Friday, 23 December 2011

Gtuttgarter Hofbrau Christmas Ale

Another beer that was given to me! This is brilliant, this beer though I would have purchased myself only excepting for I've never heard of it before! This was given to my Brother in law who got it off a rep who came to his work, he works for the Mercedes F1 team so lets hope he gets more German beers. Brewed in Stuttgart their hofbrau range is quite wide but being the festive season a Christmas Beer bottle found its way to me. Lager is something I've always had more trouble discerning flavours from than ales due to the fact I think the way it's made allows for less diversity in flavour to develop. The lower temperature means there is less happening to the ingredients and you therefore get less happening in the result. Please don't take it that I don't like larger, I love lager. There is a great range and variety but compared to the multitude of tastes you can get from ales it doesn't quite compare. This may rile some lager lovers and that's great I'd love to discuss the merits of lager versus ale. That would only end in us admitting that one without the other would be a terrible shame and lets just get on with drinking the stuff. So the beer in question, a lovely golden straw colour. The first taste was dry with a mild biscuit flavour which surprised me a little but was very welcome. It led to a slight sweetness developing and the lovely clean crispness you would expect from a well crafted German lager. The fizz was strong and frothy just how I like it from lager and quite biting when several mouthfuls were taken. All in all quite standard for German lager which I suppose suffers from the high expectations that go with the words German lager. I really enjoyed this beer, it was never really in doubt. If you see a something from the Gtuttgarter Hofbrau range give it a go you can't really go wrong.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Hoggleys Northamptonshire Bitter

Okay so we're back to Hoggleys. After the last review I emailed them with a link to my blog because their website says they always want feedback. They seemed really chuffed to read my kind words, times are tough for them at the moment apparently so hopefully they'll enjoy this review as well, as I certainly enjoyed the bitter! As someone who enjoys darker or unusual beers this bitter isn't something I would normally pick up of my own accord. Not because I don't enjoy classic English bitters but because I don't usually find them to have as greater deal of diversity as my favored tipples. This beer was bought for me so it was an interesting chance to review something I wouldn't have chosen to myself and I was very glad for the opportunity. Lets get stuck in. The colour was paler than I personally would expect from a classic bitter but the image doesn't do justice to the lovely deep amber tones this beer had when held up to the light. The nose was biscuity, this isn't strange for a bitter but it is a strong biscuit aroma and sets up the first taste really well. I'm not done with the nose yet though, this might sound unusual but there was an earthy smell. It was in no way unpleasant and suited the biscuit smells, surprisingly pleasing earthy tones to be honest. The first mouthful was at first hoppy, that's a good start. The biscuity smells translated to a butter biscuit taste with a touch of caramel, the finish was dry and a little sour. Only a touch sour but enough to give the dryness some depth, the butter biscuit flavours really shone through on the finish. The fizz on this beer was strong and biting and when a big enough swig was taken it frothed up fantastically. I can imagine that you get the idea I enjoyed this bitter, I thought I would enjoy it but the complexity was a real surprise and my appreciation for Hoggleys brewing skills has increased once again, I look forward to making a point of trying the entire range and bringing bottles round for my beer loving friends to experience. Well done Hoggleys.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Hoggleys Solstice Stout Review

Hoggleys brewery is pretty much next door to where my sister lives down south. I say pretty much next door, in the same neck of the woods. You don't get this beer round Lancashire which is a shame because everything I've tried from there has been excellent. This is the first time I've had the Solstice Stout and I had to blog about it because even though I drink a lot of stouts and enjoy them hugely this particular stout needs to become more widespread so this is me doing my bit to spread the word.
First things first, the colour, pretty standard for a stout in that it's very dark. Almost black but the deep browns can be spotted round the edges so no surprises there. The smell had the distinctive metallic notes you often get from traditional stout, this one had rich coppery tones. The first sip was outstanding, chocolaty flavours are very common in stouts but not like this. It was as near to thick rich chocolate mousse as you can get without eating chocolate mousse, with the added bonus of being beer and bringing with it all the lovely beery tastes we all know and love! It really is quite amazing how much this tastes like a choc pudding. There is a slight bitterness which first made me think it could be described as having dark chocolate flavours but this bitterness turned into the slight coffee like aftertaste which is again typical of beers of its type. This is a very smooth and thick beer which like any traditional stout has a good fizz on it, being bottle conditioned it had plenty of bits in the bottle which of course made there way into my glass. These chewy bits are full of fantastic flavours and although yes quite fattening are full of nutrition. Hopefully Hoggleys will spread across Britain and become available in most beer shops but until then you'll have to take my word for it that this one is fantastic.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Delirium Tremens Review

Welcome to my second beer blog, now it's a series. This beer is one I had some years ago and never forgot, seeing it at Byrne's I had to get it agian for this blog. This beer is Delirium Tremens which is Latin for 'trembling madness', a violent sickness brought on from alcohol withdrawal! Great name for a beer. It is 8.5% and very pale with a slight cloudiness. It is very much bottle conditioned with three different yeasts going into it's production leaving some tasty chewy bits in your beer. Held up to a light it has a pale golden straw colour with the slight cloudiness giving it an air of mystery, well I thought so anyway. The nose has the familiar citric notes you can expect from many Flemish beers and an unexpected sweet honeyish background. The taste is unexpected and excellent, initally smooth and slightly sour the honey tones come through first with a set honey sweetness this is followed by a lemony tang which then gives way to a warm satisfying finish. The fizz of the beer is not a heavy one but what does make it through is pleasing gentle. The bottle is very distinctive, meant to emulate cologne ceramics, if you see one grab it. A really excellent unusual beer which fully deserved its award as the Worlds Best Beer in 1998 at the World Beer Championships.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Rodenbach Grand Cru.

So I went to Bryne's wine shop in my home town of Clitheroe to peruse the usually interesting beer selection. It did not disappoint, although £2.29 is quite expensive for a 330ml bottle of beer at 6% abv I had not seen it before and I love to try new beers. As you can see from the picture it is quite dark which you might expect from a Belgian ale but this was not reflected in the taste. Anyone familiar with Lambic beer will be aware of the citrus sour flavours these beers are characterized by and although this partciular beer had the citrus zing it was followed by a much sweeter taste than I was expecting. The nose gave off strong peach aromas with the unmistakeable citrus zing. The first sip was amazing and was only outdone by the pleasant sweetness that followed. I was expecting sour and to be fair to call it outright sweet would be wrong but I must say in the grand scale of Flemish brewing this is definitely sweeter. It did not taste as dark as it looked, it had the consistency of a more golden/amber beer which led to me drinking it a little faster than I would the darker ales due to the heavier warmth darker beers usually carry.
After drinking and thoroughly enjoying this beer I did a little light reading on it and found it commonly described as winey, I can't agree with that maybe it's just me but the notion of this beer being sour and winey was not my experience and I drink a lot of beer and consider myself to be pretty good at identifying various flavours and styles. Still if we all agreed it'd be rubbish wouldn't it. I'll end with this, should you have the chance to try this beer do so. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Back after a while.

Thought I'd start with a picture in hope of catching peoples eyes and drawing them into the less spectacular aesthetic of plain old text. So yeah I've not blogged in ages so I thought I'd kick off with some of my feelings about my fave hobby Reef Keeping!

Reef tanks are always a work in progress and require what I like to call RUD. This stands for Research, Understanding and Diligence. This alone will not keep your reef ticking over there is also the elusive sixth sense which needs developing. As you keep tanks like this you gain an understanding of what needs doing and how and it is not always explainable. You can take as many readings and fulfill as many standardized parameters as you like but the feel you get for your particular set up and the creatures in your care is what will ultimately determine your successes. This isn't to say that any one aquarists sixth reef keeping sense is infallible, far from it. The dreaded tank crash can strike anyone no matter how well attuned you are to your setup. What I am trying to say is that although it may at first appear that a hobby which included large amounts of biology, a sizable amount of chemistry and a very decent dosing of physics it isn't an exact science. Life is a tricky and chaotic thing (as Jeff Goldblum taught us in JP) and reef keeping is as much about having an unknowable feel for it as much as anything.

This view will of course be condemned by many other reef keepers, its a highly divisive hobby. Much arguing goes on online as what works for one person doesn't work for another, no two tanks are the same. Which I believe just adds weight to my argument but the internet is infested with trolls. Sod em though.