Natural Selection 2017 Launch

Four Heriot-Watt masters students will be launching Natural Selection Brewing’s most recent creation, Common Ancestor, at OX184 on Cowgate, Edinburgh, on Thursday 29 June. The launch night will feature guest speaker Roger Protz. This collaborative project, now in its seventh year, is between selected MSc Brewing and Distilling students at the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling and Stewart Brewing. These students are tasked with the challenge to trial beer recipes, brand their own product, brew 5000 litres of their chosen creation and sell it across the UK. The name, Natural Selection Brewing, stems from the project’s evolutionary developments which take place each academic year, with the new students adding their own creativity and innovative ideas to drive the project in a different direction.

This year’s beer, called Common Ancestor, is a 5.2% ABV California Common. The style originates from California in the 19th Century, where lager strains of yeast were fermented at higher than normal temperatures due to a lack of viable temperature control options.

Common Ancestor

Patrick Smith, Project Marketer, describes the beer as “an effervescent ale/lager hybrid, with caramel, citrus and pine notes, thanks to a liberal dosing of Dr. Rudi and Chinook hops. A slight hint of juniper complements this nicely. Our beer has evolved from the traditional California Common style to be fit for modern day consumption”.

Mark Ritchie, Head Brewer for the project, said “A California Common, being relatively unexplored by the craft beer scene, gave us a lot of scope to play around with and add our own twists. It’s a slightly unusual, but still very drinkable style”.

“We wanted to show that lagers can be exciting” adds Philip Sisson, Project Coordinator, “We’ve used a lot of citrusy hops during the end of the boil and fermentation to maximize flavour and aroma. The small addition of juniper also brings an extra dimension to the beer. It should be readily enjoyable by both craft beer enthusiasts, as well as traditional cask drinkers”.  

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The style works well in both cask and keg format and will be distributed across Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Newcastle and London in both these formats, as well as bottles.

The beer’s launch night at Cowgate’s OX184 is open to the public to allow people the very first taste of Common Ancestor. Two types of ticket are available for purchase at the Stewart Brewing website. A £12.50 ticket includes a talk with guest speaker and beer journalist, Roger Protz, as well as an intimate evolution tasting of how this year’s beer has developed (doors 6.00pm for 6.30pm talk). Alternatively, a £7.50 ticket provides admission at 7.30pm. Both tickets include one pint of Common Ancestor, a commemorative glass and bar snacks. Keg, cask and bottle formats will be available, as well as access to Natural Selection Brewing’s limited edition sherry barrel-aged Belgian Quadrupel, Aged Ancestor. There will be a raffle in aid of Marie Curie on the night, with various beer-related prizes, including an evolution gift box of each of this year’s trial brews.

Keep up to date with the team at:

Website: http://www.naturalselectionbrewing.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NaturalSelectionBrewing

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NatrlSelectBrew/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/naturalselectionbrewing/

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North Hop Glasgow

North Hop is a roaming food, drink and music festival that takes place in various Scottish locations with the Glasgow event happening on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th June at SWG3 in Glasgow. The festival has a wide selection of exhibitors, with drinks including some of Scotland’s finest food and drink companies.

Beer-wise, there’s a lot going on at this North Hop festival. St Andrew’s Brewery have produced a one-off special for the festival which is a bramble saison. I was lucky enough to try it at the North Hop Glasgow meet the producers event on Friday at Crossing the Rubicon. The brambles used in the beer are picked locally in St Andrews, this is a big bonus for me as I really like when producers try to use as much local ingredients as possible. Flavour wise, it was a really interesting beer. I often worry fruit beers will be too sweet and sickly but the Bramble Saison wasn’t like that at all. It reminded me of grapefruit juice, quite bitter and slightly sour but incredibly moreish and refreshing. Definitely check it out as it’s very unusual and something really different compared to your usual beer styles.

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Out of Town Brewery will be live brewing at the event, so not only will you be able to see how beer is made, but the festival will be filled with the incredible hoppy, malty smells produced from the brews.

Eyeball Brewing from Cockenzie will be using North Hop as a launch venue for their newest beer, Eyeball Orange which is a 6.5% dark orange lager which offers a different perspective on the coffee and chocolate flavours of the dark malts. I’ve never tasted any of their beers before so I’m quite excited to check them out.

Beehive Brae, Brewgooder and Tempest will also be there with a variety of beers available.

Thistly Cross Cider will be bringing their Farmhouse Cider which is exclusive to North Hop Festivals. I’m not the biggest fan of cider but I really, really like this Farmhouse offering by Thistly. It’s so light and refreshing without being too sweet. You can definitely taste the apples (which are all donated by local apple tree owners) which is quite unusual for most of the ciders I’ve tried.

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Persie Gin from Blairgowrie are the third producer to make a special edition product for North Hop. Their Dog Days gin is served with a sliver of orange peel and lime, and Fevertree Tonic. The 20cl bottles are really cute and will be available for sale on the day. This was a very small batch so a one time opportunity to get your hands on it.

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10 Dollar Shake, The Fizz Bar, Auchtentoshan, The Glasgow Distillery Co and Aelder will all be there serving up delicious prosecco, whisky and cocktails, so there’s something for everyone.

There will also be some pretty tasty food vendors present including Babu Bombay Street Kitchen

Reekie’s Smokehouse, Street Food Putter Club, Wild Fig and Loch Fyne Oysters. There are plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans amongst the producers.

Michelle Russell, North Hop Director said:

“I always describe North Hop as a blend of cocktail lounge meets beer hall with a unique atmosphere. North Hop is rustic yet refined, and has the feel of an outdoor festival with indoor conveniences, and luxuries. We’re passionate about introducing new tastes to new audiences and Scotland has so much to offer in terms of its food and drink.

“It’s a great time of year to host this kind of event because everyone is getting into the summer vibe. Tickets are selling fast so I’d advise everyone thinking about attending to buy now.”

There are three sessions running over the course of the weekend:

Friday 16 June 2017 – Evening Session – 7pm till 12am

Saturday 25 February 2017 – Afternoon Session – 12pm till 5pm

Saturday 25 February 2017 – Evening Session – 7pm till 12am

Tickets cost £17.50 per session and includes a festival glass, programme and a Festival Brew or Cider token for the St Andrews Bramble Saison or the Thistly Cross Farmhouse Cider.

WEBSITE northhop.co.uk

FACEBOOK facebook.com/northhop

TWITTER @northhop

INSTAGRAM instagram.com/northhop 

HASHTAG #northhopgla

Gift Guide for a Beer Lover

Father’s Day is in sight (Sunday 18th June to be precise) which prompted me to write this post. However, instead of making it Father’s Day specific, I decided to make it a general gift guide for a beer lover seeing as I’ll probably never be a father but would still love you like one of my own if you ever got me any of these things.

Beer pub map

In my opinion, there are few cities with a finer selection of pubs than Edinburgh so I absolutely love this Pubstops map of Auld Reekie. This edition is in conjunction with Stewart Brewing and covers the city right out as far as Newhaven, Currie, Musselburgh and Muirhouse. You can get it from Stewart Brewing brewery shop, Stewart’s Dockside Tap shop and Edinburgh Framing Company (77 Newington Road, EH9 1QW). Also available online here.

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Beer Glasses

Good beer needs a good glass. When you’re served a plate of food, your first impression is how it is presented and that can really alter your perceptions of the taste. The same goes for beer. Choosing the correct glass for each style of beer can add a bit of theatrics, as well as enhancing the taste of the beer inside. Beers of Europe and Beer Hawk both have a great selection of glasses of all shapes and sizes.

glasses

Flavourly craft beer gift box

As well as a monthly subscription, Flavourly also do one off gift boxes or a 3-month subscription which are a great surprise treat for beer lovers. You get a mixed case of 10 beers from the world’s best breweries plus the Flavourly magazine. The lovely guys at Flavourly have given Diary of a Beer Girl readers an exclusive 5% off the beer gift boxes using the code BEERGIRL5 in the run up to Father’s Day!

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Look the Part

Most breweries do some clothing merch like t-shirts, hoodies or caps so it’s worthwhile having a look on their website or emailing them to see what’s available. There’s also quite a lot of cool beer related t-shirts on Red Bubble, mostly hop-focused. I love this one:

hop tshirt

Brew your own beer experience

Both Drygate and Stewart brewing offer brew day experiences. These are slightly more expensive gifts (around £200) but perfect if you want to splash out or a group of you are clubbing together to buy someone a gift. It would also be a great idea for wedding favours – something personal and quite different! The idea is that an expert will help guide you through the brewing process with your input on how you want the beer to taste then after a few weeks once it’s conditioned and fermented, you can pick up bottles of the beer you brewed. You can also design your own labels or both sites will have people to help. I’ve seen the labels produced at Stewart Brewing’s Craft Beer Kitchen and there are some amazing designs.

Stewart Brewing Craft Beer Kitchen, Bilston Glen Industrial Estate, 26a Dryden Rd, Loanhead, Edinburgh EH20 9LZ

Drygate Brew your own Beer, 85 Drygate, Glasgow, G4 0UT

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Tickets to a beer festival

With the sun beginning to shine, beer festival season descends upon us. You could attend one every weekend of summer if you were dedicated enough and there’s bound to be one in close proximity to wherever you live in the UK. They’re always a great day out, trying lots of different beer and being surrounded by fellow beer lovers. Tickets vary quite a lot in price depending on the festival but usually aren’t too expensive so it’s a great idea for a present…plus they’ll need someone to go with so it’s a win/win gift idea really!

 

The Club Room at the Dome – New Steak Restaurant in Edinburgh

On Thursday 12th May I was invited to the launch night of the steak night at the Club Room of the Dome Restaurant in Edinburgh. The Dome is a bit of an Edinburgh institution, famous for its opulent Christmas lights and incredible décor. The menu is very simple – an option of three starters, Scotch Entrecôte steak with salad and unlimited fries for main followed by a choice of three desserts:

club room menu

When we first arrived, we were treated to a fizz reception in the Front Bar which was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t get a picture of the amazing chandeliers, but trust me, this bar certainly set the tone for what was to come:

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We were then taken through to the Club Room restaurant where our orders were taken:

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I really liked the table set up – there were booths for larger groups in the centre, with smaller tables round the outside of the room. It meant each table felt quite secluded and cosy but without being completely cut off from the atmosphere from the room. It also meant it would be the perfect place for a romantic dinner but equally suited to larger groups.

Service was very slick and the small menu meant choosing wasn’t too arduous a process. I like my steak rare, and it was cooked to perfection! Succulent, soft and absolutely delicious. The salad and chips made a great accompaniment, but really the steak spoke for itself. I chose the whisky rolled in oatmeal for starter and was actually genuinely surprised at how delicious it was. This is quite a common starter in Scottish restaurants but the Club Room version was by far the best I’ve ever had. The haggis was incredibly soft and flavourful and the whisky sauce was perfect. I was really, really impressed.

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DISCLAIMER: While the lighting made for a lovely atmosphere, it didn’t lend itself well to taking nice photos of food!

Although there are already quite a few steak restaurants in Edinburgh, I think the Club Room is a fab new addition and can hold it’s head very high against the competition. The décor and ambience can’t be beaten and it’s an all round experience to eat such delicious food in such a beautiful setting. It’s perfect for any celebratory occasion; graduation, birthday or anniversary and would also make a great place to entertain and impress clients. You can book via their telephone number or just click on the link below.

The Club Room, The Dome, 14 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2PF

Book Here

Tel: 0131 624 8624

 

Grunting Growler

DISCLAIMER:

Right, let’s not beat around the bush here. I love an innuendo as much as the next person, so I’m not going to write this article and ignore the flower in the room. Yep, a growler also means something very different in Scotland. In writing this, I’ve tried to minimise the innuendos as much as possible but there’s only so much you can do…

So, some of you might be reading this thinking what even is a ‘Growler’ in the beer context??? According to the Oxford English Dictionary website the word ‘Growler’ can mean four possible things:

  1. A person or thing that growls.
  2. A small iceberg.
  3. Historical: A four-wheeled hansom cab.
  4. US informal: A pail or other container used for carrying drink, especially draught beer.

Unsurprisingly, a Growler in beer terms refers to no. 4. However, Grunting Growler don’t use pails to serve their beers in, they have specially designed airtight glass containers all nicely branded up and they look pretty great. You can get either 1L or 2L depending how thirsty you are.

I first met Jehad Hatu, the man behind GG a couple of years ago when he was a pop up in Peckham’s (and I think some other places), so it’s amazing to see that he’ll soon be celebrating his first birthday at the current location on Old Dumbarton Road, Glasgow. Jehad is incredibly passionate about beer and his enthusiasm shines through as soon as you walk in the door. He’s always happy to talk about the beers he has in, recommending things based on your preferences.

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The Main man in action.

In his shop on Old Dumbarton Road he has 4 taps on the go serving a variety of rotating beers to take away as well as a packed beer fridge that’s ever changing.

Here’s an example of the goodies I picked up last time I was there:

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From L-R: North Brewing Co – Transmission, Schofferhoffer – Grapefruit, Out of Town Brewing – IPA, Fallen – Chew Chew. Wild Beer Co. – Smoke n Barrels, Tiny Rebel – Clwb Tropicana, Beerbliotek – Hip Hops, Wild Beer Co – Breakfast of Champignons

Particular shout out goes to the IPA by Out of Town Brewery (third on the left), a new brewery based up in Cumbernauld. Jehad recommended them to me so I picked up their IPA to test the hoppy, malty, yeasty waters. I’ve been drinking a lot of super juicy West Coast style IPAs recently so this was a lovely change. It was quite cloudy but don’t let that put you off as it’s unfiltered so still has all the natural goodness left in. It has a much, deeper flavour than your West Coast style, with lots of piney, almost woody tones. I really enjoyed the complex flavours and thought it was a lovely, well balanced beer especially for being so new to the game. The brewery was founded by James Morton (of Great British Bake Off fame), Owen Sheerins and Richard O’Brien. I think we’ll see some big things coming from them over the next year.

So I mentioned earlier that Grunting Growler will be celebrating its first birthday at Old Dumbarton Road soon…well it happens to be this Saturday…April 1st! Out of Town have actually brewed a Blood Orange Fruit Smoothie IPA (so called as it’s been brewed with blood oranges and the smoothie part comes from the added lactose to give it a smooth mouthfeel) for this ceremonial occasion so the guys will be there from 4-10 for a meet the brewer. Get on down to try it and find about more about them, as well as some general fun beer chat.

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The idea behind using Growlers is that it means you can take home beer from a keg to drink later. Beer from a keg is much fresher than bottled beer as a keg keeps the beer better by being fully airtight and not letting in any light. A pint of beer always tastes better than a bottle, right?  So by filling the Growler, you can take home beers and they’ll taste as close as possible to a freshly poured pint. Once in the Growler, it’ll last for around 6 weeks but to get that super fresh taste, it’s best to drink it ASAP. Once opened, it’ll last for around 3 days…but…I think you can guess what I’m going to say… to get that super fresh taste, it’s best to drink it ASAP. Fresher is better. Plus the beers are too good to leave lying around for ages.

Jehad is extremely passionate about trying before buying as he wants you to enjoy the beer you take home, not just flog you a growler and be done with it. He’s been working hard recently on renovating the space himself and has made a table with seats made from used keykegs (big recycling props). He’s hoping to be able to open it up to the public for tastings as well as using it as a general bar space. I think that’ll be a fantastic addition and a great place to pop in for a wee drink whilst you stock up on beers to take home.

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Big up the Growler!

♥Grunting Growler is located at 51 Old Dumbarton Rd, Glasgow, G3 8RF♥

Opening Hours:

Fri-Sat: 10-10,

Tue-Thur,

Sun: 12-8

Closed on Mondays

Cowcadden’s Hidden Gem

I was recently invited to a beer and food pairing at the newly refurbished Cask bar inside the DoubleTree by Hilton. There was a brewery tour at Drygate beforehand but unfortunately I wasn’t able to make this part due to work. I wasn’t even aware there was a bar open to the public inside the Doubletree but it was a very pleasant surprise. It’s located on 36 Cambridge St near Cowcaddens…

Cask Map

…an area which I’ve found to be quite lean on bars and have often not really known where to go for a quick drink before going to any of the theatres, or the cinema near there *. It’s safe to say that Cask will definitely be my new go-to. The bar is just to the left when you go in the main hotel doors and manages to perfectly mix class with comfort, giving the bar a laid back feel whilst serving premium quality food and drinks.

Cask Bar

We were treated to a three course meal paired with Drygate beers for the starter and main and a Harviestoun beer to go alongside the cheeseboard. Chris from Drygate was there to talk us through Drygate’s ethos and their beers. He was very engaging and was excellent at giving more depth for the beer geeks and going right back to basics for the beer newbies. We were given Gladeye IPA to go alongside a fish medley starter which included prawns and spice crusted salmon. If you’re looking for a blow your socks off hop-filled IPA, Gladeye maybe isn’t for you, but I really like this traditional style IPA. Whilst I love hoppy beers, I often find they’re a bit of a one-trick pony and the malt balance can often be lost. Gladeye remembers that malt is a prominent feature of beer too and a well-balanced malt bill is used to give a sweet, bready backbone to the fragrant Centennial, Nelson Sauvin and Cascade hops. The malty sweetness of the beer went really nicely with the fish, whereas an overly hoppy beer would have overpowered the delicate flavours instead of enhancing them so it worked very well for me.

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Next we had the star dish from cask – their Brisket and ribs made with locally sourced Buccleuch beef from the esteemed Buccleuch Estate in the Borders. This was paired with the beer Cask, brewed exclusively for the bar by Drygate. Slightly confusingly named, the beer isn’t a cask beer, but kegged. Whilst described as an IPA, it looked and drank more like a hoppy wheat beer. I must say wheat beers are probably my least favourite beer style, but the addition of a lot of hops meant it lifted the traditional banana/bubblegum flavours present and added a lovely, light zestyness which was a big hit around the table. However, these hops provided some bitterness which meant the beer was a perfect match for the ribs. The fattiness cut straight through any bitterness leaving a beautifully light, citrusy beer to lift the sweet BBQ meat flavours. Delicious!

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I don’t think my eyes could light up any more when a packed cheeseboard and bottle of Harviestoun Ola Dubh was brought to the table. In my opinion, a rich, imperial stout goes far, far better with cheese than any wine or port. Ola Dubh really is a beautifully indulgent beer – sweet, thick and raisiny. A big chunk of stilton and a swig of Ola Dubh are a match made in heaven.

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Lorna, bar manager and Iain, who has a passion for beer and drinks, tried to spend as much time as possible with us throughout the evening and their passion for the newly refurbished bar was very clear. Iain creates all the cocktails on the menu himself (bar the staples) and offered to make us a beer cocktail he’d created using an Innis & Gunn syrup. I’ve never really been won over by the beer cocktail trend until Iain brought out his creation. I was extremely impressed. Head chef Billy Campbell who has won numerous awards came out with each course to talk us through what we were about to eat. He is very passionate about local, sustainable food and has visited as many suppliers as possible to make sure they meet his high standards in terms of quality and ethical production. This was a big plus from me as I think it’s so important to try and source food ethically.

Cask was a hidden gem and I’m so grateful to have heard about it and now able to pass on my praises. If you are ever looking for top quality local food and drink with a laid back feel and friendly, knowledgeable staff, this is perfect. Cowcaddens and Glasgow has acquired a new gem and I urge you to check it out for yourself!

*please let me know of any other good bars/restaurants in the area!

 

 

 

Brewgooder Clean Water Lager

Brewgooder was founded by Alan Mahon and Josh Littlejohn who wanted to help problems while drinking beer instead of just talking about them. They came up with the idea of selling beer and pouring all the profits into helping clean water projects around the world. It’s estimated around 650 million people (according to the Brewgooder website) don’t have access to clean water, one of the most basic human needs. As well as directly causing agonising illness and death, a lack of clean drinking water also prevents countries from developing as sourcing water becomes one of the main focuses in daily life rather than things like education. Brewgooder’s aim is to provide clean drinking water and sanitation for 1 million people over the next five years by donating its profits to charities like WaterAid, Oxfam and Mercy Corps. In order to meet these goals, Alan and Josh needed big volumes of beer to sell…and fast! Unlike most other Scottish craft brewers, Brewgooder didn’t start out in a homebrew kit in someone’s kitchen, but at the Kings of Scottish craft beer, the Brewdog palace. Brewdog make all of Brewgooders beer at a cost price so the maximum amount of money can be donated into this fantastic cause.

The pair aren’t new to creating charitable businesses, with Josh having founded Social Bite, the sandwich shop chain which employs homeless people throughout Scotland. You must have been hiding under a rock if you didn’t hear or see images of George Clooney in Scotland last year. This was to promote Social Bite’s goal to provide homeless people a meal on Christmas day (which they did –  a staggering 73,000 meals!) as well as warm clothing and tents for thousands of refugees in Greece and Calais. After the roaring success of Social Bite, the pair decided they wanted to help many more lives and so created a fundraising campaign to create Brewgooder in 2016. Clean Water Lager was launched in March last year and I’m sure Brewdog are kicking themselves that they hadn’t kept the recipe for themselves!

Clean Water Lager has a very light, vaguely floral smell so I was slightly worried it would be another thirst-quenching but bland lager. However, I was very pleasantly surprised when I took my first mouthful. The first thing that hit me was the coconut. Clean Water Lager is brewed with traditional Saaz lager hops as well as Sorachi Ace, which is famous for its interesting lemony/coconut taste. It works really, really well and gives an extra refreshing kick. The lager is slightly bitter with floral notes pairing very well with the coconut to give a perfect summer’s day lager. I can very much imagine myself bringing a few cans of this along to a Sunday afternoon BBQ. It pours nicely with medium head retention and is a lovely golden colour. I’m not a fan of overly fizzy lagers so this for me is perfect; a slight tongue tingle but not enough to leave you feeling gassy. Clean Water Lager is great beer with a great cause, quenching both your thirst and the thirst of thousands of others who will be helped by it.

Clean Water Lager is available in 330ml cans across Brewdog bars and Asda stores UK wide, as well as a selection of independent bars and retailers.