Wednesday 12 December 2012

Golden Pints....

The golden pints awards... the brainchild of Mark Dredge and Andy Mogg ... All very good stuff but I am going slightly off piste with my questions.

Start off with the Sub 4% beers

Least Boring Brown Beer - Brewdog, Dead Pony Club

Least Boring Pale Beer - The Kernel, Table beer 

Least Boring Black beer - Mikkeler, Milk stout

A few awards for proper beers

Most interesting Beer - De Struisse, Black Damnation III Black Meas

Most interesting Beer in a can - Adnams, Ghost Ship

Most interesting home brewed beer - Andy Parker's Nelson Saison

Pubs and Bars

Most interesting Pub - The Grove, Huddersfield

Most interesting new London Pub - The Earl of Essex, Islington

Most interesting Brewpub (beer) - The Cock Tavern, Hackney

Most interesting Brewpub (food) - The Bull, Highgate ... Chicken wings!

Least Boring Pub Chain - The Craft Beer Co


Most interesting brewery to drink at - Magic Rock during the Beer bloggers conference

Most interesting brewery to buy beer at - The Kernel

Best place to work - The Anthill


Most interesting Festival To Drink At: Borefts Festival at De Molen. 

Least Boring CAMRA Festival - Pigs Ear Festival in Hackney (every beer either very good or very very bad)


Most interesting Beer event - Beer Bloggers Conference, Leeds

Most interesting Brewery Launch - By the Numbers at the Craft Beer Co

The Bad

Most over hyped on twitter beer event - Zanwze Launch at the Earl of Essex, I feel sorry for those interested who did not turn up for fear of queues out the door.  Good event though.

Most over hyped beer - Just about any limited release from Brewdog

Worst beer - Joint award - Brewdog and Flying Dog, International Arms race. 

Need a New Mortgage Award - The Craft Beer Co. I still find myself going there regularly though.

Fastest Drain-pour - My batch of decadence stout that made a mess of many a kitchen as I bottled it too early. Only a drain pour of you were lucky enough to open over a sink. The keg tasted great though. ;-)

Monday 26 November 2012

London and South East Craft Beer Festival 2012

This is the first of two blogs about this excellent festival run by London Amateur Brewers.

I'll start with a few photos of the set-up and judging and then photos of all the winners who were there.

The new location was an excellent room.

All the latest technology was being used.

Not many kegs this year.

Some stewards seemed chirpy...

 ...some a little tired...

...or worse for wear

The judges were locked away in a separate little room

Nice new glassware.

At 2pm the punters started arriving

Beers were poured...  

...or escaped of their own volition.

It got nice and busy by the end.

The results...

Table 1: IPA and Strong Ale (18 entries)

1st Steve Syson Debaser                 Midlands Craft Brewers
2nd Fergus Mciver Hop Rocket
3rd Andy Parker West Coast IPA London Amateur Brewers
HM Dave Halse MyAIPA                 London Amateur Brewers

Table 2: English and Scottish Ale (19 entries)
1st Ken Bazley Boring Brown Beer LAB
2nd Mark Newman seventeen
3rd Paul Spearman TraditionAle London Amateur Brewers
HM  Giancarlo Maccini EVO-3 E.S.B. London Amateur Brewers

Table 3: Porter & English Brown Ale (14 entries)
1st Rob Case Back To Black London Amateur Brewers
2nd Chris Cheeseman fuggles porter
3rd   Paul Henderson Gently Does It London Amateur Brewers
HM  Dave Halse MyBrownPorter London Amateur Brewers

Table 4: Stouts (15 entries)
1st Ali Kocho-Williams Tsar Pembrokeshire Union of Brewers
2nd Steve Syson Tomahawk Midlands Craft Brewers
3rd Nick Reese Imperial Stout (the 2nd)
HM Ian Thomas Sluice Gates Stout
HM Fergus Mciver Dark Matter

*Yes that is Paul Henderson impersonating Ali.
Table 5: American and Other Pale Ale and IPA (13 entries)
1st Allan Gayton George’s Nectar Midlands Craft Brewers
2nd Steve Syson South Pacific IPA Midlands Craft Brewers
3rd Mark and Chris Simpson Hop Sip and Slump
HM Mike Carter Browst LAB
HM Bryan Spooner EL 15 LAB

Table 6: Belgian and French Ale (13 entries)

1st Stephen Auld, Chris Auld and Kristian Robinson Aramis
2nd Dave Halse MyBelgian London Amateur Brewers
3rd Steve Syson La Fleche Wallonne Midlands Craft Brewers
HM Ingemar Jansson Serenity cosinusfi
HM Ben Fields Stuck in the Chunnel Pale Ale London Amateur Brewers
Table 7: Fruit Spice Herb Vegetable Beer (11 entries)
1st Drew Wnek Happy Thanksgiving London London Amateur Brewers
2nd Peter Bamford Coconut Porter LAB
3rd Chris Lewis Eye Piercing Scene From Zombie Flesh Eaters
HM Vladimir Kaznakov Pumpkin Ale

Table 8: Speciality and Smoked Beer (8 entries)
1st Dave Halse MySmokedPorter London Amateur Brewers
2nd Gregg Irwin Fade to Black LAB
3rd Dave Halse MyOakedSmokedChocoStout London Amateur Brewers

Dave Halse had a good day even if his beer names are a bit rubbish.

Table 9: Amber and Hybrid Beers (6 entries)
1st Steve Syson American Gothic Midlands Craft Brewers
2nd Steve Syson Goodnight Vienna Midlands Craft Brewers
3rd Tom Johnstone Kolnel London Amateur Brewers
HM Simon Bedwell Chippings Altbeer
HM Steve Syson California Dreamin’ Midlands Craft Brewers

Yes this is Steve Syson again!!!

Table 10: The Better Half (6 entries)
1st Alison Irwin Grumpy Cougar
1st Kerri Henderson Trick or Treat
3rd Belinda Kelly Killed Three Already London Amateur Brewers

I can claim some credit here...I was co-brewer on Alison's beer and I wrote the recipe on which Kerri's was based.

Rob Case picked up the award for the best label...More of that in another blog.

Mark Vincent picked up the People's award for Herman's Chocolate stout.

Best in Show
1st Allan Gayton George’s Nectar Midlands Craft Brewers
2nd Steve Syson Debaser Midlands Craft Brewers
3rd Stephen Auld, Chris Auld and Kristian Robinson Aramis

Well done to all those involved in the organisation and those who picked up prizes. I thought the standard of beer was very good and greatly improved from last year.

Thursday 30 August 2012

Sophie's Rustic Ale.

Some people may know I have strong feelings about how beer is dispensed, or more to the point how it should not be dispensed. And before you get worried I'm not an anti-keg CAMRA kind of guy, quite the opposite.

My beef is having traditional highly carbonated beers shoehorned into the cask medium. This means lagers, pilsners, bocks and particuarly saisons.

So it was interesting that last night I found myself not going to the launch of the latest London Brick in Hackney but instead to the launch of Sophie Atherton's Sophie's Rustic Ale in the Bricklayers Arms in Putney. So what is Sophie's rustic ale? From the press release:

Sophie’s Rustic Ale (4.7% ABV) is a bright, burnished copper-coloured ale, with an aroma of honey and hay bales. It has a rich malty flavour with earthy, floral elements and an aftertaste of bread and honey. It is made with Dorset Maris Otter barley, Challenger and East Kent Goldings hops, the dried flower heads of Calendula Officinalis – also known as marigolds – and Saison yeast.  
It was brewed in conjunction with ART Brew, a Dorset brewery who have been popping up in London a lot recently with their cask conditioned hop-forward beers.

The brewer in me had a load of technical questions, particularly about the yeast and fermentation. The yeast seems to be a blend of Fermentis S-04 and another Fermentis dried yeast perhaps S-33. It was fermented at 19-20 Degrees C.

There were two versions of the beer available - one cask fined and the other unfined.

The fined beer was crystal clear,a bit flat, dry as a bone, some hop fruitiness and firm bitterness. To me, there was no real discernible saison yeast character, tasted like a fairly standard, if a bit drier than normal, best bitter.

The unfined was a slightly different beast. Hazy, dry, also flat but it did retain a slight belgian spicy yeast character that elevated it well above the fined version.

I won't go banging on about how a saison should never be packaged in cask. However I would very much like to try the unfined version of this beer served highly carbonated in keg or bottle conditioned where the added carbonation may help deal with the mouth puckering dryness of the beer.

The highlight of the night was the platter of cheese and bread that was put on by Sophie to accompany the beer. As you would expect with Sophie being a sommelier, some of the food matches were truly great. There was a huge focaccia made by the people at River Cottage with red and green tomatoes, when paired with some goats cheese and the Rustic ale everything seemed to just work. The smoked cheese and the blue cheese were both decent matches as well. Perhaps the star was the cheese with green chilli, the beer quenched the chilli heat and the cheese brought out the spicy fruit in the beer.

On a side note the Art Brew Monkey IPA was a stunning match for the blue cheese!

All in all a very pleasant night. Sophie and Becky from Art Brew were excellent hosts and there was a good bunch of great beer people to chat to.

Monday 21 May 2012

The Parcel Yard

The newly opened concourse in King's Cross Station contains a rather large new Fullers pub called The Parcel Yard.

On the way to Leeds, for the European Beer Bloggers Conference, I dropped in for some lunch.

A half of Meantime London lager and a smoked salmon sandwich. Loved the crispy onion rings, tempura capers and pickled cucumber. Top garnishing!

The range of beers includes most of Fuller's own beers and a few guests.

A great way to start the weekend.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Beer to Match Indian Food....

There has been a long term back-burner project for me to make the perfect beer to match Indian food and to plug a major gap for craft beer in the Indian Restaurant Market. Someone has beaten me to it....

Today while on a trip to Saffron Walden to look at some  Brewlab brewing kit we went to Indian Summer Brewery. A new 10 BBL plant in a prefabricated wooden shed, inside a large warehouse belonging to a Timber Merchant. A very strange set up indeed and not the place I expected to find someone brewing beer with the sole intention to sell to Indian Restaurants. However the sparge was on when we arrived, and 8 barrels of pale wort was being transferred into the kettle by brewer Jules and consultant Mike Hitchen from Brewlab.

So what is this beer? They call it Bombay Blonde and the website is set up for the beer not the brewery. I don't like the name but the branding is certainly distinctive. It pours clear pale and well carbonated, a must to cleanse the rich sauces from the pallet, although the head disappears quickly. Quite subdued on the nose but really refreshing and fruity on the palate. Good strong bitterness should play well with the spicy food. I did not have it with a curry but it went down a treat as a post gym pre dinner thirst quencher, so perhaps not such a one dimensional beer.

If I was being picky I would like something with a bit more alcohol (it is 4.5%), it may match the food a little better. However if I was in an an establishment that was serving this beer and the other options were Cobra and would be a no-brainer to choose this beer.

I believe this beer is being launched on Thursday 26th in Brick Lane...London beer people go check it out.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Dry hopping for homebrewers

Last night I had to give a talk at London Amateur brewers about dry hopping beers. Well, I did not have to give a talk about dry hopping but being a bit of a hophead it was the obvious choice.

I promised a few homebrewers on twitter I would stick this on a blog....So here goes with some comments.

The 'teach your granny to suck eggs' slide....Not 100% sure of the benefit of Mash hopping but makes the mash tun smell good when you are cleaning it out. 

A selection of dry hopped beers I drink, of which Racer 5 is notable for having no aroma hops, just bittering and dry. Oh and a blatant plug for Weird Beard Brew Co.

 Pretty self explanatory. Can you sense a theme with my love of the smell of hops?

Try this at home Kids....You will find that the water is bitter. Dry hopping does add some bitterness to water, I would assume it would add some bitterness to beer as well. If you use Apollo hops as I did you will also get a noticeable smell of onion or garlic.

This is the sum of the collective intelligence on the internet. Hopping rates tend to be a bit higher in the USA and lower in the UK.

 Minor technique spot. Whole leaf hops give a considerably smaller effect unless you can keep them in motion around the beer on a regular basis. Some have said that dry hopping in a cornie and giving the cornie a roll every morning is one way of doing it. My view is avoid dry hopping with whole leaf hops if you can.

 Traditional English Dry Hopping. I did not quite get enough info from Fullers to make this a great slide. Hop plugs are 14g of whole leaf hops that are formed into an ice hockey puck shape.

Some info from Evin at the Kernel. Not much more to be said really.

You can experiment with hopped water to get a good feel for the effect of different hops.

Hop oil content taken from Brew Your Own's 'Hop Lovers Guide'. You can buy it from the USA or from Beer in Print here. The number in brackets is the High alpha acid value for the variety.  Note Amarillo can be very variable, Nelson Sauvin is very consistent, Columbus is very powerful, Kent Golding is subtle and Bullion shows that moderate alpha hops can have high oil content.

I have said before that hop pellets are best and whole leaf hops are a bit rubbish. The problem with hop pellets is that the availability of them in homebrew shops is patchy at best. So what do you do if you want that big dry hop character and can't get the pellets? Hop Purée! Try it! I have and it works well.

Not that anyone really cares...they have Evin's method (above). Talking of Evin, the first line is Evin's personal recommendation to homebrewers. 

...for adding hop character after fermentation.

Bit pointless this slide as you don't have the beer I was passing around...but it mentions Weird Beard so I kept it in.

These are all experiments that you can do at home. Dry hopping spirits has been mentioned recently by Mark Dredge at pencil and spoon. I do like the idea of making a hop tea with sugar and water and using it to prime the bottles. This is definitely on my list of things to do.

Ok, I hope this has been of some use to people, I don't consider myself an expert on this by any means but I have learnt a fair bit in the process of putting these slides together.