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?