Tuesday 23 November 2010

I Just Want a Kitchen Sink!

There I was walkin' along the Frog and Toad when I get a real Geoff Hurst on an' only a beer'll do. Know what I mean? So I find da nearest boozer an' order da first pin' ov somethin' fizzy. The Barman pulls a pin' ov lager an' this Oil Tanker tells me...
"it's knock on the door a pint! "
"You're 'avin a Turkish" I tell 'im and he says 
"it's knock on the door bin lid awer you can Bombay Duck off!"
"You must be aaghta your bacon mate, I ain' paying that!"
Bombay then pal! he say's, this geeza's got some minerals talkin to me like that but i'm chubb so I turn an' walk out. There's more bath tubs around 'ere.
wot's Laadaaahn coming to when a barman gets to bubble and squeak to me like dat?
Typical Laahdan Battle Cruiser!
I walk into the battle cruiser dahn the frog and it's full of whistles and I cant even get to the bar so uncle buck that!

One more boozer in walkin distance and I'm in Friar Tuck, nobody's at the Ringo Starr and they have lots of pigs ear on the bar. I know this drum n' bass, it's cheap as chips and no fucker will rabbit on whilst I'm trying to read the currant bun wiv me pint of Nelson!

Don't Can That Idea!

So Brewdog will be canning Punk IPA from March next year. About time too, of all the breweries in Britain, they are probably the one that has enough of a following to be able to carry it off and their own unique style of branding works very well too!
Great Idea!
My last post was on 21st Amendment's Canned Back to Black IPA which also has very distinctive branding on the can so it 'can' be done well but I think that breweries will have to come up with a hip and trendy can to make it appealing rather than old hat or passe. Obviously the beer has to be good too otherwise you might as well be canning tramp juice!
Looking forward to it.
Other breweries that might benefit from canning their range? Otley? How about Harviestoun, Marble or Thornbridge?
Who do you think would be able to pull it off?

Saturday 20 November 2010

21st Amendment Back to Black

In may and June for a couple of weeks I was lucky enough to be in California. Whilst we were there we were also lucky enough to get to 21st Amendment brewpub, one of my favourite places on earth!
My favourite beer there was the Brew Free or Die IPA, but more about that later.
My friends Matt and Karen who run the Evening Star pub in Brighton were recently out in California and New York and they managed to pick me up this on their travels.
Pic from thebeersessions.com
Back in Black IPA. The first thing you notice is that the art work is amazing.
The second thing is the aroma, lots of liquorice, some orange and mango. Totally black unlike some supposed black ipa's. 
Now, I know some of you will say black ipa's blah blah oxymoron blah blah; Whatever. 21st Amendment have decided to call this a black ipa and I personally think they've done an absolutely amazing job with this beer. It's totally moreish which at a lowly 6.8% abv and a not so lowly 65 IBUs it's a wee bit dangerous but I want more! No, really! Matt and Karen found this in New York apparently, if you're in NYC any time soon, bring me back a couple, I'll sort you out for them! I love this beer!
Dredge would FABPOW this, I'm just gonna say I will happily SMILE for this beer and those who know me will say what a big deal that is! 
Brew Free or Die Next....

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Right Royal Knees Up

So Wills and the posh bird are getting hitched. Now you might think that because they're a couple of toffs that they'll be drinking Champagne all day long.
Can't see it myself, you see beneath those two icy posh facades are a couple beer swilling, car stealing, asbo-touting chavs!
I can see it now, Wills sends his butler to the bar, not for more champers but a couple of pints of fosters!

On my wedding day I started by sharing a bottle of Brewdog's Zephyr with my best men, my father-in-law and....sshhhh.....an underager!

Are you married? If so what did you drink on your wedding day?
Are you engaged? do you have a 'beer list' for your wedding day? - Admit it Dredge!
How will you(if you) toast the royal couple on their wedding day?

Will I toast them? Yes I will, after all they're two young people starting their lives together with nothing but their love for one another and a tiny flat in Anglesea!

*add-on question: Are you a brewer? Will you be brewing a beer for the occasion?

X-Factor For Punks

Louis Walsh was heard saying this week "Brewdog you remind me of a small Marstons".

Brewdog are coming to The Rake this Thursday to showcase a new version of the Punk IPA. Known only as Agent X  sorry...Punk X.
So nice they put kisses on front.

There will also be the old version of Punk IPA so that you can compare the two. Magic Dog will be keeping score and generally making the place look untidy(old habits die hard) and YOU can help decide whether or not Brewdog make the new Punk X version, the 2011 version of the beer.

It's X-Factor, you decide! Calls from mobiles may be considerably more expensive!

For more details you can go to the Brewdog Website.

Friday 12 November 2010

What is a 'Craft Brewer'

So the arguments about Cask and Keg rumble on, I suspect they are never going to stop but a couple of people have asked the question, what is a craft brewery? and what happens to the breweries that aren't considered 'craft'?
Two extremely good questions, lets deal with them one at a time?

What is a Craft Beer?
Well this(below) is as good a statement as any and it seems to provide more tradtitional breweries such as the *Moorhouses and Fullers of the beer world a foot through the craft beer door :

Craft Beer is an American term which is also common in Canada and New Zealand and generally refers to beer that is brewed using traditional methods, without adjuncts such as rice or corn; brewed for distinction and flavor rather than mass appeal (from Wikipedia).

Now I know that there are writers and bloggers out there that will spit their beer out at the thought that an Americanism might be spoiling the language or beer and brewing but that's just tough, you know as well as I do that our language is a very fluid thing.
But I'm not here to talk about language, I started this to try and define craft beer and I don't think I'm doing a very good job!

I personally think that craft beer is beer that's had the personal touch, where the brewer has taken the time to select the ingredients carefully, put a bit of thought into the beer he/she is brewing and then do their best to get the beer to the outlet in the best possible condition(be it from a Cask, Keg, Bottle or Can).
Personally I also like the thought that there are breweries and pubs being the centre of the local community. You only have to look at Pontypridd to know what I mean.
Don't get me wrong, I don't only drink craft beer, I have been known to drink a mass produced lager or two in my time and if you've read this blog for any length of time you'll know that Guinness is myt 'go-to' beer for want of something different, but I drank these beers in the knowledge that they are mass produced and that very little 'craft' to speak of has gone into them. I just happen to enjoy beers that I know have had some effort put into them. So sue me.

What do you think of the wikipedia statement above? I think it's a very reasonable way of putting things, it keeps  breweries like Moorhouse and Fullers in the craft beer picture and rightly so in my opinion. Why shouldn't these breweries claim a part in the craft beer revolution?

So what about the other question? What happens to the breweries that aren't considered craft? who knows? not me. I'm not naive enough to think for one minute that these mass producing, monolithic multinational brewing monsters are going to go out of business any time soon as why would they? At the moment they have a place in the market. They produce (relatively) cheap beer and the masses still drink it, for want of something better I suppose. Partly I think because craft beers tend to be more expensive and 'the people' still have these prehistoric hangups about how cheap their beer has to be.
Watch this space I guess.

*These were just two of the breweries that were either mentioned to me or mentioned in other posts on the subject.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Craft is the Future

Ok, this is a follow up post to the Where Next one. The reason for this post is that the last comment on the where next one(bar mine) actually made me very angry. The person in question seems to have swallowed a Brewdog bible and it was such a pile of steaming shit that I felt I had to write a follow up rather than just comment!

I am so sick of the keg vs cask argument. When 5 of us wrote blogs on Why Cask Beer Rocks it wasn't to say that Cask was better than Keg, indeed, Zak rightly pointed out that we were talking about a form of dispense on several of the blogs rather than a beer style.
I would just like to say this and you can agree or disagree, comment or not, I couldn't care less.

Craft Beer is the future. Not Keg, not Cask and not Bottle. Anybody that says different is wrong. These are just forms of dispense. The sooner people realise this and start raving about how great craft beer is, the better.

69 Dude!

As Bill and Ted would say!

Joking aside Lovibonds, based in Henley-on-Thames are launching their IPA as 69 IPA on Monday 15th November at The Rake.
This is one special beer, an American style IPA at guess what 6.9% abv, personally I can't get enough of it it''s right up there with some of the best American IPA's and if you consider yourself a beer fan it's a must try beer!

Proceedings start at 7pm and you'll be able to meet Jeff Rosenmeier, Jason Stevenson and Pete Brissenden from Lovibonds brewery who will talk you through the beer and why they indeed we, think it's so great!

There will of course be other beers from Lovibonds too including Sour Grapes, Gold Reserve and Dark Reserve as well as the usual favourites Gold, Amber and Dark all on draught. So 7 great reasons to join us on Monday night for a beer or several!

See you there!

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Where Next?

A cask Breather
So Pete wrote about the CAMRA stance on styles of dispense yesterday which frankly I could only see as a cynical ploy to get his no.1 spot back on Wikio from Sid Boggle(but shh...don't tell him I said that). In doing so though, I do think he made some excellent points and I want to touch on them from the point of view of someone who sells lots of all dispense styles.
Firstly as someone who has never used a cask breather, if a beer tastes amazing from cask and a cask breather is used, who cares?? Now, before the CAMRA bods say how can you say that if you've never used one? I have tasted beer from a cask with a cask breather and it makes very little difference to the taste.
swan necks with sparklers
The cask breather is designed to get a small amount of CO2 to replace some of the oxygen in the cask, extending it's life and giving it more condition at the point of dispense, not changing the taste.
I'm therefore also interested to hear the views of CAMRA members on sparklers and how CAMRA think they change the taste and condition of a beer! And if so why do so many northern CAMRA pubs get to use them? One I wrote in yesterday, Bacchus(Tyneside CAMRA pub of the year 2009 and 2010) uses sparklers and the beer still tasted superb! So, come on CAMRA bods speak up or forever be voiceless wannabes!
Secondly if a kegged beer tastes better than a cask beer is the world going to end?? No, and it does quite often taste better. Take Lovibonds for (a British) example, fantastic beers and not a cask conditioned one amongst them. Shock, horror! Never! I can see beer being spluttered all over keyboards across the country. Yes people, sometimes it DOES taste better when dispensed through a keg.
I hope I'm portraying the argument that I don't give a shit how a beer is dispensed as long as it tastes good that's what I'm hoping to do anyway.
The last point that I'd like you to think about is if CAMRA has done such a good job and the battle for real ale is effectively won, what now for CAMRA?  What is in the organisations future? After all, some of the more militant 'CAMRA-Types' are starting to 'expire' due to being older than God and who is left to pick up the mantra? Why, the more reasonably minded younger people of course!

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Live Blog From Bacchus, Newcastle

Tucked away on an innocuous side street is one on Newcastle's coolest bars, Bacchus. Given that the bar has continental beers, eight hand pumps and lots of spirits front and centre, it's an odd name for a bar. The wine is almost hidden at the back of the bar.
There seems to be a large range of whiskies from the USA and Scotland and the hand pumps are taken up with some great beers from the Fyne Brewery from Argyll. I am drinking the Hurricane Jack, a lovely light beer with a  tonne of Lychees on the nose and superb, thirst quenching bitterness that leaves you wanting more.

Andy Hickson, Manager, Bacchus
Picture from ChronicleLive.co.uk
Manager Andy Hickson is a very cordial host, the first time we came in was last night and he was behind the bar and whilst taking the time to talk to us he was serving customers, always keeping an eye out for them at the bar.
He's passionate about what he does too, the bar does beer and food matching dinners that are very popular when they're held.
Whilst Jeff and I were telling him about twissups and how we'd like to end up here with a beer dinner on the Saturday night it was clear that he was thinking about the logistics of doing this with a busy Saturday Newcastle night, very affable fella.
He's just given me a tip for a day trip I want to do tomorrow, after all, can't sit around pubs in Newcastle all week, cam I? Well probably but it'll be nice to get off my arse and do some exploring this week, after all, I have time on my hands and money in my pocket(for now).
Back to Bacchus, here I am listening to some local office bods talk footie and the possibility of AFC Wimbledon vs The Scum that Shall Not Be Named and thinking it's 'well funny' think not chaps but I'm in a strange town and I'm not about to get into an argument!
The food looks good, I don't have time to eat here this afternoon but I intend to return in a couple of days foir lunch, after all, who else is going to drink all this great beer?
Until later then!

Monday 8 November 2010

Kelly Ryan Obituary

You'd never guess this guy was a genius!
Ok, HE'S NOT DEAD but the first thing I have to do is give you the waiver, this post might make you cry. After 4 years with Thornbridge, Kelly Ryan is going home, he's done his handover post for the BeeRevolution blog and started a new one for the Thornbridge guys which I'm hoping they keep up.
I'd like to say thanks to Kelly, he's an extremely generous fella, especially with his time. After all it's not everyone who can right the wrongs of the beer world and still have time to reply to emails! Indeed when I heard he was leaving Thornbridge I contacted him for a meet the brewer piece I was thinking about writing, I emailed him some questions and he had the answers a couple of hours later!
Innovation, Passion, Knowledge.
When I came up with an idea of a collaborative piece on Cask Ale(I think it was my idea, feel free to correct me!) which was initially going to be pitched to the papers, Kelly was an obvious choice for the brewers point of view and he was the one that came up with the simultaneous blog posting idea that eventually happened. He put his time, his knowledge and his passion for craft beer into the piece and it was a very good read.
I first met Kelly at the Great British Beer Festival a couple of years ago and have met him sporadically at various beery events since then. In that time Thornbridge (and Kelly) have gone Stratospheric. The beers they have produced in the last couple of years have been on a par with some of the best I have ever tasted. One of my favourites being the Lord Marples, a fantastic hoppy session bitter that I could drink over and over again.
I'm also a big fan of the Kipling amongst others and I'm keen to see how it works on keg.
Anyway....Back to Kelly.
I think the best way to remember what he's done for the British craft beer scene is this :

Jaipur(yes I know they were brewing this before he got there)
Lord Marples
St Petersburg
Wild Swan

A heady list to say the least and not a bad beer among them! If you look at Ratebeer or other beery sites you'll see the full list of just how many beers they've actually released(I could go on for ages!) but these are some of my favourites.
I'd like to say thanks and good luck, I'm sure you'll all join me in raising a glass to an amazing brewer that New Zealand are lucky to be getting back.
Quick! It's not too late to keep him locked up in a brewery somewhere!

Sunday 7 November 2010

Beer Bloggers Conference 2011

Yep, The Dredge announced it to us on twitter earlier that there will indeed be a Beer Bloggers Conference in London in 2011.
So, are you going? I think it'll be fascinating and well worth going. The tough part for the organisers will be finding a suitable venue so any ideas feel free to send them to Mark or myself and I'll pass them on to him.

I just hope the organisers realise that beer bloggers over here aren't the pretty young things like in the USA or they may be in for a very ugly shock!

Friday 5 November 2010

All Hail Boggle!

The new Wikio rankings are out and unbelievably my mate Sid Boggle has risen 39 places to overtake the seemingly unmovable blog mountain that is Pete Brown from the no.1 spot!
We celebrated this achievement at The Rake yesterday by giving a free pint to one of our customers who came to the bar and shouted the phrase 'All Hail Boggle', we had put it up on Facebook and Twitter and it was a great bit of fun for our festival as well as a way to celebrate the big mans achievement.
Now, it should be said that whilst Sid writes some great stuff about beer, the posts that got him the rise weren't about beery stuff they were about Frank Sidebottom, a subject that I know means a great deal to the Boggle.
So, should it be allowed? well that's the beauty of blogging, you CAN have a blog that is about one subject most of the time and from time to time stick another subject in there. If you get more hits because of one, so be it. It shakes things up after all.
Oh and it should be noted that there are a whole THREE wine blogs in the top twenty and yet Wikio are still calling it the Wine and Beer Ranking?
The mind Boggles.