On Saturday afternoon I headed out to Kent to catch up with a mate of mine Neil who is about to emigrate to Australia. As it was getting on the afternoon and we fancied a feed we headed out to a cosy country pub near him called The White Swan where I opted for a Hearty Ploughmans lunch and a pint of Summer Perle (3.8% abv) from the Westerham Brewery. Summer Perle is a summer golden ale similar in style to the other summer ales I have been coming across over the last few weeks. The beer is a pale golden colour with medium bitterness and designed to be consumed at a slightly cooler temperature. Westerham originally brewed Summer Perle for the 30th Annavesary (Pearl Annaversary) of the CAMRA Canterbury Beer Festival where it was a sell out. The popularity of the beer was again demosntrated at the Maidstone Beer Festival and the beer has now been added to the portfolio as a limited special summer seasonal. The beer is quite dry and imparts a fruity, floral flavours which are derived from dry hopping with the Perle variety of hop (hence the name). Overall a nice summer beer but probably not up to par with some of the other beers of similar style. Website:http://www.westerhambrewery.co.uk/
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
After what seemed like the worlds longest hike through the Cinque Terre I encountered G. Menabrea E Figli (4.8% abv) at a small canteena on a train station platform! I was in desperate need for some rehydration so basically this beer went down a treat. The beer is a pale pilsner that is quite bitter for a thin bodied beer. According to the bottle "G. Meabrea E Figli is a “birra blonde” brewed in Biella, Italy since 1847, and so it is enjoying its 150th anniversary!" Well someone at the brewery can't add up! To sum this beer up, a truly random beer, that was a truly random find. Website
Friday, June 20, 2008
Whilst dining in Monterosso I finally struck what I considered to be micro brewed gold! Birrifico del Golfo (5.0% abv) is a Golden Ale brewed in nearby Le Spezia. The beer is a hazy golden colour with a slight cloudiness due to either astringency from the mash (ie leaching of insoluble tannins in to the wort) or yeast. I personally think that the haze can be attributed to both as their is a slight astringent taste upfront. Besides this shortcoming the beer was essentially pretty good! I can't find any more information besides this as its probably been knocked up in some amateurs backyard, but then who cares!
In a beer sense I found Rome to be a little disappointing. Its a little bit like Paris where the predominant culture is a wine consuming one and unless you know where to go, its hard to find good beer. From Rome we headed to Monterosso in the Cinque Terre for the last stint of our short vacation. Whilst checking out the worlds smallest Spar supermarket I was a little disappointed to find that the only beer they had in the fridge was Tuborg Green (4.6% abv). Tuborg Green is a light and refreshing pilsner from the Tuborg brewery. The beer itself is clean tasting and very light for a pilsner with not a lot of bittering, so it is not a pilsner true to style, but still a highly refreshing beer none the less. The Tuborg brand and its associated products are owned by Carlsberg and thus are brewed for the mass market and are pretty much mega swill, but Tuborg Green is an exception to this rule. Website:http://www.tuborg.co.yu/
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Also whilst in Rome I managed to sample some of the original Birra Moretti (4.6% abv) which was a bit of a let down. I have not really got much to say about this beer. Its pale, its cold, its wet and thats about it! However don't let me out you off. this numpty called Kevin has done a cracking review of the beer which I found via google video. Let him put you off the beer instead! website: http://www.birramoretti.it/
Whilst in Italy we moved on from Positano to Rome via Naples. I must comment that Naples is one of the worst places I have had the misfortune of traveling through and needless to say I won't be traveling through there again! Anyhow after making it to Rome I was scouting around to see if I could come up with something a little bit more exciting than Peroni or Nastro Azzuro and managed to find Baffo D'Oro (4.8% abv) from Birra Moretti (a Heineken owned company). Baffo D'Oro is a premium all malt version of its ubiquitous common lager Birra Moretti. The beer is malt driven and the high malt content in its flavour profile hides away what I suspect is an extremely high level of bitterness, however due to the almost Bock like maltiness it comes across as being quite well balanced. I actually quite liked Baffo D'Oro and in a ways its a slightly tamer/less alcoholic alternative to Peroni Gran Reserva in the Italian malt driven beer sector!
And yes, that is the Pantheon you can see in the background to this photo
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Peroni also produce a "premium" beer called Nastro Azzuro (5.2% abv) which is more of the classic pilsner style with a much more pronounced crispness and bitterness than the regular Peroni. I actually prefer the original Peroni in the red bottle to the supposedly superior Nastro Azzuro. I am not going to comment much more on this beer as basically you can get it everywhere in the UK now and its not very exciting, and its usually really overpriced and consumed by wannabe pretentious suit types! Website:http://www.peroniitaly.com
I have been a bit slack in posting over the last week or so as I have been abroad in Italy taking a well needed holiday. I was optimistic about discovering a whole new breed of Italian beers however I was slightly disappointed as on a whole Italian beer is slightly boring. The first beer I encountered was in Positano on the Amalfi coast just south of Naples. Peroni (4.7% abv) is an Italian lager that is pretty well the standard beer you will find in Italy. Its basically everywhere and there is no avoiding it. When you go to a restaurant you are faced with two alcoholic beverage choices, drinking Peroni or 'putting up with' wine. The beer is of the general generic pilsner style and is neither offensive or overtly bitter, but in saying this I believe that the beer is still leagues ahead of generic UK lagers such as Carling. Overall its a beer worth checking out if you are in Italy! Website:http://www.peroni.it/
Friday, June 6, 2008
The Approach Tavern also has an interesting selection of Czech beers available on tap. It was Chris's round and he selected to go for Litovel Premium (5.0% abv) a nice bitter, grassy pilsner from the Litovel region of the Czech republic. The beer is quite similar to other pilsners such as Budvar and Staropramen, a quality Czech Pils.
My mate Chris's local is the Approach Tavern on Approach Road in Bethnal Green. Thoroughly tired out from our crawl we retired here for some tucker and a few final beers to end the session. The tipple of choice was Fullers Discovery (3.9% abv), a summer blond, golden ale which is extremely dry and refreshing with a stack of wheat malt character. I never really liked discovery previously, but I have to admit that the taste has grown on me. There are some negative aspects of the beer though and some of this comes from Fullers own marketing department. Last year there was a bit of an advertising campaign pushing Discovery with 'Ice and a Slice'! This refereed to the beer being served on ice with a slice of lemon or lime in the top. I think the idea was to snag a little bit of the carbonated cider market which was starting to boom around the same time. The thought of beer on ice makes me shudder! Website
Less than a block away from the Florist is a nice little boozer which has recently been restored called the Camel. Chris and I had worked up a bit of an appetite at this stage and were on the look out for a feed and heard good things about the pies at the Camel. Much to our disappointment the kitchen was closed when we rocked in, so we settled for a pint of Brewers Gold (4.0% abv) from the Crouch Vale brewery instead! crouch Gold is from the new school of British golden ales and won the award of Supreme Champion Beer of Britain at the 2005 Great British Beer Festival. The beer is an easy drinker and again is in a similar vein to Adnams Explorer and James Squire Golden Ale. Obviously this is the way summer beers are going in 2008. I like it! I'll definitely be tracking this beer down again in the future.
Next up on the East end crawl was a pub called "The Florist".Now upon walking into here I should have known better than to order a Real Ale, however I couldnt resist and ordered a pint of Nethergate IPA (3.5% abv). Needless to say the condition of the beer was terrible and basically I will not be heading back to the Florist in a hurry! The pub itself is kind of substandard with a too cool for school crowd.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
After our pint of Explorer at the Crown we cruised on down to The Palm Tree, a lone standing orphaned building just off the canal in Mile End Park. The beer we decided to go with here was Fullers Chiswick Bitter (3.5% abv) an ordinary bitter with nice caramel character and a fruity hop aroma. Chiswick is without doubt that Holy Grail of the dedicated drinker, a pint that will satisfy all night and yet leave no nasty tricks behind the next morning. In short, this is the most quaffable pint from a brewery that specialises in such things. I would urge you to go and seek it out, and to berate the landlord of your local if he refuses to satisfy your yearnings for this most elegant of pints. Plus its also nice to have a pint from fuller which embraces EKG hops! Website
I am slowly starting to get back on top of my posts! Last Saturday I met up with a long lost friend of mine Chris whom lives out in Bethnal Green for a quick crawl around the Victoria Park/Mile End Park area. As the Royal (Hackney side of Victoria Park) was closed for a private function we headed across the park to the newly renovated Crown. This pub has seen a bit of change recently. Originally (ie circa 2005) it was an organic pub, this closed down and was replaced by Tapas bar! That venture failed and the pub has been restored into a modern day gastropub with trendy bookshelves and uber cool cow hide lampshades. The ale selection was a little lacking and we decided to settle for the Adnams Explorer (4.3% abv). Explorer is a British interpretation of a summer ale and has been brewed with American hops (Columbus, Amarillo and Chinook possibly??) The beer is light and similar to the East Green, but makes use of hops sourced in the USA rather than locally. I guess its in a similar vein to James Squire Golden Ale, with elements of an APA, but compromises on the bitterness to effectively make it a pleasing lawnmower beer. Overall I was quite impressed by the beer, but the pub decor leaves a lot to be desired! Oh and the website is here.
My mate Rich had birthday drinks at the Betsy Trotwood (a Shepherd Neame house) the week before last and even in my time poor state I managed to scramble along for a couple of pints. My tipple of choice on this evening was Bishop's Finger (abv 5.4%) a lovely Kentish Strong Ale that had been kept in excellent condition. The beer is roughly in the style of an ESB, although I would argue that the beer has a lot more compolexity than other beers in this style. The service at the pub was a little irratic, and I assume the staff were not regulars but they still got the beer out to all the punters. Bishop's Finger can be of mixed meanings in the Clerkenwell area, as there is also a pub by the same name up by Smithfields market. Bishops Finger (the beer) also has a few perculiarities tied with it such as the beer having its own charter for brewing! Apparently the charter states that the beer can only be brewed on Fridays, and then only tby the head brewer in a Russian teak mash tun! It's also the only beer in the world that can claim the beer style 'Kentish Strong Ale', and is brewed with only ingredients sourced wirthin the UK. Keeping with the theme of recent posts, I assume its more environmentally friendly than most! Website:http://www.bishopsfinger.co.uk/
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Recently I sampled Adnams East Greene carbon neutral beer. Keeping with a hippy theme I recently enjoyed Shepherd's Neame Whitstable Bay (4.5% abv) and completly organic ale. This beer definetely doesnt cash in on the carbon neutral aspect though as the hops are flown in from New Zealand adding thousands of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere and leaving a huge carbon footprint. Tastewise the beer is a pretty standrad bitter, but is clean and refreshing and makes a nice summer ale, although it is not specifically marketed as such. Overall a nice beer! Website
Hunting through the international selection at my local Tesco on the weekend i stumbled across Super Bock (5.6% abv). I really should have paid closer attention to the packaging! I was expecting a German style bock, but instead I received pale chemically tasting tramp juice! The beer is actually Portuguese, and I suppose anybody who has been there before would have heard of it. Im just the fool who has not been there! from Wikipedia;
"Super Bock is a Portuguese brand of strong pale lager from the Unicer brewery which produces a range of beers under the same name. Established in 1927, Unicer is based in Leça do Balio, just outside the city of Porto, Portugal. Its Super Bock brand is the most popular beer in Portugal (42% market share/Sept. 1998), especially in the north of the country, and competes well against Sagres and Coral (Madeira) in the rest of Portugal. It is the only beer to have won 15 consecutive gold medals in the "Monde Selection de la Qualite". It is sold in 90% of restaurants and markets in Portugal, and in 21 countries including Angola, Bermuda, Canada, Mozambique, Spain and the UK"
Sounds interesting enough, its just a pity that its euro-mega swill of the worst variety!
At least their commercials actually realise that sex sells!
Monday, June 2, 2008
Adnams East Green Carbon Neutral beer (4.3% abv) recently hit the shelves of my local Tesco and is an amazing Pale Ale and claims to be the first environmentally aware beer from the coast.
This is a beer that I really like. Upon first lifting it off the supermarket shelf I was surprised by how light it is, they have obviosluy gone to the effort of reducing the amount of glass used in production. This accompanied with locally sourced barley and hops have produced a light citrussy session ale, along the lines of an American Pale Ale, but dryer and in a similar vein to James Squire Golden Ale. I have recently aquired another bottle of this and I anticipate that it will be as good as the first! Website here.
Whilst recently searching the Real Ale section at my local Tesco I noticed a new addition to their lineup - Meantime London Stout (abv 4.5%) and I also successfully convinced my wife that I needed to get a bottle! This stout is a throwback to Porter style stouts and is a very good interpretation of what traditional stout porters would have been like. The beer is balanced towards the roasty licorice end of the stout spectrum and whilst not completely dry, has a nice molasses like sweetness, that does'nt protract from the dry roastiness, but certainly seperates the beer from an Irish style dry stout. I think this is an excellent example of a brewery doing the research to identify a product that the market needs and then producing a product and actually trying to meet the requirements identified. This is definetely one of the best beers I have had this year to date.