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

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Pure Bliss

You really need to enjoy the little simple things. They're integral to modern joy. So it's with great joy that after grabbing a few pints of delicious Yorkshire Ale in my local: Arcadia, I managed to get out into the back garden with a couple of friendly fellows to have a short spot of football.

You really can't (ever) complain when you can lay your whole body flat out on the back garden lawn and look up at a sky as beautiful as this, after a few amazing drinks of course.

Try enjoy the simple things. It makes for a fantastic beer life (and life in general!).

Good Beer. Good Company. Good Times!

Sunday 26 June 2011

Beer Camp

So it was with great haste and gusto that myself and Jeff rushed down to Mr Foleys last night after finishing up at the shop. We had heard from reliable sources that there was a very special beer on, and that we'd be foolish to miss it. The beer in question turned out to be, probably, the best beer I've ever been served in Mr Foleys!

Welcome to the world of the Beer Camp!

How Dean managed to source a keg of this stuff I'll never know.... (only about 10 kegs even made it to the country so I've been told!)

If you've not heard of Sierra Nevada's Beer Camps before, it's basically where a few lucky people get invited to the brewery to design and make a beer with all the Sierra team.

This 8% Juniper Black Ale is the REAL DEAL!!! It has a massive aroma of chocolate, biscuit malts, blueberries, oats and a little coffee. The flavour is instant and huge. It's rich, really roasted, which leads on to a nice bitter chocolate/burnt malts flavour. It's also got a high hoppy fruity bitterness too, some lemon and orange pith. There's even a bit of melon skin creeping in. There's a hint of wood hiding in the background, and this beer certainly does not drink like a 8% beer at all! It really seemed like this beer was an Imperial Stout mixed with kegged Black IPA - it was extremely delicious.

I would recommend you get down to try some of this before it runs out, I wouldn't think it will last long. And I suppose I've saved the best news for last too.... After this keg runs out, these two will be taking its place!

Seriously...   :O

p.s. Mr Foleys also has keg and cask versions of Summer Wines 7cs on at the moment; something that's really interesting to try a comparison of.

I managed to get down for the 'launch' of the double IPA, but didn't manage to take any tasting notes. Here's what Neil thought from Eating isn't Cheating.

Friday 24 June 2011

de Molen de Marble!

Tonight I have the absolute pleasure of supping the fantastic Vuur & Vlam from the mighty Marble brewery, made in co-operation with Brouwerij de Molen - a very famous brewery from the Netherlands.

This beer as you will all well know, speaks for itself, and you need to go out and buy a bottle for yourselves! (I may have paid a little more for mine, but it was worth every penny!)

However I will add my two pennies tasting notes just to get you interested, have you not had the pleasure of this beer before.

There's a great evolution in the aroma. At first I was getting sweet apple and candy sugar, this has now mellowed away to a nice lemon/hay sherbet smell which is very inviting.

A very dry and bittering IPA, and be warned, it drinks like a 3% beer, not a 7.2% beer! Quite floral, hints of lemons, orange pith but none of the flavours are too overpowering and in your face - it's a perfectly balanced beer. It's a really refreshing brew, and just what I needed at the end of a long day. I would love to try this side by side with some de Molen fire and flame (if they did one that is, I'm sure they did)

Marble seem to be one of my favourite breweries these days that continue to produce consistent good quality bottled and cask beer. If I ever come across a cask of the stuff, you can be sure that I'll be having a pint! I also love the minimalist but modern design and look of their beers. Truly a diamond in the ruff! (coming from Manchester that is!)

I really should be sipping this beer, being there's 75cl of 7.2% of it, but it's going down quicker than a ship made of colanders!!

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Something's Stirring!!

Today I took my first trip to the Fox & Newt Pub on Burley Street just about a 5min walk from the city centre. I really don't know why I've never been to this place before - It's absolutely fantastic!

Not only is it a 'proper' old school pub, but it's a Brew Pub as well! (the only 'real' one left in Leeds) It's a place you may not have heard of before, but Burley Street BrewHouse, in the bowels of the Fox & Newt Pub, is alive and thriving indeed!

If the idea of a brew-pub (thats been around since the late 1980's) doesn't excite you... maybe their range of beers will! Under new direction, this pub has recently been serving the likes of these beers (pretty much) in the heart of Leeds:

Can you really say you wouldn't be stuck for choice in this place?? Even the pump clips for the brew house's beers look great!:

I didn't come here today to drink beer though (much....) I came here today because the brewer for Burley Street BrewHouse, Mike (@reymondecks) tweeted me saying they had just brewed a new batch of stouts and IPAs and wondered if I would like to sample them while they were still fresh in the fermenters. What sort of stupid ghost would I be to decline?!?!

The BrewHouse is absolutely fantastic! It's one of those old school kits which you know has been around for a couple of decades!:

I got to try the new IPA and the new stout straight from the fermenters, two beers which should be making the Burley Street BrewHouse range very soon, and considering how expertly they were made, they would give all the other breweries in Leeds a good run for their money. (Yes all of them!!) And although they were tasting incredibly more fresh than a beer ever should, they were tasting great and had huge promise!

One of the things they were working on today was the perfect level of finings they would need for the specific yeasts they would need, it all looked very complicated, and once explained to me, I wasn't that much clearer.... but I was sure they knew what they were experimenting with.

Now while Mike is trying to rent some of the time and space of the BrewHouse for his side project 'X-Ray Brewing' he is consistently producing top notch quality beers for Burley Street BrewHouse, which I've managed to have a couple of pints today, one even in Arcadia tonight!  Beers which if you've not had before, then you fail, to be completely honest!

From looking around the walls, I guess this place made super beers in the past....

Seriously, this is not just a pub, or a BrewHouse, but something which you need to take big note of in the next few months, especially if you live in Leeds. If you've never been before, then you really need to ask yourself 'what are you waiting for!!' their range of beers is top notch! They're even hoping to get the Magic Rock beers on cask before North Bar do!! (just to throw some stones!) They also want to try start bottling some of their beers in late September! So like it or not, they're going to be big, very soon!

Get your buts down to the Fox & Newt, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!?

Tuesday 21 June 2011

How Do Your PreConceptions Taste??

Do you buy your consumables with your eyes?

Do you have the thoughts that certain supermarkets are better than others, without even going in the ones you'd be so quick to swear away from? I bet you do sometimes, I know I do.... hell I shop at Waitrose.

Price may have something to do with it. Say there's a ready meal for sale in Tesco and the same ready meal was available in Netto, differently packaged, but exactly the same - minus a couple of quid for one. Would you think they were the same? Which would you feel comfortable buying?

The same can be said for beer. A pint of Black Sheep may cost so and so in one high-street pub and quite a bit less in a pub or bar, such as Weather Spoons for example. Does that mean the Weather Spoons Black Sheep is any worse because it's cheaper? Some would say yes, some would say they're not bothered.

This all depends of course on many things, such as cellar-man-ship/quality control etc, etc....

So let's move it on a bit to the packaging.

As many of you reading this will be seasoned beer drinking geeks, has there been times when you will judge a bottle of beer, before actually drinking it, judging it purely on its packaging and making preconceptions in your mind of what it will be like?/will you enjoy it?/and will you even buy it? I know I have in the past.

I think it's time we all stopped pre-judged beers/bars/pubs before actually drinking them or stepping into them. Some of the best times and beers I've ever had are ones I've never had before and places I've never been too.

By all means though, lower your expectations if you like, it just makes it so much better when you find something good!

Get out there, when you see that old boring looking beer with its drab label on the shelves, buy it for once, it may really surprise you. I'll say the same for bars an pubs. Don't just avoid them because of what other people have told you of them, go find out for yourself!

Sunday 19 June 2011

Beer and Some Chocky!

After having a bit of a skinful last night in North Bar, I think I need a beer and some salts and sugars to help stave off the demons in my head.

I was thinking then, why not grab a couple bars of chocolate and a couple of beers, and veg out in front of the TV for a change. "Hell I can make this into a beer and chocolate bar matching session!" I thought to myself whilst picking a couple of beers up today.

So anyway..... here we go:

Beer number 1: Dragon Head, a 4% stout from the famed Orkney Brewery.

....... and a bar of Picnic.

The beer looks dark and inviting, with a small aroma of roasted grains and a little woody subtlety.

Light in body, but not in flavour. Quite oaky, with a little smoke in the mix, and the big dark malt bitterness lingering for a long time in the finish. A little nutty, some dried fruit, and a spicy bitter chocolate freshness. (see I thought about my chocky choice!)

But does it work as a pairing?  Well I think it does! The similar flavours of each work together alongside a sweetness of one and a bitterness of the other. This has been fun, it's nice to enjoy the simple things from time to time. So with that in mind, I'll move onto the second beer.

Carnegie Porter is a fantastic beer, a porter like no other. At 5.5% it's not as dark as the Dragon Head but much more in the aroma. This Baltic Porter is produced by Carlsberg Sverige and has a lot of history behind it.

..... It's going with a Toffee Crisp.

There's loads to pick out from the aroma; liqourice, chocolate, light treacle, rich dried fruits, some lactose and a bit of a vinous character.

Smooth, oaty, a tiny smidgen of salt, a little chocolate bitterness mixed in with a small amount of roasted malts in the background. It's the kind of beer which would go excellent with seafood, but tonight I'm rocking the Toffee Crisp yo!

Does it work though?

Well it works in the fact that they're completely opposite, but kind of still works at the same time. Very interesting stuff indeed, once again , it's a fun thing to try!

This got me thinking about a few other combos you could try out:

IPA with a Bounty
Nut Brown Ale with a Snickers
Barley Wine with a Daim Bar
Imperial Stout with Riesen pieces
Sam Smiths Strawberry beer with Red Quality Streets
Wheat beer with an Aero (feel the bubbles!)

Who knows, I may even do a beer pairing with some good 'proper' chocolate one of these days ;)

Just remember: as with life, never take beer too seriously (or try not too!)

Friday 17 June 2011

Ridgeside Rocking!

A managed to get through more than a couple of pints of this the other day. It was delicious.

Desert Aire a 4.8% Pale Ale, crammed to the dune peaks with American hops, is a drink that you'd want with you should you ever find yourself stuck in the desert!

It has a perfect orange amber appearance, with what looked like the slightest of hop hazes to begin with, but eventually cleared completely. I never do get much to aromas when it comes to drinking pints, but then again, I don't see many people trying to get aromas from straight sided pint pots - they're not exactly ideal. Besides a few after work pints is all about the taste and not being extra geeky, I need my tulip glass, notepad and armchair for that.

On the first thirst quenching gulp your hit with that O so familiar huge juicy bittering grapefruit and citrus hop flavour. It's a very clean tasting beer. Hints of fresh cut grass, and very dry hay, which in turn makes it quite a dry beer indeed. It's one of those beers you can have three of in the space of an hour - slips down easy indeed!

Once again a beer served in perfect condition from good ol' Arcadia. It was the first pints of the barrel too which was extra nice. I think this is one of Ridgeside's new beers to grace the pumps, and if so, it's a winner with us!

I suppose the best news I've saved for last. I spoke to Simon about a week back about if and when some of their bottled beer might be available for us to sell at Beer Ritz. He was confident that they'd be bottling quite a bit of beer towards the end of July, early August. I do hope that Desert Aire is one of the beers put into bottle. If so I know for a fact I'll be able to sell loads of it!!

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Guest Blogage!

I've wanted to do something like this for a long time.

As Tom Fozard will tell you, I always try to get other beer geeks into the beer blogging party.

It brings me great pleasure then, to bring you a new face to the beer writing scene: Paul Tuffnell

Many of you will know Paul as @Tuff86 from Twitter, and will have no doubt seen the drunker banter that passes back and forth from me and him about great beers very late at night ;) It was on one of those beery conversations where I asked Paul if he was interested in beer blogging, and It seemed he was really interested! He will be starting up his own beer blog sometime soon, but until then here's the first (of many) Tuff's Tales!

He states at the end he has a passion to understand everything about great beer. I'd say he's pretty much there already. I really enjoyed this story, it reminded me of my introduction into the good beer scene, and hopefully it will for you too! So... It's over to you Paul:

From Beer Drinker To Beer Geek

For years, well since legal drinking age of course I have always enjoyed a 'good beer'. I was never a big drinker of Fosters & the likes so always went for whatever I thought was a much better alternative. I would always match beer to food I was eating, for example if I made an Italian meal the beer of choice was Peroni or Birra Morette or if I was having a curry it was Cobra or Kingfisher, you get the idea. If I was to walk into a pub and ask for a pint, it was generally Guinness, a real man's beer I used to think to myself. To me at the time, these were all great beers & at the right time and place they still are. Every time I go for a curry I still knock back a couple of Cobras.

Along the way I would try numerous others, Black Sheep, Timothy Taylor's & ... to name a few. I even went through a period of drinking nothing but Newcastle Brown Ale! But nothing ever crossed my mind that there were so many great beers out there until a trip to Dublin in January 2009 when me and my girlfriend went to a restaurant (Elephant & Castle, if you ever go make sure you have the chicken wings, they're amazing!).  As always she ordered wine & I ordered beer...

The beer I ordered changed the way I looked at this extremely versatile substance forever. The beer in question was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I must be totally honest and say that I bought this purely because it was American & it sounded 'interesting'. This was something completely new to me, I had never tasted a beer quite like it & as a complete novice I was sure it had some extra ingredient to it! "This isn't just beer surely?" That extra ingredient I was trying to work out was obviously just the massive amount of hops that were lacking from so many beers I'd drank previously. I sat there throughout the whole meal trying to work out the different flavours I was getting from this hoppy nectar, the bottle certainly didn't last long as I sipped away. I then ordered a 2nd & a 3rd; this was damn good stuff after all!

From that day I began to branch out into the big wide world of beer. I mainly explored what major supermarkets had to offer as I wasn't aware of any local beer shops near to me or my girlfriend (who is in Leeds). I picked up a few more US craft beers on a trip to Manchester which gave me more incentive to try & hunt some places down where I could regularly purchase such delights. This is when I got myself onto Twitter & came across Beer Ritz....

Ah Beer Ritz, those two words really are like music to my ears these days. My first visit was in December last year when I was simply overwhelmed with the amount of beers they stocked from all over the world. Most of them I hadn't even seen before, I really was like a kid in a sweet shop. I went through every Sierra Nevada beer that was stocked, after all their Pale Ale was the beer that really got me started on this journey in the first place. Over the following months I tried beers from other countries with the range in style & taste varying massively. My taste buds had never had it so good before!

However buying great beer is all good and well but the most rewarding thing to have come out of this 'journey' are the people I have met along the way & shared countless beer related stories with. For starters there's the staff of Beer Ritz, Will (@GhostDrinker) & Tom (@cheeeseboiger) (Tom now of Rooster's Brewery fame) & not forgetting the brains behind the whole operation; Zak Avery (@zakavery), I'm sure you've heard of him ;-)  These beer aficionados were always and still are so helpful when it came to giving me information about all the beers on offer along with some recommendations every time I paid a visit. I used to look forward to going along for the great beer related chats as much as buying the products themselves.

Not only that but Tom who is a keen home brewer has kindly given me several of is creations which have all been excellent!

I know there are a lot of other home brewers out there like Rob (@BGRTRob) who are all producing top notch beer as well as some fantastic label designs, it's really impressive stuff! (& something some breweries could take note of)

Will has recently given me a sample of some Ardbeg Supernova (2010) which was a real treat! He is determined to get me hooked on the stuff! This kindness & generosity stretches far and wide amongst everyone I communicate with on Twitter whether they are professional brewers, beer bloggers or simple avid beer geeks like myself. It definitely seems to be one big friendly community where at the end of the day, everyone simply likes great beer and is more than happy to talk about it. This is why I'm doing my first blog post, and I hope it will be the start of many.

I feel like this is a really exiting time for beer lovers as brewers seem to be pushing the boundaries as much as they can to come with new and exiting beers for us all to enjoy. This simple 'everyday' drink has so much to offer & I will continue to explore & learn as much as I can about this fantastic beverage until I can create a better understanding of what makes it so great!

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Quebec Makes It's Presence Felt!

I received a tweet (on twitter, duh) a few weeks back. I didn't know this person at the time but his name was Eric Michaud (His twitter name being: @pbemichaud)
He tweeted me something along these lines: "Hello Ghost Drinker, I've been following your blog for about 5 months, and I'd love to let you try some Qc beers?"

I was a bit skeptical, but tweeted back; if he wanted to do a beer swap at the shop then it would be something I'd be happy to do. I didn't really expect anything to come from this. Turns out I was wrong.

Eric was a big beer dude from Montreal.

So when it was last saturday, when a man turned up who said he had a few beers for me, I was kind of pleased under a little skepticism. That was until he whipped out these MoFos!!

Look good don't they?!?!

I should say so! I made sure that he was paid back in kind for the beer swap.

I'll start out with the Corps Mort (roughly translated in my limited languages as Body Death.... inviting!) from the A L'Abri de la Tempete Brewery. This 11% Barley Wine describes itself on the bottle as: "A robust salty Barley Wine, brewed with smoked grain" which has been inspired by "A solitary rocky outcrop off the coast of the islands" 

The thing that worried me was the little tag at the bottom of the bottle stating "**May contain traces of smoked herring!" 

Turns out my fears were short lived as this (seriously now!) was the most interesting Barley Wine I've ever had! It came across with a beautiful pure orange hue. The aroma consisted of sweet sweets, candyfloss and sticks of rock were mixed in with a little caramel apple attitude. There were salty notes in the mix too. It was rather floral, but with an obvious alcohol presence. 

The flavour was great! You get a big smoked malt influence to start, but it's perfectly balanced and very well restrained, so doesn't make itself overpowering. Lots of Big dried fruit flavour - lots of apricots. All the aromas are in and about too, even a slight saltiness, which with the smoky touch reminds me of a couple of whiskies I've tried in the past.

A salty sweet, complex beer, which if I had the opportunity I'd drink again and again!

Next I'll move onto the Peche Mortel (Which translates as Mortal Sin) from the Dieu du Ciel Brewery. This is an Imperial Stout brewed with fair trade coffee, which they almost beg you to drink in moderation. You should know me and Imperial Stouts by now though! 

I've never smelled so much coffee in a beer before in my life. Seriously, nothing else compares to the intensity of this, it's like espresso in a bottle, freshly ground beans and the bushes all blended into one!

This beer drinks like silk.

Once again It's the strangest Imperial Stout I've ever had, and I'm bloody loving it! Dark chocolates, orange pith, masked alcohol (even at 9.5%) leather, treacle, sweet dried fruits and a huge in your face attitude. A fantastic beer, and one that could speak better for itself than I ever could! It's gone now and that makes me a little upset because I know I may never drink this beer again, but...

It looks like in the search for great and good beers you don't just have to look to the UK and the US. Take it a little north and you'll find quite a few gems!!

Thanks again to Eric for bringing these beers along, I thoroughly enjoyed both of them, and I hope you enjoy what I gave you in return. 

Saturday 11 June 2011

Dream Bar

Time for a bit of fun for my 100th post!!

Think for a minute, if you will.... what if you could open a bar or pub tomorrow?

The biggest question I could think of is: What would you serve???

Think of it as your dream pub or bar, you perfect choice of beverages! What would they be??

Now don't fall into any trap here, there's so much more to think about other than just cask and keg. Well you can consider those two, and how many of each to put on, but you also have to think about: What wines would you serve? Would they be by the bottle or only small servings? What selection of spirits would you keep? Which soft drinks would you make available? Would you make cocktails? What about shots? Would you sell bottled beer? How big a range of bottled beers would you get, and where from? Would you sell bar snacks? How good would they be? Would you serve any kind of food at all? Would you serve to appeal to a beer geeks dream? Or just follow the mainstream route to try make money?

These are just the easy questions. The amount of planning and question answering that goes into the opening of a new watering hole is unending and merciless.

So lets forget about that now and just have a bit of fun for a bit, lets go back to the question: If you could have your dream bar, what would you serve? You know, if money and everything else was no issue.

I know what I'd like to have to make me keep drinking at the same place again and again.

Now that's just for cask and keg.

For my bottled beer selection I'd stock a range of around 50 Belgian and German specialties. From Corsendonk to St Bernardus. From Jever to Schlenkerla, the bar would have a bottled beer for every taste. (as long as it was Belgian or German in taste!)

Sack off all the other spirits, I'd force punters to purchase from my fine selection of single malts! My selection would include a playlist of the greats: Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Lagavulin, Edradour, Jura, Highland Park, Port Ellen, Dalmore, Teaninich and Blair Athol to name a few. Accept no substitutes! :)

No Wine.....

This would be my dream bar. It won't be to everyones tastes, but sometimes it's nice to just imagine what you could do if you decided to open a bar tomorrow. And just remember,

What would you serve???

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Doggy Style

Say what you like about Brewdog.

Yes they're a little immature, yes they can be irritating. Yes they may get your orders wrong from time to time.

I couldn't care less. I really couldn't! And the reason why: Brewdog make amazing beers, fact!

It's the reason I'm writing about them here and now. It's the reason all the rest of you do. And if you're not, you're just moaning about how they should stop farting around, and stick to making great beer like you know they can.

Say what you like about them, just don't talk down on their beer, otherwise I don't want to hear it.

I'd like to share a few of the bottles I've been drinking over the past few days. One of them I've had before, but it was under the name of Speed Ball back at that time, the rest are new to me.

All of them were gorgeous and all deserve a mention. Even if it's not in a hardcore way.

The first one I got on with was Speed Ba.. I mean Dogma: a 7.8% Heather Honey infused Ale. When I first gave this beer a whiff I did get a reminiscent aroma of Fraoch, just in a bigger way. The honey comb was fairly obvious and lead to a nice battle of bitter sweet in the beer. A beer made with guarana, poppy seeds, kola nut and Scottish heather honey! Now I know what honey tastes like, but the others I'm not too sure, so it was a very interesting beer. A very drinkable beer too for 7.8%! A very soft beer. Quite herbal, with a nice caramel malt sweetness mixing in with the heather honey. (still not sure how you come about honey from heather)

Next up was ABD. What hasn't been said about this beer really? Well I'll give it a go. It was made by three unfit, hungover people, one of whom was my boss, one of whom writes a fantastic beer blog, and is a very influential writer in the beer world.... and the other whom was Pete Brown.
I jest of course, I have the greatest respect for these three. After all I wouldn't be writing a blog at all if it wasn't for our beer captain! I think the thing I most liked about this beer was this: These guys write about new and awesome beers every week. They could have easily brewed a Quadruple Eisbock Oak-aged Imperial Black IPA Stout, but they didn't. The went old school. And I mean proper old school, and gave it a modern twist. The mettle of a good beer man (or woman) comes from learning about what has come before in the past and using it to his/her advantage in a modern world. These three know about the histroy and the deep seeded past of beer, and wanted to bring that to the forefront of their beer, and it's to be saluted! I shan't write any tasting notes, because I want you to buy it and try it for yourself.

Our next beer along comes in the form of a wedding ale. Gimmick or not a gimmick? I was firmly under the impression that it would be. I thought it would just be a blend of Punk IPA and Hardcore IPA, and there'd be nothing to write home about. Turns out I was wrong. Now while Royal Virility Performance (7.5%) may have been made with herbal viagra, chocolate, ginseng and Horny Goat Weed and a good dose of sarcasm, it was not a gimmick beer! It was clear that a lot of thought went into this brew, and for me, it shows. Sure it smells like Punk IPA but it has a great bitter body, which leads onto a chocolate sweetness, with a lot of herbal and honeycomb features. It's slightly woody, it has some piney spice alongside the clean, crisp finish. A very good beer, and for all of those of you wondering out there.... NO I didn't get one!

Name: Bitch Please
Brewers: Brewdog/Three Floyds
ABV: 11.5%
Style: Barrel aged Scottish Barley Wine
This beer is meant to be made with shortbread, toffee and eclectic hops. I didn't get any of that. From first taste it was burnt as Hells ashes! Super smokey, those peated malts really shining through. I know this was made with some Jura barrels, but I saw a beer; 75% Barley Wine, 25% Imperial Stout with a double shot of Ardbeg dropped in it. A phenolic beer, but you either hate or love that. I love it after the first few sips. Peaty, woody and very complex, does not drink like it's 11.5% that's for sure! One to get and age.

I'll finish on a beer that I've recently received: AB:06 - an 11.2% Imperial Black IPA. I'll start out by saying that this is the freshest beer I've smelt all year. It should be! It was bottled about 25 days ago! Black as the night, with a perfect amount of chalky/biscuit brown head. Bottle number 2317 of 8973 comes across in body with flavours of massive overpowering fresh, bitter hops. Quite a big amount of roasted bitterness in there too, which I assume would die down with a bit more bottle conditioning time. Some apricot and pine flavour, and a massive dry body and finish. An overall interesting and special beer, that does not necessarily live up to its price tag, but I'm happy to have tried it.

That's it for now then.

So next time I write about Brewdog, It won't be for someone they've upset or something outrageous they've said or done, no it will be about one of their new beers. End of.

Brewdog make superb beer, until they stop doing that, I'll continue to buy their beer.

Tuesday 7 June 2011


We've all heard of the phrase: this beer is 'skunked'. Until now I've never had a skunked beer in my life, I'm a good ghost who keeps his beer out of range of the evil sun. You may or may not know that the hops used in the 'making beer' process have a certain dislike of UV rays. These evil UV rays which so many people love for making them tanned, will also make your beer taste bad, so they say. The UV rays take a certain dislike to some hop compounds and break them down, causing the beer to have a certain off flavour.

It has been said that clear and green glass offers no protection against the sun and only brown glass can ward off these devious rays. Or so I've been told.

I wanted to indulge in a little experiment today.

Above are 6 bottled beers. 3 of these beers have spent over 4 hours in direct sunlight, and in that time they became rather warm. (very warm indeed actually!) These 3 were then put back with their counterparts and mixed up so I wouldn't be able to make any pre-conceived tasting notes in my brain about what may occur.

I started off with the Brooklyn Lager.

A beer being packaged in brown glass, I was under the assumption that 4 hours under the guns wouldn't affect it. But I was also interested to see if a very high temperature change would affect the beer at all. It seemed I needn't worry at all though. Both beers looked, smelled and tasted exactly the same. A win for the brown beer bottle then, and for Brooklyn beer too. Not only did it withstand 4 hours in the sun, but it also withstood being roasted to the gills! Well played indeed Brooklyn.

Next up was the Tsingtao.

On the pour nothing looked out of the ordinary. In fact when I lifted the glasses to the nose, no un-trained (or trained for that matter) aromatic professor would be able to tell the difference between these beers.

What of the taste though. Well to be perfectly honest, I couldn't find a single difference. It seems that Tsingtao has the same luck in the draw as Brooklyn Lager. Both beers were tamely delicious.  Could it be that the rice used in the production of this beer has some UV preservative qualities? Probably not, but it passed my test.

On to the last beer and offending glass transparency: Tooheys Extra Dry.

Once again there was not much difference to the aromas of the two. In fact there was no difference at all.

If there was a beer which you thought would not pass the test, you'd think it this one. But NO!

I didn't understand. It tasted exactly the same in both glasses! What was going on, I wondered to myself? Did I not leave it in the sun long enough?? Did it even have hops in it?? The bottle didn't state that it did.

Maybe I was just trying to make excuses. It's not a bad beer. It won the Gold Medal in the category for best dry lager in the 1998 World Beer Cup, so it must have hops in it at least.

What's going on!?!?

I'm no bio-chemist, I'm not even any form of chemist. But I left 3 of these beers in direct sunlight for over 4 hours!!! And they all got to a temperature of that well above of your average take away pizza!!! Please tell me what I've done wrong because:

I've tried this experiment with three bottle shades, and yet to have tried a 'Skunked Beer' in my life!!!

Sunday 5 June 2011

The Session 52. Collectibles & Breweriana

A bit late to the party, but here goes:

I've always been a bit of a collector of Beery stuff. It started about 6/7 years ago with a couple of empty beer bottles. Over the next couple of years I amassed quite a collection of them:

This was the peak of my bottle collecting. All different bottles, no repeats. I was quite proud, but indeed they took up far too much space, so I decided on recycling them and making a new collection of things.

The next thing to pre-occupy my geeky side was to take form in writing beer notes in mole skin notebooks. I filled just over 3 - 500 page notebooks aver the next 3 years on all different beers, and loved seeking out different ones to add to the collection. This, I must point out, is different to 'ticking' because I could look back and remember (by reading) what each beer was like and where I was when I tried it. (even if you have 10000 ticks in a book, their just ticks)

I still do a little of this to this day, but my geeky lust has now moved into beer blogging and taken on its newest form. Who knows where it will go from there.

I'm no pro though. That accolade goes to collector above all collectors ever heard of; - my father!

Below is just a snap shot of the hundred odd bar towels he's collected over about 20 years:

And below this is just a snap of the (around a few thousand) bar mats he's accumulated over the past 20 years:

It doesn't take a genius to see that there's a shed load of beer history here, and that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

Saturday 4 June 2011

An Unforeseen Perk

A few weeks back, whilst I was staying down with Ghost Girlfriend (yes that's her!) we decided to have a nice day out at Waddesdon Manor - part of the National Trust.

Now while I'm very up for a good day out, I was under the full assumption that there would be no beer involved in the trip. Not that I'm not used to having dry days, it's just I like to sample the wares of everywhere I go on trips out. Now the family owners of the Manor are know vine growers and wine sellers, and I was very interested to look around all the cellars and learn a little bit more about fine wines. For instance: I didn't know they use egg whites in wine in the same way that a brewer will use finings - both to get clarity out of the finished product. (it was rather strange to see them cracking eggs into the large barrels!)

A few snaps from the cellars:

The biggest surprise for the day though was to come whilst browsing through the gift shop at the end of the house tour. Not only did I find a copy of 'Man Walks Into A Pub' by Pete brown in the books section, (a book I'm a few chapters in and loving it) but they were selling local beer as-well!!

I managed to pick up three beers from Buckinghamshire brewery: Vale, so will now see if any of them are any cop!

Wychert: this Auburn Bitter comes in at a wee 3.9% - a great one to start with. Not a lot to the aroma to be fair, just a small hint of darker malts. The flavour is ok, very easy drinking session ale. Hints of caramel malt with a little sweet toffee and some big nutty body notes. It's got a little heat/spice in the flavour and has a very drying finish - overall not a bad beer, but not one I'd mow people down to buy again. The bottle states that CAMRA say's this is real ale, but then again I could tell that by the small chunks in the bottom of my glass.

V.P.A (Vale Pale Ale): This 4.2% Golden Ale comes across the nose a lot more promisingly. Aromas of lemon sherbet and little sweet hay. Light and incredibly soft beer, this is a proper South summer sessional! Dry, check. Citrus, check. Balanced bitter aftertaste, check.  I like this beer because it has a great balance of a good malt body and the perfect amount of hops, it's not 'hops thrown in your face' sort of deal and it's not 'look at how outrageously malty am I'. It's the ale answer to lagers Corona - one to sink a few of in the sun. What more do you really want in weather like this!

Gravitas: I may have drunk these the wrong way round, this 4.8% Bitter looks and smells the lightest of the bunch so far. Oh well, I'll just give it a good swig! Prominent grassy citrus aromas to this SIBA Gold Medal winning Premium Ale. Light and fruity in flavour, my pick of the lot tonight. Citrus pith, with a nice sweet biscuit malt flavour in the body. The most easy drinking of the group, I put that down to it not being as dry as the others, but that's just my tastes.

That's it for the beers tonight. It's almost a shame because drinking them took me back to that great day out me and Ghost Girlfriend shared and I'm not sure if we'll be back there in the future. Time will only tell. Three beers from the South - one not to my tastes, the other two very refreshing and pleasant. I've had a couple of Gravitas on cask before in Arcadia and I can say it's very good.

With a sparkler on of course....

Friday 3 June 2011

LS6 Beer Festival

It's that time again: time for our own little beer festival in Leeds, with far too much great beer and awesome live music. A couple of days for awesome local breweries to show off their wares and for locals to have a jolly good time.

It would take far to long to tell you all about the super beers and the great time I, and we all had tonight, (and more people will have tomorrow) so I'll just tell the story in this awesome photo montage!!

oh.... and I'll gladly show my actual ghostly surfing face for Leeds Beer Fest!

People within Images: Two very good friends of the Ghost. Rhian: My old super boss from my Arcadia days, and Jess from my old Arcadia days who brought along her traveling book suitcase! (special mention goes to all the people serving up the beers aswell!!

What a fantastic venue! What a fantastic beer festival! If your still around tomorrow (saturday) get your buts down to the LS6 Beer Festival!!!!