Sunday, 31 July 2011

An IPA a Day #24

Viven Imperial IPA is not something I drink a lot of, but I'd like to. I've only been lucky enough to have had this beer a couple of times but it's a beer that has class in a glass written all over it.
The packaging might not be cool by recent standards but when a beer is this good, who cares?
Pic from
Indeed when I look at the label it's one that just looks 'classic' and it immediately makes me think of sitting outside a Belgian beer cafe in the sun, even though I've never done that.
So what is this masterpiece like?
Well, when you pour it into the glass you get a lovely copper coloured beer and the aroma gives you complex flashes of pine, orange, grapefruit and peach! 
It's as complex in the mouth as it is on the nose with the some sweet citrus at the front giving way to the piney resinous bitterness that makes the best IPA's as good as they are! For all the complex flavours and aroma's going on in this beer along with the 8% abv it's still a totally drinkable and very balanced beer. You can get it from and I recommend that you try this one.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

An IPA a Day #23

5 days to go and we're off back up to Fraserbrough and the gruesome twosome at BrewDog. I've gone over Punk IPA already in this series and Hardcore IPA won't be making an appearance so what beer is in between the two?
Chaos Theory.
Here's a brief run down of the beer

Look : Deep orange almost copper with a slight haze to it.

Aroma : there's Orange, there's also a really nice earthiness and a sweetness, a bit like a bag of Skittles.

Taste profile : The Nelson Sauvin hop is the most prevalent of this balanced beer and so there's gooseberry, a bit of spicy pepper and grass. All in all a top beer and one that Brewdog should make ALL the time.

Friday, 29 July 2011

An IPA a Day #22

Six days to go until International IPA day and we're getting into the big hitters now. Sooner or later it would have come to this one, I have lost count of the amount of bottles I have consumed in the last three years. Lots anyway.
Regular readers of R.A.B will probably have guessed what it is.
At a not inconsiderable 5.9% abv this beer is very nicely balanced. At the point of writing this it has 1191 ratings and a score of 96 on Ratebeer.
It goes really well with Chicken, Pork, curries, Gouda & blue cheese - well everything really.
It won gold medals at the World Beer Cup and The Great American Beer Festival - 10 years apart those awards...
The Brewmaster at the brewery recently left, and is now pursuing other interests(cider), good on him too, he's done an amazing job in the last 23 years or so. Thank you sir...Oh and he's also one of the nicest blokes on the planet.
Have you guessed what the beer is yet? Well if you haven't let me give you some tasting notes...

Colour : Light copper or Bourbon coloured.

Nose : Lots of fruit mainly citrus fruit like lime & orange and floral although not being a florist I couldn't tell you which.

Taste : Lots of citrus, lime, lemon, orange or mandarin, and a biscuity dryness which just makes the beer all the moreish.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you haven't already guessed, I give you Goose Island I.P.A. (cue applause)

Speaks for itself.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

An IPA a Day #21

Next in my lead up to International IPA day on August 4th(1 week to go folks!) is another Belgian beer and I have to say.....Wow!

Back in the sands of time, at the turn of this century a four newly qualified brewery technicians straight out of KaHo St. Lieven, the best known brewing school in Gent, were finding it increasingly obvious that they'd have a hard time getting brewmaster jobs in the Belgian beer world and decided that they should use their own enthusiasm and efforts to create the Muskateers Brewing Co.
After that they needed a name for the beers they were creating and eventually the agreed on Troubador. You can read more about the history of the brewery here.

The Troubador Magma is a great Belgian IPA because it has the body of a triple but what gives it the big IPA style is of course the hops! The massive fruity aroma come from the dry hopping process with American hops which are so popular today! It's a beer of incredible balance and flavour and I'm trying to get more for The Rake! Love it!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

An IPA a Day #20

To Chico we go now and the extremely popular Sierra Nevada Brewing Co and probably my favourite of their beers, Torpedo Extra IPA.
I've written about this on more than one occasion, but I'm not sure that multiple drunk diary entries really count.
For me the greatness of this beer all starts with the colour of the label, it's a darker, more mysterious than the boring old Pale Ale label that everyone knows so well and orders without even thinking. Don't get me wrong I think the Pale Ale is still a great beer but the Torpedo is phenomenal!

It's 7.2% and as you can see it's a beautiful light tawny red and when you stick your nose in the glass you get a mental blast of hoppy Pineapple, Mandarin and Pine, when you taste it there's so much bitterness up front that it almost drowns everything else out. After the second or third sip though your taste buds are working overtime and really getting the citrus and a slight malty sweetness in the middle and the citrus bitterness hits you on the arse at the end!
Such a great beer! I can't recommend this enough, get some down ya!!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Beer and Bieber

A couple of tweets this morning have got me thinking. Viral marketing has been around for a while now. The boys at Brewdog do it quite well as their fan-boys will attest to but they've become a bit mainstream and dull so I think it's time that the rest of the beer industry and it's commentators joined in!
Here are some tips from a rank amatuer...

Bloggers! Get more hits on your sites by putting words like Sex, Bieber & X-Factor in your titles and posting them on twitter! When they click on the links they will find the world of craft beer waiting for them! (who cares if Bieber fans have an average age of 6, you'll get hits and that's what matters!)
Imagine if you will, how many more hits not-so-young Dredge's blog would have got this week if it was called 'Pencil and Winehouse's crack Spoon'? Simples.
Other examples of people who really need to get their blogs more exposure would be Pete Brown - Imagine how much better it would be if his blog was called Pete Brown's Bieber Blog? 
My own blog would jump considerably up the wikio rankings if the name were change to X-Factor Sex Bieber! Of course, unlike those examples I'm nowhere near talented enough to keep peoples attention so I might ACTUALLY do this!

Tweeters : Get more followers by including a superstars name in your twitter handle, one such example might be Chunk who's twitter handle should be BeerBirraBieber. 
Who needs a #ff when you could have twitter handle such as @#changewordinnameofsongtocraftbeer? stroke of genius if you ask me....

Craft Brewers : change your brewery name to something sexual for Brewdog see Brewdogging, well easy, this malarky, for Summer Wine Brewery see Sexy Wine Brewery, does what it says on the tin, innit!

So I leave you to make up your minds people, this craft beer revolution will not be won by playing the big boys fairly, use every edge you can find....or make shit up!

Until next time, 


Bono. ;-)

An IPA a Day #19

21st Amendment is a brewpub in San Fransico which is doing some spectacular beers. Founded in 2000 by Shaun O'Sullivan and Nico Freccia in the shadow of the San Francisco Giants stadium, it has eight rotating taps of top quality craft brews and a restuarant that serves fantastic food! This is the place where I discovered the spicy food and IPA pairing which I enjoy so much.

We're down to my top ten IPA's in the lead up to International IPA Day and the inspiration for two London beers, Kernel Black IPA and Military Intelligence, Back in Black IPA.
I'm lucky enough to have amazing friends who bring me amazing beers from across the pond every now and then and this was one such beer. I've had it twice now, first brought back by my friends Matt and Karen and another can by Mark DredgeI blogged about the beer and at the risk of being a repetative bore I'll give you the aromas and flavours I got from this.

Aroma and taste : Liquorice, Orange and Mango were the most prevalent in both the taste and aroma and had a dark chocolate bitterness to it aswell.
What more can I say? The branding is some of the coolest I have ever seen and the people who run the brewpub in San Francisco are great, what's not to like?

Monday, 25 July 2011

An IPA a Day #18

Off to Maryland for the last IPA before my top 10 in my lead up to International IPA Day and Flying Dog Brewery, based in Frederick.
You'll recognise the Flying Dog bottles on the shelves or in the fridges of your shops and bars by the distinctive label designs. Designed by Ralph Steadman the art work is that of a demented genius(Flying Dog's words, not mine) and it has really brought the flying dog brand to life so that not only do you get a fantastic beer, you also get a work of art on the bottle to take home should you so wish.
The Snake Dog IPA is the hop monster from Flying Dog, at 15 Plato (7.1% abv) it's 60 IBU's give it the perfect amount of bitterness for a beer that strength. Brewed with Warrior and Columbus hops there's a big Grapefruity kind of character to this beer which also is nicely balanced with a caramel maltiness.
Flying Dog also share my opinion that big hoppy IPA's deserve a wonderfully spicy meal to pair them with and this beer will go really well with a spicy Thai or Mexican dish or something with lots of Wasabi. Who am I to argue, I just say, get it down ya!
Flying Dog Brewmaster Matt Brophy was also one of the first to sign The Rake's wall too, one Sunday before we started opening on them!
The Brewery's motto is "Good people drink good beer" Indeed they do.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Parliament does something right

Got sent this link by a friend on twitter. It's one of those pieces that you want to see in our newspapers every week rather than the ridiculous 'lady beers' or the stories about how Britains booze culture is ruining civilisation as we know it.

In a nutshell UK based Michelin starred chef Sriram Ayulur has been named 'Britains Beer Drinker of the Year' by the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group.
Ayulur heads up Taj Groups Quilon restaurant in London which is well known for having their South west coastal cuisine paired with beer!
He also did a fantastic job for the British Guild of Beer Writers at our annual awards dinner last year, it's very easy to see just why he has that Michelin star.

I love these sorts of stories.

An IPA a Day #17

From Santa Rosa to Escondido for the second time and Stone IPA. It's no Ruination but it's still a damn fine beer and one that I'm always happy to see whether it's on draught or in bottle.
It's 6.9% and as is usual for a west coast IPA it's highly hopped and bloody drinkable!

Stone describe the beer like this...

Light medium malt character with a heavy dose of over the top hops! Two full weeks of dry hopping give this beer its abundant hop aroma and crisp hop flavour.

Personally I would describe it like this : Lovely dark golden colour, and has a massive fruity nose with orange, pineapple and a bit of caramel malt too.
It's hop character that is nice and prominent is all about the clean citrus flavours which made it moreish to the extreme.

Is is any wonder why Greg Koch wears t-shirts with his face on them? The beers rock as much as Brewmaster Mitch Steele's band!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

An IPA a Day #16

Day sixteen and we're onto one of my favourite all time beers. Shared a spoog bottle with Boggle on Thursday and have had a bottle sitting in the fridge for a few days now. Time to crack it open.
Pic courtesy of 
Pliny the Elder(actual name Gaius Plinius Secundus) was a Roman author, naturalist and natural philosopher who died on August 25th AD 79. Now thankfully the beer I have in front of me isn't anywhere near that old, in fact it was only bottled at Russian River on 7th July 2011, not bad is it, from brewery to glass in 16 days, it's not what you know folks, it's who you know!

The Beer
It pours a delicious orange marmalade colour and has plenty of carbonation. The aroma is full of pine, some nectarine and a bit of malty Neapolitan ice cream on the finish.
On the palate you get some chocolatey maltiness and piney bitterness of the hops and that lovely piney resinous slickness that coats the mouth and throat.
I love this beer, I love Double IPA's and especially this multi award winning 8% classic!

Friday, 22 July 2011

An IPA a Day #15

Going oop north to West Yorkshire for todays offering to the IPA gods and these guys are the only British brewery to be sponsoring the International IPA Day.
Summer Wine Brewery have produced 4 IPA's which will be available over GBBF week at The Rake and this is the best known of them. Diablo is a 6% IPA and it's devilishly good (see wot I did there?).

The Beer
It's a golden beer, which I suppose is quite rare for an IPA, it's got a really lemony nose to it and the citrus really comes through in the mouth too along with some passionfruit and it has a lingering resinous finish.
These guys are making some of the most exciting beers in the country at the moment and if you come across them I heartily recommend you give them a try.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

An IPA a Day #14

My next IPA is Great Divide's Titan IPA and the name is in the title for this one as it's as big as it's name!
Their website blurb is as follows :

Titan IPA is a big, aggressively hopped India Pale Ale brewed for hop disciples. It starts out with piney hop aromas and citrus hop flavors, and finishes with a nice rich, malty sweetness that is balanced with crisp hop bitterness.  7.1% ABV

There's barely any need for me to continue, it's a great beer made by great people and they clearly know what they're talking about when they go for their food pairings too, they suggest, grilled Halibut, Thai curry or Cheeses. I've always said that IPA's and big flavoured food goes together, clearly I'm right! ;-)

Anyway, this beer was one of the first big IPA's I'd ever tasted and it's one that I revisit regularly. Great Beer!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

An IPA a Day #13

Off to California (I wish) for my next IPA in the series. This one is a top bear, sorry beer and is a favourite of Mark Dredge.
Bear Republic Racer 5 is a fantastic beer and I was lucky enough to have it on draught at The Rake a year or so ago, very good it was too!
Made with four of the 'C' Hops, Chinook, Cascade, Columbus & Centennial there's a massive pine and tropical fruit character to the beer.
Pouring a deep, hazy amber, it looks amazing, and tastes it too, it's easy to understand why this beer is so popular everywhere it's found.
With the amount of tropical fruit on the nose and on the palate, even at 7% abv it could still almost be a so called 'breakthrough' or 'gateway' beer, much more so than any of the so-called girlie beers that the big boys want to push on unsuspecting prospective drinkers!
The branding is as excellent as the beers and if you find them over here, grab with both hands and don't let go until the bottle is empty!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

An IPA a Day #12

Of to Derbyshire today in the lead up to International IPA day. Thonrbridge Brewery have had names such as Martin Dickie(now of Brewdog infamy) and Kelly Ryan(previously mentioned secretive Kiwi) working at the brewery. They've both moved on to spread the craft beer love and Thornbridge now have Dom Driscoll(formerly Marble), Matthew Clarke and current Beer Writers Brewer of the Year, Stefano Cossi creating some of the most exciting beers in the country.
Thornbridge Jaipur was one of the first, if not the first beer that was brewed and it's still going strong today! With the iconic statuesque Thornbridge lady on the pumpclips and the bottles they are quite easily recognisable.
Tasting notes are all about the citrus, ain't that a surprise! It starts really quite mellow and light but as it works on the palate it ends up being a bit of a bitter explosion with a bit of lingering honey and will give any big IPA a run for it's money.
Really like this beer, so glad it's back at The Rake!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Girlie Beer Anyone? Part Deux!

So Molson Coors are producing a girlie beer. They clearly didn't read what I had to say here. Seriously if you want to patronise your potential customers there must be cheaper ways of doing it rather than produce a shit, tasteless C**ling wannabe.
Apparently the beers, named Eve and Animee are lighter, less carbonated and wait for it....bloat resistent! Bloat resistent!!! hahahahahaha......what a pile of steaming dung! At this point that's all I'm going to say about the beers because they won't be worth writing about.
The Blogospheres(and Molson Coors) own Kristy McCready told the Fail on Sunday 'The Perception is that beer is a laddish drink, Animee will be more sophisticated and playful'. Sorry Kristie but that's just bullshit. Gigantic piles of it at that.
So you're telling me that a ordering a glass of Pliny the Elder when I went to Russian River last year wasn't sophisticated? It was laddish? You're telling me that my wife joining me in having a glass of RR Supplication wasn't sophisticated enough?
Pic taken from BeerDudeUk.Com
Should I even start on the 'playful' aspect of that sentence? I know plenty of women who drink good craft beer because they like the taste and I'm pretty sure I know how annoyed they're going to be about this. Women are already drinking beer, in fact, I recently held a beer tasting for a hen-do! The stand out beers for them were Orval and Deus! Tell me women don't like beer! What I will say is that women won't like 'light-struck' beer because it's coming in CLEAR BOTTLES!!!! You folks are supposed to be professionals! Bloody Act like them! Everyone knows that clear bottles will fuck the beer up when it sits on the shelves for months due to not being able to sell it! They also look like a revolting kind of alco-pop.
MC have got their marketing so far wide of the mark that they will alienate everyone if they're not careful. After all you're already patronising the women and then start calling the blokes that drink the fizzy piss that pays the bills 'laddish', well, that's just plain rude.
This all sounds a bit personal and it really isn't but this sort of bollocks really winds me up, who do you think they're going to sell this to? Supermarkets? Massive pub chains? Certainly not to any women I know, they all have much better palates.
Bit of Barfly advice here peeps, stop trying so hard to conquer the world, you just end up looking ridiculous.

An IPA a Day #11

We jump the pond again with the next beer in my lead up to International IPA day on 4th August. This time we get as far as Fort Collins, Colorado and the Odell Brewery. Doug, Wynne and Corkie Odell set up the brewery in 1989 and instantly set about educating their customers about craft beer. In those days there was only one other craft brewery in Colorado and so they had pretty much the whole market to win over.
Win they did though and today they brew 45,000 brewers barrels a year in a space that's 45,000 square feet, imagine that, a barrel per square foot!
I've been fortunate enough to have met Doug on a couple of occasions now and he's as passionate about making great craft beer as I am about drinking it!
Odells IPA, whilst not my absolute favourite of Dougs beers is one of the best around, at 7% and 60 IBU's they've taken the traditional English style IPA and made it more flavourful and a lot bolder. They've used new varieties of aromatic American hops to give the beer more character and that excellent hop profile you get from the nose and the taste.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

An IPA a day #10

Day 10 and it's back stateside and I have a biggie for ya! He'Brew Lenny's Bittersweet RIPA is next on the build up to International IPA day.
This 10% Monster was created to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the death of Lenny Bruce. This is a rye based double IPA and when we were lucky enough to get some at The Rake 18 months ago, I think I drank most of it! In fact I remember getting Oz Clarke absolutely blotto on it too before a press release of Oz and James big Wine Adventure. Ooops.
Anyway this is made with nine different malts and seven different hops! He'Brew claim this is the most radical Jewish tribute beer ever created and who could argue? Not me.
Tasting notes are in the name of this monster, bittersweet, for a 10% beer this is remarkably (un)balanced. It's massive hops(surprise!) over massive malts and both fight your tastebuds for dominance with the hops just winning out.
It pours a deep orange colour and there are aroma of Citrus fruits, Caramel and Rye malt. Mouthfeel is like a boozy oil slick. Its sweet caramel is replaced by the Grapefruity, piney bitterness of all the hops and a boozy warmth as it goes down. All in all a top beer.
Dear Schmaltz Brewing, please send more beer.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Thornbridge Return

Ok, the brewery didn't really go away, but due to some er...'creative differences' we haven't stocked any at The Rake or Utobeer for a while.
Got the pic from BeerReviews
One of my favourites is their white golden pale ale, Wild Swan. The beers are back! I love Thornbridge beers, Dom Driscoll and the rest of the Thornbridge brewing team have picked up the baton from Kelly and made it their own, it's still a great brewery and they're still producing stunning beers.
It pours really pale golden and the aroma is Lemon and Limes.
Taste-wise it's a citrussy feast with some orange thrown in for good measure, bitterness at the end is replaced by a mild warmth, considering it's only 3.8% abv, it gives you a lemony wake-up slap around the chops. It's extremely thirst quenching and is one of those session ales that really puts quality right up there with quantity.
Top drop. More please.

An IPA a Day #9

Day nine and it's over to New Zealand to continue my lead up to the first International IPA day. I want this beer in the UK but I doubt I'll ever see it. Luke Nicholas started the Epic Brewery in 2006 and is almost single handedly bringing the craft beer to the masses in New Zealand. I say almost single handed because he recently 'stole' Kelly Ryan back from us(we will never forgive you Luke).
Together they are making some fantastic beers, I know this because I am lucky enough to have tasted some of them even though they don't export to the UK.
Hop Zombie is their latest double IPA and I want it over here! It uses four different hops, two US and two NZ when I asked Kelly Ryan which ones he replied "really yummy ones!" Bloody secretive Kiwis!
This is one beer that I really want to try now, and I'm having to take my tasting notes from the Epic Beer Website.
Tasting notes: 
The Hop Zombie has huge tropical fruit characters on the nose, mango, guava, and a hint of ripe raspberry, which continue in the mouth, with a rich sweetness and mouth-coating hop character and bitterness.
At a hefty 8.5% it's one to enjoy with meals as well as drink on it's own. According to Epic it could easily replace a dessert wine and compliments strong cheeses really well.
So here's the question for Luke and Kelly....When do we get to have some?

Friday, 15 July 2011

An IPA a Day #8

Day eight of my lead up to International IPA day takes us to Henley-on-Thames just outside London.
Chief Zymurgist Jeff Rosenmeier and his business partner? (what is it you actually do?) Jason Stevenson have been brewing up a storm for a few years now and last year they re-branded and re-launched their IPA. Now called 69 IPA it's a fine example of it's style.
You may remember I blogged about it a while back because big bully drinks company Diageo had decided that their customers were too stupid to know the difference between their Whisky and the beer that Lovibonds were brewing. Unsurprisingly Lovibonds came out on top in that argument.
The beer? Well, here's what Lovibonds themselves say about it on Ratebeer...
Lovibonds 69 IPA is not a boring, middle of the road IPA. We’re not quite sure how British IPAs have evolved into such low gravity pints of hop-lessness. 69 IPA is part of a new generation of IPAs, one that fuses the great history of IPA with modern hops and techniques. You may not be aware, but craft brewers in the States are now producing some of the most remarkable, flavoursome and diverse beers in the world. IPA is a style that they have embraced with vigour and 69 IPA is a nod to our brothers and sisters across the pond, who serve as a guide and inspiration for this beer. At 6.9% avb, our IPA has the strength of an original IPA, but is infused with the modern aromas and flavours of the USA’s finest Centennial and Columbus hops. Lovibonds is the first in the UK to employ a new dry hopping device called a ’Hopinator’. This technique is key to giving 69 IPA its awesome aroma and flavour.
I'm a big fan of this beer, the launch night at The Rake was one of those nights that just rocked. Such good people making such good beer. I recommend you drink this as 'responsibly as you like' and don't blame me the next morning!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

An IPA a Day #7

Right then End of week one and since we had a Brewdog launch at the bar last night, which by the way, I hope you all enjoyed, it's time we went to Scotland as part of our lead up to International IPA day.
This is Punk IPA, it's an agressive beer.....well not so much any more.
A Nano Keg
You might say that the old recipe Punk was better, I'd have to disagree. Personally, I think the old recipe had got a bit flabby, had one too many drug cocktails, was writing the same old stuff, it seemed to me that Punk IPA was yesterdays news.
Shortly after the launch of the new recipe came the launch of the Punk Nano kegs...sorry cans for those of you old enough to remember them.
Nano Kegs is for all you 21st century blogger geeks.
The new recipe may be less aggressive but it's also far more drinkable. At 5.6% abv is slightly less alcoholic. There are hints of tropical fruits such as Pineapple and Mango on the nose and the palate but still enough bitterness(45 IBUs) at the finish so as not to make it a big girls blouse of a beer.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

An IPA a Day #6

Day 6 of 28 leading up to International IPA takes us back to the dark ages of probihition. During prohibition illegal bars were called Speakeasys. Whilst they were illegal they were tacitly allowed to continue trading because a lot of their customers were police, judges and government officials who didn't agree with prohibition.
One city in the states that had a particular reputation for speakeasies was San Francisco and it was there that the Speakeasy Ales and Lagers opened.
They seem to a healthy sense of humour when naming their beers too with names such as Prohibition Ale, Untouchable Pale Ale, Rum Runner Rye and Old Godfather. The IPA I am going for today is Speakeasy's Big Daddy IPA and it was named after Dave Keene, the owner of one of my favourite San Francisco bars, Toronado. He is the unofficial "Godfather" of the San Francisco beer community. As one of *"The Mob" I love the names and the beers!
Big Daddy IPA is a golden or blonde beer with a fluffy white head. Again and this seems to be a theme in IPAs, Citrussy hops are dominant but the nose also has floral and grassy type aromas too. The taste is big, of course, hops are dominant, of course and the mouthfeel is beautifully rich.
Gotta love the art work n'all.

*"The Mob" are apparently Speakeasy beer fans - I just learnt that today - love it.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

An IPA a Day #5

As I said yesterday, I'm continuing the lead up to International IPA day with a Belgian IPA. Todays offering in Chouffe Houblon Tripel IPA. This Belgian beastie weighs in at a mere 9% abv.
This is a Golden beer which does almost exactly what Chouffe were aiming for. This was to marry up the English tradition of IPA's with the new wave(or now not-so new wave) US style IPA's as well as give the beer a distinctively Belgian style.
Aromas include Citrus, Lemon is the most prominent of them but there's maybe some Orange or Mandarin in there too. The flavours are quite complex, the moderate toffee sweetness belies the character of the beer which is quite full bodied almost oily and after the sweetness there's the piney, resinous bitterness of the hops which power past it and leave you with a very dry finish. There's also the the Belgian yeast which comes through very well and gives the beer even more character as if it needed it!
It is interesting to note that this is only 59 IBU's, it seems like more to me.

Monday, 11 July 2011

An IPA a Day #4

My lead up to Inernational IPA day continues today with Stone Ruination I have recently written about this beer when I paired it with the Formula One and you can read the blog post on it here.

Tomorrow's beer? Something from Belgium I think...

Sunday, 10 July 2011

An IPA a day #3

IPA number three in my lead up to International IPA Day is Great Divide Hercules Double IPA.
Great Divide are based in Denver, Colorado (Yep, I'm going there!!!) and their Double IPA comes in at a hefty 10% abv.
What you get from the bottle is a deep orange, classically tawny coloured beer which leaves a good head lacing your glass.
Bringing the glass to your face you get the aroma of piney hops along with a hit of citrus and surprisingly a hint of the malt sweetness on the back of that aroma too.
The Centennial, Columbus and Simcoe hops balance out with bitterness what would be an over the top sweetness made by the amount of malt that has to go into this bad-boy. For your mighty 85 IBU's(International Bittering Units) You get a resinous piney taste along with hints of Orange peel and the toffee malt character sweetness coats your mouth with a lovely boozy warmth to finish off the taste experience.
With such a weighty ABV, this is a beer that should be enjoyed with some sort of food, a hard, strong cheese or some sort of spicy dish that the beer can go head to head with!
First brewed in 2004 the recipe has not been tweaked once since it's inception and I put my hand on heart and thank the brewers at Great Divide for that!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

An IPA a Day #2

Day two of my IPA list leading up to the first international IPA day.
Todays offering is Marstons Old Empire. It may be brewed by one of the bigger boys of the UK brewing scene but it was one of those beers that helped shaped my love of beer. I think it was the first really hoppy beer I ever drank and I couldn't get enough of it. Of course I ended up off my tits when ever it was available, the stupidity of youth getting the better of me most of the time back in the day. The reason for this? Well aside from youthful exuberance it is rarely seen in London that you have to make the most of it whenever you can!
Tasting notes for this seminal(snigger) ale include the skunk-like whiff of the famous Burton Snatch which gives way to the nose which comes from the American hop, Cascade. On the palate it's got the richness of the malt coming through and  then gets a really bitter and dry hop finish. Very moreish which I suspect was also part of the problem in my youth!

Friday, 8 July 2011

An IPA a Day #1

So in celebration the first Annual IPA Day I'm doing one a day for your pleasure with the final ten days being my top ten IPA's.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin....
About 18 months ago a local homebrewer who used to sell cheese in Borough Market decided that it was time to go proffessional and so a legend was created.
Evin O'Riordan, Brewer/Owner of Kernel Brewery has one of the most recognisable brands in London now with the plain brown labels merely stating what style of beer is in the bottle and which hops were used in that batch.
So which batch have I enjoyed the most? Well I'm the first to hold my hand up and say I've not had all of them but I've had enough to know that my favourite so far is the IPA made with S.C.C.A.NS. to the uninitiated that's the Simcoe, Citra, Columbus, Apollo and Nelson Sauvin hops that were used in the making of this mmasterpiece.
Tasting notes for this wonderful creation are as follows. On the nose there's definite citrus, hard to be more specific, maybe Grapefruit and Lemon, there's also Mango in there too. To taste is to rise into a temporary Nirvana and forget the world below you, it's more tropical fruit, Mango, Peach and Oranges are there but there's a nice dryness to it which quenches the thirst and leaves you wanting another sip. At 6.8% abv it's a nicely balanced treat for your tastebuds!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

An IPA a Day....

Yep, my latest awesome-est idea is to do an IPA a day up to and including the International #IPAday that will be on August 4th. Four weeks today.
Starting tomorrow, you'll be able to read about all the IPA's I've ever drunk...nearly. The Last 10 days will include my top 10 India Pale Ales.
What would yours be?

Announcing International IPA Day!

On August 4th the World, this planet in this universe will have it's very first day dedicated only to India Pale Ales.
What took mother nature so long I hear you ask? Well she doesn't want to give away all her secrets at once does she?
So what's it all about? well here is the press release I was sent this afternoon

Announcing International #IPADay: A Social Celebration of Craft Beer 
San Diego, CA – July 7th, 2011 – Attention all craft beer evangelists, brewers, bloggers, and suds-savvy citizens! On Thursday, August 4th 2011, you are cordially invited to participate in the largest international craft beer celebration and virtual conversation the world has ever seen. 

International #IPADay is a grassroots movement to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers, and brewers worldwide through social media. On Thursday August 4th, craft beer drinkers across the social sphere and across the globe will raise pints in a collective toast to one of craft beer’s most iconic styles: the India Pale Ale. This celebrated style represents the pinnacle of brewing innovation with its broad spectrum of diverse brands, subcategories, and regional flavor variations – making it the perfect style to galvanize craft beer’s social voice. 

#IPADay is not the brainchild of a corporate marketing machine, nor is it meant to serve any particular beer brand. #IPADay is opportunity for breweries, bloggers, businesses and consumers to connect and share their love of craft beer. Getting involved is easy; the only requirements are an appreciation for great beer and the will to spread the word. Anyone can participate by enjoying IPA with friends, making some noise online with the #IPADay hashtag, and showing the world that craft beer is more than a trend! 
Tips on How to Take Part: 
1. Organize an #IPADay event at your brewery, brewpub, restaurant, bar, home, or office (Ex:  An IPA dinner/cheese pairing/comparative or educational tasting/cask night/tap takeover…). Share your events on the official #IPADay forum at 
2. On August 4th, share your photos, videos, blog posts, tasting notes, recipes, and thoughts with the world. Be sure to include the #IPADay hashtag in your posts Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, RateBeer, Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, Untappd or any other social media site.
3. See what other people are saying by searching “#IPADay” on Google,, et cetera…
4. Track down your favorite IPA’s, ones you’ve been meaning to try, and ones you’ve never heard of; share them with friends and share your thoughts with the world.
5. Have a good time and know that by sharing your experiences online, you’re strengthening the craft beer community at large.

About International #IPADAY  
Founded in 2011 by beer evangelists and social media personalities Ashley V Routson and Ryan A Ross, International #IPADay is the largest grassroots social media-based celebration of craft beer. The goal of #IPADay is to use social media to strengthen the collective voice of craft beer through the simple celebration of beer itself. The success of #IPADay hinges on the passionate voices of beer enthusiasts worldwide and their willingness to share that passion across the social sphere. 

For more information on events or how you can support #IPADay, visit or contact (insert regional host brewery) at (, facebook, twitter, *Change out with relevant brewery/blog info*

So basically there's tonnes of scope to what could cover IPA day, you could do anything! I will say now that The Rake WILL be doing some sort of event but this will be confirmed next week on The Rake's blog.
Other British bars that will be hosting events are The Port Street Bar in Manchester and the Free Trade Inn, in Newcastle, I'm also sure that as soon as word spreads other London bars will be joining in!

Summer Wine Brewery have gotten well and truly involved in helping sponsor this event too and will have the following beers available for those that are interested in getting involved...
Diablo, 6% - Cask and Keg.
Kahuna, 6% - Cask.
7 C's of Rye, 7% - Cask.
Nerotype - Herkules 6% - Cask.

Hope you get involved! These sorts of events are what help put beer on the map in a big way and IPA's is the bestest beer style ever!!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Session #53 Finding Redemption

So this months session is all about Redemption. Coming from London I could write about finding a brewery called Redemption but instead I'll tell you about my own beery redemption.
It started back in 1992 when I was a skinny(yes I used to be skinny) kid, finally old enough to work behind a bar. I had this ridiculous romantic notion about drawing a pint of cask ale from a handpump and how good it would feel.
Now, back in the early nineties all I really wanted to be was an actor and working behind a bar was helping me save up for drama school.
From behind the bar I saw all sorts of things, served all kinds of people, got all sorts of abuse from assholes as they got more drunk through the evening, from the person waving that £20 note in my face as I served someone else, thinking that might get them served quicker to the person at the end of the night trying to have a fight with you because you weren't serving them any more of the bland fizzy piss they'd been drinking all night.
Starting off as that naive, shy kid behind the bar I soon learnt that only the strong survive behind a bar and I had to be able to give as good as I got and take care of myself. Even though I was now over eighteen years old you could basically say that I grew up behind the bar.
Working behind the bar also taught me what I really wanted to be so when I had to leave drama school due to lack of funding, although I was devastated because a part of my dream was dying before my eyes, working behind a bar had shown me that there was a different kind of performance to do every night. The pub was my theatre, the bar was my stage and on it I would never be 'resting'.
Over the next few years I would have many jobs in various businesses but I'd always go back to pub work, I just had a natural affinity to these places. They kept drawing me back for another hit, like a druggie with a habit. 
In 2000 I started working for a mate in a Firkin pub in Wandsworth Common, my local pub, I was working in an off-license a few doors down and Dan came in one afternoon for a pack of cigarettes, we'd gotten to know each other reasonably well and he offered me a job. My first shift for Mitchells & Butlers(Allied Domecq I think they were called then) was behind the bar with Dan Fox (Now GM at the legendary White Horse Pub, in Parsons Green just the two of us, thousands of thirsty customers and a few regulars collecting glasses for us on a hot Sunday night in late May, it was proper backs to the wall, no stopping for fags, no time to stop and an Adrenalin hit that told me that I'd found what I was looking for. Now of course we didn't want to be getting shafted like that every night so we went about hiring a team that was to this day was one of the best I had the pleasure to work with. I met my wife there, that's just how good it was!
Fast forward eight years and a jaded, cynical and overweight 34 year old me was sick of working for a multi million pound company and getting nowhere. Pub after pub I was applying for and getting nowhere. I ended my Mitchells and Butlers career as I had started it, working for Dan Fox, this time at the aforementioned legendary White Horse, this time as a duty manager.
Now one of the suppliers of the White Horse's beer range is Utobeer and I met Mike Hill and Richard Dinwoodie, the owners of Utobeer once before Dan called me into the office and told me that the two of them were looking for a bar manager for their bar The Rake, only two years old at that point, The Rake had already won a couple of awards when I started there in September 2008 and stepped into the brave new world of 'specialty beer' as it was known then. I had found my personal redemption, craft beer was calling and the rest as they say, is history....