Saturday, 24 June 2017

Porterhouse beers in bottles

(Thanks @gingerdaniels13 for taking the pics again)
Porterhouse have decided to bottle some of their beers for the off sales market, 21 years after their first brewpub opened in Dublin, here's what Michelle and I thought of them.
Disclaimer from me - not a big fan of red ales, and, I'm afraid this offering didn't change my mind. My Untappd comments "Burnt ash on the nose was an unpleasant opening, the sweet malty flavour too much for me. Not a style I love, maybe better on tap?" Michelle however enjoyed it much more then me, her thoughts "Lovely, light red ale with a great taste, good colour but not much aroma."
As you can see we were definitely split on this one. Time to move on to beer number two.
Now, this was more like it, although whether it lives up to the title "Best stout in the world" is probably up for debate, especially given it is classed as a porter (Discuss?)
"Toast on the nose. A light dry bitterness with hints of sweetness running through it. Translates very well to the bottle."
Michelle was even more effusive than me "Awesome porter, lovely aroma, great taste and mouthfeel. Delicious could drink a few of these."
A thumbs up from both of us this time.
Decided to split the two dark beers with the pilsner (by the way what do you think of the bottle tops?), a strategy that worked rather well.
Michelle's comments first up this time "A lovely, malty pilsner with a great aftertaste and very easy to drink."
And, as you can see, our thinking on this one was very similar - "Slightly malty/biscuity nose, lovely refreshing carbonation, but, but not too fizzy. Easy drinking fruity flavour. Very good."
Agreement again, what about the last beer?
Further disclaimer - this was my favourite of the four beers, which as you can see from my Untappd comments is pretty obvious "Delicious. Jewel in the crown of the bottle range. Sweet chocolate notes, smooth mouthfeel." But, what did the Mrs think? "Smooth, good mouthfeel and an easy drinker. Lovely aroma loads of flavour." More agreement.
We didn't pay for these beers, but, pretty certain that we have provided honest comments.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

I was aged 7 in 1978

(Picture courtesy of @gingerdaniels13)

Yes, hard to believe, but I was around in 1978, at which point I was already living above an Off Licence (Unwins for those of you who are interested), Butcombe Brewery however, were only just starting out. To celebrate the year of their birth, they have introduced a new line up of beers under "The 78 Range", two of which were sent to me by Butcombe recently - Forty Two and Invader, a Session Black IPA and a Bock respectively.

I decided to share the tasting duties with Michelle, who very kindly agreed to help out (she's good like that), she also took the photos for me.

First up, was Forty Two, the Session Black IPA

(Picture courtesy of @gingerdaniels13)

Love the can, a bit of a "space" feel to it, which I guess is appropriate as it is was in 1978 that The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy gave us the answer to the ultimate question - 42, simple really.
(Incidentally Douglas Adams co-wrote my personal favourite Doctor Who story from the classic run - City of Death, filmed in Paris featuring Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor, even had a guest appearance from John Cleese).

Poured out nice and dark as you'd expect given the style, decent head retention too, always a good start to the proceedings. It's on the nose that I am sometimes wary of what a Black IPA might deliver, as personally I am not looking for those roasted toasty malty notes, and thankfully none of those were present. Although I am not looking for certain qualities I am always looking for a BIPA to be well balanced between the malt and hop notes and this was certainly the case, making this a session beer in its truest sense, I could have downed a few of them and chilled, it was all the more refreshing. It left a pleasant subtle sweet aftertaste, which only encouraged me to drink it rather too quickly, thankfully at only 4.2%, one can get away it!

Michelle's Untappd comments - Nice easy drinking black IPA, great taste throughout.
A thumbs up from both of us for beer number one.

The 6% Bock was next......

(Picture courtesy of @gingerdaniels13)

Space Invaders was launched in 1978, now that was a big deal! This really was the future, the world was never the same again.

The Bock slides down the glass with a colour reminiscent of a Barley Wine, a lovely copper colour indeed. I was hoping for a little more carbonation/life, but, what little there was, soon dissipated. However, I found it be a good example of the style. Slightly sweet, with a hint of sour too. I found there was gentle spicyness present with the malty backbone provided good balance (something these beers definitely had in common was balance and drinkability).
Michelle's Untappd comment - Sweet, wine like taste. Not a style I've had many of before and not really for me. 

Both beers were enjoyable, although naturally personal preferences played a part in our thoughts and opinions, we'd both definitely have the Black IPA again, and, I'd be keen to sample a few of the others from the 78 range based on these two offerings.

Thanks to Butcombe for sending me the two beers, no idea whether it influenced me or not, but, if you try either, let me know what you think, especially if you have tried them on tap.

Go To Beers - Behind the headlines

Recently I shared my top 10 beers (number of check-ins on Untappd), here's the list (correct as of 15th May 2017) plus number of check-ins per beer.
1. Adnams Ghost Ship - Total: 71
2. Fullers London Pride - Total: 52
3. Guinness Draught - Total: 48
4. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.Pale Ale - Total: 47
5. Brewdog Punk IPA - Total: 43
6. Oakham Ales Citra - Total: 41
7. Adnams Jack Brand Dry Hopped Lager - Total: 40
8. Stella Artois - Total: 39
9. Adnams Jack Brand Mosaic Pale Ale - Total: 35
10. Peroni Nastro Azzurro - Total: 33
I received some interesting feedback/comments:

Irishbeersnob I don't ritually check in every beer on untappd but have been pondering this as I've been a bit of a tart in that I try everything. Need to settle on go to beer I think. Cos all is a bit broad.
s_maxfield I just love trying new beers, so don't have many go to beers and tend not to check in beers that often when I've already had them, as I generally use untapped to keep a log of the different beers I've had, but according to untapped the ones I've had most are Beavertown - Bloody 'Ell, Magic Rock - Cannonball and Cantillon Gueze 100% Lambic Bio. I'm pretty happy with those being go to beers!
Gammonbaron I don't check more than one per day unless I change venue (since Dec 2012). Punk IPA: 40
Cannonball: 26
Leeds Yorkshire Gold: 18
Centennial IPA: 18
Landlord: 12
Mccarthythomas Why do you keep entering beers you've already rated?
longm8 My most checked in beers on @untappd Member since December 2014 Cheers to @mjpo007 for the idea, apparently I'm more craft than you too
jonbainbridge1991 Big up the @adnams
trodat92 Not sure I’d admit to Ghost Ship....
longm8 @trodat92 why? It's excellent, and besides @mjpo007 has Stella and Guinness in his, which is pretty hilarious for a craft podcaster
trodat92 @longm8 Stella....that would make me blush. I enjoy your posts about beer generally though. :)
Boak and Bailey Interestingly uninteresting list -- the beers we drink most aren't necessarily the ones we blog/Tweet/Instagram.

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback and/or passed comment (and yes, I did respond to the Ghost Ship and "craft podcaster" comments!)
Perhaps at this point, I should add a bit of context to the numbers above, my unique check-in count sits at 3,178 with total check-ins almost double that. So, what do these numbers tell us? Firstly, since I joined Untappd in May 2013, I have drunk a lot of beer and a lot of different beers, that much is obvious! But, it also tells me that my top 10 "go to" beers still make up a small percentage of my total beer intake which would seems to indicate that I echo Sarah Maxwell's "I just love trying new beers" sentiment. Also, none of the "go to" beers above would make the top 10 based on my Untappd rating (a post for another time).

So, how did some beers get in the top 10? Let's start with Adnams, firstly I am a massive fan of their beers and the vast majority of their pubs, secondly their beers are easy for me to get hold of - local pubs and Co-Ops, inter city trains to Norwich, and Adnams shops. Last but by no means least, Ghost Ship was my cask beer of 2016
(Golden Pints 2016) so when I see it on cask I go for it, ignoring other options on the bar. To my mind, a "go to" beer has to be one I like, but, also one I trust to deliver time and again.
Fuller's London Pride and Peroni aren't often paired (or is that blended?) in sentence, but, what these two offerings have in common is that they are the "house" beers at work. Whenever there is any sort of gathering and pre or post drinks are on offer, these two feature heavily. Do I like them? Yes. Are they great? No. Although in defence of Peroni it is as consistent in the bottle as it is on draft. London Pride in the bottle is not as good as the cask version, but, it serves a purpose and stops me necking the red wine!
Guinness - Once a year, on the 17th March, my parents, my brothers, and I visit North London, near where we grew up and where Mum and Dad got married, and drink copious amounts of Guinness. Those 4 days plus a few other times where Guinness is by far and away the best choice helps to explain its placing in my top ten.
I have a couple of good friends I meet up with regularly and they have a fondness for the All Bar One near Liverpool Street station and to be fair I don't mind it too much. There's usually some meal deal available and very handy for the train home. However, once I discovered they had Sierra Nevada on draft I was made up, one of my early craft beers (after the ubiquitous Jaipur) that I still enjoy supping, done might even call it a smashable beer!
BrewDog Punk IPA, not too much to say really. I enjoy it regardless of dispense method and I like their bars, and in London anyway I have started to see it on tap in some rather unexpected places and it ticks the two boxes of the "go to" beer for me - I enjoy it and it's consistently good.
The biggest surprise in my top ten is Stella Artois, I really wasn't sure how this had happened. Don't get me wrong, I like it, it's long been in my repotaire, pre pre pre craft days you understand. The last time I remember sinking a few of these was a friend's 40th (same evening after I had been to Indy Man for the first time, how's that for a contrast?), but other than then I can't, I decided to look at some previous Untappd checkins. Some checkins from Butlins Bognor, some from The O2 when I saw the Premier League Darts Final and a few in establishments near the office that don't do cask or craft. Lo and behold, it's made the top 10!
Last, but by no means least is Oakham Citra. Not sure how much of an introduction this needs, but, for me it is simply one of the best cask beers around, it is also very nice from the bottle and I have always been a big fan of the version they produce for M&S (now in cans). It is also the first beer that I can recall that was produced using the one hop variety and putting that front and centre. 
So, there you have it, my top ten "go to" beers plus a bit of an insight as to how they made it there. 
I'd really like to hear what others think and what are your "go to" beers, whatever measure or standard you choose to use to decide that. I simply love personal stats (running for example, I have records of all my races since 1986 and I know all my personal bests across a range of distances). Guess that just reinforces the feeling that I am, at a heart, a bit of a geek! 
Cheers one and all.