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

Sunday 29 December 2013

Golden Pints 2013

No muss, no fuss, nothing funny, clever or angry.. just the facts, the cold hard facts this year.

Best UK cask beer - Any Single Hop beer from Mallinsons

Best UK keg beer - Beavertown Black Betty BIPA

Best UK bottled or canned beer - Kirkstall Dissolution Extra IPA

Best Overseas draught beer - Victory Ranch DIPA

Best Overseas bottled or canned beer - Dieu du Ciel Peche Mortel

Best Collaboration brew - Wild Beer Co/Burning Skies/Good George - Shnoodlepip

Best Overall beer - Based on what I've drunk the most, I'll say Ilkey Lotus IPA

Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label - Partizan, for you know what...

Best UK brewery - Ilkley

Best Overseas brewery - Founders

Best new brewery opening 2013 - SIREN

Best new pub/bar opening in 2013 - Kirkstall Bridge (Leeds)

Beer festival of the year - Friends of Ham Tipi beer extravaganza (at Leeds Beer Festival)

Supermarket of the year - Morrisons

Independent Retailer of the year - Beer Ritz (cos we are...)

Online Retailer of the year - Beer Ritz (cos we always were, since the beginning..)

Best beer book or magazine - Melissa Cole 'Let me tell you about beer'

Best blog or website - Enormous Face 

Best beer app - What's a beer app?

Simon Johnson award for best twitter account - RedWell (@Redwellbeer) brewery for their Red Bull defence this year.

Best brewery website - Tiny Rebel

Food and beer pairing of the year - Marble Dobber and Fairy Cakes

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 25

Christmas Day.. it's been a long month so far!

Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Kaiser - In a boot...

Today's not a day for tasting notes, it's a day for celebration.. This is my beer and I'm going to drink it with the family.

Merry Christmas all!

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 24

So it is that Christmas is nearly upon us, and what sort of beer advent calendar would this be without a little visit from an old friend...

The Kernel! - Summit Chinook IPA - 7.3%

A punnet powerhouse of glorious summer fruits. Totally tropical too, juicy peaches blend with ripened mangos with just a spicing of caramel cake.. I could wax lyrical about the aroma, but it's Christmas eve and I wanna get stuck into the drink!

Plenty of juicy fruits yes but this beer also displays a fierce amount of malt and surrounding body - a beer with proper heart, not just all scented talk.. Warming alcohol and yeasty spice in the finish, it has the whole package.

What lots of IPAs wish they were!

'nuff said.

Monday 23 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 23

Can you have too much flavour in a beer?

Durham - Bede's Chalice - 9%

The aroma on this beer is so big it made me choke a little when it got right to the back of my nose! Orange liqueur and watermelon are huge here, but the incredible amount of spice is almost overwhelming... bananas and caramel with a very floral scent, peaches and lychee too, but that spice, bloody heck that smells good!

The carbonation in this beer is huge but strangely it really doesn't detract from the flavour. Sure it gives the beer a a big foaming action which completely fills the mouth, but it's not a super charged CO2 flavour which far too often puts me off a Belgian style beer. It's absolutely packed to the rafters with fruit flavour leading from the aroma. It's the finish that displays the big hit of spice and warming booze hit, but strangely the fruit comes back again making it almost tropical.. Double dose, ninja finish!

Super good beer, I'd love to try this when it's had a few years on it...

Sunday 22 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 22

You'd think I could get tired of drinking Imperial Stouts... You'd be wrong

Harviestoun Ola Dubh 30th anniversary - 8%

Pouring flat obviously from spending quite some time in a 30 year old Highland Park whisky cask, aromas are pretty full on. Dark chocolates and espresso, sweet caramel and a little honey, treacle and liquorice, vanilla and oats with some oak creeping in too.

This is a beautiful complex beer. Hell, it's just beautiful full stop! It's an intensely rich and sweet beer, a brew that could be paired with the finest deserts available. Sweet caramel and melted brown sugar put upon dark and dairy chocolate. The finish provides just enough warming alcohol to give you a merry sensation without being overpowering. It's a perfectly balanced beer and SO drinkable it's impossible to put down!

I feel quite privilaged and thankful to Harviestoun for sending me a couple of these..

Saturday 21 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 21

It's been a big day, so I need a big beer!

St Austell Brewery - Big Job IPA - 7.2%

Bigger brother of their 'Proper Job' IPA this beast has glorious aromas of grapefruit and lemon sherbet.. the Centennial and Citra hops obviously doing their magic right now. Don't forget about the Cascade and Nugget hops either, it's got big names behind the hop agenda. All these big ingredients clearly lead to a big fruity smell... some grapes, lemon, a little pear, peach and mango.

It's got a great flavour to it. Juicy and fruity just like the nose would suggest but there is also a little hint of some dandelion spice which fills out the body and finish nicely. Bittersweet brew with a finish which belies it's true strength.. it's gone before you know it! Slightly bready with thoughts of straw and wet hay creeping in too, after a very busy day it's certainly doing the job of restoring this ghost!

Like I've said before, Go big of go home!

Friday 20 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 20

Another night, another Imperial Stout, this time on location! Coming to you from my favourite local, Arcadia...

Black Sheep Imperial Stout (cask) - 7.5%

Aromas consist of dark toffee mixed with hazelnuts. Plenty of dark chocolates and roasted coffee too... creeping in the back is a noticeable hit of vanilla with overlying floral tones.

The body itself is quite sweet - plenty of honeycomb alongside the big nutty character which is very prominent in the finish. There is also some treacle and molasses in the body which is complimented by a big woody aspect, the vanilla and wet oak coming back in here.

I first tried this a couple of years back, as a one off back then. It's great to see it's now become a winter seasonal special, very good beer indeed!

Thursday 19 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 19

Another day, another Imperial Stout..

Brewdog Old World Imperial Stout - 9.5%

Pouring thick and dark, the brew has a decadent aroma of chocolate malts, vanilla and toffee ice cream, some lactose, dark chocolate covered raisins, a touch of oak and sulphur, leather and treacle with faint hints of dark cherry skins lurking in the depths.

It's thick and creamy in the mouthfeel but the most evident thing about the flavour is the huge amount of roasted bitterness you get in the body and finish. It's a very woody beer, pine and oak are the main culprits. Drying and earthy with plenty of toffee malt flavour and creamy roasted coffee notes. A tiny bit of charcoal and sun bleached leather mixed with the formidable force of burning rubber - these are the things you want in your Imperial Stout.

If there's one thing Brewdog are very adept at it's making dark beers, and this one doesn't miss the mark. Props should also go to Johanna Basford for the excellent label artwork.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 18

One week to go folks!

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout - 10.2%

I first tried this brew last year, and what a beast of a beer it was! Still just as great too... Luscious aromas of freshly ground coffee are complimented by the finest dark chocolates, burnt rye toast and very dry dates, it's almost sinful! Bonfire toffee and treacle also complement this jet black beer with subtle hints of liquorice backing up the nose.

The beer itself is magnificently smooth and quite sweet in the main body. Dark plum skins and cherries provide a very fruity feel with burnt brown sugars and caramalized chocolate malts. It's the finish where a roasted bitterness comes through with the charred liquorice and burnt toast. You're left with the faint warming hit of the (well hidden) 10.2% that wonderfully lifts the spirits.

For a brewery that's much more well known for it's hoppy pale ales, it's beers like this that give you the firm confidence that Sierra Nevada could never make a bad beer!

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 17

Tonight's brewery has really impressed me over the past few months. With a re-brand and a new wave of really great beers I can see them stealing shelf space at the shop for some time to come..

Arbor Yakima Valley IPA - 7%

The aroma is floral and fruity. Grapefruits with orange and lemon. A little sherbet and just a very mild hint of earthy spice.

It's big in the flavour, but it's very (and dangerously) quaff-able for 7%! Drying and bitter, it would probably go down a hell of a lot better on a sunny Sunday afternoon instead of a bleak winters night. There's apricot and a little melon, dry straw and an orange rind tang which lingers long into the deep finish.

Great beer, great new branding, looking forward to more of Arbor's offerings in the future!

Monday 16 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 16

The brewery on day 16 is probably better know for one of it's other beers, but that doesn't take anything away from this one...

Bell's Third Coast Old Ale - 10.2%

Classic big American 'in your face' aroma... While many English old ales would be a little dusty round the edges this beer is much more like a suped up barley wine in the aroma. Lot's of boozy sweet caramels, brown sugars melted and poured over warm raisins, dates and roasted bananas, toffee and a little hazelnut, a little rye toast and shades of barbecue creeping in the back. Complex? No doubt!

Really not as sweet as I thought it would be. Woody, earthy with burnt leather notes, it's certainly an ale to be sipped, I'm not going to though... Some slight sweetness comes in the finish in the way of burnt toffee, and while the alcohol is there it doesn't feel as strong as it is. A little pine and beech wood, the flavour lingers in the mouth, quality beer indeed.

I do feel Americans need to discover the difference between Old Ale and Barley Wine though...

Sunday 15 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 15

Day 15 sees the first collaborative brew in the list..

Harbor & Bristol Beer Factory & Arbor - La Trippale - 8.5%

It's basically a big hoppy American style IPA meets a Belgian Triple. The aroma is pretty huge to be fair! Massive amount of peach and mango flesh, green apple skins and a little strawberry mixing with the peppery spice.

It's incredibly juicy to begin with in the body. Fruits carrying on from the aroma dominate the palate and give a very vibrant and fresh fruit salad flavour. This is complimented by a big dose of caramel sweetness in the malty backbone - a perfect pairing if there ever was one! The finish then brings out the big Belgian character to the beer. Lot's of drying spices and dusty hay, plus a perfect amount of carbonation to lift the alcohol giving you a pleasantly warming finish.

Hits all the bases/sweet spots/good points... Three brewers, one great beer.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 14

Sometimes you just gotta say "what the hell..."

Ska Minthe Stout - Stout made with milk sugar, peppermint, spearmint, cocoa and vanilla beans... hmmm..

Well it smells like After Eight mints.. nothing more, nothing less. I can see some people liking that, I personally love After Eights so this is a pleasing aroma, but is it what I want in a beer?

Initially it tastes just like the liquidated mints - full of dark chocolate and vanilla with all the mint character working quite well. This disappointingly disappears in the finish though. It ends up being a little thin and leaving you with the "what was that then?" feeling. If it only followed through at the end I could see myself enjoying this beer but I have to say it falls at the finish unfortunately..

Still, a very interesting beer and a must try if you're looking for something different.

Friday 13 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 13

Passing the half way point folks!

We've been really, really impressed with the offerings coming from Siren Brewery lately. If you've tried any beers from this brewery then you'll know why...

Siren Soundwave IPA - 5.6%

Talk about a juicy smelling IPA! That classic tropical fruit aroma which is becoming quite common in the new wave of British IPAs - all the better for it too. Peaches, mangos and a little honeycomb. Some earthy caramel and grapefruit and a lot of hoppy resins.

Absolutely packed full of flavour, but it's not in your face about it - it's a deliciously drinkable beer. Big on the orange rind in the body leading to a juicy bitterness. Sweet peach flesh in the beginning leading to an earthy resin in finish - Lush!

It's also named after a bad ass Transformer! Soundwave superior, other beer inferior!!

Thursday 12 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 12

A few months back I wrote a post about how it's not really acceptable (in my view) to have nudity on your branding, in any sort of form.. While the post did heavily focus on one brewery in particular, some said unfairly so, I didn't think I was too harsh in my thoughts..

Turns out that brewer was listening....

Partizan Amarillo Saison - 7.2%

The aroma is big on the clementines and lemons. Very floral too with shades of that Belgian yeasty spice. A little grapefruit flavoured bubble gum and a little wet straw - positively summer like!

While it looks like it will deliver a hefty carbonation the body is quite subdued (certainly not flat at any rate though!) Strongly leaning towards the green fruits, slightly tart green apple skins, it makes for a very drying and very quenching beer indeed. This is certainly a case of Belgium meets London, you can see both sides of the beer world and how they meet in a great balance in the bottle...

But what of the label?

Take a look for yourselves...

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 11

Day 11 rolls around and it's time for a Black IPA..

Buxton Imperial Black - 7.5%

Now this beer has the aroma of a regular IPA! It's a tropical fruit explosion.. Peaches, mangos and grapefruit, lychee and lemon with just a pinch of black pepper and carafa malts creeping in too.

The taste is light and refreshing but jam packed full of flavour at the same time. Jam is probably the right word to use too, I'm getting a lot of black current and blackberry jam mixed with the tropical fruits, which is slightly dominated by a big helping of peaches and cream. Most BIPAs fail to deliver in the sense of fooling people into believing they're drinking a regular IPA but I think this one is the best example in store..

Buxton are flying at the moment, and rightly so! Some people moaned when they switched from 50cl to 33cl bottles - but this was only because they wanted bigger servings of the beer, I'm not seeing that as a bad thing, it sounds more like a compliment to me... I can honestly say that the re-brand looks fantastic too.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 10

Day 10 deserves special mention, not just because It's my favourite UK brewery, but they've also busted their backs bringing out a new selection of incredible beers this year and should be praised for it.

The Ilkley Brewery - Lotus IPA - 5.6%

This is probably my top -go to- IPA when I'm in the mood for hops. Orange like malt, grassy citrus freshness and a straw dryness all are evident in the aroma. There's a lot of fruit too, plenty of peach and mango come to mind...

It's a bittersweet beauty from the get go. Candy floss balanced with bitter apricots, it hits all the good spots. Floral and smooth with a very gentle spice in the finish. The thing that gets me about this beer is that it's subtle, but not bland. It doesn't vie for your attention or shout and scream at your tastebuds, it gets it's point across quietly, respectfully and most importantly gratifyingly.

Big, Bold, Modest and quintessentially Yorkshire.

Monday 9 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 9

Day 9! Time to get a little bit weird...

Beavertown Alpha Series Uncle Joe - Russian Kvass - 3.9%

Let's just say I've not heard or know anything about this beer, so it's a bit of a blind one. The aroma is quite unusual, but not displeasing. Bananas and cream, peach skins, gooseberry, dried apricots and a big vegetal note.

Well from the looks of things what I've got here is a Berliner Weisse beer (I'm not familiar with Kvass)... Immediately sour and puckering. Tart, dry and earthy with the big focus on the vegetal notes once again. A little salt and acidic tones amongst some vinegar. Caramelized red cherries and a lot of lemon acidity and granny smith apple skins - weird, but I can dig it!

Since Beavertown came in this year their Gamma Ray and Black Betty have been firm fan favourites at the shop, and props to the guys from creating experimental beers like this.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 8

I'll jump straight into this one, as It's a beast of a beer!

Liefmans Goudenband - 8%

This beer has an allure of obscene delectability about it, ...smells pretty darn good too! The aroma is just one big black forest gateau, dark cherries and plums, dates and raisins, oak and polish with just a hint of nuttiness in the background.

The flavour is immediate and amazing. I'm not sure any other aged Belgian browns come close to this one.. Initially sweet, brown sugars, vanilla and a little wet oak. This then moves to the tart fruit aspects which are incredibly refreshing.. Dark cherries and unripe plums once again, it also has a sort of balsamic note going on too. The finish is drying, earthy and very smooth, it's a real treat for the senses.

Complex? You're damn right!

Saturday 7 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 7

Beer tasting on Location tonight, sharing a drop or two with @Juffage in Beer Rizzle.

It's Stone..

17th Anniversary IPA - Gotterdammerung (answers on a postcard...) - 9.5%

Aromas - Sherbet, peach and honey - rather subtle too, I guess that's all the German ingredients..

This beer is a real mystery to me. It's almost 10%, but it seriously drinks like a 3% beer! I'm not sure if it's me, but this is nothing like a stone beer.. it's too subtle! This isn't a bad thing mind, heck no, it's nice to see them make something that doesn't strip your taste buds off. I still can't find much to say about it though.. I'm just going to enjoy it with a colleague... More sculptured tasting notes tomorrow.


Friday 6 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 6

Another welcome addition that we've had to our shelves in the past couple of months is the recent bottle offerings from Kirkstall Brewery, and believe me when I say, it's a difficult beer to keep on the shelves!

Kirkstall Dissolution Extra IPA - 6%

A big fruity aroma for an IPA.. Oranges, mangos and peach skins.. I don't get much more than that, but what more do you really want??

This beer is a true masterpiece, plain and simple. I've never tried a beer from the bottle like this, which tastes almost (if not) identical to a beer straight from a cask. You might have as well poured it straight from the fermenter for me! The texture of the body is so smooth, I'm surprised there isn't a sparkler on the end of my bottle..
It's all peaches and cream, malt cereals and mangos with a touch of yeasty spice. It's the finish that really gets you mind. A perfect mix of bitter and spice masking the alcohol, leaving your mouth in an almost parched state, ready and wanting more...

Good job it comes in a big bottle!

Thursday 5 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 5

Flying Dog have always been a great brewery, you don't need me to tell you that, but I have a special sweet spot for tonight's beer. The reason behind this is because it was the first beer I drank from my first visit to UtoBeer in London. Very fun times were had on that trip as Zak Avery can attest!

Tonight's beer: Flying Dog Horn Dog Barley Wine - 10.2%

It has the colour you'd want from a Barley Wine - Dark caramel, and the aroma's not too far from that either. Among the dark caramels and sweet toffees there's quite a bit of red berries mixed in with a mineral quality overlying with strawberry and black current jam.

It's a powerhouse of a beer in the initial body. Super sweet malts and caramelized brown sugars. It's packed with lively forest fruits and some earthy honey tones. This flavour initially dies away surprisingly in the finish, but then the big alcohol bite draws the sweetness back up your throat somehow giving you a second blast of flavour.

Go big or go home as the saying goes...

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 4

The Wild Beer Co were a welcome addition to our shelves this year. What started out as a regular supply of Pale Ales and IPAs quickly moved into bottles of more unusual bottle offerings, one of the best being supped tonight.

The Wild Beer Co - Modus Operandi - 7%

Take an old ale, oak age it for 90 days and then add lots of wild yeast.. What do you end up with? A beer with an unbelievable complexity! Aromas are comprised of various elements; dark cherry skins, cocoa, wet oak, yeasty funk, a little mineral/slate like quality, some caramel malts and strangely some banana and nut.

The body of the beer is very dry and earthy, like really dry! Loads of oak and subsequent vanilla. Dark cherry stones now with a citrus tang and a yeasty, dough like vegetal note. Not a beer for the faint of heart, but persevere with it and it continues to change and evolve as it warms becoming ever more intriguing.

Champion beer.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 3

I always like suppin a bottle of Lagunitas. Dark or light, their beers have always been a particular joy to drink... It makes me miss the times a couple of years back when we could get them in the shop.

Tonight I go with the standard (anything but standard) IPA - 6.2%

The aroma is a full on fruit cocktail, exploding with a vibrance and freshness of a fruit plantation. Mangos, grapefruits, orange and lemon, some pineapple and brown sugar coated lychee - it's got a lot going for it.

This is a dangerously drinkable IPA. So juicy, so refreshing it's SO easy to forget this is 6.2%... The lovely bittersweet body is backed up by a strange mix of sweet brown sugars, a lot of fruit skin pith and a little mineral quality in the finish - however they do it, it works!

And just like that, it's gone! What a beer. What a brewery.

Monday 2 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 2

Day two, probably time for something at least a little festive...

Time to try Mack in Black from Holy Mackerel brew co - An Imperial Black ale fermented with pomegranate juice! - 8%

If it sounds like it'll be a strange beer, well that's because it is.. There's so much going on in the aroma it's quite hard to pin point individual flavours. Fruit juices poured over sweet caramels and dark chocolate. Dark cherry flesh, fresh cereals and a hint of lactose.

The beer itself is made more intriguing by the use of Belgian yeast used in fermentation. It's certainly a lively catch (do you see what I did there!!!) but most of the Belgian character is drowned out by an immense forest fruit character - think Imperial Stout blended with a touch of Belgian fruit beer (something which is a fantastic concoction!) For a beer that I've never heard of, from a brewery whom I've never heard of, this is an absolute gem of a find and something that I'd definitely try again. "Winter seasonal"? I'd happily drink this in summer...

I hope to be just as pleasantly surprised tomorrow on day three...

Sunday 1 December 2013

Beer Advent Calendar - Day 1

Forget a chocolate advent calendar, I'm having a beer one!

25 days. 25 beers that I've been meaning to get down my thoughts about... Should be fun!

Day one begins with Weyerbacher Old Heathen Imperial Stout - 8%

One of the less intense Imperial Stouts from the USA with aromas hazelnut, cocoa, dark chocolate covered raisins, a whiff of vanilla and a little earthy quality. It's not as thick in the mouth feel as the intensely black pour would suggest.. This is no slouch when it comes to packing in the flavour though - it's a roasted beast of a beer! Burnt oak bark, singed malt ears with toffee and caramel after tones. It's rather sweet in the finish making it very drinkable, and very pleasant too!

Great way to start the list if I do say so..