Friday, 22 July 2011

American Bottled Beer Tasting Session

After realising that I was living less than half a mile away from a fantastic beer boutique, Dr. Ink of Fulham, I made the trip over with a friend in order to pick up some beers in order to get us in the mood for the upcoming beer festivals.

Upon arriving we were amazed at the selection not only of British bottle conditioned ales but there was also a fridge stocked up with American bottles and a whole cabinet of Belgian, Dutch and German beers. Needless to say some restraint was needed in order to avoid blowing off the purse strings. In the end we returned with 5 American bottled beers, a couple of British bottle conditioned beers and a flagon of Weston's Cider.

In this blog I'll be reviewing the American bottles which included:
1) Goose Island IPA A 5.9% IPA described as a "hop  lovers dream"
A lovely light, golden IPA with a mild fruity aroma. Taste is initially quite refreshing with a long dry, bitter aftertaste. Not overpowering with the hops.
2) Goose Island Honkers Ale A 4.2% English Style Ale
Nice copper coloured beer with a pleasant but not too strong aroma. Nice malty taste but no huge hop flavour. Very drinkable and overall quite a pleasant experience. Nothing too exciting but a nice beer nonetheless.
3) Brooklyn Brewery East India Pale Ale A 6.9% deep golden beer using a variety of old and new world hops
Nice and golden as they say with a reasonable hop aroma. On the palate it has a nice hop flavour with just a hint of citrus coming through towards the end before finishing off in a nice crisp flavour. A nice refreshing, thirst quenching beer. Very drinkable for a 6.9%.
4) Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA A 7.1% "hop monster"
A lovely light golden IPA with a rather pungent hop aroma. A heavy floral hit of hops is balanced out nicely with a little burst of lemon-pineapple citrus flavour. One of the nicest beers I've had today. Nice as something new but a bit too strong of flavour to have more than 1.
5) Odell IPA A 7% IPA which uses American hops to create a "distinctive bitterness profile and an incredible hop character"
Lovely light IPA. A big floral hoppy aroma is followed by a huge hit of those new world hops we love so much. Quite similar to BrewDog's Punk IPA but with a slightly more citrus flavour. I can't get enough of beers like this. Definitely one to buy again.

So there you go. A selection of reviews of some lovely American beers. One last thing, I realise there's now a few people who actually read this blog but none of you guys feel the need to comment. Comments really are the lifeblood of any blog and it allows me to see what you guys think of my musings. So even if it's just to say you think it's rubbish then I do appreciate any comments.

I'm off to the Windsor LocAle Beer Festival today so there'll be a review and hopefully some photos appearing on here soon.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Those Crazy Russians

Awful news for beer lovers in Russia: beer has now been classified as alcoholic! The article from the BBC ( explains the details.

Things to take from this:

  1. How did it take so long for this to happen? Was there seriously no licensing restrictions on beer at all?
  2. The beer tax in Russia underwent a hike of 200% last year! I think we should be glad this hasn't happened in the UK.
  3. This is a fantasticly humorous story.
In other news I have now decided that I fully support a move to ban/ restrict alcohol advertising on television in the UK. The only adverts seem to come from the huge megabrewing conglomerates; mainly because they are the only ones who can afford it. While the free for all of advertising continues huge swathes of the British public will simply stay unaware of what exists within the beer world and will as a result stick to mass produced beers. 

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Great British Beer Festival Foreign Beer Preview

With the Great British Beer Festival only 2 weeks away now I feel it's probably time to do some sort of preview.  Now the foreign beer and cider lists have been announced I'm starting to get suitably moist over the prospect of 4 days of beer fuelled fun and games. As a volunteer I’ll be able to, in exchange for a few days of my time, be able to sample the large range of beers on offer for free.

When I first saw the Foreign Beer list ( I have to admit I was only inches away from having an accident in my pants. The addition of a bar purely for American beer is, in my view, a great idea. Those crafty brewers across the pond are making some of the most exciting and tasty beers around at the moment and bar a trip over there it is generally quite hard to find a selection half as good as this anywhere else. The absolutely staggering list of IPA style beers that are currently or will in the next few days make their trip across the Atlantic is second to none and I for one cannot wait to get stuck in and try some. So many of the beers are using what I have to say is my favourite hop combination Chinook, Cascade and Centennial; the 3 C’s as they’re sometime known. Of the huge range of beers listed some of the ones I’m most excited about include Ballast Point’s Habanero Sculpin IPA; a 7% version of their Gold Medal winning IPA with habanero peppers added into the cask. This should be a fiery little number. I can’t wait to get stuck into both the Habanero and original versions of this. Also a cracker on the list is Boulder’s Mojo IPA which boasts a heavy use of Amarillo hops for a “big citrus flavour”. Yummy! Harpoon’s IPA is a cracker that I’ve had before from the bottle and can’t wait to taste on draught. Marshall Wharf’s Big Twitch IPA weighs in at a hefty 9% but is claimed to be “surprisingly drinkable”. Now I’ve had these high strength IPA’s before and sometimes “surprisingly drinkable” is a one stop shop to stumbling home at 4am, dignity residing somewhere in a London gutter with greasy kebab in hand. Port Brewing Company’s Wipeout IPA and the Wipeout IPA with Cascade, both at 7%, should also be a particularly scrumptious experience. Finally, Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA, a 7.2% “bold and assertive” IPA, should also be particularly yummy if their Pale Ale is anything to go by. With the vast majority of these American beers having ABV’s of above 5% and a fair few above 7% that should get the beer fun police down at number 10 raging suitably.

The news that the deal between CAMRA and BrewDog, that would have meant there being a BrewDog bar selling keg beer, has broken down is a real shame. I was quite looking forward to trying some of BrewDog’s rarer beers that I haven’t been able to find yet. James from BrewDog has outlined his view of the cancellation in a blog post on their website Now I don’t really know what is true and what is BrewDog spin but I think this could easily descend into a he said she said argument. As a CAMRA member it does anger me slightly that all this will do is give other bloggers more evidence with which to tar the organisation as an old man’s club who all have beards, beer bellies and only want beers made with Fuggles and Golding. Now as a 21 year old CAMRA member yes I do often bring the average age at events down by a good few years but I do think that BrewDog need to stop thinking of this as a war between craft beer and real ale. If they continue down this path then they may end up isolating a large swathe of their customers; CAMRA members who, shockingly, also like keg beer. It’s not illegal to be a CAMRA member and drink keg beer remember. In the end though, I hope that these 2 organisations can resolve their differences because the only people losing out here are the consumers.

Well that was a long article. Anyway, I’ll also be doing a little preview of the British Beer list when it is released so keep your eyes peeled. I’ll also be blogging live on Twitter throughout the whole event so follow me on @colinhill01 if you’re interested in my inane inebriated ramblings.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

A Shed Load of Beer Reviews

Right, since this is a beer blog I guess I should review some beers. Here's a lovely selection of beers I've tried in the last month or so. I don't tend to get to the pub too often for a serious tasting session so when I do go I tend to taste quite a few in one go.

First off was a trip to the Euston Tap; a great little bar with a wide selection of cask and keg beers available. Seeing as summer was on the horizon it was decided that we would stick mainly to IPA's and lighter beers. Right on with the reviews.
1. Summer wine nerotyoe IPA 6%
Just from looking at it it was clear that this beer was dark for an IPA which led me to the conclusion that it may be a black IPA like Windsor and Eton's Conqueror. It has a lovely citrusy aroma which contrasted heavily with a strong malty smoky flavour. A heavy bitter aftertase which was not unpleasant but in my view rendered in unsuitable as a session beer.

2. Northcoat jiggle juice IPA 5.8%

This was a lovely pint. A nice light golden clear colour blended well with a slight citrus aroma to make it appetising even before I'd taken a sip. The citrusy aroma was matched by a similarly subtle citrus taste. This is my perfect kind of beer and one perfect for summer. I found it surprisingly drinkable for a 5.8%. It took a lot of convincing not just the settle down for a session on this stuff.

3. Otley O8 8.0%

I was very excited about this before I tried it. Described as being deceptively drinkable and light it sounded perfect. I was, however, let down by the beer. It had an oily mouth feel and was extremely perfumy in taste. In all quite unpleasant if I'm honest.

4. Brewdog Brambling X 7.5%

Another one I was excited to try. Unfortunately, again we were let down. I found it very sharp and to be honest rather unpleasant. I had expected more from BrewDog having tried their other beers. While they do make some great beers (See below) I feel sometimes their "well if you don't like it you can go away" attitude might end up loosing them customers they might otherwise be able to rely on.

5. Brewdog Hardcore IPA 9.2%

I'd had this before from the bottle, and loved it, and was excited to see if the keg version could be even better. With a huge hop aroma following in to a lovely hoppy fresh taste this beer could not be any better, BrewDog had redeemed themselves and I was happy. This is the perfect example of a beer that if dispensed from the cask would simply lack the punchy hop hit that makes it such a great beer. 

A trip to Cambridge allowed me to taste some beers that would otherwise be unavailable. This time only 2 were sampled.
1. Warwickshire Brewery Kings Champion 
This was a nice first beer of the day to have over lunch. It had a slightly creamy feeling and was not too hoppy. In all a great lunchtime beer!
2. Wolf Brewery Lupus Lupus 

This was billed as having a fruity hop taste which left me very excited to try it. In all it was a lovely light beer but not as hoppy as expected.

So there you have it I've reviewed some beers. Next time I'll be previewing the Great British Beer Festival and talking about the beers I'm hoping to try over the week.