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Monday, 12 December 2011

Golden Pints Nominations 2011

Ok, as promised here are my nominations for this years Golden Pint Awards. As I have been out of the country (once again) for some of the year my choices have been a bit limited but I have given it a go.


  1. Best UK Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer- Kernel, IPA Simcoe Centennial ;no words needed
  2.  Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer- Magic Rock, Human Cannonball ;THE brewery to watch
  3. Best Overseas Draught Beer- Stone Brewing, Ruination IPA ;Fresh in BD Edinburgh, lovely
  4. Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer- Lagunitas Brewery, Little SumpIn' ;plain and simply tasty, as it should be
  5. Best Overall Beer- Magic Rock, Human Cannonball
  6. Best Pumpclip or Label- Magic Rock, All of them. Does that count?
  7. Best UK Brewery- Kernel Brewery. Close runner-up; Magic Rock
  8. Best Overseas Brewery- Mikkeller; still pushing boundaries and creating some wonderful beers
  9. Pub/Bar of the Year- The Euston Tap
  10. Beer Festival of the Year- I didn't go to any at all this year
  11. Supermarket of the Year- Sainsburys
  12. Independent Retailer of the Year- Luvian's, St Andrews
  13. Online Retailer of the Year- MyBreweryTap
  14. Best Beer Book or Magazine- Zak Avery, 500 Beers
  15. Best Beer Blog or Website- Pencil and Spoon, Mark Dredge
  16. Best Beer Twitterer- @tania_nexust , top poached egg advice
  17. Best Online Brewery presence- Magic Rock. Runner-up; those scamps at BrewDog
  18. Food and Beer Pairing of the Year; Too many to choose
  19. In 2012 I’d Most Like To… Work in a brewery again
  20. Best Beer Event of the Year- 1st European Beer Bloggers Conference

Dear Sir, sorry for my absence

No, this is not a letter of absence that a school child has written but it does feel like one.

Dear Sir/Madam/other readers,

It has come to my attention that my attendance in beer class has been pretty shoddy recently. I have hardly been attending at all. Whilst I have been enjoying many an evening enjoying beer and had many exciting events with Stirling University Craft Beer Society, I have failed to document most of these. I certainly haven't been reporting them back to my fellow students at beer class.

I promise that this is to come to an end. Starting with this afternoon's post on my recommendations for this years Golden Pint Awards. This will closely be followed by some beer reviews and round up of my work this semester with SUCBS.

Yours in beer,

Michael





P.s In all seriousness the past few months have been mayhem but that doesnt excuse the fact that I have hardly written about beer at all. Back with you this afternoon with my nominations for the Golden Pints

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

SUCBS Williams Brothers Tasting Night

A few weeks ago a merry band of around 15 of us got together to try almost every single beer that Williams Brothers Brewery in Alloa currently make. This was Stirling University Craft Beer Societies first big event of the year but it certainly wont be our last. Here is how the evening went in pictures.......



There was quite a lot of beer!

Vice President (Left), David Lewin and President, Me share a bottle of Cesar Augustus

Some of our members

Opening yet another beer

Clearly not the first of the night from Duvel!

Just some of what we tried

One of my top 5

Our Secretary seems to have lost something in the bottom of the bottle

By this time nobody wanted to be photographed

A final 'artsy' shot of some bottle tops and a table that needs a polish


It was a great night and thanks go to the Williams Brothers for providing the beer, The Albion Bar in Stirling for allowing us to come in and use their function suite and all the members of Stirling University for coming along.

I have been a bad blogger recently. I have had no motivation to write since a small spat with CAMRA earlier this year. We now have a better working relationship but I wont stop talking about craft keg! My motivation is back though and I will be with you again in the next couple of days.

Cheers

Monday, 18 July 2011

It is my beer.....

It has been a long time in coming. But it is here. My very first home brewed beer.

It doesn't have a name and it was made using a kit but I don't care. Its my beer.

It took a few weeks to make and then I had to be patient and watch it condition.

It is in PET bottles just in case it was crap and I was no good at making beer kits.

It has been consumed over the past few weeks by myself and some friends and now there are a sorry 12 bottles left.

It now has a little brother or sister on the way as today I brewed a Nelson Sauvin IPA to join it.

It's sibling will be a bit better looking as it will come in glass swing tops. Just don't tell it

It looks like this until I drink it;

It is my beer


This is not an attempt at poetry. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it is just my beer.......

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A public apology to the organisers of SRAF

Its not often I do this. Admit I am wrong that is.....at least in part

Earlier tonight I wrote a rather unfair piece about the recent Scottish Real Ale Festival. I was on a high horse during the time I wrote it and I did not take into account many things. I am big enough and ugly enough to accept that many of the things I wrote were hurtful to organisers and were simply not fair. However I still stand by my initial sentiments that many things need to be done to improve the festival.

I chose not to go this year. So it was wrong for me to cast doubt on the beer list having not seen it in real life. Nevertheless the list I see on paper still could do with a shake up. I still stand by my earlier proposal that the SRAF should have a 'UK' bar. That is to say that some interesting casks from the rest of the UK should be given a section of the festival. I also still believe that more can be done to ensure that the SRAF can secure exclusives and once of tastings like traquair on cask.I still believe that breweries should be encouraged to rotate beer so that we do not have the same from every brewery each year.

I do not want to tell the organisers how to do their job but after an email I received tonight I am more than happy to offer constructive feedback to them. I am now going to respond to that email and I apologise again to regular readers who were given a bad impression of what is usually a great day out in Scotland's capital

The Scottish Real Ale Festival and why I was not there

Disclaimer- This article is not intended to offend. It is not intended to be Anti-CAMRA or a jibe at SRAF organisers but rather some constructive criticism. I currently have no brewery links and this article was not paid for by anyone.

Ok now that I have that out the way I feel I should explain why I didnt attend this years Scottish Real Ale Festival in Edinburgh. After all I am a CAMRA member and I do like a good pint but I just had little desire to attend this year which ultimately ended up with me just staying at home. There was a bit of a stramash before the festival with rumors of an alternative festival in BrewDogs new bar in the Cowgate. This turned out to be true and in true maverick style BrewDog named their festival the 'alternative' Scottish Beer Festival. Fair play to the guys; different markets, different beers and ultimately a different sales technique. That's not the reason why I didn't go to the SRAF though.


Number one reason; the beer list was thoroughly uninspiring. I know it must be difficult to keep a beer list exciting and new every year especially when most of beers available will be similar year after year; well certainly outside seasonals, once brewed beers or new brews. Nevertheless the beer list was at least 85% the same as last years (I havent checked this out as cold hard fact but I have compared both lists). Now I am sorry but that just is not acceptable for a beer festival the size of SRAF. There were plenty of breweries on the list but some of them only had some of their less brilliant beers there. Now I don't want to get into naming names as it is not clear to me who is at fault for this but Scotland really does have much more to show than what was on offer at this years Scottish Real Ale Festival.

Put plain and simply a beer festival is mediocre at best without a good and challenging beer list which rotates if not changes year in year out. Yes the big hitters and the festival winners and favourites are sure to be there every year; I don't have a problem with that. Please just shake it up a little bit more next year. Take some the the bland boring stuff out and source some more from some new breweries that have popped up recently. Dare I say it even have some stuff from the rest of the UK (GBBF have an international bar after all)

I have nothing wrong with other organisational aspects of the festival although naturally the one thing I cannot comment on is the change of venue as I was not there to experience it. However usually the atmosphere is great, as is the entertainment. That will never make up for a bland beer list though. Lets not get too negative here though. I know that I can't expect the best of the best every year. I know that there are constraints ; like what breweries have available and the links that organisers have with the breweries. Lets face it though; It happens once a year. In reality there should be plenty time to organise a good and changing beer list year after year if you are putting on a serious commercial festival. Alloa festival (especially the OctoberFest ) is always well run, very well in fact. I have no idea if any of the same people are involved in beer ordering but if not then they should be.

This years beer list did not make me want to pay for a train ticket to Edinburgh and certainly didn't inspire me to make a day of it like I usually would. I never go to a beer festival with the intention of getting slaughtered but I do usually like to try things I have heard good things about or things I haven't tried before. In terms of this years festival I dare say I could have spent and hour at most soaking in the atmosphere and having a few pints but I wouldn't have had any desire to stay longer. For me that does not make for a good festival. I know there will be those that will disagree with me, especially anyone involved or anyone who had a great time there. This year it just did not appeal at all to me.

I will still be organising a trip to other CAMRA festivals with Stirling University Craft Beer Society (notably Alloa OctoberFest) but unless I see an exciting list for next years SRAF I think I will be staying away again. Nothing against anyone involved but I don't want to see the same beers year after year.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Fullers and BBC day 3

So its been a while and with moving back to the UK and trying to find employment I haven't been able to update the blog! Sorry for this. I'm back now and I'm working on several ideas for blogs in the next few weeks. In the meantime here is my review of my last day at the Beer Bloggers Conference in London.


 The last day was optional but there was no chance I was passing up a chance to visit a family run brewery in London. So despite my somewhat tender nature I got up had breakfast and made the long trek over to Fullers. I thought I was going to be late with the silly Sunday service tube trains but after jumping in a taxi I got there bang on time. First up I have to say a massive thanks to the whole team at Fullers. They worked on a Sunday especially for us and they worked damn hard making sure we all had a great time. When we arrived there was a massive choice of excellently kept Fullers cask to try. It was a bit early for my still rather tender head and I opted for a half of Chiswick Bitter which was rather tasty.


After all the troops arrived it was time for the real reason we were all here; the chance to have a good look around the brewery. I won't say too much about the workings of the brewery as I am sure most people reading this have seen a brewery or two (or twenty). Needless to say though it was the perfect mix of old and new. Some of the original kit still stays in the brewery (although no longer used) and they had the scariest lab I have seen in a brewery. I could spend many a geeky hour in their testing samples and playing with the equipment.






Next it was back into the old hock cellars to have some special beers and food. I can't list all of the beers we had as we had so many fantastic one's. All of them served with commentary from Derek Prentice from Fullers. Fullers Reserve 2000 and 2010, Brewers Reserve 1 and 3 and Past Masters. Everyone as good as the next. Fullers sometimes get a bit of stick from typical ale drinkers and especially from younger drinkers such as myself who are championing craft keg as well as cask but I was truly impressed with my tour of Fullers and all of the beers.

I then spent the rest of my afternoon with some of my new friends in the Euston Tap. This made me remember why I like finding new pubs.

I will be writing a little post about Fullers in the near future so stay tuned for that. Next post coming soon is my reasons for avoiding this years Scottish Real Ale Festival which will be a balanced look at why I couldnt bring myself to go this year. To make sure I don't ruffle too many feathers I am going to take my time and try to make it as balanced as possible.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Beer Bloggers Conference day 2


So day two kicked off with what came to be known as ‘Pilsner Urquell’ throat.  I didn’t feel hung-over but as I munched into my vegetarian friendly bacon roll (ahem) I knew that I had been drinking the night before. So it was with some relief that the first session of the Beer Bloggers Conference on the Saturday was actually a coffee and tea welcome.  Already small groups were forming. Not exclusive groups but rather in a large group of 70 people it became apparent that smaller groups of friends would have to form if we were going to get anywhere.


The day formally kicked off with three breweries talking about how they use social media on a day to day basis in their business. We had a great talk from Dave (and Sooty) from Hardnott. Adnams and Abbaye St Martin also described how they use Twitter to increase business. It became apparent that the three breweries all use twitter in totally different ways and this kept the session very interesting indeed. Next up was a talk from our international friends; Darren from Beer Sweden, Arnoud from bestetotnutoe.nl, and Alessio from Hoppy Hour in Italy. In this session I learned that beer in Sweden is like porn in the UK (thanks for the insight Darren). In all seriousness it was a great session and all three speakers gave a great insight into beer in their country but a special shout out has to go to the always entertaining Darren.


Next we had some bloke called Martin Dickie from a certain BrewDog. He played some music, showed us photos of his dog and talked about how BrewDog are shaking up the UK brewing scene. I enjoyed it, even if some of Martins dry Doric sense of humour flew over a few heads. Only one question for Martin which I found bizarre; maybe everyone was still processing last night’s Pilsner Urquell. By this time I had drunk most of the 4 litre water jug on the table and was looking for something a bit more hardcore. That was handy as Molson Coors had kindly provided lunch and beers after the talk from BrewDog. 

Tim Hampson and Pete Brown were up next. A nice little plug for both their books and then onto the serious talk of where the future of beer writing is. A very broad subject and, I imagine, quite a hard question to approach but Pete and Tim were very entertaining and insightful. It was almost just missing two large armchairs as I felt more like I was sitting in one of their living rooms listening to them have a conversation rather than in a conference venue with 60 or so others. Next we were ushered back downstairs to the same room that Steve Wellington had given his retirement speech in the previous night. It was for the odious task of matching beer with food; it’s a tough life but someone has to do it. The Beer Academy provided 5 beers and five little pieces of food to match them with. Not all the matching’s were spot on in my opinion but the smoked duck and Budvar Dark pairing was sublime (veggie duck of course!)


The crown jewel of the conference was coming though. There was a bit of anticipation in the air. Speed dating for breweries. Strictly called ‘Live beer blogging’ the idea was simple; 7 breweries, 7 tables, 8(ish) bloggers to a table and 5 minutes to pour and talk about your beer. The breweries were- Innis and Gunn, Wychwood, Adnams, Brains, Windsor and Eton, Abbaye St Martin and Bad Attitude. This was mad! I tried to take tasting notes but after some crude humour from a real live Hobgoblin, talking to the brewers and (of course) tasting the beer, I didn’t have the time. My 3 favourites? Windsor and Eton’s Conqueror, Innis and Gunn’s Canada Day 2011 and Bad Attitude’s Two Penny Porter. I learned that 5 minutes is not enough time to get to know a brewer and his beers but that you can have a lot of fun in the process. I will be taking this idea with me in future and I may use it for a Stirling University Craft Beer Society night........


Things went (once again) from great to bizarre. We were met by four stilt walkers dressed as hop pickers in period costume. They showed the way to Dirty Dicks with the occasional burst of hops into the air. Dirty Dicks is a Wells and Young’s pub and I knew what was coming next. The fantastic new Bombardier adverts with Rick Mayall. I shall be honest; I am not a huge fan of the beer. I find it very drinkable but I feel it lacks in much flavour. The advertising campaign however is BRILLIANT! Rick also recorded a special video message especially for us bloggers which was very nice. Much like Pilsner Urquell the night before Wells and Young pulled out all the stops. We were entertained by snail racing and banter from Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham. We had a Q&A session with the important people in the company and their hop grower! My favourite part of the night though was having the heads of companies and the important people come at sit down at individual tables and socialise. I didn’t expect them to just vanish as the food came out but usually at these events the important people have a private table. It was a real pleasure to be able to sit down and chat with them over one of their beers.


We were running late.....almost an hour I’m told. I bundled into the back of a taxi with my 4 bottles of French beer to take to the ‘Night of Many Beers’ at Camden Town Brewery. 6 of us (including Hardnott Ann and Dave) piled into a cab with the most annoying ‘taxi man’ I have ever had the (dis)pleasure of meeting. There were roadworks and we disagreed about which alternative route he should use. As a Scotsman I shall blame the London 2012 Olympics for tearing up the roads. As a Frenchman I shall blame the London 2012 Olympics from cheating and stealing them from Paris. Moving on..........I arrived at Camden Town (eventually) and stashed my beer in the big outside fridge. Then the tasting began. I really can’t remember everything I had but I do remember being far too close to the Swedish and Italian beer a lot. I also had lots of tasty Rogue beer. 


People seemed to enjoy the French beer and I have already had some very nice messages to say thanks for bringing it. For me this is what my love of beer stems to; sharing. It was great to see people enjoying the beer I had lovingly packaged and stared at all the way to London on the Eurostar (just in case someone thought the gun case I was carrying them in actually had guns inside) The sours went down very well and there were only a few people who fell on the dislike side of this marmite beer. The night got a bit hazy from there on in......a side by side imperial stout tasting with one from Dark Star and two from De Struise (was I mad?!?!) A quick jump on the tube and a taxi later I was back at the hotel looking forward to the next day at Fullers.


Another great day sharing great beer with great people. More to come.........

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Beer Bloggers Conference- Day 1


So here it is....part 1 of 4 of my time at the first ever Beer Bloggers Conference. I thought I would post this in four parts so that I don’t miss any important parts or people out of my write up of what was a fantastic weekend. I am going to split it down with one post about each day and then one overall sum up post of the whole event.



I arrived earlyish to the conference. Nervous. I don’t really know why but maybe it wouldn’t be what I expected and maybe I would be too out of my depth. The first face I saw (after the nice gent with the bowler hat who greeted me) was Mark Dredge. Ever the professional he seemed to be hovering near the welcome table with Mark Fletcher making sure that everyone had a friendly face to see when they arrived.
The welcome event was a low key sort of thing.  7 or 8 breweries with PR staff pouring their liquid friendship for all the thirsty but noticeably reserved bloggers. I was already starting to recognise faces and twitter names. The latter mostly involved squinting at peoples name tags to see who they were. We spoke and made friends during lunch and then moved upstairs for the first talk- A welcome by Molson Coors. Whilst I was already thankful to them for having stumped up the cash to pay for the venue, I was a bit reserved about what they would say. It turns out Scott from Molson Coors was a great guy and had lots of very interesting things to say. He did waffle a little and maybe got a touch defensive over bloggers attacking big brewers but he really changed my mind about the role that big brewers play in the brewing community. We, as bloggers, should sometimes search a little deeper before we slag off the big guys with no justification (I have been guilty of it many times in the past).

I was already feeling relaxed and next up was Peter Haydon from Meantime talking about the history of brewing in London. Despite the fact that he looked crazily like Morrissey and seemed to style himself on him, he was a very entertaining and interesting guy. He is the sort of person that looks as if he would never brag about his immense knowledge but suddenly just pull an amazing fact from nowhere. Next a little talk from the British Beer and Pub Association. It wasn’t quite as enthralling. It wasn’t bad but I did feel like there were people sitting in the audience who could have done the talk better. After a short break (for tea don’t you know) we moved onto the ‘Do’s and Don’ts of Blogging’ with three giants of blogging; Pete Brown, Melissa Cole and Mark Fletcher. I learned a lot from this. Even small things like write your posts in word first as its better at finding mistakes! Who’d have known?! It was very informative and Pete proved that he was going to be a plethora of knowledge over the weekend.



Then the fun really kicked off. Whilst the presentation lacked some depth in knowledge FlavourActiv gave an interesting tasting on identifying off flavours in beer. My very large nose managed to get all six right (thanks Dad for the big nose gene).  An interesting experiment but maybe some more expert knowledge wouldn’t have gone a miss in a room full of bloggers. Then the night went from bizarre to magical. Listening to Steve Wellington, the master brewer at Molson Coors, retire felt like a door closing. He was inspirational, captivating and interesting to the last word. He quite rightly made everyone in the room feel like they were part of something special and he got a massive minute long standing ovation, which, dare I say it, brought a lump to my throat. 

Then Pilsner Urquell stepped up the game. They transformed the venue into a slice of Pilsen. It was like walking into something from Charlie Wonka and the Booze Factory (That’s right? No?) From flying the head brewer, Vaclav Berka, in from Pilsen to bringing us massive amounts of unfiltered Pilsner in the oak barrels (3rd time in the UK) they really topped off a great first day. 

 Think I might get killed for this!

I stood with a glass of unfiltered SABMiller beer in my hand listening to a four piece band playing Lounge whilst Kristy McCready from Molson Coors lounged on a chaise long and wondered to myself when beer became so cool. Day one was free of socks, sandals and (mostly) beer bellies. What I saw on display was a group of clued up, modern and trendy people who are setting the industry standards. I don’t want to get too reflectionary in this post (I’m saving that for the round up) but day one was a great start to a great weekend. Main lessons from day one? Big brewers don’t equal brewers with no social conscious, who are only concerned with profits and also beer bloggers are very cool people. Oh and that Pilsner Urquell is too tempting when standing next to the barrel.

More to come tomorrow.........


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

My top 4 French beers for London

Ive chosen a selection of 4 French beers to bring to the Beer Bloggers Conference in London. French you say? They make beer? Well yes they do and very well indeed. I could have brought tens, maybe hundreds of beers. But I have my bank balance and my back to think of when getting the Eurostar. So I chose the following four to bring to London (I should point out at this stage that they are all 750ml but still wont go around everyone so sorry if you dont get to try)

First up is a Belgian Style strong ale. Saint Rieul Grand Cru. For me a great example of a French brewery making a Belgain style. Its 9% so it a big hitter but its very,very tasty. Here is what she looks like






Second is one of my personal favourites from my time here in France. Its brewed by a Scotsman at DeProef in Belgium but he lives in France. Confused? Me too.....Not strictly French but the recipe was made here at least. Its called Agent Provocateur (yes like the ladies knickers) and it is described as  ' a hybrid of an IPA and a Belgian golden ale ' but I would probably call it an IPA. Its 6.5% abv and she is a beauty. Here is how she looks





Next is proof that French brewers can also make up styles. Fleurac make a Triple Dark IPA. Confused? Me too......Its 8% abv and mighty tasty.  She looks like this





Lastly is my favourite. This is a special one. It takes 24 months to make and it is aged in oak wine barrels. It starts of as a sour beer and becomes more funky and a little woody over time. The bottle I am bringing is one of only 500 made this year. Its pretty young but still tasting fantastically complex and interesting. Bulles de Vignes is 6% and will probably be sure to split opinion.Here is my photo of year 2011 in the shop they all came from









And finally I might have a couple of little bottles of something from a brewery called De Struise but I am sure nobody would be interested in that!


Here is what they all look like (and hopefully will still look like tomorrow)








If you are going to the conference, hunt me down at some point and I will try and make sure you get some. 


Cheers


M

This week- My return to cask and grim reality..or not?!?

For the past four months I have been (once again) enjoying life in France. This time I have been based in Paris and my beer experience of France has been better and much more varied than when I lived in the South. I went from a great selection of Belgian beer in the South to having a massive choice of French, Belgian, Dutch, American, British and Danish here in Paris. It has been a blast I have to say. I've met some of the coolest beer geeks, drank some of the worlds best and rarest beer and generally had a lark of a time. I should point out at this stage that my life isnt all sunshine and lollipops and that I have also had lots of university work and been through the wringer personally. However on a beer front its never been better.

So it is with a mixture of excitement, fear and confusion that I shall return back to the UK this week. On the one hand I am returning to the first ever European Beer Bloggers Conference . I think it will be a great time and the attendee list and the list of breweries has got me mega excited. Whislt I dont update this blog as much and offer such industry knowledge as some of my peers I have always loved writing this blog and hope to use my time at BBC to learn and grow my knowledge and skills. I will be bringing some French craft beer to the conference to share with others, I shall post about this later tonight.

On the other hand, in a few weeks I shall return to the UK for good. No more study abroad on the horizon, no more beer trips (currently) booked. So I am a little sad to be leaving. Plus I have yet to secure a summer job and that is going to have to be my focus after this conference (or during if I meet some nice brewers).

But you know the one thing I cant wait to do tomorrow? Is have a pint of cask beer. Shock! Horror! Have the French killed my love of keg and bottle? Well no, actually, but the thing is, the French just dont 'do' cask beer in the same way we do. Don't get me wrong..... I don't hate cask beer but it probably only accounts for 25% of the beer I usually drink in the UK. I do a lot of home drinking and I am lucky to have kegged WEST beer on my doorstep.  I do really miss cask though. Its hot here today in Paris and that made me miss it more. A nice pint of citrusy, easy drinking but flavoursome beer (served with a sparkler of course, Im from the North). I think it might be the first thing I do when I arrive in London tomorrow. In fact, I dont think; I know it will be.

For all those attending the conference I shall see you all on Friday and for those who arent well.........

Cheers and beers

M

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Lent was and wasnt successful

Around this time 46 days ago I started a mission to give up alcohol (more importantly craft beer) for lent. Unlike many highly principled people who I know that were also undertaking this challenge; I didn't manage it. So the questions that need raised are why did I agree to do it and why didn't I manage it?


 Why did I do it?
Firstly I decided to do it because I wanted to see if I could. I agreed to do it after a hangover from hell and I thought to myself 'wouldnt it be good not to have this again for 46 entire days'. Reality is that although I did give up I was still good and didn't have a hangover for 46 days regardless (and I don't plan to start now). Secondly I considered that it would save me money as Paris is quickly becoming a heavy strain on the purse strings. In this regard I am a bit upset that I didn't carry it out as it would have been interesting to compare the what I might have spent over 46 days on rare and wonderfully expensive craft beer. Thirdly, I knew that Uni life was about to get much tougher and that the work  would be coming in thick and fast. I figured that with no tastings, meeting up to go for a pint or sitting opening a bottle of something special, that I would have more time to focus on uni work. That didn't happen either and in fact although I didn't continue with lent I have been getting better grades recently than I have ever had before in my 3 year university career.


Why wasn't I successful?

I lasted two weeks, I honestly did. Then I found that the beer shops around here were starting to get some really exciting beers in stock. Its not an excuse I know but I am a self confessed 'massive beer geek' and I found the temptation of De Molen, De Struise, Mikkeller, Westvleteren and fresh hopped US canned IPA far too tempting to resist. I figured that most of the beer that I have tasted in the 'unsuccessful' part of lent I may never get the chance to have again. 

I also figured that there wasn't really a point to my lent quest. I didn't really have any intention of giving craft beer up at a time when I have never been more interested in it. When I look at what I have had the chance to try in the past year its just simply amazing. I don't plan to let my interest start falling by the wayside now. I realise that a lot of my friends don't get it and sometimes I think that my parents think I am a bit mad for paying €25+ for a bottle of beer. I honestly don't expect that everyone around me gets my pass time. In the same way that I don't really get why someone would take up needle work as a hobby, but I don't question it.

So at this point, when I have never been more interested in the small details of the craft beer world, I figured why put yourself through it? So I didn't. Although I did find myself behaving more than I might normally and I can really only say there has been one evening in the past 46 where I would myself admit that I was a bit drunk (It was a long day of tasting!) So whilst I maybe didn't give up craft beer for 46 days I have developed a better sense of knowing when enough is enough and being a bit more sensible in my old age.

I think when I first got into craft beer I was a bit like a kid in a sweetie shop. If there was something new and rare there that I had never tried I would start lining up the glasses. Now I respect the principals of quality and not quantity a little bit more. I realise that I would rather have one excellent beer than 6 pints of a mediocre one. If I have learned anything from lent that's what its been. Now onwards and upwards and I shall never make any silly bets like this again

Cheers and Hoppy Easter


M

Friday, 15 April 2011

Monday, 11 April 2011

Westy 12 Vblog

Part 1 of Westy 12 vs St Bernardus 12 vs Rochefort 10

Saturday, 9 April 2011

A collab Vblog

 Yesterdays collaboration beer tasting with Brandon who writes on American Beer Geek in Paris and Simon who owns the Cave a Bulles in Paris.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Yet another new video blog!

Video blog of De Molen Rasputin with an unexpected gusher of a bottle!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Beer moments

I'm sure most of us bloggers have had them. Beer moments. Some might call them epiphanies. The moment when you realise that all of the silly beer things you do like sniffing and tasting, looking and talking, trading and sharing all make sense. Ive had two of those in the last two days. Lucky me!


Last night was the first one; around 11pm after two mediocre beers I thought I would open a bottle of something nice. De Molen Mooi & Meedogenloos (or beautiful and ruthless as it is in English) was my poison. A Russian Imperial stout. I was certain it would be over-rated and in fact my standards were lowered after the previous two beers. At 10.2% I knew it would be my last beer of the night if I wanted to get to class the next day.

So off popped the cap and I was in love. Before it even started glugging into the glass I knew this was a sipper; something I would want to savour and taste in my mouth for a long time. Very black and in fact a little darker than I thought it might be, it held its head all the way down the glass. Chocolate, a lil' Coffee, some fresh hops and a pinch of some lactic/sour/warm notes on the finish. This stuff was good, really good. And the best part; that silky smooth mouthfeel. No other word for it apart from epic.

So today I walked around with a smile on my face knowing that I have some more at home and several other De Molen beers in waiting. Then another epiphany happened. I was on my way to La Cave a Bulles to pick up some of the new beers that were delivered today. I heard rumours of Mikkeller, De Struise, Left Hand, Cantillon and more. I wasn't disappointed and there was a truly brilliant choice of beer on show. I stayed longer than I should have; talking about and choosing my beer. Whilst I was there not only did I watch the fascinating array of people enter the shop, choose from the new and existing selection and leave smiling, I also met Brandon who writes on the blog American Beer geek in Paris. I recommend have a look on the site as he does the French beer scene a lot more justice than I do. 

 Yeah thats what you think it is!

Simple as it was meeting other people just as geeky as you makes you  remember that there is a whole community of us out there. Whether we are blogging from the comfort of our own homes, drinking with friends in a bar or simply just enjoying a great beer wherever we are one thing is true; we are all the same. Beer brings people together, young and old, male and female, whatever race and creed. Sometimes the beer community needs to lighten up and remember this. Whilst I still have this fresh in my mind I think I shall pop open a beer. Wherever you are right now I suggest you do the same.

Cheers to beers and good times

M

Monday, 28 March 2011

Vblog nøgne ø pale ale

A Vblog with the bloopers left in (woops)

Craft beer lost to the Giants? Or an inevitable progression?

Today Goose Island was purchased by Anheuser-Busch Inbev. This got me thinking. Is that a bad thing or not? Large companies buying smaller operations to extend their portfolio. However some would think of it as the small guy being pressured to sell out. I have to say I fall into the first camp on this one.



Goose Island for me have never been a small operation. Im sure that some people remember the good ole' days when they started out. Me, I dont and I have only ever considered them as a big craft brewery; much in the same way I would consider Sierra Nevada or Brooklyn. I realise that for some this will not take the sting out of them being bought by a large multinational but if AB have no plans to drastically change what Goose Island are doing then for me its not a problem. If on the other hand they try to stop seasonal special brews and water down the existing brand then I will be pretty annoyed. However it doesnt seem like thats the intention here.

The deal has cost AB Inbev a reported $38.8 million. Although it seems like a lot of money I bet this deal has been weighed up very carefully by the relevant people at AB. I am pretty sure that they will do pretty well out of this deal. Lets not forget that AB Inbev already owned a part of Goose Island and pretty much took care of all its distribution; something which has certainly helped Goose Island to get where it is now. The only changes that we know for certain that are being made is that Greg Hall the current Brewmaster and son of the original founder is leaving and that the current head brewer is filling his shoes. It also seems that AB Inbev have committed to spending $1.3 million on upping production too, which I think is a good thing.

It is important to remember that this deal doesnt give AB full control of the company as 42% is still owned by The Craft Brewers Alliance. Nevertheless it does give a multinational majoirty control of the company. I know that some will feel that this is a negative step for the US craft beer scene but I think only time will tell and for the moment I feel pretty positive about the deal. Even if it does mean giving some of my cash to the money men at AB Inbev when I want a nice cold bottle of Honkers

Friday, 25 March 2011

France- A beer paradise

France doesn't exactly have a great reputation for beer. After all its the country that brought us 1664, Desperados and 33. Contrary to popular belief they do have a small but thriving craft beer industry.



The French craft beer industry is full of great little breweries but it never seems to get the international reputation amongst beer geeks like Italy or Denmark. Maybe that's because it lacks a world renowned brewer with a big voice like Mikkeller or Grado Plato or maybe its because the wine industry over shadows too much. I mean France has its fair share of already world renowned drinks industries right; Wine, Champagne (a wine I know), Cognac, Absinthe, Pastis. I don't see why a craft beer industry cant fit in to that too though.
Brasserie Craig Allan, Uberach, St Reuil, Fleurac, Garrigues. Only a few of the hundreds of fantastic micro brewers in France. Not just creating the usual three French styles either; Blonde, Brune and Ambree. Black IPA, wood aging, hoppy IPA and the rest. The French micro brewing scene is just as experimental as the rest of Europe and the world. If you are in Paris you must visit la cave a bulles which is a fantastic shop specialising in French micro breweries, although he does stock some Italian, Scottish, English, and Belgian stuff too.


We must stop thinking about France as purely a destination for those of us who also like a spot of wine as it can be a great destination for craft beer lovers too.  I for one would love to see an Auld Alliance style collaboration brew with a Scottish and a French brewery, or maybe a beer between an English brewer that can be shipped across the channel. Ok maybe those are a step too far. Maybe we should encourage some importers to start looking to the growing French craft beer scene and let us taste some of this wonderful beer back in Blighty. I shall continue to post about my discoveries and after lent I will upload some Vblogs and some tasting notes of my favourites.

Anyone else got a French favourite ?

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