Lokapolly – Galaxy Mosaic IPA

Loka Polly

Galaxy Mosaic IPA

6.5%

Loka Polly are the new kids on the block and I’ve been dying to try their beers! This is a really interestingly flavoured beer – big, bold hops held together with a very viscous mouthfeel coming from the wheat and oats. It reminds me of papaya; not overly tropical but creamy in texture. This creaminess really balances the bitterness and the whole beer is lifted with a little orange kick at the end. An added bonus is the look and texture of the label – this will definitely be getting used as a vase for some bright tulips!

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Beavertown – Heavy Water with Raspberries, Cacao & Vanilla

Beavertown

Heavy Water with Raspberries, cacao and vanilla

10.4%

There’s no denying Beavertown cans look amazing and their beers are pretty solid too but this time, they’ve absolutely blown it out the park. I’m always a bit dubious when a beer sounds too good to be true but this ticks all the boxes. An initial sour and fruity hit from the raspberries developing into sweet vanilla then rounded off with bitter, roasted notes and that kind of ashy flavour I love in an imperial. Brilliant.

Brooklyn Brewery – Black Chocolate Stout

Brooklyn Brewery

Black Chocolate Stout

10% ABV

My dad first introduced me to Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout years ago, and since then I’ve been hooked on imperials. It was my favourite beer for a long time and drinking it tonight is bringing back such fond memories. It’s a truly sensational beer packed with so many different flavours, all balanced beautifully. Bitter chocolate and coffee, dark berries, treacle, vanilla and almost a hint of smoke or spice.

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.

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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

 

1984

Hello. It’s been a while. A very long while. Long enough for WordPress to change their UI quite a bit leading to the inevitable initial confusion which will fade into ‘what did it even look like before?’ The past few months have been mad. Balancing a rather demanding full time job with writing is hard enough but the past month or so has been even more chaotic. At the moment I’m based in London but I’ve decided to make the move back up to Scotland in December. London is a fantastic city, I love it’s vibrancy and the amazing food and beer scene, but the howling winds and the heather hills of my homeland are calling me back. I imagine this is what having a racy affair while you’re married would be like. The excitement and newness wear off after a while and you begin to miss your old dependable spouse. You begin to get irritated by the things that you once found a novelty and really miss everything you took for granted.

Anyway, one thing I definitely miss about Scotland is whisky. There’s nothing better than having a wee dram before bed. Or a hot toddie to battle off a cold. On Thursday I was invited to the launch of Jura’s 1984 whisky. Orwell wrote the book 1984 whilst staying at a friend’s estate on the isle of Jura, next to Islay (obviously my favourite of the islands), just off the west coast of Scotland. He had travelled there from London to escape the fame he’d received from Animal Farm. He wanted to have some freedom and space to be creative and write the story of Winston Smith and the dystopian world of totalitarianism. He certainly would have had freedom and space since Jura is bloody remote. Nowadays there are only around 2,000 inhabitants…and, most importantly, a distillery!

The invitation to the 1984 launch was very cryptic, giving very little away so I had no idea what to expect. The event was held in some railway arches near Waterloo, on a street where graffiti is permittable so there was a strong smell of spray paint fumes. We had to queue up while a guard barked at us when we were allowed to go in, only 1 or 2 at a time. We were then given an identity card and had to press our fingerprint on to it. A very shouty lady told me I must keep it on me at all times. Considering I lose absolutely everything, I was quite scared at this point. We were then given some ‘government issued whisky’ which was really just water and another guard shouted the rules we were allowed to drink the whisky under. The actors were really good and you did begin to feel like you were in the world that poor Winston was part of. We were then led down some stairs into an amazingly laid out room. This was Jura. Or ‘Utopia’. There were old leather sofas, stag heads on the wall and a lady playing the piano. It was an amazing transformation to some warehouses that I think usually host raves that go on till most people are up again after a full night’s sleep.

Anyway, to the most important part. THE WHISKY. 1984 was casked in 1984 and bottled in October this year, making it a 30 year vintage. There are only 1,984 bottles available and each of them cost £750. Wow. It’s matured in American white oak, Amoroso and Apostoles Oloroso sherry butt casks and is quite sweet. I find describing whiskies quite difficult so forgive me for the less than adequate ramblings you’re about to endure. I tend to drink petey malts so this one was a bit different than what I usually go for. However, it kind of made me rethink my defaulting to the petey-est thing on the menu. It was light and not too overpowering, you don’t need to worry about your face puckering up! It was definitely sweet – maybe honey? And I could taste cherries quite strongly as well as some other fruits, peaches were the first thing that sprung to mind. As well as the 1984 we got to try all the other Jura whiskies, including some whisky mojitos! Prophecy was my favourite of the staple range. It’s rich and petey, smoky and spicy. All my favourite tastes!

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Heverlee

Tuesday has always felt like a bit of a black sheep amongst the days of the week. As a homage to Tuesdays, I’ve decided to do a slightly different kind of post today.

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Heverlee is a Belgian pilsner style lager which has taken Scotland and Ireland by storm. It’s the baby of Joris Brams, a Belgian man who’s been living in Scotland since 2000. I was lucky to have a chat with Joris to find out more about Heverlee and why it’s become so popular over here. Even more luckily, I’m going out to visit the brewery at the beginning of next month. I can’t wait!!

Heverlee is brewed at the Abbey of the Order of the Premontre which has gone through some massive developments in recent years. It’s had around €14 million in investment to restore it to its former glory, including a fully working mill. The abbey was founded in 1129 and its workers focussed on farming and fishing. They built the original brewery to cater for these workers and they brewed a really light, low alcohol beer to keep them hydrated. Belgium is famous for its dark, high alcohol beers but these are more associated with the Trappiste abbeys who had onsite breweries which were to make profit so they had time to roast the malts and make higher alcohol contents. However, it wasn’t the highest interests of abbeys like the Premontre to spend time and money roasting malts…and plying their workers with 8% beers! Unfortunately the brewery closed down in 1550…. until now that is…

 Joris grew up about 2 miles away from the Premontre Abbey and used to play in the surrounding fields as a child. When he moved to Scotland, he wasn’t a huge fan of British ales and was frustrated with the lack of Belgian lagers available.  This was the catalyst that fuelled him to bring his favourite drink –  Belgian lager – to Scotland. He returned to Belgium and began to research the original recipe brewed at the abbey way back when it was originally open. Whilst chatting to Joris it became very clear that authenticity was very important to him. He wanted to keep the recipe as close to the original as possible, he even has plans to restore the original brewery! The current recipe uses a mixture of malt and maize and the renowned Saaz hop. Joris also wants to keep the monks heavily involved. They actually run the brewery and receive royalties from Heverlee sales to further fund the abbey. He’s also very adamant that while Heverlee isn’t widely available in Belgium, and it’s biggest markets are oversees, it will always be brewed in Belgium so it 100% lives up to its title of a Belgian lager.

 Heverlee is widely available throughout Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland but Joris is hoping to branch further into England, as well as the USA and Brazil! Let’s hope that Heverlee does as well in Brazil as Belgium did earlier in the year (Sorry USA…)!