Saturday, 30 June 2012

Tasting Notes: Celt Experience Native Storm (4.4% abv)

The soubriquet Native Storm is a reference to the Welsh uprising led by Owain Glyn Dwr that began on 16th September, 1400 against English rule, and lasted for in excess of 15 years. Which for a brief spell produced a united independent Wales, with its own Prince and Parliament. Though eventually suppressed by the English reverberations of this revolt are still echoed in Wales today.

With the History homework done, we can now get on to the more important business of the beer. Native Storm is brewed in Caephilly by Celt Experience Brewery which was founded in 2007 as a sister brewery to the then Somerset based Newmans Brewery, which has subsequently closed with all Newmans beers now being produced at Celt Experrience.

 This robust bitter pours an amber-copper colour, reminiscent of manuka honey, with a thin off-white head. The aroma is very fresh with hints of biscuit and floral hops. Native Storm has a smooth mouthfeel with a slight dry finish, the taste mild, but very satisfying, with flavours of caramel, nutty hints and decent hop bitterness. These elements make this a very well rounded beer that is easy drinking  and is suitable not only a quick lunchtime pint, but at 4.4%, also makes a good session ale to enjoy over a conversation with friends.

This beer would be an excellent accompaniment to red meats, pates or cheese.


Monday, 21 May 2012

Tasting Notes: Offbeat Out of Step IPA (5.8%)

"My sister, your grain - its beer is tasty, my comfort.."
- Song of Songs; Sumeria, 2100 B.C.

"She brews good ale, and thereof comes the proverb, Blessing of your heart, you brew good ale."
- Shakespeare

Historically beer was originally brewed by female brewers, known as brewsters, this tradition would appear to date back around 10,000 years to the Amazon rain forest. Of late there has been something of a revival to this tradition, and there are an increasing number of brewsters working in breweries worldwide.

One of the most talented women working in this capacity is Michelle Kelsall, who has been Brewster at Offbeat Brewery in Crewe since it opened for business in 2010.

In Out of Step IPA Michelle has successfully captured the big hoppy essence of an American style IPA, this beer is truly reminiscent of Bear Republic Racer 5, or even Goose Island IPA.

Dark amber in colour with a thinnish white head, this ale has a caramel and citric aroma with tastes to match, initial flavours of grapefruit, orange , and kiwi give way to biscuity caramel and pine cone characteristics. This beer manages to be full bodied yet refreshing.

This beer would be complimented  by meat or fish, and would go equally well with heavily spiced dishes.


Saturday, 14 April 2012

Tasting Notes: Plain Ales Innspiration (4% abv)

I, for one, have a lot of time for Warminster’s Plain Ales Brewery. Since opening in 2008 they have made great strides, and are clearly moving in the right direction.

Innspiration is a very enjoyable session bitter, which pours a rich copper colour with a small beige head, and has an herbal bouquet.

This well balanced ale has an initial depth of flavours, including caramel, from a mixture of malts, with a delicate bitterness, giving way to flavours of blackcurrant, wild berries and other soft fruits.

This beer would be an ideal accompaniment to roast red meats, cheese or even cold meats such as ham.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Hurry! Hurry! Don't Miss Out!

Tasting Notes: Windsor & Eton Windsor Knot (4% abv)

For a brewery that has only been in existence for a little over 2 years, Windsor & Eton are certainly moving in the right direction and are an example to follow for anyone hoping to run a successful brewery.

This Golden Ale was originally brewed as a special for last year’s Royal Wedding, but has proved so successful that it is now part of their permanent range of core beers.  Clear gold in colour with a small off white lasting head;. This has an aroma reminiscent of freshly cut grass with subtle hints of fruit. On taste there is an immediate, yet subtle, grapefruit flavour (initially this led me to think that Chinook hops had been utilised in this beer, but, I must admit that on this occasion I was incorrect.), giving way to tastes of apple, pine and more than a hint grapey Sauvignon Blanc characteristic of Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand, also used were the seldom seen Sovereign hop.

On the whole, this is a very refreshing beer, and at only 4% you can easily, and quite happily have another one or two. Well, in fact, I must admit that I did.

Highly recommended!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Hoppy Beers Are Here Again!: Tasting Notes – Windsor & Eton Knight Of The Garter (3.8% abv) and Dark Star Revelation (5.7% abv)

Spring at last! Time for the Golden and Pale Ales to make a resurgence, and we have not just one, but, two absolute crackers for your enjoyment.

Windsor & Eton Knight Of The Garter (3.8% abv)

This straw coloured Golden Ale has a distinctive fresh orangey aroma characteristic of American Amarillo hops. The taste is instantly hoppy, exploding into a fresh crisp bitterness leaving only small traces of sweet caramel from the Maris Otter malt behind. As the beer lingers on the palate the citric flavours amplify greatly into a diverse array of sharp citrus bitterness.

It's quite rare (but very pleasing) to find a session beer that is so powerfully and beautifully hopped, the closest comparison would for my money be Dark Star Hophead, but with slightly orange tang as opposed to the elderflower notes of Cascade.

Dark Star Revelation (5.7% abv)

As for Revelation, Dark Star’s newest addition to their range of core beers, I must confess to being blown away.

This clear yellow-gold beer has a white foamy head and has a pleasing biscuit-like aroma with a hint of fruit, The taste is quite pleasant. Nicely hoppy, plenty of citrus fruit flavour. But this isn’t overpowering, not too bitter, which is quite remarkable considering that 4 varieties of hops (Centennial, Liberty, Cascade, and Citra) have been used by the sack full, this should be seen as a reflection of Mark Tranter’s incredible prowess as a master of the art of brewing. Multiple pints are certainly possible, but at 5.7% a little self restraint is recommended

This is an outstanding addition to Dark Star’s already impressive permanent range.

Both of these beers would easily be enjoyed with chicken, seafood or light cheeses.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Czech This Out! – Tasting Notes: Dark Star Black Coffee Pilsener (4.8% abv)

Czech This Out! – Tasting Notes: Dark Star Black Coffee Pilsener (4.8% abv)

This is an unusual beast in these parts; yes, it’s a Lager; yes, it’s on cask; and yes, it’s black; oh and a final yes, it’s very good indeed!

Inspired by a trip to the Czech Republic this beer plays heavily upon the intrinsic coffee flavour of the unfiltered Budweiser Budvar Tmavý Ležák (colloquially known as Budvar Dark, and much easier to pronounce) brewed by Budweiser Budvar Ceske Budejovice (the original Budweiser brewery in Prague).

Dark Star with their trademark zeal for authenticity have brewed this dark lager, with Czech malt, hops, presumably Saaz , from the Zatec region, and a traditional Czech yeast strain. The natural coffee flavour of the malt has been enhanced by the addition of coffee beans after fermentation to give an excellent replica of an imported beer that is seldom seen in the U.K.