Monday, 30 April 2012

Best of British

Now my local Marks & Sparks has upped their game to stock more in the beer section I have been able to try a few more of the “exclusively for” beers that M&S’s beer buyer has arranged for us all. St Austell do a lot of them, in fact if you see Cornish on a beer bottle it is a good bet it is brewed by them, London is usually Meantime and Adnams is the Suffolk brewer.

Not a bad thing, in fact good old M&S has had more unique beers for me to try than any other supermarket and Loughton has much larger stores than it’s branch of M&S so for this one to beat the others… they are doing well. Whether the beers are subtly different from the breweries other beers or they are fresh takes on old recipes is neither here or there for me. It’s the fact they are easily available and tasty!

Over the next couple of weeks expect to see a few reviews of their beer range!

Side note, I really do love the union jack bottle caps!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Pub Cats!

How cool is this!

Some fantastic person has started a website to praise the pub moggy!

As most should have guessed I am a cat fan, I like dogs too but I share my home with three cats. One of which is my avatar on the web, the black and white monster in the top right hand side of this page.

Pub cats website is aiming to create an interactive map showing where pubs are that will provide feline company to go with your pint. The gentle company of a cat, unlike the pub dog who is just after your crisps, the cat is only (usually) after a head scratch and a quiet place to curl up next to you for a nap...


Sadly pub mogs are a rare breed these days, even if I can think of a few pubs in the City of London that desperately need one to stop the hoards of mice! I heard though the hopvine that the cat of the Seven Stars Tom Payne is no longer with us which is a shame, he was a lovely character and didn't mind the ruff!

Last pub moggy we saw was in Battle in the Kings Head, a small black longhair who settled down for a nap with our table. Love to see more of them.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Diamond Jubilee Beers

Brewers love these special occasions to come up with new beers or to dust off old traditional recipes.

Yesterday I saw in M&S their beer for the Jubilee which I will be popping along to get at most stage, however I have decided against looking online for other beers. This special occasion I will be looking in the shops and not worrying about the ones that got away from me that I have found online.

Any folks out there with a Jubilee beer already in their cupboards?

Monday, 23 April 2012

Battle of the Beer Bottles

Yesterday was the Virgin London Marathon and it was from cheering point at mile 22 that I can say that the female runner in the Hook Norton Bottle was quite cheerfully out running the male London Pride Bottle. This year's third place was held by the lady in the Adnams Bottle but well done for a hard race in the sunshine and wind!

Well done to all runners, you did brilliantly!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Redefining Smooth...

Apparently Caffrey's is redefining smooth by having their beer for sale in.....

...wait for it.......

aluminium bottles.


Whilst the campaign is very pretty and glossy, as spotted in one of the monthly magazines I picked up over the weekend, it just seems a bit of a crap point to sell your beer on.

I'm sure these bottles have been used before by one of the major brands and it just seems daft. The adverts themselves are moodily shot with models but the bottle jars with the image.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Pubs & Food

I think that the only thing which will kill off the beer movement is food.

Or lack of......

Yes, designer snacks which are meat based are lovely but where Wetherspoons and Nicholsons work better than craft pubs is that they have a menu of food that can be quickly brought to the table, for the table.

Some folk are lazy, once you are at a place that you like and nab a table, a group of folks can remain there for a long time. Food isn't the biggest part of the bill compared with drink but it is there. Pork pies which are popular in pubs now do nothing for group ordering, they are not things you can share out.

I can see where individual serving foods are from, wine bars. But then what craft pubs are missing is the fact that wine bars which are still going (and going well, last one I went to in Covent Garden was heaving!) have moved from these personal serving foods to tapas.

We, British are big ones for sharing food at a table, crisps are opened out wide for all to share. Platters, tapas or bowls of chips are popular, because again, they are great sharing foods.

The folks which have got into beer will move on to places where you can socialise and eat, beer is a novelty at the moment but soon that will fade off.

People will want to go to a place and settle for an evenings laughter and drinking and that includes food.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Brains' Original Stout

4.1% Abv


Roasted Coffee Beans


Malty and fades into nothingness with a coffee kiss on the end

Brains’ Original Stout is a good mainstream stout, better than Guinness in the fact that it actually is brewed to have taste and not to be served at ice forming temperatures to disguise the lack of flavour.

It is not as smooth as some stouts and does have a heavy roasted coffee and ashy flavour combination which is odd but strangely morish.

As a lunchtime beer it went very well with the ploughman’s I had sorted out from the fridge and with the chocolate cake. The ashy notes are very weak and food overcomes them as I was a bit concerned that it would jar with the food but it worked well.

For a stout which can be picked up locally from most supermarkets (at least in my area) it is a very nice change from the usual one stout that sells. And so to nab their slogan; use your brains and drink theirs.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Stone Brewing Co's Old Guardian

11% Abv

Despite the swagger, bravado and cockiness on their bottle’s blurb which annoy me slightly from others, I like the Stone Brewing Company's bottles. Probably because it is true they are blooming brilliant brewers and I have never had a bad or indifferent beer from them whether on tap or bottle.

I consider myself lucky to have got this bottle, hidden behind other bottles on a shelf. Admittedly hidden behind Arrogant Bastard which is a rather nice beer too but still I’m lucky. The assistant behind the counter admitted he was going to buy that bottle at the end of the day, so raspberries to him and a beer for me.

The beer itself pours syrupy from the bottle, nice carbonation with leaving a thick fluffy lacing on the glass which lasts to the end. It is an amber coloured beer with a slightly cloudiness to it with a white head so it is a very attractive glass of beer. The smell is gorgeous, sweet alcohol, barley and a dry maltyness to it.

Taste is where the ball is knocked for 6 and out of the grounds!

Yes, a cricket analogy… Too much time spent with the hubby I think.

Big sweet barleywine flavours, the malt and barley flavours balanced beautifully with a sweet boozy kick, this is a sipper. Every mouthful is a joy, big mouth feel and the aftertaste lingers for ages with toffeeque tang. I’m looking forward to getting a couple more of these.

This is what we are missing from the british Barleywines at the moment if you actually see them, currently it seems a rare style for this side of the waters.

American versions are far more robust and more true to the style even if like this one they have swopped out english Goldings for a combination of american hops. Youngs's Old Nick was a great british version of this beer but has now been assigned to the history books. Come on brewers, bring back the barleywines!

For more information:

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


The above beer is not a bad beer, in fact it a great example of what it is.

Hardknott’s website mentions the unusual interaction that occurred in the barrel resulting in a balsamic sourness with this beer. In fact it has the lovely resinous sweet tanginess of good quality balsamic vinegar coupled with an almost fizzy sourness like the sugar on cola bottle sweets. All in all it is a great example of a sour beer.

But, when I see a label in a shop saying that the beer contained is a stout aged in whiskey casks I have other expectations of the beer. I was expecting the smell of medicinal alcohol which as you take that first sip turns into a whisky foretaste followed though with the big (this is a 7.8% beer folks) punchy stout flavours of coffee, chocolate and molasses, maybe all three or maybe one or two.

I didn’t get that…… the sourness is not mentioned on the bottle.

Yes, it is mentioned on the website but when on the hunt for beers in a shop I don’t look it up on a website as I expect the label to tell me things strangely.

Great beer, just not what I wanted.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Brentwood Brewing Co's Golden Crust Ale

3.7% Abv

This beer has an odd brewing history, original recipe by Brentwood Brewing Co but brewed by Wolf Brewery in Norfolk for the Golden Crust & Co. a bit of long and slightly confusing tale of brewing, considering as far as I'm aware that Brentwood is still a goer.


However the ale itself is a nice easy going pint, golden hued with a persistent foamy head that lasts well. Lovely malty biscuit bite to its faint toffee smell, it would make a nice session beer.

Possibly a good beer for gaming, tastes good but not punchy as to distract from what you are doing. In fact it is this style of beer that I miss seeing in London, hoppy beers are the norm and whilst I don't mind hoppy beers I prefer miles and stouts. I know that not everyone does but the middle ground to me of bitters is now a thin line, I would like to see at least one beers like this on a bar. Even Brewdog does Blitz which whilst hoppy had a lovely malty biscuit bite too.

When at home I have McMullens AK which I would say is in a similar line to Golden Crust, both are lovely pints but just won't set the world alight.