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    Wednesday, 28 January 2009

    Welcome Back Quaffale

    Some time ago, I reported that Quaffale had been removed from the internet. For those of you who had no idea what this website was about, you couldn't, of course, go and have a look to see what the fuss was about.

    Well, I'm pleased to be able to report it's back. Go and have a look and discover all you need to know about British breweries, both those in existance now and forthcoming ones. What Rick Pickup doesn't know about future breweries isn't worth knowing.

    Friday, 23 January 2009

    Why Is There A Champion Winter Beer?

    Oakham Atilla has been crowned Champion Winter Beer Of Britain at The National Winter Ales Festival.

    Well done Oakham say I, although I'm calling for this competition to be scrapped and the Champion Beer Of Britain judging in August to include all styles of beer. The only time I've had the beer was in October 2004 at The Bedford Beer Festival which it could be argued is the Winter although I'm not convinced. Looking at the other ratings on RateBeer most people on there drank it in the Autumn or even the Summer, so although it the type of beer that just doesn't see the light of day at GBBF, it's probably inaccurate to call it a "winter beer", so even the name of the competition is folly.

    The categories which are judged at NWAF are old ales and strong milds; porters; stouts and barley wines. Any beers fulfilling these categories struggle to gain floor space at Earls Court, instead being showcased in Manchester. I really cannot agree with these beers being described and judged as Winter beers. I'd like to see them available all year round, but CAMRA calling them and judging them as such is not helpful to the necessary promotion of these styles.

    So CAMRA, by all means have a huge beer festival in the North at this time of year, but let both festivals have the best of all British beers and just have the one big best beer of Britain competition.

    Wednesday, 21 January 2009

    Portman Group Being Prats Again

    The ridiculous Portman Group are up to their old tricks.

    Admittedly the BrewDog boys don't shy from a fight and maybe they shouldn't provoke the poor loves so much, but when are the old fuddy duddies going to get a sense of humour? It may be time to all a truce now. Sit down, have a bottle of Speedball together, admit there is no harm in labelling beer in this way, and reach the final conclusion that actually the group are a waste of space and money and disband.

    Job done - I should work for ACAS

    Searching For Dogbolter

    Oh dear. Poor old Ken Clark. I do hope he doesn't walk too many miles looking for his favourite beer which hasn't been brewed for many years. I'm sure he's fully aware of its demise unlike the typically ignorant journalist.

    Mind you it was definitely my favourite beer that the defunct Firkin chain brewed so I do admire Ken's taste.

    Friday, 16 January 2009

    It's Dark

    I don't know which is worse: the bar person who warns you that the mild you've just ordered is dark, or the bar person who pulls the mild and then says "ooh that's dark isn't it?"

    Person number one is perhaps trying to be helpful, but I don't need warning thanks. I usually associate mild with darkness and I'm not frightened by a bit of colour.

    Person number two should know his product. Pulling a beer for a customer shouldn't be the time they discover what that beer actually looks like.

    Maybe I'm a moody old git but both these scenarios wind me up.

    Tuesday, 13 January 2009

    Down The Pub On A Quiet Monday

    I went to the pub last night for a CAMRA meeting. It's a pub I've not been to before more's the pity as I liked it, and the two pints I had were more than acceptable. Sadly I was the nominated driver or else I would have drank more.

    Apparently this particular pub, like so many, is struggling a little and I fear for its future.

    It's interesting to see the regulars faces when a group of strangers enter their pub, and although my experiences have always been positive, I think there's a certain suspicion as to what we are doing on their territory.

    Similarly I take great interest in looking at the regulars and wondering what brings them to the pub on a Monday night. There's usually an interesting character or two on the quieter evenings; last night there was a man wearing a bowler hat which must have been two foot high. Thanks to The Beer Nut for spotting my error. It was, as the picture suggests, a TOP HAT.

    People watching down the pub is always fun.

    Friday, 9 January 2009

    Beers Of 2008

    I've updated the left hand column with my Beers of 2008. It's excellent that an English microbrewed stout Old Chimneys Good King Henry turned out to be beer of the year. I had the beer at the excellent Merton Winter Beer Festival; this year's is only four weeks away and is promising a agood list already.

    The stout isn't quite as good as its elder brother the special reserve, but is truly wonderful, with roasty, fruity flavours and a bit of rich soy. The finish goes on forever.

    One thing which was apparent when going through my notes was the low showing for new beers from Belgium and Germany. It would be nice to rectify that this year.

    Black IPA And Other Projects

    Following hot on the heels of IPA And Black, we have the latest update on the BrewDog Black IPA they will be brewing. In case anyone is interested I have voted for Ginseng and dry hopping.

    It's going to be a busy year for BrewDog as far as brewing IPAs is concerned. The project to brew a 19th Century IPA and age it as sea is moving on apace, and is looking very intriguing.

    Britain needs more innovative brewers and these boys are certainly delivering. More power to their elbows.

    Tuesday, 6 January 2009

    IPA And Black

    The 99 pence Greene King IPA is, as expected, shifting like hotcakes in Wetherspoons establishments. No one knows how to shift cheap beer as well as JDW; their client base is well used to bargains and this is the bargain of all bargains.

    It's no surprise it's selling so well. People are always looking to save money and if you're undiscriminating about what you drink then you'll part with a pound for an average pint and a penny piece back.

    I'm amused though at stories of people adding blackcurrant to their pints. This is presumably evidence of not liking the stuff in the first place and buying it merely because it is cheap. Surely that's a step too far. Save money if you like on substandard products, but don't buy the stuff if you don't like it. That's just ridiculous.

    Sunday, 4 January 2009

    Beer Of The Month - December 2008

    December truly was a quiet month for new beers partly for the reasons mentioned yesterday. In total just 35 new beers passed my lips, nicely balanced between cask ales and bottled stuff.

    The first cask ale worthy of mention was Wooden Hand Black Pearl. I've not been impressed by the previous beers I've had from this Cornish micro, but this was a nice salty, smoky stout. Following that came Adnams Explorer, the second beautifully hopped Adnams beer I've had in a row after the bottled beauty that was Innovation. This beer has Columbus and Chinook, but these are quite delicately used, and give more of an impression of a well hopped English style beer than an American hop bomb. The third good cask beer was Quercus QB found in The Romany in Northampton whilst delivering our branch newsletter. This is a pub I must get to more often if they are going to come up trumps not only with great beers but also with new breweries for me. As for the beer, it was a dark malty full flavored beer with chocolate, caramel, coffee, bread and fruit in the mouth and nose. Fourth and finally came Great Oakley Santa's Yuletide Log, this year's Christmas offering from my local brewer. This exceeded expectations with roasty flavors, as well as sourness and a great late bitterness. And yes, it had that chocolate finish we were promised. I had it twice during the month and it was excellent both times, and is a worthy cask beer of the month.

    As for the bottles, two really stood out and they were both from Danish brewer Mikkeller: Stateside India Pale Ale is full of juicy citric hoppiness. Flavours of oranges and lychees abound on the tongue. It really was a fruity bitter number which I am pleased still to have another of. Still good but not quite as good was All Others Pale. This slightly less strong beer is still very hoppy, but this time they are more piney. Also very tasty and well brewed as I have come to expect from Mikkel.

    It was a close call, but Stateside just beats Santa's Yuletide Log as overall beer of the month, maybe I'll get to try the latter again before it all runs out?

    Saturday, 3 January 2009

    That Was That Then

    So Christmas and New Year are well and truly over; I was back at work yesterday and now need to resurrect the blog.

    So how was it for you? I had the lurgy, and together with sleep deprived nights, my time wasn't as good as I'd have hoped. I didn't intend on getting drunk each day, but I certainly intended to drink more beer than I managed. I should have known something was wrong when two new beers I tried: BrewDog Hardcore IPA and Nice Chouffe. although good did not live up to expectations. However it was proven to me that my palate wasn't all it should be when old favourites Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and BrewDog Punk IPA didn't taste as excellent as ever.

    Thankfully things were a bit better by new year, and my beer choices Mikkeller All Others Pale, and Fullers Vintage Ale 2006 were both great beers.

    I hope you all had a great festive season and imbibed sensibly. I'm looking forward to trying plenty of new stuff this year, but also revisiting more old favourites. I must spend more time in the pub too.