Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Golden Pint Awards - 2011

WOW what a year it’s been, managed to drink some fantastic beers on my journeys that’s made compiling this list a tough task so here it is.

Best UK Draught Beer – Brodies - Californian

Best UK Bottled Beer – Kernel – 100 India Pale Ale Centennial

Best Overseas Draught Beer – Elysian Brewing Corp – Avatar Jasmine IPA

Best Overseas Bottled Beer – Dieu de Ciel – Peche Mortel

Best Overall Beer – Marble – Lagonda IPA

Best Pump clip – Nynäshamns Ångbryggeri for the Tjockhult Tjinook

Best UK Brewery – Kernel

Best Overseas Brewery – Närke Kulturbryggeri

Pub/Bar of the Year – Euston Tap

Beer Festival of the Year – Stockholm beer festival

Supermarket of the Year – Waitrose

Independent Retailer of the Year – L'abbaye des Saveurs (Lille)

Best new UK brewery  - Brodies

Best Beer Book or Magazine – I’ve still not found one yet…

Best Beer Twitterer – @HardKnottDave

Best Online Brewery presence – @BrewDog

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year – Daas Blond with Murgh Pasanda Makhani (Café Spice Namaste)

In 2012 I’d Most Like To… – Other than start brewing in Epping its still gonna be Visit GABF, Visit Coedo Brewery Japan

Open Category: – Best Beer mobile phone app – Untappd


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Raspberry Wheat beer - Whitstable Brewery

Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate fruit beers, Cherry Strawberry Cranberry Belgian German even US I can't do it. Its not a man thing as a lot of my mates drink the odd bottle of Fruli or Floris I know a few women who enjoy the stuff too and some who would jump into their hand bags on the mention of one. 

I took my mate John who's a bar Manager at one of London top Casino's recently to the GBBF, I’ve been trying to convince him to stock some proper beers at his bar and GBBF be the place to get him going. I made him sample beers from De Molens to the Mikkellers to Thornbridge to the Marble's and he really enjoyed them, so whilst walking around he said to me "lets try that Whitstable beer" I thought he meant the Oyster stout and to my shock when he handed me my glass it was a Raspberry wheat beer.

Picking myself off the ground I looked around to find a bucket, no joy so closed my eyes and drank. You know what I was very very impressed with this beer, yep shock horror stranger things happen but this is a really nice fruit beer unlike the stuff that put me off it's not very sweet like having a whole packet of Opal Fruits in your gob. Impressed with that we decided that we'll come back on the way out and have one more for the road and you wouldn't guessed when we did get back for one more they had sold out.

Last week I went to Canterbury to drop my son off to Uni so I thought I’d pop into the Bottle shop on the chance he may have the stuff, gutted he had non I walked around and found a few bottles on a small grocers stand a couple of stalls down from him. Sorted.

Pours a cloudy pink with a good head, quite fizzy on the mouthful like a spritzer. Aroma obviously Raspberries and mild spicy hops. Dry and spiced flavours with distinct Raspberry and a nice sour tartiness about it that makes this beer very refreshing. It’s not very sweet (Hallelujah) and ends with a citrus finish.

My Rating

Raspberry Wheat Ber – Whitstable Brewery (5.2%) 6/10

This beer’s changed my perception of fruit beers so if you felt the same way then try this beer, you’ll enjoy it.

More in on the Brewery and it other beers available on the company website, not sure if they are on Twitter


Saturday, 20 August 2011

XX Bitter by Brouwerij De Ranke

Another purchase of mine from L'Abbaye des Saveurs in Lille, this beer was recommended to me by a good pal of mine Paul Daly. Paul's in Belgium and France quite regularly discovering new beers and we always exchange notes on what we each have discovered, this beer he's been going on about for a long time and I’ve been on the look out for it on each of my trips so when the lads at the shop told me they got some in I popped in and I picked up half a dozen and at €1.45 the price was good too.

Brewery De Ranke is a Belgian Brewery and is situated in the town of Wevelgem that’s in South of the country close to the French border I think its about 20 mins by train from Lille (Lille Flanders), the guys started brewing back in 1994 and I so far i have only known them for the Kriek De Ranke. Currently they have six beers on the market and are shipping to US, India, Japan, UK, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Austria & France. I'd love to find out what the Indian market thinks of the Kriek, I’d reckon it goes down especially in the South (Chennai, Bangalore) they have a very interesting palate those southerners.

Pours a golden orange colour with a large foamy head. Aroma spicy, floral hops with touches of lemon and pine. Flavour slightly sweet and florally which becoming more citric and indeed very hoppy, it’s very sharp with hints of pepper and then biscuit malts. Finish is sour like a lambic you just got to love the sharpness. Defiantly one of the hoppiest Belgian beers I’ve recently had from this part of the world and I love my hops.

My Rating:

XX Bitter - Brouwerij De Ranke (6.2%) 7/10

Do visit the breweries website and when your next in Lille jump on a train and check out the brewery.


Monday, 15 August 2011

Big Swell IPA in a can by Maui Brewing Co Hawaii

Following on from my last post this is another beauty in a can from Maui Brewing in Hawaii that I picked up at Utobeer in South London, like most of us its also the first place for me to go in town to pick up something new and interesting and the stall never disappoints. In London we have now only around half dozen specialist beer shops and I think its about time someone opened one up in East London, I did look at premises myself earlier this year but just been to busy with stuff so if anyone knows of a decent premises let me know.

Going back to Maui five years ago these guys brewed 400 bbls and in 2010 11,000 bbls now that’s impressive, plus Q1 2011 sales are up by 79% for the same period last year with overall expected production for 2011 looking at about 20,000 BBLs. Husband and wife team Garrett and Melanie Marrero have laid down a strong commitment to the local economy with top of the agenda being concern for the local environment, the cans they use are packaged with the most eco-friendly materials which they prefer to use rather than bottles which break and pollute the local beaches. They don't even use plastic rings around the cans but a recyclable plastic carrying device, which is less dangerous to marine life. Local farms, Bio Diesel and Solar panels are all ongoing developments in the breweries sustainability mantra, which you can read more about from this link

Now the important bit: Pours a cloudy golden orange with a large tan head. Aroma is hoppy floral, spicy, citrus tropical fruits. Flavour is a light on hops than you would expect, citrus and tropical fruits make up for that and it's really spicy, i think its cloves maybe but definitely something out of my curry powder blend. Very Enjoyable IPA I would have with a curry any day.

My Rating:

Big Swell IPA - Maui Brewing Co (6.2%) 8/10

That’s two Maui beers I’ve tired so far and both are very enjoyable, time to find another Maui


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Coconut Porter in a can by Maui Brewing Co Hawaii

Now this beer over the last couple of weeks has been the topic of conversation with Twitters beer community especially with one online retailer (you know who you are) who must have sold out 10 times over with his numerous plugs. This interest also got my attention and on my weekly visit to Utobeer in Borough market South London I picked up a couple of cans, the young chap at the till suggested I also take a can of the breweries other beer called Big Swell IPA which I did and will post about another time.

Maui Brewing Company is located on the island of Maui Hawaii; just hearing that sounds so cool a brewery in Hawaii beats Derby any day. These guys started brewing handcrafted ales in 2005 based in Lahaina on Highway #55 they also own a brewpub in the same town at highway #217, the guys here brew 5 canned beers and around a dozen available on tap. It’s currently the only microbrewery on the island and no surprise it’s the islands fastest growing company.

Pours very dark brown you could say black with light fluffy tan head and you get a huge amount of coconut and sugar instantly on the nose. Aroma of malt and chocolate. Flavour smooth with malt, chocolate, yep coconut and some nuttiness the aftertaste is nice and heavy with coconut and vanilla. What I like is how smooth and silky the mouthful is, it’s incredible well balanced plus its low ABV not what you would expect from a beer of this style.

My Rating:
Coconut Porter - Maui Brewing Co (5.7%) 8/10

I'm told 1 can, Calories: 180, Fat: 0g, Carbs: 24g, Protein: 1g if that helps anyone, cracking website and yep these guys are on Twitter @MauiBrewingCo

I found this video on the brewery canning this brew check it out:

Before i forget you can buy these beers in the UK via @AlesbyMail ..............You owe me a beer now Paul :)


Saturday, 6 August 2011

Dale’s Pale Ale in a can by Oskar Blues Brewery

This can is another beauty I picked up on my last trip to Stockholm, courtesy of The Oliver Twist Craft Beer pub. I was hoping to find more of this stuff on the BSF stand at the GBBF but not a sausage, shame don't see it with any of the specialist Online or high st beer retailers either!...I suggest they tell their wholesalers to pull your finger out and go get some in.

Oskar Blues kicked off back in 2002 and was the 1st US craft brewery to 'just' do cans (draft at their pub) situated aprox 1,5 hr drive north of Denver at one of the gateways into the Rocky Mountains in small town Lyons, can you imagine what a beautiful place to own a brewery it must be. Dales Pale Ale is their core brand but they also brew some superb Imperial/Double IPA´s and Stouts. When these guys launched cans people laughed at them, Craft beer in a can, yeah right, today there are 130+ US craft breweries now doing cans and a couple now in the UK.

Poured a mostly clear copper colour with a medium off-white head, instant Citrus hop aroma then grapefruit even vanilla. Taste you first get the bitter hops then grapefruit, biscuit and Tangerines, the mouthful is silky and smooth and the after taste has notes of hops but not too much yep its incredibly well balanced.

If this were available in the UK I’d drink this everyday.

My Rating

Dale’s Pale Ale by Oskar Blues Brewery (6.5%) 8/10

Like always I recommend you check out the company website plus these guys are on Twitter too. @oskarblues


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Another Great British Beer Festival (GBBF)

Well its an event most of us look forward to every year and this years pre GBBF run up has not been short of a few interesting happenings, yep the Brew Dog situation. Each of us we have our own theories about what happened and I feel Brew Dog have acted very admirably and took it on the chin, instead of kicking up a big fuss. I was hoping to see around 100 dwarfs outside Earls Court with banners screaming but hey Camra rule the roast and we can't do noting about it.

This years show opened up on a glorious hot summers day with mercury levels hitting 30 degrees (yep we get hot weather in the UK too) and yes old lady Earl Court is not a venue you want to be in, so luckily I’d put on my shorts and tee well prepared for battle. As expected a very enthusiastic crowd of beer drinkers were present all enjoying the delights of beers from around the country, the usual breweries showing off their latest brews.

This years  'Best Beer' in Britain is Mighty Oak brewery's Oscar Wilde, ok please don't all jump up in joy at the same time. I feel Camra's decision was based on drinkers aged 55+ I'm really beginning to feel there is a big divide coming up, most beer drinkers I know aged 20/45 all talk and show a great interest about the great new hops and the artisan creative new beer the up coming breweries are making which is well away from the norm.

Camra is protecting the good old pint, which so rightly is their job, but they do need to change with the time and accept modern techniques and innovations in brewing. However I was surprised to see a very a selection of Mikkeller beers on sale, so maybe they are trying and look at this years logo don't that remind you of the 80's Britannia music awards logo!

BSF the foreign beer stand I thought had a really bad selection of Belgian bottled beers on offer this year, could have been so much better. Ok the Lambics and Fruits we all love but come on! The Blondes I’d never heard of few of them and I travel frequently to Belgium. Even the US beers most on offer you can get in the supermarket (what’s the point) and missing were the SKA, Avery and North Coast beers we all want to get and enjoy.

I bought a couple of beers to take home two breweries beers I’d never tried before, a bottle of Bootlegger by Swiss brewery Bad Attitude and a Bastarda Rossa by Italian Brewery Birra Amiata, both I’ll do reviews when get time. I tasted quite a few while I was their incl some interesting Czech beers which also helped me from getting dehydrated and I thoroughly enjoyed my favourite pub snack pork scratching mmmmmmm

GBBF is now on for a few more days and please do check it out, the beer and pub industry needs our support at the moment and with our support we all reap the benefit.

For tickets check out the Website plus GBBF/Camra are also on Twitter @GBBF @CAMRA_Official


Sunday, 10 July 2011

Hitachino Nest Beer XH - Kiuchi Brewery Japan

This was one of my take outs from Craft Beer Co, I’d heard a lot of good stuff about this brewery but never found one of it's beers in London or on my travels so I didn't waste any time to part with my money. It is great that the Craft Beer Co offer such a vast range of bottle beers to take out and drink at your pleasure, its like having a specialist beer shop and pub all rolled into one. 

Craft beer is on the rise in Japan and the new breed of Japanese brewers are very passionate about brewing, overall the Japanese have given us some very exciting life changing products over the years and are known for there strong opinions yet so humble....well the folks I’ve met anyway. I suppose like most things they do they attach a lot of importance to the precise finish of a product, the tradition the ceremonial rituals like cha-no-yu (Tea Ceremony), I would love to see and I hope later this year experience first hand all this and I’m sure without any doubt the Japanese breweries will be a place to admire.

Kiuchi brewery have a history going back over 180 years and Hitachino Nest Beer brand began brewing in the early 1990s, the beer with the imposing Owl is now sold world wide with numerous awards under its belt. The recent earthquake affected the brewery with damage to buildings and huge loss of stock and luckily no one was injured, reconstruction is underway and they aim to have business back to normal very soon.

Hitachino currently brew 10 beers and the nations favorite Sake but with a twist, I got my hands on a Hitachino Nest Beer Extra High (XH) a Belgian styled beer that has is soaked in Sake barrels over a period. Pours cloudy amber with a small tan head, aroma woody lightly fruity malt yeast and light cloves. Flavour is caramel, spices and you pick up an oaky vanilla flavour. The Sake casks are really apparent which gives it a little warming finish plus the carbonation is very lively which adds to this complex beer.

My Rating:

Hitachino Nest Beer XH - Kiuchi Brewery (8%) 8/10

Defiantly a range of beers on my shopping list now..........may have to go to Japan and do some research :)

Check out the brewery website for info, you wont be disappointed.


Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Craft Beer Co a new London drinking establishment.

Situated just off of London’s leading bullion and diamond dealers sit's London latest gem the Craft Beer Co, opened a few weeks ago taking over the old Green King Clock House pub on the junction of Hatton Wall and Leather Lane. For those of you who know London well Leather Lane is a busy market you name it they sell it down here plus the City is not far, what also makes the location ideal is that there is a tube station one in every direction. Ideal when navigation skills are running slow after a jolly, at least we can get on a train.

What is very appealing about this pub is that its got (yep I counted) 16 cask ales and 21 kegged on offer and hold it over 150 different bottle beers from around the world, to a novice beer drinker walking in he/she would will be faced with the delightful task of tasting his or hers first decent beer. Don’t get me wrong most there are some very good London pubs which sell some sort of good quality ales yet this is not just a range of beers but an notice of intent by the pub a selection of some of the finest establish and up and coming artisan craft breweries.  

The decor is very pleasing to the eye as they have kept it minimal and at the same time not loosing the pub identity, mirror ceilings (not kinky ones) gave the impression of very high ceiling and together with the side windows made the place look much airier. Georgian Cast Iron Radiators, branded wallpaper and a mural scenic wall that is a shot from a brewery made the upstairs a very comfortable lounge bar type chill out zone.

You've got to give it to them not only have they thought about the beers on offer but also about creating the right ambiance to drink the beer, my only worry thou about this place is that on one night when I’ve had a few I might end up in one of the numerous jewelers shops close by and end up buying a wedding warned guys.

Destined to be added to loadsa tourist maps over the coming months The Craft Beer Co is defiantly here.


Monday, 20 June 2011

Modus Hoperandi IPA - SKA Brewing Co

I squeezed in a business trip to Stockholm last week its a city which I enjoy going to immensely, you'd think the Vodka scene over there must be massive but you'll be surprised these guys are big craft beer fans. Unlike us here in the UK you can only buy alcohol from government run stores called Sysytembologet, setup to curve binge drinking etc but I feel that is leads to other kind of abuse. I'm hearing stories that there is so much illegal booze being smuggled across its borders and the black market is growing fast. I suppose if the Swedish government relaxed up a little they would be the one to benefit from duties etc but hey I’m no politician.

It was great to see so many UK beers in their stores and most of the usual suspects were all there, the only beer that was sold out in the store I visited was a beer by Scottish brewery Black Isle its not one I’ve tasted so I’m definably adding that to my list. There was loads of Swedish too and so was my favourite Swedish brewery Nils Oscar, I’m a big fan of the Hop Yard which I picked up a few bottles and will add a post about soon.

The 2nd best place in Stockholm to drink and buy a decent beer is Oliver Twist pub, its located 5 mins from Slussen tube station and the staff are very knowledgeable. A fantastic selection of US beers I’ve every seen as well as some very special local beers plus my mate Jörgen runs the gaff, which is a bonus.

Soon as I walked in I was told to suck on this can of Modus Hoperandi by Ska Brewing Co, this US brewery is based in a small town called Durango about 6hr drive from Denver. These guys are serious hopheads and have been brewing some superb beers, I think there must be at least 20+. These guys love Ska music and you can see its rubbed off on the branding and you know what the web site is just something else and I think its the best brewery website I’ve ever seen its so cool.

Pours a dark orangey copper colour with a large off white head, aroma is fruity citrus even grapefruit and loadsa hops up front with some lightly toasted biscuit. Flavour starts off sweet and malty at first with a good dose of citrus hops and grapefruit, then lots of caramel and light bitterness that leads to a long bitter finish. This is not just a good beer is a terrific beer.
My Rating:
Modus Hoperandi - Ska Brewing Co,  (6.8%) 9/10

You can catch Ska Brewing on Twitter @skabrewing and more information on these guys available via the fantastic website


Friday, 10 June 2011

Laverstoke Park Farm - Organic Real Ale

One of the key focus every year at the Real Food Festival is UK farming and Laverstoke Park Farm from Hampshire took a large area at this years show and brought along some Buffalos, Piglets and a couple of very cute kids (baby Goats) which were the centre of attraction. Laverstoke Park Farm offer a range of products from Buffalo Mozzarella, Dairy products, Sauces, Sausages and even Beer which can be purchased via the company website or from the farm.

I was surprised to discover that Laverstoke Park Farm is owned by ex Ferrari F1 Champion Jody Scheckter who won the crown back in 1980, he now runs the 2500 acres organic/biodynamic farm and I presume that’s him on the front of the bottle! I suppose he got a guilty conscience because of all the CO2 he pumped in to the atmosphere in his driving days and to try and make things ok now set up the farm. I suppose these things play on your mind when you get to a certain ago, so I better make sure I do my bit for the environment beginning with make full use of the various recycle boxes (4 at my last count) my council has given us.

Laverstoke Park Farm do two beers a lager and a bottle conditioned beer but both are not brewed on the farm but by the very well respected Hepworth Brewery in Sussex. This one pours a clear golden colour with a nice foamy head. Aroma quite herbal and a little citrus and light malts. Flavour is sweet, Honey with hints of caramel with a balanced hop and malt bitter ending. Medium carbonation and not very complex but if I had a bottle lying around I’d probably drink it.

My Rating:
Laverstoke Park Farm - Organic Real Ale (5%) 5/10

You can catch Laverstoke Park Farm on Twitter @Laverstoke and more information on the farm available via the company website.


Sunday, 5 June 2011

Blackwood Stout - Grain Brewery

Few weeks back I attended the Real Food Festival held at London Earls, an exhibition held annually helping to promoting small artisan producers from around the country. On show to sample and buy was an extensive variety of Cheeses, Jams, Teas, and Chutneys and even to my delight a couple of alcoholic beverages such as Gin, Vodka even Beer. Earls court as you know is also the home to the GBBF coming up later this year so it was only right to get in to shape and head for the Grain Brewery stand.

Grain brewery established in 2006 is based on a farm in the picturesque Waveney Valley in Norfolk and is one of the new breed of cutting edge British breweries making its mark in the industry, run by (very tall) Geoff Wright and Phil Halls couple of top blokes very passionate about beer. I visited the brewery last summer luckily I was in the area as I had to take my son to attend an open day at the University of East Anglia which he was hoping to enroll too but since has ended up in Canterbury.

It was good fun as my son had never been to a brewery and catch up with the guys who were very generous and showed us around and sampled the stock. Last year at GBBF I enjoyed a couple of glasses of Grains Tamarind IPA which was really good stuff but since then they have stopped producing that and instead launched a couple of other exceptional new beers.

Going back to the Real Food Festival I tried Grains new Blonde Ash that is a terrific Belgian style wheat beer, which I shall talk about another day but this time I must tell you about the Blackwood Stout. Pours a dark brown colour with a good beige head. Aroma is dark roasted coffee, chocolate with floral hop notes. Flavour I found had light sweetness, the roast coffee and chocolate stayed around leading to hints of burnt wood oak (maybe even burnt toast) ending with classic malty bitter notes.

It’s very pleasant and very enjoyable to drink, if I had another bottle I may have frozen some and made ice-lollies…yep its that good.
My Rating:
Grain Brewery – Blackwood Stout (5.0%) 8/10

Grain have also now opened a pub in St Benedicts St Norwich called The Plough and you can catch the lads on Twitter @ploughnorwich @GrainBrewery


Thursday, 19 May 2011

Mikkeller - Simcoe Single Hop IPA

Picked up this bottle last December from L'Abbaaye des Saveurs in Lille, I like to stop off at Lille when I can just so I can visit this excellent beer boutique. This time I was on my way to Paris for the day on business and I wished it were for longer because Paris was covered in snow and the city looked like a picture postcard. One of my closest mates introduced to me a while back to Paris beer shop Cave à Bulles which is also very good but these boys in Lille do like to get in some cracking exceptional unusual beers and they are very passionate about their stock.

Danish brand Mikkeller make exceptional unusual beers, you could say they are they Keith Richards of the beer world proper rock’n roll and everyone wants to be them and brew the styles they are brewing. Since these guys came on the sceen back in the mid 2000’s they have quickly become the cutting edge brand of the craft beer revolution along with the likes of US brewers Three Floyds and Stone.

Surprisingly Mikkeller don't actually have there own brewery and make most of there beers at De Proef brouwerij in Belgium, now that’s another story in itself for another time, quite an amazing set up in Gent ran by a man known as the professor. 

Right this beauty is one of their recent beers (erm maybe not) and pours a cloudy orange colour with a big frothy lasting white head. Aroma is Floral, fresh citrus mostly dry grape, pineapple and hints of yeast. Flavor is very fruity, grape, pineapple, peach and a little Caramel sweetness coming in from the background. Good carbonation and you know what I could drink this every day.

My Rating:
Mikkeller - Simcoe Single Hop IPA (6.9%) 8/10

For those of you who don’t know about Mikkeller and have been living in a 'cave`, here’s a link.


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Brugse Zot - Brouwerij de Halve Maan

Another one of my finds from Kris Wines N1, I first drank this a couple of months ago at an event held by the Belgian Embassy in a hotel at London's Victoria Docks. Good event that was aimed at promoting artisan Belgian food and beverage producers and there were a couple of other fine beers and much Chocolate and Cheese to my delight.

Interesting to read that Brouwerij de Halve Maan has come through and survived in this industry for six generation and the current owner (a family member) is only 30 years old. This fella has won young Flemish entrepreneur of the year in 2008 and last year he won the Golden Bridge Export Award for strong export sales to the UK. Quite Impressive! The brewery is actually in Bruges it self and is situated in the south of this beautiful city.

Pours a hazy thick pale golden colour with a good foamy head. The aroma is citrus fruit, sweet malts with spice. The taste which is high on carbonation has bananas, clove spice, acidic, citrus lemon and very metallic with a crisp bitterness that lingers for a while. I do like that metallic feel in this Belgian Ale.

My Rating:
Brugse Zot - Brouwerij de Halve Maan (6.0%) 7/10

Check out the company website for more info on this brewery or even better get over to Bruges it’s a great place


Thursday, 28 April 2011

Huma Lupa Licious IPA - Short's Brewing Co from Kris Wines N1

Had a bit of time on my hands today so I made the journey to North London and to specialist beer retailer Kris Wines, I thought as its another bank holiday weekend and a good chance I’d have guests around for a BBQ best get some decent beers in. Now this shop is always pretty well stocked up and funny enough it’s a pokey little shop slightly larger than a regular sized garage but it’s got the biggest range of international beer this side of the river.

Been shopping here now I reckon for the last seven years, we used to pop in quite regularly on the way back home from Highbury on a match day but now don't get the chance that often and no its got nothing to do with The Gunners I’m still making my attendance thank you.

Kris (yep that why its called Kris Wines) is a nice bloke and very enthusiastic about this stock always something new in and this time soon as I walked in he shouted out "You gotta taste this mate" and that being Huma Lupa Licious IPA by US brewer Short's. 

I'm ashamed to say I’d not heard of Short's until today so I was keen to try this one out. Short's setup is in Bellaire a village in the state of Michigan USA, started up in 2004 and currently make over 30 beers, their current premises was a 100 year old hardware store with they restored and now houses not only the brewery but a pub and deli.

Pours a cloudy orange Amber colour with a medium sized thin off white head. Aroma is a burst of citrus hops, grapefruit, orange, and lemon some sweet malt. The flavour has more fresh citrus hops as expected, grapefruit, moderately sweet malt, pine, and dry bitter finish with a bite ggrrrr. Very sharp carbonation medium bodied and very enjoyable.

Did I say very well I take that back it as its not just very well its got to be one of the best if not the best IPA I’ve had and believe me I’ve drank a few.

My Rating:
Huma Lupa Licious IPA - Short's Brewing Co (6.8%)- 9/10

Do visit Short's website for more info on this great beer and as a must pop in to Kris Wines when you are in North London.


Saturday, 9 April 2011

Kernel Brewery S.C.A.N.S Prawn Pakoras

Suns out so its time to get the garden furniture dusted, knock up some seafood snacks and chill in the garden with a good beer and a book. I’m a big fan of Prawns ever since I went to Goa couple of years ago and I just got hooked on them, such a great snack and can be cooked in so many ways.

I even managed to go out one morning with the local fisherman on a catch which was an experience I’ll never forget, health and safety was out the window (no life jackets) these guys where hardcore jumping in and out the sea without nets and no ropes attached.  

You know that feeling you get once you start munching on a packet of pork scratching (yep that feeling) I get the same also with Prawns, so I made up this recipe using my favorite beer of the moment Kernel’s S.C.A.N.S

Here goes:

Shell and devein 250g of Prawns marinate them with a bottle of Kernel’s S.C.A.N.S and leave in the fridge overnight

Next day make the batter by mixing any beer that you’re drinking (Kernel’s S.C.A.N.S preferably) with flour, salt and spices together in a large bowl. Make a well shape in the centre and add the beer and some warm water to form a thick smooth paste with a slow-dropping consistency.
Leave to stand for a few minutes.
Heat the oil in a deep pan hold the prawns by their tails and dip them gently into the spicy batter mix to coat, then gently pop them into the hot oil for around 4 minutes turning once until crisp and golden brown all over.

Drain on some kitchen paper for a minute and then get stuck in.

330 ml Kernel S.C.A.N.S (more can be used)
250g King Prawns
2 green chilies very finely chopped
3 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
120g gram (or plain) flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Coriander powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
100ml Warm water

Kernel’s S.C.A.N.S as you know has a wonderful sweet tropical fruitiness its just so exotic and makes a great marinate for the prawn’s and by adding beer to the batter same way we do with fish sometimes just gives it a bit more, making this a snack to die for.  


Thursday, 7 April 2011

Ramsgate Brewery - Gadd's Black Pearl Oyster Stout

This is a beer I’ve been wanting to taste for a while now so I was made up when a mate of mine handed this bottle to me, I’m not a huge fan of dark beers don't know why! But over the last few months I have started to experiment (on beer) and being frank it’s a beer style I can get quite used too.

Well this tasty beverage is by Ramsgate Brewery from Broadstairs in Kent and offers both draught and in bottles, started off brewing in the back of a pub in 2002 and now offers these award-winning beers from larger and modern premises. Amongst its much-deserved awards they have won Best Kent Brewery 2007, Best Kentish Beer 2008 and Best Kentish Beer 2009 and i'm sure there are more to come.

Pours a pitch black with a light tan head, aromas of dark fruits, Cocoa and roasted dark malts. There are hints of milk chocolate in the taste and the dark fruits; cocoa and even hints of tobacco are very well balanced and delightful on the tongue. The mouthful is very warming and soothing down my throat with a dry bitter hoppiness aftertaste and after a few mouthfuls I pick up a little salt but not in a bad way. Very nice indeed.

My Rating:
Ramsgate Brewery - Gadd's Black Pearl Oyster Stout (6.2%) - 8/10

If you would like to find out more do check out the company website and more info on Breezy Broadstairs which is a very nice town on the Kent coast at which I spent many happy family day outs as a kid and still remember the picnics with cans of Tizer with my mums spicy Aloo Paratha's mmmmm. 


Saturday, 2 April 2011

Brauerei Simon - Spezial

A bottle I picked up in Nuremberg back in February from a store called Hofladen in Nuremberg city centre, interesting store stocking produce only from the German state of Bavaria. I was quite surprised as to what is produced in this area Wines, Sprits and even some very nice Cheese and like the trend in the UK the shop assistant told me that recently there are many more new producers in the area and are promoting customers to buy more local produce in the stores.

Brauerei Simon is in Baveria in a town called Lauf an der Pegnitz around 20 Km East from Nuremburg, the brewery as been around 100 years and brew 3 types the most popular for its Weissbier 5.4% and a Schwarze Kuni 7% which is a strong dark wheat beer.

I picked up a bottle of the Spezial, well I wasn't going to go for any thing less. Poured a chestnut brown could call it Maroon even with a good cream coloured head. You instantly get hit with Sweet roasted malt even I thought burnt bread. Tastes quite creamy with a lot of Caramel and generous hoppiness but its bit too sweet for me. Going by the name Spezial was hoping for something more maybe a little roasty even stronger.

My Rating:
Spezial- Brauerei Simon (5.4%) - 5/10

If you would like to find out more do check out the company website and more info on Hofladen on the store website too.


Thursday, 24 March 2011

Monsieur Rock - Collaboration beer Sharp's and Orval Brewery

My son brought me a few bottles on his way back home from Canterbury Uni from The Bottle Shop in the Goods Shed next to Canterbury railway station, Bottle shop opened four months back and carry an extensive range of British and International bottled beers. My son's choice of beverage is Lager and Vodka than Real Ale so when he told me he has a lager for me, which ‘ROCKS’ I had some apprehension when he wouldn't tell me the name.

Well that was short lived as soon as I saw that this was a product from Sharp's Brewery in Cornwall which certainly do make great beers i was chuffed plus I’m a huge fan of the another beer they brew called Chalky's Bite which they developed together with Chef Rick Stein. This tasty beverage is called Monsieur Rock and is collaboration with the very popular Belgian Trappist brewery Orval; Sharps based in Rock hence the name 'Monsieur Rock' well sort of.

I'd heard of this beer on Twitter recently via the beer fraternity tweets and they had all good things to say about it, this beer contains Saaz hops which mainly come out of Bohemia and its a very traditional aroma hop that has been grown in this part of the world for centuries. It has a distinctive flavor and the thought of the collaboration with Orval made my mouth water just thinking about it.

Monsieur Rock is a 5.2% Lager, pours a pale gold with a nice lacy white head. Aroma is grassy with grapefruit I found it had a light carbonation but crisp and the taste smooth Orange then Lemon with a light bitterness and spice dry finish. Very drinkable and ideal supping beer for the coming summer.

My ratings:
Monsieur Rock (5.2%) - 8/10

More info on Sharp's can be found on the website or follow them on Twitter @sharpsbrewery and more info on the Bottle shop can be found on the shops website and yep they are also on Twitter @bottle_shop

I'm off to Canterbury this Easter to pick up my son for the holidays and I’m surely buying a case from the Bottle Shop, thinking about it I better place a order now.