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Showing posts from 2014

#12BeersOfXmas Day One - Stewart Weiss Christmas Blanc

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Alright, my advent calendar didn't quite work out did it? I know I've posted before but apologies, I was a little busy. I'm still busy, I have stuff to do, but I really want to do 12 beers of Xmas to support my buddy Steve at The Beer O'Clock Show.

Him and Mark run a brilliant podcast that I was lucky enough to guest on once (until my battery died and I had no charger) and I'm looking forward to doing it again one day.

Yesterday was day one and I picked Stewart Brewing Weiss Christmas Blanc (4.7%, Edinburgh). We'd shared a few bottles of this in the office as they were nice enough to send us a bunch of samples when we bought a couple of pallets from them, and I enjoyed it but on cask it really is even better.

So this beer is a German style Hefeweizen with added spices, in the spirit of Christmas. To be honest, I think it was a genius move to brew a Christmas Wheat Beer because nobody else seems to do it - Christmas beers all tend to be fairly dark.

It pours lik…

Golden Pints 2014

2014 has been absolutely mammoth for me because I finally got myself a job in the beer industry, at Redwell Brewery in Norwich. I've been drinking Redwell beers since the beginning and I've known everyone involved since way before it started so I was so happy when they offered me a job. Basically what I'm doing is covering all aspects of social media, marketing, promotions, events, beer festivals amongst other things. I've been here about a week and a half now, and it's just awesome! I'm so happy to be working in an industry that I love, with some really awesome people who I call friends.

Anyway, I do Golden Pints every year and it's always so difficult because I drink a ridiculous amount of beer. Probably too many beers. I'll give it a crack, though, as always.
Best UK Cask Beer: Oakham Citra (again) - Seriously, I have no reason to choose any other cask beer. This is probably because these days, I don't drink enough of them and when I do it's a…

Bullitt at the Ten Bells

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Alright, I haven't kept up with my advent calendar because I've had other things to do, but it's cool. I imagine I'll get back on it soon... rest assured that I've still been drinking all the beer!

Anyway, last Friday manager of Ten Bells in Norwich, Richard, invited me and a guest along to sample Bullitt's new menu along with the winter cocktail menu.



We arrived at 7:30pm and were shown to our table by Richard who left us to peruse the cocktail & food menus. After a while another member of staff came over to take our first cocktail orders - I went for a Cold Buttered Rum which was incredible - it was so smooth with the rum and spices coming through perfectly. My guest went for something a little different - I forget what it's called but it was marvellously sour and bitter with a little sweetness.

Our food orders were taken - I got Pork on Pork while my guest got the only suitable option for her as she doesn't eat meat, Taiwanese style hirata buns w…

Advent Calendar Day 5 - Helsingborgs Kaffestout

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So day 5 now, and my second day at Redwell Brewery as Marketing Manager and it's a beer from a strange land since David Jones is back. This is a beer he has been brewing at Helsingborg Brewery in Sweden.

Brewery: Helsingborgs
Beer: Kaffestout
ABV: 8.5%
Style: Coffee Stout
Country: Sweden
Where I drank it: Redwell Brewery

Look: Pitch black with a large tan head that sticks around for a while.

Aroma: Coffee, coffee and more coffee! Woah.

Flavour: Sweet black coffee with a handful of spiky hops.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth, so drinkable.

Overall: I absolutely love this beer. It's ridiculously drinkable and delicious and I want more!

Cheers,

Nate

Advent Calendar Day 4 - Adnams Wild Hop

As I've mentioned before, Adnams are one of my favourite British breweries. They may be fairly traditional with Southwold Bitter and Broadside, but head brewer Fergus proves that he can use lashings of hops and brew new world style beers time and time again.

To be honest though, i rarely buy their bottled or canned beers (other than Ghost Ship) because here in Norwich I'm guaranteed to find their beers on cask and keg everywhere.

They did, however, contact me a couple of weeks ago asking if I wanted to try their two new beers to write about and here's the first one...

Brewery: Adnams
Beer: Wild Hop
ABV: 4.8%
Style: Amber Beer
Country: England
Where I drank it: At home

Wild Hop Amber Beer is a very awesome idea. What Adnams did was put feelers out into the internet to essentially crowd source wild hops, as well as ones that people had been growing in their gardens. Due to this, it's rather interesting as the hops used are basically unspecified - they could be any variety and …

Advent Calendar Day 3: Redwell beers & Raging Speedhorn

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"I don't like lager. I only really drink ale but this is awesome" says Jim as he slams his empty glass that used to contain Redwell Hells Lager on the table. This is why I do the beer thing, for reactions like this. I introduce people to beers they wouldn't usually drink.

Last night I had the pleasure of meeting up with British Heavy Metal band Raging Speedhorn before the first night of their first UK tour in 6 years, at Norwich Waterfront.

You'll know from my history that I don't do regular band interviews. They're boring. The guys from Raging Speedhorn agree "Why have you reformed? Who are your influences?" Jay tells me they get asked all of the time.


So I took the guys to Norwich Taphouse and figured I'd introduce them to our beers from Redwell Brewery, just to put an awesome spin on things.

We started off with Hells, which was loved all around the table. Guys, like Jim, who don't drink lager, loved it. They say they could drink pint …

Advent Calendar Day 2: Thornbridge Sequoia

Woop, day two! That means two blogs in one day. Poor you.

Anyway, I'm sure y'all know what the deal is.

Brewery: Thornbridge
Beer: Sequoia
ABV: 4.5%
Style: American Amber Ale
Country: UK
Where I drank it: Mash Tun, Norwich

Thornbridge are, without a doubt, one of the best breweries in the UK. Again, it's a brewery that nails everything they do and I've been drinking their beers for as long as I remember.

Sequoia is an American Amber Ale... it's a style that's not brewed so often over here, with many breweries favouring American IPAs or even Red Ales.

I'm probably cheating a bit here as it's a beer I know and love already, but still.

Looks: Dark Amber, slightly hazy (cask was fresh on & I don't mind a bit of haze) with a lovely fluffy white head.

Aroma: On the nose you get chewy toffee sweets along with some pine and citrus fruit.

Flavour: Citrus fruits leading into light toffee with a lovely marmalade covered digestive biscuit base.

Mouthfeel: So smooth a…

Advent Calendar Day 1: Beavertown/Mikkeller/Arizona - Sour Power

Just an idea I got, I'm gonna make sure I write something every day and to do that I figured I'd write about a beer I have each day leading up to Christmas. Obviously this is a day late but YOLO. That means you unlucky people get two blogs today.

Brewery: Beavertown & Mikkeller & Arizona Wilderness (collaboration)
Beer: SOUR POWER
ABV: 6%
Style: Red Saison with sour cherries & redcurrants
Country: UK/Denmark/USA
Where I drank it: Norwich Taphouse (Half pint on keg)

So this is a collaboration between the awesome Beavertown Brewery in London, Mikkeller in Denmark & Arizona Wilderness in the USA. I'm a massive fan of Beavertown as they seem to nail every style of beer they brew, and Mikkeller is legendary. I've never had anything from Arizona Wilderness because I'm pretty sure they don't export, but I've heard very good things.

Look: As red as a cloudy summer sky, that is to say that it's pretty damn red but there's defintely a storm coming!

Ar…

This. Is. Pretty. Good.

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So last week I posted a blog about the fact that I had a pint of Brewdog This. Is. Lager, a beer that I like, after having two pints of Pilsner Urquell thus rendering BD TIL pretty shit.
See, Brewdog and I, we’ve had our differences in the past but they were pretty cool about it and offered to send me a few bottles which was awfully nice of them!
A couple of days later, before the bottles arrived, I had a spare hour or so on my hands so I decided to pop into The Bell Hotel Wetherspoons in Norwich and have a pint on an untainted palate, and it was the beer I remember having pre-Urquell. It was great – it had that solid biscuity malt backbone, that hop bite and a crisp and clean refreshing finish. Somehow it was warming, even on a cold evening.
I loved it!
Then, last Thursday, three bottles arrived at my house. Sadly I was suffering from a really horrific cold so I couldn’t crack one open there and then, I shoved them in the fridge and decided to come back to them when I was feeling goo…

Thinking Drinkers: The Enlightened Imbibers Guide to Alcohol (Book Review)

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Ben McFarland & Tom Sandham are known throughout these lands as the Thinking Drinkers. While Ben has been crowned British Beer Writer of the Year a triad of times, Tom is former editor of a cocktail magazine called CLASS.
Together they do a variety of things including writing (as demonstrated in this book), tasting sessions for those who want to learn more about booze & performed in shows from Edinburgh to the London West End. The whole point of this book is to encourage people to Drink Less but Drink Better, which is a bloody good mantra and one that many of us have fallen foul of in the past.
Anyway, this brilliant book takes you through all of the main food drink groups… you’ve got beer, wine, whisk(e)y, gin, tequila, vodka… everything.
Every chapter gives you insight into the history of each beverage, along with amusing segments on famous people who are renowned for drinking said drinks, cocktails, recommendations and general hilarity!
The whole book is so captivating and…

This. Is. Ehhh.

Yesterday Alec and I had a Christmas dinner in Wetherspoons and as part of the deal for £8.99 you can get a beer… luckily, these days, it’s not restricted to Carling or Ruddles. These days you can get any of the craft cans, any real ale or either of the craft beers on keg.
I got Brewdog This. Is. Lager with mine, which I have had many pints of before but last night I realised I don’t like it as much as I thought I did.
Last night, I just found it all wrong, so unbalanced. Too sweet yet too bitter, too carbonated yet too dry, when previously I had proclaimed that it’s everything I want in a Pilsner.
And then I realised what the problem was.
Pilsner Urquell.
Yes, the problem was that earlier in the evening I’d had two pints of Pilsner Urquell, the classic, the original, the legendary Czech pilsner. So beautifully crisp, floral and creamy; a beer you can drink pint after pint of without getting bored.
A pilsner that ruins all other pilsners because of its perfection.
Of course, I am well…

Haynes Men’s Pie Manual (Book Review)

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When I first read the press release about this book, I’m sure you’ll forgive me that I didn’t actually read the word “Men’s”. I read “Haynes Pie Manual by Andrew Webb”. That was enough to get me excited.
I received the book and thought “Hang on a minute; this is making a few assumptions”. Firstly, it’s assuming at as a man, I don’t have the foggiest idea of how to make a pie (I do – I’ve made many in my time) and secondly it is assuming one of two things – either that pies are foodstuff for men, and men only, or it is assuming that women automatically know how to make pies from birth. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed at this.
I then started reading and was thankful that he kept the “Hey manly men, I’m talking to you, you loser who doesn’t know how to make a pie” to a minimum, aside from the occasional “RED MEAT PIE ARE ESPECIALLY FOR MEN. MEN LOVE RED MEAT.”
So yeah, he doesn’t talk directly to us men right through the book which is a good thing, but it’s all still rather irritating. …

Unrealistic Expectations

As I sit in wetherspoons having a diet coke, I'm thinking. I really wanted to write something positive about Wetherspoons as I love it but half of what i want to say is negative.
The thing is, when they announced their craft taps of Brewdog This. Is. Lager. And Devil's Backbone IPA I was excited, and to be honest I'm still excited about there being something I'm guaranteed to drink on tap in any wetherspoons I go into. I mean, This. Is. Lager. Is a fucking stupid name but it has everything I want in a Pilsner. Devil's Backbone IPA isn't what I expected but it's delicious nonetheless. Sure, it doesn't have buckets full of hops in it but it's still delicious.
What doesn't excite me, strangely enough, is the prices. Youre probably thinking "what the fuck. How are you not excited at £3 a pint?" And I'll tell you why...
It gives people unrealistic expectations of the price of decent keg beer. See, I was excited when I was expecting both…

NSV Craft Beer Festival 2014 Preview

A while ago I had mentioned that I was involved in the social media side of Norwich’s first ever craft beer festival and now I have a list of beers that will be on over the course of the festival and everything is finalised for this coming Thursday, I figured I’d write a blog.
Firstly, what/where/when/how/why?
Where: St Margaret’s Art Church, St Benedict’s Street, Norwich When: Thursday 9th October – Saturday 11th October (5pm - 11 Thursday then 12pm til 4 & 5pm til 11 Friday and Saturday) Cost: £4 (£2 for NSV wristband holders) includes branded glass which can be returned for £1 refund
Food: Proper Pizza Co & Meat Merchants Beers: A mixture of cask, keg, bottles & cans
We are very happy to have the following breweries with their own bars, these are:
Firebrand Brewery – A seriously bloody good up and coming brewery from Cornwall. I first sampled their beers at Craft Beer Rising this year and was impressed so I’m excited to see these guys coming up for it!
Signature Brew – An awe…

Two New Guinness Beers (beer review)

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Guinness. It’s an internationally recognised name, it’s seen in probably 90% of pubs and bars all across the world from London to San Francisco to Tokyo.
Guinness. The iconic adverts and two part pour. The shamrock that’s drawn in the tight, creamy head on the top of your pint.

Guinness is everywhere. Guinness is unmistakable.
I don’t think I really need to explain what Guinness is, but I will say that it is a beer I love to this very day, even in all of my beer geekdom. It’s reliable and delicious.
Guinness is owned by Diageo these days, one of the biggest alcoholic beverage companies in the world. They’ve decided to try and expand the Guinness brand by bringing out two new beers and I was lucky enough to be asked if I want to try them.
And of course, I jumped at the chance. In fact, I’m rather excited about trying them. They’re both modelled on recipes from many moons ago, but have been upgraded I suppose using modern brewing processes and a shiny brewery.
To start with, the labels…

Moosehead Lager & Pale Ale (beer review)

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I'm not well versed in Canadian beer as it doesn't seem to make it to the UK often. Sure, I've drank a lot of Carling which originates from there and I remember spending a day in London years ago in the Maple Leaf pub in Covent Garden drinking multiple pints of Sleeman's IPA and Honey Brown lager, but I'd never had anything from Canada's oldest independent brewery.

What's interesting about Moosehead is that it was founded by a woman, Susannah Oland back in 1867 and is still operated by the same family. The fact that it was founded by a woman all of the way back then is great but people generally don't know this. People quite rightly celebrate the female brewers of today, but Moosehead is quite an important brewery, in Canada at least, so she deserves some recognition.

They've had quite a rocky history, changing names a couple of times and unfortunately two fires within 8 years but each time they recovered and got stronger. Also, its success in the US…

The Session #91 - My First Belgian

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The Session is a monthly event for the beer blogging community which was started by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer. On the first Friday of each month, all participating bloggers write about a predetermined topic. Each month a different blog is chosen to host The Session, choose the topic, and post a roundup of all the responses received. For more info on The Session, check out the Brookston Beer Bulletin’s nice archive page.
This months session is hosted by Belgian Smaak… and is all about your first Belgian Beer.
My first Belgian? What is this, a new Fisher Price toy?
My first Belgian beer was obviously Stella Artois. I’m not going to hide from that. Some people say that it doesn’t count, but of course it bloody does.
I remember when I was 12, a friends’ parents were out for the day so we decided we were going to drink beer. We made the conscious decision to get drunk. It was irresponsible. We were 12 years old… we wanted to experience it and find out why our parents drank alcohol…

Tasting notes… what are you on about?

Obviously, as an amateur wannabe beer writer, I review beers and I read other people’s reviews of beers.
Right now I’m getting absolutely fucking sick of reading beer reviews, to be perfectly honest.
I see people write about aromas that make me gag just from the idea and flavours that really don’t make sense and make me want to vomit, and remember… I’m a seasoned beer drinker.
I’ve had beers that have encompassed all manner of flavours, but let’s be honest here… most tasting notes by beer reviewers are bullshit. They’re incredibly off putting and I wonder if some people come up with the most ridiculous tasting notes just as a test to see if someone else will call them out and say “What the fuck are you even on about?”
Even as someone who has drank so many different beers, I read reviews and I’m instantly put off.
You cannot write that a beer smells like damp field mushrooms covered in manure, tasting like spunk covered hedgerow and expect people to believe your conclusion that it was…

The Evils of Beer Conversion

Nearly everywhere I look I see advocates of good beer talking about “converting” non-beer drinkers… from other blogs, to nationally recognised beer campaigns, to the drinks menus in Brewdog bars that suggest what beer to drink instead of their wines & spirits.
Conversion in this sense is an evil word as it’s all about changing people’s ideas and perceptions, much like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons who knock on your door while you’re kicking back eating a fry-up on a Saturday morning… people telling you that everything you know is wrong and that you’re somewhat inferior if you don’t believe.
That’s what “Conversion” sounds like to me. It doesn’t sound like a gentle nudge saying “hey, why not try this beer? You might like it”, conversion sounds like you’re judgementally forcing someone to do something because it’s what you like and believe in even if they are quite happy doing what they enjoy.
“Conversion” doesn’t convey a welcoming sense of community, in fact it does quite the o…

London Craft Beer Festival 2014 Review

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On Sunday some friends and I decided to travel down to Oval Space in Hackney for London Craft Beer Festival. As I mentioned in my preview blog, it’s a festival whereby all of the beer is included in admission price as well as the breweries serving their own beer (or at least someone who knows about beer. Probably).
We got to the venue and collected our glass, bottle caps (third pint tokens) and program before heading up to the room of doom.
The Venue:
It was a small but comfortable venue with a decked area where food was, as well as a balcony area overlooking the old gas terminals. There were breweries all around the room and a stage in the middle for the performers.
Across the road there was also another venue that they were using to promote holidays in Flanders. We sampled some delicious cheese and whitebait.
The Food:
I would have liked to see some more reasonably priced food. There was a stand selling hot dogs in burger baps for £6.50 which seemed like a rip off, and the other optio…

White Horse, Chedgrave (Burger Review)

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The other Sunday Emily and I were on our way back to her house in Gorleston, from mine in Norwich and we were hungry. Not regular hungry but superhuman hungry. We decided to go the long way back instead of the straight route down the A47 so we could find a pub to go to for lunch. After passing several that didn’t look too appealing, I said to Emily to turn down towards Chedgrave/Loddon way as I recall going through there once and noticing several pubs.
We decided to stop at the first one we saw, The White Horse, as it had a rustic look yet there was also something modern about it. It turned out to be a good decision.
We parked up and walked past the pub’s own bowls green and past the families who were just finishing up lunch, with the kids running around and screaming because obviously the sugar in dessert and the copious amounts of coca cola was too much for them to handle.
We walked into the pub and up to the bar – there were a few hand pumps with Young’s Bitter, Timothy Taylor’s La…

London Craft Beer Festival 2014 preview

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Imagine being able to go to a beer festival, where all of the bars are manned by the breweries representing them AND beer is included in your ticket price.
I’m just going to let that sink in for a while.
You ready yet?
Yes, at London Craft Beer Festival all of the beer from each the 24 breweries is included in your £35 (+booking fee) ticket price. For that money you can have a ‘small pour’ of every single beer in there, if you wish, as well as 4 ‘big pours’ which amount to 1/3rd pint each… you also get your LCBF glass and a program with information of all of the breweries involved.
This kind of beer festival is based on ones you find in America. They’re not like the ones here where you pay to get in, pay for a glass then pay for all of your beer. You get to try everything if you want, for one price. I think it’s a great concept because for me, a beer festival is all about trying as many different beers as possible.
Amongst the breweries represented will be British household names lik…

The Mash Tun, Norwich (Pub review)

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The Mash Tun. Such an appropriate name for a craft beer establishment. They could have used “Hop Store” I suppose, but that gives the image of being rather cold.
It’s situated on Charing Cross in Norwich and is in the building that was previously known as The Hog in Armour, a pub that I recall being awful.
Luckily for us, The Mash Tun isn’t. In fact, The Mash Tun is rather good.
When you walk in you’ll notice that the main room is incredibly long and narrow, and right in front of you is a large board displaying the names of breweries (Weird Beard was spelt wrong), the beers, ABV and prices. Oddly though, only the keg prices are listed. Not cask.
You glance to the bar on the right and you’ll notice the unique keg taps which have a chamber above it, showing you the colour of the beer as well as beer menus on tables which give you a brief description of the beer. This can be incredibly helpful for customers in deciding what to drink based on their preference BUT it does have a big disadv…

Georgian Townhouse, Norwich (Bar review)

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The Georgian Townhouse is an iconic building, right at the top of Unthank Road in Norwich. It was previously a rather upmarket hotel, paired with RARE Steakhouse but closed maybe last year, I don’t know, I wasn’t really paying attention.
Now it has been refurbished and reopened, not as a hotel but as a Restaurant/Craft Beer Bar, with private function rooms.
I was first alerted to it on Twitter a couple of months ago, before it opened. They tweeted me a photo of Budvar Dark, saying they’ll have it on tap when they open and I remember thinking “oh, that’s nice”, not quite expecting the rest of the beer list, but more on that later!
Walking into the car park, you get a real sense of scale when you look at the big, beautiful building. It really is a sight to behold. Although there are a few doors at the front, you have to walk to the furthest right to get in. You’re greeted by a host who asks if you’re dining, in which case they’ll show you to your seat, otherwise you’re left to your own …

The New Entertainer, Gorleston (Pub Review)

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As I’m walking down pier plain in Gorleston, a couple of blocks over from the docks, on a warm Sunday evening that’s slowly getting dimmer I see the pub that I’ve been meaning to check out for a while. Emily was out cruising with her friends, like she does every Sunday night, so I thought it’d be my perfect opportunity.
I see the pub on the corner and I stop for a moment. It doesn’t look like the kind of pub I’d want to go in. It’s on a street corner and it looks beaten up, and it looks like entering will get me beaten up.
I slowly pluck up the courage to walk closer to the pub and circumvent the building to find the entrance. There is a sign pointing to the right side of the building, but there are about 5 doors. Of course, it had to be the last one.
I push the door that feels like it’s going to fall off of its hinges and walk through the tiny corridor and walk in.
It’s a weirdly narrow pub, very traditional looking, with seating around the edges, a massive mirror above the fireplac…