Wednesday, 26 November 2014

This. Is. Pretty. Good.



So last week I posted a blog about the fact that I had a pint of Brewdog This. Is. Lager, a beer that I like, after having two pints of Pilsner Urquell thus rendering BD TIL pretty shit.

See, Brewdog and I, we’ve had our differences in the past but they were pretty cool about it and offered to send me a few bottles which was awfully nice of them!

A couple of days later, before the bottles arrived, I had a spare hour or so on my hands so I decided to pop into The Bell Hotel Wetherspoons in Norwich and have a pint on an untainted palate, and it was the beer I remember having pre-Urquell. It was great – it had that solid biscuity malt backbone, that hop bite and a crisp and clean refreshing finish. Somehow it was warming, even on a cold evening.

I loved it!

Then, last Thursday, three bottles arrived at my house. Sadly I was suffering from a really horrific cold so I couldn’t crack one open there and then, I shoved them in the fridge and decided to come back to them when I was feeling good again (hell, I wasn’t even home anyway as I was at Emily’s).

So the other night I had a couple of hours spare at home before making the journey back to Gorleston and thought I’d open a bottle.

Sidenote: To me, lager is drunk in pints in the pub or straight from the bottle/can at home. I don’t care if it’s a ‘craft’ product… in my mind a lager is for that purpose. No fuss, no overthinking, just to be enjoyed.

So there I was, sitting in front of my computer with a cold bottle straight out of the fridge, that has come to me straight from the brewery and I crack it open.





I take a sip and instantly I want to be at a BBQ in the summer… it’s just so nice and refreshing as it’s got bitterness and subtle citrus flavours as well as a nice maltiness and it’s so well rounded.

It’s a pretty good beer, I have to say, and to be honest I think I prefer it bottled to keg which is an incredibly rare thing to happen.

What I’d like to see, however, is This. Is. Lager in cans because they’ll be easier for me to take to friends houses or the beach in summer.

Alongside Punk IPA, 5am Red Ale, Dead Pony Pale Ale & Brixton Porter, Brewdog currently have a very strong core – or headliner – range right now and I’d also like mixed packs of all of them to be readily available in shops, but until then I’ll mostly be drinking six packs of Dead Pony in Majestic.

Cheers,

Nate

Disclaimer: I have had many free pints of Brewdog This. Is. Lager at Wetherspoons courtesy of Eddie Gershon PR sending me a bunch of vouchers to write about the new beers. Also, as I mentioned, I didn’t pay for the bottles I received because I’m a jammy bastard. I also borrowed the bottle image from here: http://www.brewdog.com/blog-article/this-is-lager

Monday, 24 November 2014

Thinking Drinkers: The Enlightened Imbibers Guide to Alcohol (Book Review)



Ben McFarland & Tom Sandham are known throughout these lands as the Thinking Drinkers. While Ben has been crowned British Beer Writer of the Year a triad of times, Tom is former editor of a cocktail magazine called CLASS.

Together they do a variety of things including writing (as demonstrated in this book), tasting sessions for those who want to learn more about booze & performed in shows from Edinburgh to the London West End.
 
The whole point of this book is to encourage people to Drink Less but Drink Better, which is a bloody good mantra and one that many of us have fallen foul of in the past.

Anyway, this brilliant book takes you through all of the main food drink groups… you’ve got beer, wine, whisk(e)y, gin, tequila, vodka… everything.

Every chapter gives you insight into the history of each beverage, along with amusing segments on famous people who are renowned for drinking said drinks, cocktails, recommendations and general hilarity!

The whole book is so captivating and I have now found myself interested and filled with knowledge on drink topics other than my core one of beer.

The great thing is that it’s not just a book for reading, but one for reference. It’s the kind of book that I think every pub or bar in the country that prides itself on stocking artisan or craft spirits should have on the bar, not only to further their own personal knowledge but to allow customers to read.

All in all, this book is brilliant and will be a perfect Christmas present for anyone who likes a drink or two!

Nate

Friday, 14 November 2014

This. Is. Ehhh.



Yesterday Alec and I had a Christmas dinner in Wetherspoons and as part of the deal for £8.99 you can get a beer… luckily, these days, it’s not restricted to Carling or Ruddles. These days you can get any of the craft cans, any real ale or either of the craft beers on keg.

I got Brewdog This. Is. Lager with mine, which I have had many pints of before but last night I realised I don’t like it as much as I thought I did.

Last night, I just found it all wrong, so unbalanced. Too sweet yet too bitter, too carbonated yet too dry, when previously I had proclaimed that it’s everything I want in a Pilsner.

And then I realised what the problem was.

Pilsner Urquell.

Yes, the problem was that earlier in the evening I’d had two pints of Pilsner Urquell, the classic, the original, the legendary Czech pilsner. So beautifully crisp, floral and creamy; a beer you can drink pint after pint of without getting bored.

A pilsner that ruins all other pilsners because of its perfection.

Of course, I am well aware that it’s a bit wrong to essentially compare the original pilsner to one from a 21st century brewery who claims to be revolutionising the style, but still.

Don’t get me wrong, This. Is. Lager is still a very good beer. It’s well made and had I not drank the Pilsner Urquell, I would have probably sunk several pints of it last night but what’s happened here is a case of “I drank something better and now I don’t like the one I liked before”

Maybe for research purposes I’ll pop in Wetherspoons this weekend and give This. Is. Lager another shot, just to see if I still feel the same about it.

I’d also really like to try get hold of a bottle of This. Is. Lager to see how it translates, and maybe do a proper, untainted review but until then…

Nate

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Haynes Men’s Pie Manual (Book Review)



When I first read the press release about this book, I’m sure you’ll forgive me that I didn’t actually read the word “Men’s”. I read “Haynes Pie Manual by Andrew Webb”. That was enough to get me excited.

I received the book and thought “Hang on a minute; this is making a few assumptions”. Firstly, it’s assuming at as a man, I don’t have the foggiest idea of how to make a pie (I do – I’ve made many in my time) and secondly it is assuming one of two things – either that pies are foodstuff for men, and men only, or it is assuming that women automatically know how to make pies from birth. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed at this.

I then started reading and was thankful that he kept the “Hey manly men, I’m talking to you, you loser who doesn’t know how to make a pie” to a minimum, aside from the occasional “RED MEAT PIE ARE ESPECIALLY FOR MEN. MEN LOVE RED MEAT.”

So yeah, he doesn’t talk directly to us men right through the book which is a good thing, but it’s all still rather irritating. Assumptions piss me off.

Anyway, as for the actual content?

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Unrealistic Expectations

As I sit in wetherspoons having a diet coke, I'm thinking. I really wanted to write something positive about Wetherspoons as I love it but half of what i want to say is negative.

The thing is, when they announced their craft taps of Brewdog This. Is. Lager. And Devil's Backbone IPA I was excited, and to be honest I'm still excited about there being something I'm guaranteed to drink on tap in any wetherspoons I go into. I mean, This. Is. Lager. Is a fucking stupid name but it has everything I want in a Pilsner. Devil's Backbone IPA isn't what I expected but it's delicious nonetheless. Sure, it doesn't have buckets full of hops in it but it's still delicious.

What doesn't excite me, strangely enough, is the prices. Youre probably thinking "what the fuck. How are you not excited at £3 a pint?" And I'll tell you why...

It gives people unrealistic expectations of the price of decent keg beer. See, I was excited when I was expecting both these beers to be around the £4 a pint mark... That would make it close enough to both wetherspoons prices and craft beer bar prices. Selling a beer like the brewdog lager at £3 a pint is going to make people expect that anywhere they go, good beer on keg can't be that much more expensive.

The problem is that so many people use wetherspoons as a comparison on price. If they see a beer on cask at £2.40 in wetherspoons they're going to expect it to be no more than £3.40 on cask in a regular pub. It's the pound rule. It doesn't just work for wetherspoons but for any service... Tesco are selling a sandwich for £2 so you expect it to be £3 in an independent shop.

Now people who aren't craft wankers are going to see "craft lager" or "ipa" on keg in a regular pub and be like "hang on a fucking minute... Why is this £5 a pint when I can get something similar in spoons for £3?"

So will spoons convert people to good keg?

Yes, but only in their own pubs due to presenting unrealistic expectations.

Nate 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

NSV Craft Beer Festival 2014 Preview

A while ago I had mentioned that I was involved in the social media side of Norwich’s first ever craft beer festival and now I have a list of beers that will be on over the course of the festival and everything is finalised for this coming Thursday, I figured I’d write a blog.

Firstly, what/where/when/how/why?

Where: St Margaret’s Art Church, St Benedict’s Street, Norwich
When: Thursday 9th October – Saturday 11th October (5pm - 11 Thursday then 12pm til 4 & 5pm til 11 Friday and Saturday)
Cost: £4 (£2 for NSV wristband holders) includes branded glass which can be returned for £1 refund
Food: Proper Pizza Co & Meat Merchants
Beers: A mixture of cask, keg, bottles & cans

We are very happy to have the following breweries with their own bars, these are:

Firebrand Brewery – A seriously bloody good up and coming brewery from Cornwall. I first sampled their beers at Craft Beer Rising this year and was impressed so I’m excited to see these guys coming up for it!

Signature Brew – An awesome aptly musical themed brewery. These guys are most known for brewing collaboration beers with the likes of Professor Green, Mastodon & Frank Turner but now have their own range of beers which I’m looking forward to trying!

Humpty Dumpty – Brilliant traditional real ale brewery situated on the Norfolk Broads. Last year they celebrated their 15th Anniversary with a very tasty barley wine that I helped brew (well, not really. I just stood there looking good).

Fem-Ale - A brilliant organisation promoting the women in the beer industry! Expect to see a whole host of beers that have been brewed by women!

Norfolk Square Brewery - Carlos will be bringing his Maverik range of craft beers including the wonderful English hopped Barmy IPA!

Golden Triangle - Popular among Norwich drinkers, and a personal favourite of mine, Kev will be bringing his amazing Black IPA... BLACK HOPS!

Redwell Brewery – We all know the awesome Redwell Brewery! Brewing delicious lagers and ales (exclusively on keg) since 2013. They are the main sponsor of NSV Craft Beer Festival and are providing most of the beers available... these beers are confirmed and I can reveal to you what they are...

Redwell Brewery (Norwich, all keg)
Hells Lager
Steam Lager
India Pale Lager
Double IPA
Dark Pilsner

Beavertown Brewery (London, keg)
Neck Oil (Session IPA)
Smog Rocket (Smoked Porter)
Quelle (Saison)

Crate Brewery (London, keg)
Nitro Stout
Cider

Fourpure (London, keg)
Pils (Lager)
IPA

London Fields (London)
Hackney Hopster (Pale Ale, cask & keg)
Shoreditch Triangle (IPA, keg)

Redchurch Brewery (London, keg)
Paradise Pale
Shoreditch Blonde
Hoxton Stout

Redwillow Brewery (Macclesfield)
Smokeless (Smoked Porter, keg)
Mirthless (Pale Ale, keg)
Endless (Pale Ale, cask)
Heartless (Chocolate Stout, cask)

Williams Brothers (Alloa, Scotland)
Draught Lager (Keg)

Magic Rock (Yorkshire)
High Wire (Pale Ale, cask & keg)
CANNONBALL (IPA, keg, yes it deserves capitals!)

Wild Beer Co. (Somerset)
Bibble (Pale Ale, cask & keg)
Fresh (Pale Ale, cask)
Epic Saison (Keg)

So, those are all of the confirmed beers and we’re very excited about it as the days get closer!

You can follow us on twitter at @NSVBeerFest or Facebook where I will be telling you a little bit more about each brewery and the beers before Thursday and updating you with setup.

I hope to see you all there!

Nate

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Two New Guinness Beers (beer review)

Guinness. It’s an internationally recognised name, it’s seen in probably 90% of pubs and bars all across the world from London to San Francisco to Tokyo.

Guinness. The iconic adverts and two part pour. The shamrock that’s drawn in the tight, creamy head on the top of your pint.


Guinness is everywhere. Guinness is unmistakable.

I don’t think I really need to explain what Guinness is, but I will say that it is a beer I love to this very day, even in all of my beer geekdom. It’s reliable and delicious.

Guinness is owned by Diageo these days, one of the biggest alcoholic beverage companies in the world. They’ve decided to try and expand the Guinness brand by bringing out two new beers and I was lucky enough to be asked if I want to try them.

And of course, I jumped at the chance. In fact, I’m rather excited about trying them. They’re both modelled on recipes from many moons ago, but have been upgraded I suppose using modern brewing processes and a shiny brewery.

To start with, the labels are awesome. If you didn’t know anything about Guinness, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were brewed by your friendly neighbourhood brewery – they look antique and historic. Of course, many people will complain that the marketing people are trying to make it look like they’re from a small brewery but fuck ‘em.

First up we have Guinness Dublin Porter (3.8%). As promised by the fact sheet I was sent, it is like a lighter version of your everyday Guinness. It has caramel, chocolate, a little bit of coffee, brown sugar and some hoppiness at the end. It’s also a lot less dry than standard Guinness which makes it an even more enjoyable experience. It seems to have the right amount of everything that I want in a stout. I thought, and was hoping I’d enjoy it but it’s genuinely surprised me just how much I am enjoying it!

West Indies Porter (6%) pours thicker and darker. The head is a lot more desirable as it stays there. The aroma gives off a handful of hops with lots of burnt caramel. The flavour gives me full on strong, black nutmeg coffee, topped with chocolate sprinkles, there’s also a kind of sweet milky flavour that comes across in the aftertaste. The whole idea is that it’s a more accessible version of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout and they’ve totally achieved that goal.

Overall: Both beers are brilliant to be honest. They’re both a step up from Guinness, bringing more flavour to the table and beers that I will definitely buy as they’re definitely the best stouts I’m going to be able to get from supermarkets.

Despite being Guinness/Diageo products, I urge you to pick them up and give them a shot. These are well brewed beers, with flavour and I am seriously impressed.


Nate