Friday, March 15, 2013

Last Day Liverpool

Last Day in Liverpool  MR IC

Now as it was the last day in Liverpool, plans were afoot to do something special. The idea came up of "let's have tried 100 beers in one week;" which seemed pretty easy. MR's count had started at beer #3,595 (Liverpool Organic - Johnny Handsome), and the current count was 3,668 (Newcastle - Winter IPA, Hoppy in the Dark). As 3,668 to 3,695 is only 27 beers, hat seemed easy; however, why not hit a second milestone of 3,700; that's only 32 beers in about 10 hours.

We had a plan (old-school analog, BTW), decent weather, all-day bus passes, iPhones with maps, FitBit activity trackers, 

and lots of Pounds Sterling. And if you think about it, as a lot was 1/2 pints, it's not that much beer. Not really. Well it is.

On the way over, we saw some good beer omens.

Started out with a proper brunch - with beer - at the Welkin. Their eggs Benedict are a great way to start the day, and at the time seemed appropriate, what with Benedict Arnold a part of both American and English history (altho not the namesake of the eggs, as it turned out). 

The place was quite packed, and glad to see we were not the only ones enjoying a pint at an early hour. Tried a:
Hook Norton - Old Hooky (bitter)  [#3,669]
Oxfordshire - Hibernation Ale
WharfBank - Try This
Yeovil - Glory (golden)

Next up was the White Star, a classic Liverpool pub, all decked out for St. Patrick's day. Sampled the:
Arkwright - Trouble a t' Mill (English pale ale)
Bowland - Sawley Tempted
Bowland - White Star Pale Ale (house ale?)
Bowland - Pendle Gold (golden ale, also the 1st Untappd listing for this one)

Next was the Railway Inn, where there was quite a mix of people at lunch, as well as some gentry enjoying a pint. 

As most of their selection of beers had already been tried, only sampled a:
Inveralmond - Tite Head (golden)

Very close by was the Lion Tavern. Sat at the bar and looked longingly at several new ales. Started with:
Robinson's - Dizzy Blonde (lovely golden ale with Amarillo hops)

George Wright - (IPA)
Coach House Brewing - Farriers Best Bitter (ESB)
Burscough - Mere Blonde
Peerless (formerly Betwixt) - Peerless Ale (pale)

Went down towards the dock area, as there are good bars there, as well as cigar shops. 

Took a short stop in at the Bierkellar, hoping to try some good German lagers as a bit of variety. Now this was a bit of a disappointment, as there was not any different, unusual or outstanding beers. The bar is more on an "Oktoberfest every night" sort of place, with long tables, huge beer steins, and all sorts of German blood-and-gore sausages for dinner. Tried the
Schlösser - Alt (ingredients include "hops extract" - yum!)
Dab - Dortmunder

Took a quick stroll to Bridewell Prison, not to visit anyone, buy the old prison is now a pub - Liverpool One. The decor is authentic, fortunately the beers are as well.

Lancaster Brewing - Blonde
Liverpool One - Liverpool Light (pale ale, from a brewery with the same name as the pub)
J W Lees - Marco Pierre White the Governor (bitter)

Took a brisk walk up to Mello Mello, which is sort of a co-op restaurant. As surprise would have it, they were pouring - from America:

Flying Dog - Single Hop Imperial IPA (10%, with Galaxy hops)
Revolutions - Remain in Light (oatmeal stout)

With the beers enjoyed some hummus as a snack. Again from America had both a:
Anchor - Breckles Brown (brown ale)
Flying Dog - Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale

Also had the portabella mushroom sandwich for lunch, which was extremely good. Continued with:
Cains - Fine Raisin Beer (fruit ale, surprisingly good)
New Alloa Brewing / Williams - Grozet (spiced ale, from Scotland)

On the way to the Grape, passed some interesting Banksy-inspired graffiti. 

Also stopped at Forbidden Planet, an amazing sci-fi/comic book emporium.

At the Grapes - which was mobbed - had the
Tiny Rebel - Full Nelson (pale ale)
Tiny Rebel - Urban IPA
Liverpool Organic - American Pale Ale
Liverpool Organic - Liverpool Stout
Tatton - Tatton Ale (nice fresh bitter)

Then to the Belvedere, where we were on the cusp of beer #3,700. 

Started with a snack of a meat pie, as well as:
Adnams - Kristal White Ale
Brimstage - Oyster Catcher (oyster stout) [#3,700]

Then it was out and about to Bar 32, here we quaffed:
Flying Dog - Pearl Necklace (also an oyster stout)
Blue Monkey Brewery - Marmoset (pale ale)

Finishing up the night was at Roscoe Head. Was drawn like a moth to a flame for the
Schnieder - Eisbock (12%)
Newcastle - Summer Ale

Beer Geek Brewery - Geek Unique (bitter)
Great Heck Brewery - Citra (IPA) [#3,706]

So 38 new beers in one day, over 100 new beers in a week, milestones of 3,600 and 3,700 also reached in one week; a great end to a good week of travel.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hump Day UK

2013-03-13 IC, MR

Contacted Phil at the Long Dog brewery in Baskingstoke, and he said he would be in at the end of our work day. His brewery had been visited a year before, but he was not in at that time - fortunately the bar down the way carried two of his brews.

Longdog brewery is located in a small industrial area, sort of shoehorned in at the end. Befitting a small volume microbrew, it's a modest setup; however there is a good bit of room for expansion. As one would read about on Longdog's own site, the owner had been brewing beer for years, and made the leap to commercial production a couple of years ago. 

One can state almost uncategorically that chefs, bakers, and brewers are full of almost boundless pride for the quality of the comestibles they produce. Phil enumerated several of the awards his brews have won recently. In fact if you want to commission a very small batch for a special occasion, there's a small test/pilot batch operation available. Did pick up some bottles of Golden Poacher and Lamplight Porter for later.

Were also able to contact Peter at the Sherfield VillageBrewery at Sherfield on Loddon and stop in. Sherfield Village Brewery is located on a small farm area, as a tenant of a separate business; and not part of the actual farm. What was decidedly odd about the area was a warning sign - the meaning became apparent when the army helicopter churned overhead.

After that shocking surprise, we had the pleasant surprise of the actual brewery. A modest site, to be sure, but the brews brewed are anything but modest. 

Some of the beers eschew traditional English hops, or craft interesting concoctions by mixing and matching English, US and New Zealand hops. Peter was a gracious host, and we sampled:
Wakatu (pale ale)
Hoppy Harrington (bitter)
Mellivora (red)
IPA 2012 (an IPA, from 2012)
Sherfield Porter
Brown Porter (from 2011)
Green Hops Special IPA (first time with a green hop beer)
Left with a bottle of Pewter Suitor to try

Stopped in at the Queens Cottage Arms, who is always good for a pint. Tried the decidedly odd
River Cottage - Stinger Organic Ale
which apparently uses nettles as the bittering agent. An interesting concept but the result was not too great.

Then back to the White Hart for dinner. Spoke about beer and breweries with some of the locals. For dinner savored some really fantastic chicken, beef, pheasant and lamb curry. Besides dinner, also tried:
Bowman - Nutz (ESB with chestnuts)
Kozel - Kozel (lager from Czechoslovakia) and an
Erdinger - Weissbier  [#3,663]

After dinner a small cheese board and a scotch was the end of a long day.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hemel and Basingstoke

2013-03-12  MR, IC

As we were in Hemel Hempstead, stopped by the Red Squirrel brewery to see what was up. 

The place had a nice, new reception/tasting area.

They are not bottling yet, and sell only kegs and "micro kegs" Picked up a Black Jack IPA, and tried their:
Black Squirrel (black lager; a new one for Untappd!)

Also found the Sherfield Village Brewery, but the brewer was out. Maybe tomorrow.

Made it to the White Hart for the evening. Now this place has a fantastic menu, as well as always good beers on.

While enjoying some pork scratchings, had a
Langham - Hip Hop (golden)
Stonehenge - Spire (golden)
Teignworthy - Neap Tide (bitter)
Glastonbury - Love Monkey (English pale)

Enjoyed a small appetizer plate, and as a joke posted to friends that it was "rabbit, wild boar, and badger."

With some fantastic meat pies, savoured a
Moore - Hoppiness (Barleywine IPA)
van Steenberge - St. Stefanus Blonde (Belgian Abbey blonde)

As it was so good, decided the best dessert (if you're a beer drinker) was another Moore Hoppiness with some pork scratchings!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Breweries and Armageddon

2012-03-11  IC, MR

After work, we had time to try and visit a few breweries and pubs before dinner. The first attempt to the BlueBall Brewery was fruitless, as they appeared to be closed. 

This was after several attempts to contact them. Not a good start.

The next brewery was quite impressive. 

At George Wrightbrewing we spoke with Mr. Wright (not named "George") and has a brief tour. His brewery is relatively new, and was formed upon his retirement. It is extremely modern in the sense that a custom-programmed PLC control system "allows you to set up the day's brew from your PC or iPhone(!)" 

This may sound to some like a sterile, soulless way to brew, but the name of the game in any recipe is consistency. It also  maximizes efficiency, in that the boiler will take into account such things as ambient air temperature when heating the water to a boil. 

 So that when you walk in at 9 AM to begin brewing, the water has just reached proper temperature. You have not wasted one Joule of energy. Now that is environmentally-friendly, "green" brewing. 

Picked up for later that night:
Pure Blonde Premium Lager
Cheeky Pheasant (ESB)
Pipe Dream (IPA)

Stopped at the Caledonia, which had some good ales on. 

Also had a great chat with the manager about the Walking Dead TV show, and zombies in general. Tried a:
Box Steam Brewery - Piston Broke (golden; "pissed and broke")
Revolutions - Vienna Lager (quite good)
Liverpool Craft - Icon Dark (London porter)

From there it was a brisk walk to Peter Kavanagh's - and by "brisk" it is meant "snowy and freezing" - for a few.

A very eclectically-decorated interior, led to a nice choice of ales:
Blakemere - Ginger Hop (spiced ale)
Peerless - Crystal Maze (brown)

Then it was back for dinner, with a short stop at the Telegraph. 

Here we learned that BlueBall brewing is still around, but apparently not as active as it was. 

Had a:
Wynchwood - Hobgoblin (ESB)
Osett - Yorkshire Blonde

After dining, had the beer. The beer that went across the Atlantic to America, then due to a DHL cock-up (more on that when the rage subsides) back to the shipper, where it was almost destroyed! 

Anyway, presenting the strongest beer in the world (for now):
Brewmeister - Armageddon 
[65% ethanol, 130 proof] (classed as an "Ale, Scotch, Suicide")

So how is it? It does not taste as strong as the ABV would indicate, nor is it as thick. Both the former and latter may be to less impurities, due to the nature of the "freeze fermenting" which removes water, said water containing solids as well. Is it worth the cost? That depends on your point of view. If you're a beer fan - absolutely.