Monday, 19 August 2013


Never realised that Guinness once attempted a wheat beer, only realised now as someone left a branded glass on my desk.

It was discontinued as it didn't take off but I thought it was an interesting beer for them to attempt.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Shepherd Neame - India Pale Ale

6.1% ABV

This is made according to one of the historical recipes that they have found in their archives and it is very different from the American or Scottish IPAs that are out there. Yes, it does have that alcohol fruity sweetness that you get from the higher ABV and the tropical fruit notes in smell and taste but that's all in common. With this beer you get a biscuity bitter backbone to the beer, I found myself wishing I had brought more of these which is unusual for me and Shepherd Neame beers.

I do wonder if the fact that these historical beers are bottled in proper brown glass helps the flavour and in turn my perception of these beers. I have had bottles of Bishops Finger which have been undrinkable thanks to clear glass and strong sunlight in shops and so I approach their beers with caution normally.

The beer itself pours like a bitter rather than a IPA and smells like a bitter that has been crossed with pineapple which was unusual but not off putting, it's the taste where it really shines. That bitter backbone I mentioned stops it from just being another hoppy beer but gives it a nice bite.

Personally I hope this beer says around, it is an enjoyable tipple.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Hanging Bat

This was one of those happy coincidences where you are heading to a new town and someone on the internet writes up a good review of a place which you subconsciously file it away in the filing cabinet of your brain only for it to guide you to the door.

It is a bit of a walk from the main drag of the Royal Mile but this is not a bad thing, means you get a seat without a struggle and also waiting time at the bar is short… or it is until the locals fill it up as they clock off work. It is a modern bar but unlike a lot of craft beer places in London they have decided to make use of the high ceilings by creating a multi layered bar instead of havingall that echoing space.

The staff are friendly and fast whether serving behind the bar or dashing out to deliver food to a waiting table, speaking of food they serve a nice range of smaller food which are good for soaking up beer. Nice to see this instead of the usual pork pie offering which is all you get in some craft places in London, yes pork pies are lovely but you do sometimes need something a bit more.
The Bat has its own microbrewery; it’s tiny especially compared to the Tap East. Their own beers are very good, the beer selection seemed to cater for all tastes plus they do a tasting flight with a difference. If you order one then you pick out your first beer which they serve to you but then they give you tokens so you can go back to the bar once you have finished or you can order all the ones you want in one go. Good idea we thought and took advantage of doing a majority of our drinking that way whilst there.

Highly recommended bar!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Scotch Whisky Experience

Nothing to do with beer this one, but many of us beer drinkers also enjoy a good whisky.

My partner and I decided to book a whisky tasting experience on the good advice from friends who had been here and said that it was a great morning out. We decided to opt for the Gold tour and set out for the place after a leisurely breakfast, after getting my picture taking with the statue of David Hume (Philosopher before anyone asks) on the Royal Mile we ended up running to the venue as the skies opened with an impressive thunderstorm for a Tuesday morning.

We had booked the 10am tour figuring by the time for tasting it would be 11 or so, the tour was small mainly I suspect due to the time in the morning so apart from my partner and me there was only one other guy who as it turned out worked for the Johnny Walker distillery, interesting guy to chat to.

The tour itself was very good but the whisky collection which was all collected by one man and sold for unnamed amount was jaw dropping! The collector had mainly brought two bottles of each, one for his collection and one for drinking, if he could only get the one bottle it went into the collection. I have to admit to the awe I felt at seeing this collection, from an artistic view it was fascinating to see how the labels for some distilleries have changed over the years and in some cases how their newer elusive bottlings echo the designs of yesteryear.  

Our guide was entertaining, rather than a scripted talk he tailored what he talked about to our questions and asked us about our opinions on some of the bits and pieces. He was just as good when it came to the tasting, this is the first whisky tasting I have done to be honest and it was good fun. The tasting for this package was done with explanation of the whiskies and how they can vary due how they are made, we also did a nose test… this I did enjoy not only because I got 14 out of the 20 which apparently puts me in the top 5% of people for identifying smells but because it was a great eye-opener to how difficult it can be to smell something without a sight or taste clue.

But yes, I mainly enjoyed it because I was top of the class!

After this we did a long taste testing of four different whiskies, from blend to single malt to single grain to a grain/malt brend. It was interesting how different they are in comparison; normally I buy whiskies from certain distilleries because I like their taste so the chance to experiment here was good.

Of course we finished the tour off by a midge of shopping, a lot more whisky tasting at the bar and then lunch at the restaurant on site which was needed after the off-piste tasting we did in the bar. Highly recommend going along if you are in Edinburgh.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Stewart Brewing Co - St Giles

5% ABV

We have been back from Edinburgh for a couple of weeks now, it was a glorious trip which involved beer, history, whisky and a lot of a rather lovely meals. Safe to say we will be going back despite the East Coast train cock-up on the way back.

This beer I enjoyed first at Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, the restaurant there is rather nice and of course doing Scottish beers helped to ease sore feet from the trekking around the gardens themselves.

It pours a dark cherry brown with a fluffy head which lasts down the glass despite reminding me of the head you briefly get from lemonade, didn’t get much of smell from the beer but it was served very cold. The flavour improved as the beer warmed up, not the breweries fault but it is an unfortunately fact that most drinks fridges are kept too cold. Firstly it tastes of dry roast barley which as it warms is softened by an underlying toffee note; all in all it is rather morish.

Luckily the bar we went to later had bottles of this too so I was able to enjoy a couple more of these. Shame we didn’t see it on tap but you can’t have everything.

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