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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Totally Trashed - BrewDog Trashy Blonde




I've always followed the rule "If it's not broken don't fix it" Trashy Blonde brewed by the rather enthusiastic Brew Dog team is a pretty good beer anyway, OK it's 4.1% ABV but I can forgive them for that. I have been an avid follower of this brewery since I became aware of their existence at Beer Exposed back in 2008, great beer event, shame the organisers never got to do another.

So the guys north of the border have decided to give this beer a makeover, so I got myself a bottle of each and did the taste test. I found the current Trashy Blonde had an herbal and biscuity aroma, with a hint of lemon and thyme or is it Passion Fruit and a malt background reminiscent of butterscotch. You can tell it’s an English beer you could even mistake it as a best bitter, full-bodied and very dry in the finish and very drinkable. It's defiantly in my session beer category.

The possible successor the prototype the first thing I noticed was it was slightly darker, could be my eyes still recovering from Christmas. It definitely is much hoppier which I prefer and yes the Passion Fruit and Citrus still comes through also you could pick up the yeast more and still get the dry bitter finish. You know what  this reminds me of a few Belgian Blonds I've drunk recently yes this version is very Belgian in indeed.

I also read that the name will be changed to Euro Trash! Will we see Pepe and Popo or even Jean-Paul Gaultier promoting the beer with a topless German Blond! Could the Belgian influence I'm picking up and the name change be the beginning of a European influence..............whatever it is I'll have some.

Wikio

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Golden Pint Awards - 2010




So many great beers I've tasted this year, what a year!  This list I have had to amend 5 times! OK this is it…..and the Winners are

Best UK Draught Beer – Redemption brewery Pale Ale

Best UK Bottled Beer – Brew Dog Punk IPA

Best Overseas Draught Beer – Rouge Brutal Bitter

Best Overseas Bottled Beer – Daas Blond

Best Overall Beer – Thornbridge Jaipur (No Surprise)

Best Pumpclip or Label – Grain Brewery All Beers

Best UK Brewery – Thornbridge

Best Overseas Brewery – Nøgne ø

Pub/Bar of the Year – Rake

Beer Festival of the Year – GBBF

Supermarket of the Year – Waitrose

Independent Retailer of the Year – Kris Wines (Camden)

Online Retailer of the Year – My Brewery Tap

Best Beer Book or Magazine – not found one yet…

Best Beer Twitterer – @PeteBrownBeer

Best Brewery Online – Brew Dog

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year – Mont St Aubert and Prawn Curry mmmm

In 2011 I’d Most Like To… – Visit GABF, Visit Coedo Brewery Japan

Open Category: – Best new brewery – Kernel Brewery


Wikio

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Stockholm Beer Festival 2010













Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit the Stockholm beer and whiskey festival as part of the UKTI mission to promote British beers in Sweden. I jumped at the chance as a friend of mine attended it last year and all we heard for several months was how good it was and how he had such a good time.

Like most cities during a festival or trade fair it’s a nightmare finding accommodation and if you do your paying through your nose, the list of hotels the UKTI gave me were located in the equivalent of London Mayfair. So no guessing quickly done my own Google search.

Discovered The Red Boat, yep a boat moored within walking distance of the Gamla Stan the old town, the most wonderful views across old and new Stockholm and at a bargain price. Great result and I was even given the Captain’s quarters which has a large wheel which thankfully did not control the ship.
Discovered several pubs on Södermalm walking distance from the boat and they all stocked a huge range of beers from all over the globe, I was well impressed as I’ve not seen such a selection over here. If your going to Stockholm then I do recommend a pub called Oliver Twist near the Central Train Station on Repslagargatan, you will not be disappointed.

The UKTI had organised this place as a pre show get together and laid out drinks and a meal for us plus i got a chance to meet the brewers from the UK who had come over to promote their beers. I won’t mention any names just in case but you know who you are and great meeting you.

Stockholm Beer and Whiskey festival is held in a venue called the Factory in Nacka Strand a very nice part of Stockholm and organised by Stockholm’s Öl & Vin AB headed by the delightful Marianne Wallberg. The setup was not like the GBBF, it has several halls one with distributors showing off brands they carried from the US and UK and then a hall for Swedish brewers and another for just spirits. This festival attracts around 25,000 visitors each year and I can say Beer not Vodka rules here.

The distributors hall had the big guns these guys had the all international brands and are the main suppliers to the Systembolaget the Swedish Alcohol Retail chain and the only place allowed to sell alcohol other than a pub bar or restaurant. Serving a market of 10 million Swedes, Systembolaget is one of the world's largest buyers of wine and spirits from producers around the world.

Two of the main players were Great Brands who had the largest selection of US beers I’ve even seen and Galatea for European beers and Cask who is distributing Brew Dog and doing an incredible job. But being in Sweden I wanted to taste the local beers so I headed in the direction of the local brewers.
Craft beer is certainly what it’s all about the brewers I met are taking brewing very seriously, creative experimental and certainly not shy to try out the unusual.

Theses are my top three to look out for:

1, Nils Oscar – Currently brews approx 18 beers and has recently launched a range of spirits.  One I sampled was God lager, which means ‘good’ and is also now available in the UK. India Ale (IPA) which I thought was terrific pours a coppery colour nice spicy aroma and really hoppy just as I like it.

2, Närke Kulturbryggeri - These guys were rock n roll defiantly ones to keep an eye on and certainly not shy to experiment. Närke Bäver is just that Bäver meaning Beaver (you know where I’m going now) is brewed with Castoreum which is the name given to the exudate from the castor sacs of the mature North American Beaver (I’m not joking) and it smells of piss but I put my hand up it tasted flipping good drinking with my nostrils closed. They also had normal beers and I tried Närke Mörker a dark beer oozed roast, coffee, toffee and malts in aroma.

3, Sigtuna brygghus - Based in Arlandastad is one that’s very strong on branding and again not shy to experiment. Recently launched Imperial Stout at 18.5% called Ace of Spades unfortunatly was not available at the festival. I tried the South Pacific Pale Ale 5,4 % Gold in colour. Pineapple aniseed aromas hoppy taste with much grapefruit. Extra Sigtuna Bitter 5,6 % I’m told was good but I never got round to that one.

A very educational three days at the Stockholm beer festival highly recommend visiting next year event if you can, great atmosphere nice people and good beer....great night life.

From what I can see, the Swedish are coming.

Wikio

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Hardknott Brewery - Totally Cosmic













The brewery is yet another discovery I made via Twitter, I must say that to me they are a hidden gem and I’m sure they are very well-known within the beer bloggers fraternity. Hardnott beers hail from Cumbria more information is available on the companywebsite.

I purchased my set of bottles from The Wineyard a specialist wine and beer shop and deli in Morecombe who I also discovered on Twitter. Young Ben done a great job of getting my parcel over to me next day, despite the current Christmas rush.

I do like their style of branding the labelling is very cool, quite futuristic with names like Dark Energy, Granite and Infra Red they would be very popular in the bar of the Starship Enterprise. You can just imagine the scene Captain Kirk walks up to the bar and say’s “A bottle of Intra Red for me and a Dark Energy for my mate Spock please guv”.

Branding plays a very important part, I believe however good the contents there is that percentage who will always add a product to the trolley because of how it looks. There is nothing wrong with traditional labelling styles which some beer producers use but I feel it is the brand owners job to make their product stand out from the crowd and keep things interesting for their PR companies.

Hardknott have done a great job on the branding and I look forward to seeing the names of their future beers. The beers I enjoyed very much and was certainly not disappointed, complex, massive flavours and the delightful aromas in all three, which I tasted stayed with me, till the last drop.

My ratings:

Infra Red (6.5% ABV) - 8/10
Dark Enery (4.9% ABV) - 7/10
Granite 2009 (10.4 ABV) - 8/10

HardKnott making beer to change the world, I certainly agree with that.

Follow Hardknott on Twitter

Wikio