Yates Cumbrian Ale might not be your easiest Lakeland ale to find, but if you can find your way to Open All Hours in Keswick or Laird’s Larder in Houghton, you might be able to grab a few bottles. But to add this to your summer beer roster your best bet in the North West is Booths Supermarkets.
Straight away it’s different – manuka honey and lemsip perhaps the easiest descriptors of a grainy, citric and medicinal infused beer.
It’s comfy, reassuring beer; a summer cough syrup combined with a mug of Horlicks; a dollop of caramel and a gentle bitterness; light in alcohol, gentle in carbonation, the beery bubbles removing any cloying stickyness and thus ensuring it’s place as a beer well placed to serve a hot weather session.
Tags: cumbria, honey, horlicks, yates
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One of the brilliant advantages of being a beer reviewer is that you are easy to buy for. So naturally, my parents just knew to look out for new or interesting looking locals beers whilst in Cyprus recently.
They did very well – two large bottles locally brewed ales (and as far as I can tell the only Cypriot beers available) – Leon and Keo were my holiday gifts, so naturally a proper Cypriot beer tasting was in order.
First up, Leon beer; an all-malt beer that was the first to be brewed on the Island from 1937. The scent is rather unusual, but distinctly reminded me of fresh pea-pods and poured similar to a typical run-of-the-mill lager: lively and a pale amber in the glass.
In the mouth, the liveliness caused an abrasion on the tongue that is usually experienced by drinking bog-standard lagers. Unfortunately, there was just nothing in the beer to differentiate from anything I could have picked up from the multipack section of a supermarket. The taste was somehow hidden by the invasive texture on the tongue, whilst the 4.5% ABV was also lost amongst the chaos. It is hard to find anything positive to say about the taste and flavour of this beer.
By contrast, Keo provided a much more interesting scope. I remember enjoying this brand when I visited Cyprus some years ago; it was ubiquitous amongst the tourist bars and was quite an enjoyable pint in the balmy heat of a Cypriot autumn.Tags: bbq beer, carling, cypriot, cyprus, honey, keo, lager, leon
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
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
August 11th, 2009Cider
Fletch is going to be turning in the grave that is the house we used to share for two years but I have formally bastardised IPA Monday in order to have a cider night. Basically the reason for this is that I have a pack of chops in the fridge left over from Saturday’s BBQ and I’ve decided to make that the theme of the night.
First things first, this is the recipe that I am cooking, passed to me by my mate Jack but changed a little but by me (I have used Leeks in favour of Onions)…
3 x Leeks
6 x Pork Chops
1 1/2 x Jars of Apple Sauce
1 x Bottle Medium Sweet Cider
Knob of Butter
Salt and Pepper to Flavour
Method – Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed stew pot in order to sweat off the leeks (which should be roughly chopped). Once the leeks are soft, brown off the chops before adding the cider and apple sauce to thicken, simmer for 10-15 mins on the hob and then bang in the oven for 45mins at 180-200 degrees.
Moving on to more important things, I had headed to Beer Ritz to grab a few bottles of cider on the way home from work. My housemate Jim is a big fan of Aspall’s and, although Cider is my weakest area (in University Challenge terms) I am aware off Aspall’s to be a good brand and expected to see it on the shelves of Beer Ritz. It was not, but they were stocking Weston’s and Sheppy’s. I selected Sheppy’s as my brewery of choice for the evening as Fletch is something of a Weston’s fan and has reviewed before I believe. The advice of Beer Ritz’s always helpful management was at hand to ensure that I had the right options for cooking. We selcted three Sheppy’s ciders, Kingston Black to go in the food, a couple of bottles of the same to go with andbottles of Cider with Honey and Falstaff Cider for some experimental tasting with the housemates.
Cider with Honey, 5.4%
This cider was exactly what the label suggested. The honey came through as the first taste with the subtle taste of the cider coming through after. The honey carried this golden cider off an absolute treat, it was readily drinkable and, even at the bottom of the bottle, not at all sickly in it’s sweetness.
Not being a regular cider drinker I’m not sure how this would be received by the hard core scrumpy faithful but I am sure that other dabblers such as myself could do a hell of a lot worse.
Kingston Black, 7.2%
This cider was far stronger on the tongue than the honey one I’d just put down. It was livelier than the honey cider and drier but was still palatable.
Coming straight after the honey cider there was a danger that this would be too dry but it actually reined in the sweetness to just the right amount and provided the more robust body necessary to accompany the food, without allowing my flavoursome efforts to be overridden. The Kingston Black apple is dubbed as being prized for it’s full bodied aromas and this blend is certainly testament to that fact.
I would note that, at 7,2%, while the flavour and body of this cider suggest that you probably could drink this all night, the likelihood is that you wont!
Returning to the a more reserved abv of 5.6% this cider was also sweeteer than the Kingston black, but crisper and clearer than the honey cider. The Falstaff cider perfectly fills the gap between the Honey Cider and the Kingston Black and completes the set of sweeter ciders for tonight’s reviews.
I had not been forward thinking enough to arrange a dessert to follow the main course but this slotted into the gap really well. I would like to give a more comprehensive analysis but, as it’s the third cider of the night, I have run out of adjectives! I apologise and all I can really say is that if I had to select one of these to drink all night, it would be this one.
Aided by my housemates, Jim and Kat, we have rated the three ciders as follows…
1. Cider with Honey
3. Kingston Black
Although I have to say that this was on initial tasting only and that my favourite of the night was probably Falstaff. The important lesson here though is that, while I walked into Beer Ritz looking for Aspall’s, I was directed towards a cracking brewery producing a range of ciders suitable for every palate. It’s not an area I know well and the evening has taught me not to be blinkered and to experiment with what’s about. Who knows, next Monday could be cider night with Weston’s and could be just as much fun…Tags: 5-6%, 7% +, Apple, Beer Ritz, Cider, Falstaff, honey, Honey with Cider, Kingston Black, Pork, Recipe, Sweet, Themed Night
July 31st, 2009Honey Beers
Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew Golden Beer – 5.0% Vol
Me and Jack looked at each other with a mutual look surprise as we took our first sips of this beer. Not at all what we were expecting. It was not the sweet sensation I was expecting and someone else here has informed me that the draft version is far sweeter.
I must admit that I went to the trouble of pouring this into a glass to see if it appeared more golden that it tasted and I have to say that it did. In fairness this Ale may be golden for regular drinkers of strong ales and porter but for my young pale loving taste buds this juxtaposition of a stronger ale with the dark, syrupy, (not sure if that’s a word) raw sweetness doesn’t really float my boat.
I must say the bottle, particularly the bottle tops, are awesome…
Tags: 4-5% ABV, bittersweet, Fuller's, honey, summer
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