Tuesday, 27 October 2009

New Adventures

After an unenjoyable period of life's rich tapestry... new beery challenges are on the horizon (with some food thrown in for good tasting)

Exciting times!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Not much to tell...

A lack of beer...
I haven't written very much on here for a while as I haven't been doing much drinking really. I think a quiet winter full of beering and eating has left me with the biggest belly I'm yet to manage and I'm left without any trousers that fit me, and hence I dare not leave the house to find more beer.
I have managed to add to the "Special" collection though, mostly through the generosity of others... Anchor O.B.A., BrewDog Zephyr, BrewDog/Mikkeller Divine Rebel and a few other juicy specials await me. It is very difficult to know when to bring such special beers out though. I firmly believe that drinking something extraordinary shouldn't be done alone, but its hard to pick the right occasion.
I managed to get my grubby little paws on one of the pre-release small bottles of Zephyr and was blown away by it. The aroma and tastes were a complete juxtaposition. I don't think I am enough of a wordsmith to pay due homage so if you want to know more about it read this by Mark Dredge at Pencil & Spoon, it's as good a description as you could hope to find on this unique beer.
Its my Birthday next week, that might just prompt me to open one or two bottles... we shall see.
Hopefully Beer Ventures future will be secured by then and a further celebration can take place!
Happy Adventuring!

Friday, 8 May 2009


Do they care?
Its been a great few weeks of beery events and it led me to think about the reactions of people to the great food and drink they have been tasting. At 2 different pubs, a village hall, at someones house and at a food festival, I have watched people enjoy tastes that they wouldn't normally encounter and thoroughly appreciate these new experiences.
I have been to a whisky dinner with Glenfarclas, a beer & food matching evening with Anchor Brewery, hosted a St George's day tasting, a 40th Birthday tasting and had a beer and food matching stall at Shaftesbury Food Festival. All very different events but with a unifying feeling that great food and drink brings people together, experiencing different products for the very first time. The number of women who have told me that they "don't like beer" in the last fortnight, only to find out that they actually do like, good, well made, flavoursome beers, especially when matched with food, is truly astonishing. If we could only get them to try it in the first place. One of the highlights for me was a lady who must have been well into her 70's asking me for some more BrewDog Riptide and another piece of brownie, she told me that she hadn't drunk any beer in nearly 20 years, but wanted me to let her have some bottles to take home!
The Glenfarclas Whisky tasting was held at The Queens Arms in Corton Denham, and was hosted by George Grant the 7th generation of the owning family. It was a very entertaining evening, with some fabulous food, a rich terrine with the 15year old, Loin of Hoggett with the 21 year old, a beautiful chocolate dessert with the 25 year old, 2 thirty year old with cheese and a 50 year old bottle to round off a truly memorable evening, brilliantly compered by George. It was my first whisky and food meal, and it certainly won't be my last, it was also particularly enjoyed by those people who had been dragged along by spouses, both my wife and another lady on our table discovered (much to my horror) that whisky is actually a very nice drink!
I had a great night in a local village hall hosting a St George's day beer tasting of best bitters, golden ales, barley wine, IPA, Imperial stout and even some fruit beer. Good fun, with some people who hadn't tried a lot of the different styles before, and some big surprises about what they actually liked.
Mark Carpenter the head brewer at Anchor arrived for a holiday and found himself doing a very jet-lagged beer and food matching meal at The Stapleton Arms. He was on great form however, and gave us a fantastic insight into the Anchor brewery and their legendary beers. The star of the show was undoubtedly the OBA (Our Barrel Ale) a blend of the other Anchor brews aged in their own whisky casks (we had some of their whisky as well). A really unique beer, quite unlike a lot of the other barrel aged beers out there. They won't be making much though, so get it if you can! The beer gains an extra 2% of alcohol in the barrel, which according to Mark's math(s) means 5 gallons of whisky is absorbed into the wood! This alcohol gain means that in America it is considered a spirit and taxed as such.
The OBA was paired with our starter of pork terrine, the beer was a bit too big for the terrine and would have worked a bit better with something a bit richer like pork belly and black pudding. The next course was a blacked cod dish with oriental noodles and it was beautifully paired with Liberty Ale, an excellent match with the cod that was cooked to perfection. Dessert was a take on a Reese's Peanut butter cup, and was paired with the Porter, one of my all-time favourite beers. A selection of cheese and some Old Foghorn, was washed down with a couple of Rye whisky's that were a bit full on for me!
A very relaxed, comfortable night with classic beers and glorious food. Our fellow diner's also seemed to enjoy themselves, a first at that sort of event for the people on our table.
Shaftesbury food fair has to have the most stunning setting for such an event anywhere in the country with far reaching views over the Dorset countryside. The people seemed to embrace it and we had a great day selling some beers and introducing some beer and food matching. Moor Breweries Merlin's Magic with some mature cheddar, BrewDog Punk IPA and spicy chicken and Riptide with chocolate. The IPA was particularly well received and we sold out very early in the day. I did the day with Paul from The Fine Food School at Stour Row, we were advertising our beer and food cookery classes, hopefully the enthusiasm shown on the day will be followed with some bookings!
Its been a great couple of weeks... this weekend takes me to Essex and a 30th birthday tasting, and tonight I am trying BrewDog's Zephyr, lets hope it lives up to the hype!
Happy Adventuring!

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Please slow down

BrewDog's New Beers

BrewDog please slow down a bit, all these new beers is costing me a fortune. Every new week seems to bring a crazy new brew that just has me so excited that I can't wait to get my grubby little paws on it. In the last month we've had Zephyr, 77 Lager, How to disappear completely and now Juxtaposition and I believe that Atlantic IPA is on its way too. My wife and I are going to seriously fall out if you keep doing this to me.

Maybe you could call yourself Petrol or something similar so that my bank statements don't keep saying BrewDog????

I think a full on BrewDog day is coming soon in my garden, maybe Bank Hols Monday would be the ideal occasion. It might even prompt me into writing about them...
(p.s don't slow down, keep doing it, get crazier, whet my tastebuds and I can't wait for the summer's raspberry ripple ice-cream beer or beetroot purple mild...)

Happy BrewDogging!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Beers for Cask Ale Week

Cask Ale Week - Whats on at the local...

I popped into my exceptional local pub yesterday to see what they had on for Cask Ale week. I'm not sure about this National Cask Ale Week thing, is it an idea from the bigger breweries and pub chains for their gain or is it something that will benefit smaller breweries and independent pubs? We shall see. I also wonder how well its being marketed, I have only seen it on beer websites and inside pubs, that may only prove that I walk around with my eyes closed, but I shall ask around and see what I find out.

Back to the beers at the pub... The Queens Arms had 6 cask ales on yesterday, they had gone for a classic English ale theme, with Harveys Sussex, TT Landlord, Adnams Extra, Moor Revival, Matthews Brassknocker, and Silent Knight from Dorset Brewing Co. I only had time for three quick halves and a spot of lunch so plumped for the Adnams, Matthews and Silent Knight.

The Adnams Extra had that typical sea-side saltiness that is so typical of Adnams beers, it was a particularly well-balanced subtle beer, so typical of everything good in English Bitter. There was lots of Fuggles with its earthy flavours combining beautifully with the sweeter malt, all wrapped up by a long finish with that hint of the sea. It's been a long wait for this beer to return, and I can see why those who remember it are so pleased to be able to try it again.

Matthews Brassknocker has apparently been a CAMRA beer of the year for the last couple of years, but has escaped my radar completely, I had never come across them before. James at the Queens raves about them, and the Brassknocker was an excellent beer. It was towards the end of the barrel, so I was warned not to expect too much, so was very pleasantly surprised to find a very fresh flavourful beer. The aroma was citrussy and the colour a light golden that looked stunning when held up to the sun. It had a lovely malt sweetness, that's unusual in a 3.8% beer, with a nice hint of vanilla. The finish was slightly dryer than I was expecting with a little hop bitterness. It was a very nice session ale, one that you could return to many times over.

Silent Knight is a beer I have been looking to have a taste of for quite a while, it sounds very interesting. It's a dark, unfiltered wheat beer at 5.9% promising a big, bold flavour and the smoothness of wheat. For me, it just didn't deliver, it needed more, needed to be bigger, stronger, more unctuous. There was a hint of chocolate and a hint of dark berries, the beer was thinner than I was expecting, not as carbonated as I wanted it. I think I was expecting too much, I wanted it to remind me of Aventinus, but all it did, was remind me how good Aventinus is.

My lunch was delicious - pigs kidneys on toast with a cider reduction, really, really good!

Happy Adventuring!

Friday, 3 April 2009

The Session #26: Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em!

The Session #26: Smoke

I LOVE SMOKE, smoked beers, smoked food... can't get enough of them, smokier the better.

I am yet to find any smoked beers to better Schlenkerla, I love the Marzen, one of my absolute favourite beers. I think the Weizen is a brilliant food beer. The Helles is lighter, less in your face, but works a treat, sat in the sun with some cold smoked meats, brings back happy memories.

I remember my first experience drinking a Schlenkerla Marzen, the first smoked beer I'd come across, only about 4 years ago. I didn't really know what I was ordering but the bottle attracted me, as did the virtually unpronounceable writing on it. I have to try this strange animal in front of me. It was like nothing I had tried before, I took in the aroma... a packet of smokey bacon crisps in a glass... wierd. I tried it... do I like it? Yes, yes I think I do. And so started a love affair.
The Schlenkerla Weizen doesn't seem to be to everybody's taste, but it certainly works for me. I love it with smoked haddock and poached eggs, one of the best beer and food pairings I have enjoyed. I have read other people say that they don't think that smoked beer and smoked food work together, it is too much smoke, they claim. I believe as long as the intensity of the beer and food work together, then it is a match made in heaven. I wouldn't drink the Urbock or the Marzen with delicately smoked fish, they would obviously over-power the fish. Pork and smoked beers are another great food and beer pairing, there is some natural smoke flavour in pork, that, when matched to a smoked beer, is accentuated just a little bit. Slow roasted pork belly and Schlenkerla Weizen is a great way, in my opinion, to introduce people to smoked beers, even my Mum liked it.
I have searched out other smoked concoctions and been relatively disappointed by the porters of O'Kells and Alaska and the couple of other German offerings I have tasted. There just isn't that big smoke that fronts up in a Schlenkerla, that smacks your taste buds, and says give me more smokey things, NOW.
Smokey Adventuring!

Theatre Bars: Crap Beer

A Decent Drink?

I went to an excellent comedy night at a little theatre in Sherborne. It was a great nights entertainment in a nice setting. But the drinks choice was beyond shit.

Carlsberg, Tetley Creamflow stuff, bottles of Strongbow, nasty cheap wine, vodka or Grouse.

What do you want, sir?

None of them, thanks.

There must be a market for something better, the pubs that do well in the area are nice country ones that serve good drinks. It is a wealthy area, the people that use the theatre will generally be well off. Stood outside the back door, its a picture from Morse, you could be in Oxford with the narrow streets, ancient college buildings and general feeling of calm and wealth. I dread going to places like this and usually drive, as my wife is far less discerning! (I can't believe I've written that)

So buy something better and charge some more for it! Please.

Happy Adventuring!