Monday 23 December 2013

Brewers of the Year

My beery year has been somewhat deflated this year, I've had great beers with good people and that is what it's all about, right? But the industry is getting somewhat diluted by assholes too who need to crawl back under their rocks.
In what has been a great year for growth in sheer number of breweries this is one of the hardest and possibly my favourite category to pull out of the yearly naval gaze that is the Golden pints.

There are several nominations for my brewer of the year and they are as follows….

Mark Tranter - Burning Sky Brewery.
Aurora and Plateau are two of the best beers i have tasted this year. In my opinion, Burning Sky will be the next cool brewery for the geeks, sorry Mark!
Outstanding beer : Plateau.

Angelo Scarnera - Brew Wharf.
Based in a restaurant that gives it's name to the brewing industry, i find it insane that the staff couldn't give a shit about the great beers that Angelo is brewing. The collab of 21st Amendment's Imperial Jack really was a stand out beer for me.
outstanding beer : Imperial Jack.

Oliver Fozard - Roosters.
Oli was my choice at last years BGBW awards for brewer of the year and whilst Sara Barton was more than deserving, i still would have voted for Oli. He's making some stunning new beers whilst keeping to the traditions and recipes of the previous owner, Sean Franklin.
outstanding beer : Buckeye.

Tara Mallinson - Mallinsons.
Taras beers are simple, tasty and stunning. I wish i could get them every week!
Outstanding beer : Alias.

John Bryan - Oakham Ales*
Oakham Citra is one of the finest beers on cask at the moment, it's always on top form and always worth spending that £4+ at Oaka in Kennington. With an experimentation of kegged beer coming i think that Oakham and John will become very cool, very quickly, he'll fucking hate that! 
Outstanding beer : Citra.

Sara Barton - Brewsters.
Always underrated by the beer snobs and still carries on brewing great beers. Keg beer is pretty damned decent too so if you see Brewsters on the bar, go for it!
Outstanding beer : Marquis.

Tom Newman - Celt Experience.
Toms enthusiasm for creating new beers is infectious, thankfully his beers aren't! The Silures and the Gold are two of the most improved beers of the year and simply stunning.
Outstanding beer : Golden (Keg)

John Keeling - Fullers.
The dry wit of John Keeling is only dwarfed by the sheer knowledge of brewing that the man has, he once wrote 'Are we too traditional for this wall' on the wall of The Rake, no John, you're a perfect fit for it. Brewing isn't just about the next big thing, it's also about sharing the knowledge and he's so very good at that!
Outstanding beer : Vintage '99

So there you have it, my top eight brewers for 2013. Not that it means much in the grand scheme of things. if you were to push me for a winner it would be Tara Mallinson as her beers have been a revelation to me this year! So many great brewers there though and i'm glad to either know them or get beer off them from time to time(or both!).

Happy Festive piss-ups everyone. Play nice.

* - John doesn't do social media(yet, there's always time John!) but you can follow the OakhamAles twitter for updates, they are getting better at it!

Friday 20 December 2013

Beers of the Year, 2013

I'm not going to do Golden Pints but i am going to do a few posts with some highlights of the year.

Starting with beers of the year, 2013. Beers, plural because i'm doing 1st, 2nd & 3rd for eight categories.

1) 5 Points, Pale Ale - was blown away by this on cask in August.
2) Oakham, Citra - consistently great beer.
3) Mallinsons, Alias - very recently i had this for the first time and it was sublime.
Very special mention to Burning Sky's Aurora & Plateau! This brewery IS the next big thing.

1) Otley, Motley Brew - I am biased, yes but i also drank more of this IPA than anything else this year and I love it!
2) Bear Republic, Racer 5. Stands up against any good American IPA.
3) Brewdog, Punk IPA - Amazing bottle of this at Heathrow whilst waiting for a plane to Cape Town.

D.A.B - No disrespect intended here, these aren't the most exciting beers around but are still very good beers.
1) Fullers, London Pride - had this at the Hock Cellar and it's hard to beat a fresh pint of this!
2) Butcombe, Bitter - excellent when fresh.
3) Oldershaws, Great Expectations - a bottle of this hit the spot a while back, what a lovely drop!

1) Tap East, Smokestack - a collab with Greg Hall, again, yes I am slightly biased but this beer just got better and better!
2) Birra del Borgo, Keto Reporter - this is amazing on draught.
3) Titanic, Plum Porter - Just, wow.

1) O'Hanlons, Port Stout - Had this for the first time in a while recently and it's still a great beer.
2) Titanic, Chocolate Vanilla Stout - Very moreish.
3) Hardknott, Dark Energy - On keg this is hard to beat.

1) Cantillon, Kriek. - love it, sour and cherry, what's not to like?
2) Flying Dog, Pineapple Saison - this really surprised me actually, Flying Dog are a great brewery so it shouldn't have but it did.
3) Van Honsbrouck, Kasteel Rouge - gets on the list because i haven't seen any Echte Kriek all year, where's it gone???

1) Jever, Pils - in a bottle, very important, loses loads of aroma on draught!
2) Fullers, Frontier - Very easy to drink this one. 
3) Sly Fox, Helles - Canned lager, who'da thunk it. 

1) Cantillon, Gueuze - goes down like water for me, possibly the beer of 2013 for me.
2) Timmermans, Lambicus - What a great beer and so easy to drink!
3) Horals, Mega Blend - I said this about another beer but it must be said again, just wow!
Special Mention - Kernel Sour & Beavertown Sour - finally the London breweries are starting to make great sours!

It's been a great year for brewing all over the globe and i'm still proud to be in this industry, no matter what sort of hard time it gets from people. Next up my brewers of the year.

Thursday 19 December 2013

The Aspirational Lambic Awards!

It's that time of year again, cue random people throwing up in random places, the office snog you people wish you never had and once a year amateur drinkers invading your personal space in the pokey craft boozer that they never knew existed!

The golden pint awards are in full flow now everybody is starting to realise just how insignificant they are because they're not on anyones awards list (hint fucking hint people!!)

FEAR NOT! I am here to save you all, if you want an award just ask for one, after all it's meaningless horseshit isn't it?

My awards are a little different this year as you can see from the title. i aim to please after all! Without further ado then, here are my Aspirational Lambic Awards….

BEST BULLSHIT IN 140 CHARACTERS : Why @LetTherebeTim of course! - you should all follow him if you're on Twitter.

WOULDN'T SERVE IT TO MY WORST ENEMY : Sam Adams Boston(ahem! Kent) Lager.

SKINNY JEANED, CRAFT LAGER SWILLING HIPSTER : @Natedawg - he bought skinny jeans, he's jumped his shark. Traitorous fucker.

MOST BORING BEER STYLE : If i see another fucking Saison in London…

TASTES LIKE VINEGAR : Sarsons obvs...

HAPPY MISTAKES : Any collab by Melissa ;) x

MORE LIES THAN ANY POLITICIAN YOU'VE EVER IGNORED! : Let There Be Beer. - I have never wanted to put my fist through my laptop so much in my life. I feel dirty having the link on my blog if i'm being honest.

YOU THINK IT WAS THE KEBAB THAT GAVE YOU THE SHITS BUT YOU'RE NOT ENTIRELY CONVINCED : The shots of Sambucca in that 'spoons the other night….


GO HOME YOU'RE DRUNK! : Me actually, ha! losers! Close runner up - Natedawg - You've seen his tweets, the guy's a piss artist!

IF IT LOOKS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT'S PROBABLY A LIE :  The definition of craft beer in the UK.

So there it is, like i said, if you feel left out and ignored by all means ask for an award and i'll happily ignore the fuck out of you.

Happy Jesus Birthday everyone!

Friday 29 November 2013

The Good, The Bad & The Greene Eyed Monster

Just read Pete Browns blog which included his visit to the Beer House pub in Waterloo the other day and what strikes me looking through the comments is that people are still feeling the need to define craft beer and indeed are having trouble with bigger (regional or family) brewers calling themselves craft.

Now, I was bleating about 'craft beer' or 'speciality beer' when i started at The Rake, over 5 years ago and i will be the first person to put his had up and say 'fuck that shit' now. I am so utterly bored of people arguing about this that it makes me want to put my fist through my laptop, don't worry, i know it's not worth it.

I really don't care if you think Brewdog are more craft than Brains or Greene King, as Pete so eloquently says, it's all about the intent and what i think people seem to conveniently forget is that these bigger breweries have got to where they are by (mostly) hard work and dedication. there seems to be a bit of Greene eyed monster(pardon the obvious pun) coming from people who are opening new smaller breweries and slagging off the big boys because they're just bigger. Yes they might be making more traditional ales for the most part but what do you care that they want to try and make something a bit more 'out there'? …Oh wait! I get it! You're scared they'll steal your business….they could argue that you're stealing theirs.

I'll be the first to say that i cannot stand Greene King beers, there's something about the beer that gives me belly ache nowadays and i don't particularly like the taste but i used to drink gallons of Greene King IPA back in the day and i'm not going to sit here and say Greene Fucking King are worse than any other brewery. They have their place as do the micros. After all they are at least consistent, not what a lot of craft breweries can claim to be.

When you open a brewery you do it for various reasons but there will always be one over riding reason, money. If you've opened a brewery because you think it'll be a romantic occupation that will get you laid at your Hackney warehouse parties, Fuck Off! Now, off you go….Human nature and indeed, life in most countries in the world depends on currency, there is a cost of living and making money is essential so anyone 'not in it for the money' is lying to you.

Do you think any of the micro breweries around at the moment would moan if they suddenly started making heaps of cash, nah, (as someone who part owns a micro) me either.

The main point I want to put out there is that we as the 'Alerati' for want of any other description - that's people who have enough knowledge and experience to be able to talk about both the micros and the mainstream should be putting the micro's out there for the rest of Britain to see, therefore making them mainstream eventually…Wouldn't you love to walk into ANY pub or bar and see an array of great beer on the bar? I know i would, rather than having to wedge my fat arse into one of the handful of tiny so-called craft beer bars that are packing people in and not overly comfortable.

To craft or not to craft, that seems to be the droning, unending question. Sigh.

Craft brewer parody, a badly needed repost!

I have posted this before but i think it needs re-circulating.

Dear 'Let There Be Beer' you will never be this well informed!

Monday 25 November 2013

Opened it!

Dark, bold, viscous, tonnes of chocolate, side of port and fantastic with a bit of blue cheese!

Scooper would have loved it! happy Birthday to the old bugger! x

Monday 18 November 2013

Open It?

So Mrs Rabidbarfly and I have had our kitchen done, and i found this little beauty in a box that had been packed away during the work, i'd totally forgotten it was there! There's some other more dubious stuff in the boxes but this looks like it'll be fun!

De Molen, Black Jack

Anyone think we should have an 'Open it' session soon?

What's little gems have you got hiding in your cupboards? Feel free to share.

Monday 11 November 2013

Motley Brew Monday

Because life's too short to drink shit beer!

Motley Monday, Mofo's!

Peace out.

Friday 12 July 2013

Belleville Brewing Continue

Good news yesterday as international brewing monster ABInbev have come to an agreement with tiny South London micro, Belleville Brewing Co over the use of the name 'Belleville'.
Apparently ABInbev took exception because it sounded like 'Belle-Vue' of the kriek variety that the multinational produces and gave Belleville Brewing Co a cease and desist order.

Common sense seems to have prevailed in this case though as both parties went to the table and worked out their differences. What it came down to I don't know but it's good to know that the brewery that took its name from a primary school rather than a sickly cherry beer, can continue using its current name!.

Belleville Brewing Co was set up in January this year by a bunch of parents of children from Belleville primary school, and they've been producing some very drinkable, American inspired beers since then, a change of name and branding would have cost them a fortune possibly even putting them out of business.

So here's to Adrian and the guys at Belleville. Cheers!

Monday 10 June 2013


So the mighty Anheuser Busch has been throwing their considerable weight around. As the Daily Fail reports here.

A couple of weeks ago they issued a cease and desist notice on South London micro Belleville Brewing Co. because according to the gargantuan beer company the name Belleville Brewing Co is too close to Belle-Vue Kriek, their sickly fruit beer and they are saying that the group of dads who named their brewery after their childerens primary school (the primary school that I went to, incidentally) are making money off the name.

Now this just strikes me as a bit 'Portman-group-esque'. For starters they are assuming that all their customers are stupid and illiterate, after all Thames Surfer seems quite far removed from Belle-Vue Kriek, or is that just me?

No common sense.

No confusion for beer drinkers that can read.

Secondly if, as a multi-billion pound business, you're really that afraid of a micro brewery making money off your beers name then why don't you just offer them a few million quid for the brewery? After all that's the new trend isn't it?

Now obviously Belleville Brewing Co doesn't have the resources to fight ABInBev and they will, by all accounts, be changing their name, which I think is a massive shame. It's just another instance of big business shitting all over a smaller one.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

To the Light.

The light that burns twice as bright, burns half as long. And you have burned so very very brightly.

Rest in peace, Scooper. I'm going to miss you brother, you will always be an honorary Womble!

I will be raising a glass of Orval to Simon on Saturday at 5pm at The Rake, I hope those of you in London will join me, lets celebrate someone who was truly a reminder that beer should be fun!

I know the Sheffield Tap are doing something similar, as are a couple of people in North Bar in Leeds so if you're in the vicinity raise a toast to his genius at 5pm and lets be united in being thankful that he was with us at all!

If you're in another part of the world lets hashtag the #scooper at 5pm.

Love, peace and motherfucking chicken grease.

G x

Monday 20 May 2013

Smile Like You Mean It.

I don't know about you but I'm getting a bit bored of reading about lots of negative experiences that people post online about bars, breweries, staff, service etc...after all, it seems far too easy to bitch and moan about things.

I got a tweet about the staff at The Rake last night that made me smile as it was a positive one and it's got me thinking and what I'd like you to do is share your experiences in the comments box about great experiences you've had recently or ever really and I'll collate them and post on here in a couple of days time.

I'll get us started with an easy one.

Last Thursday Nick Otley and one of his sales guys, Lee were in town and we had a few beers at The Rake before heading off to Dukes Brew and Que for dinner.
I had not booked dinner, I merely gave them a call and asked if they had three seats available, they said come on down so we did.
The service, as ever was impeccable. The food was amazing(as usual) and the beer was great(also as usual). I had a great evening with friends and everyone went home happy. Dukes is one of my most favourite places to eat and drink and I can't wait to go back.

so that's it. Please share your stories, I'd love to hear them and I think we could use a smile every once in a while.

Monday 13 May 2013

Your Record Is Broken, Listen To Mine.

Every day I read utter nonsense about the beer world and it's various guises. Well, the record needs straightening!

Error 1. If you rate beer, you hate beer.
Fact. Don't hate the player, hate the game.....And some of the other players......

Error 2. All beer writers drink beer, only beer and nothing but the beer.
Fact. I also drink beer.

Error 3. Beer festivals are full of old men that smell of wee.
Fact. Beer festivals 'also have' old men that smell of wee.

Error 4. Craft means .....
Fact. Fuck, what does craft actually mean!

Error 5. Sparkled beer is superior to non-sparkled.
Fact. That's just bollocks.

Error 6. If it ain't barrel-aged, sieved through a whores knickers, gargled by James Watt and bottled by angels, it ain't worth drinking.
Fact. It could be gargled by Jim Jones and NateDawg would drink it!

Error 7. According to big beer companies, women need to have beer specifically brewed for their delicate palates.
Fact. Most women are more likely to down a pint of Imperial Stout and beat the shit out of a brewer for doing that (the ones that I know, anyway).

Error 8. If you drink 10 pints of Stella Artois you are likely to go home beat up your wife.
Fact. Is that before or after pissing yourself, vomiting and/or passing out?

Error 9. There are chemicals in lager.
Fact. Only the mind altering ones I add to make it more fun to drink.

Error 10. CAMRA says this is Real Ale.
Fact. CAMRA says a lot of things.....

Error 11. If you work in the pub/bar trade you party hard all the time.
Fact. If we were that busy partying that hard all the time, do you think we'd bother serving you?

Note from the author : Dear beer world/blogosphere/twittersphere/faecesbookosphere, please get a fucking life or I may just lose interest altogether.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Just Another Opinion

Well now, that was shit wasn't it.

Last weekends fuck up of a beer festival obviously wasn't what the LBA wanted. There were some very key things that went wrong and these were 'discussed' at a rather heated LBA meeting on Tuesday, to which I might add, the organisers of London's Brewing did not attend.

Not that I was expecting them to.

I'm not going to bother going into what I think was wrong with it, everybody else has already has already voiced their opinions and frankly I want to move forward and try and have us rebuild a bit of credibility as an organisation.

One brewer asked though if we as an organisation really need this sort of event. Personally I think so, not in the same format though. The format that worked better was the brewery bar format, where members of the LBA set up their own bars and sold their own beer. It has to be noted that we all donated our beers and delivered them to the organisers this time, not something I'm keen to repeat again and 2 casks of free beer from a brewery the size of Tap East is a significant donation. I do feel that the brewery bar format will work in the future too(even with 49 breweries now in London!) and whilst nothing has been decided, nor will be any time soon, it's something for people to think about. It is key though, that the LBA learn from this event if there is to be another one so that the same fuck-ups don't happen again.

Watching the event unfold on Twitter on Saturday was like watching a car crash in slow motion and I even think my eyes may have started bleeding at one point!

I do wonder though, just how many people would have gushed about it online had it been a huge success though, not nearly as many I'm guessing.

For it's part, the LBA will be getting the organisers report 'at some point' and it's now trying to move forward and support some of the other events that are going on in and around our capital this year.

Starting with the hop shoot festival next Friday 17th May, that Peter Haydon of the Head in a Hat/Florence Brewery is organising, basically lots of people go and pick hop shoots, take them back to various restaurants and pubs where talented chefs will do amazing things with them. You can follow the London Hop Festival on Twitter @LondonHop for all the news.

Please note : I am not writing this on behalf of the LBA, rather just someone who is involved with it. 

Monday 6 May 2013

Free Beer : Pure Evil

I've been sent this bottle of beer by the nice peeps at the Sebright Arms in Hackney. They sent me an invite to the beers launch but I was unable to attend due to a prior commitment....

When I told them I couldn't attend they instantly offered to send me a bottle so I could review it for them. 

Well, I'm one who drinks and reviews so here goes.

Pure Evil, Black IPA was 'Hand crafted by Redchurch Brewery in the Sebright Arms homebrew kit, using the finest malted barley and hops' (sic). So not the finest yeast and water then guys? - 

It's a murky brown colour, lots of yeast in the bottle and I was pouring it carefully!

Smells like a black IPA - I know I know you cant smell a colour! What I mean by that is the almost sickly sweet coloured malt mixed with hops aroma. It's quite distinct in my experience and not unpleasant - kinda chocolate and hops and before you ask, I'm not sure which hop type(s) were used and I'm not enough of a beer freak to give a shit.

So time to have a sip....

Really bitter, really boozy. No naked flames please!!! At 8% abv I thought it might be boozy but my already ruby cheeks are now glowing two sips in. It's so bitter I'm having trouble finding flavour in that bitterness, which is a shame because I really wanted it to be amazing. 
Third sip and the hops are starting to come through and massage my palate a bit now but it's still really boozy as hell.

Secondary Aroma
I burp in the privacy of my lounge and the piney aromas hit my nostrils - it heightens and enhances my experience, very nice indeed. You may not agree but you ain't here!

The taste is starting to really hit my palate now and the sweetness of the dark malt is starting to find a way through the bitterness. I can taste tea, I find it odd but there's the fresh pine in there too as i burp again, there's plenty of condition on the bottle but the 'fizz' does strip back the gums somewhat. 

Overall it's a nice beer. I couldn't have two in a row though just down to the bitterness. It's not 'Pure Evil' as it's name suggests but then I didn't have to buy it!

Did any of you go to the launch event?

If you did, what did you think of it?

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Fosters Hooch.

So, the new Fosters, Radler....or HOOCH to you and me.

Am I intrigued enough to try and find a bottle? No thanks, I know what a lemon alcopop tastes like, I was around when it was innovative and we actually had summers!

Utter waste of money.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Mind The Gap


Gap in the UK market. Anyone fancy making bucket loads of cash?

London's Brewing, The LBA Showcase

Afternoon y'all.

So it's all going apace at the LBA at the moment as those busy bods at London Fields Brewery are getting ready to host the London's Brewing event in less than four weeks time.

With over 40 active breweries the LBA will be showcased much more heavily this year with over 100 beers available and it will have more of a 'festival' feel to it with music, street food and awards presentations and activities for the kids all going on during the weekend of the 4th & 5th of May.

For all the most up-to-date information and to purchase tickets for the event click of the link above and have a nosey!

Remember to get your tickets though, we wouldn't want you to miss out!

See you there!

Monday 1 April 2013

Utobeer to Supply AFC Wimbledon 2013/14

In my role as Ops Manager at Utobeer I've had the pleasure of dealing with many people in this business and I'm very proud to announce that in the last couple of months I've been talking to my football team, AFC Wimbledon with the intention of supplying them with some of the worlds best craft beers.

I'm delighted to announce that we've managed to reach an agreement with them regarding this supply regarding cask ales and bottled beers. 

It will take the form of supplying the club with 1 cask ale per match day next season. We'll also be installing a handpump for cask ales into the presidents lounge.

So from next season, expect to see the likes of Tap East, Summer Wine, Roosters, Harbour etc.. on tap and Brooklyn, Nøgne ø, Partizan & Rocky Head in bottle! 

Exciting times for the club and Utobeer as a company. Who knows, maybe when we(the royal football we) finally move to a stadium in Merton the club will be amenable to us putting a brewery onsite to further meet the demands of a growing club! But that's way in the future, I'm just happy to be able to drink some stunning craft beers at AFC Wimbledon from next season!


Monday 25 March 2013

Eight Legged Groove Machine

Yes, someone's been letting me play in their brewery again! This time the nice young men at Roosters let me brew a Chocolate/Cherry stout on their Outlaw pilot plant in honour of me old Ma's 60th birthday!

Why have I named it the Eight Legged Groove Machine? - well, me old Ma has 4 pet Tarantulas(Talula, Tranny, Piper & Jaws) and one of my favourite bands is The Wonderstuff, not very complicated is it.

Why Chocolate and Cherry? Why the heck not?? We decided that only quality chocolate should be used so 450g of Green and Blacks Organic Black Chocolate went into the 11 gallon brew! And of course only fresh cherries would do for this so, 1.3kg went in  after a few days of fermentation.

So how is the resulting beer? Well in the bottle I found it to have the hint of cherries on the nose and right at the back of the palate. But being a Stout, the main flavour is the Chocolate which gave the beer a nice chocolatey bitterness!

The one and only cask will be going on the bar at The Rake on Sunday 31st March at noon so if you've had enough of bashing your bunny at Brodies for the weekend, come along and give this one a try!

Hopefully see you there but you can follow the twitter hashtag #8LeggedGrooveMachine for all news and if you feel like begging for more you can tweet @OutlawBrewCo!

Friday 22 March 2013

Laverstoke Say Enough is Enough

Just got the story through that Jody Scheckter of Laverstoke Park Farm will NOT be re-doing the labels on their bottled beers over the 1(yes that's ONE) complaint made to the all powerful, totally unaccountable Portman Group.

Good for them!

Here is the offending label...
The Portman Group, Dangerously Childish?

Apparently the label will encourage young people, not yet of legal drinking age, to go out and consume heinous amounts of alcohol and ruin their lives forever.

Ok, I'm being purposefully argumentative as usual but come on, can we please have a bit of common sense?!

The label is nowhere near hip enough to make teenagers want to drink it, quite the opposite really in my humble opinion.

The cost of re-branding the beer would also be massively prohibitive and counter productive to the company who would then have to re-brand the whole range of products that Laverstoke make. Personally the label doesn't do it for me but it has worked for Laverstoke for a number of years now so why should they have to change it because of one complaint?

It may mean that certain supermarkets and multiples will have to take the beer off their shelves because they are funding the Portman group. Mr Scheckter's response to this is far more thoughtful and respectful than the Portman Groups actions on this subject....

"If the multiples stop selling our beer as a consequence, I respect and accept their decision"

Hands up who wants an accountable industry regulator....

Friday 1 March 2013

All Crafted Out

So the news has finally got to me that Fosters are marketing their lager as craft...You're fucking kidding, right?

The world has finally gone stark-bollock bonkers.

Hipster Alcoholic Diet Water?
With the word 'craft' having caused so much debate and consternation on this side of the pond, I think it's time we found a new 'tag' for smaller batch, independently brewed beer. After all hasn't 'craft' been a bit done to death?

How about...

a) Ibeer
b) Real Fucking Beer, Man!
c) Hipster bio dynamic diet water.

what new, hip, cool name would you give it?

Sunday 17 February 2013

Cooking With Beer 1 : Beef & Stout Stew.

I rarely actually cook with beer, usually I'll just cook and amazing meal(modest aren't I?) and pair it with beer.

Since this time next next week I'll have moved house, I'm trying to get rid of some of my beer collection. Now I've had a Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout in the collection for a while and thought a hearty beef stew to tuck into mid painting & decorating would be amazing.

We used the Heather Whinney Slow Cook Book for the recipe. See page 142 for the details. Now since there's only me and Mrs Rabidbarfly to eat it we basically halved everything. But I did take off the anchovies(only meant to go on Pizzas, Heather!) and swapped the 250ml of red wine for 250ml of the Stout, then I added Parsnips - bit Carborific but fuck it, it's my stew!

Ingredients go into the slow cooker

As you can see, it looked amazing and frankly it smelt pretty damn good too. Time to leave it though and go do more painting.

8 Hours Later

We get home after a day of hardcore decorating and are aching and ravenous. We add the greens, have a small taste, add a bit more salt and I pour the rest of the stout into two glasses. The piping hot stew goes into two bowls and we're set!

The stew is slightly bitter, we're not sure if the beef was cooked too much or the stout gave it added bitterness. It's not unpleasant, just unexpected. I think the red wine may have sweetened it a bit more but we weren't complaining and it's a recipe we'll use again!

I almost go for seconds but decide against it, lunch tomorrow instead.

Saturday 9 February 2013

So What Have We Learned?

Last night I was out with a mate I rarely get to see. We had a great time drinking crafty beers and catching up with stuff in each others lives.

But I learned three things...

1) Binge drinking is not my superpower.

2) When someone says "Let's do shots" say no.

3) Don't throw up in public. It's not big, it's not cleaver and you get puke on your boots!

I looked like a teenager in those news reports about how alcohol abuse is rising and whatnot....Except I'm not a teenager, I'm 39 in two months and I shouldn't be doing that sort of shit anymore!

Apologies to anyone that had the misfortune to witness me vomming into the junction at Clapham Junction, my bad.

Talking of things educational. Congrats to Melissa on her award from Imbibe this week for 'Educator of the year'. Well deserved!

Monday 4 February 2013

Dryathon? What a Load of Cock!

To whom it may concern, I have a bone to pick with you.

Hopefully by now, all you January abstainers will have fallen off your high horses wagons, got your arses down the pub and started supporting our industry again!

One thing that really irks me is that you people choose to take a month off drinking during the quietest time of year! Come on people, give your local a fighting chance and ignore it in October or November when you're supposed to be saving up for Baby Jesus birthday!!

Better still, drink in moderation all year round and you won't be so miserable during January! Then everyone will be happy. I mean you may as well say "I can get pissed for the rest of the year because I was really good and took January off" Please stop making me vomit, it's ruining the taste of my beer!

I am really, truly and utterly sick of people moaning about how they can't have a drink because they're taking January off, stop moaning! Best you fall off the wagon hammered than make me listen to the reasons why you're not drinking!

For all of those people whose reason is financial, if you only spend what you actually have, you wouldn't have to take January off to pay your credit cards!

I realise that I have readers who were having enforced booze layoffs for health reasons and I forgive them, really, I do. But unless your Doctor said stop drinking in January or you'll die, I'm very disappointed in you. Go stand in the naughty corner. Or better still, go down the pub and buy the most expensive pint you can find to make up for January!

So that's it, rant over. As you were.

Sunday 13 January 2013

The Vault...

So there I am, minding my own business sitting in a pub in Pontypridd and BAM! I'm out cold....

When I wake up I'm in the boot of a car...I think, I can just about hear muffled voices over the sound of what seems to be a sporty type engine. I am bound, I am gagged(not in a good way) and there seems to be some sort of itchy hessian bag over my head. The car screeches to a halt after what seems like an eternity and I can hear two people get out. The boot opens and they drag me outside....fearing that this will be the final few minutes of a life, once so full of promise, I try to make a run for it but it's no use, I am facing a building and run straight into it. Ouch. I'm shoved into what I can only assume is the same building and seemingly marched up some stairs....
I can hear a click, was that a lock or has a gun just been cocked? I'm shoved a bit further and sat down in a chair. The bag comes off and my eyes start to adjust to the light, the gag come off and the ties that bound me come off.....The more my eyes adjust to the light of the room the more developed my case of Stockholm syndrome becomes, for I am in a room full of beer...

So a couple of weeks ago I got an email from Nick Otley titled : Brewers Vault. Instantly my interest was piqued, whose wouldn't be? The chance to try lots of rare, aged or just plain strange beers! Kid in a candy shop sprang to mind!

The rules are simple enough...

1) Invitees only
2) 2 hour window.
3) No pictures of the inside of the vault.
4) Be good enough to write a blog post about it.

The numbers I picked were...
Matthew unlocks the vault

1) Obviously being the first person invited into the vault I had to pick number 1 first. The beer in the bottle was an O1, brewed in September 2010. It had taken on an oak-aged character which we all agreed was very nice!

74) The year of my birth, I decided that my approach would be 'significant' numbers. Loads of condition on this one, it was an O4 (Columbo) and only 6 months old but it had taken on an almost 'Motley-like' quality, tonnes of tropical fruit in there with BITS! Bloody lovely!

320) Now, number 320 was slightly different, from where I was sitting it was directly in my line of sight and the number label was an inch or so lower than all the other bottles in the vault - a mistake but as it turns out a happy one! The beer in bottle 320 was none other than Pete Brown's collaboration, Odessa(Mead). During Pete's pub crawl when it was launched in London, it was the only version I didn't taste. Not as sweet as I was expecting and the mead characteristics made the beer that!
Just to let you know, the last of the Odessa is in that little vault so if you get invited don't do anything stupid like, say no.
I got to sign the wall!

39) Back to significant numbers, I'm in my 39th year on this planet and I managed to pick Otleys comedy beer, an aged Oh Ho Ho, also from September 2010, there were some nice peppery notes to this. Quaffable!

240) A random pick and lets just say the less said the better at this point.

133) The number of the bus I take to work. I will just say this....what's said in the vault stays in the vault!

166) Another random pick and an off O1! The random picks stopped there and then!

60) It's my Mums 60th birthday this month so in celebration of that, I picked a corker of a beer! O7 Weissen, with all the hints of clove and orange peel I was getting I mistook it for Otleys other wheat beer the much improved, of late, O-Garden. But this O7 was spot on!

380) From the 1st beer on the list to what was (currently) the last, more will be added before the next visitor(you lucky people!). Anyway Hops stuck to the glass, the liquid was dirtier than a couple of hookers mud wrestling and it was blacker than the lungs of the smoking man off the X-Files. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Oxymoron! Fuck yeah!
The Haul

333) Two significant reasons for this pick. Anyone remember Graham Gooch in 1990 vs India? Secondly anyone seen my bus?
The beer though was a special reserve, 2012 O4. Shit-tonne of hops and just a great beer to finish on!

I'd just like to thank the Otley boys(and ladies) for inviting me to be the first person to experience the vault, it was a really enjoyable couple of days down in Pontypridd...again!