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Tag: beer

Top Ten Tuesday: Beers

Though the aftermath from Saturday night has me shaking slightly at the idea of doing a beer top ten, it’s as good a topic to tackle as any…  It’s an extremely tough call, as always, and I can’t wait to read the email protests of “Wait a minute, what about [X]??”.

So many memories. And so few memories.

So many memories. And so few memories.

  1. Little Creatures Pale Ale: 5.2% fruity, zesty pale ale, brewed at one of my favourite places in the world: Fremantle, Western Australia.  Added to this, the brewery’s one of my favourite places in the world to chill out, and I’ve had the joy of doing that with a couple of my favourite people in the world (Morgs & Kris!).  But the beer’s bloody lovely, and I could drink it all day.
  2. Coopers Dark Ale: 4.5% roasty ale which turns into delicate aftertaste quite quickly and leaves you wanting another.  Sadly, a bit on the tricky side to find in the UK although not impossible.  Memorable Dark Ale moment with Richie & Marty: “whaddya reckon – would the empty bottles from a whole carton of Dark Ale stretch the entire length of that gutter up there?”.  The only way to find out was to drink the whole lot, and as it happens I can’t recall what the answer was.  Or whose house it was.
  3. Coopers Original Pale Ale: 4.5% top-fermented pale ale in the Burton-on-Trent style, best drunk with the sediment re-suspended in the beer (to give it the familar cloudy appearance).  The Cooper Family’s finest is definitely my all time favourite hot weather quaffer, whilst also a nice sipping beer for when you’re sitting around chinwagging.  It goes well with most food, and come to think of it I can’t think of a circumstance where I’d turn one down in favour of something else.  It’s a little bit fruity – not nearly as much so as it’s stronger cousin Coopers Sparkling Ale – and to me it’s every bit how a beer should taste.
  4. Timothy Taylor’s Landlord: 4.3% pale ale from Yorkshire.  A well-kept pint of this stuff is absolutely bulletproof, and few keep it as fine as young Jeffrey at The Gunmakers.  It’s hoppy in all the right places, has a nice aftertaste that doesn’t wear out its welcome, and for me evokes all the right memories of a bottle of Little Creatures.  That’s probably the world’s most pointless description of a beer ever, but I means it.
  5. Cairngorm Tradewinds: 4.3% Scottish beer which consistently ladles in the awards – I first discovered this during my inaugural Great British Beer Festival trip back in 2005.  Another fruity/citrusy brew, but also with a bit of Elderflower in there as well.  The sort of beer which when you encounter it on tap you feel like you could easily drink all night, but typically only find at beer festivals, where the goal is to try as many different beers as possible.
  6. St Austell’s Tribute: the 4.2% Cornish Supreme Champion is another fruity/zesty drop (can anyone see a pattern forming here ?), but is very well balanced and retains malty, biscuity flavours before drying out into the aftertaste.
  7. Franziskaner Hefeweizen: 5% Munich stunner.  The first weizenbier I ever tried, courtesy of German Beer Month at the Kent Town Hotel in 199something.  The selection process was me pointing at the bottle with the little picture of the monk-dude on the front, and sampling the amazing clovey sweet flavour, which I could never track down afterwards because I didn’t know what the words on the front were or what type of beer it was (other than “German”).  Then, by happy coincidence, years later in a pub up the road from me I was queued up deliberating over what tipple to imbibe, and I SAW THE MONK RIGHT THERE ON THE TAP!  So it was a happy reunion.  Apparently the Pope likes it too.
  8. Brew Dog Paradox: 10% Imperial Stout, aged in whisky barrels.  The stout’s a rich, smooth, toasty bit of liquid velvet, and the flavour is noticeably but not distractingly tempered by whatever the whisky is that’s been used.  I’ve tried the first batch (Islay, in the old-style packaging) and then the subsequent Speyside… have now lost track of where they’re up to.  The peatiness of the Islay barrel was definitely present, although not as in-your-face as a rauchbier or as any of the Islay beers made using peated barley (which border on undrinkable).
  9. Schneider Weisse Aventinus: 8.2% doppelbock; a nice intruguing dark dessert-in-a-bottle, which combines nice elements of wheat beer with chocolatey, fruity, raisiny, caramelly notes and packs a misleading wallop, as HC and I have found out every time we’ve snapped up one of these.
  10. Crown Lager: I kid! I kid!
  11. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: another top fermented pale ale, this time 5.6%.  Surprise, surprise – citrussy, hoppy, fruity & floral flavours, again reminiscent to my palate of Little Creatures.  Must do a side-by-side of these some time.  Quite commonplace in London pubs, bars & restaurants, although can be disproportionately pricey.  Liz & I were drinking these at The Sloaney Pony for my birthday, and I think they weighed in at about £5.60 a pint.

Again, I feel like I’ve somehow missed something.  Oh well.

Nine hundred bottles of beer on the wall, nine hundred bottles of beer…

I’m sure the plodding count of my Facebook collection is completely riveting reading for all concerned, but it seems a shame to have celebrated reaching 800, to then let 900 paddle past without mention.

It's a little bit silly, isn't it?

It's a little bit silly, isn't it?

So firstly, congrats to Sam Brooke, my former Patrol Leader from 1st Torrens Park Scout Troop (Anacondas Patrol) for being #900.

It’s probably also worth clearing up a statement I made last time – many people have raised eyebrows at my “friending policy”, and to that end I’ve stated that in order to make it onto the list you’d more than likely be someone who I’d be perfectly happy to have a beer with (for the purposes of having a chat & a catchup, if it’s been a while since I’ve seen you).  It just occurred to me that were I to do that, on the basis of pints being about £3 a piece, this would be quite an expensive exercise – were I to be buying the beer, and getting one for myself too, I’d be down to the tune of about £5400.  Going by the idea that I’d want about an hour to chat with each person, and I normally knock off work about 6:30, that means I could get through 4 people a day…  if I started today I guess I could get through everybody by the end of February 2010.


Anyway, the point was – I’m not paying for all the beer, dammit.  And we can’t start tonight, cos I’m out seeing Nine Inch Nails.  This is going to be more complicated than I thought.

Bring on the vitamin D

Incredible: 10 minutes of sunshine on a Friday and this is what you get.

It’s impossible to tell whether there’s been a fire drill, or if people have just bunked off early for a pint.

Good job I’m still beavering away in the office in a dedicated way. At blogging, I guess.

The joy of beer

In mid-March, former housemate & distiguished gentleman Bushy called upon me to join him for a weekend’s beer-festivalling, and as I couldn’t find a flaw anywhere in this plan, I did so.  Our goal was the historic brewing gem of Burton-on-Trent – once home to the Bass company (now owned by multinational brewing giant Molson-Coors), as well as Marstons, and home to the top-fermenting style used in the production of our beloved Coopers Ales.  Foolishly we elected to warm up on Friday night with a few beers, which meant I spent most of Saturday with a raging headache.

Bushy’s developed a fairly artful manner of putting together videos about his adventures, and so rather than witter on about a bunch of stuff I can’t remember very well (yes, well we did try several beers that afternoon, remember), I thought I’d share his take on the experience:

Oh look, a Christmas market!

Having just arrived back from my holiday, it seems only fair that I now write about my previous holiday.  After all, without this sort of carry on how am I ever to make it appear as if I do nothing other than ambling about the place having fun, eh?

Just before Christmas, thanks to K’s brilliant idea I had a chance to tick something off my non-tangible but sporadically visualised “always wanted to” list – namely, an unstructured backpacking tour around Europe.  Granted, we didn’t go particularly far, and we departed from the backpacking tradition by staying in hotels, but I maintain it still counts.

Our point of arrival in Germany was the town of Friedrichshafen – commonly overlooked by many as being merely a budget airline dropoff point, however quite an interesting & cute place in its own right: famously, it was the home and place of manufacture of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin’s eponymous airships.  It’s also nestled into the shore of Lake Constance (or, in the local tongue, Bodensee), and provides an ideal point for getting around into other parts of the region.

Friedrichshafen from hotel window

Following a brief night walk from our hotel perched on what felt like the edge of civilisation, along with a demonstration of just how wet a pair of trouserlegs can get, we set about investigating Friedrichshafen – taking in their enthusiasm for zeppelins, the European enjoyment of having Santas everywhere (Santae?), and stumbling with delight over our first German Christmas Market!

Santa tries to make a getaway

For anyone who hasn’t seen a German Christmas Market (I’d expect this to be mainly my Australian readership, as the UK mainland also gets blessed with this phenomenon: I’ve certainly seen them in Leeds and Bristol), the principle is that sellers set up a load of street stalls and you can buy all manner of Christmas paraphernalia.  Typically this includes local specialty foods (read: high-profit; sort of the teutonic equivalent of a sausage sizzle), tree decorations, decorative candles, carved wooden trinkets, miniature Santae, sweets & gingerbread, but also includes other varied objets-de-shiny such as polished cut rocks & soft toys, and of course the ever-popular beverage for freezing outdoor areas, glühwein.

You’ll also find a nativity scene housing an array of partially bewildered but mostly contented livestock, and various entertainments by local community groups and the like.  We were treated to a rendition of various German tunes by the local male voice choir – most of whom were reasonably advanced in years, and all of whom were clearly freezing their gonads off.  Rarely do I pause to think that the Australian Christmas setup (midsummer rather than midwinter) makes more sense, however this would be one such instance.  There’s possibly a case for the fine-motor skills training for the German people in the form of getting them to pass the 3 Euro mug deposit for the glühwein back & forth whilst wearing gloves, however I suspect this advantage would be negated by the effects of the glühwein.

Yaaa deee buckety! Rum ping ba-dooo!

As well as the market we also sampled some of the local weissbiers, cuisine (mmm… schnitzel…), and did a whistlestop tour of the Zeppelin Museum.  Even knowing full well that Friedrichshafen was the manufacturing place for the rigid dirigible (not to be confused with a blimp!), it was still momentarily disappointing not to see a single mention of Robert Plant in there.  Fascinating stuff though – we all know that zeppelins ceased being a popular means of transport as a combination of political pressure and public reluctance to get into one following the explosion at Lakehurst, but I didn’t realise that prior to this they were popularly used for transatlantic crossings, and that the spire on top of New York’s Empire State Building was designed as a mooring point for the aircraft.

Inside the building were many Zeppelins, some of which were quite old.

Farewelling Friedy, we boarded a ferry across Lake Constance to the Swiss village of Romanshorn – this was chosen by a process of looking at the ferry departure board and seeing which one left soonest.  Once there we wandered about a bit and got a feel for just how little there can be to do in some of the random towns one picks to visit (however this was to be beaten later in the trip).  We popped into a cafe which K had previously visited with her Dad for a mid-afternoon beer and war council, and were greeted by one of the most helpful individuals I’ve ever met whilst on tour!  The lady at the cafe was very interested in our trip, and suggested all sorts of cool places to visit – even going to the trouble of digging out train timetables & working out connections for us.  Clearly not the overseer of the Romanshorn Tourism Board.

The woman was, however, a genius as our next port of call was the mountainside village of Appenzell.  It could very well be the template for the type of pictures you get on biscuit tins: idyllic Old Swiss.  One of the drawcards Appenzell promotes is its open air parliament – one of the few left in the world.  Presumably they don’t parlay during the winter months however, although in the photos we saw they were all packed into the town square pretty tightly, so maybe there’s a sort of penguinny effect at work vis-a-vis body temperature.

Aww, ain't it cute?

Having secured our lodgings for the evening the next most important step seemed to be to sample some of the local weissbiers and find somewhere for an evening meal.  We found a nice little bar around the corner from where we were staying (after NOT finding the local brewery: we found the distillery for the local liqueur, but after my experiences with Unicum I’ve developed a bit of a fear of regional booze) and plonked in there – they had some excellent variations on the dunkelweizen theme, and the people in there seemed quite friendly.  One bloke seemed fascinated at meeting an Australian, however his English vocab only extended as far as “G’day!” and “You Australian!”.

I seemed to take a lot of beer photographs on this trip...

Having established by now that Swiss people are friendly and helpful we asked the group where a good place for dinner might be, and the waitress babbled excitedly about a new fondue place in Appenzell.  We were a little wary as, having had a lovely fondue at Dom & Kat’s place recently, we knew the aftermath all that cheese could have on one’s digestive tract – but the Appenzellers assured us that there was also a meat fondue available which consists of various meats which you cook in a heated broth on the fondue set.  Seeing our mutual look of blankness at the phrase “various meats”, they then went on to explain – “You get… err… cow, and… err… lamb, and… err…. BK BK BK BK!”.  The waitress’s vocabular gap didn’t dent her enthusiasm, as she mimed out a convincing chicken impression, and we felt that on that basis alone we had no choice but to seek out this place!

Arrive we did, and discovered that meat fondue had to be ordered 24 hours in advance.  So more cheese it was!  No complaints here though – cheese fondue is a very fine thing!  We accompanied it with a couple of bottles of local wine as well, and it wasn’t very long before we were in the cab back to the guesthaus where we found ourselves enjoying a little nightcap.  Or two.  Perhaps three.

You need to rotate the fondue fork at just the right speed otherwise everything gets splattered in cheese.

Judging by the thumpitty-thumpitty going on in both of our brains our post-match estimate was that perhaps there had been six or seven nightcaps, along with barely-touched “one for the road”s on each of our bedside tables.  We slowly made our way back to the train station and headed back to St Gallen to embark on the next leg of the journey…

(To be continued)

Mmm… Beer….

This project of writing up my Vegas trip is proving more difficult than I thought, so in the meantime, I’d like to document my enthusiasm and surprise for the particular part of south London I’ve spent the last 12 or so hours in.
Previously I had understood that it was totally inaccessible (the A to Z just shows a big dark swirl with “here be dragons” over the top). However based on what I’ve seen I’m not so very sure there would be any need to leave.
Previously I’d seen bits of clapham (courtesy of brian, olivia & catrin), and dan & I tried some nice pubs in tooting (plus of course the famous sewing machine museum). But I’ve got to say, Pitney and lavender hill have really impressed me!
Right now we’re sitting in the Microbar on Lavender Hill, enjoying a non-pratty massive beer selection. They’ve got bottles of Little Creatures here, plus the usual belgian & german offerings, a great us selection, and even a Corsican wheat beer.
Last night we passed through the bricklayers arms in putney too (after seeing a top shelf Hendrix tribute act at The Half Moon) – the only pub I have ever seen with the full range of timothy taylor beers on tap.
So yeah – at least on the strength of the puns, I might have to pay more attention to this part of the world! It’s more bloody inspiring than Camden these days!

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