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Sunday 27 December 2009

Happy Brewdog Xmas!

I hope everyone had an excessive Christmas. I know I did! Theres nothing better than having permission to kick back for one day of the year and eat and drink to your hearts content. This year rather unintentionally I seemed to have a bit of a Brewdog Christmas season! Although I will also give a shout out to all of the other excellent beers I had to.

I came back from France to find three lovely boxes of beer for me to enjoy over  the Xmas season, one from the boys at Brewdog, one from Beers of Europe and one from Beer Merchants too! I shall start with my Brewdog box- 6 Bottles of 5am Saint and a very cold Penguin. From BoE and Beer Merchants there was a mix including some more Brewdog- Paradox and Nanny State, and a general mix from Mikkeller, Flying Dog, Stone and many more.

Ive not hoovered them all away yet (although I am trying), but I can quite honestly say that so far there was only one I didnt really like- Its Alight by Mikkeller. Just wasnt to my tastes, I described it in my tasting book as 'funky'. I obviously don't like funk! There have been a few that I have really liked so far though- Oaked Arrogant Bastard from Stone and Beer Geek Breakfast from Mikkeller were excellent. One that really surprised me though was Nanny State.

Photo copyright

Lots of people are very divided on this beer. I thought it was really good though. My tasting notes got a little bit arty, I called it 'modulated'. By this I meant that the taste changed in my mouth very agressively and it had a very distinct taste. One minute it was calm, the next it was as though someone was rubbing my mouth with hops, there was a nice calm sweetness and then finally another big hoppy spike of an aftertaste. It was like a piece of 80's synth pop, 'modulated'. I think I need to lie down!

Honestly though, this has been one of the biggest surprises of the festive season for me. I wasnt expecting it to be great as I have heard lots of people refering to it as a publicity stunt. Quite frankly I do not care if it was; I liked it! I liked it alot!

Merry Christmas and all the best for 2010. More festive beer (rants) blogs to come in the next few days!

Sunday 13 December 2009

Videoblog 9 - Augustijn

Check out the confused face at the start as I was messing about with YouTube uploader. Oops

Beer and the Internet- A match made in heaven or hell?

Without doubt the internet has made the world a smaller place. This is also true when it comes to the beer industry. I have been able to try beers that I would never have even heard of nevermind tried.

Nevertheless the internet can have a negative effect on beer too. Recently I have had first hand experience of negative posts on sites like Whilst I realise that the world cannot be positive all the time, in my opinion it is better to offer constructive critisism or say nothing at all really. Ive seen lots of comments such as 'I do not like this beer or the people who make it', this just winds me up. Personally I would rather see comments like' I thought it was a little on the peppery side' or 'I thought the alcohol was a little too much' . At least this way brewers can take on board what people like and what they do not like. It is much more difficult for them to do this when people just say 'I dont like this beer'.

It is very easy to sit behind a keyboard and type out harsh and hateful comments. It is however much more contructive to give some real feedback rather than just ranting. I admit I do not spend a great deal of time on sites like Beer Advocate as I tend to find, like YouTube, they attract people who are just out to bitch about things and not to engage in a constructive conversation.

Slanging matches do not help anyone and in fact usually make the poster look a bit of an amature. I therefore do not know whether it is best to encourage fellow bloggers to get on and raise the standard of disucussuion or tell them to stay away and leave them to it! Any thoughts?

Friday 11 December 2009

The Golden Pint Awards- My results

Here are my votes for the first Golden Pint Awards. These have been started by three great bloggers and are an attempt to look back at the best things of 2009! 

Best UK Draught Beer- BrewDog Zeitgeist
Best UK Bottled Beer- BrewDog/Stone Bashah
Best Overseas Draught Beer- Pauwel Kwak
Best Overseas Bottled Beer- Rochefort 8
Best Overall Beer- Rochefort 8
Best Pumpclip or label- Delirium Tremens
Best UK Brewery- BrewDog
Best Overseas Brewery- Mikkeller
Pub/Bar of the Year- Holyrood 9a, Edinburgh
Beer Festival of the Year- GBBF
Supermarket of the Year- Sainsburys
Independent Retailer of the Year- Cornelius Beers and Wines, Edinburgh
Online Retailer of the Year-
Best Beer Book- Hops and Glory
Best Beer Blog- Pencil and Spoon
Best Beer Twitterer- Mark Dredge
Best Online Interactive Brewery Presence- Brewdog
Food and Beer Pairing of the Year- Rochefort and Corsendonk
Open Category: You Choose- Most in depth and intersting reviews-
Next Year I’d Most Like To… Visit London finally so I can visit all the great beer bars!

There are my results in no particular order, well actually the order Mark Dredge wrote the questions in! Hope none of you disagree too much. I was slightly stuck for some of them as I have spent a lot of this year out of the country!

Wednesday 9 December 2009

When is 'too much' really too much?

I have been thinking a lot about the brewing industry recently and the direction in which it and modern day drinkers are going in. Everything seems like it is constantly pushing the boundaries all the time. Whether it be the 30 year old who should know better in the pub boasting about having been on an 18 pint bender the previous weekend or whether it be a 27% strength beer, everything seems to be getting more extreme. We like our cars extreme, our sports extreme, but the question remains: do we really need our drinks industry to be extreme?

My answer.......Yes, I think we do. We have to remember the good old phrase of days gone past and that is- Everything has a time and a place. There are plenty cases which I can recall (or not) heading out with a friend on a weekday afternoon after lectures had finished for the day and sinking a good 6 pints of Ossian, Peters Well or Schiehallion before dinner. Those day were great, equally like taking a lot of time over a complex and strong bottle of beer is great. The problem is, the way people view it! We have to stop pandering to the political correctness that has been created in our society. Don't get me wrong......alcohol should ultimately be respected, that is what this blog is all about. Nevertheless alcohol should also be enjoyed and this is something that our government do not seem to understand.

We have a problem with binge drinking right? Well yes we do, but the stats and figures regularly pulled up are really off the mark because they tend to regard someone who has gone down his local boozer for a couple after work as a 'binge drinker'. We all know that is just plain wrong. Everyone knows their limits and it is their responsability as an adult drinker to stick to these. We all know that we have limits when we need to go to the loo, but you rarely see someone standing around excusing themselves because they pushed this limit. Head into any city centre on a saturday night though and you will find someone slumped beside a bin saying 'im ssoory, it wiz that last glass of wine'.

We need to remember how special alcohol is. Thats why I tend to drink craft beer or small batch spirits because when you are drinking them, they command respect. I think about the work that has gone into producing the beer and even if im drinking a pint of BrewDog in a pub in Edinburgh, I still go back to my visit to the brewery. Thats what it should really be all about.

Back to the question though.......when is too much really too much? I think it is really everyones own choice ultimately. There can be all the guidelines and alcohol tracking apps that you want, but it will not stop people from enjoying themselves. Thats what alcohol is ultimately about....enjoyment,pleasure and socialising. We need to stop thinking about alcohol as a taboo because frankly it just encourages those who want to abuse it to do so. Good beer needs respect whether it is drunk in a litre or 330ml. All I ask is just dont be the person sitting beside the bin!

Monday 30 November 2009

Yes....I am a beer ponce

Ok so I own several different shaped glasses for beer. People are always telling me I talk to much about beer. Or that I use silly words when I describe it, like "mouthfeel" or recently the word "snifter" has produced much hilarity here in Avignon. But the truth is....I am a beer ponce. Do not get me wrong I am just as likely to be drinking a pint of the famous Irish black stuff as anybody. Mainly because funds and availability dont always allow me to order a 37.5cl bottle of Mikkeller Black, as much as that would rock!

I smell my beer....always. No matter whether it is either one of the beers mentioned above. I also taste my beer with a face that looks like I am debating lifes complexities in my own mind for nobody else to hear. Then I will make a random noise and say a random word like...farmyard....ester....phenolic or sometimes YUCK!

I dont expect everyone to understand. I know that the people who are being kind enough to read these rants....I mean blogs are split pretty much 50-50 between people who get what I am saying and people who think I am a pompous arsehole with nothing better to do than constantly update the world on what beer I am drinking. If the truth be known.....its a little bit of both really. If you dont really get what I am saying....try to stick around.....ask me to try some good beer....ask me to recommend one. I do not mind! Now that I am a fully fledged and self admitting beer ponce, I am happy to help.

There is so much to beer than any other drink. Yes even wine! Afterall you can really only make a wine from different types and blends of grapes. Beer on the other hand is a whole different ball game. Spices, fruit, name it someone has probably tried making it! However you feel about beer, please just try not to drink too much of the crap stuff. I on the odd occassion do let my ever so holy crown slip too, last night I had a can of Heineken because I couldnt bear to put another expensive bottle in the fridge. I am sorry beer world! I do make an effort though to drink decent and honestly made beer as much as possible though (that doesnt always mean expensive). Please just for me....the next time you are out and have the choice between something made by a local company just down the road and a huge global empire....choose the local stuff!


Sunday 29 November 2009

Holidays are coming.....

Ok so here it comes...probably my least prefered holiday of the year- Christmas. I have various reasons for not being a fan, mainly the idea of buying and receiving gifts for/from people you dont really see for the rest of the year and dont really care whether you do or not! Call me cynical.......

Evil Santa!

I do however like some things about Christmas. I like the idea of having the people you want to be with close to you around the table on that special day. I love that people (including myself this year) make the effort of travelling hundreds of miles to be with each other for one special day. Ok now I feel a bit sentimental. This holiday season I am going to be spending it with the people I want to be with; Christmas day with my parents (saying a little thanks that my dad has recovered from his operation) and I will be spending Hogmanay with my parents, Mr Bald and all the locals from the village pub.

Another thing I like about Xmas though is the spicy, thick, dark beers that a lot of Breweries start to produce around about now. I have had my first Xmas beer already this year, Delirium Noel, and although nowhere near as good as the original it is still an excellent beer and really warms you up on a cold night. Thats what its really all about...a Christmas beer doesnt really need to be the best beer in the world. It needs to be a little bready, taste a little spicy, warm you up and have a good dose of alcohol. Thats exactly what Delirium Noel was.

For me the all important decision of what beer to have on Xmas day with my meal only really had one answer. I hate turkey (another reason I do not like Xmas) so this year we are having Venison with a redcurrant jus. I will pair this with a big Ive been waiting to try for ages. Tokyo* by Brewdog! At 18.2% its going to match really well with the meat. I cant wait!

Whatever you decide to do this year and whatever you drink...I hope its a good one. If you have the time pop your favourite Xmas beer in the comments box...In the meantime keep watching the videoblogs and I will be back very soon with another blog! Cheers

Videoblog 7- Dogma video review

Dogma from Brewdog. Cracking beer....So fresh and complex. If you havent tried must!

Videoblog 6! TNP and Rochefort 8. It cuts off I know!

I realise it cuts off early....this was the third take and I wasnt doing a fourth!

Thursday 26 November 2009

The Worlds Strongest Beer

I have just done something naughty! No I didnt steal anything or flash at someone in the street. I bought the latest beer from the boys and pooches at BrewDog; Tactical Nuclear Penguin!

Billed as an Uber-Imperial Stout it sits at 32%

It beats the current record of 31% ABV held by the German brewer Schorschbraer. All talk of records aside I cant really make up my mind on this one. On the one hand a lot of people out there are already slagging the boys off saying that it is just about publicity. I cant however help thinking that there are much easier ways to get publicity than to age a beer for 16 months in casks, 8 in Isle of Arran and 8 in Islay. They then took it to an ice cream factory and froze it to get a higher alcohol content in the finished product This does seem like an awful lot of work just to shift a few more bottles of your standard beer.

I am going to ignore the people who say this is all about publicity. If they really wanted publicity they wouldnt have really bothered giving this beer all the love and attention it has been given. Plus they did wear penguin suits to launch it, thats the publicity bit done, its not to do with the strength of the beer at all.

Im not sure when I will be cracking my bottle open. It sure as hell will be for a special day, probably with my Dad. I hope it will be a cracking beer, it is afterall the most expensive ive ever purchased @ £30 for 330ml. It is also made by a brewery which I do have a huge soft spot for! As Brewdog say themselves: its meant to be enjoyed responsibly, and I will. This beer isnt about publicity or about trying to beat records really, it is just about pushing the boundarys. Its something that people do not do enough of in life. I say...grab the dog by the ears (please dont actually do this, Bracken would be most displeased) and buy a bottle. It is afterall a boundary pushing beer from a boundary pushing brewery.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Videoblog 5- Jean Balthazar

Mixed reviews of Brasserie Uberach's Jean Balthazar, also forgot to mention the shed loads of coffee malt in this one

Monday 23 November 2009

Videoblog 4- Karmeliet

Review for Tripel Karmeliet. I seem to be slurring my words! I promised ive only have one beer before this one!

Videoblog 3- Duvel Gefiltered

I wasnt quite convinced the further I got down this beer. Its good but its no Duvel

Sunday 22 November 2009

Are drinkers getting younger?

This article isnt some sort of reflection on the age of people standing on our street corners with bottles of WKD and Stella but it started when a good friend of mine made reference to the fact that the ale industry is marketing its self toward an increasingly "younger" market. The friend in question, David Bald, is like me, an ale drinker under the age of 30. A good bit under the age of 30 I may add, before he disowns me!

Mr Bald in The Standing Order in Edinburgh

I do believe that the ale inustry is getting younger though. Go into any Edinburgh real ale pub on any day of the week and you will be sure to find plenty younger drinkers ordering pints of Peters Well, Green King and Dark Isle. Thats only part of the younger trend though. Its all fair and well that younger drinkers are becoming more educated about alcohol but there is also a growing trend in the UK to market ale towards younger drinkers too.

I have one word (well stricly two words)- BrewDog! I realise that I have already posted about them before but I truely have them to be greatful to. If I hadnt tried that bottle of Trashy Blonde at the age of 18, I dont think I would be ordering bottles from here, there and everywhere now. I would more than likely be stuck drinking pints of Guinness and would never know the world of choice that was available to me. I think it is important for the industry in general that companies such as Brewdog are around. Most of my university friends also made the introduction into the world of ale through BrewDog, including Mr Bald whom I already mentioned.

Without a shadow of a doubt it was originally because the bottle design and the wording on the bottles promised something which was different and interesting. The difference between Brewdog and any old other brewery is that they deliver on the marketing. Although I do classify Punk I.P.A as one of my regular session beers, it is not session in the same way that a pint of Teltleys is a session actually tastes of something.

But back to the idea of the industry attracting younger drinkers. I know some people are going to be up in arms and saying that alcohol should be something which is predominantly marketed to middle aged people so as not to encourage under-agers. I think that argument is a lot of nonsense! In fact it sounds like it was dreamt up by the Portman Group (more posts to come about them). It is rubbish to think that if you make all alcohol advertising seem like it is for older drinkers that this will deter under aged drinking. I say lets grab the bull by the horns and actually encourage our 18 and 19 year olds to switch from that bland pint of mass produced rubbish and have a pint of sometime that tastes of something, whether it is made by Brewdog or not.

The Lord of Darkness

I realise that one of the main problems in this is the practical aspect. ie. most pubs have a mass marketed lager on tap but do not have Stone Arrogant Bastard on cask. That is changing though, and so is the selection available in the supermarkets. It is getting better for real beer drinkers and I believe the young market is a heavy player in this. I say, lets not alienate our young drinkers, lets give them some knowledge and experience and make them see that there is more to life than a cheap pint of Stella. Afterall we have a lot to thank them for.....they will ensure that the beer market established now will grow forever and knock out the big players.

Video Blog 2.5! Grr

The part of the Videoblog that YouTube cut off

Videoblog 2- Corsendonk- Mispronunciation of the word Dubbel!

Watch out for the interesting pronunciation of the word Dubbel! I speak French too!

Videoblog 1- Gulden Draak

Saturday 21 November 2009

Todays beer trip........

Today I visited a lovely little beer shop just outside of Avignon, France (I am based here at the moment until April, with a few visits back home). More importantly this beer shop claims to have over 400+ beers in stock, although I thought it was maybe slightly less, but who am I to argue!

Aux 2 Chopes is on the outskirts of town

Anyway the shop was well layed out and I managed to find a few nice little bottles. The staff were a little rushed off their feet by the looks of things as they didnt really bother to speak much etc, but I suppose most beer shoppers just want to be left alone to make a decision by themselves. The shop was mostly filled with Belgian and French beers (pretty much to be expected in the South of France). Although there were a few international examples, but none of these really struck me that much.

So after much deliberation I left with only 12 bottles, as the owner told me that he is going to be at the Xmas market in a few weeks (I live much closer to there, so it will be easier to carry!). They were:
Quintine Blonde, XI.I Samhain, St Bernardus ABt 12, La Trappe Quad, Duvel green, Corsendonk dubbel, Karmeliet Tripel, Blondine!, La Chouffe, Gulden Draak, Rochefort 8 and Rochefort 10.

The mysterious celtic themed XI.I at 11.1% funnily enough

So reviews of these will appear in due course....but dont expect them today or tomorrow as there are many reviews I've already got written to come first! I thought I would just give a taste of whats to come. In any case have a good Saturday evening what ever you do. Finally a big shout out to anyone who was at The Rake in London today for the Brewdog event......extremely jealous! Hope you enjoyed!

Friday 20 November 2009

"Belgiums strongest beer" Apparently!

So the first review I am going to do on the new blog is of a beer which claims to be something different. I like different beers.....This one claims to be the strongest Belgian beer (or so the label says). Although a quick scout on the net soon reveals that there are others at the same strength, but I am sure that the marketing people already dismissed 'one of Belgiums strongest beers'. Anyway to cut to the chase this beer is Dubuissons 'Bush Ambree'.

 The beer doesnt normally float like that, thats just my dodgy camera

So the beer was served from my lovely Spiegelau snifter and served at about 12°C. Just for the record where I am based at the moment in France, this beer is very easy to get a hold of from bigger supermarkets. It set me back about £1.60 for 250ml.

The beer is 12% ABV and is an amber style belgian strong ale. Well it poured nicely out of the bottle, not too livley but a nice touch of fizz about it. Going into the snifter it was quite syrupy and I could already smell the alcohol from it and also spade load of sugar and caramel.

Look- A real tangerine look about this beer, not quite the colour I was expecting for an amber style beer. Absolutely crystal clear no hue to this beer at all. It went very fizzy into the glass but that was shortlived and the head disapeared very quickly.

Nose- A real strong alcohol kick from this one. A little treacle and a huge dose of freshly cut grass. I can almost smell a vegetable smell from it....not unlike raw carrot. Huge doses of caramel.

Taste- Straight away the alcohol and pepper overpowers, far too much of a good thing coming through. However after this subsides slightly the caramel does come through and balance this beer out a touch, but just not enough for my liking. There is some dark fruit on the palate too, followed by a very lingering taste of farmyard. It does feel quite round in the mouth I suppose which could make this a suitable after dinner beer (also coupled with its strength).

I actually cannot tell you whether I liked this beer or not. I know for certain that I found it to be quite unbalanced but I can also see that it has a time and a place like a lot of other beers that I wouldnt drink every week. Overall, I do not think I will be rushing back to buy it again, but similarly I wouldnt avoid it.

On the plus side I am going to a beer shop nearby tomorrow which claims to have over 400+ beers, so I can stock up the cellar a little. I just hope that they are not all made by the faceless giant brewers! I hope you have enjoyed my first beer blog....all comments/suggestions are more than welcome. I am new to being on this side of the beer blog so they will be taken on board.

Thanks for reading!

Another confession......

So im my first post I confessed about being a hop head, which is something you will have to come to terms with if reading this blog. I do have another confession to make though......I love Brewdog.

Don't get me wrong, I love other Brewers too. I can already feel a lot of people starting to we go...another blogger who has a love affair with Brewdog. My love affair is more than the constant and often shameless self publicity. It is also more than the great marketing and bottle design. My love affair with Brewdog begins with the word....different.

There are not many brewers (in the UK) doing what these guys are doing. Ok, as I have said they do use a lot of marketing to get me to buy their products but the simple fact is.....they make good beer! Astounding beer infact. So much so that I did it.....about 3 weeks ago I parted with my hard earnred cash and I invested in them! Albeit a very small piece of them....but a small piece is good enough for me. I didnt do it as a sound financial investment......although there is the possibilty that one day it might be. I did it because I believe in them and I believe in their beer. I think they are well on their way to creating a mini revolution....I already know of several pubs where I can go and be almost guaranteed a pint of Brewdog. Ok it isnt on Carlsberg scale, but it is a start.

I do not care what people say about Brewdog, in many respects I have them to thank for introducing me to the world of craft beer (Trashy Blonde from Tesco if I remember correctly). They are encouraging people to move away from the dull and lifeless world of the big brewers and into the world of Stone, Mikkeller, Orval and Thornbridge. No matter what you think about them, the boys at Brewdog deserve a huge pat on the back. So there is my of Belgiums strongest beer coming later tonight

Bienvenue, Welcome

Hi and welcome to the newest beer blog on the block! I aim to provide a mix of beer news and reviews. I like different beers...some would say extreme. It is unlikey  that you will find me reviewing Green King I.P.A anytime soon.

I should point out that I am slightly biased. I say this because I am a total hop head. I am the type of person CAMRA members hate! A cheeky young student who apprieciates nothing but heavy hopped beer. That is infact untrue......I like most styles of beer as much as the next beer blogger. However, it is important to note that if you do not like hops you might dissagree with some of my reviews!

At the moment I am based in Avignon, France so a great deal of my early reviews will be French, Belgian or German beers. I do have a stock of reviews I wrote in the UK raring to go too though, so do not be too dissapointed! I will be visiting Scotland at Xmas and New Year though and I will be stocking up the cellar.

All comments are welcome and encouraged and the first review will appear later today after I get back from work. Prepare for 'Bush' billed as Belgiums strongest beer! Told you it was different!


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