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