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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

I'm loving it

Faith was duly restored last night at Cask's final 'meet the brewer' of 2010 - Lovibonds.  All keg beers, but this didn't detract from some interesting examples of a variety of styles.

Starting with the "Sour Grapes" because I hadn't seen it before.  Apparently originally a batch of Henley Gold that went wrong, this lambic style beer, were it not for the faint sour cherry on the palate (and admittedly not quite as appley) could have been a doppleganger for Aspalls Premier Cru.  'Cider?! ' I can almost hear you exclaiming from here.  No, really, I swear.  The Beer Gremlin put me onto it by comparing it to Appletise.  I suddenly realised where I recognised that spritzy, slightly sulphury smell from.  If you don't believe me, you have to check it out for yourself.  They could be twins separated at birth.  I preferred it to the "Henley Gold" itself, which reminded me slightly of rocket, or some other peppery leaf, but didn't pack the punch of Sour Grapes.

And there were more fruity offerings.  The "69 IPA", as well as the hop notes you'd expect from an IPA had the candied orange nose of a beer that strength, all brandy and marmalade all over the palate - almost barley wine like.  And the "Gold Reserve" was a fruit fiesta that truly had us scratching our heads.  Bearing a definite resemblance to some exotic fruit, we ran through a long list of tastes - strawberry, pineapple, gooseberry, guava, elderflower - before finally arriving at Feijoa!  This intensely fruity beer was highly quaffable (in taste, if not in strength) and probably my favourite of the night.

Although it was a close run thing, because finally (Jeff said it was a good beer to end the night on) we came to the "Dark Reserve".  A lusciously smoky porter (smoked with beechwood).  All the coffee and smoky notes you would want from a London Porter style, with a hint of the sour cherry found in the Sour Grapes.  Much smoother than the Henley Dark, the extra fermentation really rounding it off at the edges.

So, my taste for strong beers well and truly indulged I feel almost ready to draw a line under 2010.  But watch this space in the New Year, for more ramblings about beery things.  And have a very Merry Christmas.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Proper Job

And so it is, the westcountry strikes back.  Always happy to liberate a few Cornish Ales from the barrel, off I trotted to the double whammy meet the brewer of the Hogswood and Coastal breweries at good old Cask.  Except it wasn't quite...  the coastal brewer was for some reason absent (surely not still snowing down there?) and the Hogswood brewer disappointingly brief, speaking for about 3 minutes.  But I have high hopes that my faith will be restored by Lovibonds next week, so for now onto the beer.
Fairly quiet night, having had a rather heavy weekend (December is so punishing for the liver), so I warmed up with some unusually weak beers for me (yes - below 4%!).  Very pleasant they were too.  Coastal's "hop monster" (well - how could I resist with a name like that? - gimmicky I know, but at least you know what you're getting, and it didn't disappoint) had a suitably crisp and pleasant grapefruit palate, which served as a nice entree.
Then onto Hogswood's "North Shore IPA".  This was fabulous, I don't know if it was dry hopped, or they'd run out of hops and shoved a load of heather in it, but it smelt like the hop store in my local brewery - musky, aromatic and deeply enticing.  It reminded me of a woodland, perhaps because it was so woody (as Squirrel put it, you almost expect splinters in the back of your throat) and was like drinking a taste of early autumn.  Mmmm.
Thought I'd better give the hops a break after that, so couldn't resist another gimmicky name (yes I was one of those people who bought Old Git wine when I was a student).  Hogswood's "Yo Crimbo" was a spicy mild, a little bit smoky, but overridingly smelt and tasted like liquorice through and through.  Couldn't drink alot of it, probably because I don't like liquorice, but it's testament to the beer that despite this it was immensely enjoyable.
Back to Coastal for some "Angelina" - a nice clean citrusy session beer.  Then rounded off with Hogswood's "Stoked" (barman's recommendation as a smoky bitter).  Not wrong, it had a very subtle nose - faintly smoky and very faint hop, but a full-bodied ferrous smoky palate, smooth and very satisfying, after an unassuming nose.  Not bad for a brewery that started in October last year after a redundancy and a car accident.  Which just goes to show that the strangest clouds can have a silver lining.