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.