Monday, 24 May 2010

Our American Adventure Part 1

Well, it's nearly here, the honeymoon of a lifetime! Our trip to San Francisco has been looming large for a week now and we're STILL getting tips on where to go for beer.
I have to keep reminding my friends that whilst I do want to drink lots of good beer whilst we're there, it's not a beer trip it's a honeymoon and we don't want to only drink beer, California after all, boasts some of the best wine in the world.
Still we WILL be drinking beer, probably lots of it, and I'll try and take as many notes as I can be bothered to for your perusal when I get back.
There are places that we'll definitely try to get to such as Toronado, Russian River and a few others I can't quite remember at the moment, but we've been given soooo much information that we won't be physically able to go everywhere we've been suggested!
Anyhow, we'll be there, enjoying beer, wine, food and general good times in one of the worlds most fascinating and cosmopolitan city's.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Special Beer for a Special Occasion

As I said a couple of days ago, I've been ageing a bottle of Brewdog's Zephyr, an imperial ale that's been aged in 42 year old whiskey casks for 21 months and had fresh strawberries added to the cask.
I was going to save this bottle for my 40th birthday but convinced myself that there is no more special occasion that your wedding day to open it(didn't take much convincing!)
I had (I think) the only cask of this that was ever produced, on at The Rake in December 2008 and I remember it being about 11% abv in the cask and absolutely sublime, the bottle says the abv is 12.5% so it'll be a good one to share this morning after breakfast with my best men and almost father-in-law.
The Brewdog blurb you can read here says that the profits from each bottle of Zephyr went to the RNLI so it's the beer that just keeps on giving!
More than that, I won't drink a better beer all day.
The taste is fantastic, you get the hit of the Invergordon 1965 whisky cask then comes the sweetness of the strawberries, there is a pinkish type hue to the beer which comes from the strawberries and then there's the hops, I believe this was an IPA that's been made into the current beer that is in front of me.
That's enough from me, now I have to go and concentrate on keeping people entertained for the next couple of hours.
It's sunny, it's warm, perfect for getting married, now what was I doing today?

Friday, 21 May 2010

Boredom Strikes!

Bloody hell! in about 24 hours from now I'll be getting married, I have to say I was going to try to get to Utobeer to get some decent beer for my last night of singledom but with all the faffing that's involved in weddings I haven't had the time and won't so I'll make do with what I have already but bloody hell I'm bored.
Thanks to Lucille this is one of the most organised weddings I've been to, thankfully it's mine! It does mean I'm left twiddling my thumbs though, I can't leave this room at the moment because 'the dress' is outside the door so I'm trapped.
My mates are at work so I can't meet them for a sneaky pint and my father-in-law-to-be is also here and we don't want to just abandon him for the day after he took us around Venezuela 21 months ago.
It was 21 months ago that I proposed, we were having a meal in a restaurant/bar overlooking a very pretty moonlit marina. It wasn't the most romantic proposal in the world(apart from the setting) I was so nervous that I just ended up saying 'so I've been thinking that we should get married' and Lucille said 'OK then' in a very high pitched emotional voice to which we both got a bit emotional. Since then I've been busy working whilst Lucille has been apparently organising tomorrow! I'm going to stop now, this isn't about beer, it's about the lack of it!
I have never wanted a beer more than I have now, Lucille is leaving for the hotel and next time I see her we'll be getting hitched.
*lump in throat*

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Ok I Lied

Well, I didn't really but I find myself in the middle of a hiatus in proceedings today, just had my hair cut and we're now waiting for Lucille's mum to arrive in London. So a relaxing couple of hours before tonight's, well..not quite sure yet!
Funnily enough I've found myself with a beer in my hand(shocker!) It's Becks though, now Cookie will tell ya that's fine and frankly so will I, there's nothing wrong with Becks, I just don't happen to drink lager a lot.
It looks like lager, it tastes like lager, the only problem was it wasn't free. Clearly I'm not influential enough to get free beer yet but hey ho, can't win 'em all!
Pleasant enough beer for swigging from the bottle and there's nowt like lout to sort you out!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Blogging Blackout

There may well be another post before I go off and get married on Saturday, but it will be ON Saturday!
My two best men(yes two, I'm either greedy or decide) are coming round to our flat after we've had breakfast on the big day and we'll be cracking open a bottle of Brewdog's Zephyr that I've been keeping for a special occasion, well there's no more special occasion that I can think of so watch this space.
We'll see if I have have time but if not, well, this year's already been a blast, please forgive the blogging blackout and I'll see you on the flip side of being hitched!
hasta luego!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Smoke Bar, Tooting Bec

Watched the FA CUP final in a bar that I haven't been too in a while, it's Smoke bar in Tooting Bec. The offer is nothing extraordinary, San Miguel, Fosters Super Chilled, Guinness Extra Cold, John Smiths Extra Smooth, Amstel, Staropramen, Kronenbourg Cold, Aspalls cider. I started off with a Guinness and sat down to write my speech for my wedding next Saturday. At 1.30pm on a Saturday it was quiet enough for me to be able to concentrate on the writing until the cup final started.
Despite the rubbish beer offer I like this bar, they do need to learn about what my mate Dan who runs the White Horse in Parsons Green calls atmosphere control though. What he means is the volume of music, what's on telly, apparently Smoke bar is one that also subscribes to the lit candles on tables during the day too. The music was too loud and the windows we all open which made it colder than is comfortable and at times when the traffic got heavy(which is quite a lot) you got the wiff of exhaust fumes which was er...nice?
I paid £8.95 for a burger which was well worth it, it was home made and absolutely enormous! Tasted fantastic, looked great, they are getting the food right.
I'd had enough of the Guinness, I was concentrating so hard on the speech that it a Guinness Extra Cold went a bit warm so I went for a double Bombay Sapphire and Bitter Lemon.
Two smack heads then walked into the bar, no I'm sorry I'm generalising there but I can spot people that shouldn't be served and these two should have been kicked out as soon as they started talking. put me on edge a little bit, to the point that I'll have to finish my speech today or tomorrow and I nearly went across the road to The Bec Bar for the second half of the football.
One smack head walks off to the big screen and the other one tries to engage me in conversation, I give him one word answers so not to encourage him too much, I want this oik to go away. This beetroot-headed freak can barely stand, it's like he was standing on a boat and he hadn't even touched his beer! He sways away toward the big screen.
Back to the bar, the shelf at the back says a lot about this place, it's all about the spirits and cocktails so what do I have to drink next? Lucille texts me to say she's on her way so I order a bottle of wine, the beer offerings are just too uninspiring at the moment, apparently this place used to be supplied by Utobeer, wish they still were, it would be nice to have somewhere close to home to drink some decent beer!
The two smack heads leave but I was still wondering who was responsible for the murdering of Sweet Child O'Mine that was on in the background.
Let me just re-stress, for some reason, I like this bar, it has no speciality beer, no hand pumps, they need to work on the atmosphere control a bit and stop serving smack heads but I still like it, not sure why.
If they had some decent beer it'd be awesome, I give them my card with the Utobeer numbers on the back and head up to another old haunt up the road.

Friday, 14 May 2010

It's Not Too Expensive, You're Too Cheap!

Sweary rant time coming up so switch channels if you don't want to read it.

Stone say it best on their Arrogant Bastard bottles : It's not too expensive, you're too cheap!
Rules of The Rake
1) If you don't know what you're ordering, don't fucking order it!
2) If you're not prepared to pay a fair price for an 8.2% beer, don't fucking order it!
3) If you want to act like a twat when I'm serving you, you will get knob taxed.
4) Don't act like you're the man when you look like you've eaten one of the chuckle brothers then morphed into them.

If you refuse to pay for another pint, I'll bar you then drink your fucking beer, now piss off!

It's Friday, I hate Friday.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Kernel Commands Attention!

Yesterday around about 16.00 hours, GMT, The Rake was invaded. We didn't stand a chance, no one would have.
We found ourselves overwhelmed by superb beers from a local Brewer, Evin O'Riordan.
As soon as we put them on the shelves they started flying out.
The Kernel is definitely commanding The Rake's customers attention(sorry for the military puns I'll stop now). There are three different types. First we have the London Porter, a 5.3% beer that is as good as any porter I have ever had.
Second there's the single hopped, IPA made with the Simcoe hop, this is made in an American IPA style, at 7.9% abv it packs a bit of a punch!
Lastly there's another single hopped beer, it's a 5.7% Pale Ale made with Centennial hops, again, its well worth trying and I don't expect to have this first batch very long!
Like I said, as soon as they went on the shelves last night they started selling, they're bottle conditioned, they're local and they're superb!

Monday, 10 May 2010


Yup, it's gonna be painful. I have just placed an order with Otley Brewing for 6 Otley casks and 1 Purple Moose cask, including the 5.5% abv Motley Brew which I thought had been sold out!
As it turns out it wasn't so it should be on the bar by the weekend, maybe in time for 5pm Friday when my weekend starts and I can have a few jars after work!

Right time to order a new liver and hope the queue ain't too long!

Other news on the Motley/Otley front is that Nick and I have arranged for me to go back to Ponty and brew the second batch of the 7.5% Motley Brew for later on in the year AND a new exciting strawberry beer too, roll on July!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

SIBA - Wales & The West

So as you'll see from my previous post I just spent Friday judging beers in Ludlow for SIBA's regional Wales and The West competition.
Having never been to a beer competition as a judge before I was a bit overwhelmed at the start of the day.
The first category I was judging was Speciality and at my table, amongst others were my mate Melissa Cole and Pete Brown, Influential Beer Writer! ;-)
The beers themselves were nothing 'special' let alone speciality! There were a couple that stood out more than the others but putting them in a speciality category seemed to be a bit of a cop-out as they should probably have been in another category.

The second round I judged was Premium Bitters, it was the second round for this category and therefore all the shite had been weeded out by the time we got to this table. What a transformation! Oh my God! The best beers on the table were the last two we had, Salopian Prohibiiton, which eventually came overall third in the competition, and The Mutts Nutts by Spinning Dog Brewery, lovely chocolatey, roasted nuts.

For the record, Overall winner was Darwins Origin by Salopian so well done to Wilf and Jake you're making some fantastic beers, keep it up!

Another highlight of the trip was one of the local pubs, The Church, so named because it has a church behind it. It was serving the local beers on cask and boy were they good, I woke up with a terrible hangover on friday morning having spent all thursday night watching the election until 2.30am drinking Ludlow Gold a marvellous beer that you have to drink if you ever make it to Ludlow!

All in all a good couple of days out of town, it helps to break up the week a bit and I hope to be asked back next year!

Paying Fr-homage to Pete Brown - Influential Beer Writer!

Pete Brown, Influential Beer Writer. And some git with a dodgy jacket.
Just got back to London from Ludlow where I was one of about 60-odd judges for the SIBA Wales and West regional beer competition.
It's only fair that in an election week we should take the time to celebrate a candidate that, whilst he didn't stand in this years election, probably should have. After all if you read his blog you'll know just how outspoken on licensing policy and the stupidity of the neo-prohibitionists.
He was another of those 60-odd judges at Ludlow this week and whilst I had to make do with Glyn Roberts, The Rake, Borough Market, Utobeer & Lovebeer on my name badge, He didn't, Pete Brown, Influential Beer Writer. Well that's what was printed on his name badge.
Is he really that influential? I personally happen to think so, Pete is one of those writers that helps give people inspiration, he has the sort of passion for beer that is infectious.
I've only read one of his 3 books on beer at this moment in time, that was Hops and Glory, a fantastic piece of writing about brewing an IPA and making the trip to India just like the old days.
To have the idea in the first place and then have the bollocks to follow it through was sheer genius, either that or insanity but the resulting book was clever, funny and informative.
Another thing to point out is that whilst Pete is at the top of the Wilkio rankings, it hasn't gone to his head, he may well be Pete Brown, Influential Beer Writer to them but he's also a jolly nice chap and it's always a pleasure to see Pete and Liz whenever they grace us with their presences.
One example of his 'jolly niceness' was me getting an email from himself and Liz inviting me to their Christmas party last year, I was honoured to be asked and also intrigued, I REALLY wanted to see his beer cellar! People send him beer for his opinion, how he's ever going to get through that amount of beer is beyond me, lets re-state, he gets SENT that beer, people want his opinion, people want his approval, a good word about a beer and a brewery could start selling loads, he has that much influence.
As I have said to various people in the past, I joined Wilkios rankings out of morbid curiosity and since then it has spurred me on to write more, I have aspirations, I want to be Pete Brown Influential Beer Writer(well Glyn Roberts, Influential Beer Writer) one day and I don't see anything wrong with that.

So here's to you Pete Brown, Influential Beer Writer! may you continue to, well, be you.

Oh and, for the record I know that my blog will never go to number one in Wilkios rankings but it's nice to dream.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

I want beer!

I want beer! Unfortunately I've been sensible today and not bought any. Part of the reason is that it was my Stag do on Sunday and I completely pickled my liver, there isn't enough milk thistle in the world that will help!
I have a bottle of 2009 Gouden Carolus Cuvee van de Keizer lying in the fridge taunting me. I'd have to 'unchill' it a wee bit before drinking it but as I type it's 00.19am and I need to go to bed soon.
The reason I need to go to bed soon is that I'm judging for SIBA on Friday and need to sort my shit out before I go(it was also another reason not to buy beer today).
So I'll tell you what I am drinking instead, it's a pint of London tap Water that has been flavoured with a cheap, unnamed orange squash.
Beer it ain't.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

A call to action?

Reading Pete Browns Beer Blog this afternoon, feverishly looking to see if I had broken into Wilkio's top 20, alas I had not, no one had, the top 20 were all the same!
Makes me think about why I write the blog, well kinda, I enjoy writing, to me it's a form of expression that is sometimes easier than talking.
It's not that good(my writing I mean) but people take the time out of their busy lives to read it and that in itself is appreciated.

So Pete's blog(if you didn't click on the link) was about the general lack of inspiration in beer blogging at the moment and he has a point, apart from a couple of people there does seem to be a malaise on the beer blogging scene at the moment.
So what IS interesting? what does make people prick their ears up and listen?
Certainly not the crap I was spewing out with beer of the day just to keep my mind ticking over. Safe to say his slap in the chops worked, why be lazy when you can at least try and be interesting.

Pete was very correct in saying that some blogs have become an extended form of ticking and I could certainly point out a few, not going to though, glass houses and all that!
So what if I drank this beer or that beer and enjoyed it or didn't? who the fuck cares??
I would think that the brewer would care, if I was a brewer I would personally enjoy people writing good stuff about my beer, even bad stuff that was praising their beer would/should give a brewer a sense of achievement.
As manager of The Rake I have worked my arse off in the last 20 months to turn around a reputation of knowledge without care and every time I read something good about The Rake I feel a sense of achievement.

So is it really so bad that people are 'ticking' beers on their blogs? I've recently become aware that whenever I used Ratebeer by rating a beer I was critiquing someone's work, isn't that what beer blogging is? Our opinions of other peoples work? Anyway I went from using Ratebeer as a form of ticking to using it as a tool for finding out about beers for work. Why would I do this? mainly I suppose because I didn't think that I was qualified to make such criticism about something I knew very little about, I still don't and I won't 'score' beer in that way until I am arrogant enough to believe my own hype.

So, in summation then, I will continue to write about beer that I enjoy and beer that I don't but I will never again 'rate' a beer as better than another, I mean what's the point, it's all subjective anyway.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

What's your favourite summer beer?

I asked the question on twitter a week or so ago. It's not exactly a hard question to answer, is it? Well actually yes, I think it is. It all depends on several things such as the occasion, the weather, who you're drinking with and where you're drinking. So many things to think about.
For instance my favourite beers recently have been Goose Island IPA and Motley Brew, Goose Island IPA is a great all-rounder, that means I could drink it any time, any where, it's that tasty, that consistent. Whereas Motley Brew is better enjoyed in company and happens to taste better in the winter and there's also the added bonus that I helped create it!
Moving on though, I've had a great idea and I want to know your favourite summer beer.
It could be any beer for any reason, no reason is too silly(well it might be and I really want to hear it if it is!).
Lucille's favourite beer is Little Creatures Pale Ale because the beer is nice and she likes the name and the packaging.
So the missus(to be) has started us off.
So, over to you. I have a really good reason for asking the question so don't be afraid. Let me know.