Goose Island “Lolita” Raspberry Belgian Style Ale

Rather special this oak aged Lassie.

Rust red and very still in the glass. Nose of autumn orchard & pickled cabbage. Sweet & sour raspberries on the palate. After opening up a bit hints of wood mushroom & dried raspberry emerge.

Beautifully balanced & complex. A serious beer that aches for simple roast chicken, sausages or stinky creamy cheese. 8.5/10

9% abv & available from Beers of Europe @ £14.99 per 650ml bottle

Beers for Holiday Cheers

With that festive time of year bearing down upon us robed in fairy lights I thought I would throw my paper hat into the ring and recommend a few beers that would grace any creaking holiday sideboard.

I have 4 beers from 3 of my favorite breweries in the UK, who happen to be at opposite ends of the country from each other. Which I know sounds wrong as there are 3 breweries, so how can they be at opposite ends? What I mean in my geographically challenged way is that Sharps Brewery in Rock, Cornwall is way down south and Harviestoun Brewery in Alva & Williams Brothers Brewing Co. in Alloa, are both way up north in Scotland. Still a bit foggy I know but you get my drift.

Right so getting this sleigh off the ground first is Harviestoun and their comically festive Mr Sno’Balls Copper Ale.  This is a great all rounder that makes a fab session ale at 4.5%abv. It has some biscuity spicy notes with a cozy malty caramel finish, but also shows off citrus hints of freshness from the duo of Challenger & Styrian Hops. A word of warning, Mr Sno’ Balls is very moreish and will have you reaching for more than one. It’s also a great nibbles beer for things like pork pies & piccalilly, hummus, bread  & olives or cold left over turkey & crudités (That’s raw veg & dips for the Philistines out there).

I found it at my local Morrisons for £1.89/50cl or try Harviestoun direct info@harviestoun.com

Staying with my Scottish roots (seriously I am 1/4 Scottish) we move onto Williams Bros. Froach 22 Vintage Heather Ale which actually comes in a rather attractive 75cl bottle, as opposed to the sample bottle they sent me, due to Froach 22’s scarcity and high demand. This beautiful golden amber liquid spends time in ex sherry/Auchentoshan whisky cask. So you are greeted on the nose by almonds, aged wooden staves, peat & as you’d imagine whisky. Your first sip barks at your palate to pay attention, the texture is creamy, but then a complex flavour conga line kicks in with thistles, Demerara sugar, TCP, Moroccan spices, burnt caramel, dried pineapple & smoky dry salty herbs. Matured to 11%abv treat this like a fine aged sherry but keep it simple. After dinner on it’s own or with almonds or sea salt dark chocolate.

From the Williams Bros Brewery or from Beer Ritz for about £12 a bottle.

Now to Sharps. Stuart Howe their head brewer spoiled me last time I was in Rock by taking me & some friends through a massive range of their beers. These two are both from their Connoisseurs Choice stable were real highlights for me.

Checking my notes for No. 2 Single Brew Reserve 2011 that day I have simply written “Apricot Breakfast Beer (though I believe that was a quote from Stuart), dry thyme, totally delicious”. This 100% Saaz hopped stunner only comes in at 4.5%abv but is crammed full of class & character. Pale golden & cloudy in the glass, the beer is perfumed, has lovely balance of sugars & rich mouth hugging feel. Due to the exceptional yeast structure this is really a regal ale in champagne clothes. Perfect as an aperitif and with sweet smoked fish, but would be dyno-mite with your Christmas turkey, chicken or goose. Absolutely love this beer.

From the brewery £35.00 for 12 bottles at 50cl or Highbury Vintners £2.65/50cl

 

Last but far from least is No. 1 Quadruple Ale 2011 which marries pale, crystal & chocolate malts with 3 strains of yeast and Centennial, Hallertauer and Aurora Hops. It’s then matured on fresh Simcoe Hops which produces a unique & serious ale. Black treacle on the eye, minimal but heathy mocha foam head. Nose of Swedish salty liquorice, dark moist rye bread, kirsch & ginger snaps. The palate is immense, bold black raspberry, that salty liquorice, dark chocolate follows on and coats your mouth with a gentle lingering boozy forest fruit blanket. This is a beer to be savoured. It continues to evolve in the glass so make sure you pour it into a decent bowl shape receptacle. I’m not going out on a limb here when I say this baby could take the place of the Port with your stilton. Less hangover than Port as well as it’s half the alcohol at 10%abv

£49.99 per 12 33cl bottles  (approx £4.15 a bottle). I highly recommend buying a case and  laying a few down as this rare and beautiful beer (stored properly) will age gracefully over the next 10 years.

 

If you are looking for a great Xmas prezzie for that beer lover on your list then Sharps also offer a gift pack that includes a lovely cristal bowl glass and the 2 beers I have mentioned along with their seductive Honey Spice Ale in either 3(1 of each) or 6(2 of each) beer pack.

Have a Happy & Safe Holiday Season!

Mr D n E

 

Camden Town Brewery USA Hells Lager

Now twas some months ago that I trotted along to North London to see my pals at Camden Town Brewing for the launch of their new American style Hell(e)s Lager.
The Camden Town beers were flowing, the boys were taking the good folk on Brewery tours, Big Apple Hot Dogs were sizzling and staunching the hunger pains in real NYC style and there was a real party atmosphere about the place.

Canada Day Canadian Craft Beer: Lighthouse & Philips Brewing

With it being Canada Day on July 1, I thought it only fitting that I shoot a little tasting with a couple craft beers from my native land.
I bought these beauties when I was home last summer and was very proud that they were both brewed in Victoria my place of birth on Vancouver Island.
I was extremely impressed with both Lighthouse Brewing’s Deckhand Belgian style Saison & Phillips Brewing Hoperation Tripel Cross Belgian IPA.

Beer & Pork Scratching Matching

This episode I am back at my favorite local the Stormbird in Camberwell to taste the wonderfully fresh moreish “Half Bore” Session Ale from Hunter’s Brewery in Devon and the sensuous savoury citrusy “Inedit” Wheat Beer, which is the lovechild of the famed El Bulli chef Ferran Adria in collaboration with Spain’s mighty Estrella Damm Brewery. To chuck into the mix I brought along some Mr Trotters Pork Crackling which is another collaboration albeit not as headline grabbing of Rupert Ponsonby & Tom Parker Bowles. Very posh scratchings indeed.

Marston’s Single Hop Beer Tasting & Hop Rubbing

I went along to the Shakespeare Pub in Carnaby St to try the new single hopped beers from Marston’s and do some “hop rubbing”. No it’s not code for some deviant social practices. It’s exactly what it implies. The rubbing of hops in the hands to release the aromas. The hop is a varied and fascinating plant. I learned a great deal and was amazed by some the smells that these magic herbs released.

The beers were equally interesting. The make single varietal wines. Beer should be treated no differently. Joining me were some of my favorite Beer folk Adrian Tierney-Jones and Marverine Cole aka Beer Beauty.

Beer & Cheese Matching w/ Christina Pickard Part 1

Decided on the hoof to shoot this video in the cold outide St Pancras Station with my good pal & fellow presenter Christina Pickard. We matched La Chouffe Blonde Beer from the Ardennes in France with some kick ass award winning cheese by the Gligora Dairy from the Island of Pag in Dalmatia, Croatia. Was great fun and the beer I thought paired very nicely with complex and rich cheeses.

Beer Vs Wine Charity Dinner @ The Thatchers Arms

The Thatchers Arms in Mount Bures in Essex held a Beer Vs Wine Charity dinner where Beer went head to head with Wine to see which matched best with the 5 course menu. Representing Beer was famed journalist Adrian Tierney-Jones whose charity was Help for Heros and Wine’s Ambassador was the prolific Tim Atkin MW whose charity was Amnesty International. It was a superb evening of food drink and much fun.