Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Leaving me red faced

Two British red ales here. One from a brewery that's new to me and the second from a good ole Scottish favourite of mine.

Lancaster Brewery is not one I have encountered before. Their simply named Red (they are all simply named) however was a great introduction. Red ales are often boring but perfectly drinkable and sessionable and often lacking in depth of character. Not so in this case as we begin with a fruity aroma consisting of plums, dried fruit, pepper and a strong malt driven backbone. This is a malt bomb from the get go when you can finally drag your nose out of the beer and actually drink the stuff. An infusion of cranberry joins the plums and other forest fruits but all this sweetness is counterbalanced by a wonderful earthy hop character. An absolutely lovely beer.

My friends in Aloa at the Williams Brothers brewery have produced a Scottish Red ale called Cock O' The Walk. I'm not sure just how Scottish this beer is though, considering the use of cascade hops. A fruity and malty aroma on the nose with little if anything to indicate they even used hops. That changes though when you take a swig because a lovely citrus character comes through. I did not get much grapefruit from the cascade but the beer is also finished with bobek hops, a sort of styrian goldings type so an earthy lime citrus is more what you get in this beer. Other than that, the strong malty sweet with fruit and a little dark chocolate and toast is what you get. 
This would not be my favourite Williams Bros beer but a well made beer nonetheless.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Mmmm Marble

I had a few beers from Marble - Manchester earlier in the year. I was impressed, so I was looking forward to trying a few more.

Dobber is a 5.9% pale ale. I reckon they are going for the American pale ale style here as grapefruit and pine dominate. A bitter orange pith and caramel are the backbone of this beer however, giving it a slightly British feel. That said, the orange could be from Amarillo hops? I'm not sure what hops they use but I suspect pacific north west hops like cascade. 

Tawny No5 on the other hand is a dark brown/red beer with oodles of fizz. It's slightly weaker at 5.7% but again the use of American hops dominate the beer. There is a sour hint on the nose alongside the grapefruit and pine and this comes through somewhat when you taste it, however it really is a rather bitter, American style pale ale with a spicy finish. It's rather nice but I was expecting a better malt profile from the colour.

Two very good beers here but I found something lacking, I can't put my finger on what that is but I think I just expected more. That said, I enjoyed them both immensely and would certainly have no hesitation in drinking them again.

They still have not sorted out their website though. Contact details and a new image of a topless woman with a tattoo on her back and the marble logo. This is to advertise a calendar and unfortunately clicking the link results in a far less flattering image of almost naked brewers.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Daly's of Mullingar

Living in a small town in Westmeath has some good points and bad. The bad is that, well I live in a small town in Westmeath. There is nothing in the way of decent beer in any of our dwindling number of pubs. Our closest large town is Mullingar. This is where it gets annoying. Mullingar is 10 minutes drive from my house but there is no public transport to speak of. There is some sort of townlink bus that goes three times a day but is pretty much useless for a night out. That means I have to get a taxi, and that costs a little over €20 each way. I can get the bus to Dublin and back for less than a one way taxi fare and the last bus home leaves about midnight so Dublin is a much better option for me.

When I heard that Daly's in Mullingar had Galway Hooker Pale Ale and then more recently had Trouble Brewing Ór, and that Ór was an introductory price of €2.50, I just had to go and see for myself.

So on a sunny Autumn Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks back, with nothing better to do, I decided to cycle to Mullingar for the first time.

Daly's is right in the centre of town, at the intersection with the Citizens information centre and Canton Casey's. I parked my bike at the bike rack in that little square across the road (beside Casey's) and headed in to Daly's.

The first thing I saw was a Galway Hooker tap so I ordered one and then headed down to the far end of the bar, got out my kindle and started reading. I sat by the new Trouble Brewing Ór pump so that was my next beer. Can't say no to a €2.50 pint of craft beer, even if prefer Galway Hooker myself. I was thinking that with winter coming, Trouble Brewing's Dark Arts Porter would be a brilliant beer to get in on tap. What a fantastic beer that is.

Since it was a quiet Saturday afternoon, the bad was mostly deserted. There were a few people in the corner and then me reading my kindle. As the sun went down though, more people started showing up.
I had wanted to leave before it got dark as I was on the bike. That did not work out too well. As well as the great intro price of €2.50, it also turns out that Daly's has a sort of loyalty scheme. Your fourth pint is free, so when I got my fourth pint the barman refused payment! What a wonderful place this is.

It's also managed by Dec and Doran of The Blizzards and in that spirit, is a music venue. Delorentos recently held an acoustic set there.

Hidden down a passageway out back is a smaller bar area. This room is available for private functions I believe and can hold about 35-40 people I would say.

Now I have only been to Daly's once so far but no doubt I will be there again. I wish it was my local to be honest.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Belfast beer Festival

I took the day off work on Friday to attend this years Belfast beer festival. It was in the Ulster hall again and I think it's a good venue for such an event, though there are a few little issues which I will get to. For me to get there involved about an hour and a half bus ride to Dublin, then a train to Belfast. Thankfully the walk from the train station is not too long and more importantly, I pretty much walk in a straight line. My destination was actually the Travelodge hotel. I walked towards the Europa hotel because I knew it was in that direction and was pleasantly surprised to walk by the Ulster hall on my left, a block away from my hotel.
Checked in, all that was left to do was grab something to eat and  head in to the festival. I could not find Boojum so I got a BLT from Reuben's gourmet sandwiches. It was actually rather good.

I was in about an hour after opening time and it was pretty quiet, just the way I like it. I met up with a couple of Beoir members and then went to find Steve Lamond (beersiveknown) who was running around all weekend like a headless chicken. Steve was mad* enough to work at the event. We did our beer exchange, I might have come off the better here because I got three bottles of Hardknott beers and Steve just got the one, though it was a large 1 litre bottle of one-off beer

My first beer of the day was an APA from Dark Star. This was meant to be the beer of the festival according to Beer Nut so I made sure to get it before it was gone. It was a lovely beer, citurs heaven however there were others I preferred. One such was from a brewery called Summerwine from Yorkshire. Their Diablo IPA (4th in Richards list) was absolute heaven to me. Yes I love my over hopped American IPAs. They also had the wonderful Barrista espresso stout. I say wonderful because it tasted bloody great. That said, for me, I would not be able to drink more than a half because I don't drink coffee for health reasons. I am very much looking forward to more from this brewery. I am intrigued by their Teleporter ten malt porter which was unfortunately not at the festival.

When I joined the Beoir contingent, Richard showed his inner beer geek. He had put together a list of all the beers at the festival, in order of how he wanted them, with their rate beer rating, abv and a quick description of what he expected from reading reviews. There were more on the other side of the page, but that was the avoid list. I took a picture of this page as it became a good guide when deciding on a beer. I made sure to do the top 5 at the very least, though I did not follow the list itself.

Steve and I went off to Boojum for burritos at about 3pm. This is where I had dinner and brunch the next day as well. I love me a good burrito.

As the day wore on, more and more people started to arrive but it was a Friday so we expected the place to fill up after 5pm when everyone got off work. And it most certainly did.

By about 7pm it was quite difficult to get up to the bar and order a beer. It was also dinner time so a few of us left for dinner. Myself and an American Beoir member (Richard) had to have burritos so we went to boojum and the other two went for Chinese. We met up later at some bar down by Victoria square where we started a pint of a specially brewed beer. It was called something like 300 and brewed by Whitewater I believe. It was vile. When the other two showed up we hopped in a taxi to the John Hewitt.

The John Hewitt is the first proper beer pub I have been to in Belfast. It is also only the second pub I can recall drinking in, the first was in the last paragraph if you can believe it.

I went with a Hilden brewery beer called Halt. Having just looked it up on their website a few moments ago, I was very surprised to see it down as 6.1%? I picked it because I wanted something light, I should have gone for a copperhead (which I did next). I enjoyed the Halt, it was full of chewy caramel. I did think it was a bit heavy after all the beer I had already consumed. 

On a side note, there was an absolutely awesome Jazz band playing. This short video does them no justice whatsoever I'm afraid. I have no idea who they were but they look like they been playing together for 40 years.

I left my friends and went back to the beer festival where Steve met me at the door and gave me a taste of a lambic that someone had made. I don't recall who brewed it but it looks like Steve will be writing about it soon. I had a few more beers and then back to the hotel at 11pm.

Instead of talking about every single beer I tried, I will just list the beers in order and include a few notes. There is no point in taking proper notes for a review at a beer festival. You will do an injustice to many of the beers due to palate fatigue.

On the Friday (after Darkstar APA) I had:

Williams ceilidh
Cask lager eh? Quite orangey. Somewhat buttery. Quite odd but tasty at the same time. Not sure how much I could drink though. Honey and lavender like. 

Bowman el dorado
Fruity aroma. Very fruity actually. Almost smokey grittiness to it. Fantastic earthy hops. Very easy to drink. Quite floral. Elderflower 

Blue mokey 99 red baboons
Bitter metallic but also blackcurrent. 

**Burrito break**

Nethergate umber ale
Lovely spicy coriander. Great with the burrito. Nice bitter profile. 

Random beer Andrew left.
Now this was interesting. Andrew got a half pint of something and then without even driking it, fecked off for an hour and left his beer. Well we all had to investigate. This was a real blind taste as we had no idea what it was and all we could tell was it was dark like a porter/stout. The notes were: Lots of chocolate and coffee in the aroma. Slightest booze in the aroma. Caramel. Tastes lovely. Lots of caramel and brown sugar at first but then it changes to the coffee and bitter finish. Slight sour woody finish. 
It was bloody brilliant! When Andrew came back we discovered it was York Centurions ghost. This was listed as a dark mild? Anyway for all the drama and the fact it was lovely, I think this was one of my favourite beers of the festival.

Oak leaf hole hearted 
Sweet candi bitter earthy hops. Lovely bitter sweet hop profile. Love the lingering bitterness. Cascade hops?

Lovely aroma. Smokey ash, burnt caramel, choc. The flavour lets it down somewhat. It's very thin. Amarillo hops? No sign of them.

Feck all aroma. Some slight choc and coffee. Slight fruitiness. 
On tasting, boozy choc, bitter finish. Did I mention chocolate? 

Black ipa, fantastic flavour fresh hop juice.  Caramel. Earthy hops dominate. Beautiful beer.  *****

Summerwine diablo 6.6
Propper fruity American ipa. Full on tropical and forest fruits. Fantastic stuff. Possible beer of the festival for me.

*Taste* Green jack orange wheat 4.2
No orange at all. plenty of citrus. Vines galore. Very dry mouth puckering finish. 

Box steam dark and handsome 5
Choc. Coffee. Lactic sourness. I quite like this beer, especially the sourness. 

Burton bridge Thomas sykes 10%
Wow that's a very alcoholic beer. More so than stronger beers.  Whiskey notes. Very interesting beer but more than a half pint not recommended.

Arundale black stallion 3.7%
Choc caramel tannic quite lovely for strength. 

After John Hewitt break, back at 9:50pm

Summer wine Barrista 4.8%
S mocha coffee milk. 
T full coffee. Slight milk but mostly black coffee. Steve poured me a full pint of this. I could not drink it all but that's not the fault of the beer. I almost shed a tear when I dumped half down the drain.

Mordue Newcastle coffee porter. 
Far more drinkable. Less coffee than 
Summer wine. 

That's the list of beers (at the festival) I had the first day. 17 in total was it? 

I was a little hung over the next day, but only in the sense that I was dehydrated. No head or stomach issues. Some water sorted that out and then it was off to Boojum after I had checked out of the hotel. I can't think of a better brunch to be honest. Afterwards, I went back to the festival for a few hours. I was there from about opening until after the raffle (I did not win) at 16:30.
This was a far more civilised affair which involved me sitting on my own, reading my kindle and jumping up for another beer every now and again. A very pleasant way to spend 4 hours I thought.

My day two beers were as follows:

Mauldons black adder 5.3
Roast coffee and hazelnut  Toffee treacle aroma
Beautiful beer. Smooth and creamy body. Velvet smooth dark chocolate. Coffee and nutty.  *****

Blue monkey bg sips 4.0
Hoppy citric aroma. Very fruity. Some grapefruit. Somewhat tannic.
Very dry finish. Sweet caramel makes it through the hops.
Quite a nice beer.

Otley oxymoron see day one. I wanted more.

Otley O8
Barley wine golden syrup apples.
T instant sugar. Apples. Somewhat boozy. Strange spicy finish, almost chilli like. Boozy and warming, might actually be nice warmed on a cold night. Very Meade like. Not sure how I feel about it.

Humpy dumpty little sharpie 3.8
Orange, crisp, biscuit. Citrus. Dry finish. Great session beer. Lovely hippy bitter dry finish.

Banks and Taylor black dragon mild
Toffee, malt. Smokey.

That was it, I then got the 18:10 train back to Dublin, then I got a 2.5 hour bus to Enniscorthy and spent the night with my dad. I got there at midnight. I could have almost flown to New York in that time. Same bus ride to Dublin the next day and about 1 hour 35 mins back home to my house then. The weekend was all travel and drinking and I would no have changed a thing. Well except for a limo and chauffeur of course.

Beers of the festival?
For me it was

  1. Summerwine - Diablo
  2. Otley - Oxymoron
  3. York - Centurions ghost
If my count is right, I got to taste 23 beers that were completely new to me. Not a bad two days work I think.

* Either madness or cunning...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Craft Irish Cider? Give me a Bulmers (Magners).

This went down the drain, which is rare as I often battle through something I don't like with the hope I change my mind and prove to myself that I did not waste my money after all.
I'm also let down by the fact that this was craft Irish cider. The patriot in me wanted to weep. Stonewell Cider is brewed in Cork, which is where I picked it up.
Let's start with the first issue. The smell! It smells like stinky foot cheese. It does not quite taste as bad as that, though there is still a cheesiness to it. I also found it syrupy sweet. To me it was just nasty.
That said, I am not much of a cider drinker these days, though I do like very dry and unsweetened ciders if I can find them.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Smithwicks Pale Ale - It's not half bad

It's surprising how hard it was for me to get a bottle of this, or even a taste. I came close in Galway, going in to a pub before the bus left which advertised said beer in the window. I was told they had none, so I swiftly stormed out. A good thing too as the bus left 10 minutes later. With no toilet, no scratch that, no open toilet (it was locked) I dare say that had I gulped down a pint, or even a half, I would have been far more uncomfortable than I was in the end. I had just left the second Beoir AGM so I had a fair bit of beer in me. It was a close call when I got home.

Roll on to the weekend just gone and I finally noticed a bottle in a Bandon off-license. We spent a fair bit in that off license last weekend. About €100 I would say. I like to do my part for the local economy when I can afford it.

So how was it? Well I shared it with my friend and we both really liked it. This is not going to blow your mind when it comes to flavour. It's not going to make craft beer drinkers switch to macro stuff either. What it might do is introduce macro lager or just general Smithwicks drinkers on to something more interesting. A gateway beer if you will. The first Irish gateway beer? Perhaps it is. I think it will also make us craft beer drinkers happy if we find ourselves at a venue that's not of our choosing and the only other option is yellow fizzy stuff. If this is available I will be very content.

So how is it? Well rather like Galway Hooker to be honest, though a limp Galway Hooker to be sure. It's rather watery but then, it's also easy to drink. For an Irish macro to be brewing with Amarillo is just astounding to me. Apart from the craft beer and homebrew thing, there is also a shortage of Amarillo hops, though perhaps that's just for the small markets like homebrewers.

So well done to Diegeo and the Smithwicks brand and thank you for making something I will enjoy drinking. In fact thanks for making a beer that I will happily storm out of a pub because they don't have any. That's real progress.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Grozet - is this my first commercial Gruit?

I think this may in fact be my first commercial example of a gruit. Williams Brothers, who always make great beer have produced Grozet which features bog myrtle, meadowsweet and hops. It's then secondary fermented with gooseberries. Does having hops make it a true gruit? I'm not sure what the exact definition is. All I know is that I have had them both home brewed by people such as BeerNut, and also produced using ancient Viking recipes by some archaeologists at headfest, The commercial example was much more pleasant to drink and that probably has something to do with the hops. A possible word of warning, and this is not mentioned on the label. Bog Myrtle is supposed to be dangerous for pregnant women. Since alcohol is also dangerous, I suppose a separate warning would be redundant.

Anyhow the beer seems heavier than I would have thought. Certainly it had a lager like feel. It was crisp and had a cereal quality I would associate with a good lager. I especially loved the dry finish and gooseberry infused citrus notes. Of course there is a strong vegetal and herbal quality to the beer but Homeopathy this is not. There is no herbal dilution here, this is a full bodied beer with some interesting herbal notes and to be honest, the alcohol content is more likely to kill any nasties then any homeopathic quackery you partake of.
If you get sick, it's either because you are not drinking enough beer, or you drank too much*

Eh... there is as much Scientific basis for that statement as there is for homeopathic nonsense, though I have no issue with actual herbal remedies. Modern medicine is based on herbal remedies after all. Honey and Lemon are excellent when you have a cold for instance.

A Stout Face Off

This is far better than the movie of the same name, although that movie would be infinitely improved by drinking both of these beers. Some might say they are a necessity to get through it. I look forward to a Rifftrax version some time.
I was originally going to do this as a topic for International Stout Day, instead I talked about something else.

There is not a lot to say about either of these beers. I have talked bout Midnight Sun, from the Williams Brothers before, as well as Leann Folláin from Carlow brewing company.

I have even done a stout face off before that included Midnight Sun. That time, Scotland came second.
This time? I decided I prefer the richness of Leann Folláin to the slightly more drinkable and slightly weaker (by 0.4%) Midnight sun.
This time around,  both stout's have a common heritage of sorts. Both Scotland and Ireland are heavily influenced by the Gaels and later, the Celts. We share a similar language and somewhat similar history. The best part is, we usually beat them at Rugby, as long as we chose to forget a certain 6 nations embarrassment.
However this was just my own personal preference and had nothing to do with the quality of either beer. I would recommend both, even in the same sitting and love them equally. There is just something about Leann Folláin that I prefer. A heavier and richer body perhaps. The ginger in Midnight Sun is not enough to overcome that preference. There was no loser here, only a winner and the winner was myself. After all, I got to drink two beautiful stouts and enjoyed every minute of my International Stout Day - Eve.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Tap X

TheBeeNut already gave his thoughts on the beer that cost us both €11 and it more or less got the thumbs up. The first thing to know is that it's €9.99 from drinkstore. I shared it with my wife and we both liked it but my first thoughts? It's weird!
Schneider Weisse Tap X is a 7.3% wheat bock. The aroma has the spicy clove and banana you might expect from a wheat beer but also some bubblegum and a sort of sherbet fizz. As soon as I tasted it I thought it was weird. Essentially it tastes like a strong wheat beer with a fair bit of booziness but then, citrus and bubblegum starts to make an appearance along with a viney grape quality.

All in all, it's a good beer. I don't think it's worth the price tag though, at least in Ireland.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Message in a bottle

It's long past time I wrote about the Irish Micro's now bottling. Time was, if you wanted a Galway Hooker, you had to go find a pub that sells it.

Nowadays, all you need is a good off license and you can get a 500ml bottle of Galway Hooker. Often a beer tastes different from the bottle versus tap. This one however is exactly the same as far as I can tell, though I think it has a slightly softer feel to it but that's just a slight carbonation difference. As good in the bottle as it is on tap. Hooray for bottling lines.

One of the newer breweries had their bottling line ready much quicker. I have already talked about 8 degrees and their Howling gale pale ale. Well here it is in bottle and this time, I don't think it is quite as good as the kegged version. A slightly metallic twang and under carbonation let this down, though it's still a good beer and enjoyable and I highly recommend the kegged product.

Sunburnt Irish red on the other hand was a new beer to me and I have never had it on tap. The aroma was caramel malt driven with some floral and fruity notes. The taste was let down with the same metallic notes as the pale ale. It did however have a nice toffee apple thing going on along with a bitter and almost winey finish. The body was thinner than I would have liked but all in, a good beer. I get the feeling the kegged product is going to be more to my liking when I get to try it some time. This is a downside of not living in Dublin. I don't always get to try the new stuff when they are on rotation.

And finally we have Knockmealdwon Porter. This latest beer does not seem to suffer the same metallic twang I got from the other two. Chances are that since I had the first two (some weeks ago), they may have sorted out the batch issues. The first thing I noticed was just how thin the body was. I will not say watery but it was certainly lacking in body, which does make it easier to drink however. There is also a hell of a lot of flavour packed in to this beer. Strong coffee dominates for me and I do enjoy the sour middle. It's quite dry and bitter as well. Personally, while I did enjoy this very much, I just prefer heavier bodied stouts myself. TheBeerNut was recently smitten with this and a cheese pairing

So there we have it. There are other newer breweries that are also bottling such as Breweyed but they can keep for another time. The Irish micros are sending a message to the world with their bottling lines. Carlow have been doing it for years with great success as have Porterhouse in more recent times. The new kids are just getting started and perhaps some day, all Irish micro breweries will be bottling or even canning so we can enjoy quality beer at home or for tourists to take home and even for export when they get big enough to provide that much product.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Little and large

Not a lot needs to be said here. I have my original hopus swing top on one side and a massive 2l growler on the other. The beer is the same of course.
I though it was a bargain for €36 from drinkstore, especially as I can re-use the growler. And it's my first growler too.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Brew # 37 & 38

My latest two beers have not been posted yet, an oversight now being repaired.

The first beer is a Christmas beer I was asked to brew before it was done at a large Irish breweries pilot brewery for a charity competition. I was given an old recipe that was never brewed. It did not make a lot of sense ingredient wise so I made a lot of changes.
This was a turbo brew. I brewed on a Saturday, kegged the following Sunday and force carbonated. I poured in to some bottles on Monday morning as the beer was being brewed on the Tuesday and they wanted to know what to expect. I scaled the recipe up for them as well and they used my recipe and made some changes. It was interesting being able to drink the beer within 8 days of brewing.

I drank the whole keg but there are a few bottle conditioned bottles to try. When I get the finished product from the brewery, I can compare with my bottle conditioned version.

The second beer was a simple New Zealand pale ale that was brewed after New Zealand won the rugby world cup. As soon as the festivities on TV were over, I set about brewing the beer.
This one is still in the fermenter and is due to be kegged soon.

Super Secret Chirstmas Ale

21-B Seasonal/Winter Specialty Spiced Beer

Author: Reuben Gray

Date: 01/10/2011
BeerTools Pro Color Graphic
Size: 24.0 L

Efficiency: 70.85%

Attenuation: 82.8%

Calories: 190.85 kcal per 12.0 fl oz
Original Gravity: 1.058 (1.026 - 1.120)

Terminal Gravity: 1.010 (0.995 - 1.035)

Color: 24.76 (1.97 - 98.5)

Alcohol: 6.3% (2.5% - 14.5%)

Bitterness: 21.3 (0.0 - 100.0)



4156 g Pilsner Malt

443 g Optic Pale Ale Malt

977 g Light Crystal

1485 g CaraPils Malt (brupaks)

7.0 g East Kent Goldings (5.2%) - added during boil, boiled 60 m

12 g Northern Brewer (10.9%) - added during boil, boiled 60 m

15.0 g East Kent Goldings (5.2%) - added during boil, boiled 15 m

39 g Orange zest - added during boil, boiled 15 m

3 g Nutmeg (ground) - added during boil, boiled 15 m

1 g Cloves (whole) - added during boil, boiled 15 m

1 g Ground Ginger - added during boil, boiled 15 m

1 ea Danstar 3767 Nottingham


Initial mash 15L
30 mins @ 65c
Raised to 70c for another 30 minutes.
Then batch sparged twice @80c for 20 mins each
Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.20

New Zealand Pale Ale (Rugby World Cup)

14-B American IPA

Author: Reuben Gray

Date: 23/10/2011
BeerTools Pro Color Graphic
Size: 19.68 L

Efficiency: 65.9%

Attenuation: 75.0%

Calories: 139.15 kcal per 12.0 fl oz
Original Gravity: 1.042 (1.056 - 1.075)

Terminal Gravity: 1.011 (1.010 - 1.018)

Color: 15.86 (11.82 - 29.55)

Alcohol: 4.12% (5.5% - 7.5%)

Bitterness: 77.7 (40.0 - 70.0)



1,861.0 g Pilsner Malt

1,529.0 g Munich Malt

275.0 g CaraPils Malt (brupaks)

251.0 g Rye Malt

514.0 g Wheat Malt

25 g Pacific Gem (15.9%) - added during boil, boiled 60 m

10 g Nelson Sauvin (12.6%) - added during boil, boiled 30 m

10 g Nelson Sauvin (12.6%) - added during boil, boiled 15 m

25 g Nelson Sauvin (12.6%) - added during boil, boiled 5 m

1 ea Danstar Nottingham
Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.20

Friday, 4 November 2011

Embarrassing beery stories - The Session #57

Damn you Steve Lamond* is what I would say if I gave a crap what people think of me. I make people infuriated by the fact that I do not get pissed off if someone makes fun of me. My wife will sometimes try and piss me off on purpose just to see if she gets a reaction. I'm a very laid back person, though I was not always that way. So in truth, these stories are not embarrassing to me at all. It's good to be able to laugh at yourself.

It all began back when I was 18. Truly, I did not start drinking until I was 18 and I also stopped when I was 18. Let's go back a little further and explain why that might be.

My parents do not really drink, they never did. On the other hand, they also did not put restrictions on alcohol. There were no lectures, no "if I catch you drinking, you're dead" threats that Irish mammy's love to shout at their kids. On the contrary, even though my parents were not drinkers, they would get wine or lambrusco for special occasions and sometimes a bottle of Guinness for the Christmas pudding. I would taste it each time and make a face that said "ughh.... people drink this?" There was never any mystery to alcohol so I simply did not bother drinking until I got older.

Eventually one night when I was 18, myself and my friends went to the off license and decided to get a load of beer. I like to experiment and try different things, a trait that is evident today in my minor obsession with trying new beers and writing about them. Anyway, I got 8 cans of beer, each one different. I don't know what I got but certainly there was a Guinness and Harp in there somewhere along with whatever was available those days. We also went in to the chipper and got curry chips as you do on such occasions.
We went back to my friends house and started drinking and eating. I don't know how many cans I had got through when my friends mother came in with fruitcake. What I do remember was facing the dilemma of having curry chips in one hand and fruit cake in the other. How the hell was I supposed to hold a can of beer? The solution was simple. Put the curry chips over the fruit cake and I have a hand free for beer. I remember noticing how quiet the room was and eventually I realised every one was looking at me eating fruit cake with curry chip frosting. I said something like "it's actually very good".  To this day I maintain that I will try it sober, I have just never been in the position to have curry chips, fruit cake and lots of beer at any one time since then.

The second time I went drinking was probably a few weeks or months later. I still got a load of beers but this time we all chipped in for a bottle of wine. Wine was expensive in those days, perhaps when wine actually deserved the sophisticated image it has today. We went to my friends, Aunts house for a bit of a family party.
While most of the older people sat around the garden table, we sat on the grass in a circle drinking beer and sharing the wine. Real classy, like knacker drinking in a back garden instead of a field.
At some point, my friend takes the wine, pours it in to my shirt pocket. I look down dumbfounded and then he slaps my pocket sending wine in to my face and eyes. So I did what any red blooded 18 year old would do. I grabbed the wine bottle and threw the contents at him (not the bottle itself mind). He did a matrix maneuver and in slow motion, moved faster than I threw the wine. It missed him and went all over the table of old people. This table consisted of all the mothers and grandmothers as well as my friends younger sisters.
The clincher was shortly after, when I was in the kitchen feeling chastised, my friends sister who was younger than me said "Reuben if you can't handle your alcohol, don't drink". I agreed and did not drink again until I was 24.

It was mulled wine in Prague that got me drinking again, that and being with my later to be wife while drinking it. It was the beer that kept me drinking. I discovered craft beer in the US (where my wife is from).

So in more recent time? Sure there are a few times when I have been drunk, and let's get this straight. I stopped drinking because I did not enjoy being drunk. Nothing has changed, I still try and not get drunk. I don't often succeed in staying in control of my sobriety but I am very rarely drunk. I can probably still count on my fingers using two hands the number of times I have been truly drunk in my life or at worst I can move on to include my toes. Even still, that is not a lot for the average Irish person who is often drunk at least once every weekend from about 15 or younger.

There was another night, years ago, before I got in to beer that we call Becherovka night. I was probably 24 or possibly 25. Essentially this involved a LOT of spirits, cocktails etc. In the end I tried to drink my friend under the table. She has MS and was on medication which seems to have made her immune to the immediate effects of alcohol, though not the after effects. We were drinking Becherovka like it was juice. I was seriously drunk and my wife found me sleeping on the bloody stairs. I had not made it all the way up to the bedroom and gave up with a few feet to go. I had a three day hangover and had to stay off work. That was the end of my Czech spirit drinking days.

There was also Squishy Jack night. My wife's cousin and boyfriend (now husband) were over from the US. We got Scrumpy Jack cider for some reason and after a load of mixing of spirits and cider, I of course got drunk. At some point it was late and it was suggested I go to bed. this involved putting down my can of cider. My wife tried to take it and I warned her. "Don't make me do it" I said. She did not listen so I squeezed the can sending cider all over her. All over me as well but I was beyond caring at this point. Cousin Em always fondly recalls Squishy Jack night when we meet up.

Moving on to recent years, this post from a few years back catalogues how I got drunk in Dublin, while on a research mission to try new beers. I still used pen and paper for notes back then (iPhone now) and I have an image of where I actually wrote that I am drunk. At least I was sober enough to know... The handwriting gets worse as time goes on, until I wrote that last line in the image. That said, my hand writing is not that much better when sober.

So there we go, that's most of my embarrassing stories. There are others, no doubt VelkyAl recalls at least one incident in Prague.

Steve hosts The Session this month, head on over and see what he has to say.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Happy Stout Day

This is not Arthur's day, though you can certainly enjoy a pint of Guinness if you like as it is Internationality stout day. At first I was jut going to compare a few stouts from different countries and I did, I did it yesterday so I might write about that as well another time but I decided on something different in the end for today. I picked up my supply from drinkstore who had just taken delivery of the new limited edition Shandon Century stout from Franciscan Well in Cork. The well does not bottle but these massive 1 litre swing-top bottles are pretty special. The price is also pretty special at €11.99 but remember, not only is this a litre of beer, it's also 7.5% and you get a fantastic swingtop, half a growler that you can re-use and as a homebrewer this is like winning the lotto..  well not quite but you get what I mean.

I do like the regular Shandon stout but it's served nitrogenated and I always wanted to try a regular co2 version. A bottle conditioned imperial version is even better.

The bottle I am tasting as I write this is #887. I know my good friend VelkyAl on Fuggled will be pretty jealous as this is just the sort of stout he craves. Never fear, I have a second bottle that I will bring to Paris next month and we can share it!

The aroma is quite smokey with chocolate and burnt toffee coming through in droves. A slight hint of booze is present and a hint of coffee.
On tasting I found it very palatable. That is somewhat understating it I think, let me rephrase. I found this to be  possibly the best stout I have ever tasted. And not because I spent €12 on it either. The burnt toffee/caramel is fairly in your face with a light peatiness to it. In the middle it gets a little sour and boozy with a hint of vanilla. The burnt toffee never really goes away, even a minute after taking a mouthful, it is still there refusing to leave my mouth and back of my throat. This is an old man stout, a stout like Wrasslers XXXX only bigger and badder. There is a slight metallic note, sort of coppery but it does not detract from the beer. It's probably from the Goldings and/or Fuggles hops that are used to bitter the beer but it could also be from the peated malt they used, hence the smokey aroma. The taste is not quite so smokey as the aroma due to the burnt toffee domination but it is there nonetheless.
The carbonation is also perfect, opening the swing-top results in a soft hiss rather than the expected pop.

There is no better stout to try for the first time on international stout day. Thank you for brewing this Franciscan Well. This beer is utter perfection. I might have to buy another one or two and keep for a while.
If this post is anything to go by, it is €10 from the brewery direct so if you find yourself in Cork, drop in and get some on tap and buy a bottle to take home.

Oh and by the way, in a little FABPOW, the stout goes very well with a very hot Chilli . The spices mix very well with the peated malt and chocolate. Even though the beer is at room temperature. Take that ice cold pale yellow fizzy stuff with lime in the bottle.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

How stout are you?

Tomorrow is International Stout Day. I love stouts and porters and I plan to celebrate by drinking the stuff. I suppose the best thing to do is get a few stouts from different countries and compare them, making it international, so that's what I plan to do.

If you did not know about it before, you do now. Drink some stout tomorrow.

On a side note, why is it that stout and porter are epitomised as being consumed by overweight people? Someone can be described as stout or portly (like myself these days)....