Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The calm before the storm

Export Stout - 7.1%
This coming Friday I have been given permission to go out and play at a pub to help a friend celebrate his birthday.  I intend to write up a little something on each of the beers I come across there.  What I'm not expecting is a great variety but I hope to be proven wrong.

To prepare myself, I've gone back to an earlier brewery which I've enjoyed but had something of a mixed bag out of.  The Kernel and his Export Stout.

It's another dark colour with a nutty smell and a full roasted flavour.  I would hesitate to call it a bad batch but I have had nicer in a similar style before.  It was lacking in a solid body to back up that roasted malt.

I'm perhaps being a touch harsh as this is an interesting beer from an always interesting brewery.  I may not enjoy everything they make but I do like their attitude to beer.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Ye Olde Beer

Ebulum - 6.5%
In folklore, elder trees are said to ward off evil.  In practicality all of it apart from the berries contain chemicals that metabolise into cyanide.  I always wondered who learned these things and was it a scientific study into what was edible.


Another Scottish ale tonight.  From the folks at Williams Bros. Brewery comes Ebulum a dark ale made with Elderberries.  I can't, with any degree of honesty, claim to be able to taste the Elderberry.  But then what would I know?  I doubt I could identify one with someone pointing at it.

So a dark and chocolatey beer with a light refreshing finish is what it all boils down to.  It's black colour suggests a rich flavour with isn't present, and indeed was promised by the scent.

I wouldn't turn down another but I'm not going out of my way to find this one again.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Epic and Surreal

About 4 years ago a friend and I decided to travel from England to China by train.  Along the way we found ourselves in Moscow on New Years Eve.  And what is there to do in Moscow on New Years Eve?

Baltika - 5.5%

This appears to be the Budweiser of Russia.  It was everywhere and I was rather surprised to see it back home recently.

The Baltika Brewery was formed during the Soviet Union and survived to become a private business in the years after its fall.  In 2008 they were snapped up by Carlsberg and they are now letting it out into the wider world.  Talking to a Russian, when I was in St. Petersburg for work, he didn't rate it too highly.

But what does he know?  Well as lagers go Baltika is a nice clean refreshing one.  It goes nicely with spicy food doing a great job of complimenting the heat and taking the edge of it as well.

There is a slight after taste, but for once it is one that I like.  Think of a clean lager crossed with a hint of honey.

Za vashe zdarovye!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The demon fish

Cut Throat Porter - 5.1%
In Colorado there is a fish.  Well I would suspect there are many fish.  What I mean is there is a type of fish.  Actually I'm pretty sure there are lots of types of fish there.  Lets try that again.

The Colorado River Cutthroat trout is an endangered species that has been claimed for the name of tonight beer.

Odell Brewing Company has been going since the late 80's when craft beers were just starting out.  They are constantly expanding due to demand moving from 8000 barrels a year to 45000.  Fortunately for me they started bottling as well.

Cutthroat Porter is a nice mild beer.  There are some nice caramel flavours with a good smell of roasted malts.  Dark but not especially heavy which made it very easy to drink despite its dark colour.  This is going on my list of lighter porters to drink again.

I'm also aware that I'm in danger of turning this into Porter Experiment rather than Beer Experiment.  So next time, something I picked up from a trip to Russia...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

From the mind of Willy De Lobel

Viven Porter - 7.0%
I have finally found it.  The missing label.  The Belgian brewery that can print a beer bottle label without festooning it with pictures and lurid colours.

Viven Porter smells and tastes like it has just come out of a smoke house.  I wouldn't be surprised to hear they burn entire forests in the vicinity of the brewery to get the scent right.  Also, go take a look at the web page, I'll wait for you.  Seen it?  That's right the picture of their beer looks nothing like mine.  It's far far darker and lacks the brilliant bleached white head.

So what do you get other than smoke and misleading pictures?

It's a bitter and thin beer not very surprising, or especially daring, rather than a thicker more substantial porter I was expecting.  For something similar in terms of price and beer I would have to recommend something more like Old Engine Oil instead.

Friday, 13 January 2012

From the islands to the south

This Christmas my sister did most of her present shopping for me on the Isle of Wight.  Mostly they were dinosaur based, because dinosaurs are awesome, but also this beer from The Garlic Farm.

Garlic Beer
Well I promise you this.  You will notice the garlic.  It has the aroma of of a generic ale and garlic, mostly garlic.  The taste?  Garlic.

If you can imagine you have a beer, but instead of just drinking it you fill your mouth with garlic and filter each sip of beer through it, you are getting close to vileness that is this beer.

I like garlic, it's great in food or with a marinade and olives.  But PLEASE keep it out of my beer.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Barnstorming season

Today we go to a brewery from Bath.  Bath Ales dates all the way back to 1995 when it was founded by long time brewers with a love for craft ales.

Barnstormer - 4.5%
This was another of the Christmas beers I was given from the Sainsbury's selection.  Barnstormer which has undergone a rebrand since mine was bottled to become Barnsey.

Barnsey is a dark bitter which has a flavour similar to a stout or porter but without the heavy, thickness that so often accompanies them.

By a happy coincidence I had a pork based dinner that night and they were an especially good compliment for each other.

Again we have a beer with subtle chocolate flavours that add to the taste and don't over power it.  The bitterness is at a pleasant level and no unpleasant back of the throat after taste.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Bring me my Bow

With Christmas time comes presents.  And what better way for people to say Merry Christmas than with beer.

This one was chosen because of its literary connections, in that, it was named after the poem by William Blake, Jerusalem.

Wells and Young's proclaims themselves to be the UK's largest independent brewery, set up in 1875 in Bedford and still with involvement of the Wells family.  The water used to make the beers is mineral water, still drawn from the original well.

Burning Gold - 4.7%
How is it?  Glad you asked.  It's a somewhat refreshing bitter with an after taste that mellowed as the drink went down.

As you can almost see the colour is where the name for this one comes from, clear and gold.  What you can't see is the proud statement on the label, repeated on the website, that it has "a dry, crisp flavour with more than a hint of citrus on the palate".

Now I don't know about you but to me "more than a hint" should mean some at all.  It was overall an average ale that could have benefited from being a touch cooler than the room temperature I had it at and would be far more drinkable on a hot day.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A Belgian Flagship

I've been drinking this for a while now as a drink that I expect to be pretty consistent.  Leffe Blond is the flagship beer of Leffe, which is the European face of the global brewery Anheuser-Busch InBev, the people who bring you Budweiser and Becks.

Leffe Blonde - 6.6%
So what do you get for your money?  Well for starters you aren't paying a premium, with big business come big discounts.  And you have a pleasant generic Belgian beer.  It's smooth and easy to drink with a slight bitter after-taste which isn't so powerful as to bother me.

The head is foamy and not dense not rich.  It remains for quite some time as does the carbonation in the beer, you aren't going to find this go flat on you as you enjoy it.

While I'm not disgusted by this beer I bought it from a generic local off licence and this was all I could find that wasn't the same as you would see in any bar in the land.  I spent quite a while hunting in case there was something interesting and this, a mass produced beer, was as close as I could get.