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.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Saltaire Triple Chocoholic

Stout and Porter are decidedly winter ales, I personally enjoy them all year round though. If you are going to try a seasonal beer then this one is a great choice. The hearty warming nature of darker beers such as these do complement the colder darker months, something very comforting about them. Of course chocolate is a great comforter also so if you need something to lift them winter blues here it is! Yorkshire have made great traditional bitters for a long time and in recent years have started making some more unusual beers such as this. Saltaire breweries have been making this beer for a little while now and the first time I tried it I was I was hooked, not literally I'm not an alcoholic! The idea of a chocolatey porter enhanced with more chocolate works a treat, I'm someone who isn't a fan of adding ingredients to the traditional brewing ones used for centuries but in this case I have made a definite exception. They also do a great range of other beers but those are beers for another blog.
The colour was dark, I mean really dark! Lovely reddish brown edges to the main black body but otherwise exactly what I expected and was hoping for. The nose lept out with unsurprisingly chocolate, a real strong milk chocolate. The smell wasn't pungent though it was light and creamy and had a sniff of malt about it. The first sip was different, to begin with there was a swift edge of minerally flavours likely due to the calciums they add. This quickly gave way to the milk chocolate flavours which were fluffy and bright, the finish was dry and bitter but still chocolatey sweet much like a dark chocolate. The end left a mild pleasingly malty flavour and of course a strong chocolatey taste. The fizz was good but short lived, the only thing I could ask for with this beer would be a stronger longer fizz but its not a real complaint. This beer is excellent, if you enjoy a good stout and want something to alleviate the cold January blues give this a go.