The Friday Pint 2 #13 – Bunnies, Doctors and Blues.

It would seem that amongst all the anticipation and excitement that I forgot to write this post. Next Thursday is my birthday, and so this weekend I’ll be using the second of my ten passes to do a bit of drinking. It’s going to be some weekend.

My first port of call, in just a few short hours from writing, will be the William IV in Leyton for the annual Brodie’s Bunny Basher festival. There’s a lot I want to try and get my hands on here. For starters, Elizabethan, the 22% stout which will be available in bottled form for the first time this year. It’s a beer I’ve had a few times before and it’s one that makes you savour and enjoy it, which amongst the rush is a good thing.

Then there’s the sours. I had Brodie’s Peach Sour at the Euston Tap last year, and introduced a few of my work colleagues to the Cherry Sour in The Old Coffee House to positive reaction. I’m hoping to try one or two of what’s on the list for this festival.

Also on the list are a number of single hop pales, a few barrel aged versions of beers like Romanov (their Russian Imperial Stout) and Big Mofo Stout (the collaboration with Mikkeller). There’s certainly enough to get a beer geek or ticker excited, and I believe the William IV will be full of both.

Which means that Brewdog Camden may be relatively quiet for the launch of the 2013 IPA is Dead series. The range, which launched in 2011, consists of four IPAs in each series, each brewed with the same base beer, but with different hops. This year, the hops are Dana, El Dorado, Waimea and Goldings, three of which are complete strangers to me. Depending on time, and the state of myself and my wallet, I might pop round to give them a try. Though it’s much more likely I’ll head for the train to sober up a bit, and return home to watch Doctor Who, most likely on iPlayer.

Sunday will see me headed to The Rockstone in Southampton, for their Easter Beer Festival. Amongst a rather good beer list is Sadler’s Mud City Stout and Dr Hardwicke’s. I’ll be drinking both of these straight, and combined to form what I dubbed last year a “Muddy Doctor”. I’ll also be eating steak, possibly something other than the Rump Jive and Wail. If you’re in or around Southampton this weekend, or at any point in the future, I recommend popping in.

Which I can also say for Monday’s point of call, The Platform Tavern’s Blues and Cider festival, which will also feature beers from the onsite Dancing Man Brewery, who are now on Twitter. Amongst those will be their Choc Chilli Stout, which was launched late last year, and featured in The Friday Pint #46 and #49. I’m also hoping that I’ll be able to get hold of a pint of Pole Axed, which is currently my favourite of the beers brewed by Dancing Man.

After all that, I have to go back to work. Just two days later however, and I turn 28. I think that’s an excuse for more beer isn’t it?

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The Friday Pint 2 #12 – A Home Brew Update

Part of the reason for not buying beer this year was to have an excuse to brew and drink more of my own beer. For this week’s edition of The Friday Pint 2, I’m going to take a look at my homebrewing activity so far, and what there is to come.

Last weekend I bottled AG#5 in three 750ml bottles, which have now been stored away until the required time. AG#5 was brewed as an American Style Barleywine hopped with alternate additions of Amarillo and Flyer. Allegedly it turned out at 6.5%, however from how it tasted I suspect it may be stronger. I’ll certainly be trying to recreate AG#5, and also using a similar hopping schedule and malt bill for a lower alcohol beer.

AG#4 is a Perle hopped version of the Vienna Lager that was my first attempt at brewing last year. It’s currently lagering in the fridge and will be bottled next weekend. On the basis of how it tasted before lagering, it’s an improvement on AG#1.

AG#3 is a Flyer IPA, which turned out at 6.7%. As I didn’t prime the beer enough the bottles are somewhat undercarbonated. I’ve already bought more Flyer hops to try and recreate the beer.

AG#2 is a smoked porter. It was hopped with Bramling Cross, though you wouldn’t know that now. A few bottles remain. This is also the case for AG#1, of which there are just two bottles left.

As for the future, I have malt, I have hops, and I have a vial of Califorian Ale Yeast. I also have a seemingly growing list of things I want to brew. Including, but not limited to, the following…

  1. Motueka and Maris Otter SMaSH
  2. Nelson Sourvin
  3. Jelly Baby Pale Ale
  4. Desire (See The Friday Pint 2 #10)
  5. Smoked Aniseed Porter

The Motueka Pale will probably be the next beer I brew. The factor I’m not sure on is how strong I want to make it. On the one hand, I’d like an IPA of similar strength to the Flyer IPA. On the other hand, I’d like to make a low alcohol (below 2%) beer for refreshment in the potentially hot summer months.

Anticipating a hot summer, I’d like to try and get a few brews in before so I have a stock. As to what happens, we shall find out…

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The Friday Pint 2 #11 – Cider and temptation

This week I thought I’d head out and drink some cider. I had intended to visit The Euston Cider tap, yet as lazy as I am, I couldn’t be bothered to wait for it to open at 3pm, and so decided to head for The Southampton Arms instead.

Of course, whilst there is a nice selection of Ciders there, in front of them is 10 tempting beers, not one of which I touched. I was tempted though, certainly by the Dark Star Black. Now that I’ve looked it up though, I suspect I may have been put off if I had know it was made with coffee.

As for my time in The Southampton Arms, I opted, unusually for me, to sit at the end of the bar, next to the piano and the suggestion sheet. This does of course, mean I was open for conversation, and sure enough a brief conversation ensued.

There’s a lot to be said for sitting at a bar. In busy periods I feel uncomfortable doing so, especially when there are other drinkers struggling to get served due to crowds of people standing nearby. In quieter periods though, it can give an insight into the running of a pub, and the drinking habits of it’s customers.

Whilst I was there, the following happened:

One person came in wanting a Guinness, from what he said, I believe he used to visit The Southampton Arms before it became the pub it is today. He was given a try of one of the beers and liked it, yet it was Guinness he wanted, and so off he went.

Two women came in, who had also visited the pub in it’s previous guise. One was refrenced as a “Fosters girl”. She was offered Camden Brewery’s Hells Lager and gave a rather positive response to it.

Several people, including myself, had a pork bap. I’d never had one before, despite having visited several times. It was however, worth every penny of the £4.20 it cost me, not least because it comes adorned with two pieces of delicious crackling.

Some people knew what they were looking for when they came to the bar, others chose with a bit of guidence from the barman. All left seemingly happy with their choice.

Despite saying I’d still be going to pubs, I’ve actually been a lot less than last year. Part of this is weather related. After all, who wants to go out in the rain when they don’t have to. The other is that I’ve felt less compelled to go out to pubs, knowing I won’t be able to buy beer.

Hopefully my pub going will pick up once the weather starts getting better. Until then, I have a bottle collection that is slowly running out of beers I’m willing to drink without having a special occasion as an excuse. Thankfully, the next break isn’t too far away….

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The Friday Pint 2 #10 – Delight

We are proud to introduce Delight. The first beer brewed for girls that isn’t patronising. We know what girls like, and we’ve distilled all of that into a beer they’ll love. A dark, luxurious and velvety beer, reminiscent of chocolate covered turkish delight.

Why will women love Delight?

1 Flowers. Delight is packed full of flowers, with many of them being female flowers, making this beer even more a beer for the girls.

2 Chocolate This beer is choc-ful of delicious, luxurious chocolate taste, from the chocolate malt through to the luxurious bars of chocolate we add to each brew.

3 Say it with roses. The highlight of Delight is the masses of rose petals we add during the fermentation stage. This makes Delight one of the most special beers around, and the perfect gift for the one you love.

Delight comes in 330ml bottles, or in half pints if you find it in the pub.

Delight, the first beer for girls that isn’t patronising.

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Delight doesn’t (yet) exist. I’ve been coming up with mock beer ideas on twitter and ended up developing this last night. I quite like the sound of it myself, and would like to see it made into an actual beer at some point, complete with tongue in cheek branding mocking the branding of the actual beers aimed at the female market.

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Black and Tan Experiments #19 – Nøgne Ø

Last year I started doing a series of blogposts in which I detailed my experiments mixing pale ales and stouts from the same brewery to make a Black and Tan. Most of these I’ve been able to do on a whim, however, there are a few, like this one, that require time to be set aside.

The pale side of my Nøgne Ø black and tan is their Imperial IPA. It is how I want an IIPA of this strength (10%) to smell and taste. It reminds me of Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA. It has similar mixture of bitterness and caramel taste to it. The aroma is that distinct IIPA aroma that I’ve found in other IIPAs but never been able to adequately describe (much to my annoyance). Overall this is yet another beer in the Nøgne Ø range that I’d buy much more regularly if it was slightly cheaper.

The dark side of the black and tan is Nøgne Ø’s Imperial Stout (9%). In comparison to other Imperial Stouts I’ve had, and also the other Nøgne Ø beers I’ve had, it’s somewhat disappointing. It’s nowhere near as rich and flavoursome and aromatic as I’d like an imperial stout to be, and if anything, it seems rather thin. Maybe it’s an age thing. I have had both of these beers in my possession for the better part of a year now. Saying that though, I’ve found that imperial stouts usually get better with age, though as with all rules, there are always exceptions.

As for the mix, the IPA dominates both the aroma and the taste, with the stout hardly being noticeable at all. This is hardly surprising, considering the lack of any real distinctive characteristics in the stout. Whilst I’d buy the Imperial IPA again, I’d probably not bother with the Imperial Stout. If memory serves right, it’s the first beer I’ve had from Nøgne Ø that I’ve not enjoyed. Their Saison and Porter are both wonderful beers that I’ve enjoyed a few times, and Sunturnbrew is pricey, yet worth it for a treat.

So, after much delay, the Nøgne Ø black and tan. Not really worth the wait, but at least I’ve done it now.

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The Friday Pint 2 #9 – On making plans

It seems I neglected to post this last week, for the sake of completion and confusion, here it is a week and a bit late…

When I started this year of not buying beer, a full two months ago now, I said that it wouldn’t stop me from still visiting pubs. In the first two months of the year, I can think of just one instance of visiting a pub (The Albion in Winchester).

I should really fix this, however currently it’s cold and sometimes wet outside, and I have a Netflix subscription, alongside the many Doctor Who DVDs I’m working my way through during the 50th anniversary year. I feel that I should choose somewhere to visit, as currently, it seems the only way I’ll actually go to a pub without the intention of buying beer.

I’m aware of there being a few places down in Brentford (actually, a lot of places), that could be possible contenders. Perhaps the best thing for me to do will be to combine it with another thing I’ve been putting off and watch a Brentford FC match at the same time.

Meanwhile, back in the world of beer, I am back in Southampton, and have about a third of the Fullers Double Stout I poured myself after I got settled. In the corner of the room I am in sits the fermentation bucket that contains AG#5, intended as a Barley WIne but with an OG of 1071, it’s likely to turn out more like a strong IPA. Tomorrow I’ll be seeing how productive the yeast has been since I was here last, and also preparing the bottles for bottling it.

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Since writing and failing to actually post this post I have measured and tasted AG#5 twice, with the last measurement down to 1025. It’s actually tasting a lot like Brewdog’s Sink The Bismarck, only without the harsh burning alcohol of a 41% beer. I’m hoping it will have fermented down enough for me to be able to bottle it when I next head home. The question then will be, what will go in the fermenter next…

 

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The Session #73 – Beer Audit

After what seems like a month since the last edition of The Session, we yet again find ourselves at another first Friday of the month, and with it, a new edition of The Session.the_session

This time around, Pints and Pubs is hosting with the subject of Beer Audits. In the introduction, they detail their own experiences before posing the following to their fellow bloggers…

I’m interested to know if you take stock of the beers you have, what’s in your cellar, and what does it tell you about your drinking habits. This could include a mention of the oldest, strongest, wildest beers you have stored away, the ratio of dark to light, strong to sessionable, or musings on your beer buying habits and the results of your cellaring.

 

Just before Christmas I did a kind of audit of the beers I have with me in London. If my memory recalls I counted around 130 bottles. Most I still have, some I have drunk. Many more have entered the collection and left in the few months since.

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There are some beers in my collection that I’ve earmarked for certain occasions. I find this makes it much easier to ignore the fact that they are there, sat aging at the back of the cupboard. There are also beers that I have bought for the sole purpose of aging to see how they turn out. Some of these are beers that are designed or have been aged with good effect by others, some are just regular beers that have fallen under the realm of curiosity.

Currently, I believe my stash is nicely varied when it comes to styles. I have pale ales, IPAs, Stouts, Impy Stouts, Sour Beers, Barley Wines and probably others that have slipped my mind. The important thing is, the styles I go for most often are covered.

I have found that with my experiment this year (See The Friday Pint 2) I have been slightly reluctant to open bottles as reguarly as I would have done last year. This is arguably certainly a good thing, not least for my health, but also for my appreciation of the beers I do open.

I’m sure the full extent of my beer collection will be exposed when I have to move house. I’ll have a rather nice selection of beer to drink in 3-5 years time. If only I had one to drink now.

 

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