Saturday, 24 October 2015

Sobering thoughts !

 “Go Sober For October” said the advertising placards, and those on the radio and TV. “Hmm”, I thought, “Could I take up the gauntlet?” After all, I had had a good Summer of Ales and Beers. So I did. Therefore, that's were I am now, sat in full sobriety, in front of my laptop. With my voluntary prohibitionist challenge now over three weeks into it's 31 day duration, taken up on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support, a very worthwhile charity, I have had a chance to look through my scraps of paper, memo notes on my phone and other indications to boozy afternoons and evenings I have had over the last 2 or three months which, due to time mostly, had been omitted from The Beermonster's Blog. That, I suppose, is something we all find hard to utilise. Time. The measurement of our lives. Time. Harder to juggle with than hand full of eels on a wet day, so this little break from sociable pleasures has given me a chance to wrestle some back. I will not bore you with all the usual trivialities I put into my reviews, but I will try and give you some more honest opinions on the Cask Ales, and bottles which have quaffed of late, and with that in mind, here goes.
My opening part of this post will include the beers I have been sampling in our local Wetherspoon's, The Yarborough Hotel, in Grimsby. There are a few new faces behind the bar here, which is nice to see. The elbows leaning on the other side of the counter, though, never seem to change, only age. The turnover of the brews and breweries is a little hard to determine from one visit to the other, but, usually, the varieties are quite good. Alphabetically, those sampled of late are as follows:-

Black Horse Brewery, “Pleasant Blond” A locally brewed beer, of 4.2%, this Blonde Ale was quite tart, with an almost soured taste. It gets your attention, that's for sure, but the citrus taste was a little too overpowering for me.

Brecon Brewery “Red Beacons”. I was expecting a more malted taste from this 5% Premium Bitter, but found it a more complex mix of fruit, breadiness and soured cherry hints. There was plenty going on in here, with a touch of dry bitterness in the finish, but I am not sure if it quite worked. It wasn't a bad pint, just not for me.

Great Newsome “Holderness Dark”. Now, this was better. A 3.4% Mild Ale which was smooth, almost creamy in the body, with good nutty and liquorice hints. The finish is quite dry, but with a nice bitterness. A very good Mild, a great session beer, which leaves you wanting another.

Kelham Island “Mr Red American Pale Ale”. This brewery is so consistent in quality in the turnover of all their beers. This APA, was no exception. Big malt taste to start,which quickly leads the taste buds to fruit and hops, with large whooshes of tropical fruit, at 6%, this is a heavyweight of a beer. The complexities of the flavours are always there, but compliment each other perfectly. There is a slight pine oiliness throughout, and the really long finish is dry, with grapefruit coming to the fore. This is a thoroughly enjoyable beer, and one of the best APA's I have had.

Lymestone Brewery “Ein Stein” 5% Golden Ale. This Ale is rather like a German lager, but has a punchier collection of tastes within. The first to raise its head above the parapet is biscuit, followed by crisp citrus, with grass and a spicy peppery tingle towards the finish. This is quite a refreshing beer, but just seemed to lack a little “something”.

Newby Wyke “Blackbeerd Extra Stout”. 4.6% I tried this beer back in 2014, but have not seen it since. It is a good stout, but a touch thin, which, I have noticed, seems to be the “norm” nowadays. The flavour is big, malty and choco-coffee in the main, with a bitter-sweetness to follow. The finish displays a bitter dryness. I suppose you could describe it as a session Stout, and quite moreish.

Newby Wyke “Peterborough Gold” This 5% dry, rather thin Golden Ale had a hint of hoppiness, and the finish was equally dry and lingering. The flavours are not prominent enough for me, and I struggled to detect much at all. Unfortunately, it came across rather disappointing.

Ringwood “Showman's Tipple”. This refreshing 3.8% Bitter seems to be popping up all over at the moment. Under the stewardship of Marston's, since 2007, this brewery's core beers are still brewed in Dorset. This brew had strains of biscuit, berry fruit and just a hint of caramel. The finish displays a slight floral hoppiness, It is what it is, a session Bitter. An OK beer for the masses. Honest, straightforward, but nothing special, really.

Rooster's “Wild Mule”. This American Pale Ale, from Yorkshire, is 3.9% and is a pleasant drink. It has a nice citrus aroma, which carries on into the hoppy taste, with just a touch of malt.The finish is very long, with a good bitterness.

Three Castles “Corn Dolly” is a Premium Bitter of 4.7%. The colour is copper, and the aroma and taste, quite malty. Fruit is apparent, but doesn't interfere with the maltiness. There is a slight floral hint in the long, dry finish, and also just a tad of spice.. It is, in my opinion, the subtleness of some of the flavours make this a good brew.

Wychwood “Dirty Tackle”. A bitter of 4.4% which was quite bland, to be fair. It has a hint of caramel, a touch of aromatic spice, but never really goes anywhere. Not a lot more to be said,really.

Young Master Brewery (in conjunction with Wadworth) “Summer of 1842”. Hong Kong meets Devizes. An interesting brew, with a vein of maltiness, tempered with fruit and a slight citrus bitterness. The hoppy finish is dry, tart and not unsimilar to black tea. It is advertised as a session IPA, but this 5% brew does have a more alcohol driven taste leaving you not quite ready for seconds. I thought it was OK, but my drinking partner wouldn't agree.

During this period, before I took the Go Sober Challenge, besides a night out,or two, of which I will inform you of next time, I did partake of a few bottles, and the odd can. Most were from the “budget” Supermarkets. I think that both Aldi and Lidl have really excelled thereselves in the beer selections of late, and the variety is much bigger than it once was. I have managed to enjoy the company of the following beers.

Wickwar Brewery “BOB” 4%, a Bitter which had a nice caramel malt body, with hints of dark fruits. A slight citrus tint in the finish.

Box Steam “Derail Ale” 5% IPA. I bought this for 0.99p. I thought it a touch ordinary, but certainly drinkable. There are hints of sweetness, probably caramel, a slight hopped bitterness, but overall, not a lot going on. I can't be too upset about it though, as the price was a steal, and it was far from awful.

Wooden Hand “Pirates Gold”. This Pale Ale of 4% was quite sweet, with hints of nut and berries. The finish was reasonably bitter and tangy.

Holt's “Maple Moon”. A heavy tropical fruit aroma oozes out on the opening of the bottle, and the initial flavour is more sweet than bitter, but still quite balanced. It remains light, but has a hint of syrup from the maple. Not a bad drop, to be honest. I would definitely get a few of these 4.8% bottles of Premium Bitter in if I see it again.

Robinson's “Unicorn”. A Golden Ale of 4.3%, A reasonable beer with spicy malt at the fore. It is very refreshing with a good bitter-sweet finish.

The Perlenbacher Challenge. Bottle v Can.
Keep taking the Pils...

twice daily with meals 
Back in August, watching the rain slide down the window, I thought this would be an interesting experiment. Sampling the “same” beer in two packages. I nipped out and bought them both from Lidl, the bottle, at 0.87p, whilst the can was 0.71p. There is not a lot of difference to be fair. First the pour. The can had a bigger head, and it lasted longer than that of the bottle. The colour is the same in both, which was not a surprise. The aroma is not huge, but what there is is best described as slightly grassy, but not massive, and a little more concentrated in the bottle. Now the taste. Both have a slight bitterness in the finish, after an initial sweet malt opening., which helps lift Perlenbacher from “just another lager”, but I did find that the bottled version carried a touch more sweetness, and a fresher, slight grassy, taste. I did prefer the bottle, but, surprisingly, both were more than adequate in taste and flavour for a budget priced Continental Lager.

Battle of the Bottles #2  
Tied in Notts
A correction and an apology now from a previous post which, due to me getting my notes mixed, I gave a repeat of my Battle of the Bottles #1. Thick or what ! For this one, the beers in question are both from Nottinghamshire. Springhead “Roaring Meg” versus Castle Rock “Elsie Mo”. Both are Golden Ales, but the Springhead brew is slightly stronger, at 5.5% to the Castle Rock's 5%. “Elsie Mo”, a bottle conditioned ale, is quite floral and malty in aroma, which carries through to the initial taste, with a little sweetness also evident in the main, balanced well with a good bitterness, The crisp citrus back taste leads to a good hoppy finish. It is a decent beer, with a refreshing finish. The “Meg” is cold filtered, but still seems to retain some “living” attributes. The aroma is rather toffee like, with some citrus. The taste is, first of all, roast malt and nuts, with raisins slowly pushing through, and the medium finish is citrus fruit. It is not over carbonated, and works quite well. I find it hard to seperate these two, but, alas, I think the “Elsie Mo” just tasted that little bit more rounded, but I would happily sink a few of either of these two contenders. As I have a few days booked in Nottingham soon, I may well have to try a head to head of the cask versions.

Until the next time, Cheers, and keep it “Real”.

( If anyone would like to donate to The Macmillan Go Sober fund, they can through this link :- )

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