Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Old Craddock

Now I've done something I don't normally do with this one and waited untill the day after to write up the blog.  Also hello again, I've had a break from blogging about beers and although my current audience is fairly limited I hope that one day it won't be and people will go back through these past beer blogs.  Old Craddock is a beer from the Lakes District, particularly Hesket Newmarket in Cumbria.  I have blogged about beers from this part of the world before as it is something of a hotbed for micro breweries and this is something that excites me as a growth industry.  Anyone who has never visited The Lakes is urged by myself to do so, it is gorgeous and has many fine pubs serving the local brews.  This is my first beer from Hesket Newmarket Breweries and I was pleased to learn that there are several more to try.  Perfect excuse to get up to The Lakes this summer!

 So the beer itself, the colour was a cloudy caramel one.  The cloudiness came from the bottle conditioned sediment which is something I love.  You could pour the beer very carefully and avoid the cloud but I did not, in fact I often use the German method of rolling the bottle with the last bit left in to stir up the bits for maximum flavour.  The nose was very interesting and by that I mean hard to read.  It took a good few sniffs but the scents came through and it was lovely.  There was some sweet malt at first which I did not expect and have not come across much.  Dried fruits and spices are not unexpected and where rich and full.  The overall rich juiciness was very pleasant and developed.  After a while a surprising peachy scent came through which delighted me!  
The first sip had summer fruits in it which I would expect in certain red wines but not in a beer it was fantastic though.  There was some resinous caramel flavours which I expected from the colour and really helped give this beer an all round quaffing quality.  The spices from the nose developed in to very smooth flavours and were really tasty.  To finish up some mild hoppyness.  Anyone familiar with my blog will know about my love of frothy fizzy beers but this one had a very low fizz with little frothiness.  It didn't really detract form the overall beer which I would have again anytime but not before I've tried the rest!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Ilkley Best

Ilkley is a small town in West Yorkshire not far from me and like many small towns in the north a small brewery has found great success. This current trend of small breweries brewing traditional ales and gaining the kind of success that not only sustains them but lets them grow really does put us in the midst of a golden era. Ilkely best is their flagship bitter and as a traditional Yorkshire bitter is certainly lives up to the beers its rich history has delivered in the past. This is a beer I received as a gift and thought it was enough of a departure from my usual fare of darker and/or Belgian beers I usually gravitate to to get a different blog then usual. I have recently started working for Buon Vino wine shop, the beer section though not large is stocked with a good few beers which you won't see many places so you can expect to see some interesting beers in this blog.
This beer though, it has a rich amber colour almost copper really. It isn't to different from bitters of its type but has an edge that does set it apart and had me intrigued. The nose was very different, very clean and fresh you could say it almost had a soapy edge but I wouldn't want to put you off as it defiantly smelt like a beer with some background hops and a little spice. The taste was again very soft and round with some toffee there somewhere. It was very dry and resiny bitter with some toasted malty flavours, decent length and a really good quench. The fizz was good and it had a decent froth. This beer is defiantly recommended and I look forward to trying more in the range, especially the stout.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Poperings Hommel Bier

After concentrating on darker more local beers I am again going abroad and once again am drinking Belgian beer. I don't know why Belgium produces so many fine beers but I'm very glad and thankful for their efforts. This is a beer I came across several years back and when I went looking for it again I found out it was not very well known. Thankfully I small but fantastically stocked shop in Settle called Buon Vino managed to order some in for me and have been stocking it regularly. The colour then, a rich golden straw with just a hint of cloudiness to it. The nose is something highly intriguing, strong biscuit and yeast dominate with a sweet almost golden syrup edge to it. It turns out Hommel not only means hop but also honey in Flemish so the sweetness is no surprise. The taste was at first overwhelmingly biscuit and hoppy whilst being very smooth, it was also really quite buttery which led to it being quite shortbread like. Shortbread is something I am very familiar with and so when the biscuit flavours and the butteryness came together to form a shortbread flavour I was thrilled. The finish was slightly dry and incredibly moreish, this beer comes in a rather small 25cl bottle due it being 7.5 % so being so moreish could be quite dangerous. This bottle size is not strange in Belgium due the locals drinking these for pleasure and not for downing one after another and I have to say they are on the right track. This is a beer to be savoured it is complex and has great depth, it is well worth rolling it round and round your mouth. These lovingly crafted beers need to be enjoyed lovingly to get the most out of them and seeing as how there is so much to get out of it it won't be a waste of anyone's time. As you can tell I would highly recommend this beer if your lucky enough to come across a bottle.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Wood's Shropshire Lad

An interesting little beer today, another that was purchased for me on my families travels so thank you very much! Wood's isn't a brewery I had heard of but upon researching them a little they are a big deal in Shropshire, they have a range of beers and I hope to be able to taste more soon. I imagine it'll be the case that I will see them everywhere from now on but that's often how it goes. This ale was brewed to commemorate a series of poems which the beer is named after and then the beer quickly became their most popular and therefore flagship ale.
Looking at the back of bottles isn't something I usually do, especially if I intend to blog about it but I did read the label on Shropshire Lad and was intrigued to see it claimed a smell and taste of pear drops! Being a fan of traditional sweets that had me quite excited so lets get on with the review. The colour in the photo looks fairly average but the photo often doesn't do the beer justice and that is certainly the case here. When held up to light this beer has a truly gorgeous reddish purple colour that I haven't come across before and had me quite excited. The nose didn't have pear drops in it I have to say but was strangely sweet in the way you might possibly describe pear drops as. Perhaps I'm being unfair but pear drops for me have an unmistakable aroma that wasn't present here. There was the scent of boiled sweets but generically so. Lastly a background hoppyness which comes as no surprise. The taste had a huge wave of burnt toffee which isn't highly unusual but the depth and clarity was, if a burnt toffee bitter is what your after then check this out because they nail it. There was also hints of cinder toffee which particularly pleased me and a general dry hoppyness which again is to be expected really. The fizz was really excellent, I mean truly so with a frothiness that went on and on. Really good bitter this, a beer that leaves you thirsty and at 5% its not really a session ale either so be careful. If you see this beer at least have one, I can't give it a general overall recommendation as I don't think it would be for everyone but as a beer enthusiast I wouldn't want to miss it.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Traditional Porter Tesco Finest

Last blog I talked about how supermarkets are releasing beers from established breweries with their own labels on them. This beer is another great example of that, Tesco finest traditional porter does not tell the tale of this beer fully. Harviestoun brewery from Scotland is home to many fine ales but I suppose I only know this as a beer enthusiast. This is a another excellent example of a brewery gaining exposure without having to spend big, the benefits of releasing under the Tesco name and not having to market and supply this beer under their own steam must be well worth it. I really hope this kind of relationship becomes more common because the amount of microbreweries opening and producing really fine ales is getting higher all the time. Having this kind of outlet as an opportunity for getting beer out there must be an enticing prospect for any brewery. So the beer in question, a traditional porter, again it's right up my street! I will in future branch out with some different styles but I haven't this time so here goes. The colour as you can see is very dark, almost black really with the slightest tint of ruby red around the edges. The nose had a lovely sweet tinny fragrance with the minerally mellow coffee flavours you would expect. There also seemed to be a slight whiff of bonfire to it which was a nice surprise. Chocolate in porters is no surprise but the very definite dark chocolate taste was very welcome, with so many soft sweet choc flavours prevalent these days the bittersweet flavours were a real pleasure. It was quite dry with a touch of oiliness which I wasn't expecting but was undoubtedly a plus. A mild coffeness on the aftertaste finished this beer superbly. The fizz was quite mild but a nice froth complemented this beer well. Due to this beer being a Tesco beer I imagine it is available nationwide so get out there, get a bottle and enjoy. Heck get a few it's only a 330ml and I reckon you'll want a second at least!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Cheshire Chocolate Porter

Some of you might recognise this beer from M&S, it's part of the range they have brewed for them by proper breweries and then stick an M&S logo on the labels. I have no problem with this as they use some excellent breweries and I it gets exposure for the breweries who don't have huge marketing budgets, Tesco do the same and I will be blogging about one of those in future. This particular brew is produced by Frederic Robinson Ltd at the Unicorn brewery in Stockport and for anyone who might be familiar with my blog it's right up my street. It is a beer I've had many times and I was once told by M&S staff had been stopped, fortunately for me it popped up again and I've taken that chance to blog so here goes. The colour as you can see is rather pale for a porter and has a gorgeous pale bronzey brown quality with the usual reddish hints around the edges. The nose is largely malty, a very smooth malt with the unsurprising chocolate notes rising through it. There was the merest edge of coffee and a nice sweetness that doesn't always come through the nose with chocolatey porters. The first thing that hit me when I drank it was how incredibly smooth this beer is, not just a little but but massively so! It slips down far to easily and then the soft chocolate flavours start and they are surprisingly long lasting. This is not the most chocolatey porter I've had but it might be the most drinkable to date. Again the sweetness came through at first but the finish is a little bitter and a touch dry. This is defiantly a beer where I would be reaching to open a second of after the first had been finished and so is highly recommended. The only thing that I would say that might possibly be construed as negative is that it isn't very complex but not every beer needs to be, you don't always want complex and when a beer does a few things this well who needs it to be.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Kelpie Seaweed Ale

Upon seeing this in the shop I was immediately excited! Being a fan of all things marine a seaweed ale seemed right up my street. The beer is a old recipe from Scotland, back when it was first made the hops and barley they grew were fertilized with kelp seaweed now though they add fresh seaweed to the mix and it shows. I didn't know what to expect from this ale and when I poured it out I was pleasantly surprised to see it come out so dark, my love of dark beers has been mentioned in this blog several times but I really thought this beer would be lighter. As you can see from the picture it is a lovely deep brown and when held up to the light there were some lovely red ruby hues coming through. The first smell didn't give the seaweed away except for maybe a touch of sea air, I was shocked to get chocolate and malt on the nose and the minerally edge that I would expect from porter or stout. This beer was a real learning experience for me, I don't claim to be an expert on beer I have lots of learning and tasting to do, which is brilliant but I'm not an expert maybe one day if I keep on drinking and blogging! The first taste put one word in my head, seaweed. Uninspired perhaps but they set out to make a seaweed ale and they damn well did it. Seaweed isn't something I've had lots of experience with but enough to know what I was tasting. The chocolate I anticipated came as an after taste as well as some maltiness. The thing that surprised me most was the sweetness of the it, not a chocolatey sweetness but a lighter less creamy sweetness. The fizz was excellent nice and strong and frothy, complementing what was a very smooth and well rounded beer. For only 4.4% it was quite warming as well which I enjoyed. After finishing the beer though I couldn't decide how to recommend it, it was certainly enjoyable and interesting and I have no complaints. I did feel decidedly like I wouldn't want another, at least not straight away and that for me is the mark of a good beer not a great beer. Yes they have succeeded in making a very drinkable beer with an ingredient I wouldn't expect and it surprised me which was great but I can't shake the feeling that I probably won't seek it out again anytime soon. Like I said, a good beer but not a great beer and with so many great beers out there waiting to be drunk I can't give it my personal high recommendation. Should seaweed beer sound particularly exciting to you though this is a fine example and worth adding to any beer enthusiasts list of beers they have tried.