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.


Saturday, 19 March 2011

Brouwerij de Molen - Hel & Verdoemenis 666 Imperial Stout

Yep you guess it another one of my buys from Birroteca Grand Cru, yep I did have a large suitcase and bubble wrap. I'd been looking for this and had even emailed to the brewery asking if there were any places in the UK I could pick up a bottle but no joy so Birroteca Grand Cru was the last place I thought I would find it, I was once again proven wrong as this place is a Aladdin’s cave of beer.

Brouwerij De Molen is a Dutch brewery based in Bodegraven in the western part on The Netherlands, the brewery is located in a mill named “De Arkduif” after Noah’s dove and was built back in 1697. I am yet to visit and is on my list for summer 2011 I’ve heard so much about these guys and cant wait. The 666 Hel & Verdoemenis is aged in 40 year old cognac barrels and in a recent interview of the brewer on Beer Reviews I read that they also do Hel & Verdoemenis aged on Wild Turkey bourbon barrels, which sounds YUM.

My bottle was numbered 1074 with the text on the front label 'the number of the beast' hmm 666 beast! Wonder if the brewer is a Black Sabbath fan fancy bumping into Ozzy Osborne at the brewery lol. Pours a thick black with a lasting tan head, instantly you pick up aromas of wet wood, cognac, and some hoppy notes, burnt chocolate. Taste you get vanilla bean, definitely the cognac smacks you in the gob, dark chocolate even tobacco with slight hoppiness to it. Carbonation is lively and you pick up the alcohol but in a pleasant way not harsh.

I really like this and being a cold evening really warmed me up shame the bottle was 20cl a bit more would have cured my cold and I look forward to trying the Wild Turkey Bourbon version.

My ratings:
Hel & Verdoemenis 666 (10% ABV) - 7/10

For more info on Dutch brewery Brouwerij De Molen check out the website


Monday, 14 March 2011

A.F.O Ale for Obsessed - Birrificio del Ducato

Another one of my goodies from Birroteca Grand Cru, Birrificio del Ducato is one of Italy’s new breed of up-and coming exciting microbreweries. I'm still yet to find this or to be honest any good Italian beers in London as they certainly do not dissapooint. These guys are based in a town called Busseto near Parma thats located in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna which until now was more famous for being Verdi's birthplace. 

Firstly you have to admire the shape of the bottle just what you would expect from the Italians, this beauty pours Orangy amber colour with a light beige colored head. the aromas start off with woody hoppy tones and then grapefruit and citrus ending with light spiciness. Flavor is quite dry and at the same citrusy with light notes of buttery caramel, with a peppery lingering ending. This is really good stuff.

My ratings:
A.F.O (5.4% ABV) - 7/10

Please do checkout the Birrificio del Ducato website and if anyone knows of a retailer in London selling Italian beers do let me know..


Thursday, 10 March 2011

My Antonia - Collaboration beer Dogfish Head & Birra del Borgo

Purchased this bottle at Birroteca Grand Cru, I'd first heard about this collaboration beer early 2010 and failed to find one in the UK. I am a fan of Dogfish beers and can't get enough of the superb Indian Brown Ale and 120 Minute IPA yet Birra del Borgo are new to me but I hear positive vibes coming from that camp too and certainly one to watch.

I don't really go for a Pilsners not for any reason anyway, yet I'd never tasted a Imperial Pilsner before until now. Well this tasty beverage pours a golden colour with a small white head and leaves a nice lacing on the glass, aromas were of grass, honey, citrus and floral hops even light spices. You taste some herbs, citrus pine, honey and some caramel with a dry finish. One of the best if not the best pilsner (opps Imperial Pilsner) I have had in a long time.

My ratings:
My Antonia (7.5% ABV) - 8/10

Defiantly a beer i would recommend you all to try and for more info on Birra del Borgo do check out the company website, Dogfish Head which needs no introduction here is a link anyway.


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Hausbrauerei Altstadthof - Nuremberg

Couple of weeks ago I flew over to Germany to attend an Organic food and beverage trade fair in Nuremberg called Biofach, it was like most German shows on a grand scale with 8 halls packed wall to wall with products from around the world. A retailers paradise it was and I was quite impressed by the amount of UK companies on show promoting products that would look good in any store in the world, I say that because a lot of the German,French and Scandinavian brands had names Bio this and Bio that. I thought come on guys we know your goods are organic but you could have worked on a better name!

I have been coming to this fair now for 3 years and I am yet to see 60% of these brands make it in to the UK as they would do really well over here, im sure they have tried maybe we also like our product branding as much as the contents. Was disappointed that none of the UK breweries were on show, Fullers, Brodies, and Stroud Breweries organic beers would have really cleaned up yet there were a few German and Belgian breweries busy filling order books. There are so many incentives offered by the UKTI right now such as discounted stands at trade fairs and even money toward flights and hotels, they are really backing UK firms to export.

The last few trips I never got a chance to see the city so this time I stayed over an extra day to catch the sites of Nuremberg, the Old Town is quite beautiful the majestic Nuremberg Castle and medieval churches and romantic cobbled streets and half-timbered houses are surrounded by a 15ft six km long historic city wall from the dating back from the 16th century. In the centre of the town is a market square called Hauptmarkt and I'm told hosts one of the worlds best Christmas markets but what got my eye was C&A, I still remember my dad taking me to the store that was in East Ham to get my school uniform. They are still going strong in Europe wonder why they closed in the UK!

In the north-eastern part of the old town I discovered Hausbrauerei Altstadthof, this brewery has been around since 1386 and sit on a maze of tunnels and cellars no prizes what they were used for. Beer is still brewed here and operations are now run by current owner Reinhard Engel, you can take a tour down in the cellars which was a bit creepy but the site of 1 ltr bottles of beer stacked up if they were wine soon cheered me up. Upstairs there is a brewery shop selling the range of six beers plus a Schnaps and even Mustard they produce.

I sampled the goods on tap in the brew pub the 'Helles' was very nice, lightly hopped unfiltered hazy yellow colour. Fruity with a pleasant malt profile. Very refreshing and quaffable. But the 'Schwarzbier' was my favourite a dark brown blackish colour  with a nice cream head. Strong notes of coffee right from the start through to a some fruity sweetness. Sure it was blackcurrant! finishing with a dark roasted malt and hoppy flavour. Really good stuff.

I decided to buy one of each of them, they only sold them only in 1ltr bottles which I don't think was an issue these beers will go down a treat this summer with a BBQ. Now we've all heard the story about tourist getting ripped off well what happened to me was really taking the biscuit. I went up to the counter with both bottles the cashier spoke no English and pointed her finger to the till displaying the amount I should pay, I had to look twice she wanted €38 yep €38 European quids!! In my broken German English I tried to explain to her the amount is not correct as the shelf tag states €4.40 each! At that time I was the only one in the shop and she wouldn't have none of it 'no no no' and started speaking German at 100km per hour.

She knew what she was doing and I really felt like saying to her to stick the bottles where the sun don't shine but no I wasn't havin none of this and I walked out in to the court-yard and asked the English-speaking pub staff to follow me to the shop. I explained to him that she wanted €38 and that it was an incorrect amount, the young lad looked at me and said that's too much! Now for the next 5 mins I witnessed some heavy strong German exchanges between the two, I wish I could have spoken German as I'm sure he was saying to her 'why you over-charging this guy'. The lad turned around and said she is stupid come with me and I will sell you the beers from the pub for €8.80 for the pair, I really was not impressed but this had nothing to do with brewery and this product but a chancer of a till girl.

Look these are really good beers and the brewery has so much history and tradition which is awesome and I recommend you try these beers on your trip to Nuremberg but beware of the till girl I think her name was Ingrid.

Nürnberger Altstadthof is at Bergstraße 19-21, 90403 Nürnberg or check out the website for more info.