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102. Peroni Nastro Azzurro

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102. Peroni Nastro Azzurro

As with many things, the context in which you enjoy/consume a beer is very important. If it’s wet and horrible and you’ve just walked six miles to get to the pub, even an average pint of thick, rich British bitter is going to taste like the ambrosia of the gods. If it’s 35 degrees in the shade and you’re on a beach in Spain, something light and fizzy will go down a treat. Swap the situations and it’d be one stars all round.

This beer is a perfect case in point. Generally, the only reason I would have to drink Peroni is when I am in an Italian restaurant, where they serve nothing else. For that very reason, I normally hate the bloody stuff, it being a very average, very overpriced lager which doesn’t even suit the food I’m eating all that well, Italy being more famous for its wines than its beers.

Formerly brewed in Lombardy, Peroni has been made in Rome for 150 years, and is now owned by brewing mega-corp SABMiller. It’s pale lager, with a reasonable amount of fizz, slightly sweeter than Northern European lagers thanks to a quarter maize mixed in with the barley malt, not really my ideal beverage.

As I say, on any other day, I’d hate this lager. However, on this particular occasion I was sat on the terrace of the Royal Society in central London, on the warmest day of the year so far. My friend Alex had just finished the London marathon, and we had joined him to celebrate over a cheeky beer. In this context, it gets three stars. For Alex, after nearly four hours of running, I imagine it might have even sneaked a four!

three star

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101. Unicer’s Super Bock Original

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102 Unicer's Super Bock Original

This Portuguese beer was enjoyed at, you guessed it, Nandos. I’m not a big fan of chicken restaurants being a veggie, but to give them their due they make a rather nice bean burger. Super Bock is Portugal’s best selling beer (according to Wikipedia it once had 42% market share!)

Given the spicy nature of the food, this is a well suited beverage, being a strong pale lager (a “bock”), which is both refreshing and flavoursome, so it cuts through the spice and can be tasted over even the hot the piripiri sauce. Bocks are German in origin, and derive from a deliberate mispronunciation of Einbeck as “Ein Bock” or a billy goat.

Like many stronger Mediterranean beers, it is fairly sweet, emphasising the malt over the hop, but again this is well suited to the cuisine (if you call Nandos “cuisine”). Good stuff.

three star

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100. Chapel Down’s Curious Brew

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100. Chapel Down's Curious Brew

Enjoyed on a sunny Sunday afternoon in central London, Curious Brew is an intriguing lager made with Champagne yeast and also double hopped, to make for a fairly bitter and tasty lager. It’s main selling point is that it is very, and I mean very, refreshing. Really clean and with a light feel, it was a perfect beer for a warm day.

On the downside, it was wildly overpriced, although how much of this is due to “London prices” and how much to the brand I don’t know. Well worth a try if you can find it, but perhaps not if you’re in our noble capital.

three star

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99. Black Sheep’s Riggwelter

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Black Sheep

Another one from the exiled Theakston (geddit), the name Riggwelter comes from the Old Norse Rygg (back) and Velte (overturn). It’s descriptive of a sheep that’s become stuck on its back and is supposedly used still in rural Yorkshire where the beer is made. It’ll also be descriptive of you if you have too many of these – it’s certainly a fairly strong ale and the flavours are enough to knock you off your feet.

It starts with a sharp fizz and if you swallow quickly ends with a rush of bitter burnt malt reminiscent of a good porter, allow it to linger a little while though, and you get the sharp red fruit flavours, with a hint of citrus. There’s even a bit of molasses sweetness under the coffee bean finish if you try hard enough.

Complex and very tasty. My only criticism could be that it’s a tad overbearing, but all round this is excellent stuff.

4_stars_svg

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98. Butcombe’s Bitter

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98. Butcombe's Bitter

Brewed in the little hamlet of Wrington in North Somerset, not far from Bristol, this beer seems to be a favourite of my housemate, Barnsey. Butcombe won SIBA brewery of the year 2014 and are one of the largest new breweries in the country – it was founded in 1978 but only began brewing beers other than Bitter in 1999.

This is a very neat and tasty bitter, full of hops with a clean, dry flavour and a suitable grainy fizz. There’s some sweetness there, but this does what it says on the tin very well. I’ve ummed and ahhed about whether this deserves a three or a four. I think I’ll go with a four (if only to keep Barnsey) recognising that this is a subjective thing and I’m not the biggest fan of old school bitters, but even I can appreciate that this a particularly good example of the style.

4_stars_svg

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97. Brewdog’s Baby Dogma

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97. Brewdog's Baby Dogma

I have the very great pleasure of going to Aberdeen for the Brewdog AGM in the summer, so I had been deliberately avoiding having any until then so that I could have a “Brewdog week” and get through a tonne of their stuff in one go.

However, I’m not so sad to get this one out the way, as it was rather unimpressive, suprising given my predilection for dark ales. I can’t even find a record of it on the Brewdog website, so they can’t be too proud of this one.

Technically a Scotch Brown Ale, it pours almost black, and while the beer I assume it stems from, the original Dogma, is full of complex flavours, this is a fairly bland, malty ale with some sweetness and burnt flavours, but a rather unpleasant nutty undertone I didn’t enjoy really. It is surprisingly thin given its colour, and was yet another beer served too cold for my liking.

A shame. Roll on the good stuff in June!

two star

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96. Warsteiner Premium Verum

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96. Warsteiner Premium Verum

Taking its name from the local town of Warstein (like all good German beers), Warsteiner brewery is Germany’s largest privately owned brewery, and its fourth largest brewery overall. This particular beer, their “Premium Verum” is also their best-seller. Caterina Cramer, the current owner, is the latest in the long line of Cramers, stretching back to Antonius who founded the brewery in 1753.

The Premium is a good example of a German pilsner, fresh and flavourful, it has some toffee rather than fruit sweetness mixed with a grainy bitterness. The fizz and flavour gives an enjoyable texture on the tongue, and it overall feels thicker and less light than other similar beers I’ve tried. Very enjoyable.

4_stars_svg

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95. Thwaite’s Wainwright

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95. Thwaite's Wainwright

Named for Blackburn-native Alfred Wainwright, the famous author and walker who wrote a comprehensive guide to the Lake District, this is a good golden ale, nicely balance and very refreshing, but not overly citrusy or fruity, more a sickly sweetness mixing with the hoppy bitterness.

At only 4/.1% with a good fizz, this would make for an excellent session ale, and would come as a welcome reward for a thirsty trekker back from a hike in the hills.

three star

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94. Purity’s UBU

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94. Purity's UBU

UBU is a decent enough amber ale, a dark orange in colour with some nice fizz and a really hoppy bitter bite that lasts long into the aftertaste. Worked quite well with a curry as was, cutting through the spice nicely.

The beer is named for the former brewery dog (sadly deceased) called Tess, more affectionately known as Useless Bloody Urchin (U.B.U). Click on the picture for a link with some cute pictures.

three star

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93. JW Lees’ Manchester Star

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93. JW Lees' Manchester Star

I really (really) like this beer. It is a perfectly rich, sweet, winter warmer, full of flavour and equally full of body. Claimed to be brewed from a rediscovered recipe book that’s over a hundred years old, JW Lees reckon this was first brewed in the 1880′s . Thick and smooth on the tongue, it combines bitter sweet chocolate flavour with a raisiny fruit cake taste that is just wonderful.

Manchester Star’s only weakness is it’s tendency to send me to sleep after two pints, probably because it’s very heavy and a robust 7.3% ABV. You really know you’re drinking the stuff and to some people it might be too rich. For me, this is probably my second favourite dark ale.

five star

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