Stat counter

View My Stats

Monday, 8 November 2010

What women want

Oh good.  Coors is talking about launching another beer to “attract women”.  Details yet to be provided, but the last time they attempted this in 2009, it was pulled before it even hit the bar.  Hardly surprising since they had ultra filtered it to remove the colour (someone please show me the research that says the reason less women drink beer is because they don’t like the colour) and flavoured it with green tea and dragon fruit.  I rather suspect that anyone attracted to such a drink would probably rather drink fruity green tea given the choice.

Of course mass produced tasteless lagers are hard to sell to someone whose regular tipple may be a full bodied pinot noir.  So why not appeal to their senses instead of trying to deceive them.  Surely the point is not to con women into drinking beer by disguising it as something else, but to break the perception barrier and dispel the myths.  If it’s all about clever marketing, surely we can use the existing attributes of beers to appeal to women. 

The only details we have been given so far are that they are going to change the glassware offering to something more elegant and unusual, more of a goblet style.  This is encouraging, although we cannot rule out the launch of an alcopop dressed as a beer, (or is that a beer dressed as an alcopop?) at least it is a step in the right direction.  Firstly, women are likely to drink smaller quantities of beer at a.  Secondly it’s a more elegant solution, and more similar to the glassware they are used to holding.  And thirdly, it’s not a patronising gimmick -  goblet style glasses are also associated with quality craft beers, so it has connotations of good taste.  So the goblet has the potential to be both aesthetically pleasing and practical.  I only hope that Coors come up with the contents to match, and don’t try to pretend that it’s not really beer.

Friday, 5 November 2010

An Uneven Keel

You know what they say, you can take Fuggles out of Devon, but you can’t take the Devon out of Fuggles.  So, tipped off to a South West Beer and Cider Festival, and also discovering they sell my newly beloved Hardknott, off I trotted to the Rake in Borough market with the usual suspects.  Always good to have a bit of a debate, which some of our samples certainly sparked.  Our favourites are below, and worth a try if you see them, either in the Rake or the Westcountry.

Bath Ales “Festivity” is a pleasantly soft porter, with rich coffee notes through the aroma and palate.  Arbor Ales “Black Eyed IPA” was brilliant – looks like a porter (Black! – as the name suggests), tastes like an IPA.  Strident hop notes, full bodied flavour (as you’d expect from a beer of that colour) and clean finish.  I’ll definitely keep my eye open for that again.  Moor’s “Raw” was another lovely fresh bitter, smelling of wheatgrass.

Generally, I like my strong beers, because they pack so much flavour.  So the beer that surprised me the most was Keltek’s “Even Keel”.  Weighing in at only 3.4% I felt like I was in Thailand when I smelt and tasted this beer.  Lemongrass was clear and strong throughout, making this a highly quaffable beer, and at that strength it wouldn’t even get you into too much trouble.  The Beer Gremlin and Hop Hippo managed a side debate about whether it smelt like curry flannels or piss.  Although it was agreed that the latter might be attributable to the fact that we were stood next to the gents.  So I’m sticking with Lemongrass, although, as always, I’d be interested to know if you pick up anything unusual.

Far more contentious though was O’Hanlon’s “Special Reserve 2009”.  Available for the special price of £6 a half.  A cloudy, amber, barley wine style beer, punching an almighty 12.9%.  For the Beer Gremlin it was an absolute no no – it just smelt and tasted like archers and orange juice.  Hop Hippo though, was rather taken with it, declaring ‘Miso soup,’ after his first sniff, followed up by a definite ‘Umami kick’ upon tasting.  I’m not sure I got that, but I’m not an aficionado of Miso soup as Hippo.  For me it was all about the orange from start to finish, which partly puts me in Gremlin’s camp, although I was a fan like Hop Hippo.  Fruity, creamy and malty, to me it tasted of brandy and orange marmalade on toast, but mostly just ridiculously orangey.

I hope you find and enjoy some of the above as much as we did, or other eminent offerings from the Westcountry.  In case you’re wondering what happened to the Hardknott, they’d sold out.  But I have been assured it will be back soon… and so will I.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Granite Challenge

It's amazing how some beers can just knock your socks off.  As you can probably tell, I love an IPA, or a tripel, or anything with overriding hop notes.  But sometimes I struggle to find anything distinctive, anything that catches the imagination to write about.  Probably a sign that I should be more bold and try more stouts and session beers.  Which I am quite partial to, but it's like when someone offers you roast beef, or a burger (I will avoid the steak analogy - it's not that big a difference).  Obviously a burger is more than normally satisfying, however, roast beef has a special place in my heart and therefore always wins in a straight either or choice.  Which is generally what you're presented with when stood in front of the pump clips.

So anyway, back to the beer that knocked my socks off.  On an average evening, over an above average Thai curry, I suggested a mini tasting to The Beer Gremlin.  Ever game, we cracked open my collection of Hardknott bottles that I've been saving for just such an occasion.  We started off with the Infra Red - a rich and lustrous IPA, a subtle fruity, grassy nose on it, smelt like autumn, and it really got my tongue tingling (this was before the curry, in case you're wondering).  I was about to crack open the Aether Blaec (a divine sounding whisky stout aged in Caol Ila cask), but The Gremlin didn't fancy a stout, so I opened instead the beast that was Granite.

What a treat.  The nose gives away some of the melting pot of flavours that roll around this coffee coloured liquid.  The Gremlin's first impression was of blue cheese.  Never repeated after the first sniff, and I never picked it up, but not to be dissuaded of first impressions, I promised to note this down.  Perhaps appropriately, as we approach November the 5th, I was overwhelmed by petrol and smoke in my first nostril fest.  Later on I picked out the brandy background, so typical of a barley wine style.  Definitely moving from autumn to winter.

After this, the palate did not disappoint.  As well as the smoke and brandy we got liquorice, mince pies and something that we still couldn't put our fingers on after finishing the bottle.  So please help us out, take the Granite Challenge, get your hands on a bottle and let me know what you smell and taste in the Hardknott Granite - we'd love to know if you can pick out that elusive flavour.  Or smell the blue cheese!

And so, after quaffing most of a bottle of 10.4% beer, we decided we wouldn't do the The Aether Blaec the injustice of opening it.  But have pencilled in a future tasting of Aether Blaec vs Caol Ila...  I can't wait.