Friday, 30 December 2011

Brewing up a storm in Manchester

Well hellllllo people. Once again I find that I have to apologise for my sporadic blogging, but still with a lack of a proper computer to write with and being epic busy with playing Skyrim (well......that game was always gonna take over my life) I've only just found time to write. So this is a quick update on my life as of now:

- I'm back where I belong.....Working behind the bar! I'm currently working at The Gateway in East Didsbury and all is going well and the cellar is NICE.
- I'm living in my own place.......well.....I say my own place....its a house-share, but I've got my own keys and everything!!
-Life in Manchester is going pretty darn well. I could probably do with meeting more people, but hey, I love the fact that you cant blink an eye without a new brewery opening its a bit of give and take.

Anyway...... that's enough of me, lets take about beery things. Now one of the first things I did after coming to Manchester (other then blowing ALL of my cash going to ALL the pubs and tasting ALL the beer........I should probably get round to blogging about that as well at some point??) was to resume home brewing, but not for hobby purposes, ohhh its for research. To shake things up a bit, this time I would have a partner in beer-science with The Ara brewing with me......well....I say "partner"...Ara came up with the types of beers we were going to brew, what hops and malt we were using and did most of the work......I mostly did a brewing of another kind.........the tea :D.

I've been sworn to secrecy under punishment of castration on the recipes and specific details of the brews, but what I can tell you is that Brew 1 was a smoked red ale and that Brew 2 was a spiced pumpkin bitter that was also slightly smoked. We made only a small batch of each as we didn't have much brewing space and to say our equipment was....well...."rustic" is a bit of an understatement, but as would later prove, didn't make a difference on the finished beers. What did though was a calculation error on my part for Brew 1 that meant we ended up with a beer a 7% ABV rather then the planned 5%.......worse things happen at sea.

2 months later and we decided it was time for the first tasting, and what can I say?? Both beers left me more then pleasantly surprised. Brew 1 was slightly hazy so we made a bit of a cock-up on the finings, but it did still have the slight red hue that we were looking for. It has a sweet caramel malty aroma, with a slightly herbal note and a lingering smokiness on the nose. Its taste, like its aroma, is predominately sweet, but with the caramel, joins a faint chocolateness that trys to coat the tongue, but is stopped by the rapidly following dry, herby flavour coming from the saaz hops (Crap!! No one saw me write that OK? I think I got away with it......If anyone asks, you don't know what hops we used. OK??) that along with the deep background smokiness, cut through the flavour nicely to stop it becoming too sweet. Saying that though, it does feel like its lacking something and may need to be brewed again for some tweaking (WHAT A SHAME) or just needs to be aged longer......not a bad start at all though.

Brew 2 though, well.....just wow!! It was a "hit the nail on the head- bobs your uncle- send your answers in a postcard please- awesome-balls" success!! (someone told me last week that I may be a bit crazy........I think their theory holds water) Its a perfect balance of deep, spiced ginger-nut biscuit maltyness, a good amount of sweet pumpkin flavour that rather then feeling odd or out of place, just fits amazingly, and pleasant tingle of hoppyness on the tongue and finally, a light smoky note bringing everything nicely together.......Without wanting to blow our own trumpet......It was the best home-brew I've ever tried and also better then a lot of commercial stuff I've had.

I know I'm always gonna write up a beer I had some part in making to make it sound better......but with this one I'm really not.......this was a brewing win!!

Well, that's all for now.......until next time (which I hope isn't as-long as last time) bye all!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Why the gap?? And Manchester's beers pt.1

Well hello everybody! Its been too long I know (well that's if you ignore the short post from a few days ago, so lets just pretend for the sake of the story that it never happened), but a lot has happened in the last few months that I've just been too busy to blog about it.....also taking in to account the fact that I split beer over my laptop keyboard and knackered most of the keys and thus making it a real pain in the proverbial arse to write with and in the end I just couldn't be bothered to use it.

But I'm back now baby, and I'll give you a little update about what's going on. Basically, you remember the fantastic pub that was my place of work and my home away from home?? Well......its not any more. I wont go into details but there were some management changes, some work issues and a few other problems that I decided it was probably the right time for me to leave and move on with my life. I loved that job, I loved the people and I would just like to say that I wish them the best of luck for the future and I hope that all goes well for them.

Well that explains that then, but why the trip to Manchester I hear you ask?? (well that, or I'm hearing voices in my head again) Well as some of you may of read in my last post (yes, the one I just told you to ignore) I'm up here to visit my wonderful girlfriend (who fucking rocks and is really pretty :D), but also wile I'm up

here, I'm going to hopefully land my self a job in one of Manchester's many great pubs.

Now one of the first things that surprised me as me and the beautiful one made our way around the various pubs and bars of Manchester, was just how many places were not only stocking a great range of cask ales on at the bar, but were also keeping a fantastic range of bottled beers as well. American, Belgian, Scottish, French, Dutch, German, Spanish and they most probably had a beer from the moon if I'd asked for it! It was amazing, it was beer heaven, and it suddenly made leaving the pub not seem so bad after all. The establishment with what was probably the most impressive range was the Port St. Beer House. choosing from their bar was like trying to choose who would win a fight between Mr T and Chuck Norris......a bloody tough decision, but either way the result was sure to be awesome. The place was heaving, with not a seat available in sight, but yet the service was fast and the staff were pleasant and seemed more then happy to help me choose what to drink. The only real downside there was to the place was that it was pretty darn pricey, even for bottled imports in a city centre, its prices were high, but to be fair, there were cheaper drinks available if you just went for a more standard beer.

Other places of epic beeritude (its my own word, I just made it up then. It means "lots of beer available") was The Marble Arch. Serving as the brewery tap for the Marble Brewery, and being situated in a wonderfully old building decorated on the inside in beautiful tiles and some historic Manchester breweriana, it looked and felt like a proper pub. Again the range of beers was really interesting and the staff were very helpful, so with it also having a pretty tasty food menu and having a really enjoyable atmosphere on a rainy Sunday afternoon, makes it a bloody good pub in my book and its well worth a visit if your in the area.

There is just so much to write about here in Manchester, that I'm going to have to stop for now and tell you more about it in my next blog post. I hope it wont be as-long of a gap as it was before, but thanks for reading and take care! :D

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Tis grim up north...

Why would anyone go to Manchester? More specifically, why would a southern (any more southern and I would be French) Newcastle United supporter want to go to Manchester?……Its just not going to end well!! Well the reason for the journey….like the reason men do most things….is for a beautiful woman. Now I could go on like a love sick poetic puppy for hours about this fantastic woman, but this is a beer blog and I’m sure you don’t really care that much about my personal life. Making the best of the situation, I’m going to visit a vast amount of the great pubs in Manchester so I can try all the beer made by the local breweries in and around the city so that I can tell you all about them and hopefully in the process, show these northerners just how us southern jesses can drink!!…….like I say……Its not going to end well.

P.s. I'm back baby!!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

109 Year Old Beer....And A Bit Of A Party

Well like I said last time, the pub celebrated its first year anniversary on Friday, and we did so with gusto. A damn tasty cake which was lovingly baked by queen of puddings, desserts and all things sweet Charlotte, good music provided by Tener Duende and a great atmosphere being proved by a bar filled with all the locals and regulars that have made this first year of business so special.

If you've been reading my blog often, you may of picked up on the fact that I'm fascinated by old and aged beers, and with the recent Thomas Hardy Ale tasting being the oldest brew I'd ever been fortunate enough to try, it urged me to go full on and find a beer with some REAL maturity, and I found it with Bass Kings Ale 1902.... EBay can be a wonderful thing. Brewed by the historic and formally great brewing superpower Bass in 1902, it was called Kings Ale not for the often given reason of being to celebrate the coronation of the newly crowned king Edward VII, but was named so because the aforementioned king turned the valve that allowed the hot water to flow and start the mashing process.

Being the rather interesting beer it is, I thought that saving it for a special occasion seemed like the most appropriate thing to do, with suggestions of saving it for my 21st birthday that's coming up in August or to open it on the 110th anniversary of its brew day next February floating around, I then decide that I was too impatient to wait that long and that the pubs anniversary was just as good of a reason to crack it open as any. I waited until the band took a well earned 20 minute break, and then rounded up the selected few who I decided I would share this special brew with, and then made our way to the pubs function room to drink and talk about this historic bevvie.

After a bit of trouble popping the cork (insert crap joke here...I think I'll go with "we all have that problem from time to time eh lads") , which is perfectly understandably given the age. I carefully pour the rich smelling beer into 5 brandy snifters in which somehow ends up being a 3 man job, and after taking a few photos, we all clink glasses and go nose in for a pleasantly surprising smell, and then to sip the first taste of a 109 year old beer. Amazing, truly amazing. A rich, almost syrupy mouth feel that carries the beers superb and outstandingly still drinkable flavour that's remarkably reminiscent of a very rounded sherry, raisins, honey, a hint of brandy and Dundee marmalade that brings a deeply layered sweetness that balances the foretaste together with the subtle, but noticeably there aftertaste of a marmity saltiness that's less full on then it was in the Thomas Hardy Ale I tried, but was more embodied and layered in to the flavour of the beer.

The most surprising thing to come out of tasting was that we found there were noticeable differences in the taste between the 5 glasses that was dependant on the order in which they were poured. The glasses that were poured first had significantly more sweetness to them then the ones poured last, which had a more rounded flavour to them, which wasn't a bad thing, it just made it even more interesting to pass them round to get a sample of them all. The other noticeable thing was just how fast the oxidation of the beer affected the taste, it certainly needed to be drunk there and then because I think that being left open for even just 30 minutes would of spoiled the beer...and I think I would of beaten someone with the bottle if that happened.

Its was a truly special beer, a brilliant evening and definitely worth the money I paid for it. Its one of the things I love about beer, it really is suited to be drunk with friends, no matter if its just your average 3.8% best bitter or your over 12% 109 year old barley wine...its just the one true social drink.

Once again, thanks to all the people that made this last year so enjoyable for me and the pub, and I hope that I can continue writing this blog and working in this pub so that I can keep you all liquored up and having a good time for years to come. Thanks!!

Monday, 23 May 2011

The Queens Head...A Year On

Well as some of you may know, this Friday marks the first anniversary of the reopening of the place of my employment, The Queen's Head, Rye. To celebrate the occasion we're having one of our favorite bands Tener Duende back at the pub, the kitchen is going to be baking on hell of a cake (and as any of you regulars will know, Charlotte can bake cakes that would make Chuck Norris jealous) and we are going to be having some bloody good beer flowing aswell...So all we need is everyone who's supported the pub over the last year to come and help us make a damn ( I was going to say "f#%kng" there....but felt swearing was unnecessary at this point) good night.

Most people know my feelings about the pub, after making it clear in my very first blog post that the Queens means more then just a place of work to me, and that the people I work with/for are like a second family to me, but so much has changed in this last year for more people then just me as a result of the pub being here. For me, its given my life a sense of worth and understanding that's helped me learn more about myself and the world around me, its given me more friends then I've ever had in my life as I've come more and more out of my shell and also its given me more laughs and memorable moment then a back to back Monty Python marathon.

Now obviously I cant leave out the beer. I've tried so many different beers this year that I'm putting the full blame of me gaining one and a half stone (thank god I was a skinny bastard to begin with) this year on tasting all of the sometimes astounding amounts of beer the pub has gone through, and with our ever changing bar and with so much fantastic stuff out there (From all the great local breweries that keep popping up, to ones from further afield), it shows no sign of slowing down. With all the great stuff the pub is doing with beer, we've already gotten into the next edition of the Good Beer Guide, which is a bloody big achievement for being open less then a year and a testament to what the pub is doing, so again....thanks for supporting us.

I also know that a lot of you people out there appreciate what the pub is and also what its trying to do, and its all of you people that come for music, the arts and craft events, to play random 5 hour plus board games that hardly any bugger has heard off or to just simply relax and enjoy a drink, that has kept the pub alive. So to you all....I raise a glass.

I hope as many of you as possible can make it down on Friday to join us celebrating the year behind us, but also to look forward to the years ahead. There's so much more that could be said about the pub and how much we appreciate all our customers, but I really think that if you make it to the pub or you've already will find out for yourselves all that you need to know.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Thomas Hardy ale...A pretty tasty 18 year old

Sorry about the slightly pervy title, but it was the best I could come up with :P

As you may of guessed from the title, tonight I’m trying a bottle of Thomas hardy ale…but what you may have also noticed (cause I know what an observant lot you people are) is that this is a rather special bottle of beer because it was brewed in 1993, and as those whiz kids amongst you can work out…makes it 18 years old.

Now I know that to most people, drinking a beer that’s almost as old as they are would be seen as a rather stupid thing to do, with worries of gut rot etc.. coming in to mind, but luckily for me though, Thomas hardy ale is famed for being a keeping beer and is often quoted with lasting for 25 years or more …which is a good thing because it is unfortunately no longer being brewed.

Thomas hardy ale was first brewed by the Eldridge Pope brewery in 1968 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the authors death, and to make it one hell of a special beer, it was brewed to 12%abv and was matured in oak sherry casks for 9 months which was then conditioned in distinctive bottles, and over time was found to mature and improve after being laid down over a number of years. As I said, the beer is no longer being brewed, with production stopping in 1999, then being picked up by another brewery after the turn of the millennium, for it only to be stopped again in 2008. You can still find vintages from 1968 onward on eBay (which is where I got a hold of my bottle from), but obviously its not gonna be a cheap brew to buy.

Being the special brew it is, I'm shearing the drinking experience with my friend and boss Chris who's knowledge in beer...well pretty much in everything really is beyond human and I would probably ask him about anything and everything first before checking wikipedia.

As Chris does the honors and pours the beer carefully into two Belgian chalice glasses, the air is filled with a sweet plum, coco, slightly nutty and a deeply spiced malt aroma that's reminiscent of a Christmas pudding, and with its rich mahogany colour and a thick bodied appearance as I swirl it around the glass so I can dip my nose in to get a deeper whiff, creates an image in my mind of sitting round a fire with friends and tasting a fine port with cheese like a scene from a classic Dickensian Christmas...but I suppose standing at the bar chatting is just as a picturesque moment as any. Oh God, the mouth feel of this beer is fantastic. Velvet on the tongue and as smooth of a body as I think could every of been possible from a beer, the distinct lack of carbonation also really helps gives this brew the feel of a fortified wine. A wonderfully deep malty flavour that feels layered from all the years of ageing that coats the palate with the tastes of smooth milk chocolate, caramel, cinnamon, sherry and rich plump dried fruits, but there's a subtly undertone of marmitey saltiness that just cuts through the beer and fantastically brings the beer together. I'm sorry for waxing lyrical about this beer but it really is that fantastic, and I'm glad I shared the experience with someone because this is something that would of been wrong to keep to myself.

I really recommend trying to get hold of a few bottle of this stuff if you can, because it truly is history in a glass and is probably the best and most complex beer Ive every tried.

Next up should be another post about a rather special beer....but I'll keep it under wraps for now :D. Bye all!!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Stinging nettle and dandelion beer taster- Fingers crossed!!

Well after a good 3-4 weeks of waiting, its finally time to give my Stinging nettle, dandelion, juniper berry and honey (note to self...think of a catcher name) beer a try. Unlike most beers I've brewed, I have absolutely no idea how this is going to taste and I'm really hoping I don't end up with 10 bottles of a crappy beer that I end up pouring down the drain....because that's the kind of thing that can make a grown man cry.

If all goes well, I may brew it again some point soon, but with a few slight changes such as using a wild yeast strain or adding more flavourings (ginger might be nice??), but lets see how its goes first. My next batch of home brew is looking like its going to be just a basic English bitter (oooooh yes, I really know how to make things exciting :P) but I'm gonna try a few variations on what hops and grains I use so it makes it a tad more special. Right...enough of me banging on. To the beer!!

The beers appearance is a deep, hazy amber colour that has a very small white lacing head, but it does seem to have plenty of carbonation, with plenty of bubbles racing to the top of the glass. The aroma starts with the sweet smell of honey, but it also has traces of apple, mandarin and a faint herbal nose. Its mouth feel is crisp and refreshing but its body is lacking something and it is pretty thin. Wow. The flavour is very surprising. Its starts of with a pretty tart, almost citric flavour that gives me the feeling that its infected with some wild strain of yeast (which can be a good thing...and also now means I wont have to bother brewing it again!), but after the initial sourness, the honeys sweetness come into play and coats the tongue and slowly balances out the flavour. I'm also getting a faint juniper taste lurking in the background, but no sign of grassy/herbal notes from the nettles or dandelion. Totally unexpected and not bad. Maybe a bad thing to get a wild yeast in the brew, but I think I should give it some proper ageing before trying again so that the flavours develop and hopefully improves the beer as a whole.

My next blog post will be a tad of a long one, but its taken a week or so to write and its not ALL crap (well guarantees), but its all about beer and reading, so it could be worth a look!! Bye, bye all :)

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Beer and a book....but what goes best??

One thing that Ive found myself to enjoy more and more over last couple of years (other then beer and now blogging of course) is reading. Now I know for most people, reading is no big whoop, but for didn't always come naturally. I spent time from time at primary school in a special needs class for reading, writing and maths which also carried on to secondary school until due to budget cuts etc... they got rid of special needs classes (nice one). So stuck in a school that unless you had a medical reason to struggle i.e dyslexia, ADHD wouldn't get much more help above the ever helpful "well pay more attention then" so reading proper books was something that always seemed daunting, and reading a novel...unlikely. Luckily, in my later years at school, I started to get better at reading and writing (although as I say often in this blog...its still not great) and in year 10 I read my first novel which was owing to a new film coming out at the time, a James Bond book...Casino Royale in fact. After that I started to read more and more and now I would say that my readings as good as it needs to be, and I'm enjoying reading books that as an early teenager...I would of never guessed I could.

Right. I went slightly off topic there, but I'll bring it back to beer with this...what type of beer goes best when reading a good book? This is something that I know could have a lot of factors. The genre of the book, where I'm reading and just what mood I'm in, but I feel its something worth me testing just to see for myself (and for you dear readers aswell).

I'll try this over a course of a few evenings because wile having a beer or 2 might relax and make the book reading experience more enjoyable...getting smashed when trying to read just wont end well. The book I shall be reading is "Dragon Haven" by Robin Hobb which is the second novel in the Rain Wind Chronicles, and if its as good as the first...should be a bloomin good read. I'll say this now...I'm not reviewing the book in the blog and I wont be going into as massive detail of each beer as normal, only enough to give a good idea on how it suites to going with a book.

O.k. First up is a barley wine. Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot barley wine. A rich burgundy colour, chewy and with a sweet raisin flavour that's balanced nicely with the classic citric character of American hops gives this beer a distinctive taste. A 9.6% ABV its alcohol content is noticeable in the taste, but its matched well by the other flavours which helps its last longer on the palate and becomes a beer to savour, which in turn means this beer lasts a few chapters before the glass is drained. Just the kind of thing I'm looking for.

Next up is a German beer style...a weizenbock. Erdinger Pikantus is a rich deep brown beer with a sweet banana and cloves aroma which is typical for the style, but its creamy and full bodied mouth feel matched with an overly sweet prune, maltyness and a flavour fight that's joined with cloves, banana, brown sugar, a tad medicinal flavour with a slight yeast astringency sends this beer off in many different directions and makes it probably too complicated to enjoy when trying to concentrate on a book. A reasonable beer, but it has too much going on.

Now for a classic English premium bitter with Black Sheep Ale. A wonderful chestnut brown with the classic thick northern head. This beer is packed with flavour starting with the refreshingly dry bitterness of English hops that's soon followed by a sweet richness of oranges and toffee that's coats the tongue with lasting flavour. Plenty going on but unlike the Erdinger, its simple and quaffable and because its got a crisp, lasting taste it means you can just get down and enjoy the book. Fits the bill nicely.

Back to Germany for a lager, but not just any old larger ohh no, this is a Kellerbier.Kellerbier is one of the oldest beer styles in existence and its unfiltered, unpasteurised and is full of vitamins from the yeast still in the never mind the health pills, drink this! St Georgen Brau has a lovely toasty malt and slight tart fruit aroma with a nice buttery mouth feel and a strong malty back bone. Flavours of sweet honey, caramel and a smack of earthy hop bitterness...its very refreshing. Very similar book reading value as the Black Sheep Ale, but it goes down a bit faster, which is both a good and bad thing. I just wish all lager was this good!

Now we have Oerbier from De Dolle Brouwers (literally means "the mad brewers") brewery in Belgium. A deep tawny, chestnut brown colour with a faint lacing head with a good show of carbonation. Wonderfully Bramley apple nose with a sweet berry and malt background that's followed by a good alcohol kick. Creamy with a silk smooth body that flows beautifully over the tongue. Tart apple, a sweet Caramel maltyness and currents dominate the flavour, but with sharp oranges and honey following make this a lovely complex beer, but unlike the Erdinger, its
balances well enough to allow you to read and enjoy this beer for the fantastic brew it is. I wish had more room to describe it but I must move on. A new edition to my favourite beer list me thinks.

Well this is part 1. So far, I feel a good Strong beer with good flavour, but with not too much going on seems to be best for reading what I will say is a blood good book. I will continue this quest soon. Cheers for reading, and don't forget to look out for part 2 :)

Friday, 22 April 2011

Bank holidays-A beer to celebrate with.

Well can you believe it!! Its a bank holiday weekend (and rather nicely, not the only one over the next month) and the sun is shining! The pessimistic (English) part of me is expecting it wont last very long or we will pay for it with a really crap June, July and August but that's why we should get out there and make the most of it now.

As most people will know, the bank holiday isn't the only reason some people are is for me....but some people are also looking forward to the waste of tax payers money royal wedding and that's fair enough, I'm just here for the beer suggestions :)

Champagne and beer. Some would say the two are as far apart from each
other as two drink can be. Beer, seen as the drink of the every man
(and women) wile champagne is seen as the drink of the wealthy. But a
semi recent development in beer brewing brings a new style to the beer
world and draws the two rather special beverages closer then ever.
Bière de Champagne is a style of beer in which the brew is normally
matured for a lengthy amount of time and then goes under the ‘méthode
Champenoise’ to remove the yeast. Just like champagne.

And today I’m tasting what is probably the most easily obtainable of
these beers. ‘Deus’ is brewed in Belgium and then transported to
France to undergo conditioning and yeast removal . As you pour the beer
in to a champagne flute (well, you’ve got to have the appropriate
glassware don’t you) it instantly foams up the glass with a thick,
white head, so its like champagne already, but it quickly fades and
leaves only a thin lace at the top of the beer. Just looking at it, you
can tell this isn’t your normal beer. Straw gold and with the
carbonation creating thousands upon thousands of tiny bubbles, it
certainly looks the part. The aroma is loaded with fresh slightly tart
apples and pears with also a subtle hint of honey in the background
that’s making it smell so inviting. So why fight it. Time for taste.
Peaches and zesty oranges are the first flavours that come through the
onslaught of carbonation on my tongue, but this is meant in a good way.
It makes the beer ultimately refreshing and with other tastes of cider
apples, a nice wheaty taste (probably coming from the yeast) and a
slight spiciness balancing out the flavours, leavening the finish it
crisp and dry on the palate .

Overall a very nice beer and certainly one to experience. But as you
may of guessed it comes at a price. £13.99 being the average price
makes this one expensive beer. But I think its better then most
sparking wines and Champagne I’ve tried (which to be honest isn’t that much, and when I
have its only been the average £30ish pound a bottle type. But that’s
not the point) and with it being a time to relax and celebrate, why not give it a go??

Monday, 18 April 2011

Avery, Brown, Dredge-Brew Dog again/ cider brewing

If you could do anything you wanted (and lets try and keep this in the realms of reality riding on the back of dragons wile burning your enemies to smouldering ashes.........that wasn't my wish) what would you do? Race a Ferrari round a track? Score a goal for your football team? (add random persons name here for the obvious joke)? For me, I think its gotta be to have one of my beers brewed in a proper brewery...well this beer that I'm trying today was brewed by 3 lucky (lucky, lucky, lucky) beer bloggers who where given a chance by Brew Dog to come up with a recipe for a beer and have brewed for a limited edition release. (lucky, lucky, lucky).

The result? Avery, Brown, Dredge. A 7.5% ABV imperial pilsner that's a mix of traditional malt and hops with modern brewing methods such as continuous and dry hopping. The beer pours a nice pale amber colour, showing an almost champagne like carbonation with thousands of bubbles screaming to the surface and a thick white head making it an enticing sight. The beer smells of wonderful grassy and slightly herbal aromas with a faint orange/apricot whiff hiding in the background. Full bodied and smoother then Barry White (pre-cremation) it tames the carbonation wonderfully, but it still allows it to help the Strong saaz hoppyness tingle everything from your tongue to your lips. The hops grassy/herby flavours dominates but there is a slight citric undertone witch balances it well, and along with its good lager malt backbone, brings the whole beer together nicely. All in all, a pretty good beer and one worth trying. I will say that it tastes very similar to Bohemia Regent Prezident, but its definitely got a bit more zing to it owing to its extra kick because it was knocked up a notch with the hop weasel*

Also this week, as I said a post or 2 ago, Ive started a batch of cider this week, but to jazz it up a little bit, I'm adding rhubarb in to the mix. Ive got no idea how it will turn out, but I will be sure to let you know. That's all for now folks. Tutty byes.

*If you don't get this reference, all I can say is one thing......FUTURAMA

Friday, 15 April 2011

Westy 12 and a plea for music

Morning everyone. First of all I wanna say thanks to you all because this blog has been getting more readers week on week, and considering I wasn't expecting to get any bugger reading it...I just thought it would be a good idea to raise a virtual pint and say cheers.

I'm going to be a slightly lazy bugger today and post a beer review that I wrote about 6 months ago, but never got posted. There is a reason to my blatant laziness....A) Because this was my first ever attempt to write a beer review (so that's why I was kinda hesitant to publish it). And B) Its a bloody rare and special beer to try. Enjoy.

" Well Its been a wile since I’ve treated myself to anything special, and in the never ending quest for beer…I thought that I would go all out this time, so with a lot of looking around and a bit of splashing the cash (£30 for one bloody bottle) I'm going to review the famed westvleteren 12. This being a beer I've been waiting to try for sometime and as some of you out there will know, has a lot of high praise. Its kind of nerving to see what I make of it because as much as beer is about personal tastes, if I don’t like something that is consistently praised to be the best beer in the world (and is by far the biggest pain in the arse to get a hold of because normally the only way to get it is to phone ahead, drive to the brewery in Belgium and pick up just one case…no wonder is so damn pricey) does that mean I should just pack up this whole beer blogging malarkey and leave it to the big guns?? Naaa sod that. On to the beer!

pouring the beer in to a Belgian chalice. hand shaking, not wanting to over pour and for it to froth up everywhere and waste any of the precious beer. its appearance is dark and sinfully rich, with a dark chocolaty colour that if held to the light, just shows a faint shade of crimson trying to get through. luckily I poured it slowly because although it only has a thin, lacing head, there's a hell of a lot of carbonation in this bad boy. well that's wired. now amazingly the strongest aroma I'm getting from the glass is that of a blue cheese, which is oddly pleasant because it doesn't just stand there alone, wafting up the place, but is backed up by a rich plummyness and is then balanced by the unmistakable smell of dark Candi sugar. Here it is, the moment I've been waiting for. The taste. Wow. Teeth tackingly rich, wonderfully dark bitter chocolate coats the tongue which is then massaged with the flavours of cloves and a faint liquorice aftertaste coming up behind. the highly visible carbonation is amazingly tamed by the smoothness of the beer, which in turn helps the finish of sweet dried fruits and a delicate rummy flavour balance out nicely.

I have to say, its a damn fine beer, but...but not the best beer in the world in my opinion. not even the best quadruple either. I think the Rochefort 10 and St Bernardus alt 12 just edge it on being better beers. I cant explain how, but they are. plus the asking price the average Joe has to pay for this beer, just isn't worth it, but is defiantly worth the experience and if I ever found myself in Belgium, I would certainly try it again."

Now I would like a little word about something important. As those of you who have been coming to the pub since we first opened almost a year ago now will know, one of the main draws during the summer was the pubs open mic nights. Talented musicians from Rye, the surround areas and further afield (if I remember rightly, we had a very talented singer, song writer from Canada at some point) would come and play all manner of music styles. From jazz to blues, classic rock to folk and prog to someone begging to play Raining blood by was all there. The pub was always busy, with often only enough time for 1 or 2 songs each, it created at great atmosphere and became another reason why I loved working here...but sadly, since winter came, open mic has all but died. Now that we are coming into summer again, I ask for your support in getting these fantastic evenings of music (and other talents!!...story telling, comedy and poetry etc.. are welcome) running again. I'm not asking this because I have the takings in the till at mind...but because I know that there are sooo many people around here that are fantastic musicians and don't always get a chance to show it in front of other people...and plus it keeps me entertained as well :). So guitar players, song singers, drum beaters, trumpet blowers and people of any skill and talent at any level...please come on the 28th of April and show your support....thanks!!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Bottle that brew! things to look forward to.

Well today's the day when I decided to bottle my latest batch of home brew. My nettle, dandelion, juniper Berry and honey beer. It had a pretty lively fermentation and it has got its self down to the level that I can bottle it a few days earlier then I thought it would, which is a nice change. (if only southern rail was that efficient...)

It was probably the first time Ive bottled something without at least one thing going wrong like me spilling a load of beer on the floor (my dad didn't appreciate that one much) or me sterilising all my bottling gear and then accidentally dropping it all on the floor wile trying to carry it upstairs....and having to clean it again. (I'm a clumsy git....I know).Annoyingly, now's the fun part where I have to wait at least 3 weeks to try it properly...but I can say one thing, there was a small amount left over that was pointless to put in a bottle, so I gave it a try in its un-matured state...and it was surprisingly nice! It had a faint lemony zing that cut through the honeys sweetness, but it also had a nice floral after taste. If its like this now...I cant wait to try it in 3+ weeks!

I'm going to give cider making a go next (Ive got a brand new combine harvester, an' I'll give you the key) but I'm going to be cheating a bit (a lot) by using apple juice that Ive brought rather the pressed etc... myself. No need to be boring though...I'm going to find some way to kick up a notch (Chuck Norris style) and make it interesting for ya.

In other news. I got my latest delivery of beers from around the world for me to try and most likely review on the blog today. It includes special beers such as a Kellerbier (One of the oldest German beer styles...but Ill tell you more about it when I drink it), another Brew Dog beer that was brewed to a recipe designed by beer writes Pete Brown, Zak Avery and Mark Dredge (these names mean nothing to you don't they?), some specials from Sierra Nevada in America and a few Belgian brews in the mix as well. so look out for posts on them. (oh yeah....I can tell you cant wait)

Well I gotta now. Take care all.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Beer in society-a competition loser

Since I first started writing this blog, I've come to find that I actually enjoy myself doing it. I'm by no-means a born writer and I make no attempt to hide that fact, but I've had a certain amount of feedback from people and a few actually like reading it (God knows why?) and some even find it entertaining, so for someone who only got a U for English in my GCSE's (I'm not sure if the U stands for Unclassified or Utter shit?)...its pretty good. Back in march, wile I was reading some of the various beer blogs that I look at to fill my days with, I came across a post that was informing people that the Wells & Youngs brewery was hosting a competition for amateur beer writers to write a piece on the social importance of beer...and with £2,000 for 1st prize, I thought I would give it a pop. Well the winner was announced on Friday 8th April, and surprise, surprise it wasn't me. I don't mind because I really didn't think I would win, but I just thought it would be nice to share my entry with you. Enjoy!!

" Beer, glorious beer. I personally think Oliver would of been a far better musical if that was the song in their hearts in that famous seen. Yes, I know they’re only children, but come on…this was the Victorian times. Now I know saying this all sounds rather silly, but I think breaking into spontaneous song about the joys of a good beer sounds just like the kind of thing that would happen after necking a few, don’t you agree?

It never really ceases to amaze me seeing the influence that beer has on how people act and how it can change a social situation in a completely different way then I think is possible with any other form of alcohol, and not just by people acting up and letting loose when being drunk. Nothing beats the kind of banter you get when talking at the bar, pint firmly in hand, as you discus such important matters as work, politics, religion, who on TV you would like to have sex with etc.. such things couldn’t be spoken about over a glass of wine or a gin and diet tonic, it just wouldn’t feel right. Beyond all that fake macho rubbish though, beer just makes you feel more at ease with yourself and with what your doing. Its the drink of the everyman, it doesn’t try to be something its not, it doesn’t demand a special setting for it to be drunk and enjoyed, it can be drunk by everyone, man and women, young an old, Newcastle united fan and Sunderland supporter (although probably not best for them to drink together) and its the only drink other then tea that you can drink in large quantities without getting bored of it. Well you try drinking that much orange juice and find out for yourself.

I think that really though, one of the best things about what beer brings to society is that although people who enjoy beer can be split into more subgroups of fans then you’ll get with any other kind of drink, alcoholic or not, and more so then with any band or TV show. Be it your devout cask ale drinker, your trendy craft beer enthusiast, someone who enjoys a nice cold pint of branded lager and all of the groups in-between, these people are always brought together in the end at the pub. A national institution that’s grinded deep into this countries culture, founded by the need to drink beer, relax, to get away from the stresses of life and most important of all…to socialise. Some say that pubs have changed, they say that you can no longer just go out, find a pub somewhere that you’ve never been to before and be welcomed in and included in the banter at the bar just like a normal regular. Be it in a small village in the middle of nowhere or in London. Being a barman myself and by being a great fan of all things beer related, I can honestly say this just isn’t true. I’ve been to countless pubs and bars all-around, and of course yes, there are some exceptions to this , but the people in pubs are just as open and friendly as they’ve ever been. And the greatest way that this has been shown to me around this sceptred…if slightly boozy isle?? By the offer to and from locals to buy each other a pint.

Beer as been with us, in one form or another, for a long, long time and I expect it will be around for much longer. It’s a necessity of life, some would even say that it was what drove civilisation to be what it is today, I’m not a historian and I don’t know enough about how the world and its cultures developed to be able to prove this theory, but I can say one thing for certain…some of the best things that have happened to me in my life, and some of the greatest things I’ve done, have all been achieved from the love and influence of beer. Who knows how beer will change in the years to come? Some people are worried by the future, believing that beer drinkers are destined to be forced to drink bland, flavourless beers…both lagers and ales, but they shouldn't be. If history has shown us anything, the development of beer can only get better, that’s how we’re drinking some of the best beers ever brewed right now.

Get behind the geekiness that surrounds beer though, and just appreciate that it's there for you, through good times and through bad, at celebrating a new birth and at wakes, at weddings and at celebrating the divorce going through, but also, it's there with you when you're just relaxing, at home or at the pub with friends, just sitting there, adding its own bit of character to the scene, almost like it's apart of the gang."

Hope you enjoyed it. My next post will be some beer reviews and me letting you know how bottling my home brew went. Tutty bye.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Brewing again....but not your average beer

Its another sunny day off work and as I promised in my last blog post, this one will be about my latest dive into beer brewing. " But Matthew! Just what is your latest brew?? After keeping us in suspense for over a week, We just cant take it any more!" I here you cry, (I like to make myself feel good O.K) well its a 5.5% ABV wheat beer (yes again, but I had ingredients left over to use up) but I'm going medieval on your asses and instead of using trusty old hops, I'm going to be flavouring it with stinging nettles, dandelion leaves, honey (and yes I know....again!!) and juniper Berries. O.K. Now I can hear cries of " Why the hell are you brewing that for you sick bastard!?" and "That's going to taste like green tea crap you stupid pillock" but Ive looked into it and all of these ingredients have all at some point been used to flavour and preserve beer, but unfortunately have all but died out since the introduction of hops in the 16t century, and I for one think its about time beer flavored with these plus a hole range of other wild and forgotten about herbs, plants and botanicals get brewed again.

First task on my list of things to do was to go out into the wild and often treacherous countryside of Rye and pick myself some dandelion leaves and stinging nettles, and let me tell you wasn't as fun as it sounds. The sun was out and the walk was nice but lets just say that the nettles lived up to their bloody name...I knew I should of worn gloves. When I got my merry self home (well O.K. I wasn't THAT merry...fucking nettles) I cleaned my greens and all my brewing equipment and got on with brewing ye beer. I wont go into the full brewing procedures 'cause the details of it really isn't interesting, but I made a base beer that was pretty similar to the banana, maple syrup bla bla bla wheat beer I made last time but just a tad weaker and also, in a step that's different from standard practice, but I read was the best thing to do, I boiled the flavourings separately from the wort and blended the two together when ready and poured into the fermentor ready to cool down so I can add the yeast.

Pretty simple brew in the end, I just have to give it 10 days or so to ferment and then I can bottle this little number...but then I have to wait at least another 3 weeks to try it :(. I'm going to call this batch "Britannia beer" as I got the idea to brew it wile playing a board game called Britannia (which is kind of like Risk, but set between the roman invasion of Britain and ends with the Normans coming in at 1066) with some friends at the pub. These guys will also be lucky (or maybe unlucky?) first tasters of this brew aswell

Well that's it from me today. Take care all and tutty bye.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

MANOWAR-A week end away/ some beer talk

Ahhhhh. 4 days off work, good friends and a ticket to see ManOwaR....Its all a guy needs. (well also beer but we'll come to that later.) Me and a few friends made an epic (I'm going to be using the word "epic" alot...but if you know ManOwaR, you know why) journey up to Birmingham last weekend to see THE heavy metal ManOwaR play their first gig on English soil for the first time since I was 4 years old. (that's 16 years for everyone who doesn't know me) The 02 Academy in Birmingham was a funny choice for the venue of this epic (see...told you) event because it only has a capacity of about 3,000 people which was silly 'cause they could of easily of filled out somewhere with a much greater capacity, but then I suppose Birmingham is the true home of heavy metal. (Metal pioneers Black Sabbath hail from Birmingham and also Judas Priest do aswell.....and so does Jasper Carrot, but we'll forget about him

To keep this beer and pub related I wont go into FULL detail of my weekend, but I will share some of what we got up to. We arrived at our hotel on Saturday (which was conveniently just across the road from the 02) at 1:30pm, and after unpacking our crap and having a bit of a sit down and a drink, we made the natural decision to go to one of the two pubs we were intending to visit on our little trip. First up was Scruffy Murphy's, an Irish themed metal pub (dream team). After spending a good hour lost and confused trying to find the pub, we finally stumbled upon its location and after such an epic (and again) quest for a beer, we hastily went inside to find the bar. Disappointingly it didn't have any ale at all, but what the pub lacked in beer choice, it more then made up with the atmosphere of the place. There was a great feeling inside that pub that made it comfortable and relaxing, which in a metal pub, is a rare and unusual thing. There was good metal music playing through the speaker system, but it wasn't loud and offensive to people who just wanted a drink and a chat, and it also didn't feel intimidating like some metal pubs can, so all in all a bloody good pub and one I would come to alot if I lived here. (Also, on Sunday, the pub had a ManOwaR day, so naturally we spent most of the day there before the gig...The pub got bloody packed)

Next on our list of watering holes was The Actress And Bishop. We heard news that this place had a couple of bands playing that night, (one being a ManOwaR cover band creatively named DanOwaR) so we grabbed a taxi and made our way. Once we arrived I was pleased to see on a sign outside that they sold cask beer, great, but once inside things started to change very rapidly. First problem was that this didn't seem like the kind of place that would have metal bands playing, it was more of a trendy bar...but the group of metal heads by the bar and a poster on the wall confirmed that this was the right place. The second problem was that my hopes of a good beer were dashed when we got to the bar and found that the only ale on was Marston's Pedigree, ale is better then no ale, or so I thought. Warm as hell and with a smell more eggy then Easter, it was bloody horrible, but hey ho I moved on to keg beer and bottles and enjoyed the rest of what was a bloody good night.

The next day, as I said earlier, we spent mostly in Scruffy's, but not before spending over an hour walking around lost in the Bull Ring shopping centre. As the time to make our way to the gig arrived, we walked from the pub to the 02 and joined the queue...the bloody big queue, thank god we're English and queueing is in our DNA. Not before long though, we were inside and were ready to rock, but annoyingly I lost the rest of the guys in a queueing cock-up. ( was that, or they saw their opportunity and ditched me :D) On my own, I fought my way close to the front to somewhere I could get a pretty good view. Waiting for the show to start, the atmosphere around the arena was immense, 3,000+ people all chanting and waiting for what was to be one of the greatest nights of their lives to begin, and when it didn't disappoint. Over 2 hours of a pure, epic and glorious metal onslaught was being played and I loved every damn minute of it...well apart from being crushed by sweaty, 6ft people from all directions, but apart from that it was great.

Straight after the gig, we had to drive back because some of the guys had work the next morning, but the late night drive was worth it. Next morning I felt fine apart from my neck hurt from excess headbanging, but it wasn't until I tried watching TV later on that I noticed my hearing was messed up as well....the cost of metal I suppose.

Well that's my story of the weekend. My next blog post will be about my latest home brew experiment, but you'll have to wait to find out what it is :D

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

IPA IS DEAD!!..Brew Dog's as modest as ever/ Mad March Fair

4 bottles of I.P.A, all the same base beer with the same strength at 7.5%ABV and all the same I.B.U (International Bitterness Unit, for those who may not know what it means...bloody technical jargon :D)...Th only difference?? Each beer gets its flavour from one of four completely different hop varieties.

Brew Dog being Brew Dog, they couldn't just brew and advertise these beers like a normal brewery....ohhhh no, the beers have been hopped and double dry hopped (never bloody heard of double dry hopping before?...Those crazy Scottish brewers) and also the packaging makes very clear that these beers contain nothing but pure and unadulterated hoppy awesomeness.But if there's anything that's made Brew Dog what they are today, its their OTT marketing....oh yeah,and their consistently brilliant beer (cant forget that now, can we?)

Well lets start with the English hop first shall we? Bramling cross (or how Brew Dog rather expectantly call it...Bramling X) starts with a warming blackberry and apple crumble aroma with a slight hint of ginger and a plummy finish makes it seem like a very homely beer, take a sip though, and all the comfort is tossed out the window like Hans Gruber in Die Hard. The first noticeable thing in the taste is that pretty much all the rich fruity notes in the aroma are replaced by a crisp earthy flavour that reminds me of nettles, dandelions and other grassy flavours tingling the tongue, but it also has an underlying sweetness which marks the return of the blackberries and now also pears from the smell which brings the beer together nicely and leaves the palate with a sweet richness, but also feeling refreshed.

Next we're turning Japanese (I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so.....oh God I'm sorry) with Sorachi Ace. Wow this is a strange little bugger, this brew smells like bubblegum
bloomin bubblegum!! With raspberry, strawberry and watermelon aromas also present, I cant say I've smelt any other beer like it, but what the hell is it gonna taste like? Hmmmm, well stickily sweet, rather chewy and not very pleasant. (and for anyone who doesn't knows me, its not often I don't like a beer) The clingy, strawberry sweetness is followed straight by a minty, Herby taste that just seem to fight each other for supremacy and the end result is a car crash of flavour that goes together as well as a Pot noodle would on Masterchef. Maybe its just me but I reallllly don't like this one. (I still finish the beer....never waste a beer, that's how I was raised and that's how I live.

Now its New Zealand's turn. Nelson Sauvin has a full on creamy, fruit aroma of grapefruit, apricot and lime which would make a bloody good yogurt, but also a dang nice smelling beer. Ohhhh bloody hell that's a mighty fine brew. Much more smoother then the other beers, its friggin wonderful, and also unlike the other beers so far, it keeps all of its flavours from the aroma in the taste but also adds a dash of zesty bitterness to the tongue which doesn't stay around for as long as the other beers....but it just make you wanna go back for more.

Last and very not least, from our American friends we have Citra. As the name suggests, the nose is full of citric fruits such as lemon, grapefruit and orange, but it also has a very slight piney note that you'll find in a lot of American I.P.A'S.Very nice, but nothing special. The flavours are very similar to the Nelson Sauvin, but more crisp and not so pronounced. Citra's a really tasty beer...but unfortunately its just too ordinary, probably from being a over used hop type in I.P.A'S, so I cant really blame it.

All in all, not a bad batch of beers from Brew Dog (again) but I will hesitate to try anything with Sorachi Ace from now on. This is a limited edition brew so I fully recommend getting a batch before its all gone.

Just for a side note. Its the Mad March Fair at the Queen's Head this weekend, with more creative things to do then you can shake a stick (or paintbrush?) at, I hope you can make a trip down to enjoy what is sure to be a fun couple of days of craft for ye arty folk.

Take care everyone.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A little taster...

Evening all. I'm having myself a little tasting session tonight and I'm including an early taster of my latest home brew experiment in to the mix, just to spice it up another notch. BAM!*

One of the reasons I've become so fascinated with beer (apart from the fact that it gets you drunk...which there's no point denying is a bloody good plus) is that there are sooo many varieties of it, much more then wine or any spirit. From your basic best bitters, milds and I.P.A's to your lambics, raucbiers and to one that I'm trying tonight...gruit beer. Not to go into a whole nerdy history of beer (for A: I'll probably get all my info wrong anyway. and B: I most likely sound nerdy enough as it is.) but basically gruit is the old fashioned herb mixture used to flavour beer before the introduction of hops to England in the 16th century. Link here to find out more.

Alba from Williams Brothers Brewery is a 7.5% beer brewed with the addition of spruce and pine needles and as I pour it into the glass it shows its wonderful tawny red colour with a very slight carbonation producing a very faint head. The aroma of berries and Carmel are dominate with a faint whiff of pine lingering in the background. The taste starts with a rich, malty sweetness with flavours of blueberries, juniper, apples and pine coating the tongue with a slight herbal taste, probably coming from the spruce, coming slowly into play to balance the sweetness. Very, very drinkable and I wouldn't guess that this was a 7.5% beer. Its a shame that gruit beer isn't more popular then it is, because in my opinion...who the hell needs hops?!

Right, now here's the one Ive been waiting for. My banana, honey and maple syrup wheat beer! Its been bottled for 3 weeks now so its still kinda young, but as I pop the top off it shows plenty of carbonation, with it also frothing up fast on pouring giving it a big white head that starts to fade rapidly. The beer has a orange "fading sun" type colour and probably due to me not bothering with finings, its not particularly clear...but who cares?? Smells of sweet honey and sherbet tingle the nose with the faint aroma of bananas following. it has most of the classic smells of a good German wheat beer. The beers mouth feel is pretty thick, probably too thick for a beer this pale and strength (around 5.5% ABV) but luckily the high carbonation balances things up nicely. The honeys flavour and sweetness comes through more then any of the other ingredients, but the maple syrups taste is also noticeable and adds the richness that was needed. Unfortunately there's no banana flavour to be found. Although its not immediately obvious, the spiciness of the Tettnanger hops used, slowly creeps in and tingles the tongue in a battle for supremacy against the honeys sweetness, which after a bit of a scuffle, it ultimately loses and fades away.

All in all, not a bad batch. If I brewed it again, I think I would let it ferment longer, but its still a pretty good beer, and after a tad more maturing it should get better.

*Anyone who gets this reference....give yourself a goldfish!!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Dealing with violence...just apart of the job??

I would like to chat about something seriously today, if you don't mind too much.

When I first started this job almost a year ago, some of the first things I was told I would need to learn, but only I could through experience, was to be aware of my surroundings and to be always watching whats happening around the bar, even doing so without making it obvious I am. More seriously then that though, I would have to learn how to handle the situation if a fight ever broke out or if a customer became violent and aggressive. Learning these things was never going to be the most fun aspect of the job.

This Friday gone, for the first time, I dealt with one of those situations. It wasn't too big and I wont go into the full details of it, but a glass pint jug was thrown, a window was damaged and there was a scuffle outside. I was told I dealt with it really well but to be brutally honest, I knew the person causing the problem well and had it been a complete stranger, I don't think I would of been so fast and confidant with dealing with it. I'm a pretty small guy and I'm also fully aware that I'm a weak, un-intimidating person to boot, so in hairy situation I'm not really the best guy in the world to handle someone being violent, and in a fight, I'm just as likely to back away and give in as the french. (sorry, bad joke...but you didn't really expect me to be 100% serious did you??)

I'm really lucky to be where I work. Its mostly a very friendly and calm place, with this scuffle being probably the 2nd major problem in 10 months, I would say that this was pretty good going. Not all pubs are this lucky though, and there must be places all round the country were things like this happen most weekends, and also... most likely, much worse. I know that working in a pub where there is a constant treat of violence would really worry me and I would probably not last very long in the job, but what about the people who do work there?? Do they just take it as apart of the job and take it in their stride or do some spend the last hour before work praying for an easy shift??

Maybe I'm looking too much into it, and maybe nowhere is really that bad, but it does make me think hard this job could be and just how lucky I am.

Would be great to hear some peoples opinion on this. Thanks and see ya next time.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Beer: part of the balanced diet!!...For those who are silly

First of all, I would like to say that I realise that I'm posting blog updates like a rabbit this week, but when you have as much random crap as me to say...well....what else can you do??

I heard something yesterday that got me thinking (and God we all know that it takes alot). I bumped in to a regular on the way to work...naming no names, but you know who you are...anyways, after a quick chat with Ben, I asked if he was coming to the pub anytime soon. The reply was no because he was trying to lose some weight. Now this shocked me because being someone who knows about these things, I've come to learn that weight put on through beer drinking is an important and healthy part of our diet and stopping could cause more harm then good.

Beer fat as I like to call it, is designed to keep us warm on those long walks back home on cold, wet and windy Saturday nights and also to create extra padding around the liver to stop anything from the outside damaging it. (cause again, God knows how much help that the livers gonna need). Beer also helps us relax, ease high blood pressure and its also full of nutrients. Below is a pie chart that shows the results of many minutes of very scientific and technological guesswork that shows that we need beer in our daily diet.

So there you have it! Undeniable proof that beers good for us and we need it to be no more of this funny business about not coming to the pub. OK

DISCLAIMER: I, Matthew Turner openly admit that the above information is total rubbish and it holds no scientific or medical truth, but its my day off and I'm bored, so what else am I gonna do?? I'm sure a pint or so a day wont cause you any harm anyway....probably

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A bitter dissapointment with a nice hoppy outlook

Well bugger. That's another plan shot to shit*. If you read the last blog post then I'm sure you saw the bit at the bottom where i said that i applied to go on the first leg of a trip known as The Great Baltic Adventure. Well annoyingly i received a reply back today and was told that the first leg was now fully booked so I would either have to go on another leg or not at all. Unfortunately this would mean costing at least £200 extra plus also a heap more hassle organising getting to and from ports, so it had to be not at all.

Its not all bad though because my new back up plan is to go to this years Oktoberfest instead, which is something Ive been thinking about doing for the last few years anyway so it makes sense to go now as I've got this shiny new blog to tell ye all about it. I may also try to go to this years Great British Beer Festival as well so I can look and write about comparison between England's and Germany's biggest beer fests. Plus an excuse to get drunk is always handy.

Ive really got alot going on this year. GBBF, Oktoberfest, my 21st this year, MANOWAR in just under 3 weeks (EPIC!!) and I've got a few other little ideas floating around as well, so yeah, busy, busy, busy.

Another beer related topic (i suppose they almost always are really) I want to chat about is that last month marked a year since I started home brewing. My first batch was a standard 20 liter brew which the math wizards among you can guess made 40 500ml bottles, I have since reduced the size of my batches just because it makes life easier, but I've still got 5 bottles of this original batch left. The beer is a 6%abv dark ale, just right for a bit of ageing, so what i thought i would do is drink a bottle, write about it and then age the remaining 4 bottles for another year to see what difference it makes. If that goes well, I may just age the remaining 3 bottles even longer...but ill think about that more in a years time.

Appearance: Really dark, almost black in colour, but if held to the light the beer turns an amazing shade of ruby. A decent amount of carbonation with a nice golden head.

Smell: Prunes with a slight hint of cherry. Faint yeasty smell.

Taste: Rich and very creamy. starts very bitter, kinda like burnt coffee (can you burn coffee??) but it fades pretty fast and is then followed by a faint tartness (which is a good sign for the ageing) which brings the fruity flavours that were in the aroma in to full swing and finishes with a slightly sweet port-like flavour

Right I'll come back to that next year I suppose. Now I'm off to get ready for work.

Take care all.

* I'll try and keep this PG most of the time, but hey, I'll swear if i need to.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Festival update

I write this feeling drained, sleepy but also, amazingly...sober. Well as expected, its hit the weekend and its been busy, really busy. The festival is going great now with unlike the last festival, we actually have all the beers selling well rather then just a couple of really popular ones. My personal favourites have to be Cairingorm Black Gold Stout, a rich, warming full bodied stout with wonderful flavours of bitter coffee, roasted barley and with slight malty finish makes it a pretty tasty number, but of course my favourite has to be the Hop Top.

What can i say?? boy did it live up to the hype. With a rich golden appearance, an aroma of apples, pine and a hint of grapefruit and a wonderful, complex taste that makes it sooo much better then some of the other beers in this style that I've tried. The first thing that is noticeable is the flavour of rich bitter marmalade that is perfectly matched by a smooth blackcurrant sweetness. The next slightly alarming thing about this beer is that for being 9%...its dangerously drinkable. you can tell that its strong, but the flavours blend so well that it hides the strength like a ninja. I don't know if The Old Dairy intend to brew this beer again, but my god they should, and if they do, they should make more hype about it, because its a great beer and beats some of the American brews at their own game.

The weekend really as been enjoyable so far...busy and knackering as hell, but still fun. We've seen alot of new faces and a bloody good chunk of familiar ones (which is always good to see) but there's still a few days left to go so i hope to see some more beer being drunk by you all soon.

In other news. I've just applied to join the first leg of a trip called The Great Baltic Adventure. I wont bore you with all the details, but its basically a 5 leg trip, sailing from London to St Petersburg in a 60ft clipper carrying 12+ cask of beer. Sounds bloody good to me.

Right, I'm off to bed now cause I'm bloomin sleepy. Night all.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Spring beer fest!!

Ahhh yes, believe it or not, but it really is March already. Its getting warmer (OK...ever so bloody slightly, but still) outside, days are getting longer and if you didn't think things were already good enough...The Queen's Head is hosting its 3rd beer festival!! (you lucky, lucky bunch.)

With the stillage set up, and with the beers waiting to be drunk, all we need is you jolly people to pop in and join us in a little celebration in saying bye bye to winter and hello to the rest of the busy (and i have full belief that it will be) year ahead. Kicking off on Thursday at 12:00pm, we are mostly focusing on stouts and porters, so expect some pretty interesting brews from the likes of Darkstar, O'Hanlons, Rother Valley and Potton brewery amongst a healthy range of others.

One beer that although is neither a stout or porter but none the less, i think deserves a special mention because its going to be such a unique beer is Hop Top from local brewers, The Old Dairy. A 9% ABV, double IPA, it already was going to be a interesting beer to try. One reason being that despite only being open little under a year, and after proving to be such consistently good brewers that The Old Dairy have the bulls (can you see what i did there??) to take on beer styles that you'll normally not find in this country...let alone being brewed by a small microbrewery, but this a special batch because its spent the last 5 months or so maturing. So something tells me its going to be pretty tasty.

There will be some great music Friday and Saturday night, and the kitchen will be open from 12pm-3pm and 6pm-9pm everyday with its usual delights, so you don't have an excuse to not come along and have a good time.

Of course, i don't want to miss out either, so Ive got Friday night off work so ill be there drinking, punning (sorry, but i just cant help myself) and having a good laugh. So next time you hear from me i should have some pics and a story to tell of a good night out.

Toodle pips all

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Hairy JACK at the QUEENS. (And they didnt play ACE OF SPADES)

First off, I would like to apologise for the title of this post...but i have warned you against this kind of thing before.

WOW, well talk about getting back into the game!! As most of you probably know, these early months of the year aren't particularly the best for pubs. People still feeling the cost of Christmas, bad weather and just general high living costs make it a much easier (and cosier) to stay at home. Now this week, in the battle of pulling the punters, we decide to book the band that for each of the 2 times they've played, they've pulled some of our biggest crowds....and let me tell you something, they didn't disappoint!

Hairy jack. A local band who don't just play rock covers, but they play them bloody well, and with also a giant dose of fun thrown in to the mix, they just never fail in giving us a good night. An evening of thrills, spills (who put that bloomin glass there!!) and a great atmosphere all round meant that plenty of drinking was being done (all 3 ales at the bar were changed, which is a bloody good sign) and in a evening where pretty much all our regulars (who are all bloody friendly people and who, are again apart of what makes this job so special to me and who also made learning to work behind the bar a MUCH easier experience....I wont name you all, but you know who you are.) where at the pub to have a good time, but also to wish a happy birthday to local Marzena, who was celebrating at the pub, gave the evening a special feel to it as well.

On an unfortunate down note, a regular and friend of the pub had their phone stolen by a man posing as a Big Issue seller (which is annoying because A: just don't steal!! and B: it discredits honest Big issue sellers.) If anyone as any info on the matter, please let us know. Thank you!!
Right. Best ready for work me thinks...Tutty byes

Friday, 25 February 2011

What are fridays for??

Well its a Friday, and its my day off. What to do, what to do? I think its a day were i should try and relax and unwind but as things turned wasn't that bloomin simple.

First item on my list of things to do today was bottle my latest home brew experiment, which was a honey and maple syrup wheat beer with banana.....mmmmm tasty, tasty yes but a real bugger to bottle. I wont go into the details but lets just say that syphoning is a bitch. Here's a picture to the right of the bottled beer. Yes i know it kinda looks like electric horse piss...but as long as it doesn't TASTE like it, then who cares??

Next on my list of things to do was go to the pub. Not because I'm some raving alcoholic (ish maybe) but its one that I've been suggested to go to for around about 6 months and I've only just had the chance to pop along to. I'm heading along down to none other then the red lion in Snargate.

Now. Thanks to the ever reliable Southern rail (note the sarcasm) I ended up getting to the pub an hour later then planned, at around 1:45 (and being an old style pub that closes a 3pm, that was kinda annoying) but once inside, i found the trip was more then worth it. I'm not going to drag on about all the good stuff about the pub, because i want you to at least to still be awake at the end of this, but the beer was great (Goachers mild and Skinners spriggan ale being pretty tasty), the regulars being friendly and just by the building itself being like an effing time machine made the place feel special and part of a dying breed of traditional English get down there if you get a chance to, even if pubs arn't your thing....who knows how long this kinda place will last??

Right, I'm gonna try and spend the rest of my Friday night like a normal 20 year old by going out and having a good time. (I hope)

Till next time my friends.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

let me fill you in...

Hi ho readers.

Well to begin with I suppose I should bring you up to date with my life so far regarding the last 9 months or so. I live in the small tourist town of Rye in east Sussex, which as far as places to grow up, live and work go, its not half bad. One thing that the town is particularly known for (well locally at least) is that for only having a permanent population of about 3000ish, (which around 60% are OAPs and also don't go out regularly, but luckily the population more or less doubles in the summer) it has around 18 pubs and bars, which is more then enough to cope with the residents of this historic little town.

Right, i know what your thinking. "Small tourist town with lots of pubs. Great!! Must be full of good, proper, traditional English pubs." Unfortunately this wasn't the case. Pretty much every pub in town had been caught in the trap of all serving the same bland lagers, no choice of real ale (or if there was, it was always just Harveys Best, which don't get me wrong, it's a wonderfully hoppy beer, but it just gets a bit boring when its your only choice.) and they genuinely only cared about catering to the weekend youth crowd, which mostly meant there was very little atmosphere, loud, crap music blasting the speakers and some evenings ending in a fight. Not my idea of a pub at all. There were of course some exceptions, but even they weren't what i would call "good pubs" either. So imagine my joy when one day, wile i was at work, i was reading the local paper (it was a slooooow day) and i happened to come across an advert for the reopening (I didn't even know it was closed) and beer festival at The Queen's Head pub. i was shocked and kind of skeptical at first because this pub had a reputation of being one of the worst in town, and seeing how little other pubs have changed under new management in recent years, how much could it of changed?? Later that afternoon i was given all the persuasion i needed when a good number of customers were making positive remarks of the change at the pub, with a few suggesting i pop along down there. (one person who made the biggest fight for the case to make a visit there, ended up being a good friend of the new management....but I'm not going to hold it against him, in fact...thanks Damian) So my arm had been twisted enough and i decided to pop in after work. My life changed that evening.

I went straight home after work, got changed, had a bite to eat and then headed for the pub. When i arrived and walked through the already open door, i could see the change immediately. The walls had been repainted and decorated with amazing artwork of ships and a wonderful hand painted patten that made it look and feel special and unique. The loud, in your face music had been replaced by the sound of laughter and chatter as people did one of the fundamental things that pubs are for...socialising. Most importantly though, it had something else, something I'd not felt in a pub before in had atmosphere. I walked round to the bar to order a drink, but i couldn't, i was too stunned, too happy and too impressed to speak. The gentleman behind the bar greeted me and after giving me a quick run through what was on offer, i went for a pint of Ringwood 49er and we got chatting. It turns out that this man was Chris, the new landlord of the pub, and after giving him all the praise in the world for what he and the rest of his team (who i was yet to meet, but they are all amazing, wonderful people..but I'll get to that in a bit) had done to the pub and then telling him about my self, i let him get back to work wile i explored the place a bit more.

Wow it was different. I couldn't get over it, it just made me soooo happy, i cant really explain it but "if carlsberg did pubs" hang on...bad example, that would be crap, but you know what i mean. All i could think about was that I'd found a very special place, a new home away from home. My first thought was that it was going to be my new local, but my second thought, or at that point, my dream, was what if i could work here? Well i made that dream happen after going back to the bar, then being even more overjoyed by finding the choice of Belgian beers available (I've been looking for a good supply of Belgian beer for AGES) and after a evening of chatting, getting drunk and having the best night out in rye for a loooong time, i came straight out with it and pretty much begged for a job. I was told to come for a trial shift in a few days time and see how that goes. Well it must of went well, cause here i am, 9 months later and i wouldn't trade this job for the world.

As I've mentioned previously though, its not just the beer and the pub it's self that makes it a great place to work and to drink, its the people. Over the passing months, Ive come to consider those that work here more then just employers and colleagues, no, they are more then that, they're my friends and as naff as it sounds, i consider them as family. They like me for who i am and they don't treat me any differently cause I'm abit weird, slow, annoying at times (I make ALOT of crap jokes and puns) and I've not really experienced life as much as they have, but they really are amazing, kind and special people. So in alphabetical order (just for funsies) Andy, Charlotte, Chris, Helen, Joe and Marcus.... thank you :)

Well that's a pretty short sum up of what I'm up to (ohhhh yes, it could go on for alot longer) but I hope I stick with doing this blog (and I hope some bugger reads it lol) and don't worry it wont all be this long and I'll try and make it a tad less boring aswell...but I'm making no guarantees :p

p.s. Yes i know my grammar is crap, and that my spelling isn't much better, but hey...give a guy a break