Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A bunch of Belgian Beerz

I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by a lovely chap called Lode who runs an online Belgian Beer shop called Belgian Beerz because he wanted to see if I fancied doing some beer reviews and link to his shop, in exchange for said beers I will be reviewing.

How could I say no? I mean, I get more writing material for my blog and I get to help a small business with some promotion. It’s a win-win situation!

It’s also a great opportunity for me to discover more Belgian beers as I have neglected them way too much since discovering American & Danish beer.

Anyway, I got sent a lovely selection of 12 beers and I’m going to power through a review of each but in just a couple of lines or less as it seems like a fun idea!

Van Steenberge Cesar (8.5% Tripel) – Sweet, citrusy, biscuity and banana-y. Very nice indeed.

Waterloo 8 Double Dark (8.5% Belgian Strong Dark Ale) – Lots of red fruits, big sticky toffee with a little bit of dark vanilla chocolate at the end. Shocking lack of booze detectable which made it very drinkable! More please!

De Dolle Oerbier (9% Belgian Dark Strong Ale) – Brown sugar, plums, figs, raisins, caramel and chocolate, with a little bit of sourness that I’m not sure is really meant to be there. Fuck knows, but I like it.

De La Senne Zinnebir (6% Belgian Pale Ale) – Oooh citrus and funkiness dominate, with a little bit of sweetness. I am in love with this beer. Can I have an entire case of it please?

Préaris Quadrupel (10% Belgian Quad) – Waaaaay too sweet like I’ve poured an entire bag of brown sugar into a beer, but some nice banana and bitter coffee flavours when that clears up. Not my favourite quad in the world.

De La Senne Stouterik/The Brussels Stout (4.5% Stout) – Bloody hell this is nice. You’ve got chocolate and dark roasted malt with some milk chocolate giving it that little bit of sweetness. Insanely delicious. Very impressed with Belgian stouts.

Straffe Hendrik Brugs Quadrupel (11% Belgian Quad) – Awesome, a beer I already know and love… candy sugar sweetness, coffee, caramel and chocolate. YEAHHHHH!

Cantillon Kriek (5% Lambic) – Sour cherries, deliciousness. Emily said it smells like horses, which she didn’t really regard as a bad thing. It’s another beer I already know and love.

Caracole Ambrée (7.5% Belgian Pale) – Raisins, some citrus hops and some biscuit leaning in the background. It’s alright, but I was just pissed off that I lost half the bottle upon opening. NAUGHTY BEER.

Urthel Hop-It (9.5% Belgian IPA) – Really hoppy beers seem to be taking off in Belgium, instead of the more malty ones right now. This delivers… hops in your face… citrus deliciousness, honey, biscuit, more fruitiness. Absolutely love it!

Scheldebrouwerij ‘n Toeback (9% Belgian Quad) – Satisfyingly sweet and booze, with a nice crisp apple bite and lashings of caramel made me incredible happy.

Duchesse De Bourgogne (6.2% Flanders Red Ale) – A long time favourite of mine, this has right amount of sourness, fruitiness and woodiness to keep me very happy. Emily’s opinion was far different, but I’m not going to share that here! I love this beer!

So that was my latest foray into the much neglected world of Belgian beer, and it was a very enjoyable experience!

You should definitely check out if you like Belgian beer… they have a massive selection and offer reasonable shipping costs, starting from around £16 to the UK.

Once again, thanks to Lode for sending these to me!


Monday, 7 April 2014

Disney, Beer & My Reputation

Last night I watched the Disney movie, Frozen on recommendation from my girlfriend and her friends. Y'all know me, and y'all know that I usually like more adult comedies and gangster movies, but it's not all. That's just what my reputation says as you know I'm an angry bastard and obviously I have Samuel L Jackson's "Bad Motherfucker" wallet from Pulp Fiction. I like Disney movies though, and I REALLY, I mean REALLY enjoyed Frozen. The story and the songs were incredibly well written, with great lyrics, vocalists and a simply stunning score. Right now, I just can't stop listening to the soundtrack. It's phenomenal.

My reputation gives this image that I can't enjoy anything visual that doesn't involve someone getting killed, or exploited in a hilarious way. What you know about me is wrong. I do actually have a heart and I was incredibly touched by Frozen.

Obviously, my love for a movie that was created with little girls in mind was never going to be the whole point of this blog, but it's a good starting point.

Recently I've written not one, but two blogs about how I'm bored of beer and need to expand my horizons both with booze and with a lack of booze and both of those things are going quite well but some people just can't let go of my reputation and it's upsetting.

I've said on multiple occasions that I need a break from the beer world as it was all getting too intense, but seemingly the hints that were about as subtle as a sledgehammer didn't fucking get through.

Recently I've had to tell about 3 people to shut the fuck up because all they do is send me texts or Facebook messages about beer... intense discussion... listing all of the beers they've had... the pubs they've been to... the places they're going. It's not like the posts I wrote were even remotely jokey about taking a step back. I seriously meant it.

I'm more than happy to join in on a discussion on twitter but it all gets too much and I can't deal with it. It upsets me that so many people see me as nothing more than that angry guy who drinks a lot of beer. I'm an actual fucking human, with an actual fucking life beyond beer.

All I'm saying is that I'd quite like people to try getting to know me and not the soul destroying reputation I have crafted for myself.

Now, as it's International Beer Day or some such bollocks, I'm going to have a nice quiet night drinking wine with my girlfriend while listening to the Frozen soundtrack.


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Nate Dawg Drinks Other Things

Something you may know about me: I love beer. Yeah, I know I'm bored of the whole beer politics and arguments and such, but I still enjoy drinking it and I have some interesting beer reviews coming to this blog soon.

Something you may not know about me: I like booze that isn't beer. You may have heard that I dabble in the arts of Bourbon and Rye whiskey, but that's not all.

Recently, due to having a girlfriend who is a complete wino sophisticated wine drinker I've been drinking wine and I have been enjoying it. I've always been a fan of red wine, but I'm starting to like the white too. It's not like either of us are total wine geeks or anything, we just buy affordable (read: cheap plonk) from the supermarkets, but still it's enjoyable. Wine is a great drink, and there do seem to be plenty of affordable yet delicious options out there.

I also dabble in cocktails, and am looking to experiment more with making them in the near future as I want to broaden my horizons a bit. Last Friday we had mojito night, which was good fun and it turns out that I can make a fucking good one even if I did fuck up the curry (that's a different story, don't ask).

Really, my point is that sometimes drinking a c***t beer is way too much effort. Sometimes, there's way too much going on; too much complexity and I do too much thinking. I try to drink something that I love and have had before, like Punk IPA, but I do think about it. I can't stop the thoughts from wizzing around in my brain "Is this as good as the last one I had? Do I taste something different? Is this really fresh enough? I miss 6% Punk." The thoughts, that as beer geeks, we all have.

Sometimes, I want to drink something that I know fuck all about and have had very little previous experience with. You can tell me how complex a wine, or a cocktail is, but I'm not going to listen as they're my safety net. They're what I drink when I don't drink beer, and I don't want to think about how intricate it is and all that bullshit. I just want to drink and enjoy it.

So yes, Nate Dawg Drinks Other Things.


Friday, 28 March 2014

Harviestoun Orach Slie review

Alright, I know, I'm starting to look like I'm sponsored by Harviestoun... I'm not, for the record but luckily they seem to like me and send me beers to try which is awesome!

Yeah, I'm a massive Harviestoun fanboy but when I first read about their whisky barrel aged lager Orach Slie I wasn't convinced. I'd never had a BA lager before. I'd read about them but I've always thought the idea was a bit odd and gimmicky and didn't understand how it would work so I avoided them. Maybe out of fear. I don't know.

Anyway, last night I got home to find 3 bottles of Orach Sile waiting for me and couldn't wait to crack one open. Can Harviestoun change my opinion of spirit barrel aged lagers?

This is what Harviestoun say about the beer:

"Our brewers specially selected a high abv (6%), lightly-hopped version of our craft lager, Schiehallion, to complement the classic, honeyed-sherry notes of Glenfarclas single malt whisky."

So what does the dawg say?

Pours golden but is slightly darker than you'd expect from a lager, presumably from the wood. Lovely foamy head that seems to stay a while too.

The aroma is lager malt, citrus hops and that unmistakable whisky tickling in your nostrils. The kind of aroma that makes you think "Fuck! This is probably going to burn as it goes down!"

It didn't though, it's smooth. You get all of the pleasure from a lager, but at the same time it's like you're drinking a decent whisky. Except a whisky would get you fucked up in a 330ml measure (please don't do that!). It's supremely enjoyable... citrus hops, lager malt, wood and whisky. Brilliant.

It's yet another beer from Harviestoun that I really like, which is surprising given my initial skepticism. I mean, I know they make really good beers all the time but the concept was what I doubted.

Has it convinced me on spirit barrel aged lagers? In general, no. I like this but I can imagine this is a rare gem. I mean, if I hadn't been sent any I probably wouldn't have bought it even though I've heard it's nice, purely because of the concept. I'm not going to rush out looking for other spirit BA lagers because I'll probably be disappointed.

I really am a Harviestoun fanboy, but what do you expect when they're making such good beers! Even convincing me that a spirit BA lager isn't actually a terrible thing.

Fuck you, Harviestoun for making me fall in love all over again!


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

2014 Update – Week 13

Alright people, I’ve been slack lately and haven’t been providing you with general updates regarding the goals I set for myself in 2014.

I had a bad period about a month ago when I fell off the wagon again. I was back to drinking every night of the week, and not just having a couple. I was drinking so much that I was drunk basically every night because I was fucking miserable but I soon kicked that after a couple of weeks and from there on out I was back to having a couple of nights off a week even though I had the money to drink.

I mean, last week for instance, I didn’t drink from Tuesday until Friday night (and even then it was wine not beer) and this week I think I’m going to go through until the Oakham Ales Tap Takeover on Thursday without drinking too. I know that from hereon out, I can definitely stick to not drinking midweek unless there’s actually something going on, or if I’m reviewing a couple of beers.

I’ve also set myself the target of actually reviewing a fucking album or two this week. Shocking, I know, but I’m going to pick something tonight and do it. I really need to. I need to put it out of my mind that I think I’m shit at writing about music, sit down and just do it.

As for food, I’ve not been eating a great deal lately. Haven’t really been feeling it. I eat breakfast which, you guessed it, is eggs basically every day but I’ve only been having a banana for lunch and frequently skipping dinner which is bad of me.

I’ve been getting a fuckload of exercise too… I’ve had a bicycle for a few weeks now and I’m absolutely loving it (despite the fact that I need to fix a puncture right now). Cycling to work and back every day has made me feel a lot healthier. I also went on a 9 mile cycle with my buddy Matt the other Saturday around all 3 Fat Cat pubs, ending up back at the original Fat Cat. OK, so a couple of pints in each means it wasn’t totally healthy but fuck it. And we’ve got nice weather now, so tennis has been on the cards which is awesome!

All in all, I’m feeling really good right now. Got good things going on in my personal life and I’m feeling healthier and therefore happier!

I’m going to try making these updates regular again, but I keep getting distracted by Adventure Time (I’m not to blame for that one) and Pokémon. I’m proper grown up, I am.

Also, news regarding my birthday shindig on 31st of May, don’t you fucking forget it. You’ll need to book train tickets from Stratford if you’re coming from London ASAP while they’re still cheap!


Saturday, 22 March 2014

GUEST REVIEW: MD 20/20 by Matt Smail

A while ago on twitter I was shouting for guest reviews of terrible beverages and the first to shout was my buddy Matt Smail who decided to review a drink from his youth - MD (or MAD DOG) 20/20. I've not had the pleasure of imbibing this particular beverage as my teenage years were all about Frosty Jack's, so I was certainly interested in what he has to say! I think we both forgot about it for a while then last night I was listening to the new Freddie Gibbs & Madlib album and during the track "Knicks" he mentions MAD DOG 20/20 which reminded me to tweet Matt about his review.

Anyway, what are his thoughts?

"It’s been a reflective evening for me. The day was a haze of conference calls crammed between meetings at opposite ends of Yorkshire and then as soon as I arrived home, I was straight back out again to shop for this weekends festivities, which happen to centre around my 31st birthday! Just as I walked out of my local ASDA, weighed down with a ton of shit that I should have bought a week ago, I received a tweet from Nate reminding me of the fact that I should have written this review about Mad Dog 20/20 over six months ago. I chucked my phone back in my pocket - “there’s nothing I can do about it today,” I thought.

I got home, threw together about 14 kilo’s of veggie chilli and wondered what to do next. With the chilli bubbling away, the thought of getting up at 7am to first barbecue and then slow cook a load of pork shoulder began to cross my mind. Then I thought of the pot of barbecue beans I made (which took 8 hours) yesterday evening. At this point, it became apparent - I am now an adult, doing adult things. As you have probably guessed, and possibly as a brief glimmer of defiant rebellion, I decided to drink the entire half litre bottle of Mad Dog.

Before I go on to talk about how Mad Dog 20/20 presents itself to my present, adult self; I think I would be doing it a great disservice if I didn’t mention it’s popularity with, well, children. I first encountered this foetid mix of rubbing alcohol, colourings and preservatives when I was about thirteen years old. Three 250ml bottles (Orange, Strawberry and whatever the blue one was) were enough to get me absolutely arseholed, and by 9pm I was in bed chucking up into the mop bucket. That wouldn't be my last childhood foray into the world of Mad Dog though, and I am absolutely certain that most people reading this will already be smiling at their own similar memories - perhaps you lay down in the road and rolled down it whilst boring adults beeped their horns and flashed their lights…? Maybe you and your mates found the courage to go into the local corner shop, attempt to distract the staff with your witty banter and then nick some Mr Kiplings’ Apple Pies…? Maybe they are my memories, but I bet yours are similar and equally ridiculous. That is, after all, why we all used to love Mad Dog, and perhaps the clue is in the name, who knows?

Back in the present tense, and upon inspection (whilst trying to avoid being too libellous) Mad Dog is pure evil. I stared at the completely unnatural, off-red liquid sitting in front of me. Mad Dog (particularly the much sought after Strawberry flavour) is a drink which I used to seek out at every opportunity when I was young - too young, perhaps. Now, I realised, I’d been putting off writing this review because I didn’t want to experience what was in the bottle. I knew it was going to be vile, but I opened it anyway.

The smell is unavoidable, indescribable and utterly offensive. Imagine an intoxicatingly sweet juvenile medicine like Calpol, mixed with pure, not-fit-for-consumption alcohol and then the lingering smell that resembles the breath of someone who has been eating those synthetic strawberry flavoured sweets. I said before that Mad Dog is pure evil - what I mean by that is that it almost certainly contains no natural ingredients whatsoever. The flavour of it is such that it might as well be from outer space. Again, medicine is certainly present, as is a slightly concerning (considering the drink is 13% ABV) alcohol burn, alongside that weird, completely wrong taste of strawberry flavouring. Small sips initially go down OK, but less than a glass into drinking it, I began to feel queasy and my lips were sticky with the (probably ridiculously high) amount of sugar I was ingesting.

I got about three quarters of the way through the bottle (including what I left in the last glass) before I had to give up. I actually  breathed a sigh of relief when I poured the last bit down the sink. Like the torrent of puke that left my body some eighteen years past, watching that strange, translucent liquid glide down the plughole brought me a brief moment of happiness - “at least” I thought, “that will not be inside me.” Whilst I write this review, I’m sitting drinking a bottle of Harviestoun Schiehallion which costs approximately £1.99 for a 300ml bottle. Why the fuck would I want to drink Mad Dog?

Do yourself a favour and trust me. You’re memories may be good, but like the original 1980’s version of Gauntlet or that Dolph Lundgren He-Man movie (Masters of the Universe,) Mad Dog 20/20 taste absolutely fucking awful and is made from the kind of ingredients which should never enter the human body. In fact, a last point on this - this is a drink which is so dodgy, I can only imagine that it is created by a group of failed scientists who stand around in labcoats concocting liquids that are literally on the absolute borderline of what is legally acceptable. Put that bottle back on the shelf son and get yourself a beer - or if you must have something pink, fruity and of dubious origin, then for fucks sake buy some Echo Falls rose!

Thanks for reading!

Massive thanks to Matt for enduring this poison for my own amusement! He's a really good chap and you should follow him on twitter, especially if you're into beer and gaming: @ragingkileak


Thursday, 20 March 2014

I think I’m bored of beer

Something has happened over the last couple of months, and it’s rather odd. I’ve increasingly been drinking less and less compared to last year. What started off as a health kick has become normality and this makes me happy. I no longer have the desire to drink to the levels I did as it got boring.
It’s not just the drinking of it I’m bored of, though.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love beer so it’s not like I’m about to quit drinking it. I just feel that I need to take a step back from this beer blogging thing as the concept of beer and talking about it is getting boring.

The reason it’s getting boring is because I’m sick of only ever talking about beer with 80% of the people I know, and the other 20% I’m assuming refuse to talk to me because 90% of what I talk about is beer. That or they think I’m a dick, which is also correct.*

I think it’s a sad state of affairs when you get so deeply into something that it’s constantly in your mind. Even when you’re not participating in said subject, you’re at least thinking or talking about it. It’s sad that conversations with people are so fucking limited because you’ve established common ground and don’t really stray off of it.

The truth is, I’m just bored of only ever talking about beer when I have so many other interests close to my heart; stuff that I’m losing the knowledge and love of because I never have anyone to talk about it with.

I love how passionate we all are about beer and how we share this; it’s special and I’ve met many good friends through my blog and obsessive tweeting about beer, but I really need to broaden my interests and get involved in other stuff because I feel that there’s no way I can develop myself as a person if beer is all I ever have to discuss with people.

Don’t worry; this isn’t the end of real beer blogging for me. I’ll probably come back to it in a few months when I feel that I’ve kicked the obsession. I’ll still do beer reviews when something comes through the post, because that’s not proper beer writing. I’m just quitting the theory of beer and thinking too much about it as a concept. You can also expect to see more musical stuff going on as that’s something I keep meaning to get onto.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this last couple of years as much as I have and I hope you can understand where I’m coming from with this.

Thanks everyone!


*These figures may not be accurate, but I’m definitely a dick.