The Friday Pint 3 #6 – Festivals Galore

A bit of a different approach to The Friday Pint this week, with me using it to promote a few events happening this weekend, next weekend, and in the future.

Firstly, Happy Easter everybody. As it’s a bank holiday weekend in the UK, there’s a good chance there’s a beer festival of some size somewhere near you (if you’re reading in the UK).  I’m working this weekend, so won’t be able to get to any of them, but here’s what I’d consider if I wasn’t…

The Brodies Bunny Basher festival is worth a visit if you’re in or near (or willing to travel to) the Leytonstone end of London. Chances are this is where a number of the countries beer geeks will be this weekend, so like previous years, it will get busy.

If I’m honest, making the trek to East London from Slough doesn’t really appeal to me, as much as the chance to savour a glass of Elizabethan does, I don’t think I could be bothered with navigating tube trains and buses on an Easter weekend.

The Platform Tavern Easter Cider and Blues Festival, and The Rockstone Easter Beer Festival in Southampton would involve a just as long (timewise) journey, and would probably be enjoyed by myself much more.

Next weekend The Rockstone have a Cider festival of their own, which is possibly where I’ll end up on the Sunday, after spending the previous three days at the Maltings Beer Festival in Newton Abbot.

Last year was the first time I went to the festival, and I was won over by the quality and condition of the beer available (perhaps a result of the festival being SIBA’s South West beer competition). This year I have yet again booked the whole weekend down there, and plan on following a similar approach to last year, where I worked my way through breweries.

As for my tip for the overall competition winner, I’d bet on Rebel Brewery’s Mexi-Cocoa if there was a book running on it.

As for the future, it’s about time I mentioned this year’s Birmingham Beer Bash on here. Tickets for individual sessions are now available here.

Whilst I’m part of the organizing team, I’m not part of the much smaller part of that team in charge of organizing and revealing the exciting line up of beers, food and fringe events that we have this year. There’s some returning favourites from last year, including Wild Beer, Siren, Thornbridge and Magic Rock, alongside some breweries making their beer bash debut. The full list of breweries can be found here.

In terms of food, the only announcement so far has been that of The Original Patty Men. Last year they sold out within the first hour of each session they were serving at, and with good reason. Their burgers were very, very nice. I’m certainly looking forward to getting to have another this year.

As well as great beer and food, the Bash also has some great fringe events lined up, information about which will be revealed via the festival’s social media feeds on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ll be doing a similar preview to the Bash as I did last year closer to the event. As for now, I’m going to try and keep myself awake. Until the next time reader… (759)

The Friday Pint 3 #4 – A post which isn’t really a Friday Pint post, but is being posted on a Friday, so it might as well be.

I like kids.

Allow me to put that into a little more context. I like the inventive and inquisitive nature of kids. I like their lack of cynicsm. I like the joy and hope that they represent. I like the idea of kids playing and having fun. It’s what they should do. Playing and having fun is what being a child (or being childish if you’re somewhat older), is all about.

I hate parents who allow their children to play in restaurants, pubs, supermarkets, and anywhere else that is highly inappropriate for a child to be running around.

I’ll be honest, I know I shouldn’t, but whenever I’m somewhere that a child is running around when they shouldn’t be, a part of me hopes that they fall, trip and hurt themselves. Of course, whatever the circumstances, it wouldn’t be an accident, or the child’s fault for running around when they shouldn’t be. It’s your fault for walking into the path of that child, or for having your chair out a bit.

I say the following to all parents of young children, present and future. Allow your children to play. By all means, encourage it, but realize that there are appropriate and inappropriate places for them to do so. If others in your vicinity scowl or tut at you whilst trying to avoid your child, it’s probably a good idea for you to tell them to calm down.


The Friday Pint 3 #3 – A Trip to Twyford

Last night I drank the other two beers I bought in last month’s trip down to Windsor and Eton Brewery, namely Canberra and Conqueror 1075.

The Canberra is a beer I probably need to try again to formulate a more solid opinion on. With each mouthful, the thoughts inside my head alternated between “mmm, this is quite nice” and “meh”. In comparison, the Conqueror 1075, a stronger version of the brewery’s black IPA, was met with a much more positive response.

And so onto today, where this morning I popped on a train down to Twyford, and walked up to the Binghams Brewery to pick up some more beer. I ended up leaving with one of each bottle, and a two litre bottle of Twyford Tipple, this being after trying the others available on draft, and finding that the first one I tried was the one I felt I could drink all afternoon/evening.

There’s nothing overly special about Twyford Tipple. It’s a 3.7% session ale, the kind of which can be found all over the country, some better than others. It’s more malt driven than hop driven, with some rather nice caramel notes that compliment the bitterness.

In the fridge there’s a bottle of the brewery’s ginger stout. I also bought the standard, coffee, chilli and vanilla stouts, along with Brickworks Bitter and Spacy Hoppy, their IPA. I’ll be opening these over the next couple of weeks and updating accordingly.

Until then, I’m going to enjoy the beer in this glass. (3209)

The Friday Pint 3 #2 – The Friday Pint on a Saturday Night

This week, The Friday Pint was going to be coming to you in video form, in an attempt to test the UStream live video streaming service. As it happens, both last night and tonight, I found myself unable to reach a point where I could record any sort of video via the netbook I’m currently writing on.

As it is, my experiments with live streaming video have been postponed, and so it is that I now find myself writing for you, the reader, whilst drinking one of the many (five) beers I purchased from the Windsor and Eton Brewery yesterday.

Windsor and Eton Brewery is currently the closest brewery to where I currently reside, close enough indeed that I enjoyed a nice walk there to buy the beer. The brewery was established in 2010, and has since developed a respectable portfolio of beers.

The ones I left with were Zinzan’s Drop, Kohinoor, Republika, Conqueror 1075, and Canberra.

The Zinzan’s drop was a two litre bottle, priced at £6.50 (a little under £2 a pint). I enjoyed it enough that I drunk the whole bottle last night. It wasn’t anything life changing, but for a session beer, it serves it’s purpose well. It’s the sort of beer I could drink all night, unlike Kohinoor.

Kohinoor is an IPA. It’s a rather nice IPA. It’s a rather nice IPA with jasmine in. Which seems nice and different at first, but soon became a chore for me to enjoy. I’m pretty sure, if Kohinoor was made without the jasmine, I’d drink a lot more of it.

Both of those beers were enjoyed last night. I currently have the Republika in a glass. Whilst it doesn’t make me want to shout it’s praises from the hills or rooftops, it is a rather enjoyable and flavoursome beer.

The Conqueror and Canberra are being saved for another night, which may, hopefully be another attempt at a live stream. Until then I’m going to enjoy the rest of this beer I have in front of me, and possibly the Old Foghorn that’s sat in my fridge.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

To find our more about Windsor and Eton Brewery visit (600)

The Friday Pint 2 #42 – Looking Forward

The Year Without Buying Beer has, admittedly, not been as successful in writing terms as I had hoped. Whilst I have drunk many things I wouldn’t have otherwise, I don’t think this has translated well to the posts within this blog. With that in mind, next year’s Friday Pint will return to the beer a week theme, though with a focus on drinking the beer produced closest (available) to where I am at the time.

Until then though, there are still a few weeks left of this year, which for me contains a week down in Cornwall with the family for Christmas. Naturally this means a whole bunch of drinking, and last weekend I packed the bottles (and minikeg) that I’ll be drinking amongst others in just over a weeks time. In no particular order, these are…

1. Dr. Rudi’s Dark Experimentation (5 litre minikeg)

This is my latest brew. I was aiming for a hoppy stout, yet I came nowhere near. Instead I got a stout which is enjoyable, but drunk in the knowledge that it isn’t what I wanted. I’ll be drinking this as and when until it runs out.

2. Brewdog and Lost Abbey Lost Dog

It tastes like Christmas in a bottle (it was aged in rum barrels) , so what better time to open one than at Christmas.

3. Anchor Our Special Ale 2008 – 2013

With the exception of a 2009 bottle, I have a run of five bottles of Anchor’s annual release, which I’ll be opening in a vertical tasting. I’ll try to do a write up of this.

4. Cantillon Fou’ Fonne

It was in stock in Bitter Virtue last weekend. All previous plans and notions of buying anything else were put to one side. This one is being saved for an appropriate dessert, or possibly just to enjoy on it’s own.

This won’t be all that gets drunk at Christmas, but it’s a start. Not long after I’ll be returning to America where hopefully I’ll get to start The Friday Pint 3 with some good local Pittsburgh beers. (759)

The Friday Pint 2 #41 – Not much to say, yet again.

The problem with this year’s Friday Pint theme is that come many Fridays, I have found myself with not much to really say. This is one of those weeks.

As I write I’m drinking Titantic’s Plum Porter. I’m sure I’ve had this before, yet I don’t recall it being this plummy. On the strength of this glass, it’s one I’d have again if circumstances arose.

This weekend will see me bottle and (mini)keg the Dr Rudi Stout that I brewed a few weeks ago. When I had a taste of it last time I was back, it wasn’t as hoppy as I was going for. I’m hoping that the end result, when it gets poured from the keg at Christmas, will be enjoyable nonetheless.

I’m afraid that’s pretty much it for this week. I’m off to open a bottle of 3 Fonteinen Golden Blend. Enjoy your weekend folks. (354)

The Friday Pint 2 #39 – words in some order

I shall start off by being honest. I can’t really be bothered to write a post this week, and so this post may end up being one of the worse posts found on this blog, as I run through it, just wanting the whole terrible idea of having to think of suitable words and type them in order to end.

I am, yet again, at The Rockstone. Since moving back closer to work, visits here have become rarer. Today I find myself here on the way back to my new place of residence in Slough, a town so grey and miserable that it requires a certain blood alcohol level to distract from the fact you are in Slough. This fact is further emphasised when you realise that there are no good pubs in Slough in which to achieve this.

The order of today is more Whiskey, as I progress towards complete the Whiskey Business challenge. First up today, I shall be drinking the three Singleton of Dufftowns.

The 12yr isn’t bad. It has an aroma that I can best describe as warm apples, though I’m sure that’s not what it is. It’s rather easy to drink for a whiskey, and enjoyable whilst doing so.

The 15yr seems pretty much to same to my untrained palate, only with slightly stronger versions of the tastes in the 12yr. That is to say, to me, it seems more of warm apples, though I’m still sure that’s not what it is. Whatever it is, the 15yr tastes more of it than the 12yr.

At this point I decided I really wasn’t in the mood for drinking whisky, and decided to pay up and head back to Slough, where I have since been drinking some of my Dr Rudi/Maris Otter SMaSH. On the subject of Homebrew, yesterday I used Dr Rudi in brewing a hoppy stout, which I’ll be hopefully drinking at Christmas. I also opened the first bottles of Delight Mk. 1. The first thing I discovered was that this batch was somewhat over carbonated, with most of the first bottle ending up in the sink (the second bottle was opened into a jug first). The second thing learned from this batch, is that it needs a lot more rose petals. The base beer is fine, and as it stands it’s a rather nice Impy stout, but it’s not the Turkish delight stout that I want. (613)

The Friday Pint 2 #38 – The Special Relationship

So, I’ve been on holiday. My girlfriend came over from America, we went places, we drank beer, and rum, and ate food, and we got engaged, in the beginnings of a hurricane, at Lands End. I also opened the first bottle of AG#3, aka The Special Relationship, which I brewed back in March to celebrate our engagement (and subsequently our wedding, and an anniversary which is yet to be decided, there were three bottles essentially).

More on that later. First though, some of the highlights of my last few weeks…

On the first Tuesday we ended up at The Old Brewery in Greenwich, so that Shannon could have some London Lager. Whilst there we also had a bowl of chips, which as it would turn out, would be the best chips we had during the two weeks. As well as the lager, we also bought a paddle of four thirds, the only one really worth remembering for me being the stout, which I rather enjoyed.

Thursday night was “Drink all the rum” night. We didn’t, I crossed eight off my card. We did all enjoy great burgers, and learned that the 2008 film The Wrestler was based on the book written by Robert Siegel. After we had eaten, we started playing Trivial Pursuit. The same question based on this fact appeared at least three times during the game, and became a running joke throughout the holiday.

Saturday was Falmouth day, specifically Falmouth Beer Festival, where the day before, Rebel Brewery’s Mexi-Cocoa had been awarded overall gold (and rightly so). As a result, by the time we got there, there was none left. That was until there was midway through the session. On hearing the news I made no hesitation in finishing what I had and getting a half for myself. If you like chocolate, and beer, it’s certainly one you should try.

Whilst there I also enjoyed a pint of Bristol Beer Factory’s Southville Hop, which was my favourite beer of the Maltings Festival back in April, more from Rebel Brewery (all of which was great), and a rather nice perry, which I forget the name of.

Beered out, we headed back up to the town, via The Front (with more beer and some chips), to Beerwolf Books. It’s a bookshop that sells beer, or a pub that sells books. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a nice place to spend a bit of time. Shannon and I went for a cup of tea each, which came to a surprising £2 (for some reason, I always expect to feel slightly ripped off when ordering non alcoholic drinks in a pub). If Falmouth was closer/cheaper to get to, I imagine I would spend a lot more time in Beerwolf.

Sunday was the big day for me. The one that I had been preparing for since the start of the year. Unfortunately, my plans of an engraved trumpet mouthpiece had been scuppered by delays, but that wasn’t going to deter me. I had my ring(s), buying a second after I decided the first wasn’t good enough. We stood at Lands End, wind blowing, rain imminent. I proposed, she said yes. We got our photo taken under the signpost, and a few more in other places, before the rain had us running for shelter and warmth. Thankfully it didn’t last long, but there it was. We were now engaged, and we had a memorable story to tell to people.

That evening was when the first bottle of The Special Relationship was opened, having spent around seven months in the bottle. Having not been convinced when I bottled it back in March, I was pleased with how it turned out. It was intended as an American style barley wine, and whilst it’s not quite what I wanted, it’s still a beer I’m happy with. I look forward to seeing how it tastes when it comes to the big day.



The first part of our second week was spent in Bath, a rather beautiful city that is well worth a visit. Whilst you’re there, do the Abbey Tower tour for the chance to see some great views of the city and it’s surrounding area.

In terms of beer, the only beer I actually had in Bath was a half of Bass, served directly from the cask, and a half of a local beer, Abbey Bellringer, which neither of us could bring ourselves to finish. You may try it and enjoy it, but for me, it was undrinkable.

We did however find a rather nice Pizza, Pie and Cider Bar at the top of the hill, not far from where we were staying. It’s called The Stable, and on Tuesdays they offer a pizza or pie, plus a salad and drink for just £10 (considering the pizzas we opted for were normally £14 each, this seems a good deal). It’s either testament to how good the pizzas were, or as to how hungry I was by that point, that I actually finished a whole pizza, and wanted to order another. It may have helped that the base was a rather thin crust, and didn’t seem as filling as many other pizzas I’ve had.

In terms of the ciders, there was a very good choice, with 10 keg taps, around 20 boxes, plus bottles. They also offered tasting paddles, with five thirds of cider or perry for just £7.50. The staff were also very happy to suggest and recommend which ones to try as well.

As I was in the area, I felt I had to make the short trip across to Bristol, and pay a visit to The Grain Barge and the Bag of Nails. The two are conveniently not far from each other. We went to The Grain Barge first, which is actually a boat on the river, converted into a pub. We spent a good bit of time in there, and it seemed like a nice place to spend an afternoon.

We didn’t spend as long in The Bag of Nails, though I would have liked to. It’s the sort of pub I like, with a record player, and good beer, and full of things for the wondering eye to catch (posters, toys, the rules written in chalk on the pillar by the bar for example).

The end of the second week was spent up in the Midlands, taking in the Birmingham Beer Festival (which was, in my opinion, slightly disappointing this year), Beavertown’s tap takeover at Brewdog Birmingham, and a trip to Shrewsbury to see some friends of ours.

It was at Brewdog that we ended up spending four hours, and that I realised that four hours is perhaps too long to spend in a Brewdog, especially when you’re trying not to get too drunk before the beers you want to try come on. As a result, I ended up making one beer, a half of lager, last a full 75 minutes.

The Beavertown beers when they came were a mixed bag. I liked the Damson Sour, but it wasn’t sour enough. The Barley Champagne was nice, yet whilst drinking it, I wondered if it was better from a bottle, rather than keg. My favourite of the ones I tried though, was the pumpkin beer,

So, that is what I’ve been up to. I’ve now been engaged for just under two weeks. I have a wedding to plan. I’m rather looking forward to it, and I’m rather nervous at the same time. If anything I’m at least looking forward to choosing the beer I’ll be drinking…

20131109-093247.jpg (555)

The Friday Pint 2 #37 – Another week in which not much really happened

This week, I have mostly either been at work, or getting things ready for when my girlfriend arrives on Monday. As a result, the only thing I have done this week, which may be of any interest to some of you, is check on my homebrew.

I currently have two beers on the go, Nelson Sourvin (a sour beer made with Nelson Sauvin hops), and the first attempt at Delight (a turkish delight stout).

Last weekend I took a sample of both to see how they were progressing. The sour beer has been in it’s fermenter for about four months now, and I was rather delighted to find that it was starting to sour nicely. The ultimate plan is to add grapes to this beer, though having tried it alone, I may only be doing that with half the batch.

There is a lot of waiting involved sometimes, but often the results make it worth the wait.

The stout was brewed two weeks ago, and had been fermenting for about 5 days when I came to take a gravity reading. It had come down to 1.020 from around 1.080, meaning when I took the sample, it was around 8.1% in strength. The strength isn’t really something I was concerned with though. I wanted to know if it tasted like turkish delight.

It didn’t, but boy was it good, certainly my best dark beer so far (which, considering I’ve only made this and the smoked porter last year, isn’t saying much). I added the rest of the rose petals I had for dry hopping and sealed the fermenter back up. I’ll be back home and bottling next week, before we head down to Cornwall.

If anyone has any good Cornish beer suggestions that I might not be aware of, please post them in the comments. (2187)

Whiskey Business Part 1

Two weeks ago, the challenge cards at The Rockstone were reset. Over the Friday and Saturday of that weekend I drank 30 different bourbons to become the first person to get their name up on the new boards (as I sit here typing this two weeks later, I remain the only person to have done so, so far)

Today I have returned, tempted by the Ska, Folk, Gypsy and Hip Hop of the band that will be playing here tonight. For now though, I am yet again sat at the bar, with a glass of whiskey, and a glass of coke.

For this round of Whiskey Business, things are going to be much more structured (like the first round of Bourbon on the Forth of July was). Like last time, there are 40 whiskeys for me to work through. Over the next five visits, I shall be working my way through eight whiskeys, and writing about the experience as I go along.

First up today is Aberlour 10Yr. It’s one of those whiskeys that just smells nice, the sort you sit and admire the nose for a while before tasting it. It drinks well too, nice and peaty, which is good for me as I rather like nice and peaty. The whisky below Aberlour on the card is Ardbeg, which I had to finish things off two weeks ago. I like Ardbeg, a lot.

The next bunch of whiskeys will be four from Glenfiddich, 12Yr, 14Yr, 15Yr, and 21Yr.

The 12Yr is one I’ve had before, and thanks to being gifted a bottle, the first whisky I owned. I’ll be honest here and say I’ve never really been a fan. I can drink it without issue, but it’s never had me rushing to drink more, which probably explains how I’ve had the bottle I have for so long, when others have come and gone long since.

The 14yr is new to me, though I have been tempted by a bottle when they have been on offer, or passing through duty free at airports. Either it has little aroma, my nose has gone (again), or this glass really doesn’t help, which would be strange, as it’s a branded whiskey glass. Taste wise, it has somewhat of a burn on it, yet that does give way to a rather nice oaky aftertaste.

The 15Yr is another I’ve had before, thanks to one of those boxes of 12,15, and 18Yr bottles you can find in supermarkets, usually around Christmas. Despite having drunk it several times, I can never remember if I like it or not, which probably means it’s drinkable, but not memorable.

I come to it after consuming a rather delicious plate of reasonably priced pork ribs, marinaded in a spicy BBQ sauce that has left a nice tingly feeling around my lips, and a satisfying feeling of fullness in my stomach. I can smell more from this, despite the fact that it’s in the same style of glass. There’s a slight hint of apple in there. Taste wise it seems to be overpowered by a strong alcoholic burn, I don’t particularly like strong alcoholic burn, nor can I see why anyone would.

Last but not least, the 21Yr. This time, back in a small straight glass. I always expect whiskeys with higher years on to be much nicer, which is probably why I’m always slightly disappointed. As with the previous two, the burn of the alcohol seems to distract from whatever taste there may be in this whisky, of which there is some, but I can’t quite place what it is.

Now that I’ve finished the run of Glenfiddich, it’s back to darting around the card, picking off random whiskeys until I reach the eight for this session. As a result, I’ve gone for Jamesons. I had a glass of Jameson 12Yr, and the Distillery Reserve earlier in the week. Regular Jamesons couldn’t be further away if it tried. It smells odd, not too far away from the smell of a permanent marker pen. It’s also nowhere near as enjoyable as the aforementioned other Jamesons whiskeys, which are actually deceptively drinkable. It probably says something about regular Jamesons, that whilst everything else today has been savoured and drunk straight, this has had two sips taken from it, before having coke added to it to get the experience over with quicker.

Finally, to finish off today’s session, and to bring the number of stamps on the card to eight, is the wonderfully named, Pete Chimney. From the name, I’d expect it to be a peaty whiskey, which it is. It smells lovely, more so than the Aberlour this session began with. It tastes good too, with a whole multitude of delicious peaty flavours overpowering the alcoholic burn. I like this one, a lot. I could have easily chosen a disappointing whiskey to end with, but today, I didn’t.

As I write now, it approaches half two. The lunch time crown, a much smaller one than usual, has been and gone. I am about to leave a pub that will, for a while, be relatively empty. I could easily stay for more, but this time I won’t. 8 at a time, those are the rules, and I’m sticking to them. (992)