Brains Craft Beer

Craft or Micro Brew is all the rage these days with smaller scale breweries popping up all over the country brewing beers of real quality and originality. Not content to be left behind Welsh brewing juggernaut Brains launched Brains Craft Beer in May 2012 and has already produced over 50 different beers! Here’s what I thought of 3 of them;

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 16.35.07Barry Island IPA 6% US inspired IPA made in collaboration w/ Simon Martin

Pale copper on the eye producing no real head.

Nose is sour, barley sugar, lemon, leather & cantaloupe melon.

Palate is sharp, malted sugars & bread, moreish easy drinking, lemon zest & herb finish.

Not bad at all and would happily go with garlic prawns. 6.75/10

 

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 16.35.28Atlantic White 6%  Belgian & US mash up producing a White IPA 

Yellow gold with good frothy head.

Smelt herbaceous, golden syrup, sunflower and grapefruit pips.

Nutty, spicy herbs, rocket, lean and a bit soapy.

Decent. Went well with Haddock mustard & cheese fishcakes. 6.25/10

 

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 16.35.40The Shy Porter 4.5% A traditional brown porter w/ added coconut chips and raw cacao nibs

Rich thick foam head, hazy cola brown.

Sweet & raw chocolate nose.

Sweet coconut, sour, unbalanced, acidic, pina colada, not right.

Fairly disappointing and I actually chucked it down the sink. 3.5/10

So these bottled signs were decent(barring the very poor or perhaps faulty Shy Porter), but having tried a few more of their beers at GBBF(Great British Beer Festival) on cask, I must concede that I find Brains Craft Beer tastes like a big brewer trying very hard to produce “craft beer”. By that I mean it’s perfectly ok, but lacks real character and that artesian touch.

Postscript :

At the British Guild of Beer Writers Awards 2013 in December last year I tasted beers from Brains Contitental Beer Challenge, where they worked in collaboration with some highly regarded UK beer writers & professionals. The aim of which was to brew the best classic continental style, with most adding their own unique twist. I tried a number of them and found most of them to be of a universally high standard, but was especially impressed by the Challenge winner Rye Catcher by Glenn Payne, Brabo by Des De Moor and Three C’Son by Adrian Tierney-Jones.  Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 12.00.27Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 12.01.00Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 12.01.19

Street Feast @ Hawker House

Judging by the popularity of Hawker House in Hackney on it’s 2nd weekend of 6, I would go as far to say that Foodie-ism is perhaps the fastest growing religion in London. Set up in an old warehouse with stalls selling all manner of culinary communions, from Indian to Ice Cream to Americana. This winter offering from the Street Feast crew is really packing the “pulpits” with it’s ying of family friendly eating and drinking in the early evening, but goes yang later with DJ’s spinning into the wee hours.Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 11.58.12 There was a big bar doing cocktails and brewskies plus a smaller boutique wine bar, but I was feeling beer, so big bar it was. Stepping up to the long counter I was surprised and slightly disappointed to find they only had Camden Town Brewery Pale & Lager on draft as well as some bottle offerings from CTB & Meantime Brewery. Hardly representative of the staggering array of great breweries we currently have in the capital, but don’t get me wrong I like Camden Town beers and Meantime are alright, but was hoping for more choice. A few beers in hand it was time to eat, Breddo’s Tacos were first up and thought they were pretty decent. Spicy juicy and fresh, cScreen Shot 2013-11-22 at 11.59.00hicken and pork I as I recall… Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 11.58.35Next was Slider Bar, brethren unto Breddo’s. Now sliders are all the rage at the mo, and I am often less then thrilled, but this was not one of those times.Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 11.57.29 The chilli heat, the meaty moistness and warm sweet bun was a revelation, best mini burger I have had in recent memory.Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 11.57.52 The longest cue was at B.O.B.’s Lobster so I had to go there next, coming away after about 20 minutes armed with Lobster Mac and Cheese and their signature Lobster Roll.Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 11.57.15 Now I wasn’t wild about the MnC, not enough lobster and the mac was mushy, but their Lobster rollScreen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.01.56, even at £11 was something quite enlightening. A square brioche bun jam packed with the most succulent sweet meat of that king of crustaceans, drizzled in a savoury, citrus vinaigrette…heavenly. Still peckish we went for another round of sliders, classic cheese this time, but 30 mins elapsed before we got them… just about worth the wait. Now if you don’t like to stand in line or urinate outdoors in winter(men only) then this may not be the place for you. But if this sounds like your idea of nourishment nirvana then bring a wad of cash(it’s not cheap as it goes) get there early as you can and bag some seating. Then go forth and eat my sons & daughters, eat…

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference USA Beers

Now I have been fairly impressed with Sainos Taste the Difference wines. They essentially contract established producers in “insert region” but the packaging is all Sainsburified. Well made wines at fair prices for the most part.

So I was hopeful this foray into USA “craft” beer with Tap Room Brewing would be as successful. Thanks to Beer Googles Reviews for sussing out that Tap Room is actually contract brewed by Genesee Brewing Company out of Rochester, New York. A little misleading methinks. Not the best start…

But here are my tasting notes.

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Tap Room American Pale Ale 5.3% abv

Eye- Sugar golden brown, no real head

Nose- Rye Bread, ripe banana

Palate- Ultra dry, tart, green, no fruit, lemony finish

Verdict- Honestly wasn’t much impressed. It tasted chemical & somewhat “unnatural”.

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Tap Room IPA 6.3%abv 

Eye- Caramel

Nose- Yeast, beetroot & crystal malts

Palate- Corn, dusty leather, some peach, orange zest, toasted brazil nuts w/ a spicy dry finish

Verdict- Despite tasting more complex notes on the palate I still felt let down. Brewed by numbers & lacking soul.

Well Sainos despite the eye catching Americana labels you best go back to the drawing board on these beers. Perhaps finding another brewer to collaborate with? You could do a lot better than this.

Crate Brewery- IPA, Golden Ale & Lager

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3 Good Crates of Beer

I’m very keen on discovering & supporting the ever growing number of new London Breweries that seem to be sprouting up like well… sprouts all over this fine city.

So when I came across a selection of simply labelled yet still eye catching beers from previously unknown to me Crate Brewery at that holy home of liquid fantasies the City Beverage Company I snapped them up.

I held onto them for a bit but then drank them all in a self pitying session after failing my drivers test.

Here’s run down of each

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Golden Ale  3.8% ABV

Eye- Bright Vit C pee golden yellow

Nose- Warm caramel, raw sugar, hint of buttercup

Palate- Leafy green, nice subtle spice, clean almost bracing. Intensely sharp pithy lemon finish.

Verdict- A very tasty session ale happy drunk on it’s own, with roast chicken n all the trimmings or perhaps some creamy soft cheeses.

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Lager 4.8% ABV

Eye- Deep Golden

Nose- Fruity Floral

Palate- Very Czech Pils in style. Mineral & hint of citrus. Crisp, refreshing, thirst quenching & totally delicious

Verdict- Reminded me of unfiltered Pilsner Urquell. Which is very high praise indeed. Is definitely in my top 5 UK produced Lagers. Drink it solo, with Thai or Indian but whatever you do just drink some.

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IPA  5.8% AVB

Eye- Copper

Nose- Warm malts and a touch yeasty

Palate- Tin peaches, golden syrup, dry corn husk. Serious & structured with a not unpleasant slightly soapy finish

Verdict- A full flavoured but not overdone in terms of hoppiness or sweetness of malt. An IPA to mull over big decisions with or have with gamey fowl such as duck, partridge or pigeon.

Do go say hello to the gang in Hackney Wick where you can soak up their fine beer with some lovely stone baked pizza. Yes it’s a Brewerria! What could be better?!!

Stockists include Ales by Mail City Beverage Company

Storm Beer Bali & Mee Goreng

Last September I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s wedding on the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali. Before that though I was hanging out in Seminyak and came across Storm Beer. I was very impressed with their Golden Ale and it went a treat with the Mee Goreng.
I shot this on my iPhone and the quality wasn’t too bad at all.

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.