Reviews and events

#12BeersofXmas – Day 6 – Surt Til


I’m not really that bothered about getting boozed up on Christmas Day – far too much to do, games to be assembled, and massive amounts of food to be eaten. Things have died down a bit now though, so I’ve popped my second beer of the day.

Completing a hat-trick of To Øl selections is Surt Til, a sour table beer, designed to be a liquid equivalent of the pickled vegetables served alongside a Danish christmas dinner. As the blurb says, why eat your vegetables when you can take a drink? I’m inclined to agree.

The pour is lively, less ice man, more ice cream man, but the carbonation is just right. There are some salty notes and a bit of funk, but also a bit of a soapy, thin finish, which is not entirely unexpected for a table beer. The sourness is fleeting but crisp, with some typically savoury hints from the Mosaic.

Overall, this is a satisfying beer but not as moreish as Sur Yule. This was another of Becky’s choices for the lineup, and as she’s done most of the hard work today I’ve given her the majority of the bottle.

‘The only downside to doing the cooking is I sip all the booze I can get my hands on whilst chopping and stirring so I’m feeling a bit pickled! That being said I am once again regretting sharing my lovely To Øl beer with Gareth. Of the two I thought I would like the Sur Yule the best but this is divine. I love an easy drinker and this is incredibly quaffable. No flavours standing out it’s just clean and crisp and even (trying to make my contribution festive!). I could drink this all day long – I’m looking forward to getting my hands on more To Øl goodies in 2017!’

Hope you’ve all had a good day, and that you’ve got a fun evening planned.

Advertisements
Standard
Reviews and events

#12BeersofXmas – Day 5 – Sur Yule


Christmas Eve means another Christmas beer, and another To Øl bottle. We are both slowly recovering from last night, and not much has helped soothe our heads so far – fry up, fresh air, fluids (both soft and beery) – all have failed. We’re just glad that we chose to go out on the 23rd rather than inflict this on ourselves on Christmas morning. I am expecting we’ll be up early.

Sur Yule comes in a handily sized sharing bottle, and has been chilling in the fresh air all day (fridge too full of food). A pale sour with Cherries, it has a light rose hue. Cloudy with a snappy but brief bite, it has hints of a Kriek but less intense.

Whilst year round I will enjoy every type of beer style, at Christmas where the focus largely isn’t on what’s in my glass, something like Sur Yule is ideally what I aim to have in the fridge. A beer that, for me, is relatively easy going, yet high quality, shareable and with enough zip to cut through the post-dinner fatigue. I’m pretty sure that Becky is going to share my enthusiasm here.

‘As soon as I saw the tweet from Raynville with a picture of this one I knew I had to have it! I’m yet to find a To Øl beer I don’t love and this is no exception. Just from the smell I knew I would love it. The cherry flavour definitely comes through but in a more subtle way than a fruit Lambic. It’s very suppable! Just gutted I did the kind and generous festive thing and said I’d share with Gareth. Next time no sharing!!’

The spirit of Christmas there. I’m hoping Becky is feeling slightly less stingy tomorrow when she opens a couple of the beery gifts I may or may not have got her. We hope you all have a good day tomorrow, and that Santa brings you something tasty to slurp.

Standard
Reviews and events

#12BeersofXmas – Day 4 – Santa Gose F&#% It All


We’ve subbed tonight’s beer into the lineup, as we’re out and about tonight and a 3.5% Gose is much more of a sensible start. We’ll save the silliness for later.

To Øl has been one of our joint favourite breweries this year, and this Gose has been Becky’s favourite beer of the year. Her enthusiasm for it has been so intense that she’s even bought extra for friends of ours.

I’m also a fan, and although I don’t think this is anything amazing it hits all the Gose spots – lemon, salt, crisp – with a combination of extra fruit addition that doesn’t overarch the basic qualities of the style. Some Gose recipes are slightly over soured, and while I’m not a slave to the rule book, it kind of defeats the point of brewing something that’s main strength is it’s subtleties – Santa Gose keeps everything balanced, fresh and interesting.

‘As Gareth said To Øl has been a hit for us and by far my stand out brewery of this year – this beer in particular is amazing.  I’m a big fan of Gose to Hollywood but this is something else. It’s not as salty as some other gose style beers and is almost umbongo like in taste! Very clever twist on the Christmas style in that Santa has fucked off to the Bahamas so is having a fruity gose. You defintely get all the fruit flavours and I’d bet my bottom dollar they drink it in the Congo! I could wax lyrical about this beer all night but I must desist and trot off to the pub.’

Me too. Pettmans out.

Standard
Reviews and events

#12BeersofXmas – Day 3 – Bearded Lady Grand Marnier


Day three and the Pettmans have shifted to Kent, back in town for the bulk of Christmas. I’ve bought a box o’booze and today’s selection has been momentarily chilling on the rear window sill.

Recently re-brewed, this can of Magic Rock Brewing’s Bearded Lady Grand Marnier edition has been in the can for about ten months (I think) and I’m looking forward to seeing if the chocolate orange character remains, or if this has altered.

Becky is definitely not a fan of Stout, although she has found the occasional palatable example, and still happily persists at trying anything I open. Not sure if tonight’s beer will make a breakthrough or not – on opening I get aromas of orange as expected, although the initial taste is more liquorice. The texture is thick and luxuriant, velvety smooth but interrupted on the finish with some warm boozy vapours. There’s touches of vanilla to smooth the flow from glass to gullet, and while it drinks like a 10.5%er, I’m finding it hard to sip rather than slurp. Eminently drinkable. Has it made a positive impression on she who shall not be stouted?

‘Another attempt for me to find a stout I want to take on a second date….It started with a sniff (there’s a song in there somewhere) and I thought I was going to love this one. The chocolatey orange aromas made me think this was going to  be right up my street. But alas when I had a taste it made me pull my ‘stout face’ (again I can try to find an appropriate gif). It’s probably the least offensive of the stouts I’ve tried but still not for me. I shall persist on my stout mission (impossible)’.

Is stout one of those things people either ‘get’ or not? I suppose that could be said about the majority of beer I drink. Even as a fan, I think most stout, especially the stronger end of the register, is something that has very limited appeal to casual beer drinkers. I don’t really fetishise the Impys but this is an excellent beer and something that was the potential to win over the indifferent, but not tonight.

Standard
Reviews and events

#12BeersofXmas – Day 2 – Yadokai


Final day of work before Christmas for us both today, so we’ve found a big beer to celebrate. I first had Wild Beer Yadokai last year when Becky bought it for my birthday and I was very impressed, so much that I went out and bought another bottle and stashed it away.
There were a few issues with subsequent releases, and I wasn’t quite sure if my bottle was affected or not, so thought best to save it for a while. The openness about the issues was admirable, and although there was inevitable disappointment I think Wild Beer addressed it well at the time.

With their reputation for pushing boundaries its a shame that there was a slip, but I haven’t been put off from opening this, or any of their other beers I have overwhelmingly enjoyed since. Here’s hoping that it pours well and without the jellification some reported at the time of purchase.

The beer itself is described as influenced by ‘things that are Japanese’ and was created in collaboration with the Hanging Bat Brew Co, chef Tim Anderson of Nanban, and the now sadly closed Blackfriars Bar/Restaurant of Edinburgh. They must have been on full alert at the collaboration station that day.

The result is designed to be Sake-like, and given the importance that both Blackfriars and Nanban placed on beer and food matching, it should pair well with the Hirata beef buns we have for dinner. Unfortunately due to pre-Christmas rushing about we ate those about two hours ago, but still…

So, to the pour. I can see quite a lot of sediment in the bottle, so once I got the (pissing) wax and cap off, I poured slowly. A few bubbles but no head or foam, I’m glad to say that it poured clear. The initial aroma and colour reminds me of a delicious Spanish cider I had over the summer, but there is a far more restrained sweetness here.

I think I may have had Sake once, and sea buckthorn never, so I’m mainly recognising Yuzu from the initial sips – which to me is kind of a midpoint between lemon and bitter orange, almost Marmalade-like. With an abv of 13%, Yadokai harnesses that strength gracefully, with no burn but a constant warmth with every swig. There’s also a savoury, salty presence from the addition of seaweed to the boil, and for me this adds a further layer of intrigue, keeping the citrus on its toes, and further hinting at the provenance of its ingredients.

Overall, I think this is a really difficult beer to pin down, I would gladly drink it again and again, and it’s a beer I would like to recommend, albeit with caveats – I love it, but it’s not for everyone – and one I’d like to see people’s reactions too. Over to Becky for her take on tonight’s choice.

‘When Gareth first handed me this and I had a sniff I though he’d abandoned having a beer and just poured me 2/3 of fortified wine! There’s also a hint of cider on the nose taking me back to my teenage days talking to huey on the big white telephone. (Feel free to tweet me if you don’t get that and I’ll find you an appropriate gif). On looking at the glass I didn’t think I’d be keen. I like a good fizz on my beer and this is fairly flat but the more I drink the more it’s growing on me. I couldn’t tell you what flavours I’m getting because this is quite a strong beer and I’m struggling to feel my own face at this point. If you like winey, cidery beer then this is for you!!’

There you go! We’ve got some seasonal belters coming up in the next few days too, so this week should be getting more and more festive.

Standard
Reviews and events

#12BeersofXmas – Day 1 – N’ice Chouffe

Back again for another Christmas beer marathon, or should that be sprint? Definitely a marathon in terms of finding something interesting to say after a week or so, so this year my #12BeersofXmas will be a joint blog with the one and only @beckyboogaloo. She’s much more amusing than me and has really got into beer this year, so I’m glad to share her pearls of wisdom on here.

I have definitely had a Brasserie D’achouffe beer before, but it must have got lost in the foam of my memory as I don’t recall exactly when or where that was, or what I thought of it. For me, a lot of Belgian beer is on the peripheries of what I seek out, almost like it’s too familiar to spend money on when there is something more exciting and exotic on offer. Respected, yet overlooked. I’m well aware that this is a slighly dismissive, possibly juvenile attitude to some of the best beers in the world, and I’ll be rectifying this approach next year. Hopefully with my first trip to Brussels in almost 5 years.

N’ice Chouffe is a winter warmer, brown, but with plenty of orange peel and spices. It has the aroma of a Wit, but tons of liquorice. Christmassy would be the number one adjective that comes to mind, and in a relaxed, slightly pissed at lunchtime kind of way; ‘I’m feeling very Christmassy, Mum’ ‘Yes dear, it’s January now though, shouldn’t you be at work?’.

Becky is also feeling typically Christmassy – exhausted and full of cold, however, she is not one to be deterred from festivities and has a glass on the go.

‘This isn’t going to be my finest contribution to a blog due to the Christmas lurgy taking hold. I love the smell of this one and thought it was going to be a lovely rich flavour. Unfortunately all I got was a watered down sherry flavour with a metallic after taste. To be honest I’d rather have had a third of night nurse for more than one reason! I think it might be best to revisit this beer when everything doesn’t taste like illness.’

Well, we’re not off to the best of starts, I’ll pump vitamins and water into Becky and hope she begins to recover shortly!

Standard
Opinion and rants

Golden Pints 2016

Golden Pints Logo
As I raised glasses of beer to my lips in 2016, there was a chance the taste would be adulterated by the steady stream of bitterness spewing forth from my reaction to the year’s events. As we step tentatively towards another year, here’s hoping the following beers don’t cark it/get watered down following a takeover/withdrawn from the market following a referendum.

Best UK Cask Beer – for the second year running my consumption of Cask beer has been low, in part due to the proflieration of keg across Leeds, in part due to a lack of places consistently serving it well. Magic Rock’s Common Grounds stands out as a memorable pint, even if it wasn’t that widely available on cask.

your-betrayal
Best UK Keg Beer – Marble have cranked and revamped their output this year, and their Heavy Metal series was full of delights. The few pints of Your Betrayal I had at their Thomas Street bar in Manchester were near-revelatory. More and more great Lager followed later in the year, but I kept coming back to this one as a quality marker.

Best UK Bottled Beer – Tzatziki Sour by Mad Hatter never ceases to amaze and confuse. A modern classic for me, and one of those beers where I love watching people’s initial reaction. Runners up go to Thornbridge’s barrel aged releases, Love Amongst the Ruins being another favourite.

 
Best UK Canned Beer – Northern Monk’s collaborative Trilogy of Hops, Malt and Yeast produced three great beers, but Hops was pretty much as perfect an IPA as I could wish for. Occasionally, it seems like a beer has been brewed to match your exact taste, and Hops ticked all the boxes for me.

 
Best Overseas Draught – Narrowly missing out on best overseas bottle, 8-Wired’s Hopwired IPA was a showcase of NZ brewing and a dank, deep dip into a whirlpool of hops.

logsdon-peche-n-brett
Best Overseas Bottled Beer – Thanks to generous fellow bottleshare attendees, I was lucky enough to try two Bottles from Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, both of which were outstanding. Their Peche n’ Brett was one of my favourite beers of the year, and i NEED more.

 

Best Overseas Canned Beer – Almost by default I’m choosing Cigar City’s Jai Alai, as I didnt have an awful lot of overseas cans, but what a beer it is. Truly a great example of what US breweries can produce, and still one example of the sort of standard our brewers should be looking to emulate. To Øl’s cans were also wondrous, especially Sur Amarillo.

 
Best Collaboration Brew – Probably one on many people’s list – Magic Rock/Cloudwater/Lees’ Three’s Company – again, another example of everything I look for in a DIPA. The rebrewed Big Dipper (sans Lees) is also tasting brilliant.

 
Best Overall Beer – Your Betrayal wins outright for me, it was, and is, a true beer crush. Although, Lost and Grounded’s Running with Sceptres would have been another corner in the love triangle of UK lager had it made an earlier appearance in the year.

 
Best Branding – Its hard to look past Cloudwater and their ever changing, yet consistently wonderful labels.

 
Best Pump Clip – Elusive’s Plan-B tickled me, a moment of lightness in the Brexit madness.

attack-on-the-bounty
Best Bottle/Can Label – Northern Monk’s patrons series has produced excellent artwork and an insight into the process behind their creation, with my favourite being the 3.01 Attack on the Bounty – release the kraken!

 
Best UK Brewery – Too many to really narrow it down to one – I drink more beer from Yorkshire breweries than anywhere else, and i’d have to pick a side between Northern Monk and Magic Rock.

 
Best Overseas Brewery – Both Becky and I have been investing heavily this year in the delights of To Øl, and in particular their large cans – Sur Amarillo being my absolute favourite. Cant wait to get stuck into their Christmas beers shortly.

 
Best New Brewery Opening 2016 – The owners of North Bar took a brave step by opening their own Brewery this year, and created a range of beers that certainly weren’t out of place amongst more established greats on the taps of their outlets. Transmission IPA was an immediate hit, and even outshone Cannonball in the eyes of some. Add an excellent Pale, Kolsch and Kettle Sour to the mix, combine it with a relaxed environment and you’ve got a great afternoon in store at their tap room.

 
Best Pub/Bar of the Year – I’m staying close to home and picking the Kirkstall Bridge, not only because they’ve got a decent selection of beers on, but also because they’ve bounced back so well from the dramatic flood of last Christmas. Rammed during the summer months, inside and out, this is a truly pleasant place to drink especially after a long walk along the canal.

tap-room
Best New Pub/Bar of the Year – I’m going back to my home town for this one and nominating The Tap Room in Cliftonville, Margate. A friendly welcome goes a long way, and Phil and co at the Tap Room are certainly miles ahead of much more established places on that front. Great selection of beer, and well served – miles better than the usual flat micropub gravity pour that I’m used to on visits back home. With the opening of the Bottleshop’s first all out bar, other new Micros, and the change in direction for the Lifeboat, Margate has a varied beer scene to accompany its rebirth. Go for a visit!

 
Beer Festival of the Year – Leeds International wins again, maybe i’m being locally loyal, but they’ve got the lead on organisation and atmosphere over the other large craft festivals.

 
Supermarket of the Year – A few months ago, i’d have said Morrisons, but Tesco have pipped them to it, decent compact range of Beer at a good price. Still nowhere near as good as an indy shop, but its great for when i’m pushed for time.

 
Independent Retailer of the Year – I find this category the most difficult to choose a winner, being spolit with tons of great shops run by lovely people in Leeds. I’m going to go for Raynville Superstore this year, just for the sheer enthusiasm and gusto with which Jonny has vested into building up his range and knowledge of his products.

 
Online Retailer of the Year – My best online experience this year has been with Brewdog’s online shop. It may or not be relevant that this was my only online beer purchase this year.

 
Best Beer Book or Magazine – I dont often pick up many examples for this category, but Hop and Barley’s periodicals are always well presented and interesting when I do.

 

Best Beer Blog or Website – Even though they deserve it, I’m not going to nominate Boak and Bailey this year, but instead I’ll go for Pete McKerry’s Brew Geekery – tells me stuff about the local scene (London) and he writes in a down to earth, consistent style that I like.

 
Simon Johnson award for Best Beer Twitterer – My favourite tweeters range from the ranty, to the educational and to the all rounders, but i’d go for Tom of #craftbeerhour fame for his efforts at bringing producer and drinker together on a Tuesday night, which keeps going from strength to strength.

 
Best Brewery Website/Social Media – Magic Rock have got this category sown up, although to be fair i’m mainly awarding it for the tweets for Magic Rock Tap – regular tap lists, information well in advance about upcoming events, quick responses and a bit of wit.

Standard