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.

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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.

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Time Capsule

Last year I considered the idea of making a time capsule of beers, ie, sticking a bunch of beers in a box and sticking a date on that box of when those beers shall be drunk.

This morning, as part of sorting out all my stuff, I have done just that. 10 beers have made their way (or rather fitted) into the box. Here are those beers, in no particular order…

1. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout Winter 10-11.
A wonderful luxurious beer which allegedly approves with age, I bought this bottle intentionally to find out if it’s true. It’ll be nearing it’s decade when I come to open it.

2. Rochefort 8, 071216

This was also bought for the sole purpose of ageing. Rochefort 8 is one of my favourites, and so it has been hidden away to prevent me drinking it too soon. I believe this bottle will be around 8 years old come opening time.

3. Orval, bottled on 16/02/2012

Orval is one of those beers that I first tried after hearing or reading other people talk about it. The first time I wondered what all the fuss was about, then I tried it again and something clicked. I’ve also seen people say you should try aged Orval, so I bought a bottle to do just that. This one will be eight years old when I come to open it.

4. Anchor Old Foghorn, 07/2013

Another personal favourite, I think from the 2011 season. So it will be around 9 years old come opening time.

5. Dancing Man Brewery Smokin Banjo, bottled Summer 2013.

Smokin Banjo was Dancing Man’s 200th brew. I liked it so much I bought a few bottles, and then a few more to stash away for ageing. This will be one of them then. It’ll be 7 years old when it’s opened, and probably the only one left.

6. Fullers Double Stout

When the second edition of Fullers Past Masters range was released, I wasn’t particularly overawed. Then, about a year later, I had a bottle in The Mawson Arms, and was blown away by how well it had aged. A couple of months after that the brewery shop had cases on sale. I instantly snapped one up, and have been enjoying it every so often since. This bottle will be around nine years old.

7. Thomas Hardy’s Ale 2007

A bottle I picked up in a supermarket (Waitrose, I think) long before I really knew anything about the wider world of beer. I bought two of these at the time, and drunk the other one a few years back, and have no recollection of it at all.

This is the second oldest beer in the box, and will be 13 when I come to open it.

8. Gales Last Drop 16th March 2006

And now for the oldest beer, which was the last ever beer to leave the Gales Brewery in Horndean after it was taken over from Fullers. I’m expecting this to be much like Gales Prize Old Ale, which I’ve had mixed experiences with, ranging from delightfully drinkable, to horrifyingly hideous. This bottle will be 14 years old when I come to open it.

9. Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, 2011 edition.

It may cost a bit per bottle, but every time I drink one I realise that it’s worth every penny. Having tried this vintage fresh, and with a bit of time on it, my advice to everyone new to the beer is to store it for a few months. New the alcohol in the beer is rather harsh, and gets in the way of the flavours. With just a few months the alcohol begins to mellow, and you start getting these rich chocolate flavours coming through.

This bottle will be about nine years old when it’s opened.

10. Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio, 2012

Another bottle bought and hidden away for ageing purposes. I’ve read that lambics are supposed to age well, yet I’ve never been able to keep hold of one long enough to find out (they’re just too darned tasty). This bottle will be eight years old when it gets opened.

So, those are the bottles that made the box. I have written on the side of it “not to be opened until 2020”. There is no specific date, though my birthday may be a prime candidate for some, if not all of them. Hopefully I’ll still be around to enjoy them, but if not, I hope that those left keep the box intact, and enjoy these beers when the time comes.

Only seven years to wait…

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The Friday Pint 2 #35 – Downsizing The Stash

One of the things I realised earlier this year as a result of having to move out of where I was living in Chiswick, was that I have a lot of beer. For the past few months my bedroom has been full of boxes, with a significant amount of that being beer.

Since moving into my new place, I have made a decision to reduce the number of boxes that I have, which will inevitably involve drinking some of those beers that I would have otherwise kept back for special occasions.

Earlier this week, for example, I worked my way through Fuller’s Brewer’s Reserve series (No. 2 to No. 4) and a bottle of 2010 Fullers Vintage. Of these, the Brewer’s Reserve No. 3 was drinking the best. The 2010, which has been one of my favourites of recent years, seemed to be on a slight downturn.

After the extravagances of last weekend, this weekend will be a much more subdued affair. I will though be finding time to pay a long overdue visit to The Platform Tavern for a couple of pints and a catch up. I’ve been aware of the plans for expansion for a few months, but they are now official and having looked inside the building this summer when it was being used as an art space, I’m rather excited about how it will turn out.

I also have plans for finally brewing Delight, my “Beer for Girls” which some of you might remember from March. It’ll have rose petals, and cocoa nibs, and will hopefully turn out well. The best thing about it is by the time I get to bottle it, my sour will be ready for tasting, and also for having the grapes added.

Exciting times indeed.

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