They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Monday 29 November 2010

Brewdog - You need to change!

I didn't want to like this beer.

I have a bit of a beef with Brewdog at the moment.

We recently received a shipment of 6 bottles of Bashah Imperial Tayberry Reserve which we were quite exited about. These bottles said on the side in hand written form that they were 6 of about 700 or so (I forget the actual amount). This was all good, the staff took a couple and we allocated the rest to a few of our proper beer geek patrons.

I took one of the beers I thought it was great. However, I was rather annoyed when a couple of weeks later, we received another 6 bottles  after being told we were only getting those previous 6. These new 6 had the hand written mark on the side that they were 6 of around 1100! but clearly it was exactly the same beer. So how many were there 700, or 1800??

So what was it all about? If you went and bought a limited product, say a new sports car, and they told you there was only 700 made, and two weeks later after your purchase of said car they told you "oh we've just made over a thousand more." You'd be quite pissed off, wouldn't you??

I know a beer is a little scaled down than that but the principle is still the same. That's why I was a bit upset, especially when we found out that there was 1000 more, they were a bit cheaper!

This is why I call into to question the whole idea of labeling amounts of beer made. Why to brewers insist on putting on there beers "1 of 1000" and so on. It makes the beer into something it's not. Beer should not be a collector item, surely beer is made to be drunk, shared and enjoyed, not collected like a stamp!

Which brings me to the beer I'm currently drinking AB:04 from Brewdog -  once again a beer, which is clearly stated, one of 3500 (so they say).

Like I said I didn't want to like this beer, but so help me.... it's epic. This is a fantastic beer, and if I were brewer it would be one of my regular brews. It's a massive imperial stout (at 15%) brewed with the addition of chilies to give it punch. It has a great aroma of roasted malts, dairy chocolate and that big chilli smell. The flavour is mental. you get a good chilli burn but it's balanced out by huge sweet chocolate flavour. There is smoke in there. A big helping of oak, and vanilla which leads from it, also there is a prominent carbonation which makes it a very zingy beer. On paper this sounds like a bizzar beer but trust me it works.... it's works very well.

This is the point to brewers; don't count your beers, just make them. If you can make beers like this don't label them, just make them! people will love you for it. I don't think any beer should have a number on the side of it, that's not what it's about! Putting numbers on beers only furthers the image of collecting, saving, and not drinking. It's an easy question really, - brewers, do you want you beers to be drunk? and do you want everyone to be able to drink them, or just a few minority to keep them on shelves? 

Brewdog, you make awesome beers, why would anyone want to limit these things, it's unfair, everyone should get a try! You did what you wanted. You've changed the beer market, people want your beers now. Don't limit the amount of people that can try them. If you make a beer don't say your making 500, and them make 1000 more. Don't bother with numbers at all, just keep doing what you know you can do. It's all about making great beer. Share it with everyone!

Saturday 27 November 2010

Now drinking - Mikkeller Black Tie

I have a great deal of respect for Mikkel.

Mikkeller was founded by two young renegades called Mikkel Borg Bjergso and Kristian Klarup Keller who were keen home brewers. When Kristian got offered a great position at a magazine publishers he could not say no so, control of the company fell to Mikkel.

According to sources Mikkel owns no brewery of his own, but is know as the gypsy brewer. He will go to other breweries and brew beer there. His idea was quite brilliant, he would go to breweries which were adept at brewing certain styles of beer, if he wanted to brew a stout he'd go to a brewery which was good at brewing stouts. He would brew what he wanted to drink, and over time developed quite a following, now breweries can't say no to his advances of wanting their equipment.

Black Tie is quite an epic beer, at 11.5% it is no slouch. It's a barrel aged imperial stout which is one of the blackest beers i've ever poured. The head abounds with dark mahogany colours - a bit like a bourbon biscuit. You get a big aroma of chocolate biscuits, licorice and a lot of honeycomb sweetness.

The body is massive, hugely rich and ridiculously bitter, I mean ridiculously!! A big warming alcohol burn comes through with massive woody/oaken overtones. You get a little tart-ness from the bitterness and licorice. I want to say there's a little polish in there? The % is quite obvious, and the finish is eternal with huge hints of oak, vanilla and bitter chocolate.

Another winner with me, I'm a huge dark beer fiend. I will say cheers and let the warming alcohol grace take me away to a nice dream land.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Why, why, why!!

The next 2 weeks will probably be very, very long weeks. This is primarily because they will be dry.

After a bit of silent suffering at work (I say silent), with what seemed to be the mother and grand mother of all head colds (man flu) I wasn't sure if things could get any worse. Fate, however, seems to be a cruel mistress. 

Not content on just making my head feel like cold soup and my body like a limp noodle my man flu had other plans. It seems that after a night of coughing up the best part of my internal organs,  a trip to the doctors would confirm I have developed a nice throat infection, yay!

Of course this means that I've started on the dreaded antibiotic 2 weeks of misery. For people who've never been on antibiotics before, they taste like yak saliva and you can't drink any alcohol, or they won't work. (another most likely side effect of taking anti B's is thrush! Yes I said it, they don't like telling you about that one, do they!?!) 

So what to do in these two weeks. Having been on anti B's before I know how boring it is not having a nice cool pint of your favorite beer, and doing anything else just reminds you that you can't. Lets face it, the people with beer blogs, or people who will read this will only have a couple of days (maybe 3) a week without a beer. I may sound like an alcoholic but it's hard to replace something that is such a big part of my life, besides I don't drink tea.

People of the beer world take heed, do not feel saddened by this tale because the silver lining to this dark cloud couldn't shine any brighter. I know the 2 weeks will be hard but think about that first beer, when it's all over. Just let that sink in for a moment.... That first sip, your favorite brew, that classic ahhh!! moment after so much abstinence. That point that you've been waiting for which just makes things ever so special. I can liken the anticipation to things like opening the first present on christmas day, or going on your favorite theme park ride. I cannot wait for it!!

The only trouble now is to get through the epic task of sorting out which beer will be first in slaking the biggest of thirsts. One of my favorites? Or a new beer that just looks like it will do the job. In honesty the magnum of Mikkeller imperial porter in my room looks tempting. I think a 70 year old beer would hit the spot as-well though. For now though all I'll say is cheers, for 2 weeks tomorrow!!

A post for Zak Avery's competition 

Tuesday 16 November 2010

New People to Pester

Meanwood (in Leeds) seems to be the new cool place to be right now. With the addition of a massive Waitrose shopping center and a new North Bar (later to open this year, or early next year) one would be stuck for places to obtain something with flavour to drink.  However, tonight was a special event (thanks again to the Fozzard family for allowing me to come along). Tonight was the pre-opening (official opening - Wed 17th) of Meanwood's newest pub, and the Market Town Taverns newest addition - East of Arcadia! People round these parts will be in for a treat if they pop by.

Being a MMT pub the decor is similar to the rest of the chain, with posters and beer memorabilia abounding. This one is a little different though, there is a great amount of space and the walls and floors are in lighter tones, giving a better brighter sense of things. Also the windows in the place are huge (floor to ceiling) I've no doubt in the day there will be no lighting troubles. 

You could fit quite a few people in this place, and even with the whole place packed out with 'suited and booted' people, getting a drink was definitely no challenging feet. It has a very good sized bar with many competent and knowledgeable bar staff. Two of the big guys in charge, Chris and manager Phil, definitely made sure that their troops were fully informed of how to pull the perfect pints, no complaints were given I'm sure.

The bar consisted of 8 cask ales and a few international keg beers, even a couple of draught ciders, which I've not come across before in my usual MMTs. A usual selection of fine international guest bottled beers, wines and fizz wines were also available. I was quite impressed with the spirit selection, as they had some very good single malts, including the Japanese Yamazaki 12yr, and other classics like Oban and Balvenie. Pricing was very fair, with 90% of beers on tap coming in at under £3 a pint. All pricing subject to change though as prices are marked by how strong the beer is. My only worry was that there wasn't much stock of the better bottled beers in the fridges. They may have cold storage in the cellar, I'm not sure, but I have a feeling on the friday and saturday nights these beers will be quite popular.

Beers I had consisted of; a tried and tested favourite 'Ilkley's Mary Jane', 'Rooster's Mocha Stout' and a beer for the new Ridgeside Brewery 'Brewers Reserve'           

All that I had was in great nick, those new beer lines obviously working very well.

Over-all a great new addition to MMT and a pub which I will be pleased to frequent every now and again. From the ability of the place to serve good beer down to the smallest details like the small Chimay candle holders, and old school floor standing coat racks, this place has it all. I would greatly recommend a trip down to 'East' to get yourself a proper pint.

Side note: 
Full disabled access
Dogs welcome but must be leashed (and not allowed on the carpets) 
Parking options not great, but who wants to drive when you can have a pint!

Sunday 14 November 2010

Now Drinking S.N. XXX B.B.W.

Sierra Nevada, one of the classics to me. Tonight I have the pleasure of consuming one of their latest products brewed to celebrate their 30th anniversary -  Jack and Ken's Black Barley Wine.

This is a collaborative brew between Ken of S.N. and Jack McAuliffe - the first "micro" brewer from the states. This beer is a definite nod towards the legendary ales produced by Jack in his tiny brewhouse at New Albion brewery in Sonoma, CA. While drinking this beer on a cold yorkshire eve it's hard to believe beers like this were produced for the brewery's summer solstice parties!

Now down to the beer; it pours intensely black, with a massive foaming, rocky cream head. One whiff and the words "whoa" and "bloody hell!" come to mind. Aromas abound of burnt toffee, dried fruits and rich wood. Small inklings of licorice and a bit of single malt, but overlapped by a big dollop of hop bitterness.

The same sort of flavours come through in the taste. At 10.2% it's very warming. Thick, chewy and resinous. Lots of wood and a little vanilla. It's a hugely bitter beer, the huge amount of hop bitterness melds together with the bitterness of roasted barley - which seems to have been set on fire.

When I think of barley wines, I think of amber beers with a lot of caramel malty flavour, and a rich warming effect. This beer takes things to a whole new level, it's a sort of cross between an imperial stout and a barley wine, one could call it a hybrid!

A lot of this beer to get through (75cl bottle) so it's a good thing it's so moorish, should get me through the rest of the evening quite nicely. Cheers to Jack and Ken!

Saturday 13 November 2010

Are We Ashamed?

I was walking down the street the other day with a couple of beers in my hands form me and a friend to try (Marble Dobber to be specific). Having tried this beer before I thought it would be good to enlighten my friend as to its awesome-ness.

However, walking down the street (this was about 3P.M. in the afternoon) I got the kind of paranoid feeling that people I was walking by may have been a bit judgmental of me. Why was this? What had I done wrong by carrying a few great beers in hand to a friends house?

This immediately brought me back to the off-license where I work. It is a strange phenomenon around our shop that a great deal of our customers will ask for a bag for single purchases, "can I gat a bag for that, I don't want to look like an alco" even though there buying a perfectly nice beer or, most often, a very nice bottle of wine.

What is it that makes people, and me on this occasion, embarrassed by having a drink? A good one in fact? I suppose if it wasn't a good one and it was a 3ltr bottle of cheap cider I probably wouldn't be in the state of mind to care what other people think, but thats not me.

I want to be confident to show off my purchases, like when someone buys a fancy new coat, but the thoughts of others may make me hide my alcoholic purchases. I think this needs to change.

We can not be embarrassed just because we enjoy a drink. We cannot accept that because we have one we are a binger according to society. We should be proud that we drink in a civilized way, and drink a product that is cultured. I'm all for a night on the town every now and again, but we shouldn't have to brown bag our craft beers, fine wines or great whiskies, should we?