October 31st, 2012Amber ales
I reckon the UK is on the cusp of starting to take Halloween seriously, like they do over the pond.
And why shouldn’t that be a good thing? It’s an excuse to be creative, meet friends and drink beer.
Especially when the beer is halloween beer, like Spooks from Shepherd Neame. 100% marketing gimmick but then again the whole halloween thing is, so let’s not judge without trying first.
Turns out it’s the sort of beer that would do just fine for a halloween party – deep amber in colour, seasoned with a dark chocolate digestives, a nutty swagger and a dash of lemon juice that disappears in a grave of treacle.
A great companion to apple bobbing but just the one for me please. It’s Halloween and there’s plenty more dressed up beers out there to play trick or treat with.Tags: halloween, shepherd neame
When beer and art collide: Modern Art Oxford’s limited edition green hop beer
Down a dark and wet side street between the less historical buildings of the city’s shopping district, the white washed walls of Modern Art Oxford are accustomed to the strange and gangly structures of modern sculpture. But to the strange and gangly structures of humulus lupulus they are not.
Twisting, reaching, helixing, yearning upwards, the leaf-heavy green bines have designs on the famously spired skyline.
The structures on this occasion are just printed images, but Modern Art Oxford does in fact have a hop garden, just a few miles away at Plot 16, the museums community allotment in the Rose Hill area of the city. And unlike the plaster-cast sculptures on show at the museum one cold Saturday afternoon between Christmas and New Year, the ambitious hop plants aren’t restricted by the white washed ceilings of MAO’s warehouse home.
Since March 2010 artistic collaborators Leora Brook and Tiffany Black have been farming hops. Inspired by the MAO gallery’s history as a nineteenth century brewery, their ambition to grow hops to create a beer from their produce was realised in December 2010 when, after a communal hop picking harvest, Plot 16 was launched in 1000 limited edition bottles.
And the fruits of their labour?Tags: art, green beer, hops, oxford
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5am Saint was one of BrewDog’s less controversial PR stunts. The beer simply didn’t have a name, until ‘Adrian’ popped up on their blog and selected this little gem.
I’d love to carry on the heaven/hell theme that led to the colour of the label, but 5 am Saint is neither angel nor devil. In fact it took me a while to think of it as anything special at all. Of course, it is fundamentally better than picking up a tin of Grolsch from the supermarket…
Some beers simply burst out of the bottle. Some need coaxing and barely deserve the glass.
5am Saint is the former, brimming with energy and instant flavour, as our most BrewDog bottles (but not casks!). Fresh fruit smash your nose via some rock n’ roll hops, smacking you tastebuds into submission. The fruits are floral and fruity; the bitterness is sharp, cutting through the modest malt. Nectarines, roses and summer fruit sorbet turn my nose inside out. This is pleasant in the best possible sense of the word.
This is the 5th or 6th botle of 5am Saint I’ve tried, and it’s by far ‘the best’, full of vigour and flavour. If you try hard enough there’s essences of citrus and herbs (go on, try hard, let your imagination go wild!)
Enthusiasm aside, 5 am Saint still isn’t a beer I’d buy all the time. It took a few bottles and the perfect temperature to achieve the smorgasbord of flavour we knew it was hiding, and even then whilst it’s interesting it’s not satisfying or balanced in the way my favourite beers are.
5am’s perfect place is along side the barbecue beers reserved for chilling low and coolling down on when Britain managed to snatch a day or two of really hot sunshine each year. The colour of the label is probably apt as it’s the perfect partner for the day when you worship the little white ball in the sky, only to return to work on Monday with bright red marks around the fringes of your clothing and a hangover because you stayed up until summer sunrise.
Tags: 5am Saint, BBQ, BrewDog, summer
Beer: 5am Saint
Style: Amber Ale
Last weekend I was pretty much off the (online) radar compared to usual, and in the 2 days I left the twitterverse to its own devices it seems it all went a little BrewDog mad. With the revelation that BrewDog stitched themselves up deliberately over Tokyo, some people congratulated them on a point well proved whilst others bemoaned their tactics and deception.
I understand and to a point commend BrewDog for standing up to some of what the Portman group do, and appreciate they are not the perfect, unbiased solution – for instance I’m not sure that BrewDog’s labels incite anti-social behaviour as much as a Taste The Difference lasagne does. But, I am annoyed that they pulled last week’s stunt: firstly because they ignore the fact that the Portman group is an alternative to state legislation; secondly that they went out to actively ask people in the beer community to defend Tokyo, knowing damn well they’d sent the letter, and thirdly, does it really help an industry that some days looks like imploding in on itself?
As I’ve found with BrewDog recently, the sentiment and passion is no doubt there, but sometimes, execution lets them down.
BrewDog have moulded themselves into a bit of a cult brand, and one that is gradually making inroads into the wider population, with a rebellious brand persona that many supermarket shoppers and beer drinkers will enjoy and tap into. After all, BrewDog are still unique compared to the traditional brewers available in UK supermarkets.
I say cult because there is something dogmatic about following BrewDog, and I’ve no doubt that people hold BrewDog in high esteem. Much in the same way that they look forward to their favourite bands new release or the next big book by an author, people wait in keen anticipation of every move BrewDog make, regardless of what that move might entail.
Which leads us nicely onto Dogma, the second BrewDog beer review in our Sainsbury’s Beer Competition series (especially as it’s the 13th post in this series posted on Friday the 13th!)
Dogma is the reincarnation of Speedball, the heather honey infused beer that gave BrewDog their first really big PR piece just before we kicked this little blog off. Read the rest of this entry »Tags: BrewDog, dogma, guarana, honey, jaipur, kola nuts, poppy seeds, sainsburys