Thursday, 24 February 2011

Birroteca Grand Cru -Santarcangelo di Romagna, Italy

Last weekend I traveled to Rimini in Italy to attend food and beverage expo Sapore, the part of the fair for the beer industry was once called Pianeta Birra now this section is named Selezione Birra Beverage. I had no idea what to expect although I had read a recent blog by Zak Avery on his beer trip in Italy, my personal knowledge is little. Walking in to the expo I  first went to the floor plan which was a shocker it shows nine halls and from what I could see each hall twice the size of London's Earls Court, glad I had soft shoes on.

Once battling through the Pasta, Wine and Olive oil halls I finally reached my destination. A large section of the hall was taken up by companies selling Micro brewery equipment which was quite interesting, pretty modern stuff in all sizes and the there was a complete micro brewery fit out that would have fitted in my garden shed...I've kept their card for my records. :)

Further up the hall there was a section with around 40 booths with craft brewers from around Italy showcasing some quite remarkable beers....yep you heard right. The land of Wine is slowly brewing up a craft beer revolution and I noticed most were from Campania a region of south-western Italy, I wonder why that region is so popular and to be honest I never got round asking as I was very busy trying out the goods.

Now these dudes have gone full-out, the ones who have got it right have 6/7 different beers you can see have spent time on branding/marketing plus they all have this beautifully curved bottle which shouts out "I'm Italian" really nice. Other than the brewers smartly dressed in slick Italian suits (I saw no men with breads) another thing I noticed other than the 330ml bottles 70% of them had 1ltr bottles too which I was not too sure was a good or bad thing.

A few names folks you must look out for are:

Birroficio Maiella
Birroficio Birranova
Berraficio del Ducato
Birrra del Borgo

These guys had some amazing beers and to be fair the standard overall was very impressive. The only downfall was they were not selling bottles (saw me coming) only sampling, so back at my hotel I began the job of finding a specialist beer shop. I asked the front desk if they knew of any and told me there were none in Rimini, which I was quite surprised as it is a busy touristy town but the nearest one they had heard of from a friend of a friend of a friend!! was 40 km away in a small town called Santarcangelo di Romagna.

So a dash to the railway station and finally to Santarcangelo di Romagna, people I was the only one who got off the train and walking out of the station I saw no one and heard nothing which made me a bit edgy but I was on a mission to find beer. This was a very very small town quite dusty cobbled streets a few bikes and the odd Fiat parked  in the road, I eventually saw a bar and thought must be life in there! Again empty so I sat at the bar and ordered a beer a Peroni red, never had one before  but bloody nice (I was thirsty), I'm not a fan but I'd drink that again if I can find it in the UK.

I began to question the chap behind the bar and immediately he said 'Birroteca Grand Cru' luckily on the same street he told me waving his arm and said I should ask for Q a mate of his. No joke I thought what's this MI5 lol? I got to the shop and walked in, it was busy with a dozen or so people (so this is where everyone was hiding) eyeing up the stock, I met Q who showed me his Italian selection. This shop in this little town had over 700 different beers, quite incredible, I'd never had thought it, beers from Brew Dog to St Peters to Mikkellerthey had them all....I was in heaven!

Seriously so many collaboration beers I'd never heard of and one that got my eye was called My Antonia a collaboration between Dogfish and Birra del Bongo, then I found a beer  I'd been looking for a while by Brouwerij de Molen called Hel en Verdoemnis 666 even Q said was awesome. Got together some great beers which now it was the job of getting them home safely.

What a find, I love it when you discover places like this, Q who owns the shop is a really enthusiastic guy and certainly  knows his beer, his customers knew what they wanted and one was also earlier at the expo in Rimini and had booked the equipment recently to set up his brewery in this town.

Birroteca Grand Cru -Santarcangelo di Romagna, Italy. The shops website is do check it out and if your ever in Rimini do pop in and see Q.


Thursday, 3 February 2011

Truman's Back in Town

No not Jim Carrey  nor President H S Truman but Truman the beer that was at one time the heart and soul of East London, and once the largest brewery in the world is back and ready for business. Originally established in 1666 closed in 1989 and now re-established in 2010, now based in offices literally a stone's throw from the old site in Brick lane E1, a group of guys are planning the revival of this British brewing icon.

You can from the team's top floor office (no lift by the way) in Elder St see the old site and I was thinking what inspiration it must give these dudes! It is remarkable how much history surrounds this name, some of the old pubs around here still have some old signage and what about the families who lived (and some who still live in the area) who have fond memories of this bustling brewery with grandparents or even parents who once work behind those big gates.

I was born in this borough of London and my father ran a clothing factory in the early 70s till 1985 just up the road in Whitechapel Road, so I was regularly down Petticoat lane with my mum. I clearly remember the working brewery with trucks coming out the gates full of barrels up and down Brick Lane. My dad was a keen Whiskey and Brandy fan (like most Punjabi's) but when he had a beer it was a Truman's, there were always bottles and cans lying around the house but I can't remember ever cracking one open! Well it was a long time ago..

I read out about the re-launch from Beermerchants blog late last year but never got a chance because of work and the weather to pop over and see the guys. I finally met up with James and Micheal in their busy office yesterday morning and listened to the great plans they have for 2011. I was genuinely pleased for them and the enthusiasm they had for the Brand, they have no family links to the brewery but purchased the naming rights because they believed in the name and you know what, good on them.

They have just launched the Truman's Runner Ale in 500ml bottles and I'm told selected pubs around London have on pump a porter which they were popular for way back and now is named Three Threads. As it was by fate or by luck, they had just had delivery of the first load of bottles of Runner Ale.  Oh what timing I thought and purchased a case of 12. The bottle label has links to the past with the use of the Eagle and the font seems similar too but looking at it closely its definitely more up to date. I've said it before, getting the branding right is the key however, what these guys also have on their side is 300 plus years of legacy to help them with marketing.

Now the important bit: Pours a dark brown colour and for me poured a nice beige head, with some light toasted caramel malts and hints of fruit Orange maybe or Peach. Nice smooth carbonation and you don't pick up on the 4% ABV that much, it's not very complex but is a very drinkable bitter and I’d gladly add it to my ever-increasing list of session beers. Very nice beer.

My ratings:

Truman's Runner Ale 4.o% ABV – 7/10

Do check out the company website for more information on Truman's Beers history and where they are currently being brewed. I found this nice quote from the website 'We might never be the largest again, but then biggest has never been best'.

Truman's are also on Twitter @TRUMANSBEER

On tap in London at Ten Bells, The Water Poet, The Carpenters Arms and The Peasant.
'Once a heavyweight of British brewing, Truman’s was synonymous with East London. For hundreds of years it was famed for its good beer and the remaining pubs bear witness to the fact that it stood for all that is great about British pub culture' - James Morgan and Michael-George Hemus (Truman's Beer).


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Timothy Taylor's - Landlord Pale Ale

This was an impulse buy whilst having gone into Waitrose to buy a bottle of wine at the weekend.  You see when visiting your local store as regularly as I do and walking up and down the beer aisle hoping for something new and exciting to drink but only finding pretty much the same brands restocked every week is disappointing. So it's always nice to see the local store break the mould and get something non commercial in, last time it was the Swedish God Lager which was nice.

I was very pleased to find Timothy Taylor Landlord on the shelf, I know of these beers and last had a pint when I was up in Harrogate in the Old Bell Tavern. A very old Yorkshire brewery with a history going back as far as 1858, still going strong and with now a established chain of own pubs nationwide.

Landlord is a classic multi award winning Pale Ale four times as CAMRA’s beer of the year, it's not very strong unlike the label suggests 4.1% ABV  and in a nice 500ml sized bottle lesser size would be not acceptable. Pours a lovely golden orange with a nice lasting head with a little lace. The aroma gives some caramel but more hop citrus with delicate and fresh flowery notes. It ends with a dry long beautiful finish, very well balanced with lots of nice hop character.

My ratings:

Timothy Taylor Landlord 4.1% ABV – 8/10

Do visit the Timothy Taylor website for more information and most of all do look out for this excellent session Bitter, a proper classic British beer that i would choose over most beers.

My purchase was made at Waitrose 27 Motcomb Street, London, SW1X 8GG, I'm sure it's in other branches too.