Jack hammer

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Another week, another Brewdog beer, Brewdog made their name doing these big bold flavoursome beers. This is a hit and miss strategy for me. Some of their beer are amazing while others fall flat. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground in this regards, this beer is most definitely on the latter end of the scale falling flat with a rather strange taste.

Vital stats:

 

Look:

This beer claims to be a IPA, i don’t understand what Brewdog’s obsession with them is but every other beer they produce seems to be an IPA, despite this being an IPA this beer was very clear in the glass, not very lively and looked quite flat, not to mention a complete lack of head. very strange considering this is an IPA from Brewdog and normally they pride themselves as being over the top.

5/10

Aroma:

The aroma is where this beer starts to fall apart, naturally i got the bitter hops that the bottle promised but i think they over delivered and added a little too much, the more i smelt this the more the beer started to smell like stinging nettles, not a good quality in my opinion.

4/10

Taste:

so i thought that nettle smell was an anomaly and it turns out it wasn’t, this beer tastes of nettles as well, very bitter nettles, this tastes like something Hugh Fernley Whitingstall would serve to people on his TV show while he stands over them while they fake satisfaction sounds. This just isn’t for me, if thats you cup of tea fine but its not mine.

3/10

Value:

Coupled with the unusual flavour, this beer was expensive, i bought it in my local Brewdog and after drinking it i thought i paid too much.

2/10
Session:

oh the session, that part of the review were we discuss the process of drinking lots of this particular beer, this is not a session beer by any stretch of the imagination. that bitter taste kept coming back over and over again and its not pleasant on the first mouthful let alone the tenth.

1/10

In conclusion this beer fails to deliver for me, on the Brewdog website they claim this is bitter and i agree but there is such a thing as too bitter for me and this is most definitely too bitter, both on the tongue and the nostrils, due to this bitterness i didn’t enjoy drinking this beer and cant recommend it to any one currently.

30/100

Elvis juice

1456220704unspecified4so i continue my look at Brewdogs ever increasing list of beers, its almost like they opened an off license close to my house or something, i dont know what it is about the great wet and cold of the scotish countryside that makes these guys so obsessed with IPAs but they seem to like them, they seem intent on making every variety of IPA its possible to make and this week they have made a grapefruit infused IPA that is apparently inspired by Elvis.

Vital statisics

  • brewed in scotland
  • Grapefruit infused IPA
  • 6.5% APV
  • comes in 330ml cans and bottles

Looks:

you know that thing were you get an image in your head and any deviation from that image is somehow wrong, well thats what happened with this beer i think, i will admit that unusually for me i actively went out looking for this beer and if im honest when i read grapefruit i got this image in my head that perhaps it would have a little colour to it, i expected it to be pink if im honest and was disappointed with it when it wasn’t, i always enjoy a little drama with my beer, makes it a little bit more special. saying that though what i actually got was a rather bland looking beer, sure is was golden in colour, like a beer should be but there was very little activity in the glass with barely any head, not things ive come to expect from brewdog. this was very middle of the road.

5/10

Aroma:

this beer was very sweet on the nostril, you certainly get the grapefruit but very little else, luckily for them im a fan of grapefruit.

7/10

Taste:

this is a very strange beer on the tongue, somehow its both overpowering and lacklustre simulataneously. you get the grapefruite and the bitterness of the hops but rather than getting a layered nuanced flavour you get both at once, they seem to fight with each other for supremacy so no one flavour comes across, somehow this beer is both sickly sweet and bitter all at once. ultimately not an impressive thing for me, there such a thing as playing a little too much a recipe and think thats what happened here, there were too many cooks in the kitchen as it were.

4/10

Value:

i honestly cant say that this was great value for money, ultimately this catagory is and will always be about how much we enjoyed this beer and ultimately i didnt enjoy it, i wouldnt get a second of these beers and if i never had one again i’d be a happy man.

3/10

Session:

that sickly sweet flavour is the reason this fails as a session beer, when i was drinking this beer and watching wrestling with my housemate, yeah, i know im so cool, my housemate turned to me and asked while i kept making the face i was, that face dear reader was one of disgust, each mouthful was less pleasurable than the last and i was happy when it was over so i could move onto another beer.

2/10

in conclusion this beer started off promising so much, it comes from a brewer known for doing crazy things, a brewer known for its IPAs but ultiately that hope quickly faded into obscurity, it was too flat for what i expect from an IPA, the taste in the mouth couldnt decide weather it wanted to be sweet or bitter and as a result it failed to deliver on both, the one saving grace for this beer though was the aroma which delivered on its grapefruit promise, the only part of this beer that delivered on that promise ultimatley though. a huge disappointment for me.

42/100

Albino squid assassin

1450369972AlbinoSquidAssassin_1.LEADAnother day another brewdog beer, i’ve not always enjoyed IPA’s, i find the strong Hoppy taste is often overpowering and a little too much for me, too distracting as it were. The acception to this rule is the rye IPA, i discovered these thanks to beavortown, honestly i’ll drink anything they release at this point, i first discovered this variety a little while ago thanks like i said to Beavor town (review), so when ever i see a rye ipa and always pick it up and give it a try.

Vital statisics:

  • 7.2% Apv
  • brewed in scotland
  • small batch
  • Rye IPA
  • comes in 330ml can
  • bought from a brewdog pub

Looks:

I will admit that it was the art that attracted me to this beer, featuring a squid with a knife. i mean given that image why wouldnt i pick it up? when i picked it up and noticed that it was a Rye IPA and its fate was sealed, i was going to review this beer. In the glass the beer was Toffee in colour with a white white head, about 1 and a half fingers in depth. it was also very lively with a high level of head retention, the head lasted right until the end of this beer.

8/10

Aroma:

The aroma eminating from this beer was heaven sent, a fantastic hoppy citrus god send. you got both a huge kick of hops and that citrus kick we’ve all come to expect.

9/10

Taste:

despite the aroma being so pleasing the taste is a strange beast, i honestly cant place it, it isnt hoppy, theres no bitterness and the rye is no where to be found. all three flavours seem to be trying to be the only flavour and as a result they all fail to deliver. the sensation on the tongue is rather nice though, it has a nice tingling from the front to the back of the tongue but ultimately i was disappointed by this beer.

4/10

Value:

cant really say that this is good value for money, its a small batch beer so it wont be a round forever but honestly go for something else, there are much better options available.

3/10

Session:

although i dont consider this to be a good value for money i cant deny its good session beer, mostly because that taste what little there is isnt too offensive.

7/10

in conclusion the looks and the aroma were all spot on with this beer but the taste failed to deliver, something of a strange occurence for brewdog, there known for one thing and that is big flavour and as a result this beer fails to deliver on that premise. due to its failure to deliver on the taste i cant say this is good value for money but due to its subtle flavour though it can be a good session beer.

62/100

Martin’s 2015 in Review

La Belle de Thongue
La Belle de Thongue

Hullo there ale fans! How are you doing? Had a nice winterval? Before I get going reviewing any more interesting beers, I thought I’d just share a little about the year that’s just passed.

A personal highlight of mine has been going to France in the summer. I’m lucky enough to have family living out there in Espondeilhan who invited me out for a week and, since I’d just left employment, it was a good time to take in some French culture. It was an even better time to try some French beers, though! There’s a wee brewery in the village, called ‘La Belle de Thongue‘ [pictured] that we went in. I tried three of their beers [which was all they did, apart from a Christmas one], ‘Blanche’ [5.8%], ‘Blonde’ [6.0%] and ‘Ambree’ [5.8%]. The first two had refreshing creamy lemon carries [a la Vedett White and summery saisons], whilst the third reminded me of a fresh brown ale, not entirely dissimilar to Newcastle Brown [and that’s one I like – don’t hate!]. They’re genuinely of a better-than-average quality, very tasty and, above all, perfect in the Languedoc heat. After the brewery trip we visited Wanagaine, a newer addition to the town, a cafe-restaurant-pub which is only a hundred metres from the brewery and the perfect place to sit and down enjoy more of these Belle beers, especially during a ‘tapas fete’ they had on one night. I’m still there somewhere, enjoying all that laid back beauty…

Some of the worst news this year has been the massive flooding across parts of the country, and my thoughts continue to be with those affected. We’re fortunate here in Morecambe that power cuts were the worst of it, but just down the road in Lancaster there has been a lot of flood damage. It damaged so much of the town, including a variety of different businesses. Two of my favourite ever pubs [in my top five, surely] have been badly hit [that’s The George and Dragon and The Bobbin], along with music hot spots The Yorkshire House, The Stonewell Tavern and The Juke Joint along with, love it or loathe it, one of the go-to meeting spots The Green Ayre, of Wetherspoons ownership. I know the landlord of The George and Dragon closely [he’s a lovely chappy] and helped him a little bit in clearing out his cellar. The damage could be sickening to look at, and the effect on earnings very depressing [it’s really not a high-rolling industry. You have to make it look and feel like a party, but it’s bloody hard work and can be a thankless task], but in characteristic fashion, he found positives to take from it [i.e. that the cellar needed a clear out anyway] and there has been encouraging support from locals. In fact, he’s already got ale back on hand pull, having only had to rely on bottles for a small while, so passion finds a way. The places that are open in Lancaster are doing a good job in that respect, making do with what they can and continuing to serve the pub-going folk in the area. I raise my glass to them all and encourage the public not to assume that places will be closed – your local businesses are very resourceful! And speaking of service – this story of what one local landlord has done for the historic city is really touching.

In terms of beers, the most disappointing beer I’ve had this year is Odell Footprint [to be reviewed later]. I paid a lot of money for it and have heard that other people really enjoyed it, but the actual tasting of it was worse than underwhelming… On the other end of the spectrum though, I had my favourite IPA of the year, and definitely one of the all-time greats. You’ll never guess where it came from either. Go on, have a go. No. Haha, no, not there either – have another go. Definitely not there! No, it was actually Sweden! Yes, Gotlands Bryggeri brew a wonderful IPA that I’ll review at some point in the future. They also do a Pils and a pale, which I looked at thinking ‘ok, I was surprised by the IPA, but that Pils will be boring, and the pale’ll be lame’. Not a word of it. Both also brilliant. My mouth’s watering just thinking about them, so I’ll either stop that, or start buying more. Come on pay day!

Christmas day itself was entirely beerless [in terms of presents, that is!]. I know Paul got some, but on the twenty-fifth I got something I enjoy about as much as beer – a Beatles book! On a side note, I really enjoyed it, and if you’re a Beatles fan, or know someone who is, then it’s well worth a look. It taught me a lot, entertainment me too and is suitable for a wide age range. Luckily, as well as reading material, a friend of mine who couldn’t get his present to me until a few days later had bought me beer, so I ended up with two Christmases really. He got me three groovy Spanish ales, and if you want to read about them then watch this space! I’ve already tried the one brewed with rosemary and – wow – I’ve never had anything like it before!

Looking ahead, there’s both foreboding signs, and bright hope. My favourite pub in the world, that happens to be my local, is closing at the end of January. Yes, the Ranch House will be turned into another soulless Brewer’s Fayre type thing, of which we already have at least two in town, and another candle of individuality is to be stamped out for little other reason than corporate blindness. I urge you, wherever you are in the world, to try and come down and sample the atmosphere and wares of a wonderfully English pub, a true heart of the community, with a commitment to quality and affordability, before it closes on the 31st. The excellent news is that the landlord will be opening up a new place on Regent Road, not too far from The Ranch, so let’s look forward. Also, if you’ve already been to The Ranch and want to take part in commemorating its glory, there are opportunities via the memories page on Facebook, and via photo sessions happening in the pub.

Lastly, I want to say that there are a few times a year where doubtlessly well-intentioned charities try to, whether strongly or not, demonise drinkers. Events such as Cancer Research‘s ‘Dryathlon‘ [that calls drinking a sin in its ad] and Macmillan Cancer Support‘s ‘Go Sober for October‘ [that has called sobriety ‘heroic’] aren’t bad ideas for gathering money for charity, but often use judgemental language, as I’ve pointed out. Helping out charities is great, but so is helping local businesses. Thusly, I want to spread the word about Tryanuary. If you like a drink, or you want to participate in a local team, or you like watching sport, setting up new societies or whatever, then try your local pub, which probably has a lot of events on that you don’t even need to drink to participate in. Also, I remember many times, particularly at good community hub pubs [like all the ones mentioned in this post and beyond], where landlords go way beyond merely putting a charity collection box on the bar, and host well-structured nights – sometimes putting personal pride on the line to raise a little extra cash – in order to help causes close to their heart. Is it fair that these charities should now use expensive marketing campaigns to, probably inadvertently, cause already struggling business more woes, based on the fact they sell booze? No.

#Tryanuary.

Victory Brewing Co’s ‘DirtWolf’ Double IPA – The Review

DSCN1248Another offering from The Wineyard and Deli that I was very excited to buy and try. I’ve been lucky enough to try a fair range of Victory’s beers and, based on all I’ve tried, they are all of at least an above-average quality.

As you know, I’m quite the hop-head, and this brew is a Double IPA, so you’d expect me to be quite hyped about this. Well, I’ve liked other Victory beers, so why not crack on and see what I thought after cracking open the bottle?

 

Vital Stats

  • 8.7% ABV
  • Brewed in Pennsylvania, USA
  • Comes in 330ml bottles

Look Moody, dark, eye-catching bottle, full of hop silhouettes on a glowing green background. Unfortunately all the brewing blurb is superfluous [a bit of the pot calling the kettle black there…] and could be reduced to ‘we used a lot of hops’.

In the glass, it’s a cloudy [i.e. with sediment] brew. I wasn’t sure if it was off, since the label didn’t mention bottle conditioning. Colour- a light marmalade, with a loose head. 6/10

Aroma Really sweet ‘n’ fruity. Aromatic, even to the point of soapiness [weird, maybe, but not in a bad way!]. I picked out peaches, melons, passion fruit, mango, lemon, maybe a tad of grapefruit and orange, in that exact order. Slight hoppy and wheaty earthiness, but mostly expressive fruit. 9/10

Taste Thank god the bitterness is there – I worried with the aroma that it would be overly sweet. Yep, the tongue tickle washes like a fizzy tide around your gob, and the fruity elements are complemented by a yeasty, fresh malt taste that is surprisingly clear. Big, warming body to this too, could be over-moreish! More grapefruit [typical IPA] and hints of the aforementioned fruits. 9/10

Value This set me back around four quid a bottle [can’t remember exactly how much…]. Yes that’s a lot for me, since I’m a stingy soul, but for the taste and body I’m not going to mark it down much. 8/10

Session I could drink a lot of this, though admittedly it ain’t wise at this strength! The flavours develop in complexity [I started getting burnt notes, sort of caramel, and a touch of vanilla too]. That’s always a good thing when appreciating your beverage, plus they never seemed to get too much for the palate. 8/10

All in all, a great IPA experience. If it didn’t look so ornery, it could’ve got a truly fantastic score, but I enjoyed it a lot and hope you’re lucky enough to try it for yourself.

Final score: 80/100

Shepherd Neame IPA – The Review

DSCN1245You may remember me reviewing the gorgeous Shepherd Neame Double Stout a while back. Well, I made mention of this IPA and completely forgot that I’d actually made notes on it. So, basically, you’re all going to be treated to an extra Shep Neame review – aren’t you glad? Only, if you read the last piece, you’ll know I wasn’t overly-enamoured with this brew.

But everything must be judged on its own merits, right? Everything has its own charm/s, and it’s simply not fair to slap a dull lick of paint over a product without explaining a little more. With that in mind, I’d like to invite you to join me as I tell you what I thought about this IPA.

Vital Stats

  • 6.1% ABV
  • Comes in 500ml bottles
  • Brewed in Faversham, Kent
  • Available on draught from March to May

Look The bottle is a charming, old-style sort of thing – no image, just text.

In’t’ glass it’s a polished coppery brown. Has a big, loose head with nice retention. 7/10

Aroma A lot more of a malt backbone than I was expecting. I didn’t get much hop character in all honesty, certainly not compared to the taste. There’s some grapefruit rind, a sort-of florally expressive quality, but nothing strong or complex enough to interest me. 5/10

Taste With the first mouthful, I thought both ‘wow’ and ‘urgh’. The aggressiveness of the bitter grapefruit was complemented well by the malt, and there was a balance of lightness and sweetness to go with the hard hits. On the aftertaste, I picked up those coppery hops [not a terrible flavour, just out of place. Reminded me of cheap French lager…] and an unpleasant yeasty mask, though I’m willing to accept that may be personal preference. It’s not bad, but I had much higher hopes. 6/10

Value Per bottle, this cost me £1.25. That’s pretty damn cheap, especially when paying for a reasonably high alcohol beverage. So cheap, in fact, I’m scoring it highly, despite the obvious experiential shortfalls. 8/10

Session During the session, the experience develops a bit. I started picking up mellow flavours of peach and candied lemons. It feels light enough for a session, too, but in all honesty there’s an aftertaste that’s too strong for me and I’d rather move on that drink much more of this. I may be being generous here… 6/10

A rare miss from Shepherd Neame. This is the only beer from them that I can say, for me, there’s actually something wrong with the experience. It’s not that it’s just ‘not my cup of tea’, there are actually flavours and a lack of aroma that I actively dislike. Having said that, it certainly won’t put me off trying their beers again, or other IPAs.

Final score: 64/100

Why we have two budweisers

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Budweiser is everywhere at the moment, i have no doubt its because of that truly awful Super Bowl advert, Myself and Martin wrote very long piece in regards to that (here), so I’m not going to retread old ground here, One of the points i brought up there was the fact that we have two companies with a claim to Budweiser name and that somehow i know the reason for that, so i thought that because I’m desperately avoiding doing any actual work at the moment i would explain that process to you.

So last year Anheuser-busch was awarded the trademark for Bud here in europe (here), i know because i read about it and several other things that day, I also wrote about it because i have no real life, It was quite a controversial claim because despite what budweiser would have you believe they are not the only producers of beer in the world, They were not the first producers of beer and they just plum stole the recipe for Budweiser for the czech republic district of Budvar. A very similar beer to modern day Budweiser has been produced and consumed in this part of the world since 1265, Now for those of you who saw that good damn awful bud advert you no doubt aware that they have been brewing beer since 1879. i’m going to spell this out for lots of people, that means Budvar is several hundred years older than budweiser, yet somehow it ended up being made in America.

The answer to why this is down to a strange quirk in early american copyright laws, i want to get one thing straight, Anheuser-busch did steal the recipe from Budvar by modern day standards, They went to the area (then part of austria-Hungary), They tasted it and took it back to America, Now the people weren’t nessacaryily happy about this but had no real recourse, this is down to copyright or lack there of as the case may be. the distance between the two helps but this stopped being an issue sometime later, the world is a lot smaller than it used it be.

Following the American war of independence there was very little economic or cultural power in america, they naturally hid this lack of anything with an open door immigration policy and successive wars because nothing makes money quite like killing a bunch of people. one of the ways the government tried to speed up cultural growth was through very lax copyright laws, and by lax i off course mean non existent. the way the law was applied was justly, if your product was manufactured in america then it was entitled to full copyright protection, if it was not manufactured there then nothing, this meant that many american companies just plain copied their international forebears, this copying was so prolific that many pieces of china from this time are manufactured in America rather than china, this is something antique dealers are very aware of, if your one of those people that watches Antiques roadshow they references this on a couple of occasions, so Budweiser is a shameless rip off and its not until the 20th century with the advent of the internet that many of us knew, so we have two budweisers, original ok budweiser and the headache in a bottle budweiser that we have all grown to hate and its all thanks to a quirk of copyright.

i’m just going to let that sink in for a moment, the reason america is such a cultural powerhouse is down to them having no copyright, the country most obsessed with copyright only got into the place to bully others about copyright was by ignoring others, so why didn’t we fix it when america started recognising foreign brands, the answer to that is a another simple one, The Soviet Union, when the world was asked to choose between the soviets or the americans most of western europe choose the americans and as a result they favoured american brands over soviet ones. this insured that any claim by Budvar would go largely unnoticed within the European union, fast forward to today and budweisers huge advertising budget has insured that they are the only bud in many peoples eyes and thats a shame for many reason, Money really can grow a brand better than actual handwork i guess.