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

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Moosehead Lager & Pale Ale (beer review)

I'm not well versed in Canadian beer as it doesn't seem to make it to the UK often. Sure, I've drank a lot of Carling which originates from there and I remember spending a day in London years ago in the Maple Leaf pub in Covent Garden drinking multiple pints of Sleeman's IPA and Honey Brown lager, but I'd never had anything from Canada's oldest independent brewery.

What's interesting about Moosehead is that it was founded by a woman, Susannah Oland back in 1867 and is still operated by the same family. The fact that it was founded by a woman all of the way back then is great but people generally don't know this. People quite rightly celebrate the female brewers of today, but Moosehead is quite an important brewery, in Canada at least, so she deserves some recognition.

They've had quite a rocky history, changing names a couple of times and unfortunately two fires within 8 years but each time they recovered and got stronger. Also, its success in the USA can oddly be attributed to Michael J Fox as he gave it a big plug on the Jay Leno show.

Anyway, I was kindly sent Moosehead Lager & Pale Ale to write a few words about...

Moosehead Lager (5%) pours golden yellow with a small, sparse head that disappears rather quickly. On the nose you have a little sweetcorn, a few hops and some skunkiness. When you taste it, there is no corn but instead it's just a crisp almost lemony lager flavour with a little sweetness. We rather enjoyed it!

Moosehead Pale Ale (5%) pours an amber colour that's almost brown, and again it doesn't have much of a head. I was expecting something akin to an American style pale ale, but to my surprise I got an English style Pale Ale. Lots of caramel and brown sugar sweetness, with just a few hops and a bit of golden syrup. Again, it's an enjoyable beer.

Overall: Both pleasant and accessible beers. As a beer geek, they didn't make me run around flailing but they are very well made tasty beers that at the right pricepoint could quite happily be most people's first foray into craft beer.

Thanks to Louise from Pierhead Purchasing for sending me these to write about!

Nate


Friday, 5 September 2014

The Session #91 - My First Belgian



The Session is a monthly event for the beer blogging community which was started by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer. On the first Friday of each month, all participating bloggers write about a predetermined topic. Each month a different blog is chosen to host The Session, choose the topic, and post a roundup of all the responses received. For more info on The Session, check out the Brookston Beer Bulletin’s nice archive page.

This months session is hosted by Belgian Smaak… and is all about your first Belgian Beer.

My first Belgian? What is this, a new Fisher Price toy?

My first Belgian beer was obviously Stella Artois. I’m not going to hide from that. Some people say that it doesn’t count, but of course it bloody does.

I remember when I was 12, a friends’ parents were out for the day so we decided we were going to drink beer. We made the conscious decision to get drunk. It was irresponsible. We were 12 years old… we wanted to experience it and find out why our parents drank alcohol.

I remember hating the feeling of being drunk… that initial hit of the alcohol, rushing through your blood into your brain. The dizziness, the blurry eyes. Well, I hated it at first, and then it was fun… it was hilarious. Why was it so hilarious to watch a rabbit yawn?

And then the vomit. I was quite violently sick. Disgusting, can’t deal with it.

Eventually, I got home and passed out.

And then the hangover.

I didn’t drink for about two or three years after that.

Nate

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Tasting notes… what are you on about?



Obviously, as an amateur wannabe beer writer, I review beers and I read other people’s reviews of beers.

Right now I’m getting absolutely fucking sick of reading beer reviews, to be perfectly honest.

I see people write about aromas that make me gag just from the idea and flavours that really don’t make sense and make me want to vomit, and remember… I’m a seasoned beer drinker.

I’ve had beers that have encompassed all manner of flavours, but let’s be honest here… most tasting notes by beer reviewers are bullshit. They’re incredibly off putting and I wonder if some people come up with the most ridiculous tasting notes just as a test to see if someone else will call them out and say “What the fuck are you even on about?”

Even as someone who has drank so many different beers, I read reviews and I’m instantly put off.

You cannot write that a beer smells like damp field mushrooms covered in manure, tasting like spunk covered hedgerow and expect people to believe your conclusion that it was rather nice (this isn’t an exact review; it’s just bits that I’ve picked up from several reviews that I’ve read over the last few months from about 6 different people).

While I’m aware that everyone has a different palate and they taste/smell different things, I genuinely don’t believe that most people actually know what hedgerow or half the fucking things they describe beers as taste like.

I’m just finding it irritating, vomit inducing and just straight up bullshit. It’s not doing the industry any favours by writing such pretentious crap.

It seems that people are straight up taking the piss out of breweries by saying the most disgusting things. Hell, if I were a brewer I’d feel downright offended if someone gave my beer such nauseating tasting notes knowing full well that they’re just entering themselves into "Who can be the most pretentious?" competition.

One of the reasons I started doing this whole beer writing thing was to try and encourage people to drink more good beer, by displaying the massive array of delicious flavours that just four simple ingredients (and sometimes odd adjuncts) can create and I’m sure many others did too.

I’ve always firmly believed in tasting notes that are accessible, that someone not into beer will stumble across and be like “Well, that sounds delicious. Where can I buy it?” not “So this person says it’s nice… but it sounds disgusting. Definitely not worth the risk”

Simplify. Make the beers sound as delicious in your descriptions as you say they are at the end. Just cut the fucking crap already.

Nate