Thursday 30 December 2010

2011 Note to Self

Well, I've looked back, now it's time to look forward before I have so much to drink on NYE that I forget what I'm looking forward to.
What do I want to do?

1) Learn to drive, yes, at 36 I'm not a driver, never really wanted to and really still don't but it's a useful sin.
2) Sunderland Uni - Brewer course. Why the f**k not? I enjoy brewing.
3) Brew some more.
4) I'm organising at least 3 beer festivals this year possibly more, hard work but watching them unfold into a good time is like watching a child say it's first word or watching someone enjoy your beer as much as you do!
5) Find interesting new ways of expanding the craft beer revolution. Very fucking vague but in all seriousness we need to start really shouting about how exciting beer is. I have some ideas, I WILL need your help.

I think 5 things is enough to be going on with, after all most of them are pretty time consuming!

Good luck to us all for 2011. Some will need it more than others, especially if I learn to drive ;-)

Monday 27 December 2010

My Year In Beer

No, I have not spent a year actually IN beer, although my liver might disagree with that!

This could end up being a long and drawn out ramble so bear with me.. I'll start with the bars.
Evening Star - I love that place, it's friendly, the beers are always top notch and it's somewhere great to go outside London
Euston Tap - FINALLY somewhere to drink other than The Rake! I know the guys behind this and the Sheffield Tap and they're onto a winner with it.
The White Horse, Parson's Green - Still the best pub in London and still going from strength to strength.
The Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd - Run by the guys behind the Otley Brewing Company, great beer, great atmosphere and awesome food. Such a great place to drink in!

Boggle About Beer - Sorry Pete Brown but it was really good to see you knocked off number one, even for just one month! Sid has a mission to stop the spoogebeerians and his blog is a great read!
Tandleman's Beer Blog - It's been a pleasure getting to know Peter this year, he comes across as a bit of a grumpy old git at times but so do I. He knows his stuff though and it comes across in his writing.
Cooking Lager - Do I need to say anymore? Legend!

Thornbridge - One of my beers of the year was Thornstar, along with Kipling, Jaipur, Lord Marples.....blah blah blah, I could go on all day with this list!
Kernel - One man, one small brewery, so much great beer, as one of my staff said about a week ago 'I've never come across a Kernel beer I didn't like'. I second that.
Dark Star - Consistent, great, tasty beers. Not nearly enough recognition from the Geekaratti.
Otley - Still making great beers and still letting me loose in the brewery a couple of times a year, look out for more Utobeer/Otley collaboration this year!

Goose Island IPA - Still as consistently great as ever, a beer for brewers to aspire to!
Kernel S.C.A.N.NS IPA - One of Evins best beers this year.
Schlenkerla Urbock - Waited a long time to get this to The Rake and it was worth the wait. Simply the best smoked beer I have ever tasted!

Best Moments
My Wedding - Heed my words, getting married is the best!
My Honeymoon - My first stateside trip and because of it, not my last, so much great beer, so little time.
What a rabble, what a great day!
Twissup #1 - First of the Twissups in Sheffield and a great time was had by all!
Boggle Gets to No.1 - Already said it, I'm a bit of a sucker for the underdog so it was great to see him get to number one even if only for a month.
Blogaborations - Did  a collaborative blog with Shea, Dredge, Kelly and Mark earlier this year, got a couple more in the pipeline. It's fun, thought provoking and interesting pastime this blogging stuff.

I'm certainly looking forward to 2011 and what it brings. There are several big beer festivals I'm organising for The Rake and even though I'm not going to make it personally, the European Beer Bloggers Conference should be a lot of fun.
See you round the Isles! Love, Peace and Chicken Grease.

Saturday 25 December 2010

Happy-Happy Joy-Joy

Well, the worst is over for me, I'm on annual leave until January 3rd. The once a year drinkers are having to put up with their families, I think that's punishment enough for the way that some of them behave at this time of year.
What they've probably forgotten is that Christmas is a Christian holiday. I was brought up a Christian and even though my mother is a vicar down in Hampshire and I have very little time for organised religion nowadays, I at least understand what this time of year should be about.
So what am I doing? Drinking a fantastic beer (my first beer of the day is Kernel Export Stout) and watching some less fantastic films. Not actually celebrating the Christmas holiday, more just the holiday, the time off and the fact that I get to spend some time with my wife.
In the last few weeks I've been a right grumpy bastard and I would like to apologise to anyone that's had the misfortune of working with me in that time, and before any of my friends say I'm always a grumpy bastard, I get worse at Christmas because of the once a year crowd.
I was recently talking to one of my friends that also works in the industry and he said that it's not the behaviour of these people that gets worse, it's our tolerance that gets lower. He's right, he usually is!
I've been working in bars or pubs at Christmas for what is about 18 years now and this year has seemed so bad that I was starting to think this might be the last Christmas I do in the industry, it might be, who knows what the future brings, not me anyway.
I would like to thank my staff for their hard work this last year, my bosses for their continued support and I'd like to thank my regular(and irregular) customers for their patronage, it's down to them that The Rake is so successful, after all, they make us all work harder to bring the exciting beers to The Rake for their/our pleasure.
So, Happy Christmas, have a great new year and I look forward to seeing you all at The Rake in the next year for what will be an exciting year for the specialist beer industry.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Brewday with The Kernel

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of a brew day with Evin O'Riordan of the popular micro brewery The Kernel Brewery.
I asked Evin if I could come and brew with him a couple of months ago and he very generously agreed, I came up with the idea of doing a black IPA which Evin got really excited about. THEN I had the fortune of being brought a can of 21st Amendment's Back in Black IPA and I got even more excited about brewing a black IPA! - I wrote about the Back in Black here.
Then Evin suggested that because I liked the BIB so much we should do an homage to it, I very swiftly agreed to that because if ours is half as good as the 21st Amendment version, I'll be really happy. Evin got the recipe from Phil Lowry of beermerchants who knows the guys at 21a and had done his own version called Military Intelligence. We were now good to go.
Boggle turned up to chronicle the event/make fun of me and you can read his blog on it here.
I'm not going to bore you with the brewing details as frankly I've been too busy in the last couple of weeks to make the notes up, I'll have some of them available at the launch on the 9th January if you really must know.
Hops we used were five editions of Centennial and Columbus. Malts were Pale, Carafa & Munich.

So as I type, it's two weeks later and I have tried the beer! I have one sentiment to convey as far as the beer goes and that is : oh my!
I've only had the last runnings of it and as yeasty as they were they were also superbly tasty! Can't wait to try the good stuff!
Anyway we're launching the Black IPA at The Rake on Sunday 9th January between 12pm and 5pm for the first of our Sunday Specials of 2011 so come on down and try it!
Hope to see you there and more importantly, I hope you enjoy the beer!

Saturday 18 December 2010

Cold Weather? Snow Thanks!

Bit of snow and it grinds to a halt.
It's snowing. Bugger. This means that my Christmas rush will be severely curtailed in the next few days. But it's preeeety I hear you whine, yeah maybe but there are hundreds of businesses out there that will be affected by this weather, including pubs and the wholesalers that supply them!
The effect the weather had on us last time was awful. You see a lot of my customers rely on the trains into London Bridge to get them into the area, this includes the office workers and the other people who come into town on the weekend to do their shopping.
3 weeks ago when we got the first lot of snow, London Bridge station practically closed down and we had one of the worst weeks if not the worst week since I took over The Rake.
So spare a thought for the pub & bar operators during this weather, they will be hit hard and you can get there they do need your custom.
If you can get to London Bridge this weekend we're doing the Geek-Out Sunday tomorrow where I'll have four one-off St Austells beers, 2 new Brodies beers and a vertical tasting of Anchor Christmas 07, 08, 09 and 10. Oh and there may be a cask JW Lees Harvest Ale knocking around for a cellar run or two too!
Now, lets hope I can get to work!

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Russian River Blind Pig

I've just been out for the evening to see AFC Wimbledon put a reserve/youth team out against a decent Dulwich Hamlet side in the London Senior Cup. It was cold, so cold in fact that it took me the entire bus ride home to get feeling back in my fingers and toes.

I did a favour for some friends a couple of weeks ago and in return got a couple of bottles from the Russian River brewery in Santa Rosa, California. I had the foresight to put one of these beauties in the fridge before going to the game this evening.

If you asked for a Blind pig during the prohibition era at a bar you may well have been given a beer. It was a secret code between customer and barman if the customer wanted a beer. If you ask for one nowadays you'll get this....

Blind Pig IPA is 6.1% abv and really doesn't taste like it! It's so easy drinking and I remember now why I got so drunk in San Francisco when we were over there. The nose is all fruit, primarily Pineapple and Grapefruit with a bit of pine in there for good measure. The citrus really comes through on the palate too along with the pine, what a beautiful brew! It's smooth and fuck me it's got some lovely hops and malts in it, so balanced and  drinkable that I may have to move to Santa Rosa.

Oh and the score was 3-2 to AFC Wimbledon if you wanted to know.

Geek Out this Sunday

Being that it's the last Sunday before Christmas and Borough Market is open, The Rake will also be open from 12-6pm.

We're getting our inner geeks out too, all the details are on The Rake's blog, so come in and take beer far too seriously for the afternoon!

I might even get some mince pies out for ya!

Pic from the Beer Philosopher website.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Weasel Beer at The Florence

Just been for lunch at a friends house in Herne Hill, popped into The Florence Brew pub on the way back home as it's right next to the bus stop.
Now last time I went in I went specifically looking for the beer that they brew on site and I was very disappointed that they didn't have any.
This time they did and it's great! The beer is light in colour, really floral on the nose with hints of elderflower and the taste has an initial bitterness from the Cascade and Bobek hops they used but the end is slightly sweet which I wasn't overly enamoured with. HOWEVER whilst I'm a big hop-head it's extremely moreish and I would have happily had another couple of pints!
The question was asked of they'd used weasel coffee whilst making it but the name is all about the hoppiness aparently! The Weasel hops around as their wardance and that's where they got it from.
Message for the guys and girls at The Florence : Love the pub, love the beer, work needed for the beer names!

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Wine is Evil

Wine is evil, in fact it is the Devil. It gives you horrible hangover.

Drink beer instead. It Rocks.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Open it! Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti

Beer of the day No.2 and it's a biggie, one of the beers that I've recently had on draught at The Rake that I have been particularly impressed with. On draught it's a mere 11.5% abv, in bottle it's an almost sessionable 9.5%!

The first thing you get is coffee, the second, coffee the third get the point! A MAHOOSIVE beer that is so drinkable that you won't know you've had too much until well, you've had too much!
I'm pissed, not too pissed but nicely buzzing and I know I've been drinking a rather titanic beer today. Worth every penny of the 12.50 that Utobeer sell it for. This beer is one of the favourites of the Great Divide Brewing crew and is now one of mine too.
If you have a bottle anywhere in your home then for the love of all that's holy, OPEN IT!

Open it! Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

I did a couple of friends a favour this week and ended up opening the bottles I was going to open for these blogs this weekend. Worth it though. We opened a New Glarus Cherry Stout which I have to say was superb and a Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van de Keizer 2009 which was a great beer to have on a snowy London night shared with friends.
Suffice to say I was left with a hole in the fridge where beer used to be!
I had to think on my feet and think quickly, what was I going to replace those two monsters with?
I got to Utobeer just before I had to rush off to work and picked up two great bottles of beer, after all, it's what we do!
Beer number one, Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, at 7.2% abv and a deep cloudy orange hue to it. a nose that's full of a sweet Orange and Mango.
The mouth feel is immense, it coats the mouth with a warming, tongue-tingling lather that tastes of tangerine and a hint of soap! Not in a bad way though, this is very drinkable beer and I'm glad was forced to buy it in a hurry!

Friday 3 December 2010

Virtual Beer, Pah!

It's disturbing you know, on twitter various people keep mentioning virtual pints, virtual bars, virtual food etc.... blah fucking blah.
Virtual beer. Bet it's really satisfying. Not!
No I'm not going to buy you a virtual pint. If I want to buy you a drink you can meet me in person and drink a real pint of real beer in a real glass with real people around you in a real fucking pub!

This virtual bullshit is both pointless and annoying. I beg you people, please stop!