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Showing posts from 2015

Golden Pints 2015

It's that time of the year again - the time where I actually pull my finger out and write a goddamn blog. Looking back over the past year, it's been a good one! I'm working my dream job in a brewery, I get to meet and talk to loads of really cool people at events and such and obviously I've had a lot of very good beers.

I mean, A LOT of beers as always. Writing this, I really really want to include some of our Redwell Beers but I've decided not to. I want it to be unbiased. I absolutely love all of the beers we've brewed this year but I can't keep raving about them on my blog!
It's just all so difficult to do because I've had so many beers. ARGH.
Anyway... what have I enjoyed most?
Best UK cask beer: Honestly, I'm still drinking very little cask beer but a beer I constantly get excited about when I see it on cask is Magic Rock Rapture. Such an outstanding beer.
Best UK keg beer: This is especially difficult because I've drunk more keg beer tha…

The Humble English Bitter

Hops. High ABV. Hurricanes of Wild Yeast. All twisting your tongue, assaulting your palate; wish I had more rhythm as I'd make this a ballad.

It's 2015 and the world of beer is moving fast. We're hopping the fuck out of beers, we're making them strong as fuck, we're making them so sour that they suck your face in and we're adding ingredients that 10 years ago we wouldn't have dreamed of putting in beer.

As a beer geek, I love how experimental and crazy the craft beer scene is, but I'm as guilty as most of you. I've forgotten about where my love of beer first started - the humble English bitter.

I walk into a pub with a bank of 8 hand pumps, I scan the bar, there are English bitters but almost every time I will pick something that sounds like it might be the most hoppy; or I'll pick a keg beer, obviously.

I see an English Bitter on that bar and I ignore it, as if it doesn't exist. I almost give it an evil glance as I cast it asunder, as if it…

Czeching It Out - Bernard Pub Andel

Smichov was a nice area to stay in as it was the less touristy side of the river, and felt more local; sure it was busy, with a shopping mall and several late night bars and casinos but it kinda felt homely, with the quiet back streets and beautiful architecture.

One thing that impressed me about Prague, as silly as it is, is how easy it was to cross the road compared to other foreign cities I've been to. People in the Czech Republic generally seem quite chilled out, not in a rush to get anywhere, and I liked that.

I've been a fan of Pivovar Bernard for years, ever since I first drunk in the Euston Tap. Their range of lagers have always been available there, and were a go-to for when I was a bit hop tired.

I was delighted to find that there was a Bernard Pub about a ten minute walk from where I stayed so it'd be rude not to pop in for dinner and a few drinks.

Yet again it's another smoking establishment, which even as a smoker I got a bit annoyed at since I was eating …

Czeching It Out - A Trip To The Zoo

I love zoos. Animals are great and I love getting the opportunity to see animals that I've not seen before, even if it is in captivity.

As soon as I learned that Prague Zoo has polar bears, I was sold. It's unlikely that I'll ever get the chance to see one in the wild, so I figured it'd be cool to visit.

Getting from where I stayed in Smichov, to the zoo, took a lot less time that I anticipated considering it's right on the outskirts; a long tram journey past AC Sparta Praha stadium, past the ice hockey rink, then onto a bus. The trams are crazy in Prague... like at one point, the tram basically went up a spiral road.

A fiver to get into the zoo is an absolute steal considering the average cost of entry to a British zoo is around £20 and to be honest, it did make me a little concerned as to how the animals would be kept, but it turns out they all seemed really happy.

Wandering around for a bit, seeing common zoo animals like Red Pandas and Macaws before finally fin…

Czeching It Out - Beer Geek Bar

Fresh off the train from Plzen, maybe a little inebriated, I decided to head to Beer Geek Bar, which I'd heard good things about.

Although I love the traditional Czech lagers, I knew there was more to the beer scene over there and I was sure I could find some form of non-traditional Czech beers, IPAs, Pale Ales and the like.

Off the tram. Cross the road. Down a stair case. A new, clean looking bar. It's busy, but not rammed. Familiar set up of taps on the back wall. 30 taps. I'm going to have fun. A good selection of beers from all around Europe; a couple from the USA; and oh look, Brewdog bottles in the fridge.

To my surprise, pale ales and IPAs are all served in Spiegelau IPA glasses.

I started with Matuška Raptor, a 6.3% IPA that's as juicy as any American style IPAs you get in the UK... Amarillo and Cascade work really well with the Czech hops they're also using, to give you a proper juicy banger. Light grapefruit, a bit of bitterness, lovely.

Next I went for B…

Czeching It Out - Pilsner Urquell

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It's around midnight and I'm descending into Prague on a Wiz Air flight from Luton Airport. A blinding flash of light. A deafening bang. Not the greatest start to my 26th year on this planet, with the fear of imminent death. The air crew weren't fazed; sitting; chatting amongst themselves. You could cut the tension on the plane with a butter knife.

We land. We're still alive. The captain speaks, telling us we're all very lucky to have experienced something so rare as a light on the side of the plane exploding... nobody laughs.

It's pissing it down. Taxi. Get to the hotel. Apparently the room I'm in is actually around the corner. Follow the map. Drenched. Open a door. The scene in front of me with bright lights shining on a rainy courtyard reminds me of the final episode of Prison Break Season 2 when Michael goes to SONA.

Up early, walk to Tesco, breakfast. Tesco is amazing in the Czech republic, by the way. It's big. I couldn't find an umbrella. Past…

Maris Otter 50 Festival

Maris Otter is a variety of malting barley that, as beer drinkers, most of us are familiar with. It was introduced in 1966 by H Banham of Norfolk and is incredibly popular all around the world.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this wonderful strain of barley, a beer festival was organised and put on by David at Norfolk Brewhouse where the idea is that 50 breweries, mostly from the UK with a smattering of foreign breweries would brew a one off, limited edition beer using Maris Otter malted barley.

It's a great way to celebrate this wonderful variety of barley, so I figured that despite being iller than the Beastie Boys, it'd be rude not to pop along... once, twice or even thrice!

Venue:

The venue was Open in Norwich, which is primarily used for gigs. I've been to a few here and it's always a good venue. It worked for the beer festival too. Two, long, double stacked rows of casks with a keg bar at the back. Upstairs was food (we'll get to that later) and my buddy …

We Need to Talk About Sours

Sours, arguably the latest craze in the beer world that has become more than that. It has become an obsession. Obsession is not healthy, in any scenario, and it can often lead to the demise of something good.

I like sour beers but these days I can't move for them... they're everywhere, whether they're on keg, in bottle, in can or on cask. The latter format is the one that makes me laugh most considering sour cask ale has always been attributed to the beer being off, unintentionally, whether it's the brewer's fault the beer got an infection or poor cellarmanship. Admittedly, you don't see too many sour beers on cask, because if I'm going to generalise, the vast majority of people who drink almost exclusively cask beers are the type who wouldn't like sour beer.

I recently did the Bermondsey Beer Mile and literally everywhere I went had some form of sour beer... Brew by Numbers, Kernel (arguably the first in the UK to make them), Partizan, Anspach and Hobd…

Beer review: Brewdog Electric India

It was July 2013, the day after the first ever Birmingham Beer Bash. Andrew and I woke in our Holiday Inn, way too hungover to deal with life. Kick out time. The hangover is making us incredibly hungry so we walk, not knowing Birmingham at all, to try find food. Eventually we settle on a Wetherspoons because the breakfasts are cheap and reliable. Full of greasy food and dreadful coffee, we walk but as it's a Sunday nothing was really open. The perils of having set time train tickets is that you're forced to find something to do.

It finally reached midday, otherwise known as pub opening time and we found the Brewdog bar that I'd been drinking in with friends the two previous nights.

We wandered in to peruse the beer boards... one for Brewdog and one for guests. Still, I struggle to choose. Electric India sounded good, and on a hot day sitting outside Brewdog Birmingham, it was.

I don't remember too much about my first experience of Electric India due to a combination of…

Belgium to Kansas City

Everyone knows Duvel. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fully fledged beer geek like me, or if you’re just an everyday person who likes the occasional supermarket selection when you can’t be bothered to go to the pub.
For years now, the golden Belgian strong ale has been a mainstay in the fridges of many pubs and supermarket shelves. You can go to a seemingly average boozer with a less than interesting tap list and you’ll probably find Duvel. You will find it in all of the major supermarkets, too, rarely priced at more than £2 a bottle.
This 8.5% foreign delight that you see everywhere, with its crunchy nut cornflake sweetness, just enough booziness that teases you, telling you to drink more when you know you shouldn’t, has become as common as Fuller’s London Pride, and it’s not a bad thing.
Slightly harder to come by, however, is their yearly Tripel Hop release. This has been released each year for a fair few years now and I’m happy to say that I’ve caught 4 of them now. The idea i…

Book review: Mikkeller's Book of Beer

Every so often I get sent a beer book review and from the moment I got a press release about Mikkeller's Book of Beer I was excited. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is one of the most famed and exciting brewers in Europe, if not the world I knew that hearing what he has to say about how he started up, why he does what he does and his view on beer would surely be exciting.

First of all, the layout of the book is beautiful. It's so cleanly laid out yet full of Mikkeller's in house artist Keith Shore's artwork and wonderful photographs.

First we have a brief history of beer, which basically retells many of the myths we've all learned are crap but it's entertaining and captivating nonetheless, before we get to Mikkeller's story.

The whole story of Mikkeller is a fascinating one and the way he tells it cuts the bullshit. I've heard many stories from many different people about how he came to start brewing and none of them are remotely close to the one in this book, the …

#ShowUsYourLocal - Old Favourites & New Beginnings

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I’ve never really had just one local pub. Sure, throughout time there have been certain pubs I’ve spent more time in than others, whose bar staff I’ve come to know and even call my friends, but I’ve never really been someone to just go to one particular pub all of the time, or even in the same night. I’ve always had many local pubs that each serves its own purpose.

I was asked to participate in the Show Us Your Local campaign by Jamie’s Drinkstube, which I have happily obliged to take part in. Below I will tell you about the pubs in Norwich that I call my locals and why.

The Norwich Taphouse is a special kind of pub as it was the first ever craft beer bar in Norwich. Before this opened in November 2012, the people of Norwich knew nothing about the weird and wonderful new world styles of beers that were available in keg. I remember going there on opening night and it’s still a pub I regularly go to as they consistently have something I want to drink as well as bar staff I can sit and c…

Hosting a Brewery Tour

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As a beer geek I've been on many brewery tours... from London Fields back when it was tiny, all the way to Adnams which is not so small.

I think it's fair to say that from a combination of this and my love of beer, that I know a fair bit about the stuff.

I remember when Redwell Brewery first opened, it was much smaller than it is now and I was given a kind of informal tour of the brewery... this was two years ago.

Two years on I'm working at Redwell, it's much bigger and now I'm doing the tours.

I am actually hosting brewery tours. I've done two so far and coming into the brewery on a Saturday to educate people about craft beer and most importantly our beer, brewery and future plans excites me.

Seeing people have their first taste of Steam Lager, their eyes lighting up, the 'woah, I didn't know lager could taste like this' factor, to me is exciting and it's what I live for.

Then comes even more excitement when I tell people that we can sample unf…

A small crawl in London

I had Friday off work so I decided to go to London for a few beers. I'd not done a proper London pub crawl in ages so it was rather nice, I got to drink some beers that I otherwise wouldn't tried.

I started off in Craft Beer Co Covent Garden (which, btw, isn't really in Covent Garden) with a half pint of the Siren/Beavertown/Magic Rock collaborative beer Rule of Thirds. It's 6.4% and pours golden with a fluffy white head, it's full of grapefruit, blood orange, mango & peach flavours and was really delicious.

The bar itself is brilliant... one long bar with 45 beers on draught. Most of these are keg, but there were around 10 cask beers (about a third of these were Thornbridge so not that varied). It's very bright upstairs, windows all around allowing you to look at the busy passersby. There was also a small smoking area out the front which made me happy as I could take my drink with me, unlike many craft beer bars. Downstairs is The Lounge, which is dark and…