Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Real Micheal Jackson Passes Away

I was woken this morning by a phone call, it was the beer writer Geoff Griggs, He told me that Micheal Jackson had passed away and wanted some help posting the news to the blog.

This is very sad news, Micheal Jackson was a real pioneer in writing about beer in a popular yet intellegent form. He helped launch my interest in beer when I stumbled upon the 1988 edition of the New World Guide to Beer in a secondhand book store and took it home to devour with several glasses of my first homebrew all those years ago. Reading his book it quickly became clear that the so called "Bock" kit was anything but.
That winters afternoon by the fire with a beer and Mr Jasckson changed my life as much as my first sip of Emersons Porter on the Tairi Gorge Railway did.
Rest in Peace MJ, I hope its not Miller your being passed.

Here is Micheal's last column

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mustn't Grumble

I thought I would share a qoute from Joe Bennett a New Zealand writer who originally hails from Sussex. I appreciate his writing particulary the book Mustn't Grumble which is about returning to the UK and trying to hitchhike around following in the tire marks of H.V. Morton. From that book comes this little gem:

"The pub, at least, is incontrovertibly English - low, bottle-lined, the ceiling browned with smoke, the bar ringed with sticky stuff, and the barman aged and grizzled. In front of him stands a row of hand-pull beer taps like stretched pepper mills. I ask for a pint of bitter. The barman says nothing. He places a glass under one of the electric pumps.
'No, no,' I say, and tap the nearest peppermill.
'Aint got none on,' says the barman and carries on pouring. I meekly buy what he puts in front of me.
It's too cold to taste, and to sweet to be called beer. It's alcoholic lolly-water, Orwellian beer, fuel for loutishness, bad brown lager, a travesty of English beer. Its the sort of beer, in fact, the rest of the world drinks."
That sums it all up really.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Pint of Mild

One of the beer styles I’m particularly interested in is mild. Having started my journey towards beernerdom by discovering big bold Belgian styles and then hop laced American styles I soon came to appreciate the genius of the session beer. Its an incredibly difficult thing to craft a low gravity beer that packs plenty of flavour and has the depth to keep the drinker interested.
Mild is perhaps the most endangered style of session beer. Mild went through a period of being seen as an uncool drink for old men in flat caps. It has in recent times seen something of a renaissance largely on the back of the micro brew movement. Due to its low gravity Mild is also a pour traveller so apart from the one I brew myself I tend to experience the style through less than perfect examples.
On Sunday I tried one of the biggest selling ones, Banks Original, the advertising blurb even boasts "over one million pints are sold every week". Banks changed the name from Mild when it was felt that this was hurting the marketing of the beer, although they now have returned the descriptor mild to the can. Confusingly Ratebeer list Banks Original as being a Bitter, its not its definitely a mild.

Banks Original 3.5%

Pours a tawny amber with a white head. Aromas of creamy malt, toffee, nuts (brazil?) and an almost shampooed Upholstery note. On the pallet there is some sweetness, then some very nice dry caramel character, toffee and a hint of worthers originals, finally it drys out rather sharply with even alittle harshness. Good mild, although the finish is perhaps a little dry for the style.

Latter on Sunday as I sat at the football drinking Tui East India Pale Ale which is in fact an amber industrial lager and that description flatters it, I wished I had a Banks Original, it might not be the most characterful Mild but its a damn sight more palatable and enjoyable than Tui.


A parting gift

I came home tonight after the monthly Society Of Beer Advocates Wellington get together at the Malthouse ,where I had enjoyed some very nice beers and some lovly nibbles kindly provided by Colin Mallon the Manager, to find an amazing selection of beers laid out on my bed. My ex flatmate Dan had mentioned he had left something for me. I tend to turn those I live with onto the breadth and variety of beer and this I guess was his way of saying thanks, wow what a statement he made.

This is what I found there:

  • Youngs Special London Ale
  • Youngs St George
  • Youngs Old Nick (this one has been discontinued as they wont brew this in Bedford so it will go into my bottle collection unopened)
  • Wells and Youngs Chocolate Stout
  • Thomas Hardies Ale 2005
  • Brakspear Triple
  • Batemans XXXB
  • Timothy Taylors Landlord
  • Daleside Chocolate Stout
  • Westmalle Triple
  • Westmalle Dubbel
Some of my all time favorate beers are contained here (TT Landlord, Batemans XXXB, Tom Hardies) what a gift!


Monday, August 27, 2007

Hook Norton Double Stout

Hook Norton is one of the many UK breweries that get me excited. Not only does Hook Norton have a stunning Victorian tower brewery but it also brews some stunning beers. There is also a family connection, in the seventies while on their O.E. my Mother, Aunty and her then boyfriend (now husband) celebrated Christmas in an empty swimming pool in the Oxfordshire town of Hook Norton in the shadow (almost) of the brewery. Up until Sunday Old Hooky was the only Hook Norton beer I had tried

Hook Norton Double Stout 4.8%ABV

Pours a pitch black with a sustained beige head. Aroma displays a striking level of complex fruit, ripe plum, raisin, and spicy anis, also tangy spicy English hop character. On the pallet there is an initial malt sweetness which gives way to significant levels of ripe stone fruit flavour , towards the end comes a hint of roast malt and finally a hint of hop bitterness. Very individualistic fruity stout.

A day of First's football and beer

Yesterday saw the birth of something wonderful, Phoenix FC, Wellingtons first professional football team. Football plays 3rd or 4th best in this country with most attention going to the thuggish oval ball game invented by public school boys. Anyway the Phoenix have had an amazing start with much preseason success and managed to turn out an extremely exciting performance securing a 2 goal draw to Champions of the league the Melbourne Victory.

Before we headed to the match a freind and fellow beer enthusiast/homebrewer Brendan brought a box of beer round to have a tasting. Its important to prime yourself well before a visit to the stadium as the beer options are Tui or Amstel Light, or Heineken if you have a ticket to the ritzier lounge. Brendan pulled out an outstanding selection which featured many beers I had never had and had always wanted to. It also allowed me to make a few ticks.
The tasting list went like this

  • Banks Original Mild
  • Wentworth Oatmeal Stout
  • Daleside Chocolate Stout
  • Irish brewed Guinness
  • O'harra's Celtic Stout
  • Hook Norton Double Stout
  • Anchor Porter
  • Epic Porter (experimental unreleased)

I will post some tasting notes for a couple of the more interesting beers we tasted in the days to come.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Bar

Its not easy being an anglophilic english pub loving, real ale fanatic in the hills of Wellington New Zealand. There are two pubs up the road and they both sell the same continually fermented industrial swill, one with over priced food, the other with a TAB, neither place tempts me to hand over my hard earned cash. While bloggers like Stonch have the luxury of living a stones throw from the outstanding pubs like the Jerusalam Tavern I have had to build one in my living room. I had to you understand there really could not be any meaningfull life for me without a pub to visit.

So here are some pictures of my 'local'.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Jennings Cocker Hoop

Tonight I tried another of the beers I picked up from the last lot of imports. Cocker Hoop held special interest for me in that it features in Michael Jackson’s 500, the ticker in me comes out. Jennings is an interesting brewery in that it ranks in the very short list of family brewers who have been bought out and have survived, brewing their own brands. Wolverhampton and Dudley (now renamed Mastons PLC) who bought Jennings have recently bought the legendary micro pioneer Ringwood of Hampshire and all indications are that this brewery will also survive , cheers to that!

Anyway on with the beer.

Jennings Cocker Hoop 4.6%

Bottle, Pours a light gold with a lively white fluffy head. Aroma displays some citrisy hop and a hint of cornflower. On the pallet there is resiny hop, then a slightly stewed malt note, a burst of sweetness and then a long drying finish with an oxidative character, a little tired, probably was a fine beer when fresh.

The downside of living at the bottom of the earth is that many of the beers I desire have to come along way through the tropics to get here.

New ales hit the streets

Every now and then a new import of beer from the Northern Hemisphere comes in. When this happens my heart beat quickens, my eyes widen and my bank account groans. Recently I have picked up Saltaire XB from Saltaire in Yorkshire (a Victorian socially engineered community featured in Bill Bryson's fantastic DVD "Notes from a Small Island") and O'Hara's Celtic Stout from the Carlow Brewing Company, a real Irish stout.

Saltaire XB 4.3%abv

Spicy tangy english aroma, hints of dried fruit, and tangy vine fruit vie with nutty malt, certainly
none of the diacetyl hinted at in the description. On the pallet fruit continues, with some spicy anise notes, malt sweetness makes a brief supporting appearance but little in the way of malt flavour, fruit and hops really dominate.A big resounding bitterness is left at the end. A fantastic bitter that might be alittle more ballanced if served through a sparkler in the Yorkshire tradition.

O'Hara's Celtic Stout 4.3%abv

Good aroma of roasted grain , slight astringent note, and some hop resin. A hint of malt sweetness on the pallet before a big dry chocolate character, fading to lots of roast barley astringency and hop bitterness. Very good dry stout , leaves the most famous one for dust.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Welcome from the O-Street Brewery

I have spent alot of time reading and comenting on other peoples blogs, so now I have decided its time to get off my rear end and start writing one myself. I will post a mix of tasting notes, brewing and judging anecdotes, opinions and generally display my inability to spell. Hopefully it might be of interest to someone, cheers Kieran Haslett-Moore.