Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Foster’s Lime and Ginger Radler (beer review)

Radler. A traditional German beer based mixed drink. It comprises of a 1:1 or 3:2 ratio of various types of beer and some form of fizzy drink, like lemonade.

It’s basically a shandy, really. I have fond childhood memories of going away to terrible holiday parks and enjoying the even worse nightlife while drinking cans of Bass Shandy, with a straw hanging out.

It’s odd how we have the same things in different countries, yet they’re seen in different ways. In the UK, a shandy is something you give to kids to make them feel like they’re drinking beer like dad. Here a shandy is mainly made with bitter, or at least some form of ale. It’s brown, like the ale dad is drinking. In Germany, a radler is commonly seen as a sports drink… hell, Radler basically means “Cyclist”.

Anyway, I’d tried the original Lemon Foster’s Radler when it was released last year and I liked it. It was basically 2% ABV cloudy lemonade, which I’m not sure anyone could hate; unless, of course, you hate lemonade you weirdo.

Well last week I was kindly offered a sample of the new Lime and Ginger Radler, which I’d seen a poster for and was considering buying anyway as it sounded great.

It’s 2% and a mix of Foster’s Lager and Lime & Ginger soft drink… the part that says “Foster’s Lager” is enough to put many people off, but not me.

And it shouldn’t put you off either.

Essentially what it tastes like is Ginger Ale with a wedge of lime in it, and it’s really bloody refreshing.

It may not be ‘craft’ but I like it.

It’s a perfectly good, inexpensive, low ABV beer for summer drinking.

Thanks to Matt from TVC for sending me some, for my honest opinion!


P.S. I was also sent a bottle of the non-alcoholic lemon version, which I didn’t like as much. I’m generally not a fan of alcohol-free beers, and this wasn’t an exception. It just had an odd malty aftertaste which I couldn’t get on with. Emily seemed to enjoy it though, as she necked the bottle in double time!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

#DawgDay (Dawgocalypse 2) - The Aftermath

On Saturday 31st of May, the day arrived. The one that we had been waiting for, for months. DawgDay - my 25th Birthday pub crawl in Norwich!

I arrived at The Compleat Angler at about 12:20pm with Rob after a horrible bus ride, to find friends already there, drinking pints. There was Jay & Alec, my two good friends, as well as Chris & Katie who had come from London. I got a pint of Adnams dry-hopped lager, which is always delicious and reliable! Steve then rocked up, and to my surprise he'd brought me the gift of a Franziskaner glass that he had promised me a year ago, but we'd not had the chance to meet before now! Chris kindly gave me a cans of Fourpure IPA & Pale Ale, which I consumed late at night with KFC, they were amazing! Soon, David arrived as well as Kat & Yvan, then Andy in all his glory! Another half was consumed, this time it was Green Jack Orange Wheat; a beer I once disliked, but am now a fan of. Yvan and Kat also came bearing gifts, 2x 3 different beers from Great Heck Brewery - Amish Mash, Yakima IPA & Black Jesus, which I can confirm were also delicious!

Onward we march to Norwich Taphouse, which I think was probably the main pub people were interested in going to. My first beer was First Chop TEA, which was deliciously malty with a nice amount of fruity hops to add a bit of a kick, followed by Moor Illusion, a black IPA that I've been rather fond of for a while! It was at this point I got a call from the legendary Chris Dixon to meet him as he hadn't a clue where he was going! We got back to the Taphouse, and another beer was had - this time I shared a bottle of Wiper and True Mosaic IPA with Andy - I've had mixed experiences with Moasic hops, but can confirm that this was a good one!

The gang was split here, with a few people heading to The Rumsey Wells for a sneaky half of Lagunitas IPA, but the rest of us headed to The Plough which yet again people were fairly pumped for. I had two pints in here - Blonde Ash & Poter, which are always delicious and reliable. Especially the Blonde Ash, in the hot sun!

The Reindeer came next and I was delighted to see Magic Rock High Wire on keg... I ordered a pint as it would have been rude not to, then my brother rocked up and bought me another. Yes, I was on my way to being ruined!

After this, Yvan and a couple of others split off to The Fat Cat as he was collecting the City of Ale stamps in order to further decorate Colin the Squid, but the rest of us stuck true to our plan and made it to the White Lion. In retrospect, at this point during the evening, a pint of Milton Marcus Aurelius at 7.5% was not wise, but it was delicious. I think I had another beer here, but I can't be sure what it was as I wasn't bothering to use Untappd much!

My final stop of the night was The Plasterers where they were having a fined Vs unfined beer tasting but I didn't get involved. I was contacted by Ben earlier in the week with a beer list and asked to choose one to have on for my birthday crawl, that Yvan was going to deliver... I chose Moor Nor'Hop so I probably had about 4 pints of this, as well as Oakham Citra. People were dropping off here, having to get their trains home. I then went out to meet Emily and bring her to the pub to meet everyone, since she had been ill in the morning so couldn't make it for the full day. It was at this point she decided that it'd be wise to take me home, so I said my goodbyes and we dropped Chris & Katie at the train station.

By all accounts, the others who were still around decided to visit some other pubs in the city but I wouldn't have been able to cope with that!

My night ended by going to KFC, getting confused because I didn't know where the line was then returning with a bottle of Troubadour Magma, much to Emily's confusion! Luckily, my girlfriend is awesome and was happy to drive me to a different KFC so I could get my fix! You've probably seen the photo that Emily took of me later that night, but yeah, that's where the night ended. Drinking cans of beer and passing out in bed!

All in all, it was a fucking brilliant day and I seriously appreciate everyone who came out, especially those who came from far and wide - you are all awesome and I really hope you all had a brilliant day too!



Sunday, 8 June 2014

Harry Brompton's London Ice Tea (booze review)

Alcoholic Ice Tea. Why the hell is this a new thing?

I mean, when you think about it, alcoholic ice tea has always made sense but we never seemed to have thought about it before. I mean, when you look at summer beverages you think of Ice Tea when you're talking about alcohol free drinks, but drinks with alcohol are basically Pimm's and beer.

I've always been a fan of ice tea, when I can get the good stuff. You can forget Lipton's. It needs to be properly brewed ice tea. So when I heard about Harry Brompton, I just needed to try it!

Harry Brompton's London Ice Tea is the world's first premium alcoholic ice tea. It's 4% and made with ethically sourced Kenyan Black Tea as well as craft-distilled grain spirit and infused with citrus.

It sounds perfect for the summer, right? Well it is.

It's absolutely perfect the way the citrus flavours play with the delicious icy cold teas, without being able to taste the alcohol. You get some of the grain, which is natural, but none of it is in your face. It's a really refreshing summer drink, and my preference is to stick a wedge of lime in the bottleneck and drink it straight up!

There are many ways you can serve it, and Harry's minions have kindly provided some cocktail recipes on his website:

It's now available in some Waitrose stores, larger Sainsbury's stores and any bar with half a brain.

Harry Brompton's London Ice Tea really is the feel good drink of the summer!


Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Two Types of Premium

These days I usually don’t bother with posts like this, but something is frustrating me. That something is people complaining about prices of beers they don’t drink.

Complaining about prices of a beer you have no intention of drinking is like complaining that your cock has been chopped off when in fact it hasn’t. It makes absolutely no sense at all.

It’s got me thinking though, because the same people who are complaining about the price of ‘craft’ (which they don't want to drink - i.e. really hoppy or strong beers) are the same people who are complaining about the price of mass produced beers (that they don't plan on drinking) and this all boils down to not understanding why some beers have a premium price.

Why mass produced beer costs more:

You can make a completely valid point in saying that in theory, mass produced beer should in fact be cheaper than ‘craft’ because it’s made on a massive scale and bulk buying cuts the costs of the already relatively cheap, poor quality ingredients. That would be totally fair, but…

Have you seen the sheer size of those breweries? Have you seen the price of energy costs? Have you seen the amount of people who work for an international company? Have you seen the fleet of trucks? Have you seen the logistical nightmare it can be to get beer from A to B?

And then there’s advertising, which is arguably one of the biggest costs. Breweries like Guinness (Diageo) spend so much money on advertising and image to make sure that everywhere you turn your head, you see them. They have a tap in almost every pub in the world so you can’t even go on holiday without seeing them; they sponsor sporting events; hell, Guinness spends millions ensuring that pubs know how to serve their beer, the ridiculous two pour method (that turns out to be a pointless exercise and leaves you standing at the bar, looking like a bit of a knob); releasing a silly looking new font every year; and ensuring their beer mats & bar runners are on tables, and staff are wearing their t-shirts.

All of those things when put together raise the cost of each brew massively, along with the fact that it probably costs publicans £2 a pint to buy in so then you have to factor in basically all of that stuff for them too – their staff, their building, their utility bills… you get the image by now.

And that is why, in so many places, Guinness and the like is now costing around £4 a pint.

Why ‘craft’ beer costs more:

I do feel that I need to open this one by saying that I’m not exclusively talking about keg beer, as so many people are still ridiculously misguided and believe ‘craft’ to be keg. You know me though; I’m not entirely sure what craft beer is myself so this is kind of annoying. I guess what I’m really talking about is a lot of the new wave breweries like Magic Rock, Brewdog, Thornbridge, Weird Beard etc.

See, mostly this is going to be about economies of scale. They’re buying a lot less ingredients which is comparatively more expensive, adding to the price being raised by the fact that they’re using better quality ingredients and they’re using a lot more of them in each brew, instead of replacing 60% of the barley for rice or corn.

They’ve also got to factor in rent or mortgage costs because unlike the big guys, there’s a chance they don’t own the building outright. They’re also probably paying comparatively more expensive utility bills since they can’t get bulk discount on gas and electricity like those.

Essentially, they have basically the same costs as the big brewers but on a smaller scale and therefore pubs end up having to charge £4+ a pint for something between 4-5%.

At the end of the day, nobody is making a great deal of money on ‘craft’ beer. None of these ‘craft’ brewers or publicans are sitting in a sprawling mansion, drinking their beer out of a solid gold goblet, laughing at the fools who are spending £6 for a pint of their IPA. In fact, I’m sure many ‘craft’ brewers actually feel bad that people are having to pay that kind of money for their beer, but everyone needs to make a living.