Wednesday, 30 December 2015

12 Beers of Christmas - Day 12

This iteration of the Vintage Ale series has been produced using Maris Otter malt in celebration of  it's 50 years in production with Challenger and Golding hops helping to ensure that this is an all British beer. Since 1997, Fullers have been brewing up their vintage ales, however, the oldest version I have tried is from 1999, and, I loved that one, felt like I was drinking a port or dessert wine. The freshest version I have sampled was at GBBF a couple of years ago, and tasted wonderful, albeit less complex than the matured bottles. I am sure by now, everyone knows that the older/rarer the year, the more expensive it is, just take a look at the website if you don't believe me.

Right, well the 2015 bottle is open, pours a slightly lighter colour than i expected, very fizzy initially. First few sips, didn't get much, but, once i settled in i started to get some of those malty fruity notes i have experienced before.
The more you drink this, the more you appreciate the complexity, i am now getting a few woody tones and the bitter finish is rather pleasing.
This is really rather nice, the ones in the "cellar" will be well received (by me, for me) further down the line.

Both of these characters have only appeared in one Doctor Who story each. 
On the left we have a robot from Robots of Death, featuring Tom Baker, the 4th and longest serving actor to play the iconic role. Robots of Death is a classic adventure - "a base (ship) under siege" from within. On the right, a Terileptil from The Visitation, a 5th Doctor adventure, which incidentally explained how The Great Fire of London really started - it was the aliens.

Well, that's all folks - here's to 2016. Wishing everyone the best of everything.

12 Beers of Christmas - Day 11

Today's offering is from Belching Beaver, Vista California.
A milk stout that comes in at 5.3%, in what the Americans call a Bomber (660ml).
Not really sure why it is called a Bomber - anyone know?
Darts on.
Football coming up.
Bomber open!
Expiration date on this bottle was 15th Jan 2015, but, despite being almost a year out of date, it is lively as I pour it into my BeerBods glass. A foamy beige head settles down to leave a fine coating across the top of this very dark beer. Sweet dark roasted notes on the nose and the promise delivers once I start drinking. The sweetness gives way to a dry bitter finish, leaving you wanting more. Not bad at all for a 5.3% beer. Pleased with this choice, tomorrow the finish line is in sight!

The 5th and 12th (or, 13th depending whether you include the "War Doctor") Doctors pose either side of the bottle. On the left is Peter Davison who played the 5th incarnation of The Doctor (my Doctor), and the current incumbent is portrayed by Peter Capaldi (who really is coming into his own now - watch the Christmas episode if you haven't already), on the right.
Peter Davison's daughter, Georgia Moffet appeared in an episode called The Doctor's Daughter in May 2008, she and David Tennant have since got married.
The fanboy inside of me would have loved to have been at that wedding!
Peter Davison's last story - The Caves of Androzani regularly tops the polls for best story ever.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

12 Beers of Christmas - Day 10

Is it only Day 10??? Surely the #12beersofxmas must be over......
No? Oh, ok then, next up is a 10.2% Imperial Red Ale from Mission Brewery (they of the very big cans) called Carrack. A carrack was a three or four masted sailing ship developed in the 15th century by the Genoese for use in commerce. There you go, some non Doctor Who related information! Enjoy, it might not happen again!

Been watching the darts. Go RVB! 
Back to the beer.......
Doesn't hit you too hard, in fact quite a subtle  Imp Red Ale. Has an IPA nose, it warns you, ignore if you dare. But, do you know what? Watch the darts, sip the beer, embrace the excitement.

Today's figurine is from the 2007 Christmas Day episode starring David Tennant as the 10th Doctor and Kylie Minogue as a rather short lived companion - Astrid. The Host (as depicted above) were robots designed to assist travellers on board the Titanic, which was on a voyage around various planets, with a scheduled stop at Sol 3 (Earth). The very brief visit to earth by the Doctor and Astrid introduced us to Wilfred Mott played by the much loved Bernard Cribbins, himself making a return to the Doctor Who universe having appeared in the very first Doctor Who movie in the 60s.

Friday, 25 December 2015

12 Beers of Christmas - Day 6

Hoppy Christmas a 7.2% Festive IPA by Brewdog
My Christmas Day beer (amongst quite a few others), was this easy drinking little number.
Single hopped with Simcoe, it is fresh and really well balanced, no Christmas spices were harmed in the making of this beer! 
Stick it in a can, rebrand, and it would make an all year round go to beer for me.

Sontarans (a clone race obsessed with war and dying with honour on the battlefield)
first turned up in a Jon Pertwee story - the Time Warrior.
Sarah Jane Smith also made her debut in this story, played by Elisabeth Sladen.
She went on to become the most popular of companions, and played opposite a number 
of The Doctors and had a children's spin off series - The Sarah Jane Adventures (yes, of
course I watched it). Sadly no longer with us, she is missed, but, never forgotten.

The Judoon marched on to our screens in a David Tennant story entitled Smith and Jones
Martha Jones played by actress Freema Agyeman, made her debut as the Doctor's new companion post Rose, although she stayed in the role for one season she made a few return 
visits in Doctor Who and spin off Torchwood.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

12 Beers of Christmas - Day 5

Samichlaus Classic, a 14% Doppelbock from Schloss Eggenberg, a micro brewery in Austria.
This beer is brewed once a year, on the 6th December, it then spends 10 months in the lager cellar, sorry no idea what it is actually doing in the cellar.....hiding perhaps?
My beer was bottled in 2014.

I first clocked this beer back in 1990, on a shelf in an Unwins off licence in Milton Keynes, where my parents had just taken over the running of the shop. I assumed it must be twice as bad as Special Brew (my only reference point for really strong beers at that time, and, tasted just the once) as it was almost double the abv. It should be noted that my parents never did see the customer who bought the two bottles, and, over time the beer faded from my memory.

That is, until August 2015, in Lille, and a chance visit to a wine shop near to the hotel where my girlfriend and I were staying (our first trip away, who says romance is dead?!?!). I had already added to my ever growing beer collection, so, I really didn't need any more, but, I still went in for a look and there it was - the beer I had seen so many years previously. But, should I purchase one, two, none? I was "encouraged" by Michelle to go for it, so, two were purchased, the other one is in the "cellar".

Well, it pours a lovely caramel colour, the initial carbonation dies off pretty quickly, reminds me of a barley wine first off on the nose, or, a very strong altbier. It is very sweet, and not at all boozy. Couldn't drink too many, but, i am enjoying this....wonder what my 19 year old self would have thought?

The Ice Warriors (on the left) first appeared in Nov 1967, in a story simply titled The Ice Warriors, starring the second Doctor (Patrick Troughton). They went on to make further appearances up till 1974, then they disappeared until they returned in a Matt Smith (the eleventh Doctor) story called Cold War, in 2013.

The Zygons (on the right) only appearance before the 50th Anniversary story Day of the Doctor was in 1975 - Terror of the Zygons, starring Tom Baker as the fourth Doctor. They have the ability to shape shift (take on the appearance of other life forms) which is probably one of the reasons why they were always voted the favourite one-off monster to make a return, which happily they did.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

12 Beers of Christmas - Day Four

Day Four - Tap East Imperial Coffee In The Morning 8.6%

Previously tried this at the very first SXBottleShare, way back in Feb this year,
although I think I bought this bottle at the London Brewers Market in summer 2014.
It pours out rather excitedly, but calms down in the glass to leave a nice foamy head. Very black. This is dry and bitter and you can certainly get the coffee flavour and aroma from their neighbours at Grind Coffee Bar. Definitely one to sip and savour, especially as only 500 bottles were produced. One day i might like actual coffee!

Three figurines today - David Tennant and Matt Smith as Doctors 10 & 11 respectively. We also have John Hurt as the "War Doctor" - this is the incarnation of the Doctor that killed Time Lords and Daleks alike in the last great Time War. They are all brought together to defeat Daleks, Zygons, and prevent the destruction of Galifrey, home planet of the Time Lords. This was released on
the 23rd November 2013, 50 years to the day since Doctor Who first hit our screens.
It was shown in 3D at selected Odeon cinemas. I did go. I was very excited. I loved it!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

12 Beers of Christmas - Day Three

Bit late to the party tonight. Took a 1/2 day, met up with brother.....whoops.

Day three brings us a Belgian Pale Ale from Italy, weighing in at 8%, produced by Birra Baladin in Piozzo - simply titled Super Bitter.

The aroma off this beer smacks of IPA, I have no idea if it that is what it is supposed to be, but, bloody lovely.

The Special Weapons Dalek and this version of Davros (creator of the Daleks), masquerading as the Emperor Dalek, appeared in Rememberance of the Daleks with the 7th Doctor being played by Sylvester McCoy, it was released in Oct 1988. 
This is probably my favourite 7th Doctor adventure, set in 1963 in the East End of London, featuring warring Daleks who have split into factions and the first time that a Dalek levitated up some stairs! Now, that was a proper cliffhanger at the end of episode 1!

Monday, 21 December 2015

12 Beers of Christmas - Day Two

Wild Beer Co presents Ninkasi Premier Cru a 10% barrel aged beer, that utilised three different barrels during the maturation process - cider brandy, whisky and barley wine. That's quite a combination and one that quite frankly makes me a little bit nervous - will it still taste of beer?

Initial thoughts - cider with a hint of Belgian funk, is that good or bad?
Nice carbonation, good mouthfeel, bit cloudy, but, you know what, i think i quite like this.
Bit of an acidic afterburn, but not too overpowering.
(Girlfriend not fussed about this one - #allforme)

Today's Doctor Who Figurines features Jon Pertwee as the third incarnation of our beloved hero, and Omega, a renegade Time Lord who existed only in a world he created, a world of antimatter at the other end of a black hole draining all the power from our universe. The story in question - The Three Doctors featured William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton as all three of the Doctors were needed to defeat Omega. The third Doctor was then released from his exile on earth and free to roam time and space. This was billed as a 10th Anniversary story, however, it was much closer to 9 years, but, as it was released at the start of season 10 I am guessing the term "10th anniversary" was stretched a little to kick off the season in style, which they most certainly did, one of my favourite stories from what we now call the classic series.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Beer OClock Show Crimbo Crawl 2015 - Leeds

So, those two beer buddies from The Beer OClock Show, Steve and Mark decided back in the summer that the Crimbo Crawl would take place in the city of Leeds. After all, what could possibly go wrong the last Saturday before Christmas?? Well, for starters, a visit to Magic Rock on the Friday night! For those of you who know Steve, it will come as no surprise that this was his idea.
So, off to Huddersfield a few of us went.
The station is a bit of a treat in it's own right, a lovely building and two decent pubs - The Head of Steam and The Kings Head (Landlord was in very good condition in the latter). Both are worth a visit, although it has to be said, they were the starter and dessert, Magic Rock was the main course, and, what a main course it was! Tap Rooms are definitely on trend these days and the guys have designed and delivered a wonderful space to enjoy their great range of beers. All I can say is go and enjoy the magic at the source. Beery highlight - Cannonball of course.
Big shout out to the guys for taking some time out to show us round the brewery, very kind of them, and appreciated by one and all.

Saturday kicked off with a couple of visits to the hotel breakfast buffet before heading off to Northern Monk, a few minutes outside the centre of the city centre. When you enter what used to be a flax store in days gone by, you are immediately hit by the smell of beer being produced as the brewery is on the ground floor. Up some stairs and you will find the tap room,  where a good selection of their own beers are readily available. I tried 3 of them -  Purl, Faith and Spicy Mocha Porter, with Faith being the best of trio for me, nice refreshing easy drinker of a pale ale.

Next stop was the Black Swan, apparently in it's previous life it didn't have a great reputation, however, that seems to be all behind them. Again, another beautiful building inside and out, plenty of space and rumour has it - the best pizzas in Leeds.
Decent beer list - cask and keg as well as a very good bottled selection.
I had a sour from Wild Beer - Hibernating Lemons, refreshed the palate, I followed that with a Founders Porter, which was simply lush.

Third venue was the Little Leeds Beer Shop, although due to it's size, we had to split up into groups, nevertheless, this was my top venue of the day. It's light and bright, great beer selection, helpful friendly staff, and, they had Radio 5 Live on too, what more can you ask for?? Also, it's housed in the Corn Exchange, which is simply a lovely building, especially inside.
Only had the one beer, so, I made it a good one - an 8% offering from Cloudwater, their Winter IPA, actually this might have been my beer of the day too. Hoppy, fresh, doesn't feel too boozy, in fact quite subtle, a very well made beer. 
Despite the rain, spirits were high as we headed in the direct of The North Bar, a long narrow and busy venue. Again, as you would expect from a bar on the Crimbo Crawl list, a good selection of beers presented themselves upon getting to the bar. I decided to have a couple of fairly average cask beers, they served their purpose as the abv wasn't too high and kept me away from the Cannonball (unlike some of my beery friends). 
Before hitting the 5th and final venue, three of us took a deep fried chicken break, we ate all the chicken available. Life was good.

Back to the crawl - ShuffleDog (they have 3 shuffleboard tables downstairs), the main Brewdog bar in Leeds. This is where we all came back together, good beery chat with access to wide range of beers was had by all. I dived in with an Albino Squid Assassin by Brewdog, a 7.4% red rye ale. Next was B Side: Milk Stout Nitro, a 4.7% sweet milk stout, nice palate reset, last beer at ShuffleDog was Punk - what else? Enjoyed all three as they offered me what I wanted at the time of asking. 
So, this is where the official Crimbo Crawl finished, and people started drifting off - food, trains, back to hotels. A few of us however, popped into a few other establishments and I must say I wasn't disappointed with any of them.

Leeds has a lot to offer as a beery destination and I can see why a lot of people rate it so highly.

Lastly, the day was so good because of the company, catching up with friends and making new ones all with a common interest in beer, although the conversations were very diverse at times I must say!

Beer people are good people, and, I reckon for most of us - it was the "highlight of the week".

Some more photos of the weekend, courtesy of @clayfiish:

PS - Apologies for the slightly odd formatting, not really sure why/how. I blame Windows 10.

12 Beers of Christmas - Day One

My first beer of the 12 Beer of Xmas - Black Christmas from Billericay Brewing.
Post Beer OClock Show Crimbo Crawl in Leeds, with the darts on, it is time to crack open and see what this beer is like now. I tried it when it was just produced back at the start of November when I visited the micro pub attached to the brewery.
A Black IPA, which strikes the balance between hops and roastiness, and, despite having Christmas in the name no spices appear to have been added, thankfully! This is rather satisfying, nice carbonation, and a hint of chocolate on the nose. Comes in at 5%, but, doesn't feel "thin".
Quite happy with Beer Number One. 
For those of you who don't know me, my favourite programme (bar none) is Doctor Who, first transmitted on 23rd November 1963, incidentally, the day after JFK was shot.
William Hartnell played the first incarnation of The Doctor until October 1966, when someone had the quite brilliant idea of "regeneration", which took place at the end of the Tenth Planet after the Doctor had defeated the Cybermen, in their first appearance, they have since gone on to appear many times. The Doctor was dead......Long live the Doctor, welcome Patrick Troughton. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

12 Beers of Christmas - The days ahead

My first time partaking in this relatively new tradition, courtesy of The Beer OClock Show.
I have chosen my beers from 6 different countries - England, Belgium, USA, Scotland, Italy and Austria.

Beavers Milk Stout 5.3% 660ml
Thornbridge Jaipur X 10% 500ml
Fullers Vintage Ale 2015 8.5% 500ml
Tap East Imperial Coffee in the Morning 8.6% 330ml
Samichlaus Classic 14% 330ml
Brewdog Hoppy Christmas 7.2% 330ml
Birra Baladin Super Bitter 8% 330ml
Billericay Brewing Co Black Christmas 5% 500ml
Mission Brewery Carrack 10.2% 330ml
Wild Beer Ninkasi Premier Cru 10% 330ml
John Martin & Brewery Martin's IPA 6.9% 750ml
Marks & Spencer Greenwich Ale (Monnet Cognac Barrel Aged) 6% 500ml

No real rhyme or reason for the selection pictured below (although a few are Christmassy), but, I must say I am looking forward to the challenge, beginning Sunday 20th Dec.

The order of events are fluid (beers 2 & 3 selected for logistical reasons).......let the fun begin!

12 Beers of Christmas - Day 9

I'm guessing most people recognise this one!! My last bottle (woe is me) of Jaipur X, a 10th anniversary beer produced by those lovely people at Thornbridge.
Can you believe Jaipur was first brewed 7th June 2005?!?! Time flies by in the beer world I must say.

I have had this out of the bottle 4 times since it first came out earlier this year and i think this might be my favourite tasting to date.
First time i thought ok/interesting, nothing special. Next couple of times it had really mellowed off, very enjoyable.
Today however, i feel like i am drinking an Imperial IPA. A lovely aroma tells me that it is a big beer ahead, follwed by tangy citrus, ending with a bitter finish. Hint of London murky visually.
All in all - great! (Girlfriend started sipping and likes it....get off!!!)

The Autons (on the left hand side) saw in the third Doctor in his first adventure, and repeated this feat, by being in the very first story when the series was rebooted in March 2005 which introduced us to the 9th Doctor as portrayed by Christopher Ecclestone, 16 long years had passed.....i was HAPPY.
On the right hand side, Lord President of the Time Lords - Rasillon, who appeared in David Tennant's swansong in Jan 2010 - top geek moment was discovering that Timothy Dalton was Rasillon, Bond had become a Time Lord!!!!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

12 Beers of Christmas - Day 7

Day seven brings us a beer i have had a few times before, and why not, it does have my name on it.
Martin's IPA, a 6.9% Belgian version of the style. It's a nice mix of fresh IPA and Belgian yeast/funk. Makes it rather soft and subtle, didn't take too long to finish off, despite the 750ml.

The TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space, and has been ever present since the very first episode.
The following conversation from the very first episode in 1963 probably sums up the magic best:

Ian: Just let me get this straight. A thing that looks like a police box, standing in a junk yard, it can move in time and space?

Susan: Yes

Doctor: Quite so.

Ian: But that's ridiculous.

Isn't it just? Bloody love it!

12 Beers of Christmas - Day 8

Sunday 27th Dec was Star Wars and catch up with friends day, hence late release of blog.
Also, the M & S Greenwich Ale (6%) from Meantime that has been barrel aged for 6 months in Monnet cognac was rather a disappointment to me, so, i had little incentive last night when i drained the last drop from my glass. It had a rather thin mouthfeel, and none of the woody/vanilla notes i was hoping for, a shame really as this type/style of beer is one i usually find very enjoyable and a nice way to round off an evening. Maybe the "cellar" will works its magic on the other one.

For those of you who are eagle-eyed, you will notice the return of the Cybermen. These are both from the classic series.
On the left, is the Cyberleader from Earthshock, a 5th Doctor story where the arrival of the Cybermen was actually a surprise to us viewers (pre internet spoilers). Also, at the end of episode 4, Adric, one of the companions died in an effort to save the earth, this was rather a shock to me at the time of airing in 1982. 

And, on the right we have the 1968 version of the Cybermen, from a second Doctor story entitled Invasion, set in London where the Cybermen have complete control of the people and the streets.
Only the Doctor, his companions and the newly formed UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) can stop them!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Golden Pints 2015

Another first for me, been a few of these this year!
Golden Pints awards seems to cover every conceivable category (although nothing for those lovely beery people that podcast), so, a bit of thinking required.
Right, here goes......
Best UK Cask Beer:
Fullers Chiswick @ 3.6% is a go to beer for me whenever I visit a Fullers establishment, although I do wonder why so few of them offer this very sessionable English bitter.
Oakham Citra and Timothy Taylors Landlord also remain high up on my cask beer list.

Best UK Keg Beer:
Adnams Jack Brand Dry Hopped Lager @ 4.2% is a flavoursome sessionable lager, not too gassy. Adnams for me are one of the few traditional brewers in the UK that have also nailed the "craft" side of things. Lucky to have some very good Adnams pubs locally.
Brewdog Punk IPA - can't go wrong really with this, in fact, my last visit to a Brewdog I shunned the beer menu and headed straight for the Punk.

Best UK Bottled Beer:
M & S Oakham Citra @ 4.9%, a pint size bottle that has often accompanied me on the train home.

Best UK Canned Beer:
Magic Rock Highwire Grapefruit @ 5.5%, an American Pale Ale with grapefruit added. Tasted this for the first time on American Independence Day (thanks Steve @ BeerOClockShow).
Love it.
Cannonball, also from Magic Rock is right up there, as is anything from Four Pure and Beavertown.


Best Overseas Draught:
Lagunitas IPA @ 6.2%. I don't have many overseas beers regularly on draught,
(Although I have to confess that the beer I have checked in the most is Stella Artois)

Best Overseas Bottled Beer:
Rosé de Gambrinus (2013) by Brasserie Cantillon @ 5%. The first bottle I took along to the @SXBottleShare, set myself a high standard. Loads of sour raspberry flavours, but, doesn't make you pucker up too much. 

Best Overseas Canned Beer:
This next beer blew me away (Tom gets the credit for this - another @SXBottleShare offering) - 4Beans by Sixpoint. A 10% Imperial Porter/Stout that is bloody wonderful. Liquid chocolate coffee out of a can, bitter finish leaves you wanting more.

Best collaboration brew:
Something Local by Against the Grain & Smokehouse, a 6.6% American IPA. Quite sharp at first, but, mellows out. Everything you would hope and expect from the style. This was sampled at the rather wonderful Indy Man Beer Con.

Best Overall Beer:
Big question this one, deserves a big beer - Imperial Stout Limited Edition from Fullers. A 10.7% beauty, bags of dark chocolate, but, finishes with a hint of Turkish Delight thanks to the addition of dried rose buds. Well known Beer Sommelier, Melissa Cole had a hand in this.

Best Branding:
Anything from Beavertown. Their can shaped beer mats - brilliant!

Best Pump Clip:
I love Great Heck pump clips, immediately recognisable. 

Best Bottle Label:
The Kernel - simple and distinctive. Perhaps could even be considered a design classic already.

Best UK Brewery:
For me, I am going to go for Adnams from the lovely seaside town that is Southwold.
As previously stated I believe they offer both traditional and craft beers, usually very drinkable and not too heavy on the abv. 
Broadside in the bottle is simply a fantastic beer. Also, the range they supply to M & S is rather good too.


Best Overseas Brewery:
Stone Brewing Company from Escondido, CA United States. Always a good beer from this lot and provided some of the inspiration for Brewdog. 

Best New Brewery Opening 2015:
I don't think i tried enough beers from new breweries this year - must do better in 2016!

Pub/Bar of the Year:
The Victoria Inn, Colchester. 20 mins walk. Serves cask, keg, bottles and ciders. Hosts awesome Meet The Brewer nights, beers festivals, including one dedicated to home brewers. Colchester pub of the year multiple times and East Anglian pub of year recently.
A 'proper pub'.
Honourable mention to The Ale House in Chelmsford, home of the SXBottleShare.

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2015:
Howling Hops Tank Bar, just outside the Olympic Park. I simply love the place. The tanks of beer are an art form as far as i am concerned. The atmosphere is relaxed, the clientele ecelctic and best of all - some decent beers to boot.


Beer Festival of the Year:
Indy Man Beer Con. One 5 hour session on the Saturday afternoon was enough to convince me that, in the words of The Terminator, "i will be back".


Supermarket of the Year:
Easy - M & S. Head and shoulders above the competition. Even the shops in train stations hold a respectable selection. And, as a Greater Anglia commuter, beer is often needed!

Independent Retailer of the Year:
Hop Burns and Black in Peckham. Nowhere near where I live, or where I usually socialise, but, I have been there twice now and no doubt I will return. Love the set up. Well worth a visit if in the area.

Online Retailer of the Year:
Ales by Mail. I use them both for my personal online orders, but, also for the beer festivals I hold at work. Easy to work with, reliable, good value and choice. Also, the website has improved over the last couple of years.

Best Beer Book or Magazine:
Original Gravity
Words - about beer. 
Pictures - about beer. 
Ticks the boxes.

Best Beer Blog or Website:
Beer O'Clock Show podcast. I realise it is neither a blog or a website, but, very worthy of a mention in the end of year awards. Some might say "it has been the highlight of their week".


Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer:
Justin Mason (@1970sBOY / BeersInEssex), he keeps me very well informed about my home county of Essex.

Best Brewery Website/Social media:
Buxton. They corrected me about one of my Untappd check-ins from the London Craft Beer Festival earlier this year. Impressed i was.

And, that concludes the voting from the Colchester panel (of one)........until next year!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

November Beery Highlights

While i have been off work ill, feeling rather sorry for myself, I started thinking about the month just gone.
What were my November beery highlights?
Turns out there were a few, as a quick look at my diary testifies.
The SXBottleShare on the 3rd, kicked off the month in style, this was followed up by a successful beer tasting at work on the 4th. A couple of days later on the 6th, prior to a meal in Billericay, I decided to pop into the Billericay Brewing Company tap room, which had recently been done up, enjoyed some nice beers in a very comfortable venue, @HalfPintGent joined me, nice to see you fella.
Next up was the Home Brew festival at the Victoria Inn on the 7th (Read all about it here - Anglia Craft Brewers Festival).
On Sunday 8th, a visit to the two tap rooms in Maldon, both of them are different, but, both are well worth a visit.

A few days off was called for. Time for a break.
On the 12th Nov, Hop Burns & Black was the venue for the Beer O'clock Show Live Lock-In, an All Black special, showcasing dark beers from Kiwi land, and what great beers they were. A good night had by all, only slightly marred by a surly London bus driver who ignored the bus stop I wanted to get off at.
13th to 16th Nov - Weekend away with the "boys" (we are all in our 40s.....) to Butlins in Bognor. Butlins and Bognor are beer deserts, only a visit to Wetherspoons and a few choice beers packed in my suitcase broke up the holy trinity of Doom, Fosters and Stella.
Another couple of days off preceded my first ever trip to the Rochford Beer Festival, held in the Freight House (17th Nov). A lovely building right beside the mainline train station, great selection of beers and bars. I will be back!

Last, but, not least was The London Brewers Market in Spitalfields on 28th Nov.
An event organised by Five Points and quickly becoming a fixture in my beer calendar, usually held twice a year - summer and winter.

Naturally, there were some very good beers sampled, here's a snapshot of some of them:
Ypres - 2010 Double Barrel Aged Fob by De Struise Brouwers a Flanders Oud Bruin. Think of Rodenbach Grand Cru and you'd be in the right ball park.
Defacer by Weird Beard, a Triple IPA weighing in at 11%, but, not as boozy as you might expect, but, smooth and delicious.
Born To Die 27.11.2015 by Brewdog, a Double IPA, that is brewed to be drunk not cellared. Well worth the hype.
iStout by 8 Wired Brewing Co., a Russian Imperial Stout
Pompelmocello by Siren, an American IPA. Like having a breakfast grapefruit juice (thanks @Clayfish for the ideal description).
Jaipur by Thornbridge, an English IPA (first time on cask for me) and one of my all time favourite cask beers, Landlord by Timothy Taylor, English Pale Ale. I had both of these at the Rochford beer festival and if these had been the only two beers on, i would have been a happy man.
Ola Dubh 18 Year Special Reserve by Harviestoun, an Imperial Porter, according to Untappd. A glorious rich dark beer according to me, savoured while watching Strictly Come Dancing (who knew?).
Heavy Water (Sour Cherry And Sea Salt) by Beavertown, Imperial Double Stout.
You get the smell of salt on the nose, and on the palate, then a gentle hit of the sour cherries. Very refreshing for a 9% beer, quite a light mouthfeel despite the name. The stout needs a bit more time to develop, in my opinion, so, this will be my first ageing of a canned beer, I wonder how it will turn out?

But, my top two (sorry can't separate them), are Born To Die and Heavy Water. Two fabulous beers where the hype delivered. Thank you Brewdog and Beavertown.

Well, that was the month that was, and, while I still don't feel 100%, here's to December, cheers!
(Now what beers shall I choose for my 12 beers of Xmas..???)