Saturday, 19 September 2009

Boozing in London

I went on another pub crawl in London yesterday. As some peoples memories were a little hazy from the last one we had to do some of the pubs previously covered again. The lovely Lisa had it all worked out on google map so we had the map and directions sorted: 

First stop was the Edgar Wallace, and an excellent pub with a fine beer selection. I started on the Edgar Pale Ale, or Nethergate IPA as it is normally known. This was good stuff for a 3.5% ABV beer, plenty of hops, if a bit lacking in body. Next I moved on to Ascot Gold Cup which had the smell of wet dog but tasted OK. I'm not entirely certain what I had next. I'd asked for Ottley's California, but I've a strong suspicion I ended up wit Ascot's Octoberfest. It definitely detected the vegetable flavours I associate with lager and I can't say cask lager does it for me. Or keg lager for that matter, not often anyway.

Then it was on to the Old Bank of England for a pint of pride and some food. We had the pie selection, the seafood selection and the vegetarian selection between us all. Plenty of variety but I think we'd have been better off with just plenty of pies. Who needs vegetables when you can have pies?

After that it was the Seven Stars where the always have something from the Dark Star brewery on. This time it was Dark Side of the Moon, a quality dark and hoppy beer. We also had a bowl of peanuts here which I fear was my undoing. The way I'm feeling this morning I'm sure one of them must have been mouldy. How many times have I told myself to watch out for mouldy peanuts and green crisps? Yet once again I've woken up after a session feeling really rough. Good job beer's good for you or I'd probably feel even worse. 

Next stop was the Bierodrome, a Belgian beer establishment. The lovely Lisa had De Koninck, the beer which Wetherspoons imported and casked. They shouldn't have bothered though - it's better on keg as the lower carbonation of cask beer makes it too sweet. I went for something from the holy fathers, having a bottle of Orval. I've gone off a lot of Trappist beers recently but Orval was still good stuff. It undergoes a secondary fermentation with a Brettanomyces yeast, the yeasts named after Britain as they were found in beer made by the old British system of maturing for months in large vats. That's pretty much gone by the wayside now so Brettanomyces is much more associated with Belgium. They give the beer a distinctive, and not entirely pleasant, smell but I do like the taste. And it has a cool glass. 

Time was getting away from us at this point so we scurried on to the Princess Louise in Holborn. It has a fantastic interior, and the world's most ornate bogs but serves Sam Smiths so the beer's not up to much. I had their keg stout which is better than Guinness anyway. 


Last stop before people had to head home was the Salisbury. Fantastic interior but the beers were a bit boring. We had a Doom Bar which at this stage of the evening didn't stand out. 

The ill effects of our dedicated beer research do mean that I've got to have my favourite beer and food pairing today: drink enough beer to get you wankered then have a big fry up the next day.

I hope the lardy goodness works as we've got a six hour drive to the lake district ahead of us today.

More tales of dedicated beer research and hills and stuff on our return ...

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Best beer bribe

Following on from the bribery and corruption post I've been pondering what the best beer bribe I've had is.

I used to go on a lot of brewery trips with my local CAMRA branch and that would usually end in an hours free drinking in the sampling room. A sure way of keeping your brewery popular with CAMRA.

I've also been to a few Institute of Brewing and Distilling events at breweries which not only have free beer on tap but a buffet laid on too. Not sure it counts as a bribe though, just brewers making the most of their position.

But my best beer bribe has to be thanks to a social club I used to be a member of. Being a club it was free from tie to any brewery or ownership by a tied pub chain. They did change who their beer came from a few times, presumably depending on what deal they could get. Young's definitely put on the best bribe to keep the club members happy with them. We had a coach trip to the brewery where we had a sit down meal with a free bar, then the brewery tour followed by more free beer and the coach home. As far as I know the club still has Young's on though it's a bit more of a trek to the brewery now!

So my best beer bribe was all the beer you can drink, a free meal and transport provided. Can anyone beat that?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Bribery and corruption!

Dodgy dealings are afoot in the world of internet beer nerdery. According to a post on this blog money has been changing hands for favourable comments on beer blogs.

Quite who's paying and who's taking isn't clear yet but it will be interesting to see if it ever comes out. I, of course, receive no payments for my posts.

But If anyone would like to pay me my bank account details are available on request.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Crystal malt is not fermentable

Well, according to "the world's top beer writer" Roger Protz, writing in the latest issue of What's Brewing it isn't.

Oh yes it is, according to anyone who's ever brewed with it.

For those of you that don't know what I'm wittering on about Crystal malt is a type of malt used in brewing that has been stewed and caramelised before it gets to the brewery. This does, as Roger Protz says, give colour and caramel flavour to finished beer. It does not mean it has no fermentable material though.

According to the excellent Murphy & Sons website Crystal malt has 275 litre degrees per kg of fermentable extract, compared to Pale malt with 305. You don't need to understand what litre degrees per kg means to see that though Crystal malt has less fermentable material it's certainly not devoid of it.

You really need to have made beer before you can start to understand it.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Things getting worse for Scots

I recently posted about new laws in Scotland sending them back towards the dark ages for drinking.

It seems the new laws mean that Sainsbury's in Scotland are barely taking part in their excellent beer competition, despite the fact nearly half the beers in it are from Scottish breweries.

This comment is from the Brewdog brewery's blog:

Ok bad news for the Scots. :-( I was in my local store and they knew nothing about it. SO i phoned Sainburries on 0800 636 262 where i have just spent 30+ minutes finding out whats going on. They blame the new scottish legislation (as of the 1st of this month) banning the displaying of Alcohol outwith the Wines and spirits Section. Meaning that there is no place to display the new beers. I managed to get them to find out if anywhere in scotland has the brew dog beers and there is ONE store in all of scotland. Olympia in East Kilbride. SO unless you want to drive out there. All the Scots are out of luck on this one :-(. But do feel free to phone up and enquire maybe then they can be persuaded to change there mind in future

A mate of mine in Glasgow said when the smoking ban came in that it would the drinkers they'd turn on next. Sadly he's been proved right. I wonder how long before this crap heads South of the border?

Monday, 7 September 2009

One for the beer history nerds

The Institute of Brewing and Distilling has put online original Horace Brown Lecture given in 1916 titled “Reminiscences of Fifty Years’ Experience of the Application of Scientific Method to Brewing Practice”.

I found it fascinating, but then I'm a beer nerd.

I posted about the most recent winner of the Horace Brown memorial medal here. In his lecture Graham Stewart talked about the wide range of brewing science that Horace Brown's research had covered but reading the 1916 lecture shows how remarkable the advances his research made were. Even in areas where we now know things that Brown didn't we can see that his rigorous scientific method was leading him in the right direction.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Fuller's frustrations

Despite Fuller's First Draught saying that their IPA is the seasonal beer for September it's not on in any of our local Fuller's pubs so we ended up staying in on Saturday.

We did have a couple of bottles of Discovery as it's going cheap in the local Waitrose. I've always found this beer a bit bland but the recipe has been tweaked so I thought it was worth a try at the bargain rate it was going for.  

The changes that have been made are supposed to give it more body and a zestier hoppier flavour. Sadly it hasn't worked at all as both me and the lovely Lisa found it almost entirely free of any flavour. Definitely the worst beer from Fuller's.

The blurb written about the changes that have been made has an interesting comment about the cask version "... the beer is no longer filtered allowing the yeast to do its job properly in the cask, and finally, we have asked that the cellarman allow the beer to drop bright for an extra 24 hours".

I have heard that London Pride drops bright with unseemly haste but this seems to confirm that Fuller's are filtering at least some of their cask beers. And when I cultured the yeast from a bottle of 1845 I didn't find much viable yeast there either. 

I'm a big fan of Fuller's, and the quest to find their IPA will continue, but they do seem to be up to something. I hope the beer quality doesn't drop off.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

One to watch out for

When I was in the Sovs on Friday I looked at the Ember Inns 'Cask News' and was delighted to see that Daleside Autumn Leaves is due on in September.

This beer was devised and brewed by my mate Rob who works at Daleside so is definitely one to watch out for.

And unless I'm very much mistaken the blurb on the leaflet is by him too:

"A mid-brown session bitter characterised by soft nutty malt, giving way to mature fruit and blackcurrant, with a hint of floral hops in the finish."

At 3.4% it's not as strong as Rob originally intended it but it does mean you can drink more if you find it!

No pub crawl for me this Friday

With the votes being neck and neck on whether to go on the pub crawl this Friday I decided not to. The lovely Lisa has organised one for Friday week so that will do for me.

Well done to the lads who went, I hear 15 pubs were visited.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Scotland gets less civilised

Scotland has had civilised drinking hours a lot longer than England and Wales. Except on Sunday morning that is, but most Sunday's when I've been in Scotland I've managed to cope.

Sadly things are starting to turn for the worse. Miserable kill joys seem to be calling the shots in Scotland now, and though minimum pricing for alcohol has not come in yet, new licencing laws have. As well as making it easier for whingers to complain restrictions have been put in place on how and when alcohol can be sold and surprise, surprise the retailers are having to pay more for the privilege.

I've already heard reports of small shops stopping selling alcohol as the expense is too great, and even worse pubs have been shut.

Sadly Scotland is moving from being a beacon of civilisation back into the dark ages.