January 31st, 2013Lagers
A cyclist eases along the uncluttered embankment; a couple stand contentedly at the waters edge peering towards their future; a couple of suits stroll happily in the yellowing evening light towards an ice cream van sat under the shade of a riverside tree.
So is printed the scene on every bottle of Meantime London Lager. I imagine the inky outlines slowly awakening into a perfect city portrait, rustling and rising to the cafes and bars for a peaceful drink.
The reality is more likely to be Boris bikes avoiding brisk paced briefcases and couples cringing into cameras, tensed outstretched arms aiming backwards to frame faces in front of famous skylines; seagulls, crisp packets and gust-strewn hair swirl and swoosh in an orchestrated effort to ruin the shot.
Luckily I can gaze at the winning shot hanging on the wall whilst sipping a brisk and fizzy lager, reminiscing on our recent trip to the capital (the winner was the best of a bad bunch). The creamy body, cornflake flavours and subtle lemony scent are a picture perfect beer, a long way from the stereotypical lager of crummy pubs and industrial processes. Even the bitterness feels calm and natural, light and transient like the crunch of celery.
The London Eye creeps skywards over the serene label edge. The only way to enjoy this surreal version of the city is to jump aboard; and with that I grab another bottle of this seductively crafted (and marketed) beer.Tags: lager, London, Meantime
June 19th, 2012Beer Events
The plan was to drink one beer from each team in every game of the Euros.
Of course it turned out to be a little ambitious, especially drinking four different beers on school nights. But so far we’ve managed to find a beer from every country in the European Championships (bar one). Our friendly local beer shop Bier Huis in Ossett imported a selection of beers in anticipation of the tournament, so we nipped down, took our fill, and then tweaked the list a little bit.
We’ll have to wait for the quarter finals before confirming the beers for the big matches (along with some continental cuisine food pairings too), but here’s the initial Euro 2012 beer list!
As it’s the last day of the group stages there’s just enough time to drink to the teams that are already out!
The Euro 2012 Beer List
Poland – Lech
Of the Polish lagers we’ve found Lech by far the most palatable. Avoid canned Tatra and Zubr, with their cardboard flower aromas and metallic bitterness, unless you want your head blowing off (6% and 7% respectively).
Greece – Mythos
My love affair with Mythos began on my first Greek holiday to Rhodes. Since them we’ve seen Halkidiki, Skopelos and Crete, and each time ice cold Mythos has cooled the long, sweltering afternoons and lubricated the early evening relaxation as we lazily get ready to go out. It doesn’t work as well without the heat, but under a Grecian sun it’s perfection: crisp and sweet and energy replenishing.
Or… Brinks – from the Mediterranean facing town of Rethymnon on Crete, if you’re holidaying there look it up and please bring some back! (Follow the link for more Greek craft breweries).
Russia - Stary Melnik Iz Bochonka Myagkoe
In a similar bottle to Modelo and not a million miles from a soft South American lager, Stary Melnik Iz Bochonka Myagkoe (which translates something like Old Miller Barrel Mild Beer) is smooth like Corona. Was that a touch of Crunchie bar in the aroma? Easy as hell to drink, it may not be memorable, but it is thirst quenching.
Or… Go left field with a Russian Imperial Stout – St Petersburg by Thornbridge is a creamy hop ‘n’ chocolate cuddle, but watch out for its boozy wild side. From Derbyshire with love. Alternatively Kernel Imperial Stout is a coal-infused treacle of hops, chocolate and complexity.
Czech – Bohemia Regent Tmavý Ležák 12°
A creamy dark lager with dried fruit aroma and a roasted peanut character, complete with typical bitter finish.
Or… Kozel Cerny, widely available in the UK, another example of adark roasted pilsner. For real Czech heritage there’s also the original Czech lager, that of Pilsner Urquell. Sprightly Saaz hops keep it freshly flavoured, but don’t rush a pint of it (big bubbles!)
Netherlands – La Trappe Witte
Bier Huis’ recommendation for the Netherlands is La Trappe Witte from the only Trappist brewery outside of Belgium. Not only that, but it’s the only Trappist white beer in the world. And it’s unfiltered! And bottle fermented!! Aromatic, and a self proclaimed quencher of monks thirst.
Or… for something entirely different, try De Molen Rook & Vuur, a dark whisky scarred concoction, stirring images of dirty raspberries smouldering on a pile of ash, peppered with hot chillies. A lot more interesting the Dutch football this year. Or for something a little racier, T’ij IPA is a crude India pale ale in look and taste. Herbs, resin and bittersweet – Amsterdam inspired?!
Denmark – Mikkeller Ricemarket
The Damian Hirst of brewing, Denmark’s most famous gypsy brewer has smashed the taxonomic boundaries of the beer world into smithereens, and left behind a trail of brews to get excited (and poor) over. Ricemarket is made with ginger and honey but starts with an herbaceous lemon grass aroma and ends with blushes of apples. Somehow the sweet and fiery elements of the main ingredients blend into something subtler than the sum of the parts.
Or… For something darker there’s Carlsberg Carmegie Stark Porter – drink fresh for wallops of dried fruits and chocolate and a speculative dash of tangy molasses.
Germany – Helles Schlenkerla Lagerbier
On numerous occasions we’ve heard people whoop as a glass of ‘bacon beer’ is passed around a packed bar. That’s Schlenkerla Rauchbier, the famous German smoked beer. Helles Schlenkerla Lagerbier is a lighter style but also uses smoked malt and each sip reminds me of the embers of a cub scout fire that I tried picking up with bare hands circa 1993. Crisp and dry but bright and golden, and not remotely carcinogenic.
Or… Weinhenstephaner Hefe Weissebier is a German classic, whilst Schneider Aventinus is a connoisseur’s choice. For pure liquid gold though, nothing beats a clean, crisp Jever.
Portugal – Superbock Green
Best served alongside homemade piri piri chicken and rice, Superbock is a citrus twist on one of Portugal’s most ubiquitous lagers. It’s a maltier Sol and lime or cloudy lemonade shandy and fits the bill on a warm evening with a chilli-seasoned meal.
Or… For a more traditional beer Sagres if another popular Portuguese lager. Better still get some Fonseca Port Bin 27, a boozy throat warmer rich in dark red fruit. Small glasses, please.
Spain – Cruzcampo
Cruzcampo must’ve gone down well at Bier Huis as the shelf was empty on arrival. Zak Avery swears by this as a holiday beer and we don’t disagree.
Or… Should Spain need as many beers as they need passes to score we can always fall back on San Miguel, well stocked at the local supermarket and corner shop. For something more interesting though, we’ll head further afield and pick up some Alhambra Negra (5.4%) a dark ruby trickster hiding a roasted coffee bean streak.
Italy – Tipopils
If I could give one recommendation to a dying man with a passion for good beer and just one pint left, Jever would be high on the list. But that was before we tried Tipopils, one of the most delicately smooth and zesty pilsners we’ve ever tried.
Or… My Antonia is a rich Italian-American hybrid showcasing a sherbety sweet aroma and rich cheesecake body. Failing that the supermarkets already stock one of Italy’s finest in Peroni Gran Riserva, a dark, munchier beer that’s perfect with good pizza.
Ireland – Porterhouse An Brainblásta
The Irish beers pack lots of punch, but you’ll have to take Phil Hardy’s word on Brainblásta.
Or… We instead opted for Guinness Foreign Extra. This is Guinness with gusto, a treacly brew with hints of morello cherry atop buckets of roasted malt. Will leave your glass sticky after just a sip or two.
Croatia – ???
Unfortunately Bier Huis informed us that Croatian beer wasn’t on the menu (not available in the UK). Instead their Facebook fans voted in Bandidos Tequila beer from nearby Slovenia. Slovenian Desperados wasn’t for us (snobs that we are!) so, just like Slaven Billic’s charges, Croatia are out. (Please let us know if you do find some Croatian beer in the UK!)
Ukraine – Obolon Light
We’ve saved our Ukranian beer for tonight’s Group D finale in the hope that we can drink to England’s success. Tasting notes to follow, but hopefully we won’t be ordering any more Obolon (*cue smily face*). Should England get unlucky, Beers of Europe have a Ukranian section ready and waiting to be raided, with the dunkel style Obolon Deep Velvet top of our list.
Sweden – Nils Oscar Coffee Stout
Nils Oscar God Lager was recommended to us by the lovely staff at Beer Ritz Leeds. Its brother, Nils Oscar Coffee Stout is our nightcap as we wave bye bye to the Swedes tonight.
Or... Crocodile Lager, a smooth and not too bloating (but unexciting) lager. Continuing the Nils Oscar theme, we recommend Nils Oscar Ctrl Alt Delete, for the name alone. A Swedish take on altbier that we can’t wait to try.
France – Pelforth Blonde
In small 25cl bottles Pelforth Blonde makes a good beer for the summer, easy to chill and perfect for the back garden. Sweeter than a stubby and with much more taste, it’s cute branding and refreshing style make it hard not to like.
Or… In imposing 75cl bottles Trois Monts (St Sylvestre 3 Months) has a fresh vinous nose, dough like body, peppered with herbaceous notes and zesty hops. It’s a joy, and even though refreshing, not as much as a similarly large bottle of real Normandy cider brought back from a small homestead in the north of France by a friend. If you can get it, is a joy.
England – York Brideshead
England can nail a place in the quarter finals tonight (c’mon, believe!), and Bier Huis will be drinking York Brideshead, a beer with a name synonymous with English TV.
But… instead we’ll be heading back to our roots, and as England progress (!) we plan to go back to our old favourites. First up will be Hooky Gold, a light, bright and zesty Oxfordshire ale, widely available in beer shops and supermarkets; followed with Old Hooky, a beery piece of nana’s fruitcake, and from the brewery we grew up just a few miles away from.
So cheers, and here’s to an update when we know the quarter final draw in it’s entirety!
Tags: football, lager
Good luck sampling Euro 2012 beers and let us know what you’re recommendations for each country is, If you go back to your favourites with England, we want to know what you opt for!
May 24th, 2012Beer and travel
Let’s be frank, I’m not brilliant at getting drunk.
It’s not that I’m a bad drunk per se, but since my uni days my tolerance has faded and I’m much better suited to a lazy pub garden or the frantic but well partitioned boozing of a hot festival day.
So, the morning after the night before, eating pizza along the tramlines of Munich, Stag Day 2 of 3, the first beer is an inevitable mistake. The 12 o’clock rule is in force, but at this moment I’m still trying to capture the final moments of last night, which are seemingly lost to a cerebal rewiring courtesy of Jagermeister and pils.
München is a city of myriad greys, criss crossed by tracks, streets and wires, punctuated by the greens of large municipal gardens. The hostels spill out into the streets, huge brick buildings of tiny square windows – each as easily an old warehouse as a former prison – with central courtyards full of slamming lockers and hi-fiving youths.
We’d arrived too late at the Hofbräuhaus, so rather than dance on tables with steins, we found ourselves chatting over Bundesliga in a pub circled around a strong, twisted, plastic tree. The landlord was decidedly Brothers Grimm but jovially threw foaming beer at us until we staggered home.
Back at the hostel Jagers send us to bed, and so, the next morning, with little breakfast and hayfever tablets at the ready, the first beer by the tram line gone, I’m feeling a little light-headed as we reach the Englischer Garten for an afternoon of large lagers and a boiling hot sun.
The whole of the city seems to have congregated in the squares and tree lined routes to the park, stereotypical German efficiency cast aside for an opportunity to feel the sun on skin and drink buckets of beer all day. Surfers on shuffle along Munich’s rapids, ice creams everywhere, the nudist meadow seeing an uplift in footfall.
Twelve English twentysomethings don’t look out of place – not in the Englischer Garten, not in the clubs later that night, nor on a pilgrimage to the Allianz Arena the next day. Munich could be Manchester, Germany could be England, the workers flocking to the public squares on the first sunny day of the year, to drink lager, dress down and play Wembley in the park.
And galvanised under the German sunshine, it’s time to begin the turbulence of stag do laughter and merriment that ensues.Tags: binge drinking, drinking, germany, lager, munich, summer
The bar is busy. The tables are full. The backroom is heaving and buoyant.
Welcome to the Sebright Arms, dimly light and vivacious.
We arrive from Soho at the fading of a sun drenched afternoon – four pubs, six pints, four hours.
Three and a half miles later, bellies demanding meat and bread and barley, we bundle over the threshold. A table is found, pale beers ordered, burger menus devoured by hungry eyes.
It’s a young crowd, an old crowd. It’s a quiet crowd and a rowdy crowd. Some here for the pub, some hunting out the resident Lucky Chip pop up kitchen.
Smokers tarnish the air outside, drinkers slop beer inside. The buzz is accentuated by beer (it’s a thin line between that and a booze buffer between the world and our senses, perhaps?)
The burgers perspire garnish, pint glasses soon sticky with the sweat of carnivorous satisfaction. And boy they taste good!
Another beer? Of course! The night is young, and the Sebright Arms is only just getting started.Tags: Beer and Food, binge drinking, Burgers, lager
Deep in a basement bar not far from Bohemia, the cerny pilsners of the brewery up the road changed my perception of lager. Sweet and rich but surprisingly light, they distributed refreshment and nutrition as if feeding me and five thousand other thirsty drinkers.
Meantime Union shares a similar contradiction. Broody and brown, this is is no pale bodied pushover. Lagered it is, and a tad metallic to boot, coupled with a dark caramel composition and a surprisingly roasted finish suggesting mustard seeds, honey-soaked biscuits and bitter Bourneville.
Union shares the creaminess of some of the golden pilsners that stole a march onn Vienna style lagers many years ago.
It’s enigmatic to say the least. Coloured like a bitter, tastes like a bitter, but brisker, bolder, livelier. It’s interesting, ebbing and flowing between it’s different elements, but it’s hard to see how it would fit into my everyday drinking.
Except for with pizza. Michael Jackson recommended amber beers with pizza and at a basic level this shares many facets – creamy texture, bitterness, effervescent, mouthfilling malt and sweet roasted finish.
So being under £2, being under 5%, and offering refreshment, intrigue and solace, this is one beer that will be on the shopping list alongside doughballs and garlic bread.
Tags: bbq beer, dark, Greenwich, lager, Meantime, vienna
Vienna style beers have a special place in my heart as I once named a Vienna influenced beer. Thornbridge Equinox was a one off ‘Vienna IPA’, so a little different from the copper coloured lagers of continental Europe, but I only ever got to try one pint of it. I’d love to try it again one day!
Admittedly I didn’t do my research on Cubanero Fuerte. It made a perfect birthday present for my brother, who having visited Cuba a few years ago, has become quite the fan.* So, in the process of buying him a few bottles I of course dropped a few on my side of the beer carrier and popped them in the fridge for a sunny day (yeah, optimistic I know).
For some reason I was expecting something more than a bog standard lager. Perhaps I was somehow charmed by the Jack Sparrow wannabe on the bottle and some sense of hidden treasure and adventure. So with that ever-present hope that every long suffering football fan will recognise I waded straight in.
And it turns out that Cubanero Fuerte is quite the bog standard lager. I mean, it’s not bog standard enough that I wouldn’t drink it (I surely would served cold on a hot day or in a hot bar) but it’s pretty bog standard. No hidden treasure.
It’s pale. Marketers would describe it as golden but that’s marketers for you, always selling the dream. There’s more gold in an Elizabeth Duke catalogue. It comes complete with a touch of roasted cereal but it doesn’t have quite enough earthy vigour to hide the sugary, corn syrup and metallic-like twangs that stand out like the green marks on a cheap ring finger. Surprisingly there is just a touch of actual hop flavour to tempt you further down the bottle. Well, compared to some lagers, that is…
The Bucanero might not be my cup of tea but I won’t turn him down in a moment of need. This is my brother’s Mythos after all, and that’s something worth sharing.
Tags: bbq beer, cuba, lager
*In Cuba, and the rest of the World, Cubanero is actually Bucanero (the picture make more sense now, yeah?!). Apparently copyright prevents it’s sale under it’s real name, which is a shame. Anyone know what copyright this is?
There’s a week in autumn when suddenly the weather takes over the UK. The beautiful yellow, orange and golden leaves are washed from their trees by cats-and-dogs rain and violent winds. The rain thrashes down on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. This week was such a week.
But a gathering storm wouldn’t put the British off burning Guy Fawkes at the stake.
There’s something primeval about Bonfire Night; communities clubbing together everything they can find that is 1) of no use or value and 2) slightly flammable. The roads come to a stand still as normal people with centrally-heated houses rush to cold, wet, muddy fields to stand around a huge fire eating hot dogs.
And it’s generally brilliant.
This year we avoided the throngs of people who descended on Roundhay Park in Leeds (the twenty-something curmudgeons we are meant that we couldn’t face 70,000 people and the dogfight for parking).
So off to the local rugby club (union not league which is a story in itself in these parts). A juicy burger fresh from the griddle, candy floss, bouncy castles and merriment. An ice cold beer, well deserved after a torrential week in terms of weather and workload.
Under the creaking terrace, crammed in like sardines, we sat back and enjoyed the pyrotastic delights, craning necks to see the rockets and bangers that shot so high that those clammering at the back of the stand couldn’t see for the overhanging roof.
And then to the lounge bar: pies and peas, salt & vinegar, reminiscing, joking, betting on the weekend’s X Factor and admiring the sports stars of the local team during years gone by. More perfect, wonderful pints of Fosters served in plastic glasses that burned our fingers with cold condensation. The table is littered in the carrion of good time, remnants of a pint of Wainwright’s, and a plastic cup of rosé, chips and gravy for sharing.
The magic of Roundhay Park? No thank you, the magic of the local community on Bonfire Night thank you very much.Tags: bonfire night, community, fireworks, fosters, lager
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
March 23rd, 2010Comment
A couple of months ago during one of the 30+ hours I spend online each week , a little pop-up window asked me if I’d like to take part in a survey. I knew straight away it was advertising related and, working in the business of developing online advertising strategy, I’m always intrigued to take these surveys and gain a little insight into how other companies are tracking the branding effects of their digital marketing activities.
This one just so happened to be beer related therefore being of interest to more than just the day job. Specifically it was about lager brands, and asked my thoughts on five of the leading names and their recent advertising.Tags: ads, advertising, budweiser, carling, display, fosters, heineken, kronenbourg, lager, online, stella
November 26th, 2009Comment
Last week saw a host of articles on lager, CAMRA and why the two don’t always have a harmonious relationship (see articles by Barm, Mark Dredge, Woolpack Dave, Tandleman & The Guardian).
The same week r’ Sam couldn’t quite work out if William’s Brothers Grozet was a lager or a beer, with conflicting online reviews and it being deceptively lager like for an ale.
It’s fitting that the lager debate and lots of lager chat surfaced on the week we unearthed a parody of our sites, real-lager-reviews.com, and actually the Guardian article that kicked much of this off was one of the ways we cottoned onto our spoofers (thanks to an innocuous comment on there by the Real Lager Reviews lads).
It seems the question of lager brings up some awkward discussions. CAMRA clearly don’t associate themselves with CO2, which rules out a lot of lagers, but it doesn’t fundamentally rule out lager per se.
Which leads us to what is a lager: what it is and why is it different? Read the rest of this entry »Tags: beer festival, beer writing, CAMRA, lager, saltaire, serving