Some of us have tried the International Arms race beers from Flying Dog and Brewdog, one is a ginger beer and the other a sour, from my viewpoint anyway. However that competition was to brew an IPA without hops, but the concept of brewing without hops is hardly a new one, so back to the home brewing books to see what is suggested.

Spruce beer has a fair few mentions and I recall seeing the foraging brewers on River Cottage making a spruce beer so it mustn't be a bad drop. Or at least they seemed to enjoy it and according to the books it goes well with hops if you want to combine the two.

The key thing according to the books is " the principle of balancing sweetness against bitterness once understood becomes easy", not a hundred per cent it becomes that easy but the idea of using nettles in stout, apparently an old idea, sounds an interesting one and I like the flavour of nettles. Nettle cordal and explosive beer experiments always a good one. :)

Wormwood was also used in the past apparently for its bitter flavour instead of hops, although I don't fancy that one much as I have used wormwood infusions to kill garden pests off the other plants and as I don't have bugs inside me I want to get rid.... I'm guessing the toxicity of wormwood stopped our brewers from using this herb nowadays.

Of course as someone who likes their darker beers, Treacle Ale is a good idea for brewing without hops. The dentist may not agree though!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Running On Beer Again...

It is that time of year when you finally find out if you have got a ballot place in the VLM or as most know it the London Marathon and finally after three attempts (and I know many have attempted for longer) I have got in.

I received the Congratulations magazine yesterday and after my initial 'MEEP' thoughts, started to tell everyone. My fee has been paid, running plan downloaded and trainers are ready to go from half marathon distance to full. Of course this means running over the festive period but hopefully getting that long long run of 22 before snow fall in March but I'm positive and feeling good about getting to take part in this iconic race.

My time is estimated at 4.10 hours, wish me luck folks!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Parsnip Stout

3.5 lb. Parsnips
1 Gallon Water
1oz. Hops
0.5 lb. Malt Extract
Yeast
1Tablespoon Caramel Gravy Browning (apparently liquid gravy browning is just caramel..who knew?)
1.25 lb. Demerara Sugar


Method
Scrub the parsnips, slice roughly to half inch pieces and place into boiling water with the hops and caramel colouring, boil for 20 minutes.
Strain onto the malt extract and sugar, stir well to dissolve and then allow to cool to 70F, then add the yeast, cover  and leave for 7 days.
Then siphon into bottles.


Yes, it's a bit Good Life but well the government suggests that we have five portions of fruit and veg so......


The interesting parts of home brewing books for me is the more unusual recipes, these are usually under the heading mock beer despite containing hops and the other bits I would associate with real beer. It is interesting What was considered brewable back then, just goes to prove that there is nothing under the sun, all the 'new' beer ideas have been done in one form or another, it's just they are being remade for our tastes. A small tweak on the old recipe after all.


I will be brewing soon, although my quantities will be smaller than most due to space but for the present I'm back to reading the books and enjoying a small glimpse at the past.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Great Orme Brewery's Welsh Black

4.0% abv

I would describe this as a mild, but it pours very flat and despite my best efforts I couldn't raise more than a lacing on the glass which disappeared very fast, leaving behind a dark chocolate coloured pint.

Whilst I enjoyed this beer it is very thin in the mouth, which is due to the abv and lack of carbonation in the beer. However the coffee notes though are lovely which must be from all the malts they use to make this beer and it has a long bitter chocolate finish but there was just something about it that just didn't work for me, could be I had some poorly stored bottles (brought online) but it just was a bit off.

All in all it is a good mild but the Merlyn from this brewery which has more caught my fancy.

Sambrooks Birthday Bash 2012

It's hard to believe that on this rainy, windy and miserable Monday morning that Saturday was a glorious sun filled blue sky day with only a hint of autumnal chill in the air.

But glorious it was, with live music from Dr Bluegrass, piggy goodness from Ginger Pig and beer from Sambrooks.

Dr Bluegrass
Luckily I had won tickets from the Sambrooks Twitter competition for hubby and I, although the fee of £10 was rather good as this included three and half pints of beer, not to be sniffed at I'm sure most of you will agree! Held again at the brewery in Battersea it was only a short bus ride for us to arrive at the door after lunch at a local cafe.

Unlike last year the only beer was Sambrooks own, this was fine by us, last year the only disappointing beer we had were from the guest beers. The hubby was pleased that they had the Lavender Hill beer on, it was one of the few beers we haven't tried and it fast became his favourite of the day. As honey beers go it has a lighter flavour than most, it didn't have any waxy taste and just the tang of honey dryness. This meant it was more rounded than alot of honey beers we have tried, unlike say Fullers Honeydew or the old Youngs' Waggledance, it wasn't just about the honey but the hops and malts came though too. Lovely.

Last year my favourite beer was the Powerhouse Porter and whilst still a lovely beer, this year it was Junction that became my favourite with a warm toasty note to it this year. The only point and niggle of the day wasn't anything that can be controlled by the brewery but more some individuals, if you spill some drink on another person then don't stand there and just talk louder, say sorry. Manners don't cost anything!

The surprise for us this year was the introduction of Pale Ale on keg, this came in a special glass but unlike many Sambrooks avoided the 'chalice effect' that has hit many a brewery, opting for a standard pint glass. The glass is designed on the similar technology for the newer champagne glasses, it is designed to keep the fizz so I know that some won't like the fact its on keg but the market is there for this version. Personally I liked it, yes its cold and fizzy but far more importantly it has a lot of flavour and I felt it works well and on a hot summers day (we may get some of those next year, you never know!) it would be a good addition to any bar.

The day was another fantastic event by Sambrooks, I'm hoping these come a yearly regular event.

In the words of Withnail and I, "I seem to have gone on a brewery tour by mistake!"





Saturday, 22 September 2012

Great Orme Brewery's Merlyn

4.9% abv

According to their website this is the strongest beer they brew, it certainly is a lovely beer.

It pours lively and settles into a warm dark coppery pint with a fluffy top, very attractive and I would love to take up the suggestion of drinking it by an open fire in a pub. Maybe one day...

The beer itself is more a sipper, despite its strength not being that high (by modern standards), it has a big mouthfeel, initially quite sweet but mellows out with a long dry bitter finish. Despite your slow sipping you will find yourself getting to the bottom of the glass and wondering where it went, it is a cracker!

It is a shame whilst on holiday I missed this brewery on pump a few times with the clips just being turned around as I approached the bar so I'm glad that we got a couple of beers whilst we were in Conwy.

For more info: http://www.greatormebrewery.co.uk/

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Liverpool Organic Beers

It was on our last day in Chester that we came across Liverpool Organics beer, the bar had just the two beers in bottles and so as there was only two of us we thought that this was meant to be.

Hubby jumped in first with his order and so got the stout (rats!);

Kitty Wilkinson Stout 4.5% abv

Initially neither of us liked this beer because it was served ice cold rather than the recommended chilled on the bottle. When this cold all we could taste was bitter chocolate and what I can only describe as a vanilla chapstick mushed into the beer. This was the fault of the bar for practically freezing the beer in their fridges.

However...... once the beer warmed up, it was gorgeous.

The chapstick effect melted into a chocolately vanilla stout which was coupled with a long roasted cocoa bean finish. Despite its lower abv it coated the tongue and wouldn't let go, truely a lovely beer. For me it ranks up there with Rogue's Double Chocolate stout as I didn't get the coffee nor butterscotch notes that are suggested on the brewery website.

My beer was the Shipwreak IPA at 6.5% abv

This beer was again served freezing cold but fared better than the stout which wasn't a surprise.

Lovely beer again, if you like Stone's Arrogant Bastard, you will like this one. If anything it reminds me an awful lot of that beer.You have the chewy hops and sweet caramel flavours that I have grown to love with the higher abv IPAs with a long pine tasting finish.

Once more, a lovely beer from this brewery, I think I have seen their bottles on sale at a specialist beer shop in London so maybe I'll be able to try a few more and maybe I may see them in London bars soon.

These two beers were vegan friendly, not that either myself or partner are but it is interesting to see as a few years ago I would have only been able to name one brewery who did vegan products now I can name about four or five with confidence.

For more info: http://www.liverpoolorganicbrewery.com/

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Brewdog for Cheap Cats

My morning email from Groupon have the offer for the tasting evenings at Brewdog bar in Camden, instead of the usual £20 with this offer it will be £12.

I've not done one of these cheese and beer evenings because whilst I like the bar it is a bugger to get there after work but for your money you get five Brewdog beers and cheese to munch on, whats not to like?

If you are interested I would head over to Groupon and bag a voucher.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Bear and Billet Pub

Just out the road from the Brewery Tap and the Crossed Keys  so not far to wander should you wish to try out another set of beers in an evening. To be honest Lower Bridge street in Chester has a fair few pubs on it!

Again is is another pub which takes pride in its bar and wares, five pumps all with well kept beers and the usual keg lagers plus wines and spirits. The Bear fills up fast in the evenings with most wanting to be downstairs although there is an upstairs area not many seem to want to sit up there despite the fact it looked nice. Like most of the pubs in Chester, the Bear and Billet does do food, we only tried the lunchtime ones which were nice and filling, especially for our first lunch in Chester and being absolutely starved as the only food before was breakfast and one bar of chocolate on the train.

We got to try a fair few beers from Titanic, which were all very nice indeed, I had tried the Plum Porter at a beer festival and remember being not very impressed as in it was ok, but here it was gorgeous. Dark coffee porter with a slightly sweet plummy overtone. Maybe it was a duff barrel at the festival but this beer seemed totally different here.

The pub itself is a lovely period building and was one of the pubs in the Heritage week leaflet we picked up. I wish I could claim there was a historical angle to my pub visits but to be honest it was more wanting to try good beer in lovely surroundings. The pub does become very noisy in the evenings so not a place for a quiet chat but that was down to the usual problems of folks trying to talk over each other than loud music.

I did see that they do music folk evenings on a Friday but it wasn't on when we were there, but when they are, it is upstairs. A lot of the pubs seemed to advertise music nights which is something I don't seen a lot of down here unless you count karaoke, which I don't.

Another lovely place to go!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Albion Ale House - Conwy

Yep, we took a day trip out to Wales as someone wanted to climb a castle. The weather was windy, cold and rainy.... It was nice the rest of the week according to folks there though..typical.

However the draw here to shelter out of the awful weather was this lovely pub, owned by four breweries, one of which is the Purple Moose Brewery, it is a really nice place. It is apparently one of the best examples of a 1920 public house, frankly it is a stunning building. There are lots of beers on the ten pumps with two extra pumps for local cider, including the tasty but lethal Black Dragon cider.

All the beers were in tip top conditions and they also have changing lagers, from either the uk or Europe applying the same common sense for their beers to the 'evil' that is lager. As we all should know there is a wealth of difference between a good lager say from Freedom to one by a multinational flogger of yellow fizzy water.

There was also a good selection of wines which the local wine merchant helps them with in the main street, also the shop sells the breweries beers in bottle for those of us who would like to take a little bit of Wales home in our suitcases. So three beers in a bag plus a branded pint glass for someone. :)

The idea for this pub was to have a drinks lead pub so no food other than the pork pie, nuts, crisps or other various bar snacks. After a long walk around the castle this place is a welcome sight for sore eyes, it is a warm pub both in physical building and also in the greeting you get from the staff.  I really would like to say this is the future for drinks lead pubs, if they make that effort with the local community and also bring in beer tourists then I think they will be there for a long time.

The fact that four small breweries had the common sense to realise whilst they couldn't own their own place outright but as a forward thinking group they could end up with a lovely and original place like this, is amazing.

Ten out of ten guys!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Stonehouse Beers




Thanks to the handy local CAMRA magazine I picked up on our first day here in Chester, I found out about the Marlborough Arms in St John Street and their range of Stonehouse beers. These are all rather good, albeit the pub itself is not to my taste, the beers are well kept and four stocked pumps is not a bad thing at all.

Sunlander 3.7% abv was my first beer, if you like well hopped citrusy beers then you will love this one, it is very drinkable but for me it was a little bit too hoppy but still very enjoyable. My partner really liked this one and it would be a very nice pint to have in a sunny pub garden.

My partner on the other hand picked the one I was going to go for which was Off the Rails 4.8% abv, which turned out to be a rich almost chocolately strong bitter. This one was to my taste so I had to kept distracting my partner get a sip now and then, despite it's strength being under 5% it still packed a punch with flavour and was a half to enjoy and savour.

My next beer was Station Bitter 3.9% abv, this is the beer in the picture. Lovely golden carmel colour and was a lovely bitter which had rum overtones in the taste, certainly a beer for a session I felt, as it's finish was subtle and morish. The other beer in the round was Cumbrian Gold 4.2% abv, this was hoppy like the Sunlander before it but less punchy and more rounded with hops being more fruity then citrus.

All in all we were very impressed by Stonehouse and their beers, with four pumps we got to try most of their range. I will be keeping an eye out for their beers in the future.

The Brewery Tap - Chester

This was about the only pub which was recommended to us for our stay in Chester by friends, owned by the Spitting Feathers Brewery in Waverton it is a unusual looking pub set in Gamul House. It is a grade 2 listed building so the interior being kept as a high vaulted ceiling hall is probably not a shock to lovers of old buildings. The street level rooms are shut to the public and used as storage by the pub for barrels, you have to wander upstairs for the bar.

The Spitting Feathers beers are always on cask here, lovely to go with the food that comes out of the kitchen which includes some interesting vegetarian dishes as well as steak and ale pie. This variety means that it appeals to a broad cross section of people which can only help to keep the pub as busy as it is. Other beers are mainly from the local area although they also had two different Tring beers on during our stay. Seven pumps are always on, one for cider and six for beer, smooth operation means that once a beer is done a new one is soon pulled though and ready for drinking.

This pub has very good staff, I'm guessing a lot of training goes on in this pub as the service you get is smooth, friendly but above all very professional. They reminded me more of the staff in a high class restaurant than a pub, some may not like this approach but it works well here. I only had one bad beer here, which on pointing it out was tipped away, another beer given, pump clip turned around and different beer shortly back on that pump. As I said smooth.

Apart from that one time, all the other beers have been in fine condition. Favourites from the Spitting Feathers were Wavertonian Stout and the Thirstquencher, the stout was lovely to have in the pie as well as a pint by the side! 

I would easily recommend this pub myself, as somewhere for a good meal and a drink with friends. It's not the sort of place that I would go for a drink on my own as the tables are all designed for larger groups and the bar stools seem to have regulars on them but for couples and larger groups it is a cracking place.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Falcon - Chester

Upstairs bar open but downstairs still restoring so this is a full deal.

Still could have told the heritage week folks.


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Crossed Keys - Chester

Before coming to Chester I had never heard of the Joules Brewery in Shropshire and after reading about them on their website I wouldn't have done either. They are that rare type of brewery who control their beer supply to keep the quality as they want it served to the customer, as such they don't sell via wholesalers and prefer to sell their beers direct to the pubs in the nearby areas and deliver it too. Sadly this means I won't be getting a pint of Slumbering Monk in London or Essex any time soon.
The Crossed Keys is their tap in Chester and on redoing up the pub they commissioned stain glass windows to represent all of their other taps. So in one window is a Crossed keys, another has a red lion, another has a white horse and so on and forth. This makes this pub a very attractive place to come for a pint, they state outside that there is no football on the tv or machines in the pub so all in all you get folks in who want to enjoy a drink and talk to friends and colleagues. This pub was always busy, not mega busy but always ticking over which means its customers are a loyal sort and not going to ebb and flow with what's the most fashionable place to be seen.
All the beers on cask are the Joule's own with lagers and ciders also available, the beer was in perfect tip top condition each time we came in. The Slumbering Monk my favourite although my partner prefered the Pale instead.

Unfortunately we won't be here in October which is when this pub arranges a coach tour to go to the brewery, we watched as one bloke came in for a pint, saw the sign, quickly phoned a few people on his mobile then promptly booked 14 tickets for this. Apparently accordingly to the bar man when they first did this tour idea they booked a small hopper coach not expecting to get much interest but they could filled in three times over so now they book a big coach. Shows how popular a brewery can be with good beers, lovely pubs and excellent staff to promote them!
If you are coming to Chester this is definitely a pub you have to try. It is again a fantastic pub.

Joules' Slumbering Monk

4.5 % abv

What can I say but what a superb pint. Malty, creamy toffeeish and morish. Holiday beer of the week.



This beer is just what the doctor ordered for this time of year, refreshing but warming when the wind kicks up. Just lovely. 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

More a Tit than a Hawk

Picture a city arranging an heritage week, knowing that it has a rich history from saxon and roman onwards. It prints a brochure for the week with locations and a bit of blurb.

One of these locations suddenly shuts with no warning for restoration, despite the fact they would have been very aware of this heritage week. How I know as a tourist this is the case is every local I have met in a pub has been complaining about this unannounced closure.

Now ok, this brewery do fantastic restorations of their pubs and should be congratulated for their work but timing here is wrong. For a short restoration to be done now.......that is poor form.

The pub is The Falcon and owned by Sam Smiths.....

Pied Bull - Chester

There will be pictures to this post once I'm back off holiday... Promise.

Anyways Chester is a lovely city with a lot of good pubs and the reason I am starting with this one is because they have their own microbrewery in the cellar, a one barrel brewery no less. Apart from their own beers they also have regular guest beers on our visits there was a couple from Hardknott, Phoenix and Adnams.

The pub's own beers hold up well to these guys beers, personal favourite of these beers so far is Red Bull which whilst hoppy had a lovely malty finish. Although my partners favourite was Sensia-bull which at below 4% abv was an apt name, this wasn't as hoppy as the other Pied Bull beers but for me lacked the full flavour that I loved in the Red Bull and Matator. Unfortunately Black Bull (you may note a theme with the beer names!) which is their porter won't be on until the winter months, shame but if there is no market for it beforehand it is understandable. Shame we won't be in Chester then as judging by their other beers it should be a cracker of a beer.

The pub itself is next to the Nicholsons in the town so easy to find and unlike the Nicholsons provides a busy but peaceful place to have a drink and food should you want, which we did with some very filling sandwiches and the husband wanting to go back for a steak later this week. The staff are friendly and do make you feel very welcome. It is very much a traditional looking place and just off the square by the Catherdral.

They also do rooms, so this could a pretty much perfect place for anyone wanting a place with great beer and food plus not too far to bed.

Fantastic place and if you are in Chester I highly recommend you visit!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Holiday Time!

Yay!

Not long until I leave the South of this fair isle and travel northwards. Apparently we are no longer travelling by cart once past Watford but by train and neither are we given whippets and flat caps to fit in.

Shame, I like whippets, very friendly dogs which seem to love pubs and crisps.

Those of you who know me on Twitter also know I have a new shiny phone which is apparently capable of blogging with some input from me. However to all those email suggesters that I need to add bumpt my postings with videos or crap information from dodgy sources I will not be taking advantage of you.

So I will be heading to sunny Chester and as luck would have it we are staying a stone's throw from some very nice places. I'm looking forward to trying a pint of Cheshire Cat which I'm hoping will give me a grin like said cat. :)

Now just to finish the last couple of days here.....

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Personal Drinking Culture

Apparently drinking culture after work is changing within the banking circles at least with workshops on how to keep quiet in public places whilst having a drink.

However it is also true that the everyday drinking has changed around the country. In London and bigger towns I think this isn't as marked as bars and pubs seem to be busy most days here. But locally visit a pub during the week and apart from its regulars they are more empty than I remember on my first visits to pubs when I was younger and I'm not that old!

What I like about pubs is the fact it's not home where I have got numerous jobs to do, not at least revision but its still a comfortable and relaxing place. I can chat to the staff, other drinkers or even my partner if I wish or I can sit there with a book and a drink. Going back to those bankers I can't imagine anything worst than going for a drink with friends and be effectively gagged as topics of discussion are wholesale cut from the conversations.

If you can't relax with your colleagues and friends then why bother going out?

Now I know that my drinking culture is that a hermit but even I see that making people think twice before going out for a quick drink after work.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

We Are Mystery Shoppers

Boak and Bailey did a great post on how to deal with negative reviews, if you haven’t seen it, go and look.

Now for the side of why people shouldn’t expect the same from any blogger compared to a reviewer from my perspective.

I have on more than one occasion, seen and overheard conversations from professional reviewers in restaurants, pop-ups, bars (mainly cocktail places which are trendy at the moment) and pubs whereby they introduce themselves and sit back for their drinks and food. Now I personally believe that reviews should be fair and true, so they should go in as a mystery shop would and try out the place as a normal customer not as a reviewer.

Same for product reviews of make-up. Now, any make-up brand that spends money on advertising in a magazine will also get ‘free’ advertising in the form of a review within said magazine or one of its sisters. It is in the interests of the magazine company not to upset the applecart so I have always seen these reviews as biased. Whereas a blogger who has brought the product out of their own money is more likely to report honestly on the product, its good side, bad side and importantly whether they will be buying it again. This is why I prefer blogs, so far I have not heard one blogger go into a place and state who they are before being served even one drink, so their review will not be based on any different treatment that a reviewer may get.

As much as I can see why there has been a lot of controversy over various blog posts over the years, I think that one thing is noted, that blog posts on services or products are important. Personally myself I prefer reading a few bloggers view point on a place before going. Why? Because in general they aren’t paid to go and review it so therefore bias is avoided as per the problem above.

But and it is a big but, I read a few blog posts on a place and not just one because everyone’s opinion is subjective. And yes, I have been to places with bad blog reviews and wrote positive ones about them or just not gone back if they are bad.

If a restaurant gets a bad review from AA Gill, that doesn’t spell the end of that restaurant necessarily, likewise a good review doesn’t spell automatic success. Same with blog reviews, just because out of all the fantastic reviews there are one or two bad ones it doesn’t mean a downturn in trade, to me and other sensible folks it just means that one or two folk don’t like it.

Bloggers are the mystery shoppers of the world, we don’t look different from anyone else,

We don’t want anyone to know necessarily we are bloggers,

All we want to go somewhere are try something new, whether it’s a new beer, new pub/restaurant, new lipstick or whether that new beermat works on the table or not!



Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Holborn Whippet

Ever feel like the last one to the party?
That’s how I feel about the Whippet; I must be the last beer blogger in the area to turn up at its doors.

Everyone that is anyone in the beer blogger world seems to have turned up and written about this little bar/pub in London, except me until now.

Set in the lovely Sicilian Avenue just a tiny 1 minute from Holborn tube sits this lovely place. Now, I have to admit it is not the first time we have tried to drink here, first time we daftly headed up on a Sunday only to find it shut…darn. This Saturday just gone though we struck it right and wandered towards it in the blistering hot sunshine seeking refreshment and shade to see it’s doors open with people happily sitting outside with pints.

We turned up probably half an hour after opening if I’m honest and despite this the bar lady (or manager as we found out later) was super efficient and soon had us sitting down with our first halves. As everyone else has said the beers are mainly local breweries which are nice to see, London Fields, Kernel and Redemption providing the beery hit we were after.

Sadly I only had a small serving of Kernel as it ran out before the half pint measure was poured but the staff here know their trade and let me have the three quarters of the glass free, as in her words, ‘It’s too nice to waste’. It was in perfect condition and gorgeous, shame it was spent otherwise I would have loved another. The other beers we tried were all in good condition regardless of whether they were keg or cask, only problem for the staff was the liveliness of some of the beers on such a hot day.

We did have lunch at the Whippet, the menu is small but well thought out, we both plumped for the Bloomsbury Burger and very nice they were too. In fact I would say a rival for Bryon’s tempting treats too especially with the beer on offer.

This is truly a jewel in the beer crown for London, great staff, lovely beer, good food and a lovely location. I really do recommend this place and it is also pocket friendly, especially if you are used to beer prices in some locations.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Happy Birthday Mum

Happy Birthday to the lady who always;

Encouraged me to walk my own path and not follow others

Is always there

and I guess most importantly for a beer drinker:

Allowed me that first sip of beer (ok admittedly she thought I wouldn't like it because it was bitter)

Happy Birthday!

Monday, 13 August 2012

What a Fab Games!

Third place in the medals table and I don't care about the other ones, especially biased ones. :)

We did well, despite a slightly shaky start, but to be fair we weren't likely to win that first gold medal for cycling....our guys were probably cream crackered from the Tour de France!

So in a vague hint at the games I wonder what would your top three beers be for this Olympic period?

Hmmm mine in the tried and tested manner:

Gold: McMullen's Castle (this has been my stable beer of choice thoughout the games)
Silver: Fuller's 1845 (Thank you to the Beer Gods who made this 1.99 at the supermarket)
Bronze: Goose Island's Bourbon Stout Vanilla (despite it's flaws it is a memorable beer)

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Harvey's Sweet Sussex Stout

2.8% ABV

This was another beer I had on Saturday night and the one I can’t help think of ever since. This stout is not only amazing drinkable but also a lower percentage beer making it excellent sessionable beer.

It pours from the bottle a dark brown/black with a dark tan fluffy head which soon disappears leaving a nice lacing with a small proportion of foam. Taste wise this is quite lovely, roasted malt with a sweet liquorice finish, a bit thin in the mouth but the taste which lingers more than makes up for it. There is no chocolately flavour in this beer but smooth sweet liquorice takes the main stage and does a lovely job on the taste buds.

Ratebeer users say this beer is too sweet, strange, as I dislike things that are too sweet and yet I really enjoy this beer. If you are used to hoppy beers then I guess this beer would be a bit of a shocker for you, it does remind me of the milk stout style of beer but doesn’t have that milky undertone that they have and this beer is far more satisfying than the 2.8% milk stout I had awhile back!

My only real complaint about this beer is the fact it comes in a 275ml bottle, I would love to see this beer on pump so I could order a pint.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Harveys - Bill The Brewer

Less than 1% ABV


Lower ABV beers, we have all been trying them because the governments brain fart of an idea. Fullers Mighty Atom was the best of the bunch, well until now.

Saturday night after a long day wandering around Kew, we came across The Cats Back in Wandsworth, only the second Harvey’s Pub I know of in London and even better they stocked a majority of Harvey’s bottled beers as well as having four pumps of differing beers including the mild, two seasonal (one for the Olympics and the monthly one) beers and the other was Sussex Best.

Now I don’t know about you but I didn’t know that Harvey’s did not only one under 1% abv beer but two and also several 2.8% abv beers. Their 1% beers are brewed normally then before bottled the alcohol is removed, I don’t know if people view this as a cop out but for me this makes sense they end up with a balanced beer and no/low alcohol.

Bill Brewer for me is the better of the under 1% beers, it is a dark beer which has more taste than some higher percentage beers I have tried, full of chocolately liquorice flavours but a tad flat maybe a (shock horror) gentle carbonation would lift it a bit more but as the flavour coats your mouth it has a better mouth feel than you would think. Considering the heat of the afternoon it also was a refreshing drop.

John the Hop the other small beer was more like the others I have tried on the 2.8% level, pale and hoppy looking but instead of having the too bitter edge and over carbonation of the other this was actually quite sweet but not in a cloying sense. Quite a clean sweet note to the beer with a gentle hoppiness to it, better than most of the 2.8ers I have tried from other breweries but Bill wins the day between the two mainly because I prefer my dark beers.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Brewery Tap - Brighton

Brighton seems to be in the middle of a craft beer explosion at the moment, each time the Hubby and I go down to it's sunny shores we find more different beery places to enjoy.

When we stayed recently (at the lovely 21 B&B), we were down there for a conference and from looking at the day's rather packed schedule I knew lunch was going to be 'interesting', the organisers allowed 45 minutes for lunch.

45 blooming minutes seriously, on a Saturday, in Brighton, in July, to order and eat without getting indigestion...... Right so they must have been in cahoots with Tescos down the road as normally getting anything nice to eat in that time frame is not really happening.

But having said that we lucked out with a discovery of this pub, Brewery Tap, which was a tiny 4 minute walk away in another street from the venue, they serve a lunchtime snack menu with Hotdogs, burgers and sarnies which come out fast from the kitchen allowing us both to sit back and relax with a couple of beers, eat at a normal pace and chat about the talks we had just heard. Fantastic.

The staff are friendly here, chatting and knowledgable about the beers they had on, which seemed to change very regularly over the two nights we stayed in Brighton. Peaceful place in the day to chat and drink beer and very very busy in the evening but at both ends of the scale, the staff were fast and great at managing the customers at the bar.

Great place and we will be back next time we are in Brighton.

http://www.mybrewerytap.com/bars/brighton.html

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Dear Spambots and Spammers

I seriously doubt anyone with an ounce of intelligence would post your comments on their blogs when you say you have a better idea about beer than their post on your computer website.

Please stop attempting to spam my blog and others, you are as bad as the twitter hackers who hack in just to tweet about dieting aids.

It's not big nor clever, stop it.

Yours
Meer

Monday, 30 July 2012

Goose Island's Vanilla Bourbon County Stout

13% abv

Now to be honest I didn't even remember to take a picture of this one... Should have done as Goose Island have stopped producing this beer alongside several others sadly.

We got this one from Tap East on Saturday during a quick pop to the shops for a couple of items, not cheap but discontinued so worth the price in my eyes to try it.

It pours like the original Bourbon County, like oil into the glass but unlike the original this one didn't really have much of a head on pouring, not that the others have a massive one but they at least have a thin dark tan foam lacing. The smell of course is vanilla, not buttery vanilla, more your vanilla pod soaked in whisky and treacle. Lovely but very strong.

The taste is similar but with a harsh smokiness to it that seems at odds with the vanilla and treacle smell/taste. It's not a smooth beer as it's stable mates, both the coffee and original ones are strong but very smooth. This one is a tad harsh although this would be a batch thing for all I know as this is the first one of this one I have tried. The bourbon from the aging barrels is quite strong and accounts for the big vanilla hit but I love the tangy treacle flavour that develops as this beer warms up.

All in all a nice stout but I do prefer the Original Bourbon County Stout.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Twenty One B&B



Now I know this is normally a beer blog and it will always be, but on my last stay in Brighton my partner and I stayed at the fore mentioned Twenty One B&B and it is a rather fantastic place!

Brighton has a lot of lovely places to stay and they are all good but this place knocked the spots off them and all the other places I have stayed in over the years. Firstly our hosts made sure everything was perfect for our arrival, the pictures on this post do not do the room or tray of goodies justice mainly because I forgot to take the pictures in the daytime but last thing before bed...my mistake there!

The rooms are small compared to London hotels but as per most B&B's in Brighton it is a converted seaside residence and this is a standard Brighton sized room which we are used to having stayed in Brighton before on numerous occasions. However the rooms are very very comfortable and beautifully decorated.

But look at the tray:

Rose not included, I brought at the train station for my hubby!
Yes, we had a cake stand, chocolate, biscuits and nuts as well as plenty of tea and coffee, its the tea I worry about as a big tea drinker normally I have to pop to the shops on my holidays to get more tea bags to satisfy my habit but not here. The nicest thing was on the next day after wandering around the town seeing friends I headed back up to the B&B so I could drop off some books, all the time walking there I thought... "I'm having a cup of tea and one of those Tunnock Carmel wafers*" but when I got into our room I found a note saying that they hoped we were enjoying our stay and that they had left cream stones in the mini fridge for our afternoon tea. It was a brilliant touch.

The breakfasts are also out of this world, firstly we were brought over a warm croissant just to tide us over whilst we decided on what cooked breakfast we would like. Then we partook of the cold buffet which was outstanding, before the most gorgeous cooked breakfast came out. We didn't eat lunch all the time we were in Brighton as we were too full from such yummy fare.

I highly recommend this B&B for all your Brighton staying needs!



*Oh yes, not just your bog standard offerings in this place but Tunnocks Carmel's and teacakes!

Monday, 16 July 2012

"Sorry, The Board's Wrong

Hope you don't mind it's a weaker strength beer."

One of the more unusual comments I have received whilst ordering a round in a pub but it did happen this Sunday.

The Falcon near Clapham Junction station is a fantastic pub for a drink before departing homewards bound after a lazy walk on a Sunday and as many know it does a large and varied range of beers. After a wander around the pumpclips I decided to have St Peter's Mild which has I had seen the clip I knew what I was getting but the barman assumed I was ordering according to the big board they have up which had overstated the abv by 2%.

This got me thinking, now from the barman's comment it sounds like folks regularly pick their beer by strength displayed o0n the board. Odd way of doing it surely though?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

It's Raining, it's Pouring

It's more like autumn than summer...

So I have dug out a recipe for mulled ale as that seems more right than cool beer at the moment;

3 bottles of a good beer (I like bitter personally for this recipe)
1 tbsp sugar to start although this depends on the beer used, may need more sugar
Two whole cloves (do not use ground! Trust me on this)
and grated nutmeg to garnish if liked

Pour the beer into a large pan and chuck in the sugar and cloves, slowly heat gently to dissolve the sugar.

DO NOT BOIL! It will be foul if you do.

Once the beer has heated up and dissolved the sugar although to continue heating for about 10 minutes and then remove from the heat. Remove the cloves and test to see if it's sweet enough for you, if not add some more sugar the liquid should be hot enough away from heat to dissolve the sugar.

Serve in a mug, grated some nutmeg over the top and sit back and watch the rain outside whilst enjoying your warming brew.



Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Reality & Assumption

Or consumption in our case here.

Reading over on Pete Brown's blog that a study has found that people are overestimating the amount of calories in a pint of beer and beer actually has far lower calories. Brings me to my usual point that beer or food for that fact doesn't make folks fat, but not actually knowing what both the calories are and the correct portion size for that amount of calories.

Packets of food now have little calories and percentage of intake guides on them but how closely do folks read them? That packet may actually say (in small wording) that a third of a packet gives you X calories (in larger wording). So if you don't read it properly instead of glancing it is not unlikely that you will assume the whole packet is X calories.

Many work out calories for alcohol based on 100ml but don't realise what a pint is in ml, I have heard people say in my earshot that a pint is about "800ml"..... oh really......?

The main reason though for beer or any alcohol causing weight gain though is the fact it makes you hungry, those pub sized packets of crisps are more tempting or that sandwich at home is calling out to be two.

Monday, 9 July 2012

London Drinker Magazine

As London is apparently going to get even busier with this sports thing that's happening, I think its called the Olympics for those who have either been burying their heads in the sand or exist in a timeless bubble. The London Drinker has published a special edition which showcases London pubs, it is a rather nice guide so if you are drinking in the capital it is worth keeping an eye out for it.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Happy Birthday Craft Beer Co.


As some of you will be aware this weekend is the 1st birthday for the Craft Beer Co. and as such they have a unusual and rather fab range of beers in for this weekend.

If you mosey over to their website you can download a list of the beers on, although it seems to only mention the Keg beers and no cask list but given the amount of handpumps I am sure there will be cask beers to tempt many of you.

Last weekend whilst there we got to try the wonderful Choklat from Southern Tier which lived up to my expectations and beyond with a smooth chocolate hit and clinging to your taste buds for dear life. I see from the list they have their Creme Bulee beer, not sure on that one but could be interesting.

So if you in London for this weekend this is the place to head to.






Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Asda's Whitechapel Porter


5.2% ABV

I'm surprised to be honest that Shepherd Neame does any brewing for itself nowadays with all the supermarket beers it brews. I knew they did Sainsburys but this weekend I also found out that they do beers for Asdas as well. Now don't let the picture fool you, it is in a clear bottle but the porter is dark so Shepherd Neame are still using the same clear embossed bottles for these beers as well as their own ones.

The beer itself is pleasant if a tad bland apart from the aftertaste, it doesn't really taste like a porter to me more a darker bitter. Not bad just not very exciting either, shame as I do love Bishops Finger but this porter not in the same ball game for taste.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Office Moves, Studying and Misc Reasons

Are all the reasons why I haven't been posting as much as I would like. In fact my blogging reading also took a hit for most of this month, so many blog posts have been earmarked for reading and as of yet I haven't got to them with the studying I have been doing, mores the pity.

The enjoys of marginal and absorption costing plus the other occult delights of accountancy have been a major drain on my time but not as much as moving a whole office in which it appeared I was the only organised person who did most (all) of it.

My partner wondered why I took a sledgehammer to a unwanted hard drive rather than follow his advice on a better way to destroy it..... The reason was stress management, ok I may have also shattered three bricks and one of the paving slabs in the garden but by heck it's a great way of relieving stress.

Of course I still have a souvenir of this, a bruise where the hard drive following one mighty blow jumped up and hit me on the leg.

Still now my 10 day week is over and now to beer, although last Sunday we did manage a trip to Stratford and Tap East for a few lovely halves of various beers.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

What's The Longest?

That you have ever searched for a beer that has gone into mythical status in your mind?

Just curious...

Monday, 14 May 2012

Countdown to the London Bupa10K

It seems like there are a fair few beer bloggers and writers running at the moment, I'm curious as to whether they are all doing a race I haven't heard of to be honest!

But my getting up early at Stupid o'clock to go running is still happening after a break where I was fighting off a cold/sniffel/flu. Actually running in the morning sets you up for the day, much more alert at my desk pouncing on purchase invoices before they can escape my grasp. Although by lunchtime I am ready to eat my calculator if I have to wait much beyond 1pm for my food.

This weekend was a joy of going out early for a run, leisurely breakfast, banging my head against a brick wall or phoning BT helpdesk and then heading out to a Cucumber Festival in town and apint in my local. Lovely, shame the weekend and the nice weather had to disappear but I did get one more run in the sunhsine this morning before it turns to grey and drizzle so can't moan too much.

Now, my running is mainly because I actually quite enjoy running along, I'm improving slowly but improving but because I have a couple of races paid for and in the diary. Bupa being the first one, first city race I have done too, I'll be in running gear with no pockets for cash so any slow times will not be due to me popping in a pub for 'just one pint'...ahem.

So anyone else running at the moment and why?

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Isle of Wight Steam Railway's Beer Festival

Phew, a bit of a mouthful that title!
Last years glass which I got this year because I thought it was nicer than this years!
This festival combined both steam trains and beer, fantastic.

Onto the festival, it was rather wet this last weekend however the folks at both the steam railway and the beer tent were the cheerful sort who put a smile on your face regardless of the terrible weather.

First up for me was a mild from the Pot Belly Brewery in Kettering called Beijing Black Mild (4.4% abv)lovely warming beer it was too ideal for the drizzly damp temperatures that we faced getting to the festival. It had lovely toasty burnt coffee notes with a nice smooth marmiteque finish, really enjoyed this beer and returned to it later in the day.

Unfortunately I didn't really get on with any of Yates beers, being a IoW brewery there were quite a few of them, shame but that happens. However both Goddards and the IoW Brewery beers were fine for me, two out of three breweries ain't bad. From Goddards a special mention should be made for Fuggle-Dee-Dum (4.8% abv) this wonderfully malty beer is a real cracker and I hope to see it on the mainland, if not I may have to come back for it! My other favourite beer from this brewery was their Winter Warmer (5.2% abv - strongest beer at the festival), a nice fruity winter beer similar to Young's (when it was Youngs and not Wells!) Winter Warmer just a bit more fruity and malty. Quite lovely.

IoW Brewery did well too for me, with their Earls RDA Stout (5% abv). Classic stout, full flavoured and highly quaffable. Vectis Venom (4.8%abv) also fell into the quaffable section and on a hot summer's day I can see you would need to be careful with it! Bisculty smooth beer.

The mainland beers for this festival were all Midlands beers, we guessed because a lot of folks from the Midlands do settle on the Isle of Wight. My favourite was The Leveller (4.8%abv) from Springhead Brewery in Notts, a belgium trappist inspired beer which was brilliant, it had the belgiumy taste without the things I dislike from them normally. Eye opening for me, looking forward to trying some others from these guys.

All in all it was a fantastic festival, the only downers were due to a lack of food only cold rolls or hot pasties which ran out. The regulars to this festival take pack lunches and by 2pm we could see why. But we had a great day, riding out on the steam trains there and back and a cracking beer festival between journeys, whats not to like?

I do note that third class back in the days of steam are better than our so called first these days!


Thursday, 3 May 2012

Greenwich Raspberry Wheat Beer

5% ABV

If you like Meantime's raspberry beer than M&S have made it easier for you to get hold of.

Personally I couldn't detect any difference between the Meantime offical version and their version for M&S, possibly as tad less sharper but that could be my imagination. This wasn't one of the beers I drank abit from a sip as I brought them for the husband who enjoyed them...

At least I believe so by the way he clutched the bottle.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Sandringham Diamond Ale


5% ABV

Brewed by the Elgoods Brewery with Barley grown on the Sandringham Estate and hops that were planted to mark Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee. This is one of the beers that I was glad to see on the shleves of my Marks & Sparks, and now after tasting I am looking forward to a couple of them on the tea table for watching the boat parade down the Thames.

First thing that strikes me is how creamy the beer is, the toffee taste is more like fudge. It is light and clean tasting but the fudge notes fade away slowly. It is a very fizzy beer as seen by this photograph;




Looks a bit like some commerical lagers apart from the fact it has a crisp hoppy scent and a smooth fudge taste. The hops and barley provide lovely counterpoints to the main taste, the barley flavours seem to me to be almost burnt in a very pleasant way.

Lovely beer to be celebrating with. Food wise I'm sure it is going to work well with the tea spread that we have planned. Lots of sandwiches, cakes and treats. :)

Monday, 30 April 2012

Best of British

Now my local Marks & Sparks has upped their game to stock more in the beer section I have been able to try a few more of the “exclusively for” beers that M&S’s beer buyer has arranged for us all. St Austell do a lot of them, in fact if you see Cornish on a beer bottle it is a good bet it is brewed by them, London is usually Meantime and Adnams is the Suffolk brewer.

Not a bad thing, in fact good old M&S has had more unique beers for me to try than any other supermarket and Loughton has much larger stores than it’s branch of M&S so for this one to beat the others… they are doing well. Whether the beers are subtly different from the breweries other beers or they are fresh takes on old recipes is neither here or there for me. It’s the fact they are easily available and tasty!

Over the next couple of weeks expect to see a few reviews of their beer range!

Side note, I really do love the union jack bottle caps!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Pub Cats!

How cool is this!

http://www.pubcats.com/

Some fantastic person has started a website to praise the pub moggy!

As most should have guessed I am a cat fan, I like dogs too but I share my home with three cats. One of which is my avatar on the web, the black and white monster in the top right hand side of this page.

Pub cats website is aiming to create an interactive map showing where pubs are that will provide feline company to go with your pint. The gentle company of a cat, unlike the pub dog who is just after your crisps, the cat is only (usually) after a head scratch and a quiet place to curl up next to you for a nap...

Purrfect.

Sadly pub mogs are a rare breed these days, even if I can think of a few pubs in the City of London that desperately need one to stop the hoards of mice! I heard though the hopvine that the cat of the Seven Stars Tom Payne is no longer with us which is a shame, he was a lovely character and didn't mind the ruff!

Last pub moggy we saw was in Battle in the Kings Head, a small black longhair who settled down for a nap with our table. Love to see more of them.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Diamond Jubilee Beers

Brewers love these special occasions to come up with new beers or to dust off old traditional recipes.

Yesterday I saw in M&S their beer for the Jubilee which I will be popping along to get at most stage, however I have decided against looking online for other beers. This special occasion I will be looking in the shops and not worrying about the ones that got away from me that I have found online.

Any folks out there with a Jubilee beer already in their cupboards?

Monday, 23 April 2012

Battle of the Beer Bottles

Yesterday was the Virgin London Marathon and it was from cheering point at mile 22 that I can say that the female runner in the Hook Norton Bottle was quite cheerfully out running the male London Pride Bottle. This year's third place was held by the lady in the Adnams Bottle but well done for a hard race in the sunshine and wind!

Well done to all runners, you did brilliantly!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Redefining Smooth...

Apparently Caffrey's is redefining smooth by having their beer for sale in.....


...wait for it.......



aluminium bottles.

Woo!

Whilst the campaign is very pretty and glossy, as spotted in one of the monthly magazines I picked up over the weekend, it just seems a bit of a crap point to sell your beer on.

I'm sure these bottles have been used before by one of the major brands and it just seems daft. The adverts themselves are moodily shot with models but the bottle jars with the image.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Pubs & Food

I think that the only thing which will kill off the beer movement is food.

Or lack of......

Yes, designer snacks which are meat based are lovely but where Wetherspoons and Nicholsons work better than craft pubs is that they have a menu of food that can be quickly brought to the table, for the table.

Some folk are lazy, once you are at a place that you like and nab a table, a group of folks can remain there for a long time. Food isn't the biggest part of the bill compared with drink but it is there. Pork pies which are popular in pubs now do nothing for group ordering, they are not things you can share out.

I can see where individual serving foods are from, wine bars. But then what craft pubs are missing is the fact that wine bars which are still going (and going well, last one I went to in Covent Garden was heaving!) have moved from these personal serving foods to tapas.

We, British are big ones for sharing food at a table, crisps are opened out wide for all to share. Platters, tapas or bowls of chips are popular, because again, they are great sharing foods.

The folks which have got into beer will move on to places where you can socialise and eat, beer is a novelty at the moment but soon that will fade off.

People will want to go to a place and settle for an evenings laughter and drinking and that includes food.



Monday, 16 April 2012

Brains' Original Stout

4.1% Abv

Smoky

Roasted Coffee Beans

Ashy

Malty and fades into nothingness with a coffee kiss on the end

Brains’ Original Stout is a good mainstream stout, better than Guinness in the fact that it actually is brewed to have taste and not to be served at ice forming temperatures to disguise the lack of flavour.

It is not as smooth as some stouts and does have a heavy roasted coffee and ashy flavour combination which is odd but strangely morish.

As a lunchtime beer it went very well with the ploughman’s I had sorted out from the fridge and with the chocolate cake. The ashy notes are very weak and food overcomes them as I was a bit concerned that it would jar with the food but it worked well.

For a stout which can be picked up locally from most supermarkets (at least in my area) it is a very nice change from the usual one stout that sells. And so to nab their slogan; use your brains and drink theirs.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Stone Brewing Co's Old Guardian

11% Abv

Despite the swagger, bravado and cockiness on their bottle’s blurb which annoy me slightly from others, I like the Stone Brewing Company's bottles. Probably because it is true they are blooming brilliant brewers and I have never had a bad or indifferent beer from them whether on tap or bottle.

I consider myself lucky to have got this bottle, hidden behind other bottles on a shelf. Admittedly hidden behind Arrogant Bastard which is a rather nice beer too but still I’m lucky. The assistant behind the counter admitted he was going to buy that bottle at the end of the day, so raspberries to him and a beer for me.

The beer itself pours syrupy from the bottle, nice carbonation with leaving a thick fluffy lacing on the glass which lasts to the end. It is an amber coloured beer with a slightly cloudiness to it with a white head so it is a very attractive glass of beer. The smell is gorgeous, sweet alcohol, barley and a dry maltyness to it.

Taste is where the ball is knocked for 6 and out of the grounds!

Yes, a cricket analogy… Too much time spent with the hubby I think.

Big sweet barleywine flavours, the malt and barley flavours balanced beautifully with a sweet boozy kick, this is a sipper. Every mouthful is a joy, big mouth feel and the aftertaste lingers for ages with toffeeque tang. I’m looking forward to getting a couple more of these.

This is what we are missing from the british Barleywines at the moment if you actually see them, currently it seems a rare style for this side of the waters.

American versions are far more robust and more true to the style even if like this one they have swopped out english Goldings for a combination of american hops. Youngs's Old Nick was a great british version of this beer but has now been assigned to the history books. Come on brewers, bring back the barleywines!

For more information: http://www.stonebrew.com/og/

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Expectations


The above beer is not a bad beer, in fact it a great example of what it is.

Hardknott’s website mentions the unusual interaction that occurred in the barrel resulting in a balsamic sourness with this beer. In fact it has the lovely resinous sweet tanginess of good quality balsamic vinegar coupled with an almost fizzy sourness like the sugar on cola bottle sweets. All in all it is a great example of a sour beer.

But, when I see a label in a shop saying that the beer contained is a stout aged in whiskey casks I have other expectations of the beer. I was expecting the smell of medicinal alcohol which as you take that first sip turns into a whisky foretaste followed though with the big (this is a 7.8% beer folks) punchy stout flavours of coffee, chocolate and molasses, maybe all three or maybe one or two.

I didn’t get that…… the sourness is not mentioned on the bottle.

Yes, it is mentioned on the website but when on the hunt for beers in a shop I don’t look it up on a website as I expect the label to tell me things strangely.

Great beer, just not what I wanted.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Brentwood Brewing Co's Golden Crust Ale

3.7% Abv

This beer has an odd brewing history, original recipe by Brentwood Brewing Co but brewed by Wolf Brewery in Norfolk for the Golden Crust & Co. a bit of long and slightly confusing tale of brewing, considering as far as I'm aware that Brentwood is still a goer.

Strange.

However the ale itself is a nice easy going pint, golden hued with a persistent foamy head that lasts well. Lovely malty biscuit bite to its faint toffee smell, it would make a nice session beer.

Possibly a good beer for gaming, tastes good but not punchy as to distract from what you are doing. In fact it is this style of beer that I miss seeing in London, hoppy beers are the norm and whilst I don't mind hoppy beers I prefer miles and stouts. I know that not everyone does but the middle ground to me of bitters is now a thin line, I would like to see at least one beers like this on a bar. Even Brewdog does Blitz which whilst hoppy had a lovely malty biscuit bite too.

When at home I have McMullens AK which I would say is in a similar line to Golden Crust, both are lovely pints but just won't set the world alight.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Craft Beer Co



This is the Cask Pub & Kitchen’s second pub and as such I was expecting great things, on the whole it does deliver. Great beer, knowledgeable and friendly staff and it’s easy to get to on the central line. All the beers we tried in there were tip top condition. From our first visit on a heaving Friday night for Arrogant Bastard which proved to be a stunningly hoppy yet sweet beer and a rather superb Thornbridge pint.

This place can get very busy especially on Friday nights where it appears that every office worker from the surrounding Hatton Gardens and City have turned up for an after work drink or evening session. Despite the fact that the Craft Beer Co has a generously large upstairs area and a big well designed bar in the main bar it gets so crowded that people are found outside perching on the market stalls which are left out in Leather Lane for the next day and drinking their beer. Guess that gets around the smoking ban without the need for a pub garden…..

It was due to the busy conditions we decided to head back on a Sunday afternoon for another chance to try some more beers and relax in a sunny room chatting. The bottle selection at the Craft Beer Co is not as wide as the Casks; it has a few more unusual items though. The Black Magic stout we tried from the US was wonderful, it claimed to be inspired from Irish Dry Stouts... we wish that Guinness had even one quarter of this taste!

The mirrored ceiling in the main bar is fantastic, especially the rather fab clock face. It is nice to see such a wide range of beers on the bar of any place. I often thought we were spoilt at the Cask with their range of pumps and kegs but here I think most people are catered for on the bar even without looking at the fridges behind the bar.

The Craft Beer Co still has a couple of squeaks when it turns around too quickly but on the whole it is a great addition to the Cask’s new range of pubs. It is just a shame it doesn’t do food, with craft beer places a lot of the beer percentages hit over the 7% abv mark and this in mind you do want food and not to be awkward but one thing we heard a lot on the Friday was folks trying to figure out places to eat in this area when the chippy over the road shut early and you don’t really know the area. Only a small point to an otherwise charming place.


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

2/3's of the Way There

Reading Pub Curmudgeon's blog post on schlooners got me thinking about what happened on the weekend. We were drinking on Saturday at the Brewdog Camden, they have boards written up with the various beers and prices per servings. Prices in this bar are not per the pint but per the serving size they indicate on the board so for example Punk IPA was price per pint but Dogma was priced for a 2/3 schlooner.

And you know what......

People didn't mind.

No customer minded the serving glass size, if they wanted a pint instead of a schloonerly two thirds then the staff did let them know the price would be y instead of x if the board price was for a different size to what was ordered. But other than that, most people just ordered via the 'Can I have that beer' and let the bar decide the serving size. This is good for us customers as some beers are very expensive as pints but 2/3 glass size that work out better and this also works well for 6% beers I found.

The brewdog schlooners are nicely designed and to be honest then my husband came back with one for me I did think for a moment he was handing me a pint until I realised the glass was thinner.

These glasses don't immediately mark you out as not drinking a pint, but this really only matters if you are bothered by peer pressure. Personally I have found as a female you can, in some dark aged quarters, get stick for drinking out of a pint glass but meh! It says more about them than you.