Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Beer Review: Imperial Russian Stout

Hello! Yes, I am actually writing and posting a beer review on Christmas Day. I am that mental. But, it's been a bit of an odd one. No pressure, Anna pulled a blinder in doing all of the hard stuff regarding cooking, cleaning, dish-washing... basically all the crap stuff, whilst I was able to chill, play wooden train-track and watch a bit of Cars. Course, there was rather a lot of cider in our random sweet potato mash, which induced dozing with the Boy. Oh, it's a hard life being me.

Anyway, tonight I am reviewing Courage's Imperial Russian Stout. Which, if my reading serves me well, is a popular style of brew this year around where I am - or all over the intertubes. Don't think I haven't lusted and salivated over Brewdog's offerings lately. I have never seen the like before and so I did ask for a selection of Christmas beer and I got it. Yay!

Would you like to see more of this Christmas Madness? Really?

Christmas Day Review

It's Christmas Day. I have not been reviewing beers regular like on this here blog as mostly I have been drinking my own brew (which it wouldn't be right for me to review, save for the fact that I find it to be a nice light ale) and then I have been trying to clear the decks with marking and whatnot. Also, I'm lazy.

Anyway, what follows is a (heavily sarcastic) battle report of the day. You can skip onto the beer review I shall be posting in a moment if you prefer.

Would you really like to know more? Be sure now!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


It's another random blogging post. Not even a beer review, let alone part of the epic story for the Boy that this blog is supposed to be about! Oh well. It's also fairly boring, I can't claim anything of interest to the passing visitor.

So, as usual, would you like to know more?

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Beer Review: Old Intentional

It's been an odd week. I have failed to keep up with work (many reasons but mainly a surfeit of lampre- I mean, marking), had a lovely breakfast with the rest of my colleagues, failed to locate a decent garage and been home late a lot. However, it's Thursday, I've played football, my arms ache and I'm having a beer.

Tonight I am mostly drinking Derby Brewing Co.'s Old Intentional that comes in a natty bottle with a purple label evoking various parts of Derby's skyline, and not all of that is terribly flattering. On offer at the local supermarket, always worth a punt.

There's a definite smell of hops, not the sharp citrus of cascade or the pungent aroma of maris otter nor the fiery spice of fuggles but it's there all the same. Puts me in mind of raisins and grape and strawberries in Pimm's of a summer evening. Colour is a nice chestnut with a thin head that arrives with a great deal of vigour and then dissipates just as quickly. First sip is hoppy, the bottle claims delicate hops but I call foul and say they run the show, above a smooth malt and the barest hint of a yeasty tone sounding softly in the background. Picture yourself in a Tibetan monastery, somewhere in the distance there is a singing bowl being sounded, that's about the influence of the yeast and it is a good effect to have. Carbonation is light and carefully handled, I've had the bottle a few weeks and the conditioning has done it some good from the feel of things, and there is a satisfying amount of fizz without being overwhelming.

At 5% ABV it's firmly in my normal drinking stable and the wealth of taste in it makes me think that this is of good quality. There's a body to it, a kind of warm thickness, the sort of feeling you would usually associate with a familiar coat that you dig out to wear in winter after a long summer and find bus tickets in the pockets along with a receipt of meaning and a tenner that you forgot you had sometime in late February the year before. In the same way this is a beer that rewards your hesitancy with rich flavour and an improving aftertaste. It's probably not a sessionable beer but one that you have with food, I'd suggest a nut roast or a vegetable curry to get the necessary 'bite' that this would soothe over, and that is no bad thing.

Most pleasurable. Enjoy with a hearty meal at most times of the year, but not high summer, and have a brace. One to have as you eat and one to have as you dissolve into the inevitable after dinner conversation where one puts the world to rights.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Bottling it

It's another title that has two meanings! Okay, it's not as subtle as I would have liked. Sure enough, it's another post about brewing and the adventures therein. Come in if you'd like to see the beer gut made wordy.

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Beer Review: Newcastle Brown Ale

Another blast from my youth here, but this time one that dates to my time in Sixth Form, when my cohorts would attend clubs with imaginative names like 'the Twisted Wheel' and 'the Front Page' and engage in under-age drinking and other such shenanigans. I am, of course, referring to the offering from Newcastle Breweries that is Newcastle Brown Ale, affectionately remembered as "Newky Brown" and the go-to drink of choice for people who called themselves such things as 'Kipper' and 'Greebo'.

Opening it I was struck by the fact that the bottle is clear glass, meaning that the deep brown colour was provided entirely by the ale itself. Don't laugh, I genuinely hadn't really thought about it before, so I didn't know. Also, the lack of carbon dioxide smoke was a positive sign that this hasn't been too tainted by the mass-production and wide scale distribution of a staple beer. Aroma wise, there was a fruitiness to it, not as citrus-y as you expect from a well hopped beer but nor as deep and oaky as something with a bit more malt. It put me in mind of something like mouldering apples, dried orange or the kind of smell one associates with the whole foods aisle in a supermarket - you know, freshness with a nutty undertone. It poured well, making a froth for a head that reminds me of the one on Ruddles County in that it's not particularly strong or long lasting. Obviously sparkling and with a syrupy look to its progress.

At 4.7% ABV it's no slouch when it comes to strength and the taste reflects this though, surprisingly for something as ubiquitous as this, it doesn't taste cheap and nasty either. In fact, it was quite mellow, putting me in mind of Manchester Brown Ale, though I'll confess that the comparison has me thinking that the former does much better. It carries that fruity taste atop an obvious and strong malt, the source of the colour I suppose, and there's a much deeper section to that fruit. In fact, it is very similar in tone to those spiced drinks one gets warmed as samples in IKEA, so like that Glogg stuff. Actually quite nice. Over the top you get the standard yeasty spice and then, as an encore, there's the taster of something else, almost chocolate like in tone but very much more like the malt.

I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised by this beer as I was expecting something a bit cheap and a bit nasty given how popular it was during my Sixth Form years, and how cheap it must therefore have been from the tap. Also, given the quantities I have seen this in whenever I pass the alcohol section of any supermarket, I was expecting something corporate and bland, without too much depth or any kind of genuine character. Whilst this doesn't match the likes of Ilkley Black for that or even get close to some of the nicer craft ales it does make the most of what it has and so I can now understand its popularity. Indeed, it has a touch of Old Peculiar about it (though that might make me unpopular in beer review circles, so I'm glad I'm not really in them).

Enjoy this on an evening of relaxation, preferably autumn or spring, with a light meal and some company, the kind that prefers to mull things over rather than talk. Offer a few big thoughts, then inwardly digest them as you sup this ale. Consider the lightness of being, the hypocrisy  of Gandhi, the union of mankind and the perfidity of Albion. Then watch the footy and have a second as you yell sporting advice from your sofa. It's that kind of beer. But I like it.

Sunday, 24 November 2013


A while back the family went to have look in Little Narnia (no, really) and saw something that has stayed with us since then.

Would you like to know more?

Saturday, 23 November 2013

'Splody Things

Today was a day that shall be long-remembered as it was the day that I attempted to get some of the barrelled beer into bottles. No, I didn't check the SG again, it has been at a constant 14 since I last wrote about it (and I'm none the wiser as to whether that is good or bad), but I have tasted it and it does taste considerably better than my first attempt to explain it here. So, armed with two bottles of independent procurement and borrowed crown caps I made two bottles to take north at some point in December.

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Drink Review: alcoholic Dandelion and Burdock

An odd one this evening as it doesn't really classify as beer (despite my tagging of it as such) and we're settling down to an episode of Sherlock, which you really ought to watch by the way. This is from the stable of Hooper's breweries who have form on this alcoholic versions of normal soft drinks.

Onward! As claimed on the bottle it is indeed sparkling and it does indeed fizz like one would expect dandelion and burdock to fizz. No surprises there. Much like the hound, the gigantic hound, on Dartmoor this is coal black and smells like you'd expect. Definite hints of summer garden mingled with autumn burnt wood tang as you would expect from such a thing. Actually, it's a tad disappointing in terms of its taste given that it is 4% ABV and it is supposed to be more concentrated flavour than your standard soft drink version.

Still, it's pleasant enough fayre for an evening spent watching some overly clever TV with the wife. Not sure what else to add to this review, how bizarre that when reviewing things that aren't beer I have so much less to say. I think I just grew a beer gut with that admission.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Beer Review: Oyster Stout

Despite my Odyssey into brewing and the recent move of the barrel from the kitchen to the pantry and thus into the final stage before bottling (and the drinking of a sample to work out what it's like) I still haven't reached the point of self-sufficiency in beer supply. That means, of course, that I am still sampling the delights  of our local supermarket when it comes to bottled real ales.

It appears that, since we moved, we have entered the area that is mainly served by Marston's Brewery. They have most pubs under their banner and a good deal of the bottled ale is also from their stable. It would, of course, therefore be pretty churlish not to sample their offerings. Truth be told, I had this the first time whilst I was renting but tonight I have actually managed to sit down with an Oyster Stout to review it properly.

Fancy going even further here?

Thursday, 14 November 2013

I got geisha...

Okay, so my reference is less to do with beer and more to do with a lager advert from my youth, and the link is less to do with taste or anything actually connected to beer and more to do with the thing that the oil workers are attempting to cap, but what the hey.

Today is the day I moved the barrel from the kitchen to the pantry and sampled it. Hoka hey, it's beer tasting day!

Would you like to know more?

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Days late, I know, and without the library of images that I hoped to publish to illustrate my thoughts because it would appear that I have accidentally deleted the entire folder at some point.

Anyway, as ever, read on at your peril.

Would you like to know more?

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Over a barrel

Dare you enter the mad world of beardy beer brewing? Can you handle the heat? Alliteration allows almost all animals to be analysed! Uh... Yeah, after the line break for more.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Beer Review: Green Tights

"Back in the saddle again"

I know, I know, starting with a song lyric is the last bastion of a scoundrel. Tonight I restart my reviewing of beers in a new place with new breweries. Apparently I now live in the brewery capital of the British Isles. This should help make up for the fact that I am farther from the coast than is possible anywhere else in England and thus the fish and chips are... well, they're not top notch. Tonight, therefore, I sample through the goodness and generosity of my wife a local brew from Wollaton Breweries by the name of Green Tights.

An expensive little brew but craftily done and in a small local brewery outside an old Elizabethan estate that we went to visit. It's an IPA with a 4.1% ABV and a lovely little squat bottle in which looks the part. On opening there wasn't much of a snick and the bottle warned rightly of sedimentation. I suspect I ought to have left it a little longer to condition (hark at me as a brewer). Anyway, nicely pale golden colour with an aroma that was nothing to write home about. Vigorous head that forms quickly and then froths a bit.

Taste is hoppy and lively with an element of citrus as one would expect. The bottle claims that it is crisp and it does not lie, this is one craft brewery that has delivered more than the one from Fountains (and it pains me to say that), and there's a depth to it. The bottle says 'biscuity' and I can't comment, but it is a bit flakier than a standard ale. It is very nice, very flavorsome, and very crafty.

I enjoyed it as an accompaniment to the watching of Sharpe's Enemy, a real blast from my youth and also one that I have never actually seen before. For this purpose the ale was well matched for it had that sort of body and zest that fits the musical overtones. As Sharpe was a bit of a bastard so is the beer in the fact that it masquerades as something less than it is, with the sediment and the lack of carbonation. No, this is a proper ale for sharing with men in snugs and with darts or snooker being played in the background. Enjoy it slowly, let it breathe and let it work its magic. It is a proper little beer from a proper little brewery. I have much to live up to.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


The beer has a name. It shall forever be officially known as Slightly Shitty Slow-Brewed Stag.

Would you like to more?

Monday, 21 October 2013

We're bubblin' it hot hot hooot

And if you get my reference in the title you are a) rather old and b) rather sad. If you don't, well done, you passed the test.

Just a little update: as of this morning my bucket has started to swell slightly and there are alarming bubbling noises every so often. I think this means that the yeast is doing its thing quite nicely despite the fact that the temperature is below the 20 degrees required (a constant 18 has been observed and that's pretty good). I think we're on track for a Friday evening adding of hops.

On bottling I may cheat and use IKEA bottles with replaceable stoppers for two reasons: I'm lazy and, more importantly, when I inevitably get it all wrong and the tops explode I can simply replace them. Actually, that's both the same reason: I'm lazy.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Beer Brewing

With many thanks to all the people at my old Department, I have begun an epic journey this evening.

Well, okay, I've started brewing my first batch of beer. Beer kit provided by Festival Beer Brewing Company, it is the Golden Stag variety. I have disinfected the bin, lid, tubes and various items. Then you soften the malt (stop reading if you know the process), cut open the bags and put the malt in the bottom of the bin. I don't know what I expected malt to look like but the treacle-viscous substance that oozed from the plain green bags wasn't it. This formed a viscous treacle (no, really?) layer at the bottom of the bin that seemed to be solidifying and hardening as I watched. Add three litres of boiling water and it started to flow better, then, with my lovely lady assistant doing the stirring, I added a further twenty litres of cold water.

It frothed, looked like a bad batch of beer, and then did, uh, nothing. I sampled it as instructed for Specific Gravity and the reading said "40". I have recorded this, the SG meter tells me that this is "start brewing" SG, and then added the yeast with a gentle stir. I have put the lid on, stuck in the airlock (which promptly drained and had to be refilled with water when I moved the bin into the cupboard under the stairs) and stuck the bin in an area that is currently about 18 degrees Centigrade and is roughly consistent temperature.

At approximately six days, so next Friday evening, I shall add the hops. At some point this week I must also order either another bin or some barrels to decant the beer into. Given that the barrels last less time than bottles I suspect a second bin and some bottling kit may be in order. This... could get expensive.

Still, I am moderately excited and this, hopefully, sets a new routine that I can follow. Members of my old Department, expect bottled slightly shitty beer in the near future! I can't promise a label.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Beer Review: Manns Brown Ale

I have had a good few days and I feel like I have produced some good work. I feel productive recently in a way that would have been unthinkable this time last year, or this time the year before that. Hell, since 2009. Anyway, I decided that I would reward myself with a beer. Which I have. It is Manns Brown Ale from, yes you guessed it, Manns Brewery. There's no apostrophe, I feel like I should be insulted, but there it is.

However, grammar-based issues aside (and, let's face it, it's not a formal setting so why do I care so much?) there's an ale here in my kitchen begging to be drunk. Look at it, could you deny that face? Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Beer Review: Lancaster Bomber

Time to enjoy something that a friend of mine likes. This friend from University was drinking proper ale before I even knew the difference between beer and lager and so it was about time that I trusted their judgement and tried it for myself.

It is, of course, Lancaster Bomber from Thwaites and so is something from my own youth and past that somehow passed me by. Part of that may well be because I was rubbish and more interested in not drinking a drop of alcohol in my youth.

On opening there is an a hoppy and malty aroma that is pleasant and not a little dissimilar to that of Wainwright that I tried a while ago. However, the carbonation really takes a hit of that nose and makes it difficult to judge from the bottle alone. At 4.4% ABV there's not a huge kick to this but when pouring it out there is a definite pungence of alcohol about the whiff that is actually rather pleasing, reminding you that are dealing with a mature ale rather than some natty energy drink.

In the glass I was surprised to see that it actually has a ruby undertone to the nutty brown that it colours. Darker than chestnut, it reminds me of the sheen one gets on conkers in the autumn, and also there's a vinegar like hue there too. But the similarity ends there, thank goodness! There's a froth to begin with but the head doesn't hang around for long, reminding me of the ale I had in the Norfolk Broads by accident, and the fizz seems to have disappeared after a minute or two. Still there on the tongue but not in evidence in the glass. Of course, I haven't chilled it and am tasting at room temperature so that may have something to do with it.

Fruity tones on the nose in the first taste, followed by a pleasant low spicy feel to it as it swirls around the tongue. Not too strong, the hops leave a lasting impression before being briefly overtaken by the barest hint of malt. It's not anything that will have fireworks going off in its name or that will make you want to sing its praises but nor is it tasteless or bland. It is a very sessionable ale, one that will stand repetition and being drunk with strong flavours at a meal. I reckon it would go well with steak or, if you are a vegetarian, with a good nut roast: I would suggest that cashews would work well, but ladle on the mushrooms to really complement the taste and spice of the hops. The bottle tells me that they are late hops, whatever that means, but I don't really know how that changes anything. There is a passing resemblance to Late Red so I suppose that's your late hops right there. Not as strongly hoppy as Thoroughbred Gold nor as smooth as Banks's Bitter but I like it.

Overall, this is not one that does well out of being drunk singly. It would be best as part of a session on an evening or as part of a proper meal. It is neither thirst quenching nor so dry that it requires water on hand but, rather, works well and holds its own. Enjoy this after a day at work or on a long evening, it probably wouldn't do so well out in the sunshine or with a curry for example. Let it breathe a bit, give it some room, and hang fire on the bar snacks. Would do well from the pump rather than from the bottle, though from a bottle is still very serviceable. Another sharing beer methinks, rather than a drinking alone tipple.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Moving Experiences III

There's a song that sums up my feelings on transitioning from one job to another. Another slice of my life, hence the line break. Go read the poetry or the beer reviews.

This is not for the faint hearted. However, it is self-serving. Enter at your peril.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Beer Review: Trademark No. 1

Well, it's been a trying week (like all weeks) and so I wanted to review something from my youth that wasn't Thwaites (I'm sure I'll come back to them at some point). As it happens there was some beer in the local supermarket that instantly brought back memories of my father drinking and the stuff you saw on TV. I'm reasonably certain that they were once the brewery used in the Rover's Return in Coronation Street but I could be lying.

Tonight it is time to have at Bass Trademark No. 1 premium pale ale. I'm still on that vaguely pale ale kick and I keep forgetting how much I like them. Mind you, let's not forget a love of the dark stuff too.

It hisses nicely when opened and pours nicely from the bottle, making a deep amber ale with an energetic head that is more frothy than creamy. Good fresh hoppy nose to it with a strong hint of alcohol in amongst the blooms of lemon, lime and melon. It is tangy rather than sharp, putting me in mind of pineapple cubes come to think of it. It's also 4.4% ABV and the first taste is like an old-fashioned ginger ale as it hits the tongue. There the similarity ends because there's no fiery beast clawing at you as it goes down, instead we have a wave of cream with a twist of bitterness so that it feels like there ought to be a twist of fruit in there. No real malty base to speak of, the hops work with the carbonation like a Base Jumper off a long bridge or a couple of parkour runners doing their thang to sufficiently electronic dance music.

As I continue to drink it this feeling that the hops are diving off something into a long fall is reinforced and the whole thing feels like a whimsical romp through a built up area whilst defying gravity or something. It has a look of something from a bygone age and feels reassuring working class, northern and solid. It'll probably turn out to be brewed down South now. Even so, it speaks to me of ploughmen, oxen, agricultural labour and canals. It is a Turner or Constable painting hanging in the gallery amidst some brilliant modern art. At once out of place but also reassuring and stable, a haven when caught in the whirls of sound, colour and sculptural flicks that make up a modern gallery experience. Nothing too clever, nothing too thought provoking but dependable and unchanging like black jacks or sherbet lemons or mint imperials - a link to one's past through image and smell. A satisfying pale ale with a good colour.

Enjoy this singly on an evening with a proper manly meal. A hunk of rustic bread, some roughly chopped salady things and slices of dry cured meats and some branston pickle on the side. Make sure you have your work suit on and that it is threadbare on the elbows. Leave your chin unshaven, you too ladies, and talk little with that secure satisfaction that today, today you have helped maintain and create empire.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Bestowing Missions

Dimwald est growen and liven in blaec und light,
Folk moven in und out wending thru trees,
Dimwald est foe but friend - mist und bight.

Warrior walks, feet upon leaf-litter soft und sloe,
Dimme in stille, dowen in gowen of wet:
Rain fallen wit water drippen frae trees auld und close.
Warrior runs, eyes set far frae here thru gloamen,
Swifte on rifte, risen on wingen of hope:
Green showen wit sunlight frae sky wide und free.
Warrior watchen, stille in blaec of woods,
Brauw in beauw, resten on hilten of swaerd:
Flashen in daercen wit night fallen frae on high.

Of high power dost swaerd spaec loud und strang:
Of laeders, taels und dares that dareth not.
Frae mists und waters und swamps he spraeng:
Form'd und fold wit width of blaed rots not.
Held low as safeness fast on roots to claeng:
Fastness gaenst ungnawen cept about.

Yunge in yaerde did Aelthred cumen wit Peter,
Lucen erst this wae und that - wan wit woods
Aers open but eyes lidded to be wit truncs of elders.
Undergrowth moven wit craetures graet und smal
Some cem for to see some for to hide
But Aelthred haerd them wit no seen of them.
"Hush" spaec aulderman as baerd hid lips "Fast."

Fast they stud, fast they stand, and he seen it
Tho it were darc he seen it,
If eyes lied he seen it,
If twur naught he seen it.
Suncen low, moldren und staem risen
As if water seec'd escap frae eville.
Rank, it smell'd; insult tae God und wood,
Und Aelthred smelt deep of it to better gnaw it
Better tae remove it
Better tae kill it
Better tae tek his birthright.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Bastille Day

After I discovered that EDM was a thing and that I had been waiting for this for most of my life I went looking around to see what else was out there. I found Archive, about whom I have previously written, and couldn't believe that I was not already aware of them (they've been going for ages). Anna had previously sent me a rather cool song that mixed Haddaway's What is Love? with Adagio for Strings from Platoon. I liked it and played the hell out of it, duh. But then I wondered about the artist, Bastille, had he done more mash-ups like this?

Apparently, he had, because he had released an album called Other Peoples' Heartache. I looked, I was busy, and I was intrigued but then left alone whilst I indulged with Parralox and Archive a little more, enjoying the strict electronic stylings of this eminently familiar (to me) EDM and how much it mixed and matched with the latest Pet Shop Boys album Electric (and why haven't you bought that yet? Because you should, you really really should, and you won't regret it!). Anyway, I went looking again.

I was not disappointed.

Would you like the full horror?

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Beer Review: Landlord

Onward through the realms of pale ales and it is seemingly well populated with beers of a Yorkshire hailing, whatever that may mean, but I suspect the procurement team of my local supermarkets of unnatural bias. Yes, tonight I have been mostly drinking Timothy Taylor's Landlord which bills itself as a strong pale ale. The bottle, as you will see below, looks like it has been mostly unchanged since the 1960s and 70s, which, despite the fact I never lived through them, seems almost comforting.

A good nose on this one reminds me of childhood pubs, about which I have spoken before when discussing Thwaites, and so immediately I felt at home with this ale. No whisp of CO2 as I opened the bottle beyond the satisfying snick of the cap coming off and so it won points right there. There is a slight hint of hoppiness in that nose that becomes all the clearer as it is poured out. Once there it has a chestnutty blonde colour that reminds me of the strawberry blondeness I equate with well dyed hair, along with a thin but persistent head that takes a short while to form and then remains languid as it slowly disappears.

First taste is smooth and malty with the hops doing the job of bittering very much in the background, which was nice and surprisingly so. At 4.1% ABV it fits nicely in with the other ales that are making up my current milieu and also has the effect of not making the alcohol overpowering. An uncomplicated taste with a lingering effect of hops rather than malt or yeast, which I applaud. It was being sampled along with some 'posh grub' (our official name for this) made up of chorizo fried and then put over beans, broccoli and pesto. It held out nicely against the strength of the sausage and also against the muzziness of the pesto. This was no mean feat and I've had ales before that fail this particular test. Sovereign, for example, and Goldings, both succumbed to the meal and became listless and background beers. Landlord does a better job of holding my attention and actually helped to clean the palate a little so that it increased my enjoyment of the meal.

Enjoy this with food then, of an evening or on a lunchbreak, and let the beer do its thing. Not one to neck back with any great pace nor is it one to fade away and become something to hold in your hand whilst debating meaty topics. It accompanies these well enough (and did with me) but you don't need them to enjoy it effectively.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Moving Experiences II

This is a blogging post that has little relevance to creating a poetic mythology and less to beer reviews. I have taken the decision that I shall post slice of life sections on this blog but, because they are not the main point of the blog in any way shape or form, they shall require a page break.

In the meantime you can search for beer reviews or the poetry by clicking on these lovely links.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Beer Review: All Creatures

It seems as though I am embarking on a journey through Pale Ales with my latest batch of ales, so tonight will be a continuation on a theme from last week.

It is the turn of Black Sheep's All Creatures with its rather jaunty coloured label and hints toward a TV show that, whilst I've never seen it, remains locked in the popular consciousness as being quintessentially Yorkshire.

It is a lively ale when opened. There is a whisp of carbonation and then the yeasty fizz completely takes over and goes a bit mental as you pour it into the glass. A frothy, slightly manic, head forms and then continues to grow, dominating the glass and then dissipates slowly over the next minute or so. Good, strong hops and malt arrive at the nose and the promise of a good ale lurks within. At 4% ABV it is nicely within my tolerance and, apparently, most Pale Ales. First sip is spicy and strong, a nice bitter hint with the initial fizz followed by a tinge of yeast as it transforms to a smoother taste and then ends on a bitter note toward the end. An aftertaste remains not unlike the creamier draft pints down the pub, in this case I am inexplicably reminded of Caffrey's which I haven't tasted since in my first year of University. I suspect a light malt for that effect.

Subsequent tastes are good, but this is not really a thirst quencher. I've coupled this with some peanuts because, well, I can, and they are being singularly awful. I've had some good peanuts but these are bland and boring. As a consequence I find that the ale holds its flavour a little longer but the saltiness of the nuts is testing the bounds of the thirst quenching qualities and the ale is coming up short in that regard. I like the spice of the hops and the bitterness that they impart as the taste transforms, I even like the carbonation here because it is so absolutely mentile it feels like an excitable terrier. However, as feisty as this ale is, I can't imagine that I would be seeking it out again. It beats Golden Sheep for taste and it's almost on a par with Riggwelter but I am slightly disappointed that one of my favourite breweries has again failed to really grab me with something they've clearly put some time and effort into. It's no Holy Grail (thank goodness) but it does rather pale (ha) in comparison to Lancaster Bomber which is something I find myself rather surprised by.

I think this ale has its place, mind, and that would be with a good dish of food that has a kick to it. A chilli would work well but also a spiced soup or a medium curry. Something against which this taste can fight and thus claim some semblance of excitement to match the carbonation. Wear a flat cap, keep a whippet and hold this in one of those knobbly pint glasses that has a thick handle. Complain about the cost, incomers and the fact that Yorkshire cricket isn't what it used to be. Then drink this and do it all over again. By 'eck, it'll do for thee.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Beer Review: Jorvik Blonde

Another of the ales gifted me by my students, this one was done because "you like Vikings". Basically a colleague and I had created, well, he created and I just filled in some details, a double lesson of awesome-ness about Vikings as raiders and traders. It was a fantastic day, I don't mind saying myself, and a supreme act of imagination by my colleague. So, the students were part right. I am fascinated with most things historical and Norsemen catch my fancy (one need only trace the influences in the poetry in this blog) but it was my colleague rather than I that deserved the beer for it.

Nevertheless, tonight it is the turn of Rudgate's Jorvik Blonde that describes itself as 'flaxen blonde ale' and thus straight away gains bonus points!

I was hasty and so forgot to wash up the all important glass and so I cannot comment on the colour. Aroma wise it was dry and strong, which is good in my book, with a good mouthful of hops to bring the bitter and citrus tones that I enjoy in my beers. At 4.8% ABV it is a pretty meaty ale for my latest adventures and showed this quickly in the first mouthful. A good opening of fizz allowing a mellowness and maltiness to peek through and then straight to the bitterness of the hops and ending with a taste not unlike Black Sheep. After taste is a lingerer but this is not a bad thing and brings you up short enough that you want a second taste, so not really a sipping beer as it is a serial sipping beer.

I am impressed by it, despite the weight it didn't have me dizzy or anything like that and sometimes these beers around 4.8% can do that, and it means that I got through the entire bottle relatively quickly. Having it with fish and chips rather than my usual spicy pizza helped and meant that I was able to kick back and relax a little whilst drinking. Alas, it means that I have not got much detail on it. I liked it, I liked it so much that I kind of forgot I was reviewing it at the same time.

Enjoy in the depths of a dark night, wrapped in a fur cloak, whilst reciting tales of Erik the Red in the old Norse language, the crackling flames from your fire making shadows dance off the walls of your round house. Drink through the fronds of a long beard, carefully braided for battle, and use it to ease the legal discussions that inevitably follow any raid as you debate whether there was sufficient permission to take slaves and kill or maim your foes.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Beer Review: Cultural Exchange

It was my grandfather's 80th birthday bash and so my brother and I decided to tool up and have a DVD night. It didn't quite go according to plan but we did bring along some ales that were local to us (well, my grandfather misunderstood and brought some Tetley's in cans). Again, I shan't do full reviews on each of the beers but the guests were, in order of being drunk, Cascade Pale Ale from Saltaire Brewery, Manchester Brown Ale from Joseph Holt, Ilkley Black from Ilkley Brewery and Maple Moon (Joseph Holt again). We had Leeds Best (Leeds Brewery) and Champion 1849 (Joseph Holt again) on hand but these were consumed after the fact and in isolation.

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Sunday, 18 August 2013

Moving Experiences I

Looking from the ruins of one of the guest houses. These are
not my photos. I can't find those. I've had to rely on good old
Mister Google. However, I am sad enough to know where
each one was taken. I have some in snow somewhere.
We've had the Boy's Goblin over the last few days. It's been a good few days. We had two full days out, which is rather unheard of in our family with our two, and the children are predictably shattered from the experience. Having an extra adult whom they both adulated made things much easier though, so that was nice.

It's also helped in the ongoing moving in that the places we went are peculiarly connected to where we live now rather than where we are going to live. Yesterday we went to a place that holds a special part of me forever. I have been leading coursework trips there for an actual decade and so have visited it almost 40 times in that period. I have led tours of it for students about eight times too, so it really is a place that I know exceptionally well and a place in which I enjoy performing, so to speak, by showing people around. The Boy's Goblin was very kind and offered to be shown around, she showed interest and asked questions and I ended up practically running a coursework tour for her. It was like I was saying goodbye to the place in a way that I hadn't done when I last took kids there from school.

My favourite building. That wall you see there is scarred with
history over 850 years and, well, I am a frustrated architectural
historian, so it's a mild nerdgasm for me.
It is Fountains Abbey and, though you won't get me offering paeans of praise on here to it, you will see that I do feel that I will miss the place. A UNESCO World Heritage site with the oldest working mill in the world (850 years in case you were wondering) and the largest vaulted Cellarium in Europe (and thus the world) that also has a pretty location and some of the best thought-out museums that I have seen on such sites. It is one of the best preserved monastical ruins in the UK and has many features that you simply won't find anywhere else as a consequence of it being the wealthiest Cistercian Abbey in the British Isles in its heyday and then, latterly, being considered and rejected for a cathedral before being used as the centrepiece for Victorian water gardens. The main asset has always been the mill that ceased commercial function in 1927 but remains working and used, mainly for demonstrations now but also to provide power for the exhibits and Fountains Hall.

Atmospheric look up the aisle to the
Chapel of Nine Altars
One of my great loves of the last decade and a significant part of my life, I think I have taken most people that meant something to me to visit whilst I've lived where I do. And now, looking at where we're going to live, we are going to beyond the 'day out' distance for driving, which it was already on the outside of (what can I say, the UK is much smaller than most other countries and our road network lacks the space to be as long-winded as other countries, as a consequence we travel less distance on a day). In other words, no chance of running a coursework on it, less chance of it being a significant part of my teaching any more and limited opportunities to visit. I said goodbye yesterday.

I love what the artist has done here. Tres atmospheric. It's from
the ruins of the Brothers' Infirmary.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Beer Review: Against the Grain

It's been a long-ish day with some highs and lows - we went to the seaside today you see with the childrens, and so I am now going to kick back with another of the beers that were kindly bought for me by my students before I left my last school.

This one is the Wold Top Against the Grain which I confess to have been looking forward to. It was bought because my lessons are apparently very much against the mainstream, thus against the grain (this was a compliment, I think: I shall take it as such anyway). Also, the artwork on the bottle (see below) is very close to the Socialist Realism style around the Five Year Plans (actually, I think it's more like the style associated with Constructivism, which is far superior). Bless my students, we hadn't studied the Soviets yet so they must have gleaned that tidbit from a colleague of mine.

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Sunday, 11 August 2013

Childhood Shared

This blog is really supposed to be patriarchal, in that it was supposed to be about the Boy and I and my quest to create a mythical past for him. Alas, as you can see, that aim has really rather stymied (I blame the stress of moving) and it has become something... else.
I remember seeing these posters
at the cinema in 1986. I saw it on
TV in 1988, we taped it. Yes,
my childhood memories of this
were a grainy VHS copy from

However, part of it has been a development to a more parenting based blog than solely one on fatherhood and having a son. Tonight this takes a new turn. The Girlie is now old enough to watch a film with her Daddy before bed. And I shared an old favourite of mine with her: The Flight of the Navigator. This was made in 1986 and has one of those standard 1980s draw ins of being about a child and aliens. It was a genuine thing back then after E.T.

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Thursday, 8 August 2013

Beer Review: Best Bitter

Another night of me drinking ale and another beer bought for me by my students. Tonight it is the turn of St Peter's Best Bitter in a specially created bottle that is modelled on one presented to some fella as he crossed the Delaware in the War of Independence and was produced in Suffolk. I confess to being a little bemused by that particular reference, but there it is.

First impressions of this were good, there was minimal carbonation and the bottle was in fact pleasing to hold and pour from. The colour was pleasant and chestnut with a frothy head that soon disappeared after pouring. It is a warm colour with a good aroma to it of spices and citrus from the hops. At 3.7% ABV it is on the weaker end of the spectrum of ales that I review but it is not harmed by that. First taste is an assault by hops and very bitter but with a fresh aftertaste that means you feel ready for a second sip rather quickly. Not a downing beer by any stretch of the imagination, this is one to be savoured and enjoyed. Little malt to this, though enough to stop it being thin and cruddy, and it is dominated by those bitter hops. Not sure of variety but they are less smoky than I would expect of Fuggles, perhaps close to Cascade or Pearl. Very enjoyable on the tongue and weak enough that I don't have to be too wary with it.

This was had after my evening meal and so doesn't have to compete with my food for flavour, but I get the impression that it would work well with salad or summery foods generally. Probably not going to work with fish or strong red meat in gravy but a friend of anything vegetarian methinks. I wouldn't pit it against a curry or a chinese but that's not a criticism as I really like this ale. It's simple, uncomplicated and gets straight to the point at a level of strength that means I don't fall asleep or fall over.

Enjoy this on a bright evening or a dark winter night with either a fine summery meal outside or the crackling fire of a campsite. Get a few in if you can because you'll want to repeat the experience a few times!

Sunday, 4 August 2013


What better thing to talk about than my children. The Boy has very much identified with the new place we're hoping we can buy with help from my parents (we'll be paying them back).

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Thursday, 1 August 2013

Beer Review: Nutty Black

My students got me this, and three others, as a present to say thank you when they heard I was leaving where I worked. Each of the ales they got had been thought out and carefully considered with reasoning given for each. I shall relate that here as well as reviewing it because, well, that's just very cool and slightly humbling.

Tonight I decided to try Nutty Black from Thwaites because I could. This was chosen because my teaching style is slightly 'nutty' (I prefer 'scatty professor type') and the black in the title was simply there. The fact that it had two types of hops was apparently testament to my many different styles.

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Thursday, 25 July 2013

Beer Review: Waggle Dance

Waggle Dance is another of those beers that I had way back, when I started having a beer a week but before I hit on the idea of reviewing them. It was a summer beer choice and I only seem to find it in the shops during the summer time and so I suppose my initial thoughts were right. As I have finished work officially now (and the disaggregated days are long passed) I shall be enjoying this ale despite the weather for, tonight, it is the turn of Waggle Dance by Wells.

Opening the bottle caused a great deal of fizz and carbonation, a head formed almost at once on the beer in the bottle and so I eschewed pouring it into a glass in favour of just starting straight on it. It claims to be a honey beer and the colour is certainly very bronzed and walnutty and golden. A clear bottle does wonderful things for this kind of ale. There's a lot of fizz, clearly. Aroma is citrus-y, it is sharp and tangy, and it is clear-headed and pretty effective but... I don't know, there's a certain something that makes it smell a bit artificial, it tries too hard. First sip is strong, it is 5% ABV, and it is also very fizzy despite a clever flavour of honey over the top of some hoppy fuzz. There's no malt follow-up but there is a definite strengthening of that honey flavour and relief from the carbonation.

I actually really like this ale. It doesn't come across terribly well from the above description but I do. As honey ales go I do think that this is one of the best, I mean, it's no mead but it is very tasty and moreish. After that first sip you will have another and you will find yourself disappointed when the bottle ends. I think it could do better being poured out and having time to settle and go a bit flatter to really get the best from it but that's not to say it's not a generally good all-rounder ale.

Enjoy after heatwave weather on an evening when you've done something that requires physical labour, but not too much, you've gained a sheen of manly sweat and you know that you need to just sit and let the body unwind. Preferably as the sun goes down in a garden but also it could be done in a beer garden with plenty of good and raucous summer company. Talk loudly about the day or the lunch break, make ribald jokes for the bants and each a Ploughman's lunch just because you can and having to put your own ham and pickle on some bread will cost more than buying it at ASDA. In short, this is a cheeky ale and worth a punt, even if it would probably benefit from being on tap rather than in a bottle.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Reviews of things!

Tonight I shall mostly be reviewing Electric by the Pet Shop Boys because I got it and it is amazing. Of course I would say that because I am a bit of a fan of the Pet Shop Boys and also it appears to have done better critically (and in fan circles) than their last album Elysium. Now me, I like both but for completely different reasons. Their last album is definitely driving music or mood music for me. It doesn't do well in the background or if I'm working or if I'm doing housework or whatever. This latest album fills those spaces and is also driving music.

Are you sure you want to go on?

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Beer Review: Fraoch Heather Ale

This is not the first time of tasting this ale. I first had it a few months back but couldn't get round to actually reviewing it because I was busy in the vortex of marking hell. You may have also noticed the appearance of older reviews working backwards. I must have mixed up some of the scheduling settings. Anyway, they're getting published now with the right dates, just not on the right dates.

Tonight, then, I am drinking Heather Ale and it claims to be Scotland's oldest still-brewed ale. As a sucker for that kind of thing and interesting write-ups on the labels on beer bottles I will of course allow myself to be sucked in by that.

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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Whisper Story: Aelfric the Dragon

Time for another story of the wastelands in the time of the Dunstanane. This one has dragons.


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Sunday, 14 July 2013

What is Masculinity?

It is a question that, as I read more and more things about Feminism, I really begin to wrestle with. I just don't actually know what it is and how it can be measured. I mean, femininity has been very much defined and carefully mapped. Everywhere I look online I can find definitions - some of them are very much what you would expect and fit the notions of what it is to be female in circles such as those that this blog moves within: that is, women are ethereal and giggly. There is a femininity that embraces light fabrics, bright colours, delicacy and lace, long hair, long nails, make up etc. There is, within this trope, the accompanying steel of the strong characters in TG fiction who know their own minds and desires to impossibly large amounts. Powerplays are made and male-esque roles are assigned the dominant females, some are even described as 'alpha' and there is an assumption that powerful females can operate as much as males as anything else. Like the main character in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo what we are essentially reading is a cross-dressing male - the mind of a male protagonist altered to cope with the fact that this character has a vagina.

Would you like to see how far the rabbit hole goes?

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Beer Review: Ashes Ale

The first day of the Ashes Test ought to have been very different from what it turned out to be. The pundits had been saying for days how the England side were so much more experienced and better prepared, the Aussies had suspended two of their players in the build up for minor infractions (going to a bar and missing a practice session respectively) and it looked like their team was the weakest yet. Botham had predicted a 10-0 series over the course of two Ashes Tests. The weather was hot and dry. The ground had no real swing and nothing to get the seamers into. England won the toss and went in to bat. By the end of the day they had been bowled out for 215 and the Aussies had put on a record breaking last man partnership where their newbie batsman Agar managed 98 off 101 balls.

So I had Marston's Ashes Ale which proclaimed itself "definitely not for Aussies" in solidarity with the English batting order's collapse on Wednesday. I had it chilled and out of the bottle and I had it with a curry.

It says that it is a 'light drinking ale' and Marston's tend to be good at that sort of thing. The English Pale Ale I've previously had by them was a sharp and semi-creamy light beer that went well with a meal without making me tipsy. At 4.1% ABV this is in their light stable and the smell was pleasantly citrus laced. There was a feeling of summer about it, which is presumably why they've marketed it at the cricketing crowd. First taste was pretty much as I expected, no surprises, with an opening twinge of citrus followed by a pleasant fizz on the tongue and a little zest of yeast as it went down. It was nice enough, neither heavy nor light in the end and the chilled nature didn't seem to make much difference. I suspect that this would do well as a proper warm beer and that is a good thing for something that is aimed at people sitting in a warm cricket ground and lunch time picnics.

In that sense then, this is a clever little beer and will no doubt do well in the open air as we experience an actual summer with actual summer weather. The citrus tang is enough to make it a valid option to curb one's thirst and the relatively light ABV means that one can stand a brace without falling over and getting a headache. It is also liquid-y enough to avoid carpet mouth and the taste is subtle enough to enjoy its own but light enough not to dominate in a meal. I mean, granted, I had it with a speciality curry laced with enough tikka to turn the rice red, but it held its own well enough and was still enjoyable at the end.

Would I recommend taking it to see cricket? Well, yes, I would, but I suspect it would do well in most outdoor settings. So, enjoy this with the family at a picnic in some field. Maybe you've brought your own stumps and a bat and ball and will play some cricket, maybe you just like to sit under the trees near a river and listen to the bugs buzzing in the air, maybe you don't have children and want to enjoy this with your significant others. Maybe you're a student and want to enjoy it with friends. Take a brace, pack them in a hamper and don't be concerned about the warm weather, this is a beer that wants to be drunk in summer!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Beer Review: Flying Scotsman

This is something I'd seen ages back at the National Railway Museum in York and decided that I must try. Luckily for me I managed to wait and buy it elsewhere. The bottle was not changed but the price was much better for my wallet and for that I am grateful. However much I like an ale I do prefer paying my usual for it and this came in an offer. By all means buy it if you are ever at the NRM but bear in mind that they have an additional mark up over supermarkets.

What is it? Why, it's Caledonian Flying Scotsman that is as much based on a train as you can get with some yeast, some hops and some water brewed and then bottled for your drinking pleasure. I had it alone, with no food accompaniment, and unchilled.

There is a distinctive, and not unpleasant, smell when you open the bottle; a snick of carbonation, but that just carries the malt and the hops to the nose. The first sip proved it to be a proper Scottish bitter, on a par with Black Sheep rather than the creamy Cumberland brewery. It was sharp, tangy and with an underlying maltiness that gave it a weight befitting something with 4% ABV. It let you know what you were drinking and there is no way that it could sneak up on you and leave you drunker than you realised. In many ways it really is based on a train. Let me explain: once you start drinking this it is clear that each sip will increase the speed, so to speak, of the taste getting to you and you build up quite a head of steam by the end of the bottle. That's not to say that it demands to be drunk in groups, but at the same time I was disappointed to reach the end of the bottle and thus the experience.

If you're a fan of malty tangs, as I appear to be, then you will enjoy this very singular taste. I haven't had anything else from this brewery yet but if this was anything to go by then perhaps I ought to be having more of them and soon to sample just what can be done by these guys. It is properly Scottish too, soft on the tastebuds whilst also packing a nice punch that will leave you warmed and glad to have taken the time to listen to what it had to say. Easily holds it own, and I suspect would make a good partner to any strongly flavoured food because it has such a distinctive taste of its own, it wouldn't back down in favour of anything less than a particularly strong curry I'd imagine.

Drink with a meal, maybe something by the Pogues playing in the background and reminisce on the inter-sectionality of the Celtic world, their trials and tribulations and the evils of bloody Cromwell. Imagine a steam train whistling and barrelling through a darkened landscape, snorting its way up a hill and drawing an express sleeper behind. And then, when relaxed and happy, nod sagely to your drinking companions and begin that game of dominoes that you've promised to do for such a long time and never got round to. A good, strong ale with plenty to recommend it.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Beer Review: Black Cat

Willow has taken to drinking cider now and again rather than wine and the other day she'd bought some in and felt a bit bad that I wasn't going to be drinking with her and so bought me some beer too. Very nice of her. And a good brewery too!

She bought me Moorhouse's Black Cat which claimed to be a dark ruby ale with a rich dry chocolate malt taste.

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Beer Review: Late Red

It's not even close to Autumn, probably about as far as you can get from the season in fact, but I saw this and had to buy it because I really enjoy this one. And then realised that I have never actually managed to review this brew and so decided that I really ought.

It is Shepherd Neame's Late Red. For a commercial brewery I seem to end up trying a lot of their stuff and seem to like them rather a lot. Indeed, if we were having some kind of competition then I suppose these guys would be winning even over Marston's and Black Sheep which saddens me as it looks like the South is winning.

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Thursday, 13 June 2013

Beer Review: Dizzy Blonde

I saw this, Willow had been talking of going blonde again, and so I had to buy a brace of them to enjoy as a couple. It didn't quite work out as I had intended, Willow had her's a few days earlier than I, but we were able to compare a few notes in the drinking.

Tonight, of course, I am reviewing Dizzy Blonde by Robinson's because it has such a good name. It reminds me, in humour, of the much missed Trashy Blonde by Brew Dog that I enjoyed before I started reviewing ales.

I was surprised by the longevity of the head of this ale, it arrived quite quickly and then seemed to hang around past its welcome. There was a the dryness that one associates with blondes and a thin sort of feel to the ale as a whole. At 3.8% it was very much a drinking ale, on that would stand repetition without giving you a massive headache, but there was also something about it that made me feel as though it would be a one off. Certainly it had a nice taste, which is the best I can do I'm afraid, no long descriptions this time! It worked well with the slightly hot version of the Toscana pizza I had to accompany it and that's about all that I can say for it. It was not over-powered by the pizza but nor was it completely able to hold its own so that I had a hard time placing the taste other than 'nice'.

A mite too fizzy at the beginning but flattened as I left it alone and so improved over time out of the bottle. It had waited almost a week in the bottle and this didn't seem to have done any harm. I had also taken the odd step of chilling it, or rather Willow had stored it in the fridge, so maybe that had an effect. After the Cobra episode I think it's something that I appreciate the point of more, however it did no favours this time and I suspect this would have been better at room temperature.

Drink this for a laugh at the name and maybe as part of a cultural exchange. I am asking much for this to carry its own review and do so with any great fanfare. It is passable and weak enough that you can probably have a bevvy of them and avoid ill-effects. It is a background drink, have in large crowds with loud music and discuss whatever the heck you want in shouted comments, a beer that will support rather than dominate and will leave a nice memory of something fuzzy and ephemeral.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Beer Review: Cobra

I know, I know, what's the point in beer reviews of commercially giant beers that aren't ales, don't pretend to be ales and are beers that anyone with a brain and a mouth have tasted? The point is, of course, that I said I would review all the beers I drank in a conversation with my wife at which no one was present but we two and she doesn't read the blog or care to. That's the point. No, I'm not autistic, why would you ask?

Anyway, all this preamble brings me to the beer of the evening that is sharing a rather delectable Morrison's own curry for one: Cobra beer, that was on a lovely offer and came ready chilled so of course I shoved it into the fridge when I got back and drank it chilled.

I have been out on many a curry night where Cobra is the beer of choice and so assumed it must only be something that one can get at Indian food themed restaurants for some reason. I mean, I know that I've seen in it in supermarkets and the like but my brain is an odd place. As it was chilled there wasn't much of a hiss when opening and the fizz on that very important first taste wasn't too bad either. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised. It was smooth and tasty and generally nice in a way that I found totally unexpected. Indeed, it was the perfect companion to the more strident spice of the meal I had with it and helped the whole thing go down more easily. I am therefore seeing where the companionship with spicy food began and why it is stocked where it is.

At 5% ABV it does pack a bit of a punch, and in the larger than expected bottle that I got, it was quite a powerful beer compared to what I usually decide to drink on an evening. I was very much pleasantly hammered by the time I'd finished and though it was a good taste I would counsel caution on repeating the experience on a night. I realise that I am a bit of a lightweight and that most people would likely be untroubled by this, however, so take that with a pinch of salt. Still, I was glad of the larger than expected bottle as it allowed me to keep drinking after the end of the meal and thus clean the palate enough to enjoy the beer proper. It was akin to golden ale, there were honey notes amid the smooth taste overall and I thought I detected some citrus notes implying hops. I, of course, did not take notes and the bottle is already at the bottle bank so I can't confirm that right now (no, I refuse to google it).

Overall, this is a beer to that likes to go with strong flavoured food and with company. I am impressed, I may well avail myself of this to drink the next time I go out to a curry. Drink with Indian food from the basin of the British love-affair with curry: Bradford. Drink with a little humility and a naive heart that is willing to be impressed by pretenders that ought not to do much for you. Drink with the sure knowledge that beardy men such as myself may well get sniffy if you compare it to ale and real ale in particular. It is not real ale. It is beer and it is nice, so enjoy it anyway. I shall be repeating the experience.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Where do we live again?

I know, I know, this is supposed to be a day of me writing stories of the woods. But... it isn't.

A while ago now, on a political forum, I was arguing in favour of Feminism and, I think as a consequence (and by having a gender neutral handle) I was mistaken for a woman and treated differently to my normal experiences online. Since this time I have sought out such things, that is - sexism online. And... well, the avalanche of stuff and ridiculous opinions, the horrors and the out-and-out ignorance! I am shocked. I know I shouldn't be, I know, but I am. And I feel like apologising for my entire gender except for the fact that there are women out there who can be as bad as the men. Also, it wouldn't make any difference.

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 26 May 2013

EDM time

Apparently there is a thing called EDM which is big at the moment and is rising in the States. It includes artists like Parralox, and is indicative in their latest single, and also covers stuff like Moby and Archive as well as the greats like Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys. It is 'Electronic Dance Music' and, if I'm honest, the term confuses me. How can dance music ever be anything other than electronic and how come it's only a thing now? I mean, including all those artists in it then this has been going since the early 80s when it was called House, a term I never fully understood. To catch homages to the Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode in Parralox tracks is one thing but to see Mode, Moby and PSB collected deliberately together is quite another.

I have never managed to attend a rave or any kind of club that played the kind of music that I enjoy. The nearest I've ever got was a goth club that had some precursor to dubstep playing in the basement. All hard music and vibrating floors with people dressed in masks. And there I was in jeans a crappy CCCP t-shirt. Heh. I never did muster the courage to dress in line with my musical taste.

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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Whisper-stories: Lucy the Giant

Time for another tale from the children, if you can stomach it.

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Sunday, 19 May 2013


This blog is written in a very... particular style. It is pretentious. Not deliberately, but that is how it seems to have developed. Something about writing epic poetry and talking about the development of language and human beings lends itself to a wordy, verbose and otherwise impenetrable mess of words.

However, there are antidotes. They are called children.

Do you need to read more?

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Whisper-stores: The Evil Wizard

A bit of explanation is perhaps required. In my last post I mentioned "whisper-stories". They are something my father used to do, though I don't remember, and that he introduced to my children the last time we stopped over at his house. These are stories that are made up on the spot and are told in hushed tones. The intimacy of the whispers and the fact that they are made up on the spot adds to the wonder. The Girlie started making her own up, aping those told by my father, and both children enjoyed them immensely.

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Sunday, 12 May 2013


So, I have been listening to Archive tracks a lot since I last posted and I have been enjoying them and I appear to have created a review of some of their stuff, some of which I only found while putting this together. I wish I could have been more productive, I wish there was a more interesting blog post here about something that mattered or relating the whisper stories that have been filling the time with the children, so are relevant to this blog. But there isn't. There is only music. and so I shall just have to do with what I can create. If you haven't listened to any of these tracks before then I can recommend them and advise you to take the time to listen. It's worth it.

Oh, I'll warn you straight out, there's swearing, so listen with caution!

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Monday, 8 April 2013

Maggie Maggie Maggie

I am moved to write about the death of Thatcher. Why? I consider her to be one of the most seminal leaders Britain and the United Kingdom has ever had. She ushered in a new age, coloured British politics in a way that has defied any attempts to remove that colour and completely changed British society.

Thatcher in the 1980s
Her death is sad. For her family she leaves behind and her friends who have seen a frail old lady slowly succumb to dementia and then to die. It is a horrible thing, I suppose, but thankfully her husband was spared the horrid nature of that descent. And she was a driven person who genuinely believed in what she was doing in way that, now, with the internet and the almost eternal cynicism of politics is, well, almost refreshing.

Are you sure you want the full horror?

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Beer Review: Ruddles County

The last time I had this beer I was on holiday with friends from University on an ill-fated trip to the Norfolk Broads. We stopped off in a pub on the outskirts of Yarmouth and had a couple of pints each, back then I was more into shots you understand, for the sole purpose of stealing some pint glasses. I remember thinking that the head was a bit like a skein of spittle but that was long before I understood that beers with a creamy head are not my type.

Anyway, yes, tonight I am mostly reviewing Ruddles County by, er, Ruddles brewery.

It is a pleasing chestnut colour in its clear glass bottle and smelled faintly of the fens - all wet and woody and rank with heavy matter and falls of rain. It has a crisp and clear citrus edge to a rather nice flavour too. There's definite elements of sweetness to it, it claims to have toffee and caramel but I can't say as I noticed any of that, and there is a reassuring thickness to the taste as it rolls over the tongue. Not too heavy and not so light that you end up wondering why you bothered. This is a good beer to share with a meal, it has that quality that is necessary in terms of being flavourful but without being too strong or weak. At 4.7% ABV it can stand some repetition as well. I can see why my friends chose it when we were drinking in Norfolk that time!

There is definite edge to the taste as well, which I like, and it seems as though it almost needs food to be eaten with it. So, a mealtime beer in the way that most of the ales that I choose are not.

Enjoy, and you will enjoy it, then with some close friends at any bar or pub you can find.  Have it with a nice meal that you will all like - steer clear of things like steak or chilli and, instead, have something that is filling and innocuous. Failing that, have it with a meal that requires you to be watching that flavour and taste like a hawk, because this is something that will reward that kind of attention. It is subtle and it is well made. It will not sneak up on you and it will not force you into warmth either. It is a beer that defies seasons and I suspect will work well in most times of the year.

The hops, incidentally, are Bramling Cross and taste not a little unlike Fuggles. We likey.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Musicals everywhere!

I'm not really what you would call a musicals fan. Well, okay, my mother thinks I am a musical fan, but she's not right, she bases this idea on the fact that my friends and I used to sing songs from Les Miserables on the way home and the fact that I had a thing for Phantom of the Opera for a while back in the mid- to late nineties. I suppose I am more prone to enjoying musicals because I have a guilty secret love affair with Eurovision every year - my wife and I score them out of ten and actually ended up buying every CD between 2009 and 2012 (we also bought 2007 but not 2008). This would make us pretty sad individuals.

Would you like to know more?