Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Booze: Craft Beer Rising Review

Walk up the stairs. Turn the corner. A corridor lined with tables and white drapes. I hear chattering a clinking glasses but I see no beer. Turn right. Ah, a table full of glassware but still no beer. I walk directly to the table and purchase my pint glass. I turn around. Ahh… tables with keg fonts and bottles. I instantly walk towards Brewdog’s bar as I see my buddy Joe working behind there. He takes my glass and pours me a half of Libertine Black Ale, a beer I already know and love.

We take a walk around the room to find more kegs, bottles and familiar faces from twitter. We have a Steen Brugge Wit Blanche from the Palm Breweries and chat to the guy behind the stall who I know only as @SpyRight. The Wit is refreshing. It has the right balance of orange and coriander with a lovely creaminess. Next stop is Curious Drinks to catch up with Pat. I try the IPA and it’s nice but I wasn’t too thrilled with the earthiness of it. I then decide to drink an old love, Curious Brew, their lager. It’s a seriously fucking awesome lager.

We decide to walk some more, attempting to find the cask room. I’m so overwhelmed by my surroundings that I miss the sign and walk into a dead end. 180 degree turn. We find it eventually and have a wonder. What should I have next? Thwaites 13 Guns. A very nice and hoppy IPA with a good malt base. Grapefruit and orange, oh so juicy. The music room comes next. Sadly there is no music on but we do find Signature Brew tucked away in the corner. Remedy by Professor Green isn’t as hoppy as I was hoping but Mammoth by Dry The River was juicy with boiled candy. I’m happy.
A few more beers, just hanging out chatting to everyone and high fiving the occasional twitterer. Ok, quite a lot more beers.

The food comes next; I wanted one of these Fish Dogs from Mark Hix’s stall that Londoners are constantly banging on about it. I’m not going to sugar coat it; it’s a fish finger sandwich. A layer of sweet minted mushy peas on a hot dog bun, a good quality fish finger and I put way too much tartare sauce on. It made me very messy. It was delicious though.

More beers. A mix of cask, keg & bottle pours from new and old, big and small breweries alike. More high fives. A mix of twitter friends and random strangers.

That was the trade session. It was really good fun and the public sessions were possibly even better. I went to 2/3 of them. It may not have been a wise idea but fuck it, you only live once!

Festival Winners:

Best Keg Beer: Meantime Nelson Sauvin Saison – Juicy white grapes with some spiciness and pithiness. Choosing this as my keg beer of the festival was a no-brainer.

Best Cask Beer: Bath Ales Superweizen – A very hoppy hefeweizen. Orange and cloves along with some orange. Simply incredible.

Best Bottled Beer: Rodenbach Grand Cru – Maybe it’s not fair to pick a beer that I already love but I just couldn’t resist having a small taste. It would’ve been rude not to.

Best Beer I Didn’t Previously Like But Actually Liked: Fuller’s Bengal Lancer on keg.

Best Brewery Bar: The Fuller’s Bar, cleverly disguised as their Union Tavern pub. All the guys working there were fucking awesome & knowledgeable.
Beer Related Thought: Both Fuller’s and Wells & Young brought keg beers that are actually only available for the export market. They were delicious but why?

Best Food: Mother Flipper Cheese Burger – Holy shit. This could rival The Baron’s!

Best High Five: Melissa Cole.

Best Pump Clip or Tap Handle: Young's Double Chocolate Stout

I actually think it was the best festival I've ever been to. I drank loads of awesome beers with some good friends both old and new. Let’s do it again next year!


[Photos 1 & 4 weren't taken by me. Take a look at Elastic Productions' full album here:]

Friday, 15 February 2013

Booze: Craft Beer Rising 2013 preview

Woo! Craft beer! But not just craft beer. Woo! Music! And Woo! Street Food!

That’s probably not the most professional start to a festival preview ever but who cares for professionalism these days? Especially when next Friday and Saturday (22nd & 23rd of February for those of you who aren’t staring at a calendar right now) is the first ever Craft Beer Rising trade show & consumer beer festival.

Set in the grounds of the historic Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane in London, Craft Beer Rising is set to be the next big independent beer festivals where the breweries and food producers run their own bars and stalls, serving their beer precisely how that want it to be served and of course there will be music throughout the two days.

So, what are the details?

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Booze: Real Ale With Oriental Ginseng review

Hello again and a happy valentines day to all! Because of this yearly holiday, I thought I would treat you to a review of a beer I did with my buddy Jay, once again.

This time it is Real Ale with Ginseng. Jay got this in a magical mystery bin end box of beers from Ales By Mail. He showed me it in Norwich Taphouse the other night and I was like “Bro. You know it’s gonna be terrible. Let’s review it”. He couldn’t refuse.

On the label, there is absolutely no indication of where it’s brewed. It just says it’s brewed under license for an address on an industrial estate in Chelmsford. After a bit of searching, we managed to discover that it was brewed by the now insolvent High Wood Brewery once again, somewhere in Essex.

Now, for those of you who don’t know what Ginseng is, it’s a Chinese herb that in the past has been used as an aphrodisiac amongst other things. Mainly sexy sex things. Jay’s theory is probably quite right in that Ginseng beer was originally brewed to treat brewers droops.

Now, how about we drink some?

Beer: Real Ale With Oriental Ginseng
Brewery: High Wood Brewery (Probably)
Style: Herb/Vegetable/Fruit beer
ABV: 3.8%

Look: Looks clear yellow like your average lager but less carbonated.

Smell: Quite malty then a warm spice that really makes your nose tingle. Smells like a Chinese kitchen but with added urine.

Taste: I think it tastes like boiled cabbage and what I imagine raw Chinese 5 spice mix tastes like, if you would have snorted it. Jay, however, says it tastes like something you’d drink to cool your mouth down after a hot curry.

Mouthfeel: Watery with a very dry finish.

Verdict: It's not as bad as Jay thought it would be but I thought it was the most disgusting beer I have ever had in my life. I could barely take one gulp of it and right after I said to Jay “I really want that Mojito beer right now.” I cannot in good faith recommend that you buy this beer. Please for the love of god, just don’t. I wouldn’t even give it to my worst enemy.

Next time… I will probably review more weird and ‘wonderful’ beers with my sidekick Jay. I’m not brave enough to go it alone!



Thursday, 7 February 2013

Booze: Hanging out at London Fields Brewery!

A few months ago, Norwich Taphouse opened and started selling London Fields beers. Through their wonderful single hop IPA series and beers from their core range such as the wonderful Hackney Hopster pale ale and Black Frost Stout, I quickly fell in love with them and announced that they’re my favourite brewery of 2012.

With this in mind, I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I was when they invited me to go and hang out with them in their brewery!

So on Superbowl Sunday, I headed to London Fields Brewery along with Grace to meet Brewmaster Ben, Jimmy, the brewery musician and my buddy Luke.

As with a lot of new wave British breweries, London Fields is located under a railway. This is now becoming quite standard practice which is pretty cool.

As soon as we arrived and had made introductions, we were given a glass of their new Simcore IBA (Indian Black Ale – a much better descriptor than Black IPA). Fucking hell, it was good… the wonderful pineyness of the Simcoe hops on a bed of darkness, some coffee and roastiness. Has this beaten Black Hops as my favourite IBA? I think I need to sample some more to be sure!

Ben then walked us round the brewery and explained the brewing process to us, of which I previously knew very little about. The whole brewery setup is great. It’s actually really planned out well.

 I just think I should state here that Ben has the coolest accent I have ever heard. One minute he’ll sound like a total Yorkshireman then the next minute then he’ll sound incredibly German! It’s great!

We then walked round to the warehouse area where we passed some ready tapped casks and saw mountains of casks, kegs and bottles all on humongous shelves. I was in paradise. As you know, I love London Fields so I would love to just take some kegs home but I don’t think Greater Anglia has the space!

We were then poured a bottle of a new stout they have called Black Forest. They were hosting a food event but didn’t have a dessert beer so here it comes... a stout brewed with cherry juice and cocoa nibs. IT ACTUALLY FUCKING TASTED LIKE A BLACK FOREST GATEAUX. I’m not even joking. It was simply delicious and I could drink it all day. I believe Jimmy said it was 9% but you try being semi drunk in a room full of beer trying to concentrate.

We were then showed the cold store where the lager is conditioned and told that they plan on expanding it massively so they can brew more at a time. Definitely a good idea because not enough British breweries are brewing decent lagers.

We then decided to go and sit in their awesome looking taproom with a bit more Simcore and several bottles of Shoreditch Triangle IPA, one of my favourites and probably what I’ve drank most of lately. Just y’know, chatting. It was really fucking cool.

Then Jimmy cracked open a couple of Saisons, not of London Fields origin. The first one was BFM √225 Saison from Switzerland, something which I had never seen before. This is possibly the most amazing saison I’ve had. It was full of apricot, mango and pineapple with a MASSIVE funk. Simply incredible. Then out comes To Ol Snowball Saison. I’m a big fan of To Ol. Had quite a few of their beers and have enjoyed them all. Snowball was good but after the Square Root saison, I’m not sure I got that much from it.

I then decided to have a bottle of unfiltered lager. The one beer in their core range that I hadn’t had. I asked nicely, of course. It was great – grassy and floral hoppiness, that haze, the nice citrus notes that make you want to drink it on a hot summers day on the beach. Simply superb.

It was then that my time there sadly came to an end. I could happily have stayed there all night, chatting and drinking beer but I guess I’ll just have to return on Saturday 23rd February when the taproom will start opening on weekends.

Many thanks to Ben and Jimmy for inviting me over. I had a fucking amazing time and I will definitely be visiting on a regular basis!

You can find London Fields Brewery open on weekends from Saturday 23rd of February at 365-366 Warburton Street, E8 3RR in Hackney, London. You should definitely go there to drink tip-top beer and hang out with tip-top people!

You can also buy their beer from their online shop over at:

And converse with them on social media: