The Friday Pint 2 #8 – Craft Beer Rising

This afternoon I was in attendance at the Craft Beer Rising festival at the Old Truman’s Brewery in East London. I was there with fellow blogger, and fellow organiser of the forthcoming Birmingham Beer Bash, David Shipman (@othertonaleman), to talk to some of the brewers on our target list. The good news is there was a lot of positivity, and I’ll most likely be talking about the event (taking place on the 26th and 27th of July) more in future weeks.

Prior to heading to Craft Beer Rising, I met David in The Cock Tavern, Hackney. It was in there that I found the first real challenge of not being able to buy beer. Before now, I have either not been into a pub, or I’ve avoided the kind of pubs that have tempting beer lines ups. Fortunately, for me, The Cock Tavern has a nice selection of ciders, and I just so happen to like cider, so I opted for a half of cider to pass the time.

As for the festival itself, I enjoyed it as a trade show, yet I’m not sure it quite works as a festival. I’d like to be there for the general public sessions tomorrow to see how the crowds move around and interact. We sampled a fair amount of beer this afternoon, some we were already considering, and some we may be considering more than we were before.

It was good to see some old faces, and it was good to meet some new ones. Hopefully when it comes to July, The Bond Co in Digbeth will be just as full as the Truman’s Brewery was this afternoon. If it’s not already in your diary, save the date now, and be sure to follow @birminghamcubed on Twitter for the latest updates.


The Friday Pint 2 #7 – Noble Lager

This week I’m using the first of my ten passes, mainly to have a few beers from the fridge of The Albion (see TFP2 #5). Before I reach there however (at the time of writing I have four hours until my friend finishes work, and joins me for some of the beer) I’m in another Winchester pub, waiting for food and drinking a beer that is new to me.

A quick bit of research tells me that Noble Craft Lager is in fact part of Green King’s range. You wouldn’t think this to look at the labelling on the bar, or indeed the list of beers on the Green King website itself. Does this change my opinion of the beer? Not really.

Firstly, I feel credit should go to the team who designed the label on the pump. As I said, there was no mention of Green King on there at all. I’m sure all breweries with a reputation for producing “dull brown ales” or in Green King’s case, a “dull IPA” are aware that there are vocal groups of people who don’t particularly like their beers. I’m also reasonably sure that as long as there is an equally large or larger group of people who do like their beers that these breweries are unlikely to really be bothered. After all, as the saying goes you can’t please all of the people, all of the time.

As for the lager itself, I’m finding it hard to determine whether I don’t like it, or whether it’s just a taste I haven’t acquired yet. As a comparison with other English lagers, it’s certainly not as immediate as Meantime and Camden’s lagers, both of which I loved within the first taste. Noble lager smells different, it tastes different. It’s “brewed with a wicked and fernicious hop” the glass it’s been served in proclaims.

I think the main issue here is the gap between initial expectations and what the beer actually delivers. As I work my way down the glass and get used to it, Noble Lager doesn’t seem that bad. Having said that though, it still doesn’t convince me enough to rush for another.

I’d like to know what the hop is that Green King have used to get the aroma and flavour, and also see what tasting notes the brewery have put out with the beer. A brief search for “Noble Lager” and “Green King Noble Lager” returned not a lot of useful stuff in the first few pages. It seems strange that a beer that would normally be accompanied by a big marketing fanfare has somehow passed the Internet by.


The Friday Pint 2 #6 – Something about something…

The problem with not buying beer and also having to work every other Friday is that I currently sit here struggling to think of what to write.

This week I’ve been planning a special brew, an American Barley Wine hopped with Amarillo and Flyer hops. As it’s a brew that could potentially be bought out on special occasions, I’m looking at bottling it in 750ml bottles. Naturally, I want them to be brown, especially with the planned amount of hops going into the brew.

Could I find anywhere selling the bottles I’d have liked? Not at all. It looks likely that my best option will be to buy 750ml bottles of Leffe from the supermarket for around £2.50 and reuse these. This poses me with a dilemma. Does this count as buying beer, or does this count as buying materials and equipment for home brewing, which I am perfectly allowed to do?

It also means I’ll be drinking a lot of Leffe over the next few weeks, which should tie in nicely with when my Flyer IPA (which was tasting rather good when I checked on it last week) will be ready. The IPA will be bottled on Tuesday, whilst the Perle hopped version of “This Means Nothing To Me” will be going into the fridge for conditioning.

Next Friday I’ll be using the first of my ten exceptions to drink some of the beers in the fridge of The Albion in Winchester, where I spent last Friday drinking cider and whisky (among other things).

Until then, I have little else to say. Happy drinking readers.


The Friday Pint 2 #5 – You can all drink again now

It’s February.

That means for those of you who decided to make January a dry month you can now start drinking again. Was it worth it?

Whilst I didn’t make January a dry month, I believe I did end up drinking less than usual. This is in no doubt a good thing, both in health and wallet terms. Whether this is a result of the not buying beer project, or merely a result of not going out to avoid spending money I’m not too sure. Either way, I’m happy with how January went.

The one thing I said I would be continuing to do this year is visit pubs. As well as serving beer, they also serve a range of other drinks, both alcoholic and non alcoholic. Today I’ve stopped off at The Albion in Winchester, which is situated a short walk away from the train station.

I’ve been in here before, it’s been tidied up a bit since then. Last time I was here it was more like a traditional pub, the kind of place I’d go when I wanted to go somewhere and read a book more than drink. Since then it has been tidied up a bit and given a nice repaint. The sun shining through the large windows gives the place a nice feel. It’s small, and seems more like a cafe than a pub, but it seems right.

On the bar sits three cask hand pulls, currently all with Otley pump clips on. Alongside them are taps for Guinness, Bacchus, Vedett, Erdinger, Amstel, Asahi and Aspell. As the only non beer on the bar I go for a half of Aspell. Whilst sitting here drinking it and writing this post I look up at the large selection of whiskys that are perched upon the shelf above the bar. A dram is certainly tempting.

Tucked away in the corner behind the bar, underneath the coffee machine, is a fridge filled with a small selection of bottles that would make any beer geek smile. I’m tempted to use one of my exceptions here, and I will, at some point in the year.

As I finish this post the pub has a nice atmosphere about it. Two conversations blend in with the music and the occasional clatter of a knife and fork on a plate. I could sit in here all day if I had the time. Maybe I should make the time one day.


The Session #72 – How I Love Beer

Are we really a month into 2013 already? I guess we must be, as it’s the first Friday of February, and with that comes another round of The Session, the monthly communal the_sessionblogging event that is this month hosted by Ryan Newhouse at Montana Beer Finder.

With Valentines Day not far away, Ryan has asked us to write about “How we love beer”. He points out that he asks “how” and not “why”. They are two very different things.

I probably won’t be the only person to do this, yet it seems to fit in with the subject, and the romantic timing of The Session, so here goes, How I Love Beer, an Ode to Deliciousness in a Glass…

Delicious yummy, lipsmacking beer
Ales, lagers, sour geuze
The many forms of my favourite booze
Oh how I love you
In your oversized glass
Exposing the aromas to my nasal passage
Teasing my tastebuds with potential delights
Sometimes you’re wrong, but most you’re just right.

Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer
Beer here
Beer there
Beer everywhere
Beer at home, Beer alone
Beer with friends, Beer with food
It’s all good.

A wonderful rich imperial stout
A beer with such magnificent clout
Such wonderful flavour
For my tastebuds to savour

I love beer, and how
I’m even thinking of beer now
What to drink when I get the chance
To feed this insatiable romance