Sunday, 13 October 2013

Quality ale in cask and bottle.


    after the mad roller-coaster of the Rutland's birthday bash, and the orgy of overindulgence that was last weekend, I wasn't drinking Monday Tuesday or Thursday to give my body a much needed rest. Luckily, pre bash and Friday and at other times in the last week or so, I was. Hence :

En route to the Rutty I was in Shakespeares having a "warm up". This is both sarcastic and euphemistic - it wasn't like I needed a warm up for the sport of drinking, and it wasn't as if Shakespeares was warm - in fact it was chuffing freezing! Luckily I had a dark beer to shield me from the frost - A pint of Dark Star Original. This tasted a lot thicker and less balanced than I remembered. It seemed to have a slightly black treacle theme running through it and was much sweeter than I was hoping for. It was still enjoyable, but not what I really expected. I also had a a half of the Mallinsons Brewers Gold to cleanse my palate, which it did enjoyably and effectively.

Friday night myself and Miss N were in the Sheffield Tap. Forgetting that here is a board listing the beers and importantly (hopefully?) the prices (not that I can really see it well enough to read it) I relied on spotting a beer from a brewery I liked. I did just that having spotted an Oakham pump clip (two dumplings were stood in front of it with no way of seeing between them without coshing one over the head) so without knowing anything else, I asked for a half of that - it was £2.40! (cue feigned surprise) The beer in question was Oakham 20. According to their website it is 5.8%. So how in the name of Satan does it manage to be £4.80 a pint? Especially when compared to a 7.0% stout which they had on at £4.00.

No doubt Oakham will be described as " a very expensive brewery" like Dark Star were claimed to be. The extent to which that is a disingenuous explanation forms most of the reason why I didn't bother asking why it was so overpriced. It is a matter for concern that they no longer seem to warn customers of the impending damage either - perhaps my closeness to the handwritten board made it seem like I had already considered the price acceptable. Obviously I checked the other prices thereafter....

Miss N was dispatched to find the next drinks and we went Tapped for safety - the Growler Citra beer was on and it was very palatable although I didn't find out how much it was. This was followed by two astonishingly good pints of the Anarchy Brew Co Breakfast Stout, the 7% one at £4.00 a pint. Not over the top, and the beer was absolutely exceptional. I really can't think of  a bad Anarchy beer I've had and it was great getting to try the first of theirs that I encountered at SIBA BeerX once more, this time on cask. Indeed, it was so good that I forwent the opportunity to try some Fyne Ales Vital Spark that I'd had my eye on.

Yesterday was a day of staying in, apart from nipping to the shops. Asda has got rid of the only interesting beer brands it stocked, namely the Ilkley range and the BrewDog Punk. Seems we Handsworth folk don't like beers with flavour, brewed with aplomb. Either that or not even BrewDog can afford to sell their beers at a loss to the Walmart behemoth. However, in a rare positive development, they have started selling the Shepherd Neame IPA, a 6.1% recreation of an old recipe with a really pleasing vintage style label. These are on offer at 3 or £5.00 so it seemed silly not to get a few.

The aroma is noticeably Sheps yeast and Kent Fuggles. It has a very warming mouthfeel, and its not really particularly pale, more a pleasant caramel orange, of which there are hints in the flavour. It is very hoppy but not citrussy, and easy to drink probably due to the balance of malts. I love a hop monster pale ale any day but this was a pleasant change, especially on a cold Autumn night, and it stood up well to the slow cooked Moroccan chicken stew which we were having.

 Later we had a bottle of the 2007 Fullers Vintage Ale. This is the tenth anniversary brew and it had weathered well. Very well in fact. The surprising feature of this magnificent brew was the extent to which you couldn't detect that signature orangey taste. I have been drinking the Vintage Ales annually since 2000 and although there are subtle differences that orangey yeasty base has always been prominent. This time there seemed much more hops than I recall previously, which after 6 years in the bottle is quite good going.

The hops used in the Anniversary Brew were Fuggles, Target, and Styrian (it says "super styrian" but I wasn't sure if this was a compliment by John keeling or an actual styrian variant!?) and without an older bottle to hand to compare I'm not sure what difference that should make to the overall brew. Whatever the explanation, this was a very accomplished beer that was well worth the lengthy wait to try.

More news to come next week, when I might see some of you at the Blue Feather Brewery Intergalactic launch - the beer brewed in collaboration between Blue Bee and Welbeck Abbey will be launched around 19.00 at The Closed Shop on Commonside. Well worth a trip over.


Wee Beefy

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