Despite finding myself in deepest Norfolk last week, I found that I had actually picked up a selection of Scottish ales from the various beer outlets around the region. One of these is Trade Winds by Cairngorm Brewery, from Aviemore in the Highlands of the country.
The cask version is a three-time former Champion Beer of Britain in the Speciality Class, so Trade Winds comes with some pedigree and the aroma straight from the bottle displays one of its key assets straight away; a lovely hoppy-sweet scent that appeals to my recently aquired love of the hoppy beers. There is a slightly grassy note present, supported by a sweet fruitiness – most likely from the Elderflower as promised on the bottle.
The inital mouthfeel, considering the richness of the nose, is surprisingly astringent and a little thinner in the body than I anticipated, with a light carbonisation that tickles the tongue. Although these descriptions are generally negative connotations, this isn’t the impression I am trying to generate by using them; more that it is an unexpected experience from the richness promised by the aroma. Flavour-wise, the fruitiness remains, with a slight hint of blackberries that fills out an otherwise sharp, crisp, citrusy flavour. Read the rest of this entry »Tags: blackberry, Cairngorm, champion beer of britain, citrus, fruitiness, scottish, trade winds
October 9th, 2009Golden Ales
On arrival at Sainsbury’s to peruse the finalists in their 2009 beer competition, Birds & Bees immediately caught my attention. The label is modern and playful and stood out from the crowd.
I loved the colour and the illustration and it fell into my basket (placed very carefully I should say) without further thought.
Originally I was going to save this beer but it on an indecisive evening with the light not fading until late into the night, it was this that grabbed my attention again and I plucked it from the shelf.
Not 100% sure what to expect I took care opening it and poured out the golden liquid. It had a light hoppy aroma, and light fruity taste. Turns out it’s a light golden ale! Swill this around and the colour, aroma and the taste combine to make a really appealing golden beer.
The gentle fruit and floral aroma (looking at the label that must be the elderflower and the Cascade hops) is really refreshing. Honey and lemon blossom on your tastebuds and there is a malt finish that adds an unexpected bitter tang to the beer, which is just enough to make you want another sip and makes this an enticing session beer.
Trying this it was actually one of the first summer ales I’ve had and I wish I’d been able to get my hands on some in May or June as this might just have been my proverbial soundtrack to the summer (that typical over in a flash summer we usually have!)
I’ve only tried the bottle but I can only imagine the cask version of this is the perfect pint on a sunny afternoon.Tags: bees, birds, citrus, elderflower, golden, honey, summer, williams brothers
September 16th, 2009Real Ale
Now for the first taste of the MileStone beers I picked up the other day when visiting the Brewery shop in Cromwell. I have plumped for Loxley Ale (4,2% abv), named after the famous Robin of Loxley. I have selected this one first because I am a big Robin Hood fan, not so much the recent offering from the BBC starring Jonas Armstrong, but I am a massive fan of the Kevin Costner movie, have read the Henry Gilbert book too many times than I can count and I even harbour a secret love of the Walt Disney version!!!!
The fantastic MileStone website has tasting notes on all their ales and the Loxley Ale is described as having a ‘crisp lemony tang’ coupled with ‘slight honey sweetness’. Ron recommends either a good ploughman’s or a Korma. I had other ideas. Having tried a few sips I agreed with the website’s decription, the beer has a drinkable sweetness, appearing after an initial citrus tang – perfect to have with a nice summer salad I though…so I rolled back the cool Leeds weather and prepared this creamy pasta salad which I believe compliments the zingy sweetness of the Loxley Ale perfectly.
Creamy Chicken, Chorizo, Leek and Green Pepper Pasta Salad
1 Large Chicken Breast – cut into thin strips
Diced Chorizo – handful
2 Leeks – sliced
2 Medium Green Peppers
300ml Creme Fraiche
Cheese & Tomato Tortellini – two handfuls
2 Little Gem Lettuce – torn into shreds
10 Cherry Tomatoes – halved
Ground Black Pepper (to taste)
Olive Oil (to fry)
Splash of Balsamic Vinegar (to dress)
Warm the Olive Oil in the pan and fry the chicken, peppers, leek and chorizo until the chicken is cooked through (usually about 20mins). Cook the Tortellini in a pan of boiling water until soft. Whilst all the bits are cooking rip the lettuce up, divide between two bowls, splash with balsamic and throw on the cherry toms. Once the chicken is cooked stir the Creme Fraiche in and add the Tortellini before spooning onto the lettuce beds. Serve with a glass of MileStone Loxley Ale.Tags: 4-5% ABV, citrus, Cromwell, honey, Lemon, Loxley Ale, MileStone Brewery, Recipe, Sweet
2August 16th, 2009Lagers
Sagres, Portuguese Lager, 5.0% abv
I am sitting reading the Sunday paper before making my evening roast and have decided to crack open a bottle of beer and get a weekend review up. This particular bottle of beer has been in my fridge for some time. On a recent trip to London I noticed that Sagres had developed quite a presence in bars seemingly as aa alternative to the Peroni/Amstel type lager.
Although I have not seen it available on tap in any bars outside of London, it is now available in some Leeds ale shops and I would imagine that it is only a matter of time before we begin to see it nationally. As such I made sure I had got a bottle to review in order to ensure that Real Ale Reviews were abreast of the game. Hopefully, when this springs up in your local wine bar, you will feel well enough informed to know whether or not to take a punt on it.
The beer appears relatively pale in the glass for a premium type lager, a fact that is justified by the crisp, clean initial taste. This initial cleanness, which almost has no flavour, gives way to a hoppy flavour that lingers throughout the mouthhful and into the aftertaste. This hoppyness is tempered by a mild citrus flavour.
The flavour, while obviously not approaching the levels of genuine premium lagers and real ales, is hoppier than you might expect from a lager of this type. I am a big fan of having different drinks for different occassions and, in a similar way to how I would suggest a lager such as Boags for a BBQ, I would suggest that this would be a really good long night out lager. It has the body and texture lacking from the cheaper Carlsberg/Fosters lagers, while not having the kick of the genuine premium lagers that are perhaps more appropriate to shorter, quieter occasionsTags: 4-5% ABV, bbq beer, citrus, hoppy
August 1st, 2009Pale Ales
Meantime Brewery – London Pale Ale, 4.3% abv, on tap from The Greenwich Union
This is quite a clear pale ale and immedately I could tell that it was well kept which was no surprise given that there was at least one pint on every table. I would imagine that thry fire through hundreds of pints of this a day.
To be honest I was quite worried about getting back on the ale today given that last night was a bit of a blockbuster but, as I sat in the pub garden taking my furst si, this was certainly no chore. The beer was quite flat, I think more so than the bottled version that I have had before, which give it a smoothness that meant it went down really well.
In terms of flavour this beer is tangy, with a citrus bitterness that is far from overpowering. This modest flavour, coupled with the smooth texture, make this what I would call a real session ale.Tags: 4-5% ABV, citrus, London, London Pale Ale, Meantime, Smooth, smoothness, The Greenwich Union
June 7th, 2009Beer Reviews
This is an ale that is increasingly common on UK supermarket shelves and one that you should not overlook this summer, whether it rains or shines. Brakspear’s Oxford Gold pours a golden amber and starts with the scent of honey. It tastes citrusy and gently sweet. A great accompaniment to an alfresco evening after a long day in the office.
Another fine ale from Oxfordshire!Tags: brakspear, citrus, honey, organic, Oxfordshire, summer
June 7th, 2009Real Ale
St. Austell Brewery’s Tribute Ale, 4 .2% abv
I was not immediately taken with this ale and must admit that it was only after I was through two thirds of the bottle that I really began enjoying it. The flavour juxtaposes a lighter, almost citrus, initial flavour with a duller more full bodied aftertaste.
This combination works really well and blurs into a moderate overall taste that is really very pleasing. I found myself glugging at the bottle and, from only being a third of the way down it a when I started taking notes, within a few lines of typing it was nearly all gone, testament in itself.
I suggest you try this beer with a nice chunky handmade beefburger, homemade coleslaw and chunky chips.Tags: 4-5% ABV, citrus, St. Austell, Tribute
June 3rd, 2009IPA
St Peter’s India Pale Ale
Brimming with hoppy character this is an India Pale Ale that tastes like it’s full of goodness. In the mouth it feels natural and has a citrus zest and spicy, malty flavours that linger on.
For a bitter IPA, St Peter’s is actually kind of thirst quenching, helped by a lighter carbonisation and the breweries own Suffolk mineral water.
An IPA with a difference and another fine brew from St Peter’s, rapidly becoming one of our favourite breweries. Hopefully see this and more at Norwich Beer Festival later in the year.
May 7th, 2009Beer Reviews
Adnams East Green Carbon Neutral Beer from the Coast
Adnams have pulled off quite a coup with this ale, as far as I know the first (widely available) beer (marketed as) carbon neutral. And, not just that, this ale fits its category just perfectly – light, golden, crisp; some might say in tune with its natural environment.
Ok, so citrus fruit isn’t native to the Suffolk Coast, but this Carbon Trust accredited number from Adnams ticks a major eco-box with it’s carbon neutral status. Plus, it’s blooming good beer.
My first reaction was to the hoppy bitterness – not at all a bad or overpowering feature – followed by a light citrus tang; in my glass this was gloriously golden amber throughout, wonderfully balanced in colour and taste.
I don’t say this lightly, but this beer is genuinely light and, unless you require a drink fizzier than a Panda Pop on a bouncy castle, surprisingly refreshing.
It certainly washed my ham & leek pasta down better than many ales would and made a very easy-to-drink accompaniment to the night’s Champions League football. I daresay this beer is perfect for long summer nights, especially with its citrus bite and crisp finish.
If I had to score this out of ten I would be looking at a 7 or 8, and maybe a little extra for its green credentials and minimum carbon impact. As a newcomer on the scene this is a fine ale and one that deserves your attention this summer.
Tags: adnams, carbon nuetral, citrus, eco beer, green beer, light