Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Merry Elf

I should start by saying it's almost New Year and wishing you all a good one tonight. I shall no doubt return tomorrow with yet more tales of ales and whatnot, but for now, fare thee well and have a good party if you're having one or quiet night in otherwise. May 2017 bring happier memories than 2016 did and, in the words of my favourite Irish curse: may each of your yesterdays be worse than the tomorrow.

Dark and frosty, bit of fog, been out to see Rogue One because it has Star Wars on the livery and thus I must at least gain access to test the seats. Or something. Good film, actually, and I'm glad I went to see it but don't expect too much fanboyishness about it from this quarter. I elected to cook some chicken thighs (three) with peas and cous cous, the latter being hideously middle-class by dint of being mixed with tomatoes and jalapeno peppers, a spruce of garlic and some black pepper. With all of this going on it was natural to turn back to my Christmas ales and plumb for The Merry Elf from St. Peter's Brewery.

I did have one of those parenting blog moments when my youngest decided that the droid was his favourite character (by way of asking me who mine was when the droid was introduced) and liked him precisely because it was permanently dry and precise. I digress, this is about the ale! Would you like to know more?

Friday, 30 December 2016

Jingle Fells

It's the somethingth day of Christmas! That point of the holidays where I lose track of the day of the week and what I do on those days of the week and what my routine is and so on and so forth. I've seen Moana with my family, it was nice, and we're going to play Cluedo this evening - a present from my mother to our eldest - so it's all shaping up to be a rather lovely end to the day. We may also have played Exploding Kittens, a present from some friends of mine, and the youngest has been playing with his Lego. All told, good day and time for another Christmas ale.

This one is Jingle Fells by those lovely brewers up at Hawkshead in the Lakes. I recall that it was the block I lived in when at University, a block now long since demolished and cleared to make way for redevelopment. Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Red-Nosed Reinbeer

Onward! Now that we have finished the season 6 boxset of Game of Thrones (that didn't take long) we are moving onto other films such as the Harry Potter franchise. No, I haven't ever seen them in the cinema - well, okay, I went to see the first one and was so underwhelmed that I didn't go back. I saw the second one on a video whilst training as a teacher and have only just seen the third this holiday (and I did spend rather a lot of time playing on my phone).

I digress, the purpose of this post is to continue the trend of drinking all my Christmas ales in the yuletide season so that I'm not still reviewing Christmas ale deep into March. Also, I may be enjoying the novelty of having so many ales so close together. I know, but for me this is a thing. Anyway, the ale of choice this time, before a blazing fire and with the Christmas tree still looming in the corner despite the twinkling lights, is Cotleigh Brewery's Red-Nosed Reinbeer and I am rather looking forward to it.

Will the ale be like the nefarious artificial tree, all happy looking and slightly garish but still evil lurking beneath like some atavism of the year? Or will it be more benign like the personalised number-plate I saw today: "B9 DAD"? You be the judge! Well, okay, no, I'll be the judge. Would you like to know more?

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Mary Christmas

Time is running out for the directly Christmas named ales in the lovely Christmas present and a morning spent a local country park walking in the frost tinged air with cloudy breath catching the dying embers of the sun at 2pm is enough to work up the kind of thirst only an ale can really slake. Therefore, and without any consultation, I turn to Mary Christmas from Ilkley Brewery as a reminder of where I used to live and an attempt to scratch that rather beery itch. It does not bode well for going back to work (what does?).

The bottle claims that this is a spiced amber ale and that it is Christmas in a bottle. I don't know about that and I am pondering accompanying the brew with a packet of tortilla chips I picked up on offer for cheap (my parsimony knows no bounds). Nevertheless, this ought to be an interesting one and we have a fire on to combat the slight chill. Would you like to know more?

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Santa's Dark Side

Seen this about already and the reports were not positive, however, it was one of the selection that had been carefully wrapped with love by my children and was chosen by my Boy as being the one I should have today, so I have to hive this a shot and the benefit of the doubt, anything less would be cruel and unfair. Also, I do rather like my dark ales so perhaps things won't be all bad - it won't be the first time that my uncultured palate finds an ale that most people dislike a fun one to try.

Oh, and there are mad props (if those are still terms) to the brewery for the blurb on the bottle because sometimes that's how I feel about Christmas. There's some good marketing there. As an accompaniment to Prisoner of Azkaban maybe it will fit nicely. Tonal shifts and all that.

It's also the first outing for a present from my good Belgian friend - the Guinness toucan. Would you like to know more?

Monday, 26 December 2016


When you get twelve ales for Christmas and they're all themed there's not much else you can do but drink them quickly. If, like me, you are boring and enjoy blogging the ales then you also need to get yourself into the blogging sharpish too. Thus it is that I find myself on the second ale of many this Christmas-tide: Cwrw-istmas by Brecon Brewing Company and I find myself quite looking forward to it!

It has been a good couple of days, and it looks like it shall be a good few more with Game of Thrones season 6 on DVD and a good ale on hand... Yes, that is a toilet roll off to the left, we ran out of tissues, what of it? Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Christmas Ale

For Christmas I received a pack of ales from Ales By Mail (not that I'm being paid for that plug, because I'm not) courtesy of my wife and children, for which I am very grateful. And now that festivities are underway it is time to sit down and enjoy one of those Christmas themed ales that I shall likely be reviewing for some time yet (at a rate of two a week it'll be February!) but who knows, I may end up having more than that.

With my daughter's help I settled on the Christmas Ale by Allendale Brewery as my first delving into the stash. It's a dark ruby ale at 7% ABV but a picture of a star on the front and the words 'special edition' on the label. These are the reasons given by my daughter for the choice and who am I to argue?

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 22 December 2016


Close to Christmas, time to break out the festive ales and start having bottles again. Well, I do have more cans in storage but I thought it was time to have a Christmas themed ale for real this time. I mean, I did it with the Hallowe'en ales and so it seems only right to do something here too. I have done themes before too, so it's harder to track down ales that I haven't reviewed. Luckily, I had my local German cooperative come to my rescue with a Schwaben Brau offering called Weihnachtsbier - a literal Christmas beer. In German.

I am also aware of the atrocity in Berlin. I won't presume to offer anything more than solidarity and I certainly won't do more than mention it here. I am not in any position to offer more and this review does no more than review ale. Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Black Betty

I appear to be having a lot of canned ales this Yuletide season. I have no clue why. Still, here we are again, with a roaring fire (though I suspect more the grate that lets the fumes out of making the noise rather than the plasma crackling over wood) and time on my hands. Well, sort of time on my hands. I could have the time if I... you know what, let's just go with the fact that I have some ale to be reviewed, shall we? It's Black Betty Black IPA from those folks at Beavertown and the last can that I got when I went down to visit me Dad. Picked this up for a princely sum (north of £2) in the micro-pub because I hadn't seen Beavertown anywhere else.

So, now that we have a picture proving that slightly out of date IPA goes and looks like an ice cream when an eejit fails to pour it properly, would you like to know more?

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Easy IPA

Two cans already reviewed and both have been rather good. It meant that I couldn't resist a third sojourn in that direction, because I am nothing if not easily diverted onto a different path by happenstance and coincidence. So it is that I continue my trend of reviewing less than dark ales in the dark evenings after a day at work because that makes sense. Tonight's offering tells me that it is a session IPA - which is presumably somehow different from a standard IPA. I have no idea why or how, so don't ask. Nevertheless, this is by the rather well-regarded Flying Dog brewers about whom I have yet to hear anything negative other than people being unable to find it. It is a can of their Easy IPA featuring a small selection of the madness that I've seen on bottles that people post pictures of.

I can see the frost creeping in and around the windscreen of my car, and I have already been out to unplug it lest the weather does damage to the charging get up. I know, it is such a hard life charging a car at home for about the price I'd pay for a chocolate bar whilst fuelling with petrol or diesel (well, actually, my charging works out as cheaper than that, but hey). Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Heart & Soul

Time to buck the Advent trend again by going light and IPA like for a challenge. Tonight is dark and cold and wet and wild and so it is natural that I go for a can of something summery and brief and gadfly like, because that's just how I roll, y'all. Or... something. Tonight it is the time to have a review some Heart & Soul canned IPA from Vocation Brewery out Hebden Bridge way.

And yes, those are the same flowers from the night of beer blending (this link), haven't they lasted well!? No, really, they have been ace. Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Smog Rocket

Tonight it is time to have my very first canned real ale. I have seen so many people trying this method of delivery and so many recommendations have been made of the brewery, Beavertown, that when I saw this back when I visited my father in Hinckley in the micro-pub I realised that I had to buy a couple and then take them home. Tonight, then, I am trying Smog Rocket Smoked Porter and trying very hard not to have snobby thoughts about cans. At the price I paid for it, though, somewhere around £3, I can't be that snobby.

No animated image this time because the last attempt I made was so bad.

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Spill the Beans

This is the fourth from that rather nice stable of Great British Brewing Co that serves as an imprint of Aldi with many different brewers contributing, like Hog's Back Brewery last time. Tonight's is actually from Brains which is probably less fitting for the end of November and more the sort of thing that is associated with Hallowe'en, if you see what I mean. A zombie brew, surely? Ahem, sorry, I'll stop trying so hard with my puns. As a porter and thus a dark ale I thought it fitting to the darker nights, shorter days and harder work. I'd have preferred a stout but I am rather clinging to my meagre supply of them - the trouble with having lots of nice and special stouts is that once you've drunk them they tend to be, well, drunk. I shall save them a little longer yet.

All of which serves as a pre-amble for tonight's Advent review of Spill the Beans, a coffee porter, that I am rather looking forward to. I had it back at the beginning of October and promptly went back to get more in because it was so nice. Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Sunny Dayz

This was picked up at my local supermarket for just one pound and, after a day of some grey skies and plenty of work going on, I thought it necessary to kick back with a lovely evening meal cooked by the fair hand of my wife, Willow, and a decent bit of golden ale. Because sometimes the sun shines not from a blue sky but from a half pint glass and this was one of those times, right?

I refer to tonight's offering of Sunny Dayz by Hog's Back Brewing Co. and bottled and distributed by the Great British Brewing Co who are an imprint of the mighty Aldi. I must assume that they have made some rather good deals as I have already enjoyed their ales with Red Rye (see here) back in October and Land of Liberty (see here) in November, and I have a few more yet on standby.

Anyway, the plan for the evening is to be completely out of season with a golden ale designed for summer like I had stouts back in the summer. Would you like to know more of the contrary beer review for the evening?

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Hell Fire

Ending the evening with a pale ale after the success of Atlantic Pale Ale on my trip away (see here) and because it stands in perfect contrast to the fact that it is very dark outside. I am nothing if I am not contrary when drinking ales. Also, I would drink some of my stash of stouts but decent stouts are hard to find and they always taste better after storage. My pales and IPAs, on the other hand, tend to go out of date and taste bad after a while. I have been buying too much ale. I may be addicted to buying it rather than drinking it. Damn.

Anyway, tonight I shall be reviewing and enjoying, hopefully, the rather nicely named Hell Fire from Leeds Brewery who have come a long way since I pooh-poohed their initial bottled effort that I picked up in ASDA. Because, yes, I am the only blogger that they brew for. Obviously. Enough, my hubris knows no bounds and I am a busy blogger: would you like to know more?

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Black Ram Stout

After a lovely day out to Crich Tramway Museum (well worth a visit) and some wintery weather where one could hear the leaves falling from the trees as we passed and I checked the pub there (why wouldn't you?) I am pleased to be home and having a stout. Indeed, of our day one might say: "that Wentwell" because I bought two bottles of their ale from the pub and brought them home. I think I may be addicted to buying, rather than drinking, ale. Tonight I am drinking the Black Ram Stout being, well, a stout from Wentwell Brewery. Dark evening, coolness on the air and a crisp edge that led to mist and fog across the region. Lovely. Even my car is charged.

New bulbs bought and a dark house with a hint of heating on, curses. Would you like to venture forth through the peaty darkness of the winter's night leering forth and stretching shadowy clawed hands into heart and hearth?

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Duffield Amber

There's a new pub in a village and it does bottled ales. It's too far for me to drink there, I'd have to drive home, and so bottled ales seem the way to go. It's in Duffield. It seemed fitting, therefore, to purchase a Duffield Amber to have of an evening. the photograph below shows what happens when you accidentally knock the bottle over before pouring - you get a massive head. Whoops. This is from Tollgate Brewery and I have a stout of theirs on standby.

Relatively little to say in preamble to this but where have all the stouts gone? Ah well, would you like to know more?

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Land of Liberty

Apparently something happened in American politics last week and it has a lot of people worried and scared. I remember well those days, when there was hope. Anyway, I've been a bit quiet because I was out with my father down Hinckley way - he wanted to show me around the new Crescent development of which he is quite proud, having played a role in the creation and construction of the place. There was a lovely micro-pub there called The Elbow Room and I had a nice half of Bath Ales stout in the place we ate.

I digress, tonight I plan to regale you with something almost topical being an American IPA by the name of Land of Liberty brewed by T. A. Sadler's for the Aldi imprint Great British Brewing Co. and I confess that I'm looking forward to it with my home made chow mein (well, almost, I used a packet sauce).

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Down Kettering

We were tempted down Kettering way to attend a christening. It was just far enough to have us stopping over the night before at a Premier Inn, because we know how to push the boat out as a family, and that had a cafe attached. Say no more, says I, and we're down there having tea with me trying out the ales. Now, warning be made, it was a Brewer's Fayre and the selection was far from being decent, I mean, they had Tribute on but had run out. No chance of a delivery that night. In the end I settled for a half with my meal and then went back again later for a second half and a bottle of pale whilst I read my book for the evening - Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch in case you were wondering - and then retired to bed.

The christening was a lovely occasion but I am a poor judge of social situations and so I shall leave it at that, after all, this here's a beer blog and what you're really here for is some noodling on the ales and some thoughts on the selection. What I will say is this: if your lager is cheaper to the tune of almost a pound for a pint versus a half of real ale, there's something wrong. Mind you, I've wondered before if real ale is the gentrification of drinking and thus deliberately slanted 'gainst the working classes, this pricing structure would seem to suggest that at least some big companies think so.

Still, the staff were quite lovely and helpful to this rather odd beer bore and let me get on with my reading with some ale in the evening so I really can't complain. Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Traquair House Ale

This has been sitting in the pantry since last year and I do rather feel that I may have jumped the gun a little in opening it so early. Let me explain, this is a proper ale of the sort that one ought to leave a long time (like the couple of bottles I have lurking to be opened some time in the next six years) but I didn't know that until I opened it. However, far be it from me to let such things go unsaid in a beer review. It's been a long and tiring day with much to vex, much to celebrate and much to mull over. Cold, wet and miserable weather but are we down-hearted? No! What better way to relax at the end of all of that than by having some of the venerable Traquair House Ale brewed in the oldest inhabited house in Scotland?

Seriously, is there a better way? I'm not sure that there is, truth be told, though I do still have some of that Sink the Bismarck (here) hanging around so maybe that can come afterwards. In the meantime, I am having me some of this here dark and treacle-textured ale because that's just how I roll, would you like to know more, laddie?

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Brooklands Goldstar

Well, summer may well be over, but the memories can live on in beer reviews and a bit of warm sunshine from the August Bank Holiday weekend allowed me to have a beer in the garden and so it gets published on a Sunday, as is traditional, with a revolving picture. Which is less traditional. Also, I publish it later than the summer because, of course, it all got a bit busy and I had many many beers and not much time to post reviews. Instead I post this in November(!) because I have space and this is an ale that deserves a review, dammit!

However, I wrote the review itself (as shall become apparent in the next sentence) all that time ago in summer. Today I ruminate on a good day out with some family friends at Wicksteed Park, and sit in the sunny, warm garden with an ale brewed for a motoring museum that I have never visited for a lunchtime tipple (and why wouldn't you?).

Apparently I suck at animated photos. Observe the dancing glass!

Won't you join me for a further and fuller investigation into the merits and otherwise of the Brooklands Goldstar I picked up from my trip to the Hog's Back Brewery back in the holidays? I promise I won't keep you long!

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Blending in

Over on Twitter, where I have an account, there is a hashtag called HopGodFriday which I have found myself taking part in from time to time. Now and again I even get to join in with the theme of the evening. It so happened that, a couple of weeks ago, it was announced that Petrus would be hosting the evening between 8 and 10 on last Friday. They contacted me and offered to send me free samples to be involved. Who am I to say no to that?

They arrived. Aged PaleOud Bruin and Aged Red in a parcel delivered during the Thursday and I looked forward to their plans on the Friday. Thus is formed my review of the evening. A great hosting by Petrus Sour Beers on Twitter - and I'm not saying that because they sent me free stuff (though they sent me free stuff) - I felt very much part of the affair and it was a lot of fun.

They also told us a lot about brewing in foeders and the history of the brewery in Belgium. I'm afraid all I can really tell you (because it's all I really remember) are the tasting notes. Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 3 November 2016


Picked up from my local supermarket during a beer festival that they had the cheek to spring on me at the end of the summer and on the cusp of autumn, this little saison was a must-have and try. It is raining, I've had to unplug the EV early (it's fine, I got the charge I wanted, but I like getting extra) and I am avoiding doing actual work (like always). It's time in the dark of the evening whilst candles burn in the salt rock holders by the new fireplace (well, I say new, it's been a couple of months now) to have something a bit different. This different is Ilkley Brewery's Siberia, a rhubarb saison in a funky looking bottle.

There's not a lot I can add to that description so if that intrigues you then you can continue beyond the line break into the sunlit uplands of ale review. Alternatively you can find yourself a darkened room in which to recover from my murdering of the mother tongue. Would you like to know more?

Monday, 31 October 2016

Pumpkin King

I said I wasn't disappointed with Pendle Witches Brew yesterday and, well, maybe I wasn't. It is still a great brew and I still like it, nothing has changed there. But it wasn't the brew I was hoping for when I cracked it open and I was hoping to have something a wee bit special with which to end the half term break. To that end I purchased Pumpkin King by brewdog mostly on a whim on Saturday and intended to keep it from prying eyes, having it either that day or the Sunday when round at friends or afterwards. Alas, it was not to be, one thing and another and the hint of stress about going back to work all conspired to prevent my drinking of it.

Now, now the first day back has happened. The world did not explode. My marking is mostly on track, my lessons mostly made (and what isn't will be soon) and so there's an element of peace. Add to that the fact that a comedy of errors at the end of the day bring me home, with a relatively quiet house and no actual work begging for my attention. It's time to drink some ale!

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Pendle Witches Brew

It's Hallowe'en, more or less, and it has arrived at long last. I've been meaning to give centre-stage to this brew for a few years now, well, at least since it played a role in the Hallowe'en Showdown I did a while back (see that on this link). After that, and it definitely won, I had a few more times and always enjoyed it but always forgot to take a picture, resulting in the sad truth that, for an ale I enjoy so much, Pendle Witches Brew has never appeared properly on this blog. This year I planned to rectify this and give it a proper review all of its very own.

And now I have a picture, shakily taken on my new camera phone in the darkness of the evening as the night has drawn in, the car is on charge and Willow is complaining of the cold. We have company over and they are not an ale fan, more's the pity, but we have been out to the local supermarkets where I have weighed myself down with a fresh haul. Yay!

Wait, where was I? I was here, about to review and ale! Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 27 October 2016


It's coming up to Hallowe'en and so here is the second ale that I am trying that is themed for the time of the year. Also, as a pumpkin ale, it gets to take part in that huge argument and controversy online about pumpkin ales. Coming, as I do, from the UK I really don't see many pumpkins (more now than when I was young) and so I don't see many ales that are pumpkin themed either. Alas, I have not yet seen the brewdog offering but I have picked up a Wychwood Pumpking that claims that it is evil pumpkin ale. I have, actually, had this three times before in a forlorn attempt to review it around this time last year but I never got round to it.

Truth be told, I actually like this ale. But it never hurts to offer a proper review of it around the right time of year and so I present to you the review at the right time of year for Pumpking. Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Spooks Ale

It's coming up Hallowe'en soon and, loathe as I am to fuel the American juggernaut of a pointless holiday, there are a number of ales theming themselves on the occasion so I would do well to do my usual and try a couple. And, once again, do so in plenty of time for the actual night so that people have time to either act on what I write or ignore it completely. Either way, I feel it time for a different kind of brew. That's why I'm having Spooks Ale from Shepherd Neame. Well, that and the fact that I found it at random at a local supermarket on offer and I can never resist beer on offer.

It's a rubbish photograph and a big head, probably from the fact that I walked back from the supermarket and launched straight into ale with tea without really letting it settle. Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Triple C

Had this hanging around for a while after having some friends over and having it in a sequence with a couple of others, where it didn't fare so well, truth be told. However, I suspect that part of that was the unfairness of putting it up against the all-conquering Mocha that I'd had saved for a year or so. It follows, therefore, that on a rainy day and evening, when I've been in and out and all over the place, and despite having it chilling in the fridge in case of some sun and warmth, I would have this again and give it a little more free rein to do it's thing.

What is this strange little number? Why, it's Triple C by the brewers at Thwaites in their Crafty Dan imprint - a place to do odd things.

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Red Rye

Busy week, plenty to be doing and many things piling up on the week of celebration. We have a folk concert on this evening and I've had to drive out to shop because our local supermarket is closed for a big refurbishment. Not a major issue but there is the annoyance of driving long distances. I shouldn't complain. On getting there I found that they had Mud City Stout (see here) on for cheaper than our local discounter and a selection of ales from The Great British Brewing Company, who appear to be an outlet for other brewers to do their thing in much the same way as Revisionist is for Tesco.

So it is that I am sitting just after lunch having been in the garden, enjoying a bottle of Red Rye from the aforementioned brewing company, this one being the result of Twickenham Fine Ales brewers, and having a review session. Because why not? No clever revolving picture of this one, because I am not so hot at those, but a brief look at the garden now all overgrown in preparation for winter.

Would you like to know more of this ale rather than the plants in the garden? Then you should click on. If not, then... I dunno. Beer.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Blue Moon

I realise that I am very late to this party, as I usually am. The later one turns up to the party the more likely that all the amusing drunks are drunk and you can play the sober one looking after them, in my experience, mind you, I tend not to go to parties very much so I could have missed my guess, who really knows? Point is that this particular ale has very much done the rounds on the places I frequent with many people having tried it, reviewed it and rated it to the point where you may well ask why I am bothering reviewing it. The reason is, of course, because I can. Also, I haven't done it already and I am something of a complete-ist. What ale is this? Why, it's Blue Moon from the, uh, Blue Moon Brewing Company. Which is original.

After last week's wheat beer are you ready for a second dive into that particular pool? You are? Well, good, you can follow below the break and view my own rather esoteric journey.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Raising Purgatory

I take the title from my friend's comment on our activities this weekend on a Saturday in Ilson town. I think it most appropriate! Two blokes out for a beer or two with the hope of curry are hardly the sort of combination to cause trouble or raise the roof particularly. So it was that my friend from FE and I descended on the southern part of Ilkeston in the evening to sample ales and discuss matters of import - setting the world to rights - and nary a sporting anecdote to be seen.

There was very little in the way of planning, as one might expect, and a rumble of thunder (that caused a comic dash from me to unplug the EV before setting off) preceded a big fall of rain that pretty much obliterated chances of getting exterior shots of the pubs we visited whilst the joy of catching up pretty much obviated the collection of pictures from within. Luckily my beer bore settings were high so I managed to gain pictorial proof of the ales consumed.

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 6 October 2016


Well, that is a bit of a surprise! Apparently this is the first wheat beer that I have reviewed, I could have sworn I'd done others. No matter, if that is the case that is the case. A warm day with humidity and the sort of heat that made doing garden stuff an actual chore rather than something of a pleasure. Still, got most of the weeding done and watered the plants (and a bit of the lawn so badly mauled by my buying of a mower). All of that and we managed a trip to our local IKEA because we know how to live, we do!

In any case, tonight I shall be drinking Hefeweizen: a wheat beer from Germany brewed by Altenmunster and that has sat in the pantry for almost six months awaiting consumption. And thus I make it sound more like a heroine from Austen. Ah well, the point is that I feel like I have done some actual labour towards and ale rather than just my usual labouring and am actually looking forward to it.

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Golden Ale

I know, I know, the beer that I put in the fridge a few days ago and finally got out today because it as just so warm and sunny doesn't really deserve to be called an ale. I also know that, despite saying it was brewed in Tadcaster (where it very probably was) and Tadcaster being a place that I have driven through a lot, that this no local ale to, well, anywhere - least of all Tadcaster. I know that John Smith's is a brewery owned by Heineken and that it was one of the big beer combines that have conspired, sometimes very powerfully, to put smaller breweries out of business in the past. Yet, despite all of those things, this was actually what I wanted to drink and I've never had it before and so my autism demands that I must review it. I speak of their Golden Ale which is unimaginatively named but rather descriptive, all told.

I think I did a rather good job of the photo all told, given that I couldn't actually see the screen because the sun was so bright! Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Citrusy Wit

When I went up to Leeds (see that experience on this link) earlier in the year I was gifted a number of interesting brews by my host for which I am very grateful. And, tonight, I thought it high time I drank one and selected the Citrusy Wit of Stone, which had been intended as a nightcap when I was up in Leeds but was foregone on account of us both being a wee bit too far gone. That and the fact that we were unable to sample the delights of Sink the Bismark may also give a hint of how precarious things were.

I've also taken the decision to shorten my post titles: I am no longer sure that adding 'beer review' to them does any good to man nor beast, if it ever did. So here's to shorter post titles! No, wait, I haven't started the review nor drinking!

This makes grandiose claims about orange and kaffir lime and coriander, so it's going to be a fruity experience regardless of what I do, would you like to know more?

Sunday, 25 September 2016

A Weekend of Ales

This week is the time I can make it official - we are getting another addition to the family in the form of a small human some time in April. Scan at the beginning of the week confirmed that it was not a Velociraptor (which is a shame if you ask me) and that it had the normal expected complement of limbs and features for a 12 week old foetus. Announcement of this garnered ales from my colleague and friend at work who shall remain nameless but awesome and thus I had some Yorkshire love in the form of light and frothy beer. Add in a swift trip to my favourite local (the Burnt Pig, you can find many references to them by clicking here) and you have the makings of a good weekend with much ale, why not? I even have an excuse.

As usual, there is still time to bail out, and much of this entry consists of re-reviews rather than new ales, so there's a dash of Midlands and the South thrown in for good measure. Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Beer Review: Elvis Juice

Once again, I am very late to the party. Saw this in my local supermarket and decided that I had to get it in to try because, well, why not? A lot of people I know and respect in beer-reviewing circles have had this and already reviewed it and I thought I'd join in. Only much later than they did. Because I'm so cool and hip and 'with it'. Anyway, it will surprise no one to learn that I am having Elvis Juice from Brewdog and that I am looking forward to trying it. I took the photo in front of our newly opened fireplace. Well, I say 'newly', it was done at the beginning of August but this is the first time you'll have seen it on here. It's the same room as I took many other ale pictures but my how it has changed.

You didn't come here for a treatise on the rooms in my house though, you came here to read what I think about beer (or maybe just out of pity, either way, my ego is supported by your visit - thank you) so the big question is now: would you like to know more (about the beer, not the fireplace)?

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Beer Review: Tunnel Vision

There comes a time in every man's life when, owning his own lawnmower, he finds that he must cut the grass a second time in a season. For me, that time was today and I can't say it was anywhere near as tiring and complicated as the first time. For a start I did it almost in a single load and for a second the mower didn't need a clean when I was done. Colour me surprised! Still, after that and some heavy lifting (including taking an old TV unit down to the tip) I felt like the weather deserved an ale with tea, because it was 24 degrees centigrade and very sunny. Of course I had been chilling my bottle of Tunnel Vision by Box Steam Brewery for the best part of a week now having simply not getting round to it and so this was the perfect time to have it. So I did.

Look at that lovely fence colour! All the handiwork of my Good Lady Wife from last year. I may have already shown it in other photos, who knows, so would you like to know more?

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Leeds International Beer Festival

Been a while in writing this. I was invited up to Leeds by some good friends ages back and the first time I could actually get along was for the Leeds International Beer Festival. My previous and continuing host provided tickets and a place to stay, because he's great like that, and we left it to percolate a while, this being back in July. Alas, my brain is bad at these things and so the weekend crept up on me somewhat. And then, on the Thursday, my cable that I use to charge my electric car (because I have one) broke and stopped charging the car.

It was fine, I charged at work (with permission) on the Friday and then reasoned that I could charge at the other end. The journey was thus begun on Saturday morning, bright and early, but on the way my car told me I had a puncture. I pulled in, charged and checked the wheel. No sign of any damage. I pumped the tyre a bit, more because I felt I had to do something, and drove on. The light remained resolutely on. I stopped and checked pressures a few more times but no difference. Thus it was that I turned up to Leeds just in time to drop the car off outside my host's house, scaring him with its sleek silence, and jump onto the bus into town. Stressful journey much?

All of which is to serve as prelude. We met our final member of the trio and promptly entered the wonderful world of the Town Hall and the beers on offer. Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Beer Review: Daura Damm

Funny story. No, actually, I'm wrong, it's funny if you're me. I was in my local supermarket and saw a four pack of these on offer at half their original price. The reason? The cardboard holder was ripped. Seriously, I could, and can, find nothing else wrong with the bottles. I even checked to see if they'd been monkeyed with or shaken and could find nothing. Also, I had been wondering about this ale for a while as I do find myself drawn to gluten free ale - not because I need gluten free ale but because it seems like an interesting experiment and one worth chronicling.

My last sojourn down this particular alleyway was the peerless Against the Grain by Wold Top (you find the review here) but I still need to try Vagabond Pale Ale by Brewdog. In the meantime, and because they were on offer, I am trying Estrella's Daura Damm. Nice bottle, if I say so myself, and a windy and wild day couldn't stop me trying it in my garden. Though it did manage to stop me drinking it there because the Boy was insistent that we went to the park instead.

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Beer Review: Jet Black Heart

Stout time! It seems that every year I get all contrary and, despite the fact that it's not winter, go mad and have something that is a little stout-y and wintry. Let the records show that this year was going to be no exception by dint of the fact that I have just unearthed, disinterred and poured an oatmeal milk stout from Brewdog by the name of Jet Black Heart.

This has been waiting for quite some time and now seemed like a good time to liberate and try it after the adventure of the small Boy's brush with a wooden beam. So it was and came to pass that I opened the bottle and damn' well drank the ale that I have been teasing about for all of four or five sentences. I'm no good at this setting up tension malarkey, that may be why I'm writing beer reviews rather than best selling thriller novels.

With all of that rather pointless preamble out of the way, and I bet you're glad to hear it, would you like to know more?

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Beer Review: 1643 Leveller Bitter

Fresh from my trip this one. I picked it up in the lovely beer shop at Hog's Back Brewery after seeing them there the last two times I was down - a bunch of ales with feathers in the label and in good strong looking deep brown bottles and with a good range. Mindful of the fact that other people that drink ale have been having ales that can be aged and are a bit special I thought I would splash out and buy a couple of these. I am saving the stout, but the weather was clear and sunny enough for me to try the 1643 Leveller Bitter in the garden.

This is from Two Cocks Brewery in Berkshire which, as the bottle proudly proclaims, was featured on Grand Designs and was set up as a sustainable farm with a brewery side by a couple from London seeking countryside idyll. From a quick trawl on the intertubes they seem to have done a good job business wise and I shall certainly be looking into visiting in person to see if I can nab any of their smaller batch brews in person next year. Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Home Brew: Trench Warfare

This is quite the post. I'm breaking my self-imposed moratorium on reviewing my own creations, that is, I am actually going to review my own ale. Sorry. However, I can feel partly justified in that it was this time last year that I bottled it and so it's been left alone, I mean, it's been conditioned for that long and now deserves some airtime. I refer to the second of the brews that I concocted last year, the one that was mostly a beer kit with some alterations. New World hops, one set of malt extract and my own, ah, take on brewing sugars in an attempt to stop the thing going flat. It's the less than sharp Trench Warfare that had, originally, going to be called Bayonet but the hops were too mellow.

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Beer Review: Gardener's Tipple

The plan was to have an ale in the garden in anticipation of doing some actual gardening afterward. I would take the children to the park, they would have a good time, then we would return, I'd unpack the mower and they would play in the garden for a bit whilst I did the lawn. So it made sense to have an ale that was, by its very definition, something to have with the gardening. However, such are the plans of mice and men that I totally failed to make these ideas a reality. We went to the park after I'd had a Gardener's Tipple from Hog's Back Brewery and it was there that my smallest decided to run into a wooden beam with his head and split it open. His head, not the beam.

After that it was a trip to our local minor injuries unit, where they checked him out and declared that he needed to go to the bigger hospital down the road on account of having a cut down to his skull. There we duly went, to find that all was fine (but I was glad they checked him out) and then glued him back up. We returned later that evening and I lost about two hours doing odd-jobs so that I had to nip out for tea at 9pm, too late for any gardening. Still, I did have the ale and I did review the ale, so that review now follows.

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Beer Review: Hop Garden Gold

So, I was down at the brewery before the weekend. Then we had adventures in Hampshire involving Birdworld and the Old A3. By the time we returned to the hotel it was gone 8pm. A swift walk to get Willow some ice cream and then some pootling and it was close to 9pm. The brewery was shut, there was nothing for it but to go to the hotel bar and hope they had something on. They did. I found Hop Garden Gold from Hog's Back Brewery, being the brewery I had hoped to stop in at this evening, and they had it chilled. It was rather hot so, of course, I decided to have it. And, okay, £4.80 is a lot for a bottle of ale. But it was damn' hot, the bottles I had with me (Montezuma's Chocolate Lager) were not chilled. And it was hot. So I bought it and sampled it. Wouldn't you?

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Beer Review: Proper Black

I was graced with another gift recently, from a family member whose help and gracious gifts of time have already made our family life much easier. So I'd been saving it until the right occasion and, having come back from a day out that was a bit cooler than expected and resulted in a long charge of the car from home for a change when the rain hit, it seemed like the time had come for a dark ale. Perhaps I should have had stout, but I'm saving that for a later point. For the time being I am content to let the Proper Black loose from those lovely people down at St. Austell Brewery. And I am very glad that I decided to do that.

On the plus side, the rain does mean that I shan't have to water the garden this evening, which was looking like a distinctly likely proposition after the long dry day, but on the negative side it does mean that I can't get out to mow the lawn with the lawn-mower (I'm allowed to be impressed with it for a while yet I think) in the morning. Anyway, it's ale and I'm happy to be able to enjoy it. Would you like to know more?

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Beer Review: Old Tongham Tasty

In the next couple of days we are heading back down south and I am looking forward to it, on the grounds that we shall be staying as we always do somewhere around the Hog's Back area, around Farnham, and that means a visit to one of my favourite breweries: Hog's Back Brewing Company. And that, in turn, means that I shall be stocking up on some of their finest ales and getting some curios from their rather well-stocked shop too. All of which means that it's about time that I finished off the brews that I got last time. One of which I have been sitting on for absolutely ages, possibly a whole two years actually, and I'm rather looking forward to trying it. That ale is the massive Old Tongham Tasty (or OTT) that weighs in at a pretty heavy looking 6% ABV and looks to defy easy categorisation due to the plethora of malts used in its production.

On a humid and overcast evening, with the Boy upstairs independently creating complicated gearing in Technic from my school's set that must date from when I was about 12 and the Girlie avidly playing with clip dolls in some complicated political saga of something, this seems like the perfect brew to settle back with and share some time with Willow, who will no doubt be working on articles and books and writing because she's just like that. Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Beer Festival: Fishpond at Matlock Bath

Yesterday I attended only my second beer festival, which is quite something given that this blog has now been running for four years. I know, I know, I am something of a late developer. We were up Matlock Bath way on Friday and as we pootled about I happened to notice a sign for a beer festival being held there and so scoped out a few local hostelries to see what was available. Not seeing much, but enough to warrant a trip out, I decided to keep my powder dry. However, come morning and Willow suggested I have a day out and I checked the transportation (buses) and decided that it could be done.

One long bus trip later I was in Matlock Bath and thence into the hosting public house, being the Fishpond just on the southern edge of the place. The sun was struggling to shine, though it was a lovely warm day, and I, apparently, was the very first person to arrive for the day. Not at all embarrassing, no sir. Well, okay, I was slightly embarrassed. However, they were open and they did have stuff on tap and so, with a notebook in one hand and my embarrassing habit of taking photos on my phone, I began my journey of the day. Would you like to join me?

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Beer Review: Das Helle

I have a mower and I can mow the lawn. Rarrgh! Fear me! Also, in so doing, I may well have murdered the lawn and anything living within or near it. Hmm. It took a bit of doing too, rather tough (as one would expect given how it has been about two years since I last did it - long story). Anyway, none of that need detain us here as we embark on another review of ale except insofar as to explain why it was that I came to be sitting with the Boy rather late in the evening having tea in the garden and relaxing with a chilled ale from a rather nice bottle, which I shall be keeping because it is an awesome bottle. I am referring to Das Helle by Schwaben Brau whom I suspect are from the middle area of Germany known as Schwabia. I once knew a fine lass from those parts who was most interesting.

Anyway, this isn't my first time at this particular rodeo it's just the first time I have got round to reviewing it on here. When I had some of this last year I was most impressed and bought in about half a dozen, but then forgot to review it. Then when I saw it again I bought in a couple. Now it's gone again. It was from Aldi, if you see it, it's totally worth trying. Would you like to know more?

Sunday, 7 August 2016


It has been a while since I went around pubbing and Willow had said that I ought to go to my local, so it seemed like as good a time as any. The observant will have noted, however, that my usual notation for just heading down the Burnt Pig Ale 'Ouse is missing: that is because I didn't stay put. A hot day, a warm night in the offing and the feeling that I wanted to be moving all contributed to me not sitting still. That and the fact that the Burnt Pig continues to attract large crowds of friendly people (and I am not very good at being alone in friendly crowds) - no criticism of the place, but it did mean that I got to see some parts of where I live that I have not seen before and have, well, a bit of an explore of an evening.

Also, there was the small matter of the lovely sunset-thing that I saw and think I even managed to capture on my new phone camera. There's a function that messes with the brightness that allows me to take some shots I would simply have been unable to capture in the past.

Now that I have thoroughly bored all five of my readers, would you like to know more about the important parts of my trip: the beers?