So, that was 2013. The year in which I got engaged, was part of a successful new beer festival, and met The Doctor (in order of awesomeness, in any other year, each one would have been top of the list). As this is my last Friday Pint of this year, I thought I’d take a look at what have been my (mostly) beer related highlights.
1. Birmingham Beer Bash (July)
Really there couldn’t be anything else at the top of this list. It was nerve wracking, it was tiring, but most of all it was satisfying. We achieved something which on paper seemed absurd. 10 amateurs, most of who hadn’t even met or spoken aside from Twitter just 18 months previous, came together to put on one of the most enjoyable celebrations of beer I’ve had the privilege to be a part of.
Plans are currently in development for next years Bash, which I will endeavor to be a part of. If you’d like to know about the Bash developments when they’re announced follow @birminghamcubed on Twitter.
2. Jelly Baby Massacre
The result of what happens when someone asks me what I’d brew for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.
Jelly Baby Massacre was a beer brewed to use stuff up. There was no recipe, just half full bags of malt and hops, and a bag and a half of jelly babies. One bag went into the boil, some went into the fermenter, and one jelly baby went into each bottle at bottling time. This was sheer crazy experimentation, which could have easily not worked. Somehow though it did, and it received positive comments from those who tried it.
I have two large bottles left, and have since been formulating plans for further Jelly Baby Massacres, and other sweet shop influenced beers (Parma Violets or Humbugs for example)
3. Bristol Beer Factory Southville Hop
When I went to the Maltings Festival in Newton Abbot on the Thursday, I began by choosing breweries, and drinking all of the beers available. This was also the case on the Friday. By the time Saturday came, many of the beers were starting to sell out, and my method of choosing what to drink simply wasn’t possible.
This led to me settling on Southville Hop. I’d done two days of trying new beers (of which Southville Hop was one). I figured it was time to enjoy myself. I can’t quite remember how much Southville Hop I did drink that day (not a crazy amount though), but I can remember loving it.
In a way, I credit that weekend with changing my approach to beer festivals. Whilst I still want to try new beers, I also want to drink the old favorites again. This was certainly the case at the Falmouth Beer Festival at the end of October, where a number of the beers I drunk were “old favourites”, including a certain Southville Hop.
4. Drinking All The Alcohol.
At some point over the summer, The Rockstone announced that they would be introducing new challenge boards for their Rum, Whisky, Bourbon and Gin challenges. At this point I was halfway through a structured tasting of the Bourbons.
Between then and the end of September, with about a week to spare, I drank all of the Rum, Whisky, Bourbon and Gin, 120 drinks in total.
On the first weekend of the new challenges I became the first person on the new boards by drinking all of the Bourbon, in what was effectively just over 24 hours. I will say now, it’s not something I’ll be doing again soon.
5. Rudi Can’t Fail
One Malt, One Hop, water and WLP001. The most simple of my homebrews so far and also the most satisfying. A reproduction with more hops and a reduced alcohol content simply wasn’t as good.
6. Drie Fonteinen Golden Blend
I could have all the bottles of this in existence and it still wouldn’t be enough. Without a doubt my favourite gueze in existence. I have a couple of bottles left. I want more. I love this beer.
7. Dancing Man Smokin’ Banjos
When Aidan first mentioned to me the idea of brewing a smoked US style barley wine I was somewhat intrigued. Could such a thing really work? I went up to Bitter Virtue soon after and bought a bottle each of Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot and Anchor’s Old Foghorn to drink and try and figure out if it could.
The end result was better than I expected, and probably my favourite beer to come out of the brewery this year (just in front of Easy Rye’der). I bought eight bottles of it in the end, one of which has been put by for a long period of ageing.
In April I was still lacking an entry for Malt in The Others (a series which still has some stories left to be told, and that I shall return to next year). Thanks to the wonders of Twitter, Chris Garratt came to the rescue and offered to show me around Warminster Maltings.
I came away from that day full of information, much more than I could have dreamed of (much like when I visited Paul Corbett at Charles Faram last year). I also came away with a changed perception of how many people there are behind each pint, something which I then wanted to try and convey to my readers, and still do at some point.
I’ve run out of things that spring to mind. I have had many great beers this year, but clearly no more that have stood out enough for me to declare “I love this beer”. So with that I’m going to say that was my 2013. There should be at least one more post from me before the year is out, featuring a vertical tasting of Anchor’s Our Special Ale.
2014 will bring a focus on local beer (with the first post coming from the USA), the relationship between beer and art, more on The Wool House saga, and much much more.
From The Friday Pint, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.