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Thursday, 30 September 2010

Champagne cider to Hardcore IPA

What has Fuggles' nose been in recently?  Well, a little bit of everything really (but not too much of anything, of course).  I didn't get round to trying many new brews in Cornwall in the end, but a bottle of "Clouded Yellow" (a wheat beer brewed with coriander) made particularly pleasant drinking on Saturday afternoon.  Although it could just be lazing in a patch of sun away from the tourists in picturesque St Ives that made it taste so good.  Still, a smooth and quirky offering from St Austell.

On that same Saturday I was sampling the local fish in a restaurant and looking for something of suitable provenance to wash it down with.  Nestled somewhat misleadingly in the "wine" list, was a selection of apple or pear based drinks from the Polgoon Vineyard (Penzance).  According to the waitrose, after an abundant apple crop one year they started to experiment with Champagne style cider.  She extolled its popularity, being purchased in volumes by River Cottage, no less.  Needing no further encouragement we opted for the "Raspberry Aval" and it didn't disappoint.  As crisp and dry as you would want from the Champagne process, with a really fruity nose from the raspberry, which translates to a subtle hint on the palate.  I plan to visit the vineyard and conduct some extensive research on their offerings next time I'm in the area.  I definitely recommend you try it if it sounds like your cup of tea.  After all, if it's good enough for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall...

To console myself on returning to big the smoke, I popped into Cask this week.  My first tip - "Mushashi" (if I remember the name correctly) by Oakham Ales has a rather scary pump clip, but a complex grassy taste that flirts with your palate, and is well worth a date.  And finally I succumbed to the beer that has been quietly calling me.  A collaboration by Brew Dog and Mikeller, the double IPA "I hardcore you".  Hardcore referring to the ABV, which at 9.5% means anything more than half a pint is not for the faint hearted.  Even though I only had a half, the hops were still tingling on my tongue two hours later (not an unpleasant sensation).  If you like strong bodied and hoppy, this is certainly a treat.  The aromatic nose with distinct hints of lemon and coriander gave nothing away about the palate, except the warmth that such a level of alcohol usually bestows.  It was lighter and fresher than many beers of such strength, with really fruity tones of grapefruit and cherry.  I hope they have a decent stock, as I'll be back to savour it again.  Soon.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

What's new?

What's new?  Well, everything at the moment.  Take first of all, my inaugural experiment with blogging.  A foray possibly never to be repeated, based on a combination of technical incompetence or indecision over a suitable future topic (I am, unfortunately, quite an indecisive person).

What else is new?  Well, the news this morning that preliminary research indicates that very high levels of vitamin B could protect against Alzheimer's, one of the most under-researched and devastating diseases of old age.  And where do we find vitamin B?  In cask ale, for one thing.  However, given that your average pint of beer provides only around 1/12 of your RDA of vitamin B6, and the research in question used doses up to 300 times your RDA, we could be looking at gulping through 3,600 pints a day in search of some protective effect.  I think we can safely say that studies would show that anyone who drank 3,600 pints a day would not die of Alzheimer's.  But perhaps we ought to leave that research to the scientists for now.

Finally, and the thing that makes me most happy (between the hours of 7 and 11pm, at least) I discovered a new brewery last night.  My new favourite pub - Cask Pub & Kitchen in Pimlico had another one of their brilliant "Meet the brewer" evenings (I'm still devastated that I missed Thornbridge).  Last night's treat was the brewers from Marble brewery.

And what a treat!  The whole spectrum of hoppy goodness was served up from the fantastically zesty session beers "W97" and the aptly named "Pint", through the grassy but not overly bitter "Lagonda IPA", to the full bodied, but still fresh and clean (and deeply dangerous at 5.7%) "57".  "Ginger" is also worth a mention (sorry Dominic) as definitely the most intense and interesting ginger beer I have tasted, but not a session beer if you want to preserve your palate - might be interesting to try with curry though?  Let me know if you have.

Sadly, I didn't make it through the whole range before they ran out, but at least two more Thornbridge beers appeared on the pump in their place, an apt consolation.  I'll be keeping my eye open for future Marble beers at Cask and elsewhere in the future.

Off to 'sunny' Cornwall next week, so we'll see what tickles my tastebuds down there.  Perhaps some Skinners.