Bad Beer and Lemonade…

Have a read of this:

What do you reckon to that, eh?  I reckon shandy has it’s place, but only if it’s made with rubbish beer.

As a brewer I couldn’t bear to think of someone making a shandy up with one of my creations…surely that’s what Fosters, Carling, John Smiths and all the other mass-market stuff is there for?  They’re the beers to have Lemonade “tops” in – especially if you don’t like the taste of beer…

If you want to drink sweet fizzy stuff with a tiny bit of alcohol in why not try WKD, alco-pops, alcoholic ginger beer and all that other stuff?

I guess you could mix quality beers into some sort of godawful beer cocktail, but what’s the point?  I know Lambic and Gueze are blended, but that’s just because they have to – for quality control.

You wouldn’t have a Laphroaig single malt and coke, would you?   (Please don’t tell me you do.  That’s just not on…)


20140712_205016There, I’ve said it…

I’m still wondering how in the name of all that’s holy did Aldi manage to get hold of this American IPA in sufficient quantities to sell it at a quid a bottle in their stores?

Don’t hang about long enough to read this review, get down there and stock up before they run out.  It’s an absolute, complete and utter bargain.

Aldi, will you start stocking up on more US “craft” beers, please?  I’ll be shopping at your stores every week if you do – hell, you can even appoint me as your chief consumer taster of new beers if you like…now THAT’S generosity.

Shipyard IPA is that typical US IPA colour of bronzey-copper-orange with a good solid head retention.

While it’s not as madly hoppy in the aroma as I’d normally like IT’S STILL A QUID A BOTTLE.  The fuggles hops that are there are solid enough to let you know this is a US IPA and the malt is more than evident.

Shipyard is well carbonated and has a good solid malty mouth-feel.  A sustaining and tasty bitterness is backed up with malty sweetness and a hefty dose of lovely hoppy goodness.

This is a typical representation of the US IPA style – even if it’s not the standard US IPA “C” hop types and isn’t as completely mental as others, it’s a great introduction to the style…

I still can’t believe it’s only a quid.  STOCK UP NOW!

Certainly not taking the piss: Piddle – Dorset slasher

20140706_151012You’ve got to love us English for revelling in rude words, haven’t you?  Piddle brewery, despite not actually brewing with any urine at all, are located close to the river Piddle in Dorset.

I’ve always found the name to be amusing; so much so that when – as a young UNIX admin – I was asked to choose the name of an English river to call my new Solaris workstation, I chose the name “Piddle”.  Oh, how I laughed…

Even though I’m now a seasoned and practically over-the-hill infrastructure architect, I still have a Linux workstation named “Piddle”.  Oh, how I laugh still…even though everyone else stopped many years ago.

This particular beer is called Dorset Slasher…which again prompts more hilarity, even though it’s years since I really heard anyone say that they were just off for a slash.  Maybe we ought to revive the term, just for old time’s sake?

Aaanyway.  Onto this beer review:

The bottle was so full, I mean literally a few ml from the cap – that’s value for money.  And it kept it’s carbonation, too.

Pouring a translucent lagery-yellow colour and bearing little in the way of head I was all ready to be a little disappointed.  But, I’m happy to say my fears were unfounded:

The aroma was zippy, spritzery and lively – almost like those little bottles of French lager that we all drank as kids when someone had done a booze run to Calais, riding over the top of this was a nice hoppy twang that certainly made my mouth water.

In the taste was a good solid body with a nice leading malt sweetness, followed by rounded light maltiness; then, finally, some tasty hoppy note accompanied by a gently bitter finish and a really lovely creamy after taste.

You really could drink gallons of this at the right temperature in summer.  As you can see I chilled mine to stream temperature in my back garden.

A very accessible, accomplished and quite lovely pint.  Well done, the Piddle crew.

(Just seen their marvellous-looking Black IPA – brewed with Galaxy – on their website.  I like Galaxy and I’ve got a thing for Dark IPAs.  I’d love to sample and review that.)

Great beers at the Hook Norton Beer Festival

20140719_144946Humour is most definitely alive and well in the land of the beer festival…

This was my first time at this event, and on the whole I was impressed:

Good things:
  • 100+ beers and ciders on cask
  • Fast attentive bar service
  • £1.50 a half, which is very good value
  • Good tasting notes
  • Camping available if you wanted to
  • Live music
  • Good selection of non-alcoholic options and foods to keep drivers and kids topped up
Not so good things:
  • Billed as being family friendly, but there wasn’t much for kids to do – apart from a horse and cart ride around the car park field
  • Far too many people crammed into too small-a-space, especially when groups of folks turn up with their gazebos, chairs and the like

When you organize this event next time, please try to make a bigger area for festival-goers to congregate – give some room for people to spread out a bit and make sure the stage with the music is somewhere where everyone can see it.

My kids only managed to last about an hour and half before they became over-whelmed by the sheer amount of people compressed into such a small space – especially when we all had to pile in the tent to escape the thunderstorm.

It was difficult to navigate the site without tripping over gazebo guy ropes, dog leads, folding chairs and lord knows what else.

And please: next year have a free bouncy castle…most people I saw leaving early were going because their kids were bored or kicking off about something or other (mine included).  Beer festivals are normally a great family day out and mine usually get wildly over-excited at the idea of going to one (Arthur couldn’t sleep the night before the Hooky one, as he normally gets cake, crisps and pop all afternoon, plus unlimited bouncy castle time with his mates…imagine his disappointment when there was no castle at all)

Parents with happy children will stay a lot longer and spend so much more on food and drink…

Despite the above, the festival was well organized and there was a MAGNIFICENT beer list: with really great tasting notes that helped me choose the four beers that I sampled:


Dark Star – Hop Head:

Oh god, this was so good. Tons of hops, maybe Simcoe – but not at all catty. Pretty much excellent.  I love this beer to death.


Hyde’s – Anvil Sharp Motueka:

A beer I just had to try because I’ve been curious about this particular New Zealand hop. The beer turned out to be almost fresh cigar-like, thick malt and caramel, some graininess and a good non-citrussy hop hit. (I can’t actually find this beer anywhere on this site?)


Hopshackle – Hopnosis:

Lightly citrussy and ethereal. A tasty light maltiness and an excellent bitterness, Good pervasive and lasting after-taste


Oakham Ales – Scarlet Macaw:

On cask this is just like the bottle ( but even lovelier. All-round-excellent. Hoppy, bitey, makes you all screechy – just like a Macaw (that’s copied verbatim from my festival notes and was the last drink of the day…could you guess?)


Will definitely be going back to Hooky next year as long as there’s more opportunity to keep the kids amused while I sample beer…  :o)   I’m also happy to report that ALL of the money raised at the festival goes to charity.  So good on them.