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

Sunday 28 August 2011

Imperial Smuttiness

You may have heard of Smuttynose Brewery, they make some really good quality American beers. You may know them better for beers like Big A IPA, Finestkind IPA and darker ones too like their really tasty Robust Porter. I could hug that seal all day long!

They also do a range of specials, a 'Big Beer Series' according to the bottle. This series includes much sought after beers like their 11% Wheat Wine Ale, Gravitation - a 10% Belgian Quad Style Ale and of course, the Imperial Stout pictured left. Let's not just leave it at those though. I really like the art work for all the Smutty beers, the label for Julio's Ry(e) an Ale is an absolutely fantastic example. I think some of the range has some great names too. Let's face it, who wouldn't want a pint of Smuttynose Smuttonator Doppelbock?!?! Or some Oak-aged Terminator G-Bock and some Homunculus Belgian Ale for that matter!

When I saw this in Borough Market, it was pretty obvious I had to have it, after all these bottles were bottled in 2007 so I reckon they'll be pretty good by now!

After a bit of research on'tinterweb I found this to be a 10.1% Imperial Stout. That's nothing to go by really though, as I think the abv may vary from batch to batch. (I could be wrong) I think with the bottle conditioning of around 4 years though it could have risen a touch anyway. It smells very interesting for an American Imperial Stout. Initially you get some lactic dairy-ness, loads of oats and even a touch of salt. As you get more of an inhale after a bit of a breather you get richer aromas of dark chocolate, burnt toffees, light but dark coffee and some rum soaked raisins.

The initial flavour is initially really intense and kicks you straight in the face. It's really burnt and massively bitter straight up front. I got really big woody hints, like someone had used rum soaked oak to make this beer, it was verging on leaving a slightly tart bitterness with small vanilla hints. Let it warm up a little, and get used to the mouth feel and this becomes a much different beast. It evens out and the smoother richer flavoured elements push forwards. Toasted fruitcake, big chocolate and lots of coffee bitterness now dominate the senses. The finish is dry, long and leaves you wanting. It does enough to make you respect the beer, but it's still very approachable at the same time, a truly spectacular beer if I must say so.

It's rather strange, I've been talking about Imperial Stouts quite a bit more than usual over the past few weeks, and although my tasting notes may sound a little similar on paper, I can assure you that not one I've tried in the past few years has ever tasted the same. I just think it's quite interesting that (to me) the most favourful, and overall, 'king of beers' in one hand is enough to pummel the senses but at the same time, be so diverse in actual flavour from beer to beer. Maybe that's just another one of the reasons why I love it so much...

Back to topic: Smuttynose make some amazingly impressive beers, and all I can recommend to you is that; if you see a Smuttynose beer.... just buy it, you don't need to give it a second thought.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Beer From Near & Far

I really enjoy Sam Adams beers. Their Boston Lager was the first American lager I ever tried, even before Budweiser! (could be a good thing) And even though I've had only a few nicer Lagers since, it will always remain an instant classic, and a perfectly enjoyable beer.

My second reason for my Sam Adams passion is that it seems that's all I ever drink whilst in the States. They have an incredibly massive range of beers, and where ever you (or we go anyway) it's the Sam Adam beers which are present on tap, it's so readily available. (and go for the happy hour and you get 2 for 1, which is brilliant!)

However, despite how many styles and varieties of beers I consume from this brewery in the States, (and it's usually about 20+ different styles!) we do not have that range over here in the UK. The Imperial Stout pictured is always a regular treat which I have to bring back with me on the plane! In fact, the only beer I've ever seen from Sam Adams for sale in this country is my old favourite; the Boston Lager.

That was until I took a trip to the Rake in London last week and spied this bad boy!

As soon as I saw it, I had to have it. It stood out a mile to me in the fridges.

It's a Chocolate Bock, and it's a BIG Chocolate Bock! All 1PT, 9.4FL OZ of it.

It looks... well you can see for yourself really, it looks dark! The aroma is quite unusual. It's quite fitting that I pictured the two beers at the top as, although there might be quite a bit of chocolate in there, it has big hints of both these beers mixed in together. It has nothing towards the big American strengths that we're used to though, or even a regular Bock strength, it's only 5.5% but that's certainly no disappointing thing. (I think I would have had to share if it was much stronger, it's such a big beer)

It has a great flavour, it's light, and there's not really a lot of depth to it. It makes it incredibly drinkable, and with such a drying, almost lactic finish, the beer is half gone before you know it. Chocolate, chocolate malts, chocolate biscuits, chocolate milk, chocolate raisins - it's a very tasty and light beer. I'd love to know how Glyn and the Rake team get their hands on beers like this.

Unfortunately it has been a fleeting moment for the night though. As nice is it is to get amazing beers from Sam Adams,  it's always going to be from afar, unless they start importing their whole range to retailers near you, and not just the Boston Lager. (I really wish they would!)

Monday 22 August 2011

Yin & Yang: The Best Black & Tan!

I have no idea how to start this post.

I've only ever tried a couple of Black and Tans in my life, and they've always been from English brewers.
I do however, know my Imperial IPAs, and I certainly know my Imperial Stouts! Mix them together?? Sounds perfect on paper, but what is it like in reality? Would it work? With such extreme flavours on display, should you even bother? Well one brewery has certainly tried to dare!

I'm talking of course of Evil Twin Brewing (perfect name if you ask me, and an even more perfect name for the beers!)

Lets break this down. Yin is an Imperial Taiji Stout coming in at 10%. Yang is a 10% Imperial Taiji IPA. Personally I think they may have got these the wrong way round, I would have the Imperial Stout as the last, but that's just me. They state on the bottle that these two beers are absolutely perfect on their own, but so much better blended together. Could this be true? Could my favourite beer style and my second favourite beer style really be married into one glorious style of beer? Well lets bloody find out! But first lets look at the beers on there own:

We'll start with the Yang. (see it's a little strange to start with the Yang, with it being the lighter.) This is a dark looking Imperial IPA. The classic aromas of caramel and grapefruit lunge forward with side notes of lemon-grass and dried straw. The flavour pushes forward with a massive biscuit malt body which is followed with notes of caramel, toffee, a little marmalade and lots of chewy - rum soaked raisins. The finish is long and bitter. Very warming, (unsurprising for 10%) this beer starts very sweet and juicy but there's a huge dryness in the finish with almost a straw like tartness.

Next up was the Yin: a 10% Imperial Stout Bruiser! It pours much thicker and richer looking than the Yang, and the head rises much smoother looking - very much like the perfect brown edges of a super cappuccino, but all over. The aroma is mental. It's so meaty! Massive salty smoked salami flavours rise from this darkened drink, I can't help but think this is a smoked I.S.. I've not actually smelled an Imperial Stout like this before so this is beginning to get exiting. It starts very rich and very sweet. I'm thinking this must be smoked now, because of the flavours. Either that, or aged in some Islay whisky casks! All the classic IS flavours are there too, shed loads of dried/charred fruits. It's big and boozy but it's also balanced. The finish is super bitter, and everything I really want from an Imperial Stout, but what are they like together??

Well, first things first... the coffee maker in me couldn't resist doing this!!:

Yes! That's your half and half right there. Your layered latte, read it and weep.

Now of course for anyone who buys a layered latte, the rule is you need to take at least 15 seconds to look at, and appreciate the latte before you stir it all up into a drink, otherwise your just an inconsiderate dick. So that's what I did before I stirred it up. This is what I was presented with afterwards, my own Yin & Yang half and half, Black & Tan:

I was really concerned about this to be honest. I really thought the massive flavours that you get with any Imperial Stout would completely crush and mask any flavours that would try to present themselves in an Imperial IPA, and I thought it would all be completely pointless.

Turns out I was rather wrong! The two blended perfectly together. You certainly got a big IIPA aroma which masked well, any flavours I got from the stout, like salty meats. It's also perfectly balanced, these two really do work together - it's clear a lot of thought has gone into this. I couldn't help but think though, like a couple of others had said to me,  that this was just really a great big Black IPA, and to be truthful, that really didn't bother me. What would you really expect from mixing these two styles? Would a Black IPA or an Imperial Black IPA be a bad outcome? I don't really think so. This was a fantastic experience. I've never had anything like this, so I'd love it if some other brewers tried a similar thing. The only question that is left unanswered is this: I have no idea about this brewery, and where they're from, so I just need someone to explain this to me (see bottom):

Saturday 20 August 2011

Craft, Keg, Cask, Bottle, Beer.... You get the picture.

This week I've been very fortunate to have been put up in London for a couple of days by my parents. (they went down to see some shows) And even though the hotel was rather lacking in quality, it made up for it by the fact it was right in the center of the city. So I had a couple of days to spend, and no shows to see, in a city which has recently gained some amazing new beer haunts.... so what to do.... what to do! I made sure I drew up some maps and battle plans the day before we left.

The plans were simple really. Go to the Cask, buy & drink some beer. Go to the Craft Beer Co, buy & drink some beer. Go to the Rake and Borough Market, buy & drink some beer. Go to the Euston Tap, buy & drink some beer. Simple really, and I had two days to do it in. (I suppose I did leave some space in there to eat and sleep too, just in case you were worried)

The Cask was the first up on our arrival day.

I had only been to this place once before - a couple of weeks previous in fact, after sloping off a little early from GBBF because it was so hot. The first time I was in I kept wondering "Why isn't this place called Cask & Keg" But who am I to stoke fires??

The Cask has only been operational for 2 years, but seems to have acquired quite a fair bit of notoriety and obvious fame already, for serving up some of the best beers money can buy - in 3 forms - cask keg & bottle.

The bar boasts 10 rotating cask lines and 14 rotating keg lines, and by my guessing eye, around 100-odd bottles to choose from. Your mainly going to find a selection from England, America, Belgium a few German...... and Mikkeller. (and maybe a hint of some others like NogneO, maybe)

The thing that really helps is the Beer bibles they hand out. Sure they give out generous tastings and descriptions, but rarely have I seen a menu on the bottled beer selection as vast and as informative as this: (it's a good 15mm thick)

I wasn't going mental on the first day, (apart from buying bottles to take away. Hey, buy 6 and get one "free" was a good deal in my eyes!) so only stuck to a few light halves. Half a Magic Rock Highwire on keg was first up to slake my thirst. Southern Tier IPA on keg was swiftly followed. Both were in perfect condition so I decided to indulge my inner Northerner and watch as they poured some cask with no sparkler. It was Darkstar Pale Ale, and even without a blessing from the plastic tip, it was still very tasty. We had a couple more, before tasting some keg Mikkeller Black, and deciding to hop to the Rake.

The Rake was only to be a passing visit unfortunately, it was getting really late and we only really stopped by for some Keg Schiehallion and some cask Marble Dobber. I would go back later the next day to buy some bottles, which included a very large, very interesting looking bottle of Sam Adams Chocolate Bock!

The morning and afternoon of day 2 was spent walking round London trying to sweat out some bad fajitas from the night before, and I was in no mood for some beer, until later in the evening that is, so lets move onto then!

Night 2 would be my night to the Craft Beer Co. (in honesty we had tried to go the night before, but they stop serving at 11 - sad face) It's an interesting place to try search out. I did get a couple few youths shouting my way, calling me some rough names under the sun whilst I walked up the street, I wasn't too fussed though, it wasn't a rough part of London by any means - and besides - insults just pass through me ;)

Once in through the door though, all the stresses, fears, aches and pains of the modern beer lover immediately melt of your shoulders from the sight your confronted with, and the warm, cosy surroundings which you know you'll be spending the next few hours in.

It's almost like the bar disappears over the horizon!

21 keg lines! 16 cask lines! Well over 100 bottles of amazing looking beers, most of which you've probably never heard of before. (many of which I hadn't - that's for sure) As I type I can hear some of the people in the back though, saying "O so what?? It's just 4 bars squished into one." and I can firmly say to the skeptics amongst you, jog on. Jog on to Craft I mean, and take in the experience for yourself, because that's what it is, an experience. I am truly envious for the people who can call this haunt their 'regular' - it seriously is like the GBBFs Bieres Sans Frontieres bar condensed down into a small building, with 16 British cask lines as well!

I didn't really get to grab my Ghost investigation jacket on for tonight though, it was pretty busy and the bar staff, whilst very informative about my choices of beer, didn't look like they wanted bothering with my little questions whislt there was many, many punters to serve. So for once, I just got my drink on, and get my drink on I did! If you've not had chance to visit this place before, and your making your way down to London anytime soon, make yourself a map. Trust me.

Day 3 was set aside for the Euston Tap, but unfortunately the time for my proposed visit never materialized sadly. This only means, though, that the next time I come down to London it will get special priority over all other drinking establishments before a beer even hits these lips, so till next time - I can wait.

So, in a brief little story, (missing out a few mishaps) that was my couple of days in London. What did I learn though?

Good beer shouldn't be judged by method of dispense, it should be judged by how good it is. I've always said it; stop thinking cask, stop thinking keg, don't even think craft or bottle - just think 'good' beer! Stick with that motto, and tell everyone else their stupid, and you'll always come out a winner - whatever beer you drink! Finally, London is bringing back it's incredible beer scene. If you've not checked it out recently - be ready! And last but not least.... boats with massive guns on them rule!

Beer - get out there and live it!

Wednesday 17 August 2011

My First and Last

So this will be my last bottle of my first full mash brew which I undertook with my good chum Gordon. It's safe to say Gordon knows how to make his beer, he's the head brewer for Elland after all, so I was sure I was in good hands.

Just for a refresher, it's about a 7% Red Rye Ale brewed with Jaggery, Marris Otter, Rye, Crystal Rye, Munich & Cara Red malts, and was hopped with Citra, Amarillo and Columbus at several different stages.

The brew day was undertaken with a few minor cock-ups, so I was a little concerned that the final product would be flawed, but I was in good fortunes, as I think it tastes GREAT!

I didn't get to be as outrageously flamboyant as I wanted to be with the design and look of the final package. I would have rather the bottles been brown, but you have to roll with what you've got. I also wanted to go completely over-board and wax seal the caps and necks with red wax and place a 'G' (for Ghost & Gordon) seal right on the top.... maybe it was for the best I didn't. So with the end of my first brew in sight, most of what was produced given to a lucky few, I can only look forward to brewing more beer.

I am however, probably going to be a lazy brewer, and probably insist that all my beers are made in collaboration with someone else. So if you want to make a beer, if no one else can help, and if you can find me, then maybe you can hire the Ghost (to make a beer with you)

.....I say hire, but I'll most likely buy all the raw materials in response to using your kit ;)

Sunday 14 August 2011

Another Cumbrian Brewery

No we're not talking about that one we all know and love.... we're talking about Jennings! Yes, Jennings.... remember them? Well you should, they make some fantastic beers. One only has to partake of some Sneck Lifter to be reminded of that.

Cocker Hoop is their 4.2% Golden Pale Ale. The name comes from, not just a take on the place of origin - Cockermouth - the "Gem town of Cumbria", but also the 'cock' (tap) and 'hoop' were parts of a beer barrel. The brewery also lies on the banks of the River Cocker, so take the meaning that suits you best. It's a delicious golden ale. Aromas of light drying straw and a touch of nuttiness spring forth from a rocky, chalky foam. A real thirst-quencher, it will refresh any. Light, slightly floral and with a nice malty character to remind you of those summer picnics by the riverside.

What slightly confuses me though is this: There seems (to me) to be a need of a few brewers to modernize everything about their beers apart form the beer itself.  I am speaking of course about the packaging. I think a few people are a bit too quick to make their beer labels and bottles more streamlined, more flashy, more shiny - to maybe appeal to the younger market? or just to revamp their brand? I don't know. Change is good if it's needed, but Jennings has been going since 1828 and I don't see signs of them slowing down, and change just for the sake of change I consider to be a pointless exercise. Especially if your beers used to look as good as this!:

I think this looks great. I don't know about anyone else, but the new one looks just a bit duff in comparison. I'm not talking about the beer though remember, just about the branding. I can be a little confident that the recipe has not changed, so I'd really like to know why the image of the beer has changed over time. Could it be possible that a few brewers are a little quick to change the branding of their beers without even considering how great they look already?

Take this for another example, it has been talked about before in the past by a few bloggers. Take a good look at the two, which do you think is better? I know for certain which one I would prefer to buy!

Maybe I'm just being a little too nostalgic, but I don't really care, I love being nostalgic! As I take my final sips of my Cocker Hoop, I will bring it back to Jennings. These pictures were taken from a well loved book from the shop:

Jennings Cocker Hoop is in there. So according to Michael Jackson it's a classic brew. And that's the end of discussion! You don't get to argue with that. Fact!

In our ever increasingly changing world, is new really going to be better in some cases? I know the recently refurbished Arndale center down the road from us is already turing into massive disaster in  my eyes. The new tiles are already chipped and broken, the white paving already covered in  graffiti and the night before. I don't know how long the old Arndale center stood, but I'm pretty sure it still would have outlived the new one!

My final thought would be this: sure you can change things, but make sure you bloody do it right!

Saturday 13 August 2011

St Austell Smugglers Grand Cru Ale

I think I speak for quite a few Leodensians when I say: We love St Austell Beers!

Recently we've just had a big flurry of new bottle offerings from the brewery, and in my opinion, I couldn't wait to get stuck into each one of them.

There's been the Proper Black IPA, the Cornish Bock and the Trelawny Ale. These three pale in comparison to the St Austell beer I will be significantly indulging in tonight though. I am Speaking of course of the St Austell 11.5% oak aged Smugglers Grand Cru Ale!

This beer is "brewed for strength" and is aged in a Tomintoul whisky casks for 9 months. It is then subject to the "methode Champagnoise" at the Carnel Vally Vineyard in Cornwall (Cornwall has it's own Vineyard???) If my knowledge of whiskies is correct, the Tomintoul Distillery is of the Speyside nature, and in theory should impart some light and slightly sweet flavours. However, the age of the cask used is not stated, and could easily impart a nice richness towards the beer, so this should be interesting. (If you want some really geeky info about the Tomintoul Distillery, it's the highest above sea level in the Speyside region....)

The beer definitely pours like a champagne beer, the massive white bubbly head quickly disappears after a few moments, but the carbonation lives on strong. (more to come on that point)
    The aromas are rather peculiar. Regular Smugglers Vintage ale (6%) comes across with lots of sweet caramel and rich toffee aromas, but this is far more boozy, a big whiff of alcohol masks any other flavours that's to be looked for in any kind of aroma. This is not a bad observation though, this is just an observation.

The consumption is a whole other kettle of Cornish fish! The hand-written numbers on the bottles for these individual beers tick many bases: Smooth, check. Rich, check. Fruity, check. Warming, check! This beer is bone dry, and very oaky. The  whisky flavours are very subtle and are quite hard to identify. Hints of subtle vanilla and huge baskets of raisins fill the mouth. It's the carbonation I have a problem with though. I really don't think the 'Methode Champagnoise' has done any favours for this beer. I believe it's become far too over-carbonated, and that masks a lot of the flavours which should be punching you in the face right now. But that's just my opinion, - I'm not a massive fan of over-carbonated beers, they sit a little too gassy, and I think it masks quite a bit of flavour. Stick with the Vintage Ales, stick with sticking it in specialist whisky barrels - but leave it at that! Unless your trying to be the next Deus of course :)

I really liked this beer for one specific reason. When I got a first whiff of it, and my first taste of the brew, it reminded me of a few Vintage Ales that I've drunk whilst camping on the Yorkshire moors. It's awesome how a beer can take you back to a place that you've loved and back to an experience that you cherish. This beer was only a glimpse though. I thought it was trying to do a bit too much. Get rid of the huge carbonation, and you'd have a beer for the ages! Maybe that could just be my impatience though? Carbonation dies down with age, so I'll buy me another and age it for a good few years!

St Austell - don't stop doing what your doing! I'm sure you wont, but can I suggest that you make some Imperial Cornish Stout next,.... just for me??.... Please??

Monday 8 August 2011

The Dark Night 3

Imperial Stout Wars

I get a lot of stick from a few people who say that I only like Imperial Stouts, that I only think it's the onle style of beer worth drinking. That they think I've burnt out my taste buds with the stuff...

Well they're pretty correct....

 I love Imperial Stouts, Fact. It's my favourite style of beer. I love drinking it, I love aging it. All those people who say "I love a good stout, but it can't beat a good IPA or Pilsner on a hot summers day!" - Bollocks! I would drink Imperial Stout all year round if I could.... oh wait, I can! Imperial stout in the depths of winter, Imperial Stout in the heat of summer! Call me crazy! I'm not bothered - I love the stuff. That's why it's a great pleasure tonight to try three new Imperial Stouts which I've never tried before from three different countries. Lets hope they can deliver!

First up: Murray's Craft Brewing Co. Wild Thing, 10% Imperial Stout.

This beer looks like a winner with a complete ink black pour. A huge aroma wood, oak, burnt to hell raisin, burnt chocolate and burnt coffee. I think I may have started with a beast here, even if it was the weakest. Hugely boozy, it's a little unbalanced with a bit too much alcohol being present. Really burnt flavours leaves it very bitter, but still very silky smooth. Very dark rum-esk with tonnes of dried fruit, it's pretty extreme, and actually, the first Imperial Stout I've had from Australia and a great one at that! My only thoughts is it could do with a bit more alcohol masking. (although as the beer warms up a bit it becomes a lot smoother and silkier making for an easier drink.)

De Molen Rasputin, 10.4% Imperial Stout.

The second Imperial Stout tonight comes from the Netherlands. This respectable brew (and brewery) is slightly browner than the last, and apparently will keep and improve with age for the next 25 years. (and I'm one of the few which will most definitely believe them!) De Molen are experts when it comes to making dark beers, some say the best on the planet, and who am I to argue. This beer comes across the nose with a big velvet like mocha aroma, with a sort of cold dairy creaminess. Immediately starts with a sweet rich fruitiness, full of malts, full of Saaz hops (giving a lighter character) - a real character full beer. No problems with this beer at all I could happily drink a few of these bad boys in a night!

Third Imperial Stout of the night: From Founders Brewing Co., 10.5%

This American bruiser comes in the strongest of the three (surprised?) and the flattest looking (but not darkest) of the lot. Big classic U.S. aromas of a proper Imperial Stout - big on the chocolate biscuit malts and big on the dairy qualities. This is a very different beast. Immediate tones of liqourice and a big rum raisin beefy alcohol. It's certainly a powerful brew, the biggest of the night, but there is something about it that slightly doesn't add up, the bitterness is slightly off (it is 90IBUs) which leaves it it a little unbalanced, but not like the first I.S. It certainly works, but is only slightly not to my tastes - the big bitterness leaves me slightly wanting.

Tonight has been fun. Trying three different Imperial Stouts from three different countries has been great. However, I firmly believe that Imperial Stout was conceived in this country and we know how to make it best. This is why I bought not only the previous 3, but plenty of these whilst down at the GBBF. It's not as great as when it was in corked bottles, but it still craps all over anything anyone else rivals against it - and you can take that to the bank!! London Imperial Stout rules!

That's a story for another day though.....

Thursday 4 August 2011

IPA Day & a Last Hurrah in Earls Court

It's been a very fun couple of days. With the Trade Day at GBBF on Tuesday and selling IPAs all day at Beer Ritz for IPA Day today, it's been a very beer geek friendly week indeed! Unfortunately I could not get down to Mr Foleys tonight for the IPA Day festivities as some last minute plan changes really scuppered my abilities to go out tonight - massive sad face. So I thought after I had taken care of some unwanted tasks, I thought I should really drink some big IPA to celebrate today at least. The IPA in question was one I bought from GBBF not two days ago.

It's IPA. It's Italian. It's called Grunge. Sounds good on paper.

It's from Birrificio Indipendente Elav, apparently, and it's a 6.3% stunner in a very impressive looking bottle.

The beer is very dark - dark amber brown - almost a black IPA. It has an impressive aroma (apparently it smells like beer spirit!) of bone dry straw, and a lot of rich fruit character. I'm thinking gin soaked raisins, or even vodka soaked raisins. It's certainly not your average IPA. But that's what I love about it - I know nothing about this beer, RateBeer couldn't even find it for me, and as I don't speak Italian, I'm only going off my own senses. (which is quite refreshing for once!)

Flavours are rich warming and intense. Loads of strong orange pith. Tonnes of boozy juiciness. A big malt backbone of biscuity flavour lurking about too. A really long lasting soft bitterness rounds off this beer into something that's quite special. It's only a shame that I have the one really.

It seems IPADay has gone off a massive hit around the globe. The number one reason this pleases me the most:... because it gives scope for an Imperial Stout day in the future! :D

Like I said before, I grabbed this beauty from the Trade Day at GBBF on Tuesday. This was my third (and probably final now it's moving) visit to Earls Court for the T.D. festivities.

I'm not sure the beer selection was as good as last year, but this year was made extra special to me for one reason only: The People! I've only been blogging and tweeting for under a year now, and in that short space of time I've managed to gain contacts and friends all over the beer geek world, and on Tuesday I finally got to shake hands with a great deal of them. I didn't think I'd manage to put them all down here, but hell, I'm going to give it a go! It was a pleasure to meet bloggers, tweeters, brewers and people I know already (for a drink) a plenty:

Evin from Kernel, Tandleman, Mark Dredge, Simon Johnson, Recently Drunk, Hardknott Dave, Hardknott Ann, Hardknott Sooty (there was a sweep there too!), Pete Brown & Pete Brown's Beer Widow, All the North Bar Crew, All the Arcadia Crew, Tom & Ol Fozzard (now of Roosters), Grove Brian, Foleys Dean, Zak Avery & Beth (of course!), Rabid Bar Fly (of the Rake), Mike & Ros of the Fox&Newt, Alex from Wensleydale Brewery, Andy Mogg, Hopzine's Rob D., Brewdog's Josie & Mr Frosty. Great to see you guys for great beers!

A couple of people I saw but didn't get a chance to speak too: Melissa Cole, The Ilkley Crew, Doug Odell and the brewer from De Molen. It would have been nice to share some beer with you guys.

If I missed anyone out, I'm sorry, but it's a big list!

It was a fantastic day, just as I'm sure IPADay was for many people today. The GBBF will always be an epic few days, no matter what anyone says about it.... although I have no idea about this beer....

Much progress Is under way in the beer world these days. One can only hope that it keeps up, because as we all know.... beer is great! Long may it prosper!

So, a massive cheers then! Not only to GBBF, but also to IPADay. Drink up Beer lovers :D

Monday 1 August 2011

August Wikio Rankings

Now Neil has already done a good write up of the August Wikio rankings, but I also asked Neila from Wikio if I could do something a little different as well this month.

I enjoy the Wikio rankings, not only because their pretty darn fun, but because it gives many readers an idea of who's writing the good stuff each month. I also think that there's so many people writing great things for beer these days that the top twenty just doesn't cut it any more for a round up and preview.

So I asked Neila if I could present for the first time, (and from now on something that should become commonplace each month) something that happens on the US Wikio rankings:

The top 30 Beer and Wine Bloggers in the UK!

1Pencil & Spoon
2Pete Brown's Blog
4Woolpack Dave's beer and stuff blog
5Beer Reviews
6Bibendum Wine
7Master Brewer at Adnams
8Drinking Outside The Box
9Ghost Drinker
10The Pub Curmudgeon
11Raising the Bar
12Are You Tasting the Pith?
13Rabid About Beer
14the beer monkey
16Tandleman's Beer Blog
17The Wine Conversation
18Eating isn't cheating
20Called to the bar
21Beer. Birra. Bier.
22The Bottled Beer Year
23Thornbridge Brewers' Blog
24Shut up about Barclay Perkins
25Liv-ex Fine Wine Market Blog
26Beer Beauty
27Real Brewing at the Sharp End
28Taking the beard out of beer!
29The BeerCast
30The Whisky Exchange BLOG

This is how I think the rankings should be presented from now on, I don't know about you, but the more people's views we can get out there the better for great drinks everywhere. And who knows, maybe in a few months time we'll have to change it to the top 40!