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Showing posts from 2016

Chimay – Blue/Grande Reserve

What they say: “….a dark ale with a powerful aroma. Its complex flavour improves with passing time.” and “is principally distinguished by its character of a strong beer. This is a beer whose fragrance of fresh yeast with a light, flowery rosy touch is especially pleasant. Its flavour, noticed when tasting it, only accentuates the pleasant sensations perceived in the aroma , while revealing a light but pleasant touch of roasted malt. This top fermented Trappist beer, refermented in the bottle, is not pasteurised.” Wow, what a beer to finish 2016 on – and I did literally. This 75cl bottle was a gift and a cracking one too. I’ve never had Trappist beer before but this wont be the last one I try. A mighty 9% A.B.V so a little goes along way. Great stuff. So, that last beer of 2016 bringing the years total of new beers to 160 and over 400 since I started the archive. Here’s to many more. Cheers and Happy New Year.

Mauldons – Bah Humbug

What they say: “A tawny red strong seasonal bitter with a malt and fruit aroma brewed with hops and East Anglian malted barley. It has a full bodied soft finish. Some of these ‘Christmas’ ales can be a bit sweet and fruity, but they got it right with this one – according to my taste buds anyway. Full bodied at 4.9% A.B.V I did have a third from Mauldons to try – Silver Adder – however it poured cloudy and didn’t taste quite right. Sadly it turned out to be over three months out of date, so I tipped it away. Clearly the Co-Op in Woodbridge need to take a little more care with their stock control. Still, I hope I come across Mauldons again on our travels because there’s many more in the range to try. December 2016

Mauldons – Suffolk Pride

What they say: “A full bodied strong bitter, light in colour with a powerful bouquet of hops and developed fruit with a deep dry finish” One of the joys of getting to travel like we do is discovering beers that don’t make it down to our part of the world, so I was delighted to find three beers from this Suffolk brewery on the shelf of the Co-Op in Woodbridge during our stay in nearby Hollesley. This, the first of the three was a little too hoppy for my tastes but it was certainly full bodied at 4.8% A.B.V. December 2016

Belhaven – Smoke Stack Stout

What they say: “Great roasted coffee and wood-smoke aromas, rich dark chocolate and black coffee flavours combined with velvet-smooth oak notes and a spicy, smoky finish” Owned by Greene King which might explain why this appeared in Suffolk, along way from it’s home in Dunbar, Scotland where I assume it’s brewed. I actually missed out on this last Christmas when it appeared at one of the pubs near to the Caravan site in Cherry Hinton, so was pleased to have another chance to sample it. Wow, what a beer, it really was very smokey, but wonderfully enjoyable. Not one I drink all the time but nice as a one off – which is just as well as it’s only available in December anyway! Great stuff though. 5.0% A.B.V. December 2016

3 Brewers – IPA

What they say: “Golden colour with an orange tint, brewed with five hops from the UK and USA and fermented longer to give a clean and dry finish.” Sadly the last to come from the guys from St Albans but there’s three more in the range that I hope to get my hands on at some point. Another enjoyable ale that went down rather too well considering it’s ABV – 4.6%.  December 2016

3 Brewers – Golden

What they say: “Some might say silence is golden, but it’s worth breaking that rule to let you know our golden ale is brewed using Cascade hops which give a subtle citrus flavour, coupled with Cara malt to give a light golden colour and a hint of sweetness. We’re certain you’ll agree that we have created an exceptionally refreshing beer. So raise your glasses. The future is indeed golden.” The second ale I tried from this St Albans brewery did not satisfy my taste buds quite as much as the first – their Classic Bitter – but it was enjoyable enough and not overloaded with either hops or alcohol coming in at 3.8% A.B.V. Inoffensive and very drinkable. December 2016.

3 Brewers – Classic Bitter

What they say: “We could tell you that our new ale has a deep amber colour, a light hoppy aroma and a rich and rounded malty taste balanced by subtle hoppiness, to give a supremely clean, smooth and refreshing ale. But there's no need really. Suffice to say that we think we've created a modern classic here and we're pretty confident that you'll agree.” I’d never heard of 3 Brewers before and came across them purely by chance at a Christmas market nestled in the grounds of St Albans’ cathedral. And I’m so glad I did. What a cracking beer this was. Them pesky hops done their job without taking over, I could drink this all day long if wallet and internal organs would only allow. 4.0% A.B.V December 2016.

Black Sheep – Holy Grail

What they say: “This brilliant and bold addition to our flock was created to commemorate the 30th anniversary of one of our finest comedic exports - the Monty Python crew!Years later and Holy Grail is still going strong. With more hops than a killer rabbit, it's a full-flavoured golden ale with a distinctively fruity flavour followed by the Black Sheep signature dry finish. Be warned, this beer has been tempered over burning witches! Only joking.” I am a big fan of Black Sheep so was curious about this, but unsurprisingly given the above it wasn’t one of my favourites 4.7% A.B.V. The 152nd beer I’ve tried this year and the 404th to go in the Archive. December 2016

Holt –Two Hoots

What they say: “Light, refreshing and beautifully balanced. Brewed with pale ale and lager malts and Cascade whole hops. Two Hoots was also the regional winner of Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt as well as many acclaimed awards from British Bottler's Institute.” Ok, not the more traditional bitter that I normally prefer but this went down well, I didn’t find it over fruity. Nice in the summer I bet. 4.2% A.B.V December 2016.

Cotswold Spring – Codger

What they say: “A dry, crisp, chestnut, perfectly balanced beer with a subtle hoppy finish“ A new ale had appeared on our second visit to this pub and it was one that had, so far, not passed my lips. It did this time however – quite a lot – as I really enjoyed this. As they say, perfectly balanced and not too hoppy. This went down a treat. Perfect temperature and clear as a bell too. They clearly know their stuff here. The Bull , London Colney, Hertfordshire. December 2016

McMullen – IPA

What they say: “India Pale Ale is a full-bodied beer that all cask ale connoisseurs will recognise as a “classic”. We use specially kilned amber malt to give it its deep rich flavours. One of our head brewers favourites.” The third and sadly last of the McMullen beers we got to try during our stay in Hertfordshire. Another great pint. 4.8% A.B.V. The Plough , Crews Hill, Enfield, Middlesex. December 2016

McMullen - AK

What they say “As one of the longest established ales in the UK, the quality of AK comes from 180 years of brewing experience at The Whole Hop Brewery. Our award-winning bitter uses a carefully balanced mixture of pale ale and chocolate malts to give a soft malty taste, while WGV hops give a light fragrant aroma and clean finish. A popular and refreshing easy-drinking bitter” Another McMullen ale from our time in Hertfordshire and another very enjoyable pint brewed just up the road in Hertford. Just 3.7% A.B.V The Plough , Crews Hill, Enfield, Middlesex. December 2016

McMullen – Country Bitter

What they say: “Our Head Brewer has combined the finest East Anglian Ale malted barley with a subtle blend of Crystal Malt and Caramalt with McMullen’s own pure spring water. The addition of whole leaf Fuggle, Bramling Cross and Golding Hops at different stages of the brewing process gives a golden bitter with hints of citrus and spicy berries for a well balanced beer.” My first taste of McMullen beer – and the 400th to be added to the archive – and what a lovely pint it was. Clearly well kept and served at the perfect temperature. Everything I like in a beer. The food was good too. 4.3% A.B.V The Plough , Crews Hill, Enfield, Middlesex. December 2016

Manns – Brown Ale

What they say “Manns is the Original Brown Ale, first brewed at the Mann's Whitechapel in 1902. The historic recipe produces a dark, rich, full bodied ale with a luscious flavour and hints of roasted creamy toffee. The complex blend of pale & dark roasted malts still lies at the heart of this classic English beer. A deliciously creamy, biscuity beer with a sweet, lightly hopped more-ish flavour. Serve lightly chilled.” Now brewed by Marston’s, this has been around for years of course but  I’ve only just got around to trying it. I probably tried it when it was a bit too cold but didn’t enjoy it much. A little too sweet for me but at 2.8% A.B.V you wont be reaching for the paracetamol too early.

Shepherd Neame – Artesian Dark Ale

What they say: “This delicious ale is hand-crafted using chalk-filtered mineral water from the attesian well deep below our brewery. Amber in colour, it is a complex, full flavoured beer combining aromas of fruits and spices with rich biscuity malts. “ Yes, more amber than dark as the name suggested. A very clean taste and perfectible drinkable but I found it a little insipid to be honest. Unlikely to offend but equally unlikely to excite. 3.8% A.B.V

McEwan’s – Champion (Whisky Edition)

What they say: “ McEwan’s Champion Ale has been blended with the finest Scotch Whisky which has been gently matured for a rich and full flavour, to craft a beer of exceptional character. With hints of butterscotch and ripe , sweet fruit.” This first came to my attention on Facebook thanks to friend and fellow caravanner Sam a few months back and discovered it on the shelf of Morrison's in Enfield whilst on our travels. Very sweet – too sweet for me really but you could certainly taste the whisky. An interesting ale but quite a potent one at 5.8% A.B.V. December 2016

Portobello – Star (Btl)

What they say: “Stars are very important to brewers, you’ll start to notice a lot of them if you pay close attention at the bar. The accepted wisdom holds that the six pointed brewer’s star represents the essential ingredients in any brew: water, grain, hops, yeast, malt, and the brewer. We’ve got a sneaky suspicion that it has more to do with the fact that beer can help loosen our ties to the earthly realm and reach for the heavens… but maybe that’s just us! Star is the first beer we ever brewed. It’s a smooth, balanced bitter, which is deliciously floral with lovely coffee notes at the very end. We love it & we’re never going to stop brewing it.” A couple of days into our caravan trip and research expeditions to four hostelries did not yield any ales that have not passed my lips – although they’ve all been nice. I picked this up in a supermarket, thinking that I’d never had it but consulting the archive revealed that I’d sampled it in cask form around two years ago in Crystal

Rother Valley – Boadicea Ale

What they say: “A straw coloured beer brewed with 100% Boadicea hops. Delicate fruity flavour, strong but subtle for its strength.” Another one from along the coast in Rye, East Sussex sampled on our end of term drinkypoos in Kemptown, Brighton. Like it’s stablemate Keyworth in excellent condition but not really my thing. There’s a wide range of beers on their website though and I look forward to trying one suited to my tastes soon. The Barley Mow , Brighton. December 2016

Rother Valley – Keyworth

What they say? Well, I managed to pick yet another ale that does not appear on it’s brewery’s website, however I found this: “Keyworth (4.5% ABV) from the Rother Valley Brewing Company, has been brewed from a variety of hop not grown commercially for more than 50 years.  Local hop farmer Chris Nicolas of Hoads Farm, Sandhurst planted a few acres of Keyworth hops and the result of this years harvest is this mid strength bitter, perfect for real ale drinkers who like a well hopped pint.” It’s rare that I drink away from the village except when on our travels but the end of term drivers get together saw us in a pub in Kemptown, Brighton for a bit of ‘research’. First up was this and it was certainly hoppy. Well kept and crystal clear but as regulars will know, not the type of beer to excite my taste buds. The Barley Mow , Brighton. December 2016

Otter – Winter Warmer

What they say: “Winter Warmer has been wrapped in a 'pocket' of hops and malt to create the perfect seasonal medicine……The darkness comes from locally grown chocolate malting barley and the spicy hop combination of Celeia and Willamett delivers an amazing yule tide aroma……A well balanced bitterness from a classic English hop called Pilgrim seals this seasonal package.” Yes, I liked this too – and as someone who rarely has ‘just the one’ - the fact that it was only 4.0% A.B.V was a definite plus point. It’s taste certainly belied it’s strength in my opinion. The Rottingdean Club, East Sussex. December 2016

Youngs – Winter warmer

What do they say? Nothing on their website, however this was on : Nose Very subdued. Malt and gentle chocolate. Palate Bittersweet. Smoothly malty with faint chocolate notes. Peppery, tangy hop. Caramel and pleasant barley flavours. Just a hint of cherry. Finish Dry, malty and yet mostly bitter. A little plain chocolate. Hops continue. I thought it was a bit fruitier than the taster here reckons – but all our palates differ I guess. Nonetheless it was enjoyable enough but didn’t taste as strong as it’s 5.0% A.B.V. might suggest. The Rottingdean Club, East Sussex. December 2016

1648 Brewing – Winter Solstice

What they say: “For the dark nights. Ruby, spicy ale brewed with smoked barley and just a hint of ginger” Ah lovely, ‘tis winter warmer time and thankfully my local has obliged with three over the past couple of weeks. First was this brewed just a few miles away in East Hoathly. Nice and dark but not overpowering and not too strong at 4.3% A.B.V either. Would happily drink again – in fact I did. The Rottingdean Club, East Sussex. December 2016

Shepherd Neame - Warlocks Broth

What they say? Well has this as the commercial description: “A Spellbinding Brew. Double, double ,toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble. Eye of newt and toe of frog were not used in this magical brew. The Master Brewer used his mystical charm, waved his magic wand, and turned the malt and hops into a spellbinding ale for Halloween. This wicked beer will cast its spell on you. “ Hmm. Another special from the Faversham brewery on the shelves or my local Lidl for just 99p. At 3.8% A.B.V it’s the right strength - and price for a party. Nothing special about the flavour - it didn’t excite but certainly didn’t offend either November 2016

Oakham Ales – Bishops Farewell

What they say: “A strong premium beer of structured quality dominated by elaborate fruity hop notes, with a grainy background and dry finish. “ Yeah, those pesky hops did dominate a little but it was quite refreshing. 5.0% A.B.V. November 2016

St Austell – Proper Black

What they say: “Is there such a thing as a black IPA? There is now! Whichever way you look at it, Proper Black challenges the senses. Black as stout, but the taste is classic IPA. Powerful hops dominate the restrained chocolate and coffee notes. Whatever you thought you knew about beer, we’ve just challenged it.” Loved this. Had a couple of black IPA’s in the past but this is my favourite, although at 6.0% A.B.V it’s not one too slosh back, particularly on a school night. November 2016.

Titanic – Iceberg

What they say: “A combination of Maris Otter pale malt and fine wheat malt, give this refreshing beer real zest. Add refreshing Yakima Galena and Cascade hops and what you get is a fantastic wheat beer that will hole any passing thirst.” It was certainly refreshing although as regulars will know it’s not my favourite ale style. Tasty enough though and the last beer to be sampled on our half-term break in Warwickshire at .  4.1% A.B.V The Rose Villa Tavern , Birmingham. October 2016

Joules – Moon Madness

What they say: “A twisted but Smooth, rich and rounded ale is what our night brewer has to offer you during this haunting season. A mysterious but luxurious mild launched during the full moon of October 16th. Brewed using high quality English grown malts roasted alive, giving hints of rich fruit, treacle and liquorice, complemented with a gentle bitterness from traditional hops also grown within our shores. Fly the flag for Britain with this all English arresting ale.” Yeah, I like this too. Sadly only a seasonal unlike the equally tasty Slumbering Monk . 4.666% A.B.V. The Rose Villa Tavern , Birmingham. October 2016

George Gale & Co – Fire Cracker

What they say: “using mulling spices associated with the festive period. There’s a delicate touch of cinnamon in there, and some star anise too. We could tell you the rest, but then it wouldn’t be a secret recipe any more…” “A rich, tawny ale, Firecracker combines a blend of malts with subtle spices for a complex yet not-too-sweet palate. Soft-fruit flavours and hints of orange come from the Gales yeast, bringing the beer to a satisfying, warming finish.” So, Fullers really but nowt wrong with that in my book and I do love these winter warmers, though at 4.8% A.B.V I’d have to go easy. Not too sweet either. And in a great pub too. The Old Joint Stock , Birmingham. October 2016

Exeter Brewery – Fall’s Over

What they say: “Our winter special. Fall’s Over was created in November 2011 as our full-bodied full-flavour winter season warmer. Fall’s Over is a deep ruby-red bitter with warm malt flavours and a crisp berry-fruit finish.” Hmm, lovely stuff. As described above and a great ale for the colder months but at 5.0& A.B.V to might want to go easy. The malt flavours certainly dominated the fruits. The Brickmakers Arms , Berkswell, Coventry. October 2016

Church End – What The Fox’s Hat

What they say: “A full golden coloured beer with a soft hop flavour and finish.” One of the clearest beers I’ve had on this trip. Very enjoyable too and from nearby Nuneaton. The hops were subtle and while I usually prefer a darker ale I would happily drink this again given it’s quality. The food was superb too, certainly the best we’ve had so far this week. 4.2% A.B.V The Red Lion , Corley Moor, Coventry. October 2016

Mitchells & Butlers – Brew XI

What they say? Well, reckon this: “A sweet malty beer with bitter hoppy aftertaste brewed in Burton.” Bearing the M & B name but now brewed it seems by brewing giants Coors. Reviews online suggest it is a poor imitation of the original. They may well be right. Inoffensive and a good session beer but a little insipid. 3.6% A.B.V. The White Lion , Hampton-in-Arden, Solihull. October 2016

Hobsons – Best Bitter

What they say: “The pale brown to amber medium bodied beer has a strong hop character. It's a bitter but with unconventional warm tones of malt that lingers on the palette, the complex malty flavours gives richness, balanced by the clean hoppy finish. A good session bitter brewed with local British hops picked from the farm seven miles down the road in Worcestershire - Fuggles, Goldings, Challenger and Progress.” Lovely. Didn’t find it too hoppy, just a good honest bitter. From nearby Shropshire. The White Lion , Hampton-in-Arden, Solihull. October 2016

Elgood’s – Black Dog (cask)

What they say: “An award-winning cask conditioned traditional dark mild.  Well balanced malt and hops gives a pleasant aroma and taste, with splendid roasted bitter flavours. Black Dog is a traditional dark mild at 3.6%ABV.  It has many CAMRA awards to its name and is a well-known brand in the free-trade.  The beer is well balanced with a full roast flavour. The use of crystal malt and roast barley give a deep underlying characteristic flavour, which is balanced with Fuggles hops as the sole variety.” The last on our ale trail in Birmingham and clearly my taste buds have changed – or evolved - a bit. I didn’t enjoy this much when I tried the bottled version, however the draught went down quite well. The Shakespeare , Lower Temple Street, Birmingham. October 2016.

Roosters – Red State

What they say: “ Four different malts ( Golden Primrose, Melanoidin, Crystal and Red Rye Crystal) combine with for different hop varieties (Azacca, Walmea, Admiral and Ahtanum) to create a hop forward red ale that displays moderate citrus notes and a refreshing level of bitterness.” I do like a red ale, this was no exception and one I’d happily drink again, it not being as sweet as some I have tried, however there was plenty of choice. Seventeen, yes seventeen hand pumps in this terrific pub. The Wellington , Birmingham. October 2016

Hadley Brewing Co. – Moonstone IPA

What they say :” Golden, caramel, fruity…. An American style IPA. Straw coloured with tropical fruit and pine notes” The first ‘new’ beer I found on our trawl around some of Birmingham's Pubs, sorry, research venues. The Hadley in the name is Tony Hadley – yes, he of Spandau Ballet fame whose own micro brewery  works with the Great Yorkshire Brewery where the beer is produced on the North Yorkshire Moors. Not my favourite style of beer but the surroundings were convivial and the company good. 5 % A.B.V. The Shakespeare Inn , Summer Row,  Birmingham, October 2016  

Sadler’s - Peaky Blinder (cask)

What they say: “What they say: Brewed with Five different malts and five different hop varieties. Dark and delicious yet refreshing and hoppy.” Whilst staying at Somers Wood caravan park in Warwickshire we were lucky enough to have a guided tour of some of Birmingham’s pubs. Thanks again Richard for a cracking evening. Our first pit stop offered at least five beers and a couple at least that I hadn’t had before. This one I had – in the bottle – and was grateful to at least be able to try the draught version. Whether it was the atmosphere or the company I certainly enjoyed it more. Having black in the title helped. Obviously! 4.6% A.B.V. The Canalside Cafe , Birmingham. October 2016.

Banks’s – Amber (Bitter)

What they say: “ Bank’s Amber is a beautiful, easy drinking bitter with lots of malty, hoppy flavours – delivering a beer which is refreshingly bitter. Unsurprisingly, once you’ve finished savouring this deep gold bitter, you’ll finish on an addictive, dry note.  Needless to say, Bank’s Amber is a classic, easy-drinking beer made from high quality ingredients, which makes this particular bitter far too easy to drink. Brewed using the same yeast stream for over hundreds of years, Bank’s Amber is a beer which keeps delivering.” The first ( I thought) of hopefully many new beers on our trip to Warwickshire and around but it needed a visit to a second pub to find something I hadn’t tried. Oh the hardship! However it appears that this is just a rebranding of Banks’s Bitter but I’ll include it again anyway. The Queens Head , Meriden, Warwickshire. October 2016

Hop Back - GFB

What they say: “GFB our Golden, with the sort of light clean tasty quality which makes an ideal session ale. Tasted to destruction by our brewers, GFB our Golden Best has a hoppy aroma and is packed full of the very best East Kent Goldings, leading to a good dry finish.” Nice and light at 3.5% A.B.V but being a golden it didn’t really excite my taste buds. More of a beer to be enjoyed in the garden on a hot summers night than in the bar in front of a roaring fire I reckon. The Lion and Lamb , Milton, Cambridgeshire. October 2016

Elgood’s - Cambridge Bitter

What they say: “Malty and fruity  aroma with a satisfying flavour and bitter finish, Cambridge Bitter is the main brand beer at an ABV of 3.8%………..A mild brown bitter with a good balance of malt and hop character give a pleasing session drink.  The finest pale ale malt (made from Maris Otter barley) is blended with torrified wheat, invert sugar and a small amount of roast barley, to ensure consistent colour……..Hops used are English Fuggles and challenger, a blend that gives a full hop character to the beer.” A recent visit to our old home town to catch up with HRH, aka Trev’s Mum gave us the opportunity to visit a couple of hostelries once familial duties had been completed. Located in the next village, the pub in which we found this also had rooms and could well be our destination next time instead of the cheap and comfortable but rather characterless Travelodge. They had several guest beers but I only got to try this one, however I wasn’t disappointed. Tasty, but not too strong and

Greene King - Gangly Ghoul

What they say? reckon this: “Malts, sweet malty molasses in the nose, with just a touch of hop floral notes to take away some of the malty sweetness.” Quite obviously a seasonal, I’m sure I’ve had this before but it’s not on the archive. Regardless, dark and full of flavour, a beer I’d drink any time of the year. 4.2% A.B.V. The White Horse , Rottingdean, East Sussex. October 2016

Belhaven - 80 Shilling

What they say: “Historically, the "Shilling" names associated with Scottish ales referred to the wholesale price of a cask………80 Shillings were top-shelf stuff, so we use only the very best Scottish barley malt and finest hops in our 80………A rich, smooth ale with notes of toffee and soft fruit.” This appeared in our local Lidl a couple of weeks ago and having enjoyed Belhaven ales in the past I was eager to try it, and it didn’t disappoint. Just 3.9% A.B.V but very tasty. Would happily drink again, particularly at Lidl’s price!

Hammerpot - Brighton Belle

What they say: “Pale amber bitter. Fresh floral hop notes, spicy orange, crisp grapefruit and a hint of caramel. “ Well, it’s been a while since the last addition to the archive. I haven’t been out much and the usual post holiday diet has started (again) meaning that ‘research’ activities have been somewhat curtailed. You would be right in thinking that this wasn’t really for me but it was pleasant enough at at 4.6% A.B.V was quite full bodied - and brewed just a few miles away too near Arundel. The Thomas a Becket , Worthing, West Sussex. September 2016

Copper Dragon – Best Bitter

What they say? Well nothing at the time of typing as the website is undergoing an overhaul, however say this: “Deep golden colour. Light caramel and a slight fruity nose. Bitter hoppy flavour with some caramel and fruity background” I got to try it’s stablemate Golden Pippin a couple of years ago and was excited to come across another one of their beers more suited to my awkwardly traditional taste buds. It didn’t disappoint either – a nice blend of flavours and light enough for a session beer. Excellent stuff. 3.8% A.B.V. August 2016.