The Friday Pint #50 – The One Pint To Rule Them All

So, here we are at the end of the year, and with the 50th post of the series. As we’re both at the end of the year and a significant numbered post, it seems appropriate to take a look back over the past year and determine just what were the best beers consumed as part of writing these posts.

You may have seen the longlist I posted a couple of weeks ago. Compiling that list I found that there were many I couldn’t remember, but also a few that stood out as clear front runners for the overall winner.

I feel I should point out that for a couple of these I have since had pints (or in one case, bottle), that probably wouldn’t have made it to this post if that is how the beer was when their respective Friday Pint post was written. Each of these beers have gained their place based on the impression they made on that occasion, and number one is a beer I wish I’d drunk more of when it was on draught.

The winners

5. Anderson Valley Winter Solstice – The Friday Pint #45 (Original Post Date – 23rd November 2012)

In retrospect, I didn’t write enough about this beer, or the location that I drunk it in. I’ll admit now that the only reason I was drawn to it was to obtain the badge on untappd, but I’m glad I was.

I enjoyed Winter Solstice enough to buy a bottle to take back with me from the USA, which I still have waiting to be drunk. With the experience I’ve had recently with another of the beers featured in this post, it’ll be interesting to see how I find the beer when I drink it again.

4. Dancing Man Brewery DNA – The Friday Pint #35 (Original Post Date – 31st August 2012)

When I first wrote about this beer I was somewhat uncertain about it. Since that first pint, which was for me too sweet, I have since had pints of DNA that have been just right, and one pint that seemed to be lacking in marmalade sweetness and somewhat watery.

Despite its seemingly inconsistent nature, DNA is a beer that intrigues me. I still can’t quite determine how much I like it. It’s most definitly a beer I’d drink again though.

3. Brodies Superior London Porter – The Friday Pint #14 (Original Post Date – 6th April 2012)

Brodies Superior London Porter, along with Fuller’s London Porter, are the porters that set the benchmark for all other porters for me, especially when they are on form.

It really has been far too long since I last visited a Brodies run pub, especially considering the beers they’ve been outputting this year, including their Peach Sour, which impresed me at the Euston Tap a few weeks ago.

2. Otley Experimental Stout – The Friday Pint #41 (Original Post Date – 19th October 2012)20121019-180943.jpg

The pump clip (a handwritten piece of corrugated cardboard) described Otley’s Experimental Stout as being “a bit bretty”. I was expecting a bit of sourness. What I actually got was a wonderful flavoursome stout that worked way beyond what I was actually expecting.

As a result, a brett infused stout is on my list of beers to brew at some point in the future. Hopefully, it’s on Otley’s list to brew again too.

 

1. Vibrant Forest Black Forest Porter – The Friday Pint #40 (Original Post Date – 12th October 2012)20121012-191543.jpg

My first taste of Vibrant Forest beer back in January was a bottle of Dark Castle Porter, drunk as part of Porter Weekend. Whilst I enjoyed it as a porter, I felt it needed a bit more flavour to make it stand out.

Black Forest Porter was the beer I wished Dark Castle Porter was. It was full of wonderful Brambling Cross fruitiness, and enjoyable enough to go back for more.

Last Friday, I had the chance to drink Black Forest Porter again, this time from a bottle. The bottle was brought to my house by my friend Chris, with who I shared a pint or two of the beer when it was available on draught at The Platform Tavern back in October. We both agreed that, whilst it was still a very nice porter, it was lacking the fruitiness that made it so moreish on draught.

Through the process of drinking my homebrew porter I’ve seen how time can change the flavour of a porter. When it went into the bottles from the fermenter it was of similar fruity levels to the Black Forest Porter. Recent bottles I’ve opened have started to see the smoked malt I used come out more, with the fruitiness starting to mellow.

As I said at the start of this post though, the judging has been based on the beer I drunk when writing the original post, and Black Forest Porter was by far the most enjoyable Friday Pint of the year.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of The Friday Pint. It shall return next year, albeit it with limitations. Enjoy the rest of 2012, and have a very happy 2013.

See you in the new year. (1642)

The Friday Pint #41 – An Overground Brewery Crawl

This Friday, I’ve decided to actually make an effort to go out and drink a proper pint, a few 20121019-180649.jpgactually, including one place I’ve not yet been to. As I’m writing this introduction, I am currently sat in Tap East, drinking a pint of London Extra, one of three beers available today that have been made at the onside brewery, which is visible through the glass from the bar itself.

The beer is more or less just what I want for a first beer of the day. It’s not too challenging, yet there’s also enough flavour there to make it interesting and enjoyable. It’s the sort of beer that I can still enjoy, despite having a cold.

Enjoy it I did, along with a somewhat overpriced, yet tasty bratwurst. I now find myself at The Cock Tavern in Hackney, home of Howling Hops brewery, and sister pub of The Southampton Arms in Kentish Town. It shows. If you haven’t yet been to The Cock Tavern, but have visited The Southampton Arms, just imagine the latter, on a bigger scale. I like it, and it’s the sort of pub I’d like to see more of in West London, or Southampton for that matter.
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Here I have decided to opt for half pints, and have started with a Howling Hops Five Hop IPA. I had the option of cask or keg, and decided to stick with cask for now (even though I’ll be forced to go onto keg later on, I’d rather not feel bloated too soon). I can’t tell you what the Five Hop IPA smells like, but I can say it tastes rather good. There’s a lot of flavour packed into this small glass, and quite a bit of bitterness too, but it’s not to the extreme levels that might put some newcomers off.

Following this, I find myself with a half of Otley‘s 20121019-180943.jpgExperimental Stout, which has been described on the hand made pump clip as being “a bit Bretty”. It’s not wrong, though “a bit” may be a slight understatement. Brett is short for Brettanomyces, a form of yeast that can add sour characteristics to a beer. As a result of the Brett, this stout doesn’t really smell or taste like a stout at all, but it still tastes extremely good, and may be a struggle to beat for the other beers I drink today.

The first to try and challenge it, is Howling Hops Poacher, a green hop ale, made from hops sourced by local poacher, Jonathan Cook. The flavour isn’t really to my taste (too much bitterness with not much flavour to compensate), but it’s a well made beer, and nicely conditioned. It’s an enjoyable beer, and I am enjoying it, yet I enjoyed the Experimental Stout much more.

I’m finishing my time here at The Cock Tavern with a bottle of Kernel’s London Brick, a collaboration beer brewed with a selection of other London brewers. It’s a red rye ale, and much like its bigger counterpart, Big Brick, which I got to try last year, it tastes good. It’s relatively strong at 7.3%, but the flavour and enjoyment more than make up for it.

And so my afternoon comes to an end at Camden Brewery, where Gentlemen’s Wit is on tap, and so I have myself a Gentleman’s Wink. It’s a delicious black and tan, with the sherbet from the Gentleman’s Wit balancing against the burnt malt of the stout. It’s been a personal favourite of mine since I first had it this summer.

Following on at Camden, I’m currently on a half of Jopa, a 5.1% English pale ale. It’s not quite as flavoursome as some of the beers I’ve had today, but it goes well with the jerky I’m currently eating. To finish, I’ll be having an unfiltered Hells Lager. The Richmond to Stratford overground line is becoming a good beer line. It’s worth trying one day.

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The Friday Pint #23 – Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival

It’s overcast, raining a lot, and there are weather warnings across the country. Yes, it’s June. Summer is here, and with it comes festivals. Later I’ll be covering the highlights of the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival (there’ll be no full pint today, far too many I want to try after last years “failure”). First though, a brief bit about last weeks Friday Pint, and the absence of a post.

I did manage to drink a pint last Friday. It was at Joe’s Crab Shack in Pittsburgh, which served one of the biggest portions of chocolate cake I’ve had the delight to feast on, ever. It was this cake that was the posts downfall. That combined with the other food I consumed enduced an epic food coma. As it was, the beer in question was Landshark Lager, which was okay, it had a slight lemony hint, but other than that, it was nothing exciting.

Onto this week’s drinking. Last year, my trip to Cardiff for GWBCF was a last minute decision, and as such cost me £64 for the return ticket from London. This time I planned in advance, and saved a considerable amount. I had planned last year to use my time there to try a lot of beers that I rarely see in London or Southampton. As it happened, I ended up mostly drinking beers from the Otley Brewing Company.

This year I had a similar plan. I had my eye on a couple of Otley’s, but there was also some research to be done. I’ll be holidaying in North Wales towards the end of the year, and so today seemed like a good time to see what there is in terms of beer in that area. Alas, despite my best intentions, my beers mostly came from the south, with two each from Otley and the recently opened Tiny Rebel Brewery.

From the former I had another half of Odessa, their collaborative Imperial Stout brewed with Pete Brown, and my first taste of O6, their porter. I’m not sure how I’d managed to not try it up to now, but now I have, I want to drink it again.

Today was also my first taste of Tiny Rebel beers, with Cwtch and Dirty Stop Out being sampled. Cwtch was nice, but not really my sort of beer. Dirty Stop Out on the other hand, was one of my favourite beers of the day.

Among the other beers I tried was one of the first releases from Brains Craft Brewery, All At Sea. It didn’t grab me in the same way that the Otley and Tiny Rebel brews did, but I still think its a project worth keeping an eye on.

Overall it’s been a good day, with good beers, and good people. (365)

The Friday Pint #19 – Otley O3 Boss

With a week to go until the European Beer Bloggers Conference in Leeds, and a week and a half until I go to America, I’m back in Southampton, and I’ve stopped off at the South Western Arms, next to St Denys station, to try some of the beers at their festival.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to ignore the fact that they have Rochefort 8 and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout in their fridge, both available for a rather reasonable price of £3.60 a bottle, and try some good beers.

There’s some breweries I recognise here, but a lot that are new to me.. For my Friday Pint this week, I have chosen one of those that I am already familiar with, Pontypridd’s Otley. The beer in question is O3, a chestnut red ale, with 4.4% alcohol. I think I may have had this before, but not being one for caring about ticking, or keeping meticulous records of what I’ve drunk, I can’t really be certain. Let’s ignore that though and just focus on the pint in front of me.

It’s the first of the day. It’s the only pint I’ll have today. After this it’s halfs all the ways as I attempt to try as many beers as I can before I start to feel either a) drunk, b) bloated or c) I can’t really taste the beers anymore. I highly expect though, that we’ll be leaving long before any of those occur. The beer is a light red in colour. It catches the light well, creating an amber glow on the table as it shines through. It’s the sort of image a marketing campaign could be built upon, a glowing amber pint, a shining beacon of relaxation and enjoyment.

Aroma wise (I have a slight cold again, perhaps unsurprisingly) it’s subtle. If there is anything distinguishable, I’m not experienced enough to distinguish it. Taste wise, well, I’m half way down the glass already. I keep going back for more. It coats the mouth with a lovely moreish taste with a hint of sweetness. This is what I want a beer to be like when I *need* a beer. I don’t want anything challenging or unusual, I want something I can drink and enjoy without thinking about it. London Pride is one of those beers, and now Otley O3 has been added to that list. I’m going to enjoy the rest of this pint, and then go for one of those Rochefort 8s. I might as well enjoy myself whilst I’m alive.

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