Monday, 30 April 2018

530: Tiny Rebel - Fugg Life

20180330_151918The Brewery: “We are Tiny Rebel, an award-winning brewery from Newport, South Wales.We are the youngest and only Welsh brewery to win Champion beer of Britain. We are the only brewery to have won gold, silver and bronze in the Champion Beer of Wales competition (in our first year!) and the only brewery to defend a gold the following year.”

The Beer: “British hops like Fuggles may not be trendy like their American cousins, but they live the Fugg Life. Our Brit PA is wholly hopped using British hops. Rather than the fruity, citrussy flavours imparted by American and Pacific hops, their British cousins give an earthy, woody flavour that makes for perfect bittering. An easy drinking 4.2% pale ale, Fugg Life delivers a rich bitterness before a clean, dry finish.”

Tasted better than it looked - had I seen how pale it was I might have chosen something else but it was very enjoyable if still a little ‘zingy’. 4.2% A.B.V.

The Head of Steam, Tynemouth. March 2016

529: Exmoor - Stag

20180405_192612The Brewery: “Founded in 1979, Exmoor Ales was one of the pioneer ‘Micro Breweries’ to stand against the onslaught of keg ale flooding the market from the ‘Big Brewers’. We concentrated on crafting ales of character and flavour which gained the support of the public and helped lead to the cask ale revival of the early eighties. That we were following the right path was confirmed when, with only our 13th ever brew, our 3.8% session bitter simply know as Exmoor Ale, was named Champion Best Bitter in the 1980 Great British Beer Festival”

The Beer: “Back in 1991, Somerset County Cricket Club celebrated its 100th anniversary and Exmoor produced Stag to celebrate the occasion. Initially produced in bottle, this full-bodied copper-coloured strong ale has gone on to become a vital part of the brewery’s cask-conditioned portfolio…… The nose is rich with resiny hop aromas to the fore followed by a biscuity maltiness in the background. On the palate a voluminous malty character with hints of chocolate and toffee is matched note for note with a well defined and warming fruitiness, before a giddy descent where a long dry finish where a hint of sweetness keeps matters well mannered. “

Yep, powerful stuff - a real punch of flavours. Not one to slosh back but to be enjoyed slowly. 5.2% A.B.V

The White Hart, Warboys, Cambridgeshire. April 2018

Friday, 27 April 2018

528: Coniston - Bluebird Bitter

20180328_220115The Brewery: “The Coniston Brewing Company, with its roots in the hotel and licensed trade knows a thing or two about giving their discerning customers quality and service. Ian Bradley, son of the owners of the Black Bull in Coniston, has studied and graduated in the art of brewing, and in 1995 the Coniston Brewing Co. was built: you might say, since then, Ian’s brews have gone from strength to strength! Six beers in regular production yield an output of 1600 gallons a week for distribution to 100 customer outlets. Acclaim is not limited to the U.K. alone, bottled varieties of Bluebird and Old Man are shipped to the U.S.A., Sweden and Hong Kong.”

The Beer: “It is, quite simply, a wonderful beer. It is exceedingly pale (21-22 units colour), with just a hint of colour in its cheeks from the dash of crystal malt. It has a massive orange fruit aroma from the challengers, balanced by biscuity malt.”

I first tried this back in 2012 - at the Black Bull - when we stayed at the caravan site in Coniston. I remember enjoying it then so was so glad of the chance for another taste. Paler than I would normally like but a nice easy going session beer. 3.6% A.B.V. April 2018.

527: Hadrian Border - Farne Island

20180327_160840The Brewery: “….in 1994 we took over the Border Brewery Company in Berwick upon Tweed. This was an 8 barrel brew plant with 15 barrels of fermenting capacity, selling 2 barrels per week at that time. Very soon we had to add more fermenters, by 1999 we had the capacity to brew 35 barrels per week and were rapidly reaching that limit of sales. At that time Farne Island was the best selling beer and it was being brewed twice a week to keep up with demand. The search was on for a bigger plant. In 2000 the Four Rivers brewery in Byker Newcastle went into liquidation, there was a 20 barrel plant available. We had looked for premises around Berwickshire but had drawn a blank, we had nowhere to put this large brewery if we bought it so we decided to buy the whole business from the liquidators and relocate ourselves and the existing business to Tyneside. The Four Rivers had originally been called the Hadrian Brewery so we changed the company name to Hadrian and Border, the Border, now north of Berwick and Hadrian’s wall were one and the same thing, just in different locations and eras.”

The Beer: “An amber coloured bitter, perfectly blended malt and hops makes this well-rounded beer balanced and refreshing”

My awkward palate disagreed and found this just a little too hoppy. A decent pint though. 4.0% A.B.V

The Beehive, Earsdon, Tyne & Wear. March 2018

526: Bath Ales - Anthem

20180327_152201The Brewery: “Bath Ales brewed its first beer in 1995 at a tiny brewery in Wincanton, Somerset. Since then the brewery has moved twice, but the beer we make and the Hare that proudly adorns our beers remains the same – with a bit of a refresh along the way. Founded by Roger Jones and Richard Dempster, the pair brought on Rab Clark, a local publican, because he was willing to sell their first beer. Demand for Bath Gem quickly spread though, and as business grew the brewery bought its own pub, the Hare on the Hill, and moved production to Bristol.”

The Beer: “this sessionable amber ale is full of citrus and peach aromas that balance perfectly with a grapefruit bitterness. This easy-drinking ale is perfect paired with salty pub snacks such as crisps, peanuts and pork ...….”

That was all I could grab at the time as the link to the full page didn’t work. I’m a fan of Bath Ales thanks to their delicious Gem, but this didn’t excite sadly. Nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t to my taste. 3.8% A.B.V

The Melton Constable, Seaton Sluice, Tyne & Wear. March 2018

525: Wylam - Angel

20180326_190455The Brewery: “Our Brewery has come a fairly long way since our founding fathers John Boyle & Robin Leighton pawed over their first malt bills and recipes in a potting shed in the village of Wylam, Northumberland. Our brews are now enjoyed in quality pubs and bottle shops across the land and further beyond……Founded in 2000 Wylam is a 30 Barrel Micro Brewery that resides at the Palace of Arts in Exhibition Park.”

The Beer: “This pale copper amber ale is a well-balanced bitter with a citrus character in the aroma and a rich, spicy finish driven by the Cascade hop.”

Yep, a little too heavy on the citrus for my awkward palate but I could have drank another. 4.3% A.B.V

The Delaval Arms, Old Hartley, Tyne & Wear. March 2018

Friday, 30 March 2018

524: Campbells - Gunner

20180325_141643The Brewery: “Campbells brewery was established in 2017 in Peebles by Murray Campbell. We are a team absolutely dedicated to producing the finest ales in Scotland. Our brewers, Isaac Knowles-Gruft, Mark Harrison and Craig Barrett are incredibly skilled and passionate and their mission is always to source top quality malts and hops to produce the very best cask and bottle-conditioned ales.”

The Beer: “Gunner Blonde is the first beer that we have brought out on to the market and we are having so much success with this we have had to increase the number of our fermentation vessels to keep up with demand. Gunner Blonde is a lovely well balanced blonde ale brewed with German bittering hops and finished with delicious American hops creating an absolutely delicious pint.”

So, a REALLY young brewery. I tell you what though, even though this is not my favourite style of ale  I really enjoyed it. Looking forward to more beers from Campbells. 4.5% A.B.V

The Island View Inn, Berwick-upon-Tweed. March 2018

523: Crossborders - Porter

20180324_182811The Brewery. There’s lots more on the website but here’s a taster: “1990 – Gary and Jonny meet, aged 9, at the Kinross after-school gulag and bond over custard creams and table football. Gary wins the football. Jonny eats most of the biscuits. Instant friends……….2010 – The boys decide to start a brewery. Jonny goes back to school, is told that he can’t repeat Primary Six a third time, so instead enrols at Heriot Watt to study Brewing and Distilling. Gary makes him his packed lunch in a Power Rangers lunch box…..2016 – Gary and Jonny officially launch Cross Borders Brewing Company in July 2016 at the Stockbridge Tap in Edinburgh. Gary works hard on the business paperwork; Jonny makes him his packed lunch in a carrier bag. He’d left the Power Rangers lunch box at work.”

The Beer: “Flavours of roasted coffee & chocolate with a helping of oats make this easy drinking porter extra smooth.”

Yes, it was easy drinking and yes it was extra smooth. A tasty Porter that I’d happily drink again. 4.2% A.B.V

The Brown Bear, Berwick-upon-Tweed. March 2018

522: The Orkney Brewery - Puffin Ale

20180323_213931The Brewery: “….Our processes create only the finest hand-crafted ales, using the traditional methods developed and handed down through time. Only the finest ingredients and purest Orcadian water can create these outstanding, full-of-flavour ales. So next time you sip one of our brews, you can be sure it was made with the best malt, hops, yeast, Orcadian water — and a long, long history of making quality ales……”

The Beer: “Deep Tawny Ale- smooth and nutty…….Rich nutty malt, sweet smooth blackcurrant and lemon mousse leading to blackcurrant leaf and wood notes with a dry woody, spicy nutmeg finish”

This is the second beer I got to try from Orkney on this trip and again it didn’t disappoint. A lovely mix of flavours. 4.5% A.B.V. March 2018

521: Mordue - Radgie Gadgie

20180323_203936The Brewery: “Mordue Brewery is one of the UK’s most successful craft breweries of the last 20 years. Mordue Brewery have a history of winning national beer awards commencing with our very first ever brand, Workie Ticket, which went on to win Champion Beer of Britain shortly after we started business. We brew craft beer to the very highest standards and have done from the first day of brewing 20 years ago. We started with the express intention of brewing beer better than the beers that were available at the time. Our commitment to innovation and improvement hasn't wavered in the subsequent years - this is why we continually win awards for our new beers. This means that we are both established, yet at the cutting edge, our brewery is based just east of Newcastle and is equipped with state of the art equipment.”

The Beer: “Premium strength northern ale balancing leafy hops, berry fruit and malt.”

Reminded me of one of those ales that appear around Christmas time but that’s not a bad thing - to my palate anyway. A nice drop. 4.8% A.B.V. March 2018.

520: The Orkney Brewery - Dark Island

20180322_174548The Brewery: “….Our processes create only the finest hand-crafted ales, using the traditional methods developed and handed down through time. Only the finest ingredients and purest Orcadian water can create these outstanding, full-of-flavour ales. So next time you sip one of our brews, you can be sure it was made with the best malt, hops, yeast, Orcadian water — and a long, long history of making quality ales……”

The Beer: “Dark Island is an iconic beer: The Orkney Brewery's flagship beer. Exhibiting a ripe fruity, chocolate nose, Dark Island is balanced by flavours of dark Chocolate, dried fruit, figs and nuts from the combination of roasted malts and rich hops. A standard-bearer for traditional Scottish ales. In cask, this beer has twice won CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Scotland.”

Yeah, I like a drop of the dark stuff now and again and this didn’t disappoint. Robust at 4.6% A.B.V without being overpowering.

519: Dark Revolution - Elektra

20180322_170128What they say: “We use the finest floor malted grains, fresh hops and multiple strains of fresh brewers yeast and microbes. Ingredients are chosen simply for their contribution to the product rather than the effect on bottom line. Our beer is then handled as carefully as possible with the minimum of processing to create the best beer possible. We constantly strive to improve. Looking to modern peers, ancestors and our own experimentation. Beers that evolve and change over time. Embracing new ingredients, technology and innovation.”

The Beer: “Deep red colour with dominant fruit and malt aromas. Heavy late hopping with Amarillo and Citra lends a delicate orange and lemon aroma to balance the deep malt character.”

Didn’t really work for me to be honest. I found the flavours a bit confusing. having had a look at their range though I’m looking forward to further ‘research’ into Dark Revolution’s product when the opportunity arises. 4.4% A.B.V.

The Guildford Arms, Edinburgh. March 2018

Monday, 26 February 2018

518: Saltaire – South Island Pale

20180225_195639The Brewery: “International award-winning Saltaire Brewery is in Shipley, West Yorkshire. Formed in 2005, it has enjoyed brewing hand crafted ales since 2006. Our beers have won more than 100 trade awards, including two national championship brews and two international gold medals for our Triple Chocoholic Stout. “

The Beer: “One of our most popular cask ales – bottled for the first time! A clean beer with cool, crisp, fruitiness from New Zealand hops grown at Tasman Bay. It’s a flavoursome beer that belies its lower ABV.”

Yeah, a bit fruity for me but they’ve really packed some flavour into a nice light beer. Just 3.5% A.B.V but tastes stronger. I’ve said it many times before about this style of beer – but served a bit colder on a warm summers night it would go down really well indeed.

February 2018

517: Hepworth – Sussex

DWWHPTHWkAAVquS.jpg largeThe Brewery: “Hepworths, based in Stane Street Pulborough, West Sussex, are award winning brewers of Craft Beer and contemporary  beers made with the honed skills of craftsmen. Acclaimed as Supreme Champion in 2012, our success is attributable to the high quality of our ingredients, the traditional methods we employ and the long experience that results in the perfect pint.

And, in fact, a lot of pints. Currently over 2 million, mostly currently consumed in the South East, but some exported for appreciation in Russia, Norway and Italy

The beer: “Sussex is a well hopped traditional Pale Ale. Thirst quenching and traditionally brewed with the finest Sussex grown ingredients: malted barley, Golding and Admiral Hops. It carries the ‘Warranty of Origin’ to guarantee our commitment to creating excellent beers from the highest quality local ingredients.”

Another local ale from  over the border in West Sussex, it didn’t offend but neither did it excite – but then it’s not my favourite style of beer. Easy drinking though at just 3.5% A.B.V so great for a ‘school’ night.

February 2018

516: Harveys – Copperwheat

20180222_203006What they say: “Copperwheat is named after the fictitious Lewes brewers in Mrs. Dudeny’s novel ‘Seed Pods’ (1927). Originally inspired by SIBA’s Wheat Beer challenge in 2001. It is best served chilled.

Tasting Notes: Brewed with malted wheat and barley, this ‘Kristal Weissbier’ contains only English hops. Harveys own brewing liquor and yeast strain are employed but the result is a very continental flavour. It has been described as “wheat and sweet” but it still retains the typical dry palate and is extremely moreish.”

Really liked this and loved the of dryness and didn’t find it too sweet. Should have chilled it a little more though. 4.8% A.B.V.

February 2018

515: Vale Brewery – Red Kite

20180205_205620What they say: “Deep red in colour, reminiscent of it’s avian namesake, with big malt flavours and a strong hop finish.” 

Another tasty beer from the gang at Vale, the malt flavours did a good job of reigning in those hops for my fussy palate. 4.3% A.B.V.

February 2018

Monday, 5 February 2018

514: McMullen - Hertford Castle

20180204_200119UntitledWhat they say: “A fine brew from McMullen at The Whole Hop Brewery, combining natural whole leaf arome hops, best Suffolk malted barley and McMullen’s own pure spring water. Late hopping adds a subtlety to the traditional recipe, creating a truly distinctive taste for the ale connoisseur.”

I first tried McMullen beers just over a year ago at one of their pubs near Enfield and enjoyed them all so was delighted to find another, this time in bottled form. Strong, but didn’t taste especially so to my palate. Enjoyed. 5.0% A.B.V. February 2018.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

513: Tring – Ridgeway

20180203_210723What they say: “An ever popular stalwart of our range, Ridgeway is defined by the finest UK malts balanced with the fruity characteristics of Styrian Goldings hops. This is a classic English ale at it’s most refined and drinkable……..We particularly like this one with rich hearty meals. A boeuf bourguignon or mushroom stroganoff on a cold winters evening.”

Well, I didn’t get to pair this with anything as exotic but it did make a very nice accompaniment to a packet of cheddars.  This was the first beer I’ve tried from this Hertfordshire brewery, procured during our stay at the Wyatts Covert CAMC site in Denham, Bucks in October 2017. It’s been sitting in the cupboard for far too long. An enjoyable pint,  well 500ml then! 4.0% A.B.V.

February 2018

Monday, 29 January 2018

512: Vale Brewery – Black Beauty

20180128_200231What they say: “An award winning wholesome, full bodied porter. Intense roasted flavours give way to a wonderful hop flavoured finish.”

Procured during our stay at Wyatts Covert caravan site in Denham, Buckinghamshire so quite local – at the time anyway. A nice drop and the hop finish was pleasant without being over-powering. 4.4% A.B.V

January 2018

Thursday, 25 January 2018

511: Thornbridge – Jaipur

WP_20171213_20_26_25_ProWhat they say: “A citrus dominated India Pale Ale, its immediate impression is soft and smooth yet builds to a crescendo of massive hoppiness accentuated by honey. An enduring, bitter finish.”

Not my first Thornbridge beer but one I’ve seen around a fair bit. Not really my thing as you might have guessed from their description but potent stuff at 5.9% A.B.V.

Attimore Hall, Welwyn-Garden-City. December 2017

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

510: Shepherd Neame – Rudolph’s Reward

What they say: “Originally developed in our pilot brewery, the seasonal ale is among the collection of innovative limited edition No.18 Yard Brewhouse beers, named after the historic cask store. It is a light brown malty ale featuring pale and crystal malts and Target and East Kent Goldings hops, with mulling spices added at the end of the brew.”
Not usual dark fruity and malty Christmas ale it was quite light with just a hint of spicyness that livelier foods would probably drown out. Pleasant enough but didn’t over excite. 3.7% A.B.V.
Attimore Hall, Welwyn-Garden-City. Hertfordshire. December 2017

509: Youngs – London Gold (cask)

What they say: “a lovely refreshing summery beer which is a light, golden and full flavoured bottle conditioned beer with a refreshing bite.”
The last time I tried this was in it’s bottled form – when it was sadly cloudy due to being out of date.  This was better – not my favourite style of beer as regulars will know, but it was all that was on offer and I did have a second. As I’ve said before – served a bit colder it would be lovely on a hot summers’ night. 4.0% A.B.V.
Coopers Grill House, Welwyn-Garden-City. December 2017

Sunday, 21 January 2018

508: Nene Valley – Nene Valley Bitter

20171227_192937What they say: “A smooth, full-bodied, pale chestnut traditional bitter for everyday drinking”

No argument with that. A good all around bitter from this East Anglian brewery that can now boast that most of their beers are gluten free.

Found on a return visit to a pub I first tried to get into over 20 years ago. The owner was rather ‘eccentric’ to put it nicely and I was told by the barman – who was camper than a row of tents – that they “don’t serve men with earrings”!

Not cheap but great food – the steaks were divine.

The Tickell Arms, Whittlesford, Cambridge. December 2017

507: Mordue – Howay in a Manger

20171229_202809What they say: “Mid Brown fruity Christmas beer packs plenty of flavour.”

Pretty much the bog standard ‘Christmas’ ale I thought but eminently drinkable. Would always take their Workie Ticket but would love to come across more from their range.

The Robin Hood. Cherry Hinton, Cambridge. December 2017.

Monday, 8 January 2018

506: Turpin’s – Red Nose

20171227_192931What they say: “This winter ale is copper colour, has malty, fruity and slightly sweet flavours, hoppy and a bit spicy finish.”

Another local brew that I got to sample during our extended stay in Cambridge over Christmas and this was brewed just over 3 miles away. The usual winter warmer but not loaded with alcohol like some. Would happily drink again and would love to try some of their regular ales, particularly the Cambridge Black. 3.9% A.B.V. Great steaks here too.

The Tickell Arms, Whittlesford, Cambridge. December 2017

505: Slaters – Premium Best Bitter

20171222_170946What they say:Rich amber coloured beer with hints of caramel, malt and a complex fruity hop aroma developing a bitter finish and balancing the well-rounded 'malty mouthfeel'.”

Oh yum. This was nice. The name is spot on – a great example of a Best Bitter which I enjoyed rather too much when meeting up with some old friends in this great village boozer that keeps a wide selection of real ales. 4.4% A.B.V.

The Red Lion, Histon, Cambridgeshire. December 2017

504: Crafty Beers – Carpenter’s Cask

20171221_174029What they say: “An easy-drinking traditional bitter with plenty of malt flavours and moderate bitterness”

Well, they may not say a lot but this was a truly lovely pint, brewed just 15 miles away by this young (2012) brewery. Very easy drinking and I hope to come across more of their range in the future. A great pub too that are really enthusiastic about their beer. 3.8% A.B.V.

The Three Horseshoes, Stapleford, Cambridgeshire. December 2017

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

503: Great Heck – Black Santa

20171219_201315What they say: “Warm yourself against the icy blast with this delicious, rich festive stout. Flavoured with a hint of real vanilla pods and English hops. Black Santa is fermented with a Belgian yeast strain which imparts a surprisingly easy drinking nature to the beer as well as some fruity top notes to complement the vanilla.”

It was certainly easy drinking despite weighing in at 5.4% A.B.V. Slightly fruitier than I would have preferred but still very enjoyable.

The Queen Edith, Cambridge. December 2017

502: Navigation – Smokin’ Joe

20171219_201312What they say: “Dark smoked porter packing a power punch for the end of the year. Dark and smokey, a tangy transatlantic affair with a peculiar hint of liquorish.”

Ooh yum. Light on the hops and fruit and heavy on the malt. A great seasonal ale from this Nottinghamshire brewery in that most rare of beasts – a pub that was knocked down then rebuilt.

The Queen Edith, Cambridge. December 2017