Tagged sour

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.

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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 🙂

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 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!