Tagged recs

Tasting Session Report No. 009

We had a brilliant Tasting Session this month. Everyone was on form, we had an excellent time, some knowledge was imparted and we drank some great beers!

Thanks to everyone who came, I had an absolute blast!

On to the beer!

As we had some newbies in the group, we went through 'how to taste beer like a pro™,' before officially talking beer. We had a menu of three different brews with just the general theme of 'Dark and Brooding.'

Here's what ya missed;

Wild Beer Millionaire

Save

Wild Beer – Millionaire 4.7%

Aroma: Chocolate, caramel, biscuit, almond, red fruit, smoke.

Flavour: chocolate, smoke, biscuit malt, salty, caramel, peanut.

Palate: light body, slick, creamy.

This Beer is still a good-un. It's been around a little while now, so chances are you've had a chance to try this. It a really good, straight up, flavoured milk stout essentially. Kinda thin on the body, but you expect that for the ABV. Super full of flavour considering it comes in at under 5%, so you can drink a few of these with out issue! I think we all enjoyed this, but mostly felt the same, that it needed a bit more of the saltiness to come through. As a group we also prefer the stronger beers, so we figured this was a great winter warming up beer!

to ol maccacino messiah brew bristol

Save

To Ol – Mochaccino Messiah 7.0%

Aroma: Caramel, chocolate, coffee, nuts, herbal, green, pine.

Flavour: Coffee, chocolate, herbal, earthy.

Palate: Sweet & bitter, astringent.

This beer completely split the group. We reckoned that, rather than coffee, it would be more accurate to call it a cascara beer (flavour-wise,) as the coffee flavour was super green and 'plant-y.' Personally, this wasn't my favourite, but it was deemed the best of the three by some others! Definitely one to try, maybe between two or three of you!

buxton rain shadow brew bristol

Save

Buxton – Rain Shadow 12.2% (Single Barrel)

Aroma: Chocolate, coffee, roasty, red fruit, leather, vanilla, wood , whiskey.

Flavour: Chocolate, coffee, red fruit, spice, umami.

Palate: Rich and slick.

We've had various iterations of this in the shop before, and it's always good. Super heavy, dark, little bit of dryness, and it carried the booze well. My only suggestion would be to buy now, and keep a bottle for a year. I think it'll be even better then!

After this we all chipped in and bought a bottle of Port Brewing's Older Viscosity. We have had this before on our tasting sessions, and I am certain we'll have it again. Despite the price tag, it's worth every penny. Strong, yes, but super smooth. Just the right balance of creamy and boozy, bitter and sweet. I still maintain it's one of my favourite beers of all time, and I can highly recommend you splash out for a bottle to share at Christmas.

 

HBC Report No. 033

Another wee report on some of our current selection of beers in the shop! Get involved.

northern monk mango lassi heathen brew bristol

Save

Northern monk – Mango Lassi Heathen 7.2%

Aroma: Sweet, yoghurt, tangy, mango, apricot, pepper

Flavour: sweet, grainy, fruity, Clementine, lychee

Palate: Big, creamy, smooth, rounded. Lower bitterness than anticipated. Sweet.

So, this beer is good. That is undeniable. I have to admit, though, that it's not my personal favourite, style wise. We all decided that it was closer to being a fruit pale, rather than an IPA. The bitterness was just a little overwhelmed by the sweet mango. Good though, if you have more of a sweet tooth when it comes to your beer, it is worth a try for sure.

brwe bristol crane echo

Save

Crane – Echo 8.0%

Aroma: Peach, grain, citrus, pith, resinous

Flavour: Balanced malt, caramel, orange and citrus

Palate: Oily, balanced, surprisingly easy to drink.

I was impressed by this brew. It's just hit the mark all round. Great body, bitterness and roundness of flavour. Balanced would be the term you're looking for.

weird beard brew bristol defacer

Save

Weird Beard - Defacer 11.1%

Aroma: Orange, herbal, honey, grapefruit, pine, caramel, dill, citrus

Flavour: Citrus, tropical fruit, pine, toffee, caramel, herbal

Palate: Thick, long finish, good bitterness, easy drinkin' for 11.1%!

I dunno. What's there to say? Buy this beer? It's really freaking good? You'll probably regret it when that last bottle sells and you didn't get to revel in all that perfect mix of bitterness, alcohol, hop aroma and malt sweetness? Yeah, I think that pretty much covers the deal with this beer.

Tasting Session Report No. 006

Hello!

Firstly apologies that the blog hasn't been updated in a while. You know how it is fending off wild alpacas and things.

This is an attempt at basically writing up a report of our various tasting sessions that are run here in the shop. If you're unable to make it, are currently feeling the pinch or simply don't like people, this'll give you a chance to get an idea of what some of our beers taste like, and what I, and my venerable Tasting Session and Home Brew Club attendees think of the beers.

So, this report is from what I've dubbed a three course beer meal. The idea was to put together three beers that would represent the three courses of a, y'know, meal. It's not rocket science.

We started off with fairly low ABV Pale Ale, which was actually gluten free too. Then we moved on to an Amber and rounded things off with a pretty strong Scotch Ale.

For those who don't know, for tasting sessions, I usually pick beers I've never tried before. Thus, when it comes to tasting notes, I pull 'em from the net. This usually leaves room for hilarity and nonsense. I try and assimilate a wide variety of notes about each aspect of the beer, and some stupid ones too. All genuine notes made by the good people who use ratebeer and untappd. My favourite is a toss up between 'tastes like gravel' and 'smells like cobwebs.'

reparationsbajer to ol brew bristol

To Øl – Reperationsbajer 5.8%

Aroma: Citrus, pine, orange, spice, grapefruit

Flavour: Lime, grapefruit, citrus, pine

Palate: Bitter, balanced

This was our first course. It was super bitter with a hell of a lot of flavour. The aroma was great. As with everything in this session, sadly, or not, I can't decide, we found the tasting notes bang on. To Øl is a regular on our tasting sessions and rarely lets us down. Especially as a gluten free beer I was pretty blown away. All round, we liked this one and would certainly recommend.

Evil twin hop flood brew bristol

Evil Twin – Hop Flood 7.0%

Aroma: Dark fruit, wood, date, honey,

Flavour: Sweet malt, dank, red fruit, caramel, date, honey,

Palate: Medium body, bitter finish, sticky

This brew was not what I was expecting what so ever. I was anticipating a kind of regular Amber, mellow, loads of soft caramel and biscuit. What I got was an explosion of harsh, yet balanced, boozy aroma with a metric f**k tonne of every heavy flavour assaulting my taste buds. It was astoundingly good. Tastes a whole load stronger than it's 7% and smells even stronger than that! Honestly, it's such a damn good beer! Again the tasting notes were spot on, including that stickiness!

tempest old parochial brew bristol

Tempest – Old Parochial 10.0%

Aroma: Candy, sweet malt, chocolate, woody, vanilla, red fruit

Flavour: Honey, caramel, butterscotch, molasses, toast, coffee

Palate: Oily, thick, boozy, creamy

Well, well, well. I do happen to like me a Scotch Ale. I think this was my favourite of the three, but I'll admit I believe the others preferred the other two in equal measures, although they all got the thumbs up. This was exactly what you would expect from a Scotch Ale, big, boozy and super flavoursome. You can taste that 10%, it's warming and beautiful. Ever so beautiful. You can take this apart in layers and get every one of those flavours and aromas listed.

I can recommend each of these beers! Although perhaps don't drink the Old Parochial straight after the Hop Flood. Those became a little over powering flavour wise one after the other. Definitely worth a try, all three!

Cheers!

 

Spring Brew Challenge

It's Spring(ish) and time for our quarterly brewing challenge at Home Brew Club.

This season we're giving you near free reign. Brew a pale beer. The caveat is that it must be a sessionable beer. Sub 3.5% So, the more English definition of a session beer. That's it! Brew one (or more) 3.5% or less pale beer.

You got until June-ish kinda time. We'll announce the presentation date closer to the time.

Now. Some of you may be rolling your eyes going “ooooh that's booooring.” But we would like to remind you that this is a challenge! Brewing something that is actually tasty at that percentage isn't always easy! So we want good flavours but something that can be drunk all day long in the not-quite-summery sun shine.

This is just one example we have in stock at the moment;

kernel table beer brew bristol

Kernel - Table Beer

BREWERY:

The Kernel are London based. I quite like writing about The Kernel, because they're not exactly up front about handing out information about themselves and their beer. IF you've ever seen one of their bottles you'll know what I'm talking about. I've lifted this from their website; "The brewery springs from the need to have more good beer. Beer deserving of a certain attention. Beer that forces you to confront and consider what you are drinking. Upfront hops, lingering bitternesses, warming alcohols, bodies of malt. Lengths and depths of flavour. We make Pale Ales, India Pale Ales and old school London Porters and Stouts towards these ends. Bottled alive, to give them time to grow." Bascially, I think they want you to think for your self when it comes to their beer.

BEER STYLE:

Table beer or Sessionable IPA. Or just a pale/IPA (See above note about their lack of info giving.)

Basically pale in colour, and low in ABV.

TASTING NOTES:

Aroma: Pineapple, grapefruit, mandarin, earthy, herbal, pine, apricot, mango, citrus.

Taste: Basically the same as above.

Palate: Med carbonation, light body, medium bitterness.

 

ABV: 3.2%

ML: 500

£: 3.95

The Laughable Concept Of Beer For Boys

Ah, so, on the heels of last weeks' “Beer for Girls” I'm going to make the same mistake all over again and declare that boys suffer the same fate; of making/having assumptions made of their beer choice based on their gender.

I think that guys suffer from this in a different way to ladies. It has a lot of macho issues deeply ingrained. In the 'craft beer scene' (I apologise for the horrible phrase,) mostly, men don't seem to suffer from this so much. Dude walks in to a bar and can order pretty much anyhting, in what ever sized glass he fancies. It's in the rest of the beery world that guys seem to suddenly think that if they're seen ordering anything but “an ale”, i.e. a best bitter, or an amber, traditional brew kind of thing, or a generic macro lager, then he is suddenly less of a man. God forbid he wants anything less than a pint. Preferably two, no wait, make that three. Then he'll be three times more manly, you know.

Quite obviously that is a steaming pile of arse. As stated in the previous post taste-buds are taste-buds, and yes, you are allowed to have 'em boys. 'Cos, lets face it, crappy generic lager does in fact taste like watered down, bitter, fizzy, ditch water. And, “I'll have an ale, please” not only highlights your lack of knowledge about beer styles, but gives over your choice to a bartender (not always a bad thing) but you'll probably get the least flavourful beer available. And that's sad. Because, these guys, they don't even know. They aren't aware that things like California Common exists (almost always my first recommendation to lager drinkers.) If they know about pale ale, they don't always know it can be cooler, and carbonated and overwhelmingly tasty! They just haven't ever come across a real pilsner.

When I get these men in the shop, I get all excited trying to get them to try beers that they may enjoy, it's always fun describing the taste to them, it's often like they just didn't know that beer could taste of pine or grapefruit or mango or citrus or one of the millions of other flavours available. And, many of them look terrified. Sometimes I wish that we were able to just be able to crack open a beer or two to give samples so that these “Oh, er, I drink ale*” guys could experience something awesome! (And, then make an informed decision.)

*Seriously, like “ale” is descriptive enough for me to pick something out for you. Please. That's about, what, 75% of the entire beer production in the country, at a guess? Beer; split in to ales and lager, which have different fermentation methods. Ale doesn't narrow it down. At. All. (Sorry, sorry, rant over.)

But, this is the problem, the lack of education, and no I'm not suggesting it's put on the syllabus in schools, means that unless you stumble on a specialist bar or friendly bottle shop, and unless you ask the right question or look mildly interested, then there's no reason to even discover a better quality of beer. Drinking a third of a Black IPA at 7% isn't, sadly, going to occur to your average guy bimbling about on a Friday night, unless he's in the know.

This, however, is something I'm not willing to tackle. My quest in life is not to educate the lager lout. But, some of this programming does still hangover in to the slightly more discerning beer drinker. There are many guys who pop in to the shop and ask about one style specifically, what ever that may be. It's often IPAs or Pales. Sometimes someone only drinks porters or stouts. And, no, there is nothing at all wrong with knowing what you like. But the guys I'm chatting about are the ones who look mildly confused by the selection and focus in on something they know, and know that they like. And that is what I'm going to try and suggest our next beer for.

It isn't a 'ladies' beer, just like the Russian Imperial Stout I suggested for the ladies' post last week, isn't a man's beer for a girl. There are a lot, and I mean a lot, of men who drink sours. But, like the impy stout, it can be challenging if it's not something you're used to. If you are a chronic Fosters drinker, or have only touched Doombar in the last 5 years, then tackling a sour is going to blow your preconceptions about beer, flavour and taste out of the water. Because it is so damned different. And, hey, I'm not saying you're going to like it, not all at once, sours are an acquired taste, but this is about realising that you are in fact allowed to try something different, and the point is not to turn around to all your leering guy friends behind you at the bar, pull a face, and not try anything but boring lager because your worried they might give a s**t if you like something they don't.

Gentlemen

Well, I realise I got pretty damn ranty about this subject. I'm not trying to say that sticking to what you know is a bad thing, except it kind of is. Even red wine drinkers occasionally try a Malbec rather than a Shiraz from time to time, y'know? I'm not sure that manliness is measured on a scale of how many cheap pints of lager you can throw down your neck, as much as it's no longer measured in how many woolly mammoths you can fell. The world's moved on a little, and drinking something with a little (or in this case, a huge amount of) flavour can only be a good thing.

So, to really put the fear of beer in to you, lets take a quick look at the beer style. Sour beer is a beer that is sour. Insane right? Now, there many different types of sour beer. Some traditional, some not so much. This is one of the not-so-much varieties. Sour IPA isn't really a thing. Hunting through the BJCP guidelines I think that 28B – Mixed Fermentation Sour Beer is the closest style to this, so that's what I'm going with.

BJCP guidelines say these things; “A sour and/or funky version of a base style of beer. Aroma: Variable by base style. The contribution of non-Saccharomyces microbes should be noticeable to strong, and often contribute a sour and/or funky, wild note. The best examples will display a range of aromatics, rather than a single dominant character. The aroma should be inviting, not harsh or unpleasant” (For full info hit up the top link to the right and find page 61 in the doc, or 75/93 of the PDF as a whole.)
The notes on flavour and mouthfeel are similar. This specific take on a sour beer is very variable. Sour beers can be produced in many different ways, and, to be frank it's a little beyond my personal brewing knowledge. None the less you can expect it to taste light and less bitter than the base style, an IPA in this case. There's gonna be hop character poking through the sourness and in this case all the gooseberry-ness too.>

Buxton Trolltunga brew bristol

Buxton – Trolltunga

BREWERY:

So, we've already gone over how much we like Buxton in last weeks post. So I won't bore you again. If you didn't read that blog, then you know where to find it.

BEER STYLE:

Mystery Sour IPA

TASTING NOTES:

Despite, again, not having ha a chance to crack open a bottle for myself to actually try yet, this beer keeps getting recommendations from customers telling me how awesome it is. It would be great to hear your opinions on this beer, so if you have any thoughts on it, it would be great to hear from you! Leave a comment below, or chat with us using @Brew_Bristol on twitter, or post something to our facebook page!

Aroma: Gooseberry, lime, pineapple, passion-fruit, lemon, grapefruit.

Taste: Lemon, biscuit, lime, grapefruit, zest.

Palate: Tangy, tart, sour. Dry finish. Well balanced.

Overall; A refreshing and surprisingly easy to drink beer. Loads of up front sourness and a dryer finish leaving you not too overwhelmed.

ABV: 6.3%

ML: 330

£: 3.55 but available throughout February at a 15% discount, making it £3.02, but only to men. Or, people buying it for men. Or people who have, in fact, met men.

-

So, I don't want to leave anyone out here. If you identify with neither or both of these run-of-the-mill genders, then your opinion, assumed likes/dislikes, and level of annoyance at genderised beers is just as valid as the next persons. Obviously.

The whole point of these two posts was to get across the idea that gender doesn't matter when it comes to drinking beer, or anything for that matter. Drink it if you like it, that's all there is to it.

Enjoy 🙂

The Laughable Concept Of Beer For Girls.

Hello! Happy February y'all!

Well, lookit here. February 14th and all it's associated romantic connotations are nearly upon us. Quiet frankly I believe it is a ridiculous 'tradition' which only gets worse every year with hideous cuddly toys, cheap chocolates and embarrassing balloons etc etc. No matter what your romantic condition or persuasion, Valentine's Day is a weird concept. (Aren't you meant to show your feelings all year round?)

Anywhoo, this whole palaver got me thinking about how I could market you lot some Valentine's beers. (I'm not above such manipulation, sorry.) That, though, made me think “what beer should I suggest for a boy/girl to get a girl or a girl/boy to get a boy?” Which made me realise how utterly ridiculous that concept is. Beer is beer, there is not (or at least should not) be any gender 'appropriate' beers. I mean, last time I checked, I got the same taste-buds as guys. Right? (I admit I have done no research, and there could very well be a scientifically proven difference between male and female taste-buds and taste perception, but if there is, I'm going to ignore it. Just like I ignore the fact that males are genetically predisposed to have more muscle of their frame than me, and yet I can still pick up a lotta beer. Screw science.) (Sorry science. I didn't mean it.)

So, yeah. There ought not to be any of the 'oh, I am a man, therefore I drink strong, brown, bitter beers. Manly beer. Yes.' or 'oh I am a feeble woman, and therefore if I ever venture near that odd beery stuff, I only drink sweet fruit beers.' I realise that I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but there's still an awful lot of that kind of thing going on. Maybe half the women that come in the shop are buying for themselves, and know what they like. The rest quite often come in asking help to buy beer for significant others/family etc. Obviously I love helping people pick beers, don't get me wrong, it's a part of the job that's completely awesome, but it makes me a little sad that the line I get regularly is “I don't drink beer, so I don't really know what to get him/her.”

This makes me sad, because there is such a massively, embarrassingly huge variety of beer styles readily available now, that I highly doubt that there isn't a beer that someone will like. It may be that they only like Kolsch, or Trappist Quad or, in fairness, sickly sweet fruit beer, but the possibility that someone dislikes all beer is fairly slim.

Women

Wow, so the above rant has mostly been centred on the ladies of the species. (Check in next week for the macho-too-male-for-you beer drinking failures. Crap lager and boring best bitter bashing ahoy.) What I want to do, is pick a beer/beer style that I know many women are, let's say, scared of, and give them/you a kick towards giving it a try. Because no one needs to be scared of beer.

If you mention the words Russian Imperial Stout (and explain what it is) to a lady who has spent most of her drinking time consuming Pinot Gregio or fizzy cider or gin and tonic, I can understand the fear. The flavour profile and ABV looks a little intimidating. I'll admit that this is not a little shy and retiring beer. But then, the last time women were shy and retiring as a rule was roughly 1914, before we literally had to don the trousers.

(Oh, and by the way ladies, back in the dark ages, or whatever historically accurate period, we probably invented, and certainly brewed all the beer, so it's just going old school really.)

Let's take a moment, for those who don't know, to describe what a Russian Imperial Stout actually is.

Thieving the BJCP guidelines; “An intensely flavored, big, dark ale with a wide range of flavor balances and regional interpretations. Roasty burnt malt with deep dark or dried fruit flavors, and a warming, bittersweet finish. Despite the intense flavors, the components need to meld together to create a complex, harmonious beer, not a hot mess.” (For full info hit up this link and find page 36 in the doc, or 50/93 of the PDF as a whole.)

Basically you're looking at something super dark, often with a very heavy, slick, oily or syrupy mouthfeel. Depending on the beer, could be pretty damn sweet, although there are many balanced/bitter. You should expect ABV of 8-12%. Flavours include roasty, burnt, acrid, sweet, dark fruits, coffee, chocolate. Can be barrel aged well, so these examples will have BA qualities too. They are usually really complex. I've found examples that are like liquid Christmas pudding, chocolate cake, strong coffee. There are peanut butter and salted caramel versions out there too. How can this not be a beer for anyone, let alone those of us of the “fairer” sex.

The example I've picked to suggest you buy for your selves, ladies, ('cos why wait for a man/significant other to do it for ya, when it's this good?) is;

Rain Shadow Vuxton

Buxton – Rain Shadow

BREWERY:

Buxton is one of our favourite breweries here at Brew Bristol. They have an almighty range of beer, and there are very few which I haven't enjoyed. I am usually particularly impressed with their big stouts, so hopefully this won't disappoint.

BEER STYLE:

Russian Imperial Stout. We went over that above. Weren't you reading?

TASTING NOTES:

No need for lying here, we're all friends right? I've not actually had a chance to try this beer yet. So, I'm pulling these tasting notes from a host of different sources. It's always fun to see what you make of it, so if you have opinions it would be great to hear from you! Leave a comment below, or chat with us using @Brew_Bristol on twitter, or post something to our facebook page!

Aroma: Coffee, roasty malt, dark chocolate, bready, dark red fruit, liquorice, booze, woody, rum, vanilla, cherry.

Taste: Roasty, ash, chocolate, coffee, tobacco, molasses, caramel, spices, earthy.

Palate: Dry finish, very rich, long lasting bitterness, oily mouthfeel, good carbonation.

Overall; Big. Big is the word we're going for here. Big aroma, big flavour, big mouthfeel, big ABV. And amazing. Seriously, you want to drink this.

ABV: 10%

ML: 330

£: 6.20 but available throughout February at a 15% discount, making it £5.27, but only for ladies. Or, people buying it for ladies. Or people who have met ladies.

Tryanuary – Week 4

It's our fourth and final #tryanuary extravaganza this week! I do hope you've all been enjoying your month of trying new things. Not only have we introduced you to 9 new beers, breweries or beer styles thus far, we have chatted about the brewing and bar scene in Bristol, not to mention the concept behind tryanuary itself.

I don't have much more to add to all that this week except to urge to to continue to try new things in the world of beer. Don't get stuck in one style, or only drinking one brewery. If you think keg beer is oh so wrong, give it a try. If you look down your nose at canned beer; give. It. A. Try.

There's so much more to beer than you may have thought at first, from Geuze to California Common, or from Triple IPA to Imperial Russian Stout, there will be something out there for you!

Week 4

wild beer madness ipa

Wild Beer – Madness IPA

BREWERY:

Wild Beer are local-ish. They're based over in Shepton Mallet-ish. Basically out in the wilds of Somerset. Surprisingly, I'm sure, they make 'wild beer.' They use wild yeast, that's their speciality, and they do an awful lot of crazy stuff. Although they also have a more moderate core range too. They've recently opened up their own bar in Cheltenham, which is surely worth a visit, although I'm yet to get over there myself yet.

BEER STYLE:

This is an IPA which we went over in one of the previous weeks. India Pale Ale. Light, hoppy and pretty darned punchy.

In reality it's not a particularly big challenge of a beer this, style wise. But this suggestion is more about trying the brewery, and branching out in to their more Wild beers. This one is a good starting point, being more of their more 'straight' beers.

TASTING NOTES:

Aroma: Grapefruit, pine, biscuit, citrus, peach, mango

Taste: Orange, peach, pine, pineapple, grapefruit, caramel

Palate: Balanced, good bitterness

Overall; A well executed straight up IPA with a good hoppy punch.

ABV: 6.8%

ML: 330

£: 3.20

jolly pumpkin luciernaga

Jolly Pumpkin - Luciérnaga

BREWERY:

These guys make crazy beer, and having had a looksee at their website, it seems they may also be equally crazy. Which is certainly not criticism!

While I advise taking a look about their website for info, the American brewery makes weird and quirky beers. Many, if not all, are barrel aged. We have a selection of Belgian style barrel aged soured beers (not Lambics) and barrel aged saisons in stock. All of which look fascinating, and the one I've actually tried so far, I was blown away by.

BEER STYLE:

So, Jolly Pumpkin don't really assign their beers a specific style according to the BJCP guidelines, or whatever. Ratebeer has the Luciernaga down as a Belgian Ale. This is pretty ambiguous seeing as in the new BJCP guide there are 6 sub categories for Belgian Ale or Strong Belgian Ale, and a a further four for Trappist (Which doesn't have to be Belgian, and is most definitely different, but the styles; Dubble, Tripel etc are often replicated without the provenance of being Trappist.)

Rather than assign this beer a style that I think is correct, and run the risk of being wrong, I'm just going to state that it's pale, with the fruity-spicy traits of Belgian yeast, some grainy sweet malt flavour, and some fruit aroma.

This is also claimed to be in the Grand Cru tradition, which mostly means it's a limited run, a special version, or a higher quality version. With respects to beer, think more complex primarily.

TASTING NOTES:

This beer is spiced with coriander and grains of paradise.

Aroma: Citrus, funky, earthy, floral, orange, coriander

Taste: Coriander, wheaty, white wine, grainy, funk,

Palate: Tart, dry, sour and hoppy

Overall; A pretty complex, lightly tart or sour Belgian style blond or golden ale with spices and all the god stuff.

ABV: 6.5%

ML: ~750

£: 18.75

kernel imperial brown stout

The Kernel – Imperial Brown Stout

BREWERY:

I have a lot of respect for The Kernel. Although I've not visited their brewery, they give the impression they're all about the beer. Screw fancy labels, gimmicks and fireworks. They make good beer, packaged honestly, with annoyingly short use by dates on them to ensure that the beer is in the best condition when it's drunk. Their no nonsense website give a tiny bio to that effect, and little to no information about them or their beer otherwise. It's almost as if they want you to drink the beer before making up your own mind. Novel eh?

BEER STYLE:

Imperial Brown Stout.

One of The Kernel's things is using historical recipes. This is such a one. Essentially it is a forerunner to the Imperial Russian Stout (Russian Imperial Stout?) It's still black in colour, but is a little more easy going on the tongue, more rounded and a bit softer flavour-wise.

TASTING NOTES:

Aroma: Roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, tobacco, ash, plum, liquorice, caramel, pine

Taste: Roasty, hint of sweetness, chocolate, coffee, toffee, vanilla, red fruit

Palate: Medium body, creamy, oily

Overall; An excellent version of an Imperial Stout, which is made super easy drinking due to the creamy texture and complex taste. Somewhat dangerous at the ABV!

ABV: 9.9%

ML: 330

£: 6.00

We're offering you these three beers, if you buy 'em together, for an impressive 15% off the usual price, £23.76 for the lot. You'll be able to try three new beers or beer styles at a beautiful Tryanuary discount.

All four weeks worth of special offers will be available (subject to availability) until the end of the month.

Get involved using the #Tryanuary tag! Photograph your beers, tweet them, facebook them. Tell people you're trying something new, let them know what you think (even if you hate it! At least your giving something new a chance huh?) Get us in on the conversation using @Brew_Bristol on twitter, or post something to our facebook page.

Tryanuary – Week 3

Week 3! Week 3! Are you excited? Have you been trying new things? Well, if not, here's another chance. This is our third #tryanuary trio of beers to give your taste buds a surprise.

So far we've sampled an Old Ale, a hopped German wheat beer, a Bretted wild sour beer, an American Barley Wine, a non-traditional Saison and a whiskey barrel aged porter. That was week one and two, and if you haven't tried our selections, I hope you've given something else a shot!

I wanted to chat a little bit about the awesome bar and pub scene in Bristol, but this may get messy, and I'll be sure to forget someone; so please, don't judge me.

For me, at least, it pretty much started with Brewdog opening on Baldiwn street. Many of you will know that I started working there from the opening for a little over a year or so. It's not a massive secret that I didn't especially like beer until I tried their brews. Finally something that wasn't flat 'n brown, y'know? Obviously, I now know there were many other options out there for beery drinking, even way back then in the hazy past of three years ago. Brewdog, I suppose, kind of kick started the beer scene in Bristol in to a whole new gear.

It wasn't long until Small Bar and The Beer Emporium opened up on King street. Between these three, Bristol and the Old City suddenly had a beer quarter, or the Beermuda Triangle, if you like.

Since then many a pub has re-invented itself in a more 'craft' style. Not honestly sure when the Famous Royal Navy Volunteer opened as it is now, it may even have been before the other King Street giants, but they certainly have their place in the scene. As does, although I'm still yet to visit, The Strawberry Thief. They specialise in Belgian beer, so if that's your thing, totally worth visiting.

As I'm not just talking about the 'craft' scene here, and yes, I hate the phrase, I want to mention a few other pubs which keep them selves a little more traditional. Recently reopened under the name of the Lime Kiln, you'll find a great small pub selling a good range of beers of all kinds, ditto for the Three Tuns a short distance away. If you like cat in your pint glass be sure to visit the Bag of Nails off in the same direction. Cruising back to the centre of town you'll find The Christmas Steps at the bottom of, yup, The Christmas Steps. They've done a good job keeping the interiors mostly intact in this historical pub as well as rocking a pretty good beery selection. If you have the muscle power, walking up those steps will find you out side of the Gryphon on Colston Street. These guys do ale well, and music too. Lots of music. Also we owe them a huge favour for helping us out when we fist started as a pop up, so, yes, visit them.

Up a massive hill of doom you'll find Beerd. Back on King Street you can play arcade games at Kongs. Wonder out past Temple Meads you can visit the Barley Mow and the Moor Tap Room. Crofters Rights and the Canteen are there for your beery requirements on Stokes Croft/Gloucester Road. There's also the Brewhouse and Kitchen and Zero Degrees which both house breweries. Maybe the Hillgrove or the Hare on the Hill too.

There are plenty more great pubs and bars further from the centre too, which are worth a visit, and too numerous to mention here!

As you can see, with such a great selection of places to visit for good, well kept beer, you really shouldn't be cutting out this beautiful beverage for 31 whole days. Just drink a little less, a little less often, but better beer, more flavour, maybe even a little higher ABV. Push what you know, try a pub you've not been to before, meet some new people and drink some good beer.

Week 3

Left Handed Giant LActose Tolerant

Left Handed Giant – Lactose Tolerant

BREWERY:

Left Handed Giant is one of Bristol's newest breweries. Having started out situated in Small Bar (of which it is now a seperate but related company or some complicated tax-type thing,) but is now housed in it's own brewery somewhere in the wiles of Bristol town, (or St. Philips if your a pedant.)

BEER STYLE:

Milk Stout

Milk stout are Stouts with milk in. Wait. What? Nooooo! No they are not!

Milk stouts are stouts with milk sugar in. Lactose to be precise. This is a non-fermentable sugar, meaning that the yeast says 'Yuck' and eats all the other sugars that the brewing process creates instead, (and then, y'know, pooping out alcohol like good little yeasts should.) The addition of lactose means that, as the yeast doesn't touch it, the beer retains the sweetness. Leaving you with a non-vegan, yet very tasty, sweeter stout.

TASTING NOTES:

Aroma: Coffee, chocolate, woody, toast, smoke.

Taste: Chocolate, caramel, bread, toasted malt, coffee, creamy, red fruit

Palate: Good carbonation, hint of acidity, medium body.

Overall; A really good, creamy milk stout, with just the right amount of complexity.

ABV: 5.5%

ML: 330

£: 2.80

La Couffe

La Chouffe - Blonde

BREWERY:

La chouffe may not technically be the brewery name, but lets roll with that anyway, because Brasserie D'archouffe is a tiny bit of a mouthful. They've has been going since the 80's and produces a small but well rounded selection of beers. They are no longer independent, but they're still making good beer.

BEER STYLE:

Belgian Blonde Ale

Well, it's, y'know, blonde in colour. And, Belgian-y. Yup.

So, yeah. It's light in colour, gets a good complexity from the spiciness of the Belgian yeast, nice hint of fruit, but actually quite lager like. It's pretty clean as Belgian styles go and easy drinking despite the ABV.

TASTING NOTES:

Aroma: Citrus, grass, banana, coriander, biscuit.

Taste: Spicy, citrus, grass, grapefruit, orange, coriander, caramel, yeast.

Palate: Medium body, good hop character, lightly bittered.

Overall; Big flavour! Quite a bit of sweetness, but well balanced. Not too thick in body. Would go well with a lot of different foods actually. Mega complex, so many flavours going on. It's beautiful.

ABV: 8.0%

ML: 330

£: 4.15

Hoppin Frog Hop Heathen

Hoppin' Frog – Hop Heathen

BREWERY:

We try and get some more obscure beers and breweries in the shop from time to time, and Hoppin' Frog is sufficiently rare to come in to that category. These guys hail from Ohio, they make good beer, they have a tap room. Their website knows more than me. Read that.

BEER STYLE:

Imperial Black IPA

Ooooh… What's an IPA? Well, my friend, an IPA is an India Pale Ale. This was originally a pale, but heavily hopped English style of beery goodness. The Americans stole our perfectly respectable beverage and ravaged it with even more hops, making it inevitably better. You now have variations such as American IPA, English IPA and NZ IPA, among others. Pale, hoppy and ever so good.

Oooooh….. How the blazes can something that has 'Pale' as a part of its name be black, eh? Answer me that? Ok! So, basically some philistine decided to brew an IPA and then probably did something stupid like sneezed a tiny bit of black malt in to the mash*. This resulted in a beer which was supper hoppy, but that was black in colour. It only had a tiny hint of flavour or aroma from the dark malt though. So in everything but its colouration, it is still an IPA. Got it?

Ooooooh…. What does Imperial mean? Stories about Russian exports 'n stuff aside, it basically means strong or double. It may not be a direct correlation, but they essentially double the ingredients in a brew without upper with quantity of water brewed with. This means that the sugar content is twice that of usual, meaning the ABV is double. As is the hop content, and therefore bitterness. As I said, not strictly speaking true on the recipe, or ratio front, but near enough to get the point across right? Sweeter, more bitter, stronger.

*I made that story up, but let's circulate it as the true origin of the Black IPA. Please? “Sneeze results in new beer style.” Has a certain something to it, no?

TASTING NOTES:

Aroma: Orange, pine, chocolate, coffee, caramel, citrus, grapefruit, grassy, resinous

Taste: Pithy, coffee, chocolate, earthy, herbal, pine, charcoal.

Palate: Good carbonation, balanced bitterness.

Overall; A well balanced, big Black IPA. Tonnes of flavour going on but retaining it's lightness. Great hop character. Tasty and complex.

ABV: 8.8%

ML: ~750

£: 14.25

We're offering you these three beers, if you buy 'em together, for an impressive 15% off the usual price, £18.02 for the lot. You'll be able to try three new beers or beer styles at a beautiful Tryanuary discount.

Get involved using the #Tryanuary tag! Photograph your beers, tweet them, facebook them. Tell people you're trying something new, let them know what you think (even if you hate it! At least your giving something new a chance huh?) Get us in on the conversation using @Brew_Bristol on twitter, or post something to our facebook page.

Tryanuary – Week 2

Hello good people. And how art thou on this fine day in January? Welcome to week two of our #tryanuary extravaganza.

So far we have tried to open your eyes to the joys of an Old Ale, a hopped German wheat beer and a Bretted wild sour beer. I hope you delved in to your discomfort zone and gave at least one of these a shot, or if not, gave another beer that you haven't been able to experience until now a try. If not, then well, that's what Week 2 is all about huh? If you wanna know all about Week 1 then read it 'ere

Each week I decided to showcase one local brewery/beer. Bristol has a multitude of awesome breweries both reasonably large (at least by small brewery standards,) and teeny tiny. I can think of eleven breweries currently brewing in Bristol it's self off the top of my head, with two due to open very shortly, and another three or four in the surrounding areas. Suffice to say the Bristol beer scene is pretty damn good. A fact that is honoured and enhanced by Bristol Beer Week which takes place in September. If you've not heard of it, read about it here. Loads of stuff happens and things are good.

Right. Enough blathering. (Yeah, I heard you rolling your eyes at my prose.) On to the beer!

Week 2

Crane Load

Crane - Load

BREWERY:

Crane is one of the teeny tiny breweries situated in Bristol. Well, they were; they've recently moved to a much bigger unit, so although I believe it's still just one guy brewing at the moment, there is the space now for more volume to come pouring out of this new-ish brewery. I was honoured to be able to try one of the sample brews of their Cake stout and Boom IPA, way back when, and now Crane has a pretty damn good selection of beers on the go. The owner is passionate and interested in people's opinions on his beer. He's even come and had a chat with out Home Brew Club about his beers in the past.

BEER STYLE:

Load is a Saison.

Are you ready for the history lesson?

To cut a long and mildly interesting story short, Saisons were basically brewed once or twice a year for the seasonal workers in the hot and dusty (I have no idea if it's hot and dusty) fields of the Wallonia area of Belgium. They were essentially brewed by the farmers wives, as all good beer ought to be, to relieve the thirst of the workers. Historically the beers were light, refreshing, low in ABV and seasonal. They were made with what ever they had available that year. Often spiced with something, which changed year to year, farm to farm, garden to garden. They were also of a spiciness that came from the yeast – almost peppery.

Because of the massive variation that this style encourages simply because of it's history the modern style is pretty damn open to interpretation. They can be weak or strong, pale or dark, spiced, hopped, have fruit, flowers, dirty or monkey paws in. So long as they're brewed with a saison yeast, it seems anything goes. (This is not the technical description of a saison. Jump to page 65/93 on this PDF or hunt for page 50 of the document its self, for the BJCP guide on it.)

TASTING NOTES:

This is a lemon, lime and ginger Saison, inspired by marmalade. All things should be inspired by marmalade.

Aroma: Ginger, lemon and lime. Pithy, spice, tropical fruit, a little yeasty, some floral character.

Taste: As above but with extra spiciness from the yeast.

Palate: Plently of bitterness which helps balance the huge citus hit. Good carbonation, quite a dry finish.

Overall; A pretty big, over the top, or 'extreme', as the description on the bottle says, Saison. Probably not the most true to style, but full of flavour and super tasty.

ABV: 7.9%

ML: 330

£: 3.50

Harviestoun Ola Dubh 16

Harviestoun – Ola Dubh 16

BREWERY:

Harviestoun has been going a pretty long time, but to be honest I don't know much about them. Link to the website just there will tell you anything you wanna know probably. They're nice guys, I met them briefly at a beer festival last year, and produce a fairly wide range of beer. For me though, personally, I have to admit that I think the Ola Dubh's are the best of what they do.

BEER STYLE:

Technically this is just a porter. Nout special about porters right? Well, aside from the fact that there are some extremely good examples of porters out there, and some of them can be really rather special indeed, this one isn't your typical porter.

Introducing Barrel Ageing. Say hello to barrel ageing folks. It might say 'hi' back if you're nice.

So, some beers get barrel aged. Its pretty cool, you end up with the characteristics of the vessel imprgnating the beer. You also get this thing called the Angel's Share, which technically you don't get. Evaporation increases the ABV a small amount, because of all the alcoholic celestial beings guzzling it through a straw. The barrel will impart woodsy flavours to a beer, but most importantly if the barrel has been used for something else first, it will impart those characteristics too. In this instance Highland Park whisky barrels have been used, so expect peat and smoke and all that lovelyness.

TASTING NOTES:

Aroma: Chocolate, smoke, toast, peat, raisins, booze! Whiskey, vanilla

Taste: Chocolate, molasses, woodsy, boozy, caramel, blackcurrant, plum, raisin, roasted malt.

Palate: Medium body, slick and oily. Good carbonation. Tiny bit thinner than you might expect, leaving it not too cloying.

Overall; Big flavour! Quite a bit of sweetness, but well balanced. Not too thick in body. Would go well with a lot of different foods actually. Mega complex, so many flavours going on. It's beautiful.

ABV: 8.0%

ML: 330

£: 7.65

Anchor Old Foghorn

Anchor – Old Foghorn

BREWERY:

Oooh. Anchor. Everyone knows about Anchor right? How they're probably the oldest brewery in the states, how they've made the style 'Steam Beer' their own, how despite being massive still manage to be 'craft'? No? Well.. more fool you.

BEER STYLE:

An American Barley Wine. (Pg. 43 in the doc. Or 57/93 on the PDF page no.s)

Barley wines have some history to 'em (I advise google, as it's too long and potentially dubious to bother writing here.) Purely invented by elves to confuse poor simple humans who think they're getting a wine when they order one at the bar. But, no! It's not a wine! 'Tis beer. Good tasty beery goodness.

Cutting it down to metaphorical bullet points; American Barley Wines (or barleywines) are hopped versions of the English variety. English Barley Wine is basically the strongest and richest of the classic English ales. They're not necessarily dark in colour, dark gold through to red-brown, but super rich in the malt character. Usually pretty viscous, sweet, with little to no hop character. That is where the American version varies, and in my humble opinion supercedes the English style. The hopping alleviates that sticky, sweet quality, making it a more betterer balanced beer.

TASTING NOTES:

Aroma: Honey, caramel, herb, red fruit; raspberry, strawberry. Pine, prune.

Taste: Sweet malt, pine, citrus, grapefruit, caramel, red fruit, roasty.

Palate: Medium bitterness. Medium-full body. Good carbonation. Nice long sweet/bitter finish.

Overall; Probably one of the best examples of an American Barely Wine that you'll come across for a while...

ABV: 8.8%

ML: 355

£: 6.00

We're offering you these three beers, if you buy 'em together, for an impressive 15% off the usual price, £14.58 for the lot. You'll be able to try three new beers or beer styles at a beautiful Tryanuary discount.

Get involved using the #Tryanuary tag! Photograph your beers, tweet them, facebook them. Tell people you're trying something new, let them know what you think (even if you hate it! At least your giving something new a chance huh?) Get us in on the conversation using @Brew_Bristol on twitter, or post something to our facebook page.

Tryanuary – Week 1

Well, goodness me (insert appropriate expletive if you'd prefer,) it's 2016!

This time of year finds everyone associated with the service industry crying a little bit, part in relief and part in exhaustion. The mad rush of the Christmas and New Year period is over. Relax. On the other hand, this dreamy low stress environment isn't actually all good for us.

I'm sure you know why. It's the annual “I am worried I may be an alcoholic*/too fat/too lazy so I absolutely must give up drinking for a month and potentially put a small business, independent beer shop or pub out of business”

It may sound over the top, but this is a difficult time of year for the beer (and general alcohol) trade. Regardless of the “Dryanuary” movement, it's a time of year when people drink less simply because of the over indulgence during December.

But abstinence is not the way to help your self, if all you're going to do is go back to smashing the Fosters at 6 pints a night for the rest of the year. Your liver will still be crying silently in to your poor abused body, a dry January isn't going to make you a better, healthier person in the long run. Better beer may on the other hand. Generally speaking, lowering the quantity and upping the quality is a far better method to your drinking madness.

This is where Tryanuary comes in to it's own. Rather than explain the whole deal, which, by it's name, I'd hope was fairly self explanatory in any case, you can check out their website here.

We want to help you help not only the nation's beer industry, but the local beer industry (which is awesome, by the way,) and your self by encouraging you to drink better quality beers or a beer style you've never had before, or a local brewery you've never heard of, or a foreign brewery you've never heard of…! Well, you get the idea. Good beer; try some; ideally something new and different for you.

We're going to show case three beers each week for the month. Twelve beers in all. We'll give you a small explanation of the style, the beer itself, maybe even a little back story of the brewery and the beer's vital statistics. Obviously we'd like you to come in and actually buy these beers too, and to encourage you to do just that we're going to offer you a special discount each week on the group of beers if you buy all three together.

Week 1

Moor Fusion 2014

Moor – Fusion 2014

BREWERY:

So, Moor is one of our local beauties. They moved in to Bristol in 2014 (I think) and they are just pretty damn awesome. Great beer, great people, their tap room is worth a visit, Baz is hilarious (you have to find out who that is yourself,) their events are good fun, and they've been great friends to us. They hosted our award ceremony for the Home Brew Comp. back in September. They've fairly recently released their beer in cans, which I think was a spectacular move on their behalf, and they keep producing new and seriously tasty beers, most recently their TFA which may have just happened to come out at the same time as Star Wars. A coincidence. Totally.

BEER STYLE:

Fusion is an Old Ale.

“What the F*ck's an Old Ale?” I hear you calmly inquire.

Basically it's an old (shockingly) English style of beer. Malty and seriously complex. Amber through to dark brown in colour. Medium to full character, often pretty heavy. Should have a bit of a boozy hit. Gets barrel aged before release. This usually imparts a character that can be associated with off-flavours in other beers such as brettanomyces, or a lactic hit, maybe the leathery flavour of stale beer. Told you it was complex. This style varies hugely. For full blurb check out the BJCP guidelines here (there are newer guidelines on their website, as those are out of date now, but it links to PDF which is a bitch to navigate.)

TASTING NOTES:

So we've got the 2014 vintage in, which has been aged in Somerset Cider Brandy barrels.

It is beautiful. Drink it.

Aroma: Herbal, liquorice, molasses, woody, fruity, caramel, cidery, sweet roast malt, spice, cinnamon, alcohol.

Taste: Molasses, cherry, herbal, liquorice, charcoal, roasty, sweet, dark chocolate, spice, caramel, woody

Palate: Hint of powdery dryness, medium-full body, nice bitterness on the finish.

Overall; Big, heavy, thick, sweet flavours. Really full aroma. Not too heavy going though. Would go well by the fireside with fruit cake. Oh, and you can totally age this a little long if you want too.

ABV: 8.0%

ML: 660

£: 17.50

Schneider Weisse Tap 5

Schneider Weisse – Tap 5 Meine Hopfenweisse

BREWERY:

Schneider Weisse is a specialist wheat beer producing brewery in Germany. They've been doing it a long long time. There is some history. They produce a good range of pretty damn good wheat beers. They know what they're doing by now. Granted, they're not some unknown quirky brewery, but they know what they're about. If you want to try a wheat beer, try theirs.

BEER STYLE:

Meine Hopfenweisse is a hopped German wheat beer. Still get hints of clove and banana, like you do in standard German wheat beers, (unlike their American counterparts,) they then they've gone and got all dry hopped. This gives it a massive aroma and a smaller taste hit in the form of what ever hops are used. In all the ones that I've tasted thus far, usually tonnes of citrus and other fruit.

TASTING NOTES:

Aroma: Tropical fruit, spice, clove, grass, floral, banana, pineapple,

Taste: Bitter-sweet orange, wheat, mango, caramel, banana, spice

Palate: Surprisingly good bitterness, well balanced, nicely dry

Overall; Massive fruity, sweet, almost eye watering aroma. We tasted this at Home Brew Club, and we were all pretty blown away by how good it was. The flavour isn't all overwhelming, but that's a good thing! Really refreshing as wheat beers go. One to try if you don't like the heavy banana and clove flavours, as they are made rather subtle by the fruit hit from the hops.

ABV: 8.2%

ML: 500

£: 5.60

Crooked Stave - St. Bretta

Crooked Stave – St. Bretta

BREWERY:

Crooked Stave is an American brewery specialising in weird, quirky sour things. Beers, sour beers. Honestly I'd tell you more, but I was getting virus alerts when I tried to look at their website, so you're guess is probably only slightly less good than mine. They haven't been going all that long, but they're damn good at what they do. The one I've had so far blew me away, and they are constantly highly rated on Ratebeer.

BEER STYLE:

A bretted wild beer.

This is a wildly (see what I did there?) variable category. Well, wild beer is. The Brett part is always bretty.

Basically it's gonna be funky, show the fruit character (if there is any. There is in this case.) It'll be sour from the fruit or the wild fermentation. This means it used a wild yeast, rather than a cultured one. Wild yeasts are found everywhere. One example is in cider making where they don't add yeast because of the culture living naturally on the apple skins.

In case you're wondering brettonomyces is a wild yeast strain that is a bit mental, and makes everything super funky. And will ruin your home brew equipment if you even go near it. Like within 10ft. Don't do it kids. Think about taking out a restraining order on it if you have to.

TASTING NOTES:

This is the Citrus Wildbier version of the St. Bretta, brewed with Gold Nugget Mandarin.

Aroma: Yeasty, sour, citrus, funky, Brett, floral, barnyard, nettles, grass, orange peel, tangerine.

Taste: Citrus, Brett, banana, sour, floral, cherry, oak, woodsy, spicey.

Palate: Medium body, smooth, nice lasting sourness.

Overall; Orangey, funky, barnyardy, soury, tasty.

ABV: 5.5%

ML: 375

£: 9.80

We're offering you these three beers, if you buy 'em together, for an impressive 15% off the usual price. They'll be up for grabs for £27.96, saving you nearly £5! So you'll be able to try three new beers or beer styles at a beautiful Tryanuary discount.

Get involved using the #Tryanuary tag! Photograph your beers, tweet them, facebook them. Tell people you're trying something new, let them know what you think (even if you hate it! At least your giving something new a chance huh?) Get us in on the conversation using @Brew_Bristol on twitter, or post something to our facebook page.

 

*If you are worried that you may be an alcoholic we advise you to visit your doctor. I've heard abstinence might actually be key for this matter. Although drinking craft beer will probably empty your wallet a little faster, so may help stop drinking faster than the White Lightening would. Still. Doctors; Go!