Archive for category 4 Tankards

Beer Store Focus: Market Row Wines, Brixton

Dave-Front-ShotWrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Having moved from what I consider the centre of Canadian craft brewing, Vancouver, back to my old home in London, I quickly missed the range of cutting edge brews that were available in a number of stores around town. The British supermarket choice is fair at best but can’t compare with the specialist retailer I have been spoilt with for the last 6 years or so.

On a slow day searching for new employment opportunities I took a break and had a stroll around the fantastic Brixton Village and Market Row, the indoor arcade sections of Brixton Market. I came across a tiny wine merchant in the Market Row arcade and saw a number of interesting looking beers in the window.

Market Row Wines is run and owned by Dave Simpson who, like me and what seems like half the British wine trade, used to work for high street chain Oddbins. After having a browse and choosing one of each from the local Brixton Brewery range (reviews later in the week) Dave found time to have a chat. His wine and beer selection are squeezed into an area smaller than many living rooms, and as a former manager of wine and beer stores, I can only imagine how tough it is to shelve and store all that stock!

What Market Row Wines lacks in size it more than makes up for in quality. The fairly modest selection of 40 to 50  beer focuses on London craft breweries with a few other interesting choices from further afield.  Apart from the local Brixton Brewery beers, there are selections from the Bermondsy based Partizan Brewing, Camden Town, Wild Beer, Pressure Drop and the darlings of British craft brewing The Kernel Brewery amongst others.  Dave certainly knows his beer and gives honest and friendly advice and recommendations. I asked him how the craft beer selection is selling, and he enthusiastically explained that it just keeps growing and the only problem is keeping on top of new breweries and new beers that the ever demanding current generation of customer desires. The world of new wave brewing moves quickly and the retailer has to be one step ahead of the game to keep the eager “latest thing” obsessed consumer satiated.

If you live in the area or find yourself visiting the fabulous Brixton Market, then make your way to Market Row Wines for nice break from the norm, as they offer not only a nice selection of interesting beer but some hard to find wines too. If you find you don’t know what to get, don’t be shy and ask for some advice – it’ll be well worth it.

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

The Great Pumpkin beer tasting

 

 

So I decided to try some Pumpkin beers on Hallowe’en while watching some bad horror movies (starting with “The Children”- murderous kids and toddlers go on the rampage!) I had five different beers from four breweries. I started with Parallel  49’s Shadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest. A clever idea marrying the easy, malty marzen style lager of the Oktoberfest with some pumpkin and spices of Hallowe’en and Thanksgiving.

 

 

.

 

.

Parallel 49 Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest

This is the only lager from the group and it certainly is easy drinking. There is some nice sweet pumpkin flavour, a hint of vanilla and some  nutmeg and cinnamon perhaps. The spices are light and match the medium bodied maltiness of the beer. Quite a dry spicy finish that, although stops this from being a sweet beer, can be too dry for some.

All in all a good first effort from this brewery and I would recommend this and buy it again next year for sure!

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Recommended)

 

 

 

.

 Lighthouse Pumpkin Ale

This one is a mid amber colour and starts off surprisingly light. There is a mild sweetness from the demerara sugar and a little spice. It finishes very quickly and I felt there was not anything to it. I guess they went for the restrained approach, seeing as some pumpkin ales are cloyingly sweet and spiced out of all proportion, but I feel they were too cautious and missed out on some seasonal flavours.  A rare miss from this reliable brewery!

 

 Wrangler Rating:

 tankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Fair)

 

 

Tree Brewing Jumpin Jack Pumpkin Ale

Tree brewing have a number of seasonals that are usually well received, so how will  their pumpkin ale stack up against some stiff competition? It pours a dark amber and, weighing in at 7%, promises a fuller tasting beer than the other two. With a malty spicy aroma, it doesn’t taste like it’s as strong as it is. It has an even maltiness, a medium body and well integrated spicy flavours. This was a really well balanced beer with all the flavours combining well! This beer is not overly sweet, and the pie spices match the pleasant malt nicely. An easy 3 almost 4 Tankards!

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Recommended)

.

 

Cannery Knucklehead Pumpkin Ale

The Cannery pumpkin ale comes with a well-dresssed knobbly headed pumpkin gentleman on the label, and pours a bit darker that the others so far. It seems to be based on an amber-brown ale, which leads me to let it warm up a bit, rather than having it straight from the fridge.  It has a slightly smoky note to the spice aroma but the malt seems a bit thin for me.  The spice is definitely dominant, with a touch of black liquorice  but there is almost no sweetness or maltiness, which I like a bit of  in my pumpkin ales. Having said that it went well with my pumpkin BBQ ribs, and the dryness contrasted with the sweetness of the sauce. This one just squeaks a 3 tankards!

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Recommended)

 

.

Parallel 49 Lost Souls Chocolate Pumpkin Porter

This is a bit of a departure from the others in that it is a much fuller bodied beer than the others, with dark malts, mocha notes and made with real chocolate. There is some spice and ginger, but they are laid back and the rich chocolate is definitely king! Pumpkin flavour? well I struggle to taste it, let’s face it, the large orange squash is not known for its strong flavour and it gets a bit lost in this beer. On the other hand this is a delicious beer and my favourite of the ones here, but…. I might struggle to put this in the pumpkin ale group if I was tasting blind. Soooo… what does this mean? Well this is the best beer here but as a pumpkin ale?

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg tankard.jpg(Excellent)

 

.

So to conclude the Great Pumpkin Beer Tasting I feel that there is a split decision! Parallel 49 Lost Souls Chocolate Pumpkin Porter was the best beer out of the five, but … I think Tree Brewing`s Jumpin Jack was the best ‘classic’ pumpkin ale here. On Hallowe’en I want to taste pumpkin pie in a glass but not be overwhelmed by any one element and Tree managed it well.

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lighthouse Switchback IPA

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

I keep drinking this beer, so it stands to reason that I

a) like it and b) should write about it.

The problem is that every time I crack one open I just want to relax and enjoy it, rather than actually  open my rather neglected blog and get to it!

Lighthouse Brewing have really upped their game in the last year and a half with some cracking and interesting “big flavour” bombers. They waited a bit to follow up with an addition to their popular if conservative 6-pack range, but it was well worth it. The Switchback IPA is described as  “Pacific Northwest” that promises some big hop notes, and challenging the likes of Central City’s Red Racer IPA and the former Lighthouse brewers at Driftwood with their Fat Tug IPA.

On with the beer! It has a lovely dark golden amber colour with a white fluffy head. Aromas of grapefruit and tangerine zest mix with a sweetish grainy malt note. The flavours follow on with the same citrus zest, a fruity tang and a sweet piney note backed by a solid but definitely subservient malt platform.The trick that is not performed well by many North American or West Coast style IPAs are that a bunch of hops are chucked in, with both eyes firmly on the IBU count, rather than how good it is to actually drink! Lots of hops but highly drinkable is a tough ask, but Lighthouse Switchback IPA manages it extremely well. My palate is given the buzz of a very hoppy brew, but unlike some I could mention, I still want to drink more, which is why this works as a 6-pack rather than a 650ml bomber. Enjoy on your deck, or pub patio this summer, and be grateful there is now another great, hoppy,  BC West Coast IPA to cool yourself down with!

Serving: 355ml bottle

ABV: 6.5%

Best Served: 6-8°C

 

Share

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Abbatiale Triple (Brasserie des Sources)

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Abbatiale Triple is brewed by Brasserie des Sources in St-Amand les Eaux in northern France, and scored gold medals at the Paris beer competition in 2006 and 2008; now let’s see how it scores with me!

The cool packaging is the first thing you notice when you approach the beer shelf at your favourite local specialty ‘beertique’.  With a white ceramic bottle, cork and a cage it makes me want to investigate further. As I draw nearer the bright golden label reads ‘Abbatiale Triple Blonde, 7% ABV 50cl 6-12°c, refermented in bottle, delicately flavoured with juniper berries, a genuine recipe from the middle ages. A true Abbaye style blonde.’ – My drinking cloak and chalice await!

As I pour it into my chalice (the recommended glass) this brew exhibits vigorous carbonation, a light golden blonde colour, and bright white foamy head that lasts and leaves lacing down the inside of the glass. The aroma has a fresh mild yeastiness, a fragrance of juniper berries, roasted corn and gentle earth. The first sip hits the back of my throat and I feel like I’m standing in ankle deep water with the sun on my smiling face and an ocean breeze that takes me away. Refreshing is not an expressive enough word to describe this excellent french beer! Zingy herbal notes on the front palate give way to a subtle creamy nuance, with a buttery and  tart finish that lingers.

As for food pairing – I want fish and chips; I want southern fried chicken, collard greens, and cornbread. Plank my salmon and serve it with a side of coleslaw or potato salad, and while you’re at it, I’ll have another beer please. Abbatiale is easy drinking, good refreshment, smooth and quaffable, it’s easy to taste why this little jug of deliciousness has been around for a few centuries.

Serving: 500ml Bottle

ABV: 7%

Best Served 6-10°C
-By Brewlord

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It’s Hammer Time -Phillips Style

.

.

.

.

VS

.

.

.

.

.

.

Phillips Brewing make a highly regarded Imperial Stout every year in limited amounts which usually sells out fairly quickly. This year they released a bourbon whiskey barrel aged version in even smaller numbers. But is all that extra effort and cost worth it? I decided to gather the Wranglerette and have a taste off. Is the barrel aged pure gold bullion, or is it full of bull? I always like to start with the original so here goes:

In the Blue corner….

Phillips Hammer Imperial Stout

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

It pours as dark as beer gets, with a dark, creamy tan head. There are aromas of black molasses and burnt caramel with sweet roasted coffee beans. The palate follows on and adds hints of sweet dark cocoa and a hint of cooked dried fruit. It has a creamy and silky texture, so doesn’t lie too heavily, and remains very drinkable. The finish is fairly long with the creaminess of this beer lingering.

In the Red corner….

Phillips Hammer Bourbon Aged Imperial Stout

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Recommended)

Despite the previous description of colour – I swear this is actually darker and even denser, but with the same creamy, dark tan head. The aroma is much more different than I had imagined with a lot of the burnt characteristics smoothed out with a touch of vanilla-like sweetness.  The notes of whiskey are there too, but not overpowering, lending some richness to this big stout. The flavours echo the aromas and feel more integrated than the non-aged version. I don’t know how long this block-buster gets in barrel, but it certainly gives it a smooth rich evenness. But…. the bourbon aged stout seems to have lost something along the way, the bite of those heavily roasted malts have been reigned in and replaced by a simpler sweetness. Don’t get me wrong it’s a good beer but it’s not as drinkable as the original, and a small glass is enough before my palate needs refreshing. It gets a lower score than the original, which is totally against my preconceptions, as I generally like barrel aged beer, but this time it only added a sweetness which smoothed out those peaks of flavour I rather enjoyed!

Phillips should be applauded for trying this out as it keeps BC’s breweries right up there with all the current trending on craft brewing, and I’d like to see them try it again next year with different barrels. If they could buy some of the Samuel Smith Stingo barrels – now that would be interesting!

Both Stouts:

ABV: 8.3%

Best Served: 14 – 16°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Driftwood Fat Tug IPA

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Driftwood’s Fat Tug IPA is the long awaited addition to the brewery’s regular line up that filled in the gaping hole of a classic Pacific Northwest IPA. A hefty 7% ABV and 80 IBUs sees this beer punching in the heavyweight category for a ‘standard’ IPA. The hit of hops is fresh, fruity and sharp, and will please the hop-heads out there. On the palate the hops retain their power and vibrancy, and cover the alcohol admirably. The malt is there too, but it is in a supporting role, and props up the hop flavours nicely. This is a great example of a well hopped IPA,  as it is more than just a load of hops in glass though, as ever, Driftwood make a rounded, drinkable and flavoursome beer that is sure to become a staple in the fridge of many a craft beer fan.

ABV: 7%

Best Served: 7 – 9°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Samuel Smith Yorkshire Stingo

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Samuel Smith Yorkshire Stingo is a classic in the British beer scene. It’s an Old Ale which means that it has had some time well spent in very old seasoned oak casks, many of which date back more than a century. Each year adds to the beer-soaked wood and helps them give more complexity to the finished product.  This ale spends over a year conditioning in the oak and is bottled with yeast, so can condition further in the bottle.  It pours a deep amber colour with a thick and lively tan head. The aromas are fruity and almost Madeira-like. The taste follows on and delivers more. Dates and brandy-soaked orange peel hit your tongue followed by  treacle and vanilla notes. There is a subtle oaky finish that keeps the sweet flavours in check. This is a Christmas Pudding of a beer that allows  you to keep on eating! Stingo proves that British beer can have as much flavour and intensity as a Belgian ale if the desire by the brewer is there. Serve on its own after a meal or with a blue cheese such as Stilton.

ABV 9%

Best Served 14-16° C

Share

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Driftwood Belle Royale

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Driftwood Brewery Belle Royale is described as a Strong Belgian Cherry Ale, and seems to be based on a Tripel or strong golden ale  recipe, with “900 pounds of cherries” added. They don’t specify how much beer gets the 900 pounds but we get the idea – there’s  a lot, and they’re real cherries, not cherry flavour or syrup. It has a lovely pink amber colour, a thinnish head, with a spicy, fruity aroma.  The flavour has a hit of sweet spice and sour red cherries that lingers on the palate and develops into a long finish with sweet herbal notes.

Not only do Driftwood excel at making beer, but they design some of the best labels on beer bottles anywhere in the world, and this ode to Toulouse-Lautrec’s Moulin-Rouge paintings is no exception. It’s sexy and sassy – a bit like the Belle Royale  itself!

ABV: 9%

Best Served: 8°C

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

Archiduc Belgian Beer (Brasserie d’Ecaussinnes)

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Archiduc is an unassuming beer that doesn’t give too many clues as to what it is on the bottle (the Belgians obviously don’t have the same predilection for categorising as we do in North America). It is in fact a strongish Belgian Amber Ale with bags of flavour. It comes in a 750ml bottle that is corked and the beer has a deposit of yeast from the re-fermentation. It pours a rich amber hue with a medium tight head that slowly disappears. The aromas are spicy, rich and fruity, and the taste doesn’t disappoint after such an inviting whiff. This beer is rounded, balanced and delicious. There are notes of marmalade, allspice, citrus peel with a sweet herbaceous finish. This fantastic Belgian ale is rich in flavour but totally drinkable in every way. This is a real gem that sits silently in the beer store, but definitely is worth shouting about!

ABV: 6.2%

Best Served: 9°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Bath Ales Dark Hare

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Dark Hare, the latest offering from Bath Ales , with their beautiful hare themed labels, is absolutely delicious. As it pours into the glass you notice the deep ruddy brown colour, and the notes of toasted malt and dark chocolate on the nose. The very creamy mouthfeel is punctuated with molasses, which gives way to burnt chocolate as the fuggles hops leave their distinct taste on the finish.

A great Sunday afternoon brew, Dark Hare would also be fabulous with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, créme brûlée or a not overly syrupy sticky toffee pudding.

ABV: 4%

Best Served: 11°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Phillips Double Dragon Imperial Red Ale

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Phillips Double Dragon Imperial Red Ale is this British Columbian craft brewer’s pumped up version of an American Red Ale, which is a hoppier version of the Irish Red Ales. The Imperialisation of this fairly modern style of beer gives it a big punch in both the flavour and strength departments, so is not to be taken lightly!

This deep red ruby ale has a fairly hoppy aroma, with a robust full-bodied flavour. The rich roasted malt features heavily on the palate and is quite sweet, with notes of caramel, molasses and malty bread, but there is just the right amount of hops to balance it all out. The citrussy grapefruit taste of the healthy hoppy addition, gives the finish a nice bitterness that makes this a very easy drinking beer for one so potent.  This might go well with a large plate of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, served with a rich gravy; but be careful, as this powerhouse may go down too quickly for you to get up too quickly!

ABV: 8.2%

Best Served: 10°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Krusovice Imperial

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Krusovice Imperial is a Czech Pilsner lager, that is eminently drinkable, and a great benchmark for this classic style of beer. It has a pale golden colour and fluffy head, with a nice level of carbonation that is a little less than many lagers, but makes this beer an easy one to drink. It is still refreshing though, as it relies on a great balance of sweet malt and bitterness rather than mere fizz. Although clean and crisp, it has a good dose of pale malt on the palate that leads into a dry, slightly citrus and herbal finish, that is derived from the delicious Saaz hops. This is a great example of a well made and balanced lager that manages to hit all the right notes, and is a pleasure to drink.

ABV: 5%

Best Served: 6°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

3 Monts (Brasserie de Saint Sylvestre)

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

3 Monts is a strong Biere de Garde from the Flanders region of France, which is a style that can be hard to find outside of its native country, but is well worth the hunt especially if you are a fan of the more familiar Belgian Saison beer, which this is a close relative of. This beer gets a maturation period after fermentation at very cold temperatures to further enhance and integrate the complex flavours of this refreshing ale.

It has a bright, pale golden colour, with a long lasting, tightly knit head that genuinely stays with the beer, right down to the bottom of the glass. There is loads of spicy notes appearing front and centre with flavours of clove and ripe banana esters. The malt is there too, giving a grainy fruitiness that balances the Belgian hops at work that nicely bitter the finish. There’s more there too, but in the background, with herbal flavours, a touch of caramel and a pleasant solvent note. This is a multi-faceted beer that can be drunk on its own, with a strong nutty cheese or a good quality, full flavoured pork sausage.

ABV: 8.5%

Best Served: 8°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Beer Book – Tim Hampson (Ed)

Wrangler Rating

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

The Beer Book is more than just a coffee table decoration, it’s a really enjoyable voyage through a world of ales, lagers, brewing traditions and beery nations!  It has a myriad of must try beers of all styles from around the globe. There are travel ideas for beer trails in some of the classic places making the brews that feature in the book, like Oregon, Brussels or Bamburg. There are also brewery features, from the big names like Guinness to great craft producers like Thornbridge in the UK. The book boasts over 1700 beer reviews so you won’t get bored browsing through, planning your next beer trip. A must buy for any beer aficionado’s library

Published by: Dorling Kindersley

ISBN: 978-0-7566-3982-2

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

Howe Sound Total Eclipse Of The Hop

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Howe Sound’s Imperial IPA has a nice name that some of its younger drinkers might not get. I am not sure if Bonnie Tyler is a fan of this beer, but she should be. Imperial or double IPAs are usually a mouthful of hops with a hit of alcohol, but the brewers at Howe Sound have managed to brew in a style that the original creators of the IPA in the 18th Century would recognise and hopefully approve of.

This is a supremely well balanced beer that has 9o IBUs and 8% alcohol, but manages to be so drinkable, you could have two or three pints without any effort – quite an achievement for such a well flavoured and strong beer! The hops are very noticeable on the nose, and as there are six varieties it’s not surprising; the flavours that follow are a nice relief for those palates that are tired of naked hop explosions. The rich malt is there supporting all those hop flavours giving a balanced and very enjoyable beer. This is what a traditional IPA becomes when it is ‘Imperialised’, and for me achieves a great benchmark for the style.

*

ABV: 8%

Best Served: 9°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Maredsous Abbey Brune

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Maredsous is a true Abbey beer, which means that it was originally brewed in the Benetictine Abbey at Maredsous in Wallonia, Southern Belgium, but now has been transferred to a  brewery outside of the monastic grounds, but is still overseen by the monks themselves. Many beers that claim to be “abbey” beers do not have that distinction, and the name just describes a style.

The bottle I had this beer in was a corked 75 cl variety, still resting on the yeast, which would help explain the bready nature of this enjoyable ale, and served in a genuine Maredsous chalice. There are notes of dark, malty rye bread, with a touch of dried fruit and caramel.  This beer seems to go down all too easily while still maintaining its richness, which is a testament to the easy integration of all the flavours, and the crisp, slightly earthy, but lengthy finish.

ABV: 8%

Best Served: 10°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Dogfish Head Midas Touch

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Yum Yum! Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch is both justified and ancient, being based on a 2700 year old ancient Anatolian recipe which is a re-creation based on analysis of drinking vessels that were uncovered during an archaeological dig in what is now Turkey – drinking vessels that resided within what is thought to be the tomb of none other than King Midas himself (although suspiciously they had not been turned to gold!)

I can’t say that I have ever tasted a beer quite like this (which is equal parts a delight and a shame.) Deeply golden in colour it is pleasingly sweet with hints of honey and muscat grapes but without the cloying sweetness of many meads (or bee vomit as I like to call it).  The nose has distinct notes of tropical fruit and the finish has a deliciously dry biscuity taste.

As there aren’t really any other beers like this out there I don’t have much compare it to but I think this beer would be a great one for ladies to try but anyone interested in exploring the myriad of flavours beer can create would do well to give this a go.

I’d pair Midas Touch with a Moroccan tagine or a mild Goan prawn curry with coconut milk rice dumplings.

ABV: 9%

Best Served: 8°C

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

Pyramid Breweries Snow Cap Winter Warmer

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Pyramid Snow Cap is the Winter seasonal offering from this popular Seattle brewery, and claims to be made in the “spirit of the British Winter ales”. At 7% alcohol, it certainly has the strength to warm the cockles, but does the flavour keep up? The combination of  English and Pacific North West hops give this Winter warmer a nice bitterness, but unlike many other North American versions of this classic Christmas brew, it has copious amounts of delicious malt to back it up and keep them in check. There are notes of cocoa bean and dark caramel on the palate, which leads onto the hoppy flavours; a touch of citrus, spice and a light floral taste give way to a rounded, balanced and smooth finish. This beer is a joy to drink and is a fantastic interpretation of a Winter Warmer, keeping true to the tradition, while maintaining its own Northwest identity. Drink this one with a beer-battered fish and chips, at Pike Place Market in Seattle, or in a London Chippy, it’ll feel right at home at either!

ABV: 7%

Best Served: 12°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Wychwood Bah Humbug Christmas Ale

Bah_HumbugWrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Bah Humbug is Wychwood Brewery’s offering at Christmas time to warm up those cold toes on a winter’s night. This is a very mildly spiced amber ale that is not quite malty enough to be a classic winter warmer, but it doesn’t pretend to be, as it is labelled ‘Christmas Ale’ and implies a more general festive beer, made with the addition of some seasonal flavour. This ale has a pleasant medium-bodied feel to it, with subtle notes of banana and clove; the hops are just detectable too, though mainly on the finish and aftertaste. The solitary added spice is cinnamon, and this is done with a frugal hand, as it certainly doesn’t overwhelm the caramelly malt. This beer is an easily quaffable Christmas pint with a hint of seasonal pep to give it a bit of festive flair.

ABV: 5%

Best Served: 12°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Anchor Brewing ‘Our Special Ale’ 2009 (Christmas Ale)

anchor2009Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Anchor Brewing famously change the recipe for their Special Ale every year, as well choose a different tree, a symbol of the Winter Solstice, to adorn the label. This version (2009), when held up to the light, has a gorgeously dense ruby colour and an almost creamy pale tan head. The aroma is full of malty molasses with a definite hoppy highlight. The flavours that follow fill the mouth, but don’t overwhelm it; the main taste that starts off is a strong malty one, that develops into a black molasses backbone to the beer. There are some laid-back spicy notes layered into the malt, perhaps nutmeg or a hint of cardamon, but the hit of a citrus hop gives this sweetish beer an assertive and refreshing finish. This Winter seasonal ale is a real pleasure to drink, and is not too heavy or laden with spices, so is good for  those who find the ‘big’ spiced warmers a bit too much!

ABV: 5.5%

Best Served: 10°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Howe Sound Father John’s Winter Ale

HoweFather_l

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Howe Sound Father John’s Winter Ale is a fantastically warming, well spiced brew that comes in a nice 1 litre swing-top bottle. It has a dark amber colour with a loose head, a rich malty aroma with an obvious spiciness. This full-bodied Christmas Ale has a very malty profile that is the backbone for all the other seasonal flavours that are added. Ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon are the spices that give this warming beer bags of flavour, but it is kept well in balance, and not one really dominates. There are also definite notes of the other fermentable additions, like molasses, brown sugar and honey; they give the beer a depth which compliments the malt and spices, but cleverly don’t add too much sweetness! I really enjoyed this beer and made a slow-cooked cinnamon beef stew to eat with it, and they went together perfectly – a great winter warming combo!

ABV: 7%

Best Served: 11°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Granville Island Brewing Belgian Blonde Ale

GIBbelgian-blondeWrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Granville Island Belgian Blonde Ale is a great seasonal beer from British Columbia’s most prevalent brewery. It has a beautiful golden hue and a frothy head that leaves a fair bit of lacing on the sides of the glass. This is a slightly lighter version of the famous Belgian breweries strong blonde or golden ale, but they pull it off with style. It maintains the traditional spicy, candied fruit flavours while being a very refreshing beer that still weighs in at 6% alcohol. There is sweet pineapple on the palate and some nice clove notes on the finish that makes this is a supremely enjoyable version of this popular Belgian style. This is light enough to have in the afternoon on its own or accompanying appetizers with friends.

ABV: 6%

Best Served: 6°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Brew Dog Punk IPA

Brew_Dog_Punk_IPA

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Brew Dog Punk IPA comes from the new wave of British brewers whose beers may be more at home with the American west coast craft beer drinkers, than in a traditional pub. This should not put anyone off as their IPA is a delicious explosion of hoppy goodness! The colour of this beer is very pale for the style, and almost looks like a hefe-weizen, as there is a touch of cloudiness too. The Punk IPA has a floral-citrussy aroma, and the palate won’t disappoint fans of this style. It’s crisp, spicy and refreshing, with a touch of the pale malt sweetness in the far background. The finish is long and mouth-wateringly bitter, which is one reason why this is a really drinkable and more-ish India Pale Ale. I would have this as a foil to a good Indian chicken curry, as the flavour can stand up to whatever spice you throw at it.

ABV: 6%

Best Served: 6°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Homebrewing for Dummies (2nd Ed) – Marty Nachel

230626 cover-rb.indd

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Homebrewing for Dummies might not make it as a ‘classic’ homebrewing book, and there might well be guides with nicer covers and lots of photos inside, but do not underestimate the value of this one! The book starts with the basics, and everything is laid out very simply, keeping the more advanced information for later. Equipment, ingredients, sanitation and basic methods are well covered before you get to the stage where you actually brew. The brewing process is unbelievably simply put, so that even I could follow it with no mishaps when brewing my first batch. The book then goes on to intermediate brewing with speciality grains and then a step-by-step guide to the full mash. Other topics are discussed like reusing your yeast, clarifying your beer and how to keg your brew instead of bottling amongst many others. There is also a good selection of recipes covering many styles of ale and lager to get you going. This may not be the definitive homebrewing book, but if you are new, or making the step to a full mash brew, then this is an excellent and easy to follow manual, preparing you for what can be a complicated hobby.

Published by: Wiley

ISBN: 978-0-470-23062-6

Share

Tags: , , ,

Flying Dog Porter

flyingdogporter

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Flying Dog Porter comes from one of the most irreverent breweries around, with their “Good Beer, No Shit” motto, and anarchic Ralph Steadman artwork on the labels. The beer however, is mighty fine, and their porter will delight many a dark ale fan. Its colour is a rich black, with dark cherry highlights and a creamy tightly bubbled head. Sweet molasses and coffee bean dominate the aroma and the palate is also fairly full on. Burnt chocolate notes start off, and are followed by a nice molasses malt taste. This full-bodied porter’s flavour lingers on, creating a pleasant, long bitter-sweet finish. A well made porter that will pair nicely with a rich beef stew to keep out the winter cold.

ABV: 6%

Best Served: 11°C

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

st-patricks-beer-sam-smith-oatmeal-stout-ssWrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout definitely deserves the adage ‘an oldie but a goodie’. This deliciously creamy beer pours near black with a fluffy tan head while the aroma mingles chocolate, roasted coffee and dark malt. The flavour is delightful. At first sip you can taste the creamy oats, velvety dark molasses as well as the aforementioned chocolate and burnt coffee which gives way to an enjoyably bitter after-taste on the finish. Brewed in England at Yorkshire’s oldest brewery (founded in 1758) this is a gorgeous, easy drinking beer and a great first choice if you’re new to stouts. This would be fantastic paired with a creamy coffee dessert like a mocha mousse or some fresh oysters.

ABV: 5.0%

Best Served: 12°C

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

Yukon Red – Amber Ale

yukonred

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Yukon Brewing are a shining light in a territory without much in the way of craft brewers. That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t compete in parts of the world thick with micro-brewers though, and this beer is a good example why! This pours a deep red mahogany colour with a nice light head. It tastes of toasted malt with a touch of caramel sweetness, but well balanced by some spicy, slightly citric hops on the finish. This is a very drinkable beer, and slips down nicely on a Winter’s evening! Pair this with some roast pork or some meaty grilled sausages.

ABV: 5.5%

Best Served: 10°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Brewmaster’s Table – by Garrett Oliver

btgo

Wrangler Rating

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

The Brewmaster’s Table by Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver is a journey around the world of beer as seen through the eyes of a food lover, or should that be the other way round? Either way this book covers all angles of food and beer and how they interact when served together. It is a very readable book, and I read it cover to cover fairly quickly. The conversational and personal style is enjoyable to read and tells of the author’s journey to Europe where he discovered the joys of quality beer as a young man. He goes on to write about the different styles of beer by visiting the various major brewing nations of the world, talking to brewers and tasting their beer. Food pairings are made throughout the book, as well as a ready reckoner of great combinations at the back for easy reference. The exquisite design and layout of the book are complemented by the photography of Denny Tillman, capturing the people, beers and breweries that Oliver visits and writes about. This is a lovely book, well laid out and a joy to read. This is not necessarily a book for all beer fanatics, but if you are a bit of a ‘foodie’, and love your beer, then this is a must. This is also a great book for someone who thinks that wine is the only drink to pair with the food they serve at dinner parties, as it shows just what beer can do with a variety of cuisines from across the globe.

Published by: ecco (Harper Collins)

ISBN: 978-0-06-000571-9

Share

Tags: , , ,

Howe Sound Pumpkineater Imperial Pumpkin Ale

HSB_i-pumpkin-262Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Howe Sound’s Pumpkineater Imperial Pumpkin Ale (as part of the John Mitchell series) may just be one of my favourite seasonal ales ever! The ruddy amber colour reminds me of fresh roasted pumpkin and the sweet aroma has just a touch of star anise. Unlike lesser Pumpkin Ales this full-bodied beer warms the stomach and actually tastes like pumpkin pie. Hints of nutmeg, cinnamon and roasted pumpkin flesh give way to the slightly astringent taste of cloves on the finish. At 8% this isn’t a beer for the faint hearted but it is absolutely perfect for the cold, blustery days of Autumn. Whilst great on its own this beer would pair excellently with a smoky corn chowder or a nice chunk of strong cheddar.

ABV: 8%

Best Served 10°C

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

Marin Brewing Co. Point Reyes Porter

marin-porter

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Marin Brewing Point Reyes Porter is a rich chocolate opaque brown and this is good indicator as to the flavour that follows the pour. Roasted coffee bean and dark cocoa are at the forefront here, and their rich bitterness is very satisfying and extremely moreish. There is a touch of chocolaty sweetness on the finish, but only enough to balance the enjoyable bitter notes that rounds this beer off nicely. This is a supremely drinkable porter that slips down without any trouble at all, so even the large 650 ml bottle seems to disappear far too quickly. Pair this with a dark chocolate dessert of some sort, or you could be adventurous and drink it with a rich chilli con carne!

ABV: 6%

Best Served: 11°C

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

Ayinger Ur-Weisse Dunkel Weizen

Ayinger Ur-weisseWrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Ayinger Ur-Weisse is a well made Dunkel Weizen from the region which is the home of German brewing: Bavaria. The colour is of rich amber and is accompanied by the classic foamy wheat beer head. Malt, wheat and citrus tickle the olfactory senses, and leads us to take a sip. This is gently refreshing, yet full of flavour; tastes of grapefruit and malted barley are at the fore followed by nice floral hoppy notes. The finish has a touch of spicy clove and more of the dry floral hops that we found on the mid-palate. This is a very enjoyable beer and could easily paired with a myriad of food, but I think it should be tried with a spicy and fragrant Thai curry. It could complement all those sweet, hot and floral flavours with ease, while cooling any overly aggressive spices without killing the flavour.

ABV: 5.8%

Best Served: 7°C

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

Okanagan Spring Porter

oksporter

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Okanagan Spring Porter is not labelled as a ‘Baltic’ Porter but it should be as it has plenty of power, strength and depth. This sipping beer is really full bodied, and flavoursome. The colour is a deep browny black with tiny red highlights if there is enough light to fight its way through the near opaque brew. There is an immediate punch of black molasses on the palate, and it is these notes that dominate right though to the finish. There are however, other flavours that have to force their way out, and those are of richly dried fruit, with prune leading the field. There are also delightful hints of spice on the finish, particularly clove. This feels like it will be too sweet at first, but the tastes mingle and develop into a rich, but off dry finish. This is a lovely strong porter but, some might find the molasses notes a tad too strong for the other flavours. I would pair this with a beef and root vegetable pie with a gravy made with this porter – a perfect Autumnal supper!

ABV: 8.5%

Best Served: 12°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Driftwood Brewery Crooked Coast Amber Ale

crooked-coast-medium

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Driftwood Brewery’s Crooked Coast Amber Ale pours into the glass with a lovely dark amber colour and accented by vibrant red highlights. The head is thick and tightly bubbled, then thins out but stays with the beer to the bottom of the glass. There is a distinct roasted malt aroma, but without much sweetness accompanying it. The flavour is more complex and rich than the aroma suggests but the roasted notes are still at the fore. There is an enjoyable nuttiness, reminiscent of hazelnuts on the finish, joined by a dry spiciness. This is a fairly rich but smoothly flavoured alt bier, and would pair nicely with a well seasoned steak and kidney pie.

ABV: 5.1%

Best Served: 11°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Belhaven St. Andrews Ale

Belhaven_St._Andrews_Ale

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Belhaven St. Andrews Ale is a classic session ale in the style of a British Bitter.  There are aromas of light caramel and fruity hops when I dipped my nose in the glass, the body is light-medium with a light head that leaves a little lacing behind.  There are some caramel malt notes on the palate but they do not dominate or overwhelm, the hops are perfectly balanced for this style and give off a slightly fruity and grassy taste right through to the finish. This might not be the most pronounced bitter I’ve ever tasted, but it is a perfect session ale that would be right at home in a good pub, accompanying bangers and mash.

ABV: 4.6%

Best Served: 11°C

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

Nostradamus Bruin (Brasserie Caracole)

nostradamus

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Nostradamus Bruin from Brasserie Caracole is a medium to full bodied brown Dubbel style Belgian ale. It pours a deep ruby brown colour with a tan head that dissipates without much lacing. An aroma of black molasses hits the olfactory senses, and is followed by liqueur soaked candied citrus peel and morello cherry. The flavour is complex and deep, and fills the palate with a load of dried fruit, like dates, figs and cherries with more molasses and and muscovado sugar notes. The finish has a surprising freshness to it which stops the richness become overwhelming, having said that, this is definitely a sipping beer, and one may well be enough. It is rich and flavoursome, so I would prefer to have this on its own after a meal as it may well smother many dishes.

ABV: 9%

Best Served: 9°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Rogue Ales Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale

rogue22oz_captainsig

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Rogue Northwestern Ale is a punch in the mouth of a beer. I like hoppy ales so if you don’t, this one probably isn’t for you. It pours a very ruddy mahogany colour into the glass with a lively off-white head. The carbonation is not too high, and feels like a bottled British Ale. The biggest flavour is by far and away the Pacific Northwest hops. Cascade and Amarillo are used to bring this beer to a mighty 80 IBUs. Floral and grapefruit citrus notes abound, from the initial sip right through to the aftertaste. There are nice roasted malt notes in the background, but they never quite give way. I feel it just misses out as a slightly stronger malt character would have balanced the hops a bit better, but that is my personal taste. This is a love it or hate it beer, but it is true to the style of American interpretations of old world ale made on the West coast, especially in Oregon. Not only that, but it is a fine example made by a fine brewery, and so deserves the 4 Tankard rating.

ABV: 6.2%

*                                                            Best Served: 10°C

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

Paulaner Hefe-Weizen

paulaner_hefe_weizen_bg_bigger

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Paulaner Hefe-Weisen is a cloudy Wheat Beer with a pale gold colour and a light puffy head. There are all the classic flavours present: Citrus, banana, with a touch of vanilla bean and clove. They are extremely well balanced, and mild enough not to compromise the refreshing quality of the beer, but are still strong enough to liven the palate and stop this being in any way bland. There is subtle crispness to the finish, and it could quench the worst summer thirst. If barbequed prawns served with a squeeze of lemon are on your menu, then this will fit the bill perfectly.

ABV 5.5%

Best Served: 7°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Chimay Première Rouge (Red)

chimayrouge

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Chimay Première is the red labeled beer of this classic trio of genuine trappist ales from Belgium. Although it makes no reference on the label, this is the Dubbel or bruin style of other abbey breweries. The colour of label is justified by the ruddy brown hue of the liquid, and the beer has many sweet, roasted malty notes often associated with that tint. There are definite soft floral hop characters on the palate, with light caramel and fig flavours following on. This is not a heavy version of a Dubbel, so finishes with crisp spiciness. The 7% alcohol is not particularly obvious, which makes this an ideal beer to have with a big meal. Roast Pork with roasted root vegetables, and a gravy made with Chimay would be my choice, but this is a versatile beer, so be daring and try it out with a variety of Autumn fare.

ABV: 7%

Best Served: 9°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Mort Subite Kriek Lambic

mskriek356

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Mort Subite Kriek Lambic is a supremely well balanced ale, as the sweetness of the cherry flavour compliments the sharp acidity of this wildly fermented beer. Lambic yeast strains make very sour, yet quite complex beers, but this tartness is not for everyone. Traditionally sugary syrups were added in the bar, but soon brewers like Mort Subite added quality fruit syrup and real cherries to the beer before bottling to create a refreshingly fruity brew. The red cherry notes are not too sweet, but are in perfect harmony with the pleasant piquancy of the Lambic. This is a supremely drinkable beer and would work as well as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to a rich dark chocolate pudding, perhaps with a cherry on top!

ABV: 4.5%

Best Served: 8°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew Ale

fullers-Honey_Dew

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(excellent)

Fuller’s Honey Dew is a Golden / Summer Ale that is brewed with organic honey; don’t think that this is a sweet beer though, as the honey is subtle and beautifully balanced. There is a touch of the pale malt, a spritz of hops and the honey note that finishes it all off with a thirst quenching roundness. A nicely chilled pint of this on a hot summer’s afternoon is where it’s best. It is light enough to drink on its own all day, or matched with a summer salad or grilled chicken dish. It has a pale golden colour and light carbonation that complements the refreshing style of this ale from one of London’s best independent brewers.

ABV: 5%

Best served: 7°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Lagunitas Sirius Cream Ale

lag-sirius

Wrangler Rating

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Lagunitas Sirius is a ‘High Gravity’ Cream Ale weighing in at 7%, which is not a common occurrence, but nor is a cream ale of this quality. Do not be fooled by the high alcohol, this is a supremely quaffable and refreshing beer as a cream ale should be. It is surprisingly light and well balanced. There are notes of banana and crisp grapefruit with a hint of pine in the background, but no flavour overwhelms the palate.  There is a touch of hoppy bitterness, that leads to a crisp finish and invites the drinker to take another gulp. This is a great evening aperitif beer.

ABV: 7%

Best Served: 6°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Fiddler’s Elbow (Wychwood Brewery)

wychwood_fiddler_s_elbow-400-400

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Wychwood’s Fiddler’s Elbow is an extremely drinkable Pale Ale, golden amber in colour and brewed with a touch of wheat, which is unusual for modern British Bitters and Pale Ales. This gives it a light refreshing feel, that makes it ideal as a summer session beer. The attack is bright, citrus-y and floral, followed by some nice medium malt flavours. The mid palate gives you a slight banana bread taste, balancing Fiddler’s Elbow rather nicely!  The hops are still front and centre though, leaving you with a refreshing dry finish, and those notes of flowery citrus linger in your mouth, inviting the next sip. This could be paired with all sorts of things without any trouble, but I would recommend a nice pork chop, grilled and served with sautéed new potatoes and fresh veggies. – Enjoy!

ABV:5.2 %

Best Served: 10°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Piraat Strong Blond Ale (Van Steenburge Brewery)

Piraat_LargeWrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

This is a lovely example of a strong Belgian golden ale. This beer emits a medium-golden hue and is topped with a tight, slightly creamy head. The alcohol is well hidden within the flavours of the beer and it exudes slightly dried tropical fruits, with a touch of caramelised sugar. Having said that, Piraat is not a sweet brew as there is a dry malty and spicy yeast finish. This beer goes on to warm your insides with its strength and flavour, making it a great sipping beer on its own, or as an accompaniment to a beef stew or chicken casserole.

ABV: 9%

Best Served: 9°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,

Fraoch Heather Ale (Williams Bros. Brewing)

Fraoch_Heather_Ale

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

This is a version of an old Scottish recipe, using heather flowers and gale to flavour the brew rather than hops. Gale is a plant traditionally use to make ‘Gruit’, a mixture of herbs to flavour ale.  It is great to see someone make historic ales as the Williams Brothers do; their selection includes four other beers which are well worth investigating. The beer has a pale amber colour with a light head. There is a touch of malt on the palate followed by an attractive herbaceous floral flavour. The subtle sweetness of the heather and gale notes are balanced by a crisp dry finish. This beer would go well with flavoursome salads and many chicken and pork dishes – more versatile than you would imagine!

ABV: 5%

Best Served: 11°C

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

Double_Chocolate_StoutWrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

This deep opaque black stout truly is a modern classic. Brewed in England with real dark chocolate as well as chocolate malt it has a rich, creamy bittersweet flavour which creates a smoothness that feels like velvet on your tongue. The notes of the bitter dark malt come through but are well balanced by the sweetness of the dark chocolate. You may also detect faint notes of sweet spice on the palate, making this an excellent dessert beer.

ABV: 5%

Best Served: 13°C

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,