Friday, 28 October 2011

Not as Halloween themed as it first appears

On the spur of the moment I decided to arrange a trip to my favourite pub, The Red Lion for an evening meal and, by a happy coincidence, I was also not the designated driver which makes a nice change.

Settling down for a meal with the smell of wood smoke from the fires I fancied something stout-ish, and this is what I found.

Batemans Salem Porter - 4.7%
Batemans Salem Porter.

Another dark porter though you can't quite tell from the photo that it's not completely black when backlit.  Sipping this down with truly great steak was wonderful.  It complimented the meat with a slight taste of burnt sugar.

By the time dinner was over, and it was time for a second round of drinks, the other interesting looking beer had been drunk dry by thirsty bar patrons.  I decided to go for a second pint which I regret just a little.

Without the flavours of the food it wasn't as nice an experience.  The after taste, while not terribly bitter, I could have done without, and being as thick a drink as it is made finishing the second on a full stomach a chore.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

From the undead brewery

Brains, a food and drinks brand rather than just a brewery these days, is probably the most mainstream manufacturer I've happened to come across so far.

The Reverend James - 4.5%
The night I came across this I was out with a friend after a long week of work.  By the time I had decided to try it, my friend I was with, had mustered the courage to try something, that was not a lager, and joined me.

Definitely a session ale it is remarkably easy to drink and as such was an easy and pleasant entrance into the world of ale for him, and as a pleasant surprise for myself.

Simple flavours with nothing overpowering I cold quite happily sat there and drink a few more of these had I not had other places to be that evening.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Strong in alcohol and strongly hopped

At the end of a long week what could be better than hunting down a new beer to try?  I found this one lurking in the basement of a Birmingham hotel.

Lotus IPA 5.6%
IPA or India Pale Ale was first named in the 1830's for export overseas.  This one, Lotus IPA, is made by Ilkley Brewery which is a new modern brewery founded in 2009 making quite a range.

You can see from the picture that it's a straw coloured ale and that my camera flash makes it look like the head has been fashioned from cream.

The flavours are citrus and peach with a slightly disappointing bitterness to the after taste.  Overall it is a very floral drink and perhaps a little perfumed to enjoy more than one, the taste being perhaps a touch ungrounded.  With some spicy foods or something rich, like a winter ploughman's, it may sit better.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Some more black oil


Another one from Harviestoun in Scotland.  Yet again it's named after oil, Ola Dubh meaning black oil, is made by conditioning in whisky casks, in this case ones from 18 year old malt whiskey.

Ola Dubh -Special  Reserve 18 (£6 Inspire)
It's derived from their Old Engine Oil, which has already become a favourite of mine, and shares its same rich full texture and flavour.

There are two warnings to apply to this drink.  Firstly do not attempt to drive after drinking it.  It's good and strong and went straight to my head.  Secondly it is not cheap.  That little bottle you see on the left there?  Six of your finest English pounds.  But you know what?  Totally worth it, every single penny.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

"A wheat beer from the good old days"

Now I do like a good wheat beer, and a brewery who does a good one is Erdinger.  Founded in 1886 they now make a wide selection of wheat beers providing something for everyone.

Erdinger Dunkel (Inspire)
With the chance to head to Inspire for some lunch and the promise of a drink or two in the last dying days of summer.  Erdinger Dunkel was the choice of the moment for me.

Dunkel is matured in the bottle which is claimed to give it its flavour.  Dark and rich with a full head it is very easy to drink this down.

Not overly fizzy, which I like, too much fizz leaves me burping for hours, and while I like the taste of beer going down I am not such a fan of tasting it on its return.

Credit to the staff at Inspire for recommending this one to me and indeed the one I chased it down with.....

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Bitter about Coventry?

I am not a big fan of bitters. I've tried a fair few and they are not typically not to my taste and this one only made it as far as my kitchen because it was local.

Urban Red (£2.25 - Alexander Wines

Made at Byatts Brewery in a Craft Brewery in Coventry on Lythalls Lane industrial estate. Urban Red is Byatts "Best Bitter" weighing in at 4.5% and will set you back about £2.25 in an off license.

Not being much of a bitter drinker I find it hard to give you great guidance on this one. It was reasonably drinkable and lacked an unpleasant after taste.

I've got another one of Byatt's beers waiting in the wings which is hopefully more to my personal preferences but, if you are a bitter fan, give it a try and let me know what you thought. I've got a feeling that this is a nice one for those with a compatible pallet.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Viscous Bittersweet and Dark

This is a beer I saw a friend with and I coveted it. As the designated driver for the day I had to cope with a smell and watch him drink it in front of me.

Old Engine Oil £2.30 (Alexander Wines) 
Old Engine Oil is a dark porter and is extremely rich, and heavy. I would happily nurse one of these all evening and not feel the need to rush it.

The label declares it as the heading of this post, Viscous Bittersweet and Dark. All true, it really is a thick velvety, almost creamy, drink which probably contributes to the weight of it.

It's not just dark it is black, with not much of a head at all, and for once when a drink labels itself as having a chocolate flavour, I can taste it. As far as an after taste there is a slight bitterness but not so overpowering as to ruin the flavour, or to make you regret sampling it.

This is a seasonal beer from Harviestoun which is situated in Scotland in the Forth Valley. You can buy direct from them at prices that are not dissimilar to what you would expect in a bar, and if you can't find this locally I urge you to buy some from them and give it a try.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The unexpected lager - Samuel Adams

For my first beer I was after a dark porter, something I saw a friend enjoying a few days before.  But the lure of a cool lager from one of the fridges proved too much on September day that was hotter than California.

With this in mind I'd like to introduce Samuel Adams by The Boston Beer Company.

£1.60 for a 355ml bottle (Alexander Wines)
The label proclaims, "Samuel Adams is handcrafted in single batches with extraordinary care and attention to detail.  Following my great-great grandfather's recipe, we use only classic ingredients: hand-selected"

Frankly I can believe it.

I've heard about this beer repeatedly from Americans and I thought I would give them the benefit of the doubt and try it for myself.

It's a rich golden colour with a slightly creamy head.  It's a much richer flavour than the cheaper lagers you find in the pubs up and down the country (I'm looking at you Carling) far more refreshing with no bitter after taste   Perfect for a hot summers evening when you want to sit down and relax.

The Plan

I'm a big fan of a local bar.  It's called Inspire, cleverly because it is in an old church spire.  They serve a large selection of beers from around the world, have a wonderful atmosphere and a great staff working the bar.  It's not cheap but you get what you pay for.

Because of Inspire I was introduced to Alexander Wines which is managed by the same people.

Last night after a particularly long week of work following a series of long weeks at work I realised it's been quite a while since I sat down with a really nice beer.  Coincidently I had my car with me so on the way home dropped by to pick up something cool refreshing and interesting.

It's a common saying that no plan survives contact with the enemy and the quest for a cool refreshing beer turned into a carrier bag of delight and the seed of an idea.  That idea is this blog which gives me a perfect excuse to drink more interesting beers.  If I manage to try everything in Inspire and Alexander Wines I'll sneak further afield but I don't think I'm in any real danger.