WELL HELLO THERE.
I have had a verrrry busy week. I was in Glasgow on Thursday for the launch of Menabrea, an Italian beer, then attended the Brewdog Writer’s event on Friday and then down to Edinburgh for the last weekend of the festival. Throw in some illness and a 9 hour train journey with no seat and you have a pretty exhausting weekend indeed. I’m writing this from my bed as I still feel very ill. I didn’t get to see very many shows during the festival either because I wasn’t feeling well. Terrible timing. Anyway I’ll stop feeling sorry for myself. I’ve written about my time at Menabrea and Brewdog on my Herald blog so please be sure to check that out – http://www.heraldscotland.com/author/diary-beer-girl although I think this might get published before they do so be patient dear child. I might actually do another Brewdog one on here too as there’s just so much to write about.
Brew By Numbers. A very interesting concept which has torn family and friendships in two. Do you think it’s confusing and unnecessary or a clever and interesting way to label beers? I’m in the second camp. Let me explain what it’s about if you don’t already know. Skip a few sentences down if you do. Brew By Numbers give each style of their beers a number, so for example, Saisons are 01, Golden Ales are 02 and Porters are 03 etc etc. Each beer they brew in this style is then given another number which they call the recipe, so you get something like 03|02, with 02 being the Liberty. In the porters section, there is also the recipes 01 – Original and 03 – Traditional. Anyway, I think this is a fantastic concept for encouraging repeat purchases. We all like trying beers by different breweries, but if you’ve tried an 03|02, then you’re naturally going to want to try the 03|01 and 03|03 to compare all three. Clever, isn’t it?
Clever is all and well but it’s verging on annoying if you can’t prove your worth (also if you try a numbered beer and it’s a bit shit, you’re probably not going to rush out and buy the others since they’re likely to be a bit shit too). Well, don’t worry, Brew by Numbers can get away with it. They’re like Stephen Fry. They have the potential to be very irritating know it alls with their fancy paper labels and new way of naming their beers, but they’re really bloody good, so they earn it. And, that makes you like it.
Liberty isn’t too strong for a Porter, coming in at 5.7% ABV but it packs a punch. Mixing the, rich chocolate and coffee notes with a bitter and floral hoppiness is a fantastic combination. They use Liberty hops (who’d have guessed it?!) to mirror an American style hoppy porter. I was quite surprised by the lightness of the beer despite the flavour which I really liked. I’ll be going back to try the 03|01 and 03|03. Clever, isn’t?!
Our landlord has decided to sell the flat we’re currently renting which has its ups and downs. Downs being we have to keep it really tidy at all times, but the ups include the garden being completely revamped, which has been excellent! I love being outside and the weather has been so sunny and warm, perfect for sipping a beer in the garden after work. Caesar Augustus by Williams Bros is a fantastic summer garden beer. They call it a ‘lager/IPA hybrid’ because it’s brewed at cold temperatures like a lager and uses lager yeast, but lots of IPA style hops are added to give it a much deeper flavour than a classic lager.
It was really crisp and refreshing with a hoppy, bitter finish. The ABV is 4.1% and it comes in a 500ml bottle. If you’re looking for something light and thirst-quenching while still remaining full of flavour, then this is a great beer to try.
Hitachino Nest are a Japanese brewery who use Japanese brewing techniques but with a Eurpean twist which is a very interesting concept! Japan is more famous for it’s whisky than beer but the Hitachino Nest brewery has proven to be quite popular. I tried the Classic Japanese Ale which is a bottle conditioned ale using English hops. It’s quite strong at 7% ABV but the bottles are quite small at 330ml.
It had quite a creamy head and was ambery/coppery in colour. It’s aged in cedar casks which is a traditional Japanese technique when brewing sake. You can taste the woodiness from the cedar and it’s quite sweet and caramelly (I don’t think that’s a word, neither is ‘ambery’ or ‘coppery’ but let’s go with it). This was quite an interesting beer so I’d definitely recommend checking out some of the Hitachino Nest beers. I really want to get my hands on their Red Rice ale so I’ll be doing a review on that as soon as I do!
When I’m choosing beer, I don’t usually pick up whichever one has the nicest label BUT on this occasion, I went against my own rule. How could I refuse anything that has ‘Gin’ written across it in huge letters?! I don’t think it would be physically possible for me to say no to a gin and tonic. It certainly hasn’t happened yet. Anyway, once my brain had started thinking properly, rather than just saying ‘gin gin gin’, I began to wonder how that would work? I’m a big fan of beer brewed in rum and whisky casks, but I just couldn’t imagine how a gin-flavoured beer would work.
You’ll be relieved to know it isn’t actually gin flavoured. It is made using the gin botanicals from the City of London Distillery. This gives it a very floral taste along with fruity and citrussy notes. The aftertaste is quite odd and peppery, it took me a few sips before I properly began to like it so I recommend giving this one a proper shot rather than having a sip. It’s a very light ale and has an ABV of 4.1%.
Gin is brewed by Peter Haydon who has his own project at the Florence brewery called ‘Head in a Hat’. Gin is the only beer from Head in a Hat that I’ve tried but I’m really keen to taste more, especially Camembeer, which I will definitely pair with a fully stocked cheeseboard as intended. Mmmmm.
Another Scottish beer today. This time it’s from The Loch Ness Brewing Co. who are a small brewing company attached to a hotel. The hotel and brewery are owned by two brothers and they have brewed a selection of different ales which generally include ‘Ness’ in their name.
The Light Ness is a summery golden ale which has quite a low ABV (3.9%). It’s very light and refreshing with a citrussy grapefruit aftertatse. It’s quite a hoppy pale ale which I really like but it could be a bit bitter if you prefer sweeter ales. This beer just reminds me of summer and the sun so is perfect for the current weather!
One of my favourite breakfast places in London is Bill’s. After the first time I went, all I ate was breakfast food for about a week after. Recently, I went at lunch time and it was just as good. I had a chorizo burger and almost went into a hooded falcon state I was so happy whilst eating it. I was slightly disappointed with the beer selection however. There were a meagre 5 (one of which was Heineken) compared to an extensive wine list. I decided to go for the Schiehallion which I’ve had my eye on for a while but never quite got round to trying. It’s brewed by the Harviestoun brewery (they have a really nicely designed website, I highly recommend checking it out), who are most famous for Bitter and Twisted.
Schiehallion is a light, refreshing lager and is named after one of the most easy Munros to climb. The name is very fitting as the lager itself is very drinkable. At 4.8% and available in 330ml bottles, you don’t need to feel too guilty about returning to the office after a couple at lunch time. It pours a light, golden colour and didn’t have too much of a head. It was quite citrussy and a lot hoppier than some lagers, so if you’re looking for something inoffensive and light, then this is the guy for you.
Friday’s are undoubtedly the best day of the week. However, the thing I look forward to most on Fridays is our weekly pub lunch. This week we went to the Lowlander pub on Drury lane which has a great selection of Belgian ales. I was in heaven!
Since I still had an afternoon of work left, I limited myself to one beer which made choosing almost impossible. In the end I decided to go for the Orval since I’ve heard so much about it.
It really didn’t disappoint. The Orval Brewery is trappist brewery in the Abbaye Notre-Dame Orval. The beer itself is 6.2% ABV and the first thing you notice is that it has a really distinctive aroma. It’s quite earthy and yeasty while managing to smell fresh at the same time. It has a very thick, foamy head and tastes malty and sour with hints of banana. It really is lovely, a bit more dry than other trappist ales but I’d definitely recommend trying this.