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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.