Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Tap Takeover - Weird Beard

Sat 26th Sep had been marked in the diary for a while, a boys day out (i use the term "boys" very loosely) - which for me usually means beer, football, beer, football, you get the idea.
Saturday's plan required a bit of tweaking due to the England v Wales rugby match (don't want to talk about it) and a tap takeover at Colchester's favourite little boozer - The Victoria Inn.
The taps were taken over by those lovely people from Weird Beard, purveyors of hop forward, yet deliciously well balanced beers. Not only did they have their beers on cask and keg, owner and head brewer Bryan Spooner (and native of these parts) was present telling us a bit about the beers, followed by a short Q & A with my fellow punters.
I made a point of trying all three of the cask beers as I have never got hold of their beers on cask before and one of the keg choices:
Mariana Trench 5.3% - American and New Zealand hops fused together to provide a nicely balanced very drinkable hoppy American Pale Ale (Cask).
Hit The Lights 5.8% - An English IPA using English and European hops, nice fruity citrusy hit on the nose and the palate (Cask).
Five o'Clock Shadow 7% - A no nonsense American IPA. Big, bold, hoppy and bloody delicious (Keg). This one was my favourite, but, at 7% decided to only have the one!
Black Perle 3.8% - I don't like coffee, i don't drink coffee, i do drink this though. Slightly sweet and bitter on the palate with coffee notes on the nose (Cask).
They also had Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja, a 5.5% pilsner on keg, in honour of all those people who use excel reguarly to balance the books, but as i had tried it recently i let my mate have that one - i am pleased to inform you that he enjoyed it.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit on Saturday, well done to all concerned.

For those of who live in Colchester or are visiting, pop into the Victoria Inn, you won't be disappointed and if you want more information, please read this, an excellent blog by my friend Justin.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

My Beery Week

I have three events I would like to share with you this week.
The first one was a rather intimate affair on Wednesday at an Off Licence called Liquorice, based in Shenfield, Essex. I have rather an affection for the humble Off Licence, having lived above an Unwins for 12 years so it is good to see an independent one thriving in this day and age. An excellent selection of wines can be found, as well a fantastic selection of gins and other spirits, however, it is the beer range that pleases me the most - both real ale and craft beer sit side by side in bottles and cans (I now have Ebony & Ivory in my head).
It was the craft beers that 7 of us got to try in their tasting room at the back of the shop, along with some curry and naan breads from the local Indian restaurant:
Table Beer by The Kernel Brewery
Jack of Clubs by Wild Card Brewery
Negra Modelo by Grupo Modelo
Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja by Weird Beard
Smog Rocket by Beavertown
Timmermans Framboise Lambic by John Martin
A few of the beers were new to me - Jack of Clubs and Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja, which is always pleasing, as was hearing the comments of my fellow beer drinkers.
All of the beers could all be purchased in store, and I thoroughly recommend a visit if you are in the area.
On to Thursday, and a visit to a Welsh Beer & Cider Festival in Lewis Cubitt Square Kings Cross. This was presented by Green Man and was the first time they had set up a festival at this venue.
Now, some of you may remember Kings Cross of old (I do, I worked on the Euston Road in the 90s), well, many parts of the area have had a facelift and Lewis Cubitt Square has certainly benefitted from what can only be described as urban regeneration.
There were 109 beers and 41 ciders on offer, you could purchase 1/3, 2/3 and full pints (although one guy behind the bar was convinced you could only buy 1/3 pints or pints, however, everyone else behind the bar was ok when I ordered 2/3 pints), the beers were numbered in the programme and on blackboards above the bars which made it easy to order/serve. These could be paid for in cash or by tokens (1 token = 1/3 pint) purchased online in advance, in fact there was a choice of packages, and, entry to the festival itself was free. Music, workshops, and food were all on offer and the programme that accompanied the 4 day festival was nicely laid out. Plenty of seating was available and there were a number of portaloos too.
There has been a lot of talk recently about beer festivals, and the price point of said festivals - this one I would say got it just about right, I paid a fair price for what I drank.
Incidentally, my beer of the festival was Silures by Celt Experience, a very nice American Pale Ale which didn't stray into IPA territory.
Well done to all those involved, I hope this becomes a regular event in the calendar.

Next and final stop was my annual visit to the 29th Chappel Beer Festival at The East Anglian Railway Museum, on Saturday. This is most definitely one of the highlights of my beer calendar, I have only missed one Saturday in the last 10 years. The setting as you can see is rather nice, and, it is also an event I share with my son, in fact on the Saturday a number of families can be seen which makes for a very friendly atmosphere, especially if you get nice weather (British summer, so, can be a bit hit and miss). There was also a lot of fancy dress this year - Star Wars characters being especially popular.
There is a small entrance fee, however, if you are a CAMRA member, entry is free.
A festival glass is £3 (refundable, however, I always keep mine), then you buy a beer card which makes the process when getting your beer cashless and simple.
This event runs for 5 days with the Friday night being a ticket in advance only affair. A word of warning, by the Saturday, stocks are running low, although you will be pleased to know that I managed to get by during the 5 hours I spent there, leaving only to waste my time watching my football team.
Beer highlights were Jarl by Fyne Ales, a single hopped ale using the ubiquitous Citra hop. This beer packs loads if flavour and character into it's 3.8% abv. In contrast to Jarl, the Audit Ale at 8% by Lacons was a delicious slightly sweet (think marmalade), but, not cloying Barley Wine, well worth a try.
To be honest, I didn't have a bad beer, and, all were in good cask condition, so, well done to all the volunteers - I'll be back! 



Wednesday, 2 September 2015

SX Bottle Share No.8 - 1st Sept 2015 @ The Ale House in Chelmsford

Well, that really was a fun evening, and, to think I was in two minds about whether to attend or not……

This was the 8th time the @sxbottleshare *crew/massive/gang/collective (*delete as applicable) had gathered on the first Tuesday of the month, oh how the months have flown by and it would appear from the list below that some of us are already preparing for the winter months, although that could just be a reflection of the rubbish summer we have experienced to date!

Many of us were there at the beginning and some have been ever present, not me though, I have missed a couple due to one of my other loves - running (5k race series in Harwich). That being said, we usually have at least one newbie, and, Tuesday was no exception, however, with our common interest of beer it doesn't take long for us all to interact, firstly at the bar, then at our designated table, kindly reserved by the @Alehouse_Cford

For those of you who don't know how a bottle share works, here goes:
A group of like minded individuals meet on a regular basis, bring a bottle to share, open, share, drink and discuss.
Simple really, which is often the way with the best things in life.

Personally, I think there are a few things that make the bottle share a very enjoyable experience (in no particular order):
  • Variety of beers
  • The people
  • The venue
  • The badges (I am an Untappd fan...all about the badges) 
Tuesday was no exception, we all had a lot of fun, tried some great beers (looking at you here Tom), some interesting ones and a ghastly one (what were you thinking Shaun??).

I am very glad that I decided to pull myself away from the Transfer Deadline Day events on Sky Sports News on the last day of my annual leave in order to attend.

Rather than provide you with our tasting notes, I have listed the beers below and just for fun who presented them. However, we all tappd the beers in, so Cyberspace contains our thoughts on all of the beers below.

The beers we tasted:
Fyne & Wild Cool As A Cucumber by The Wild Beer Co collaboration with Fyne Ales (Saison/Farmhouse Ale) - Shaun
Summer Street by Trillium Brewing Company (American IPA) - Tom
4Beans by Sixpoint Brewery (Imperial / Double Porter) - Tom
Samuel Adams American Kriek by Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) (Lambic) - Justin
Wilde Leeuw Cuvée Spéciale Vieille Brune de Flandres Vieillie en Fût de Bourbon (2014) by Brasserie du Pays Flamand (Flanders Oud Bruin) - Martin
Barrel Aged Daydream by Siren Craft Brew collaboration with Mikkeller (Stout) - Mark
Broeder Jacob Double Espresso by Brouwerij Broeder Jacob (Belgian Brown Ale) - Matt
Jaipur X by Thornbridge Brewery (Imperial / Double IPA) - James, this month's newbie
Highland Ale by Innis & Gunn (Scottish Ale) - Steve
Put It In Your Pipe by The Wild Beer Co (Smoked Beer) - Clayton

If you get the chance to organise or attend a bottle share - go for it, you won't regret it.

The SX Bottle Share (early in the proceedings!) minus official photographer, thanks Steve.