Burns o beer
on Wednesday 25th January I went up to celebrate Burns Night with Wee Fatha, as is customary.
He usually manages to get an all Scottish beer selection but even combining the beer choice of Sainsbury's and Morrison's there were few to be found. That said, I was very much impressed with the ones that he did get from Sainsbury's, a few details of which are below.
Wolf Brewery Battle of Britain ale 3.9% (RAFA) RAFA bottled beer
Williams Brothers Caesar Augustus Lager/IPA hybrid, 4.1%
Ridgeway Bad King John Black Ale, 6.0% BCA Ridgeway brewery info courtesy of Quaffale.org
Innis and Gunn ale, 6.0%
Brewdog Hardcore IPA 9.2%
I would have put a link on for the Williams Bros beer but they seem reticent to say much about it, and reviewers were almost exclusively supportive yet underwhelmed. I did find one review from another beer blog which is here : Folk & Ale review Sainsburys beer challenge beers. I liked it though, it was a nice beer to have with the meal (haggis, neeps and tatties, what else?) but my one gripe was that the cold filtering or lagering process succeeded in creating a lager flavour and texture but the hops added at the end failed to make it anything like an IPA - 5.6% and twice as many hops would have worked better perhaps.
The Innis and Gunn was quite warm as we'd had it out in the room for a while and this suits the creamy honeyed flavour perfectly.
The Wolf was a very average beer am afraid, admittedly I can't think of any charity beer that's been really nice - remember those ale by numbers Tolly Cobbold offerings from the nineties? I suspect the beer is marketed with almost anyone in mind, so the taste is wilfully safe and inoffensive in order to be mildly enjoyed by anyone purchasing it.
The Ridgeway was a real strong dark ale, very malty but with such a giant flavour it didn't really matter that there was little trace of hoppiness.
The Brewdog Hardcore IPA, was, well, as you'd expect, an awesome orangey explosion of dry biting bitterness and warm citrus that demanded you drink it slowly.
Overall WF pulled off a great Burns evening and the beers were the perfect compliment throughout. It appears that the lager/IPA was one of the Sainsbury's beer challenge winners so they may be selling it for a while yet, but the range is very good, so it may be worth taking a look for your self.
Note - Morrison's did have a Scottish beer - McEwans/Youngers Champion Ale. Its OK for what it is but its been around so long and is so widely available that I'm glad WF went with the other options instead.
I was in the above on Thursday for a meal with family, and selected a few of the ales on offer. I had pints of Thornbridge Pica Pica oatmeal stout, and Top of the Hops, which despite no information to support this, am sure is a Cropton beer. Both were well kept and really enjoyable ales. Wee Keefy went for the Wooden Hand Pirates Gold from Cornwall, which was as sweet and malty and uninspiring as I remember it in bottle, but its good to see it so far from home.
As usual I had an inevitable stop off at the 1854 where my tipple of choice was Deception again. It was a bit lively so I had it served without the sparkler - its always interesting to see how a beer changes its character without a foam topping and I was ccertainly able to detect more of the floral and citrus hop notes which I think are intended to be prominent, but are sadly, often lacking in this beer. A pleasant change.
I also found time to prop up the da-bar in da-da (etc). Pub Scrawl was on good form and I also got chance to sample a Raven IPA and Kill Your Darlings on keykeg, which made a nice change. I was quite smitten with the Darlings, but its notable that the Raven was less of a nice drop. Interestingly, I preferred the Raven in cask - the colder and more carbonated keykeg version lacked some of the balance of the cask version and was a little harder to drink. Barkeep Jamie suggested that some beers are better suited to keykeg dispense, a view shared by a few of the newer micro brewers for instance Camden Town.
Personally, I enjoy the chance to try the more lager and Belgian style beers on keykeg, and also to compare the contrasting versions. This means I will have to try a half of Jaipur on keykeg, which I have to say is not something I am hopeful of enjoying, having had some that was stood in Dave's cellar for 6 weeks before now, and some when it first came out and was regularly cloudy, both of which still remain the best versions I ever tasted.
More beer news later kids!