Thursday, 8 November 2018

The Further Adventures of EmperorBevis

The imbibing of a beverage created by the fermentation of yeast and malt often flavoured with hops.


It is my hobby, my distraction, my vice and my recreation.  However it is not the entirety of my life.  I also have a love of poetry, comedy, equality, politics, my family, pizza and an eclectic taste in music that incorporates Thrash Metal, 90's Indie and Blue Grass.  Far from surprisingly, most important to me is my family.  Which brings us to my long suffering partner Julie, who neither likes drinking beer, eating pepperoni pizza nor listening to Thrash metal.

Julie likes to drink wine, fruity ciders, sweet cocktails and has an eclectic taste in music that incorporates Goth, Shoe Gazing, 90's Indie and David Sylvian.  So are there alcoholic drinks that can cater to such tastes yet still be classified as beers.  YES!  My, or rather our recommendation is Früli.  Below is our joint review published onto my Beeradvocate account.

Van Diest's Früli Strawberry Beer.  £1.80 for a 330ml bottle from Tesco.  
Bottled and co reviewed by my life partner;  Julie.  Pours a cloudy red body with decent white head. Julie: Aroma is strawberry, toffee and cherry.  Flavour tastes like toffee apple. Bevis: Aroma is strawberry fruit chews.  Flavour is first of all strawberry cordial, then at its lowest flavoured point a lot better taste than any other commercially available strawberry lager.  Great body that is neither thin nor heavy complimenting a nice level of sweetness.

Also 'mentioned in dispatches'  Brouwerij Lindeman's Pêche and  London Beer Factory's Berliner Heist.  Easy drinking fruity beverages great for those not attracted to more traditional bitters, lagers and stouts. 

Beer Nouveau Brew Tap, 75 Northern Western St, Manchester M12 6DY.
A place that actually can facilitate my love of craft beers and Julie's desire to drink cider that is made from real fruit alongside our love for 90's Alternative music. It's open 16:00 to 22:30 on Fridays and Saturdays.  The ultra practical decor of comfortable worn in sofas with coffee tables and bar stools makes it relaxed quirky atmosphere.  I've not felt so at  home in since the demise of the 'Subway' under Grand Central.  Music is kept present but unobtrusive with tracks that are very similar to my own collection with the omission of riff heavy screams from long haired metal heads who are mad at their cat. 

The Brewery serves their own beers on cask, keg and bottle.  Also on offer is a limited selection of wines, spirits, ciders and locally produced mead. 

The beer available is down to what is being currently brewed by them.  Beer Nouveau masterly blend together historic, traditional and contemporary styles to produce beer that is of great quality, with an ephemeral palate of flavours and also good value.

One of the most memorable and beautiful tasting beers I have drank was Beer Nouveau's Lite Wit, a wheat based beer that defied all the preconceived notions of the style.  Instead of a boring banana and clove tasting affair I was treated to a sublimely complex subtle spice and berry tasting beer.

*The image of comedy character 'Bugger All Money' is used without the explicit permission of comedian Harry Enfield.  I would like to state that any legal proceedings would be best avoided as they could potentially result in a loss of legal costs due to the fact I am fooking skint and can pay bugger all money out. 

Monday, 5 November 2018

Beer talk talk.

Going back about ten years ago a relative, well an in law said to me "Beer is for drinking not for reading or writing about".  At the time I wasn't a million miles from that mindset however, obviously this definitely isn't the case now.  I've tried to keep this blog as practical as possible, who is selling what and is it any good.  That withstanding please allow a little discussion on the label of 'Craft'.  

So what is Craft?   It seems far more of an elusive term than real ale, cask and bottle conditioning, which a lot of the times does make a better beer.  Craft doesn't have to be real ale but, in my humble opinion, it  helps.  It can even be lager, just not big corporate brewed by the billion gallon batch and pasteurised, made with five pence worth of ingredients per pint and then shoved full of additives lager.

"Oh you like beer do you Bevis? American Beer? Same here! Bud, Coors Lite and Miller".   Perhaps this statement off a former work colleague shed a little light on the craft label.  The word beer has been so associated to pretend pilsner that ale and quality lager needs to be distinguished by a term of its own.  For me Craft beer, basically has to be supremely good, so working in my regular theme of 'do you get better beer paying more?'.

I put £9 into a budget supermarket Lidl  purchase and £9 into a purchase from Didsbury independent bottle shop The Epicurean.  The former bought a Belhaven Craft beer Discovery Pack of six 330ml bottles.  The latter bought three genuine craft, local, small batch 500ml bottles.

The three bottles from Epicurean are Cheshire Brewhouse's Bugtown Brown and The Revolution Will Not be Televised alongside Torrside's Say No to Cake.  The cold hard facts are that the Belhaven box sets provide 1.98 litres of beer and 11.9 units of alcohol.  Whilst the three bottle conditioned microbrewery beers give 1.5l of ale and 7.9 units of alcohol (or one pleasant night of drinking).  Let's start with the budget supermarket box set.

Belhaven's 5.2% Scottish Ale.  A bizarre flavour of unfurnished Shredded Wheat biscuit, it is not wholly unpleasant just not my pot glass of beer.

Belhaven's 4.8% Craft Pilsner. Tastes tinny and I consider it a flimsy, flaccid waste of calories and alcohol units.

Belhaven's 5.6% Twisted Thistle.  Slightly weaker than the standard issue of this beer and fractionally stronger than the European version.  What we have here is a competent IPA with some noticeable grapefruit tasting hops. Decent.

Belhaven's 6.5% Speyside Oak Aged Blonde Ale. Sublimely sweet with a subtle caramel flavour.  It is an ale that is both delicate and also complex in a very relaxed manner.  The flavours however could go unnoticed if drank after an aggressively hoppy beer.

Belhaven's 7% Scottish Oat Stout. Quite a harsh charcoal flavour, not unlike burned oatmeal toast.  This I like, but the big alcohol strength and dark, dark flavours don't have the stout bodied substance to it, I wouldn't say watery but decidedly lacking that aspect.

Belhaven's 7.4 90 /~ Wee Heavy. Well, a full on Scottish style that gives the full malty toffee flavour. Outstanding in this collection.

Overall you have one great beer, two fairly good, two barely above average and one abysmal lager.  It would be quite a smart little introduction to the varied flavours of different styles of beer.  But to anything more than a new comer on the craft scene, you would be better off individually sourcing the better bottles. On to the genuine, small batch, bottle conditioned ale.

Cheshire Brewhouse's 5.5% Bugtown Brown. I must warn you, American Brown Ale is pretty much my favourite style of beer and Cheshire Brewhouse is pretty much my favourite brewery, so I'm not sure this can be classed as 100% impartial.  Of course I love this ale, it's a joyful affirmation of life.  With such complex and complimentary flavour elements as chicory, un-roasted coffee beans and dry roasted nut coating.  Balanced in every sense, I cannot recommend this beer enough.

Torrside's 5.5% Say No to Cake. A beer inspired by Sticky Toffee Pudding referencing Brasseye?  That is going to generate massive expectations!  But Torrside is a brewery that is so adept at whetting the appetite and making good on those promises. Incredibly, not a sickly or heavy beer, this is a great easy drinking mocha slanted UK brown ale.  Highly enjoyable. 


Cheshire Brewhouse's 5.4The Revolution Will Not be Televised.  A New England IPA (a murky, orange juice looking beer full of citrus flavour) that has clearly present Brut IPA notes (dry Champagne like elements).  There is a lot going on in this bottle and it is all wonderfully citrus bliss.

Unsurprisingly I am going to recommend a trip to The Epicurean for three bigger bottles of beer that both qualify as real ale and genuine craft over stretching that £9 over six bottles from Lidl or nine bottles of their slightly above average budget craft or 36 cans of economy bitter.
You get a relaxed beer session of both UK and US styles and so much flavour and body in those ales.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Yesterday I got so old,

but you know what, getting old ain't so bad.  There's nothing new in this post, well there is a new chapter of a favourite story.  One of my favourite ale tales is that of what in my humble opinion, is the best beer festival ever.  The Independent Salford Beer Festival, now onto it's fifth instalment.

It has been my honour to serve beer for all four of these beautiful, hand crafted, small batch artisan events.  It hit the ground running and the first could be held up in equal esteem as the last.  This is probably down to the sound organisation skills of Jim Cullen.  A man who knows not only good beer but also, probably more importantly good beer people.  I could wax lyrical over the four years of awesome beer brought mostly from the North of England, served at the funkiest festival.  However as I like to keep this sharp and relevant I would rather gear this section persuading you into attending the upcoming Revenge of the Fifth event.

At this time there are only tickets for Thursday night and Saturday night on the 29th of November and 1st of December.  Eighteen pounds will get you admission, official glass, program and £10 of beer tokens, with profits going to charity.  Your ticket will also provide access to the friendliest beer festival, alongside  exclusive beers from collaborations not seen outside of the event and no doubt live music.  But the beer itself, the beer.  All brewed by microbrewers, nanobrewers, brewpubs and ale legends that will this year include Belgian stalwarts De Ranke.  Served via cask and for the past couple of years on (evil) keg (filth) have been a wonderful balance of truly obscure styles, new takes on regular beers and of course more traditional fare.  The Salford Beer Festival has seen Sorachi bubblegum stout, beer made from fermented tea, whinberry mild and more double IPAs, IPAs, pale ales and porters than you could shake an official festival glass at.  Treat yourself, it's well worth it, and what could possibly be better than beer served by me?

Also nothing new is re-branding and that's what Aldi has done with their 330ml budget craft range.  In my 'Budget Craft Supermarket Range' post I put up reviews & photos, that have now all been renamed, thanks Aldi.  Hopefully having the brewery of origin at the neck of the bottle will mean that without the anonymity, quality will be kept up to avoid any detraction on the makers name.  The beers remain priced at 99p for a 330ml bottle and here are the two beers that I was most curious to see if any change with the re-badge had taken place:

Brain's Dark Matter.   Formerly named 'Spill the Beans: Coffee Porter' which was one of my top recommendations for budget supermarket beers.  Dark Matter has intensified the coffee, increased the dark chocolate element & bolstered it's body.  This has claimed, or reclaimed my title of best budget supermarket beer.

Sadler's Jesse James.   Formerly named 'Land of Liberty: American style IPA' and both really highlight that dubious use of the word 'style'.  Kind of, sort of, in the vicinity but to be honest not exactly.  Think 'olde fashioned style lemonade' where they try and sell you additive full, Aspartame sweetened pop with a picture of a Victorian drinker looking lovingly at a glass of tasty lemonade made with sugar & lemons.  Thankfully  this new variant has slightly more detectable hops giving a minor improvement with the flavour, not enough though for me to suggest you buy to try.

Brewed under licence and also a re-badge Marston's have another go at recreating
Devils Backbone's American IPA.  £1.79 for a 500ml bottle from Bargain Booze.  The malt base flavours are improved and hop wise there is more citrus, but what they are improving on is the tastes of a UK IPA.  Progress just not necessarily in the right direction.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Episode IX: The Beer Returns.

I bring you the ninth instalment of my advert free, ever so irreverent, pragmatic Manchester based beer blog.  Are you not entertained? Are you not amused? What? do I amuse you? Like a clown? Forget about it!

So I return to beer drinking after a ten day break for health reasons, because I'm sensible like that, me.  Presenting the main matinee feature 'Skol vs Lost Lager'.

Now, cards on the table, let me be brutally upfront here.  Skol is made by Carlsberg, a corporate macro machine I hate with a vengeance.  Lost Lager is made by Brewdog, a brewery that in my opinion put money and hype before good beer, bores me something rotten.  In all honesty the table is slightly slanted in Brewdog's favour.  Skol is not only 2.8 percent, sold in cheap cans and here reduced to clear. Counting against of Lost lager is that a 660ml bottle costs £2.80 whereas £1 delivered 880ml of Skol, admittedly reduced not a RRP.

Considering all the negatives Skol is the surprise winner, an average tasting lager with a surprising body despite the low alcohol content. Lost Lager loses due to a pretty similar end result of a fair to middling quality pils but with the massive detraction of a peculiar perfumed palate.
What isn't a shock is the round up of the beers I've sampled recently, purchased easily.

Redwell's Ghost Dance, £1.29 for a 330ml can from Aldi.  Doesn’t really pay proper respect to the proud Native American tribe or the proud Native American hop. Like your average, everyday American beer, but in an alternative universe where the craft movement never happened. Dull.

Hawker's IPA, £1.79 for a 330ml bottle from Marks and Spencer's.  Sold as reduced to clear, so might not be around for long.  The aroma is old time health food store, the flavour is candied peel and carob. It sounds all wrong but somehow the end result is so right.

Thornbridge's Green Mountain, £1.80 for a 330ml can from Tesco.  I take it that a Vermont IPA is a session New England IPA, this being cloudy and in the mid four percent alcohol strength bracket.  In any event this is a great tasting beer that has so much citrus juiciness proving Thornbridge should can their wares more often.

Thornbridge's Florida Weisse, £1.80 for a 330ml can from Tesco.  Described on the can as a hazy raspberry sour.  It is hazy but the sourness is so overwhelming,  I lost any fruit flavour.  I really like sour but I found this a struggle.  A very sour fruit sour, sour. Did I mention sour? SOUR!