Sunday, 30 May 2010

The curse of the brewing bloggers strikes again!

First the bloke at Stringers had an element on his copper conk out. Then the bloke at Sharp's found the shit had hit the fan on his boiler. Now the brewing gremlins have come to me and corroded the cables on one of the heaters in my copper. I'm no electrical expert but I know they shouldn't look like this:

Watch out Hardknott Dave, look out Rob, it could be you next!

Monday, 24 May 2010

IPA challenge bout five: Cobb IPA Vs St Peter's India Pale Ale

On account of our recent warm weather the latest bout in the IPA challenge was held outside at my favourite sister's place in sunny Richmond. Curious brew Cobb IPA was lining up against St Peter's India Pale Ale.  

At the weigh in it was obvious that St Peter's had more stamina (500ml Vs 330ml) but the Curious brew had a slight weight advantage (5.6% ABV Vs 5.5% ABV). The St Peter's camp is well known for producing a line of good bottled beers and the Cobb from Kent is a bit of an unknown quantity. The Kentish man does benefit from being free though, which always goes down well with the judges!

Facing off at the weigh in

This could shape up to be a classic bout, the eagerly anticipated Kentish Cobb enjoying a lot of support, but will the greater stamina of slugger from Suffolk prove telling under the sizzling sun?   

The caps are off an the fight is on! The Cobb proves to have a longer reach with a spicy goldings aroma landing before the faint floral smell of the St Peter's beer. On tasting both protagonists prove to be adept at their craft, plenty of hops are in evidence giving enough bitterness to balance the strength and both drinking very nicely. 

The bout swings too and fro as the glasses are passed around the expanded panel of judges. As the round progresses differences in style start to emerge between these two similar beers. The Cobb is spicier with a slightly harsh bitterness against St Peter's more floral and rounded palate. Neither of the pugilists can gain a clear advantage and when the round ends it's clear it will be close on the judges score cards. 

When the results come in it's a split decision with the panel voting





in favour of St Peter's, the greater stamina and the touch of caramel in the taste showing a better understanding of the sweet science to most of the judges. 

A win for St Peter's India Pale Ale by split decision. 

Thursday, 20 May 2010

An end to cheap booze?

The new government is planning to ban the sale of alcohol below cost price. Now it must be said that stocking up on slabs of cheap lager is not my thing but this is serious! I was able to stock up on a load of Brewdog beers dirt cheap when Sainsbury's were selling them off after their beer competition and delights like this could be ended. Any moves to increase the price of any alcoholic drink should be opposed - an attack on one is an attack on all! 

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

What's CAMRA NEVER done for us?

It's clear many of my fellow beer bloggers' problems with CAMRA are due to things it hasn't done. Here's some of the things that people have posted:

  • Failed to challenge the anti-alcohol lobby.
  • Failed to promote non-bottle conditioned beer. 
  • Failed to promote proper real keg beers.

Feel free to comment if you want anything added. 

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Jennings Brewery tour

The lovely Lisa and I has a trip round Jennings Brewery when having a break from hill based heroism on our last holiday. The brewery is up and running again after being forced to close due to the flooding of Cockermouth in November. 

Before the flood there was an outdoor terrace where the frame on the building on the left is.

The main gate.

The old underback. Wouldn't you love to set those taps?

The new malt mill. These things do seem to last forever. This one was acquired second hand and is only 50 years old.

Mmmm...hops. It was mostly whole hops, though a few type 90 pellets were spotted. 

The mash tun.


The copper.


The hop back.

A fermenting vessel.


Finally getting to the beer.

The brewery has obviously had a lot of money spent on it in recent years and the current owners 'Marstons' have continued to invest. The beers are good too, and even better when served without sparklers. 


What CAMRA has done for us - my views

Having compiled a list of what CAMRA does here's my take on whether I think it's good, bad or indifferent.


• Promotes cask beer: Good, I like that.
• Promotes bottle conditioned beer: Indifferent. There are some great bottle conditioned beer but there are also great beers that aren’t bottled conditioned, and the difference in the bottled isn’t as big as it is between keg and cask.
• Promotes mild in May. Indifferent. I’m not really bothered about mild.
• Promotes real cider. Indifferent. I’m not interested in cider.
• Promotes local beers. Good, this should help cask beer sales.
• Promotes Budweiser Budvar. Bad, I’m not that keen on it.
• Publishes the Good Beer Guide. Good, I like it.
• Published local beer guides. Good, they have their uses.
• Publishes Beer magazine. Good, I like it.
• Publishes What's Brewing newspaper. Indifferent, it’s pretty boring nowadays.
• Publishes local magazines. Good, I like them.
• Publishes other beer books. Good, some are very useful, like the home brewing guide and the cellarmanship guide.
• Sells merchandising whatnots. Indifferent, but every organisation raises funds this way.
• Organises the Great British Beer Festival. Good, I haven’t been for years but I think it’s a good thing.
• Organises local beer festivals. Good, I go to a few.
• Organises local social events. Good, not that I’ve been to any for a long while but I’m sure it helps the organisation stay together.
• Runs the Champion Beer of Britain competition. Good, this helps promote breweries.
• Runs local beer competitions. Good, this helps promote breweries.
• Runs a bottled beer competition. Good, this helps promote breweries.
• Campaigns against brewery closures. Indifferent, they never seem to make any difference.
• Campaigns against pub closures. Good, this has worked in some cases.
• Campaigns for full pints. Indifferent. Surely if pubs were made to use lined glasses they’d just put the prices up.
• Has a policy of opposing multinationals advertising beer. Indifferent, seems a bit of a waste of time as I can’t see it ever happening.
• Provides Wetherspoons discount vouchers to its members. Good, I’ve actually managed to use one now making me 50p better off.
• Has a bottled beer club. Indifferent, bottled beer is widely available.
• Has an investments club. Indifferent.
• Campaigns for minimum alcohol pricing. Bad. I think a united front of all boozers against attacks on alcohol is better.
• Campaigns against cask breathers. Bad. If the beer tastes good what’s the problem?
• Campaigns to get its members discounts in pubs. Good, I saved another 50p at a pub in Edinburgh with a discount for CAMRA members.

Looking at some of the replies from my previous post I'll next be looking at What CAMRA hasn't done for us.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

What's CAMRA ever done for us?

As my friend Rob pointed out, beer bloggers like nothing better than slagging off CAMRA. Recently such scandals as CAMRA's evil conspiracy to make you get a full pint when you buy one and some CAMRA members are twats who also spot trains and some CAMRA members are twats who won't drink crap beer even when it's free have been posted about. Now I like a good whinge as much as the next person, so of course I've whinged on about CAMRA myself, but I'm finding it a bit tedious now.

I'm begining to suspect that the reason people like to go off on one about CAMRA is because as far as an organisation for beer lovers in Britain goes CAMRA is the only game in town. CAMRA engages in far more activities than "saving cask beer" now so there's always something it does that people disagree with or think it could do better. To help people get the whinging out of their system I've decided to compile a list of the things CAMRA gets up to, and once they've been listed we can systematically work through them and say if they're good, bad or indifferent.


  • Promotes cask beer
  • Promotes bottle conditioned beer
  • Promotes mild in May
  • Promotes real cider
  • Promotes local beers
  • Promotes Budweiser Budvar
  • Publishes the Good Beer Guide
  • Published local beer guides
  • Publishes Beer magazine
  • Publishes What's Brewing newspaper
  • Publishes local magazines
  • Publishes other beer books
  • Sells merchandising whatnots
  • Organises the Great British Beer Festival
  • Organises local beer festivals
  • Organises local social events
  • Runs the Champion Beer of Britain competition
  • Runs local beer competitions
  • Runs a bottled beer competition
  • Campaigns against brewery closures
  • Campaigns against pub closures
  • Campaigns for full pints
  • Has a policy of opposing multinationals advertising beer
  • Provides Wetherspoons discount vouchers to its members
  • Has a bottled beer club
  • Has an investments club


  • Campaigns for minimum alcohol pricing
  • Campaigns againsts cask breathers
  • Campaigns to get its members discounts in pubs

Please post a comment about anything I've forgotten.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Booze news

The news section of this months Brewer and Distiller International had a few things that I'm sure will be of interest to my fellow beer nerds:

  • The world's bitterest beer has been produced by the Pitstop brewery in Oxfordshire, weighing in at 323 International Bittering Units. This was achieved by using high alpha acid hops...and adding hop extracts. It sounds to me about as pointless as the "world's strongest beers" that have been produced of late. Isn't beer meant to be something you can drink?

  • A beer called Fucking Hell has been trademarked in Germany. It is of course a beer in the Hell (pale in German)  style named after the Austrian town of Fucking. 

  • Guinness are bringing out a black lager, which will no doubt be even more boring than their black stout. 

  • And Adnams are building a distillery in their old brew house. The say it will be making gin, vodka and whisky so presumably it's a Coffey still. 

"Here and Now is floating anarchy... you know the only way to be"

I went to see Here and Now last night. They're probably best known for being a major constituent of Planet Gong, the band behind the classic "Live Floating Anarchy 1977" album. The gig was at the 100 Club on Oxford Street, a venue I don't think I've been to since I saw Bob Calvert there back in 1988. 

All very nice I hear you say, but where's the beer? Well I was just coming to that part.

When I headed to the bar, bracing myself for some over priced lager, I was pleasantly surprised to see two hand pumps smiling enticingly at me. 

The beers were both by Flowers (one of Whitbread's many victims, so god knows who's brewing them now) and they weren't bad at all.

OK, they were pricey and served in plastic skiffs but enough quibbling. This is the first time I've ever seen proper beer in a music venue and it's surely a welcome sign that cask beer is indeed on the rise.