A Lager I Like a Lot: @HarviestounBrew – Schiehallion

20141031_190622At -another- leaving do for one of my colleagues (there’ll only be me left at this rate) in Oxford, we decided to go back to The Standard curry house in Walton Street as it’s a) great and b) got a beer menu.  As I was driving much later on, I thought I’d go for a smaller bottle of beer and as it was a curry, why not try a Lager?

Now, Me and Lager have an on/off relationship (it’s normally “on” and available, and I’m normally put “off” of trying it…as a child of the eighties/nineties I am congenitally predisposed towards hating shit lager)

Anyway, that might all have to go out of the window now I’ve tried Schiehallion…

I poured it into my glass, it was lightish lager-coloured with a crystal-sparkly white head.

One sniff and the aroma instantly blew away all my old Lager-based fears: it smelt of something.  A nice something:  clean fresh, with an alluring maltiness, some grains and a little slab of fresh ozoney hops.  Enchanting.

The taste was solid malt with a crisp freshness about it.  The malts were definitely to the fore and the wheat added a delicious layer of luscious viscosity and creaminess.  A spritzy, lively, clean hoppiness sat atop the whole thing and made it sparkle, pop and fizz.

Lovely.  I mean really lovely.  Quite simply the best lager I’ve ever had.  Period.

I’ve never had a yearning to brew a lager before.  Now I have…

http://harviestoun.com/our-beers/schiehallion

Chapel Down: Curious Brew

CuriousA winemaker making beer.?  I’ve never heard of such a thing.  I’d have thought beer would be way too common a drink for a winemaker to consider…

But apparently Chapel Down winemakers have considered it and are now making beer.  It’s a beer with a little twist in its story and by jingo it’s good.

Chapel Down are producing three different beers: Curious Brew (Lager), Curious IPA (I’ll leave you to guess what that is) and Curious Porter (this is too easy)

I tried the Curious Brew whilst on a stag weekend in Stratford upon Avon and my notes are consequently full of florid, expansive and sometimes indecipherable language describing just how good this beer is.

I was kind of forced into trying it as I was in a pub on the riverfront in Stratford that had three cask hand-pulls on the bar with  NO CASK BEER WHATSOEVER available…and it was a Saturday night too.  What’s that all about? This country…

Anyway, back to Curious Brew:  An excellent delicate (pilsener?) malt and sprightly hop aroma greeted me from the glass.

A light, almost cheery, effervescence didn’t intrude upon the taste of slightly sweet, delicate, lightish malt, and a refined and delicate hoppy edge.

A slightly dryish note with an excellent floral, slightly white-winey hoppiness on the swallow completed the picture.

You can really taste that this beer has been made by a winemaker it’s so refined and well-made.  I dare say it’d partner nicely with seafood or light chickeny, salady things.

After drinking I noticed that the bottle informed me that Chapel Down ferment Curious Brew with an appropriate lager yeast and then finish with a champagne yeast after.  Very classy.

This is such a lovely beer, complex, refined (very refined) and accessible to anyone.  I’d heartily recommend it.  Excellent.

Can’t wait to get my hands on the IPA and Porter!

http://www.chapeldown.com/Products/102-curious-brew-24-bottles.aspx

Staropramen and Budweiser

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See how my wife has an eye for a bargain?  And isn’t it beautifully presented?

The local co-op must have had some split four-packs and some loose bottles, so Eve got these three bottles for the princely sum of £2.50.

First up: Staropramen Lager

I don’t know much about these folks but i do know that even though I’m not a lager drinker per se I quite enjoyed this one.  Staropramen is brewed in Prague and imported by Carlsberg.

Almost a sunflowery yellow colour with a sprightly effervescence and a cap of fluffy foam that just won’t budge.  A very pretty-looking glass of beer.

Aroma-wise, there’s a light minerality with slightly peppery, ozoney euro hops and sweet malt goodness.  There’s also a faint florid note that puts this squarely in the summer beer category for me.

On the taste side there’s a smooth effervescence in the mouth feel, backed up with a light bready maltiness…the follow on and aftertaste have a light refreshing bitterness with a lovely thirst quenching quality.  The aftertaste doesn’t hang about for long, but doesn’t need to, the pleasant easy-tasting quality of this beer makes you want to keep drinking.

Overall: I like it; it’s fresh, tasty and thirst quenching.  It doesn’t last long when the weather’s warm – so get a few in while we still have some weather to enjoy.

http://www.staropramen.com/en/products

Second Up: Budweiser (NOT Budvar)

…and by crikey, don’t we know it.  By comparison to the Staropramen it’s a thin, paltry, sorry affair. one word to describe the whole experience: thin.  Thin aroma, thin nose, thin mouth feel, thin bitterness.

If I was feeling less generous I’d describe it as “Niggardly” (Idiots, please look this word up before you comment)

I suppose if you’re going to brew with rice as one of your ingredients you’re going to have to expect something watery and woeful.

Still, on the bottle it’s described as The King of Beers…which laughable.

Mind you, there was that bloke that bought that old fort in the middle of the North Sea, called it Sealand and considered himself the de facto King.  I suspect there was only him involved in that decision, just like Budweiser in theirs.

Anyway, rather than providing a link to the “Bud” (bleurgh) site, I thought I’d provide you with a link to The Prinicipality of Sealand’s website as it’s way, way, way more interesting than the Budweiser site:

http://www.sealandgov.org/