The Friday Pint #46 – Dancing Man 16 Tonne Chilli Chocolate Stout

So, here I am, back in the mild climate of England, Southampton to be precise, in the best brewpub in town.

I would say best pub, but I currently can’t decide whether The Platform Tavern is better than The Rockstone, or vice versa. One has a range of good beers brewed on site, the other has great steaks, and beer supplied by Sadlers, including one of my favourites, Mud City Stout. The fact that both places exist, albeit at opposite ends of the town, is a good thing for Southampton. The only thing that would make it better, is if a pub opened in between the two to break the walk.

Both The Platform Tavern and The Rockstone have events on this weekend. The Rockstone are celebrating their first birthday this weekend, and I’ll be visiting there tomorrow. It’s a bit of a walk from the city centre, but it’s arguably the best range of beers, burgers, steak and fish, you’ll find anywhere in Southampton.

Back to now though, I am sat in The Platform Tavern. This weekend is the Winter Blues and Winter Brews festival, which runs until Sunday. 10 beers on stillage complement the five beers on the bar. The draw for me, and the reason I’ve come back to Southampton, rather than rest after the flight, is the 16 Tonne Chilli Chocolate Stout, one of five Dancing Man brews on this weekend.

As I bought the beer, I was told by Stewart, the owner of the Platform Tavern, that the stout was rebrewed last week, as the balance in the first batch wasn’t quite right.

It’s true, there isn’t as much chilli in the aftertaste as you’d like, not that it makes a bad beer though. As it is, I rather like it, and from the experience of other beers, I can only imagine it will improve.

On a similar note, Troubadour is one of the three beers on the bar, along with Pilgrims Pale Ale, and Fidlers Jig. Whilst I have been able to try the latter two again, I’ve yet to retry Troubadour, which I described on my first taste as “a perfect example of a dull brown ale”.

My second try pretty much confirms that opinion. I’m not a fan, though that’s not to say anyone else isn’t, or shouldn’t be. The fact that I don’t particularly like Troubadour doesn’t really bother me. There are still at least six more beers brewed here that I would happily drink. The fact that Southampton now has Dancing Man, and Vibrant Forest on its outskirts, and a pub like The Rockstone is something I’ll happily drink to.

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The Friday Pint #45 – Anderson Valley Winter Solstice

I’m currently sat in 99 Bottles, in Carnegie near Pittsburgh. Beside me is a jar like glass, (a mason jar,) filled with Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice, a 6.9% winter ale.

The ridges at the top of the jar like glass make for a strange drinking experience, but the beer itself is exceedingly nice. There’s a marmalade like sweetness in the aftertaste, which thankfully isn’t killed off by being served too cold. There’s also more flavours there, but it’s that sweet aftertaste that lingers and satisfies the most.

As for the location, there’s a bar in the corner, with 30 beers on tap, from local breweries, and ones from further afield, including Wychwood’s Hobgoblin. Along the wall opposite the the entrance is a line of fridges filled with bottles available to either drink in or take out. As for food, there’s a good menu. We ordered a couple of hotdogs, which were very nice, especially my pulled pork one.

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The Friday Pint #44 – Brewdog Chocolate and Coffee Stout

So, with my trip to America looming ever closer I should probably be taking a day off today, but seeing as how I’ve not done a proper Friday Pint post in a while, and there’s a few weeks worth of comics I needed to buy, I decided I might as well head to Camden.

Naturally I’ve ended up in Brewdog Camden, and I’ve gone for a half of the new Chocolate and Coffee Stout. It’s good. I’m guessing it will get better as it warms up, but overall I like it. At 9.5% it is, regrettably, an indulgent slow drinker. If Brewdog could get this beer and it’s flavour down to around 5-6%, I’d probably drink it a fair bit.

As for the next two weeks, I apparently have 28 different beers waiting for me. I’m also told that the local supermarket has bottles of Creme Brûlée from Southern Tier. Even ignoring the fact that we’ll be visiting bars and breweries, I’m not sure if I’ll manage to get through them all.

Okay, so I’ll be bringing as much as I can back (my suitcase contains two copies of Thursday’s Metro, and a number of English Lagers wrapped in a third copy), but even then, I know there’ll be a lot that I won’t manage to get around to. This may be in my benefit though. I already have a few beers that I left behind for the sole purpose of ageing. I don’t really need an excuse to go back, but when I do, I’ll know they’re there waiting for me.

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Black and Tan Experiments #18 – Shepherd Neame

Chances are, if you read other beer blogs or follow other beery people on Twitter, you’ll already be aware of the two beers that make up this experiements, and also of the fact that Shepherd Neame have used brown bottles, rather than their usual clear bottles.

If you don’t read other beer blogs, or follow other beery people on twitter, let me give you a quick summary as an introduction. Shepherd Neame have released two new beers, an India Pale Ale (6.1%) and a Double Stout (5.2%). Like many other bloggers I have been sent a bottle of each.

I’m starting off by trying the IPA. I like it. It seems to be balanced more towards the malt than the hops, but there’s still a nice amount of bitterness there. With so many modern IPAs utilizing large amounts of hops to give high levels of bitterness and flavour to the beer, it makes a change to drink a good IPA that seems more balanced. If I’m honest, I doubt I’d buy it again in a bottle, yet I’d likely consider it if it seemed to be the best option on tap in a pub. Even then, I’ve poured a half pint for this tasting, and I’m already wanting to move on to something else. I like the beer. It’s certainly not a drain pour, but then again, it’s not something I’d want to drink lots of.

The first thing I notice about the Double Stout is that there’s an element of smokiness to it. The initial aroma I got after opening the bottle reminded me of the aroma that often comes from Rauchbiers. That soon subsides, but the beer still smells good. As for how it tastes, it’s a good stout, but it seems to leave a dry aftertaste. As a result I find it difficult to enjoy beyond the initial moments of the beer being in my mouth.

Both beers seem to occupy that large middle ground of the beer world, the beers that are neither drain pours, nor the best beers in the world. Individually, they are both reasonably enjoyable beers, but how do they work together?

To put it simply, the answer is well. It has the flavour of the stout, but not the dryness, and it has the bitterness of the IPA. It’s what I want from a Black and Tan, one mouthful the characteristics of the stout are dominant, the next mouthful the characteristics of the IPA are dominant.

If Shepherd Neame could make a beer that tastes like this, with a bit less carbonation, and a bit less alcohol, I could probably find myself drinking Shepherd Neame beer more than I do now. Overall this has been a pleasant surprise.

Now, if we can just get Shepherd Neame to bottle the rest of their range in brown bottles…

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Announcing The Session #70 – Don’t Believe The Hype

Back in the summer, I shared a bottle of Westvleteren 12 with my brother and my father. Whilst I was aware of it’s reputation as “best beer in the world”, they were not. Whilst we all enjoyed it, we all agreed that we much preferred the other beer we had that night. The question that came into my head was this…

If I had told them it was the best beer in the world, would their perceptions have changed?

How much does hype have an effect? Are we much better off knowing nothing about a beer, or is it better to have the knowledge as to what the best beers are?

Which beers do you think have been overhyped? How do you feel when a beer doesn’t live up to it’s hype.

Is hype a good or bad thing for beer? Tell me what you think. I’m looking forward to seeing what the general consensus is. (16108)

The Friday Pint #43 – This Means Nothing To Me (Hallertaur Edition)

About 9 weeks ago I brewed my first homebrew. In the time since it has fermented, lagered, been dryhopped with more hallertaur, and then bottled, before finally being opened tonight.

I tried a bit at each stage, and haven’t really been happy with it. I now know this is because it was flat.

Okay, so it’s not perfect, and it doesn’t help that I put too many early hops in (It’s too bitter for a lager, something to remember for the Perle Edition) but at least it’s not a drain pour. Saying that though, I may have spoke too soon, the wonderful hoppy aroma that came off the beer at the start had been replaced by an aroma of urine by the bottom of the glass.

The batch was small, only 8 bottles now exist, most of which already have destinations. Tomorrow I’ll be bottling brew number two, a smoked porter which I intended to come out at around 5%, but actually came out at a rather quaffable 2.8%

As for the name, the beer is a Vienna lager. Yeah, it’s a pun name.

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The Session #69 – The Perfect Beer World

It’s the first Friday of the month again, and so it’s time yet again for The Session. This month’s session is hosted by Jorge at Brew Beer and Drink It, and asks us the question, what would we like to change in order to obtain a perfect beer world.

I suppose the first thing that would need to be done before figuring out what needs to be changed, is to figure out what a perfect beer world actually is.

To me, a perfect beer world would be one where there is enough beer for everyone who wants it. There would be no concerns over where the beer came from, the only important thing is that the drinker enjoys the beer they have, whether it be a small homebrew, or a beer from a big multinational company.

To get to this point would be easier for some than for others. For those who are happy with a big multinational beer, the kind readily available at supermarkets, they are already in a perfect beer world. For those who want something more, something rarer, there’s a chance they may have to make compromises.

Sure, you could increase production, but would that then result in some of those people not being interested anymore. At a guess, I’d say that as some beers raised production to supply demand, some people would complain that it’s not as good as it used to be.

That’s the problem with people, give them what they wanted and they’re still not happy. One man’s perfect beer world is the next man’s beer hell, and as such, it’s pretty much impossible to create a beer world that is perfect for everyone. You can create a world in which cask and keg, and bottle and can, and all types of beer are accepted, but there will still be those who think one of those shouldn’t exist.

I’m happy with my beer world as it is. It could be better, but there’s more than enough to keep me drinking beer for a while yet.

Next month it’s my turn to host The Session, with a topic based on hype. Expect my introduction post in the next week or so. (3802)