Just what beer do you take to a summer music festival?
With Glastonbury only a few days away there’s a big supermarket trip around the corner to stock up on all the liquid lunches we’ll be needing over the 5 days we spend wallowing in mud, Carlsberg cans and the reverberation of thumping speakers.
But what is the perfect festival beer?
At Glastonbury you can take what you want. Unlike other festivals, once you’re in, you’re in, and you may freely waltz around with your chosen tipple without fear of eviction. Last year one chap had 3 cans of Stella strapped to each limb with duck tape. He was never without a beer.
The perfect drink has to be light. Multiple car trips are not good so you need to be able to pack it in a rucksack, pop it under your arm or balance it on your head for the long walk from car park to chosen pitching ground.
The perfect drink has to be refreshing. If the sun comes out it needs to revive; if the mud rises up it needs to make you feel fighting fit to grapple through the bodies and lost wellies.
This enigmatic tipple mustn’t be too strong. No-one wants to miss the single unmissable act of the day, not drink too much and earn themselves an early retirement to the tent. You want to be up from 11am until 4am, with perhaps a mid afternoon nap in a quiet folk tent near the tippees.
You need to be able to drink all day and never feel under the weather.
And this magic beer (or other alternative beverage) must be passable, nay even enjoyable when warm. In a perfect world it will chill quickly too and never warm up, if nature or some fancy technology (aka cool box) gives you the opportunity.
We could try lager. Widely available in lightweight cans of various strengths. It’s refreshing when hot which ticks an important box, but crucially though, it’s a bit rubbish when not ice cold.
So in case of warm conditions perhaps we should take some ale. Bottled conditioned is an absolute no-no, and even simply bottles are a bad idea. Stone’s Bitter or Tanglefoot anyone? A choice between garish orange or red, unless you want to risk Smoothflow, of course.
Then there’s the alternative solution, cider. Before you conjure images of vagrants and teenagers on a park bench, just remember the criteria.
Not too strong.
Easy to carry.
Suddenly Strongbow seems more appealing than ever…Tags: Ale, beer, Cider, festival, glastonbury, lager, summer
December 17th, 2009Beer Reviews
It has been some time since the prelude to this particular dream was published but I am now finally (and I apologise for the delay) in a position to let you all in on my part of the fantastic experience that has been Beerswap 2009. For those who don’t remember I was sent a selection of refreshing beers from North of the border by Robbie @ I Might Have a Glass of Beer and this is what I thought… Read the rest of this entry »Tags: Ale, Beerswap, Colonsay 80/-, Crystal Pale Ale, Houston Crystal, I Might Have a Glass of Beer, Isle of Arran, Premium Lager, Sherbert, St Mungo
After a hectic day out on Saturday in the bustling streets of York complete with Christmas Market, I needed to relax with good food and beer when I got home. I’d been eyeing up three Harvey’s beers in my cupboard for a week or so and had been planning to drink them all together. Saturday night seemed perfect, with the promise of a hot curry and Christmassy afters.
Harvey’s Blue label
The first of three Harvey’s beers, I was hoping this would nicely wash down a Thai green chicken curry. It’s a coppery pale ale and poured with next to no head. I was expecting something lively from this diminutive bottle, but it was generally flat and a bit watery. Having heard lots about Harvey’s beers my first impressions were a little underwhelming.
It had a really nice, subtle aroma of lemons and limes, and there was a limey tang in the taste. It was super drinkable being soft on the palate with a smooth mouth feel. It wasn’t very bitter (the bottle says a ‘delicate bitterness’ which is an understatement) as you might expect from a beer weighing in at just 3.6% ABV. There was a sweet maltiness in the finish. I believe this beer is dry hopped which may explain some of its character
This did actually live up the bill, kind of accidentally, as it did wash down the green curry well in taste and texture, but I’m not sure this could become a favourite, and I’m not sure I’ve had the best bottle of it. One to give another go… Read the rest of this entry »Tags: Ale, Barley wine, blue label, Elizabethan, harveys, india pale ale, IPA, pale, sussex
Bath Ales Barnstormer beer review
The first time I tried Bath Ales‘ dark offering, I wasn’t blown away. Perhaps I mused in my notebook at the time, it’s too subtle for me. I’d picked it up from Sainsbury’s (and funnily enough research for our latest series of posts shows it was in fact a winner of their beer competition in 2008).
Three months later and my beer experience has been blown wide open, much as a result of this site. I’ve experienced a wider variety of styles and challenged myself to write reviews on new and different beers. Coming back to Barnstormer was a pleasure, because since I last tried it I’ve actually grown quite a passion for darker beers: milds, stouts and porters all included.
This passion started whilst walking the Pennine Way with my Dad in May. The first pub in Edale, The Nag’s Head, served three beers: crudely a bitter, a pale and a dark mild (as I remember it!). My Dad’s enthusiasm at seeing a dark mild (albeit not quite the type of cheap stuff he used to guzzle as a lad growing up in Halifax) made me try a this old-fashioned looking pint and numerous other examples along the ‘Way.
The glory of the darker beer is often the complete opposite thinking to some of the paler beers I was used to. Hops sometimes make a star appearance but more often than not malt is given the pedestal, the starring role and the opportunity to show what it can do.
On its second showing Barnstormer shone for me. Fruits dominate the smell and sweet malt infuses the taste. Burnt embers mingle with the fruity nose resulting in a complex dark bitter that deserves it ‘distinctive’ label. There might be traces of chocolate in there too, that dark, cocoa bean kind.
There’s no doubt the first time round I didn’t think much of this, I must have served it straight out of the fridge or something. Second times around it was much better – this is a fine dark ale with a complexity that’s easy to stomach and pleasing on the senses.Tags: Ale, barnstomer, bath ales, beer, Dark Mild, pennine way
September 26th, 2009Beer Reviews
I learned something pretty important whilst tasting this 7.8% flavourful powerhouse from BrewDog this evening; strong alcoholic beverages (say…6% plus) are NOT designed for quaffing in much the way you do with a mild beer, or weak lager. My history of drinking alcohol is littered with examples of me not particularly enjoying strong beers, wines and spirits because of the light trail of fire the high alcohol content leaves on my tongue and throat as it washes it’s way into my system.
Ok, ok: I should have learnt by now that that is not the way to deal with these offerings. They should be sipped and savoured; explored beyond the taste of the alcohol.
Straight from the bottle, Dogma oozes aroma. There is a sweetness to the scent that reminds of wild berries and somehow defies the dark golden straw colour of the body.
The bottle label promises a whole range of unique ingredients: honey, guarand, poppy and koala nut. After my first oversized gulp, all I could taste (and feel) was alcohol; that warm, overpowering rush that overwhelms the back of the mouth and lets you know that it has been there for a good while afterwards.
So in attempt to find the promised flavours, I went on to smaller sips. This worked wonders. Left to linger in the mouth, Dogma shows it’s sweeter side with the aforementioned berries and honey being noticable. I also sensed a hint of spiciness in there as well, reminiscent of cinnemon. I couldn’t tell you if there was a Koala nut in there as, quite frankly, I’ve never heard of them let alone tried them!
Despite finally working my way through to the flavours in Dogma, I still found it quite a tricky 330ml to get through. Sipping takes a long time and it remains a beverage for those for whom the warmth of a high ABV is a pleasure and not a chore.
If you want to sample some of the new wave of high-alcohol, high-flavour ales coming out of the brat-pack breweries, this is by no means BrewDog’s finest offering, but a great example of how new flavours are being blended into bottled beers with interesting and exciting results.
Now that I’ve discovered a way of drinking strong beverages, I’ve always fancied trying to appreciate whiskies…Tags: Ale, BrewDog, dogma
Right it was day two of the Super 8′s yesterday in the Twenty20 World cup and England took a good old tonking off the Saffers. Let’s see if we could get our own back by pitting one of own nation’s fine ales against the Cape shandy that Smithy and his boys will have been sitting down to last night.
South African – Castle Lager, 5.0% abv
In to bat first is the South African opener. I had mine ice cold, just how I like my lagers on a warm day, but have to admit that it hasn’t really kept it’s cool under the pressure out in the middle. I like the fact that it was flavoursome and malty for a lager, justifying it’s premium tag. It was, however, a little disappointing in terms of texture. Oddly, because I usually find lager too fizzy, this feels strangely flat in the mouth.
Score (out of 20) – Good opening partnership but a disappointing middle order – 8
Blighty – Extra Special ASDA Golden Ale, 4.5% abv
I purchased this beer in advance, hoping the weather would respect the cricket and allow me a clear crisp evening outside on the patio. It did not. Having said that, the beer is actually maltier that it’s golden appearance suggests and, while it is by no means heavy or dark, it has a sturdier backbone than I was expecting. I would therefore say that it is probably more suited to a crisp springtime evening than the strong midday sun.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with this ale and I expect that it is widely, and relatively cheaply, available through ASDA supermarkets. Certainly it is worth a taste to see if you agree with my opinion that, while it does not have the sweetness and finesse required to find itself on any shortlists for great golden ales, it grinds out a solid win for the English code of the game.
Score (out of 20) – consistently above average throughout without shining, ground out the win – 14