407. Marston’s New World Pale Ale

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Another one from Marston’s, this time a new beer designed to appeal to the “modern” drinker, or a “new generation” of beer fans. In other words, for those that think Pedigree is a drink for old men! The very fact it has its own website shows this is one they’re going to be pushing in a big way this summer.

I may find their motives dubious, but this is actually a pleasant pale. Fizzy and juicy with a green bitterness, it definitely has a refreshing, soft-fruit quality, and I can certainly imagine enjoying one of these with a barbecue in the summer sun. That said, it’s not exactly remarkable beer, tasty but not exactly exciting. With a bit more flavour and punch it could be something special.

three star

406. Oakham Ales’ Inferno

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Rarely is a beer so aptly named. I expect a little madness from Oakham Ales (check their website) and this certainly delivers it. For a 4% ale, it is powerfully strong, giving you a good gobful of fresh hoppiness, dry and certainly a bit spicy. There’s some high end tart citrus flavour as well – more the rind than the juice – but don’t be mistaken, you’re drinking this for one main reason.

For such a hoppy beer, I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it – perhaps because I knew what to expect!

three star

405. Cannon Royall’s Comfortably Stout

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I am, I think it’s fair to say, an unashamed fan of the darker ale. I get along fine with a hoppy or the fizzy, the sour or the bitter, but there’s something very genuine about dark ale. Like it’s not trying to be anything other than it is (except maybe Black IPA). I suppose I also enjoy the fact that these are often the less well tried ones, not because that’s somehow cool, but because they tend to be more unexpected (I’m not a hipster). I also happen to believe they have more depth of flavour and variety in taste – too much for some. Although they’re often harder work and certainly not as refreshing as their more hoppy, less malty cousins, they offer more, in my humble opinion.

Comfortably Stout is an interesting beverage from Cannon Royall, a former cider brewery based near Droitwich, half way between Kidderminster and Worcester. The most unexpected element of a fairly standard stout flavour mix was the almost sour nature of the burnt malts. There was plenty of rich sweetness and a pleasant chocolatey finish, but the usual bitter or roasty smoky flavour was lacking, instead taking on an almost burnt tangy cheese taste. Not unappealing, a nice drop.

three star

404. Ticketybrew’s Table IPA

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You know I’m a sucker for a funny name, and Ticketybrew is certainly a humdinger, and the concept of a “Table IPA” was also quite appealing. A little internet research reveals that the idea of table beer or “tafelbier” comes from Belgium (hence the Flemish) and has been a tradition for centuries. Original table beers were light and low alcohol, and design, much like a table wine, to accompany meals. They aren’t meant to lack flavour, but to be refreshing accompaniments to meat and other dishes.

So then this effort from the handsomely monikered chaps from Stalybridge is an attempt to apply that tradition to rather more trendy IPA. At 2.8% it certainly fits the bill weakness wise, but it is questionable whether a style famed for its strength (see previous posts on the origins of IPA) can work as a table beer.

It seems, at least in this case, that it can’t. The beer is thin and watery, and lacking in real flavour or depth, with an unpleasant colour and taste that for some reason makes me think of pond water (not that I make a habit of drinking from ponds). There is some hoppiness, as you would expect, but the beer was also rather flat, having more in common with the Greene King esque IPAs than the full bodied numbers that have come to dominate the world of craft beer. Bit of a let down.

1 star

403. Camden’s Gentleman’s Wit

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My third Camden beer, and the third enjoyed in good old London town. This is their attempt at a Belgian Wheat beer, and a little like their porter, fails to live up to the standards of the Camden Hells lager.

Thick and sweet as you would expect, it has a mellow vanilla flavour, rather mild and lacking any real punch, despite the presence of fruit juices and spice. Perhaps a little sickly if anything. Unremarkable I’m afraid.

In the trendy vegan restaurant I tried it in (shut up, not a hipster) it was £5 a bottle – definitely not worth it. Give it a try if you can find it on tap somewhere perhaps.

two star

402. Watermill’s Dog’th Vader

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A lovely birthday present from Sara and Ali Gill (the people responsible for me writing this blog), the slightly awkwardly named Dog’th Vader is one of a collection of canine themed beers from Lake District brewers Windmill. Windmill is one of a significant number small breweries from the Cumbria area based out of a pub, and pretty much every town you visit up there has it’s own micro brewery. I like to think this reflects the hilly nature of the place, where up until recently transporting beer from place to place would have been difficult, so everyone brewed their own. It’s just as likely that a booming tourist trade keeps them all in business!

Dog’th is a black, porter ale with fairly thick and oily texture and plenty of smoky, cold coffee flavour. Fairly sugary sweet to start, there’s very little of the fruitiness described on the bottle, and much more of the toasty, roasty malts. The taste is powerful but actually fairly pleasing, if a little one dimensional. Certainly a decent winter warmer if you like coffee malt flavours!

three star

401. Lervig’s Marky Ramone’s Hoppy Pilsner

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Good pub, excellent beer. The Earl of Essex in Islington served up a birthday treat for me this weekend when I managed to make a plum choice from their fine selection of guest ales. Yes I was in Islington, yes it was expensive, no I’m not a hipster, shut up I had a beard before it was cool.

My fortuitous pick was Marky Ramone’s Hoppy Pilsner, from Norwegian brewster’s Lervig (my first Norsk beer I believe). To give them their proper name they’re Lervig Aktiebryggeri – I’m not sure how to pronounce that but it just looks awesome. They’ve been going for 12 years, founded after Carlsberg bought out and closed the local brewery, and do quite the range of trendy beers, and as you would expect a few rather strong ones as well. One of their head brewers is a well travelled American chap called Mike Murphy, who has brewed in Philadelphia, Italy and Denmark before moving further north. Amongst their collection is a 10.4% monster called Konrad’s Stout which I’ve decided I absolutely must try.

But to Marky’s Pilsner. I can’t work out why it’s called that because everything on the website is in Norwegian, but I imagine they’re fans. Simply put, this beer is divine – flavoursome, dry and refreshing, definitely hoppy but not overwhelmingly so. It has a long sweet, thick fruit-sugar middle which balances what would otherwise be a tongue curlingly bitter finish. Really delicious. Everything Brewdog’s This.Is.Lager wants to be but failed to live up to. Go try some now – even at £6 a pint.

five star

400. Mauldons Bronze Adder

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So, I reach 400, somewhat more calmly and serenely than 300 or indeed 200. It’s nice not to be in a rush I have to admit. Unfortunately I’ve not picked a blinder for my 400th review, but needs must and I’ve not had a great many new ones recently (nothing a trip to Cotteridge Wines can’t sort out). There’s a good reason for this, but I’ll get to that in a later blog post!

Mauldons brewery is based in my home county, but I have to admit I’ve not tried a great many of their Sudbury based brews before, with the exception of their Bah Humbug Christmas brew. Mauldons can claim some 200 years of history, although the company was actually restarted after being originally sold off Bury behemoths Greene King in the 1960s. Until 15 years ago it was actually still owned by the Mauldon family, who first started brewing in a pub in Ballingdon in 1795.

The current brewery is known as the Black Adder brewery and they have a couple of beers with a snakey theme, including this one, as well as a big range of core and seasonal beers.

Unfortunately, Bronze Adder is a bit of a disappointment, mild and unassuming with a bready sweetness and a fairly dry hoppy finish. Overall quite watery, it would make a reasonable session ale but it fails to get you buzzing.

two star

399. Guest Post: Black Wolf Rok

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Enjoying beer is something everyone can do – even those that usually prefer a glass of white wine. To prove this point, I asked my friend Kara  to review a new beer I found from Black Wolf Brewery in Stirling, Scotland. Rok is a Indian Pale ale style by the way. Here’s what she had to say:

“This beer is resoundingly weak, almost watery with an overriding taste of nothingness. It has a frothy head, and an initial taste of beer…”

At this point I felt it necessary to ask a for a little more detail…

“There’s some hoppiness, a little sweetness but resolves to nothing. For someone that doesn’t really drink ale I’d say I could finish this quite easily. Still.. Only two stars”

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Very informative! Fair to say many of the other reviewers I’ve read agree with the sentiment, and I was certainly rather disappointed by what is a rather flavourless beer, and although I’d probably verge into one-star territory, we’ll let the lady decide.

two star

398. Sadler’s Peaky Blinder

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Another from local boys Sadler’s Ales, Peaky Blinders is named after the Birmingham gang , but more realistically for the hit TV show based on the gang. Nothing like a bit of shameless cashing in with a novelty beer.

I’m not sure the Peaky boys would have been drinking Black IPA, which is a fairly modern American creation, but it bears some similarities to porter, which may have been on their more limited menus. I suspect a pint of mild was more the order of the day however.

Anyway, this modern creation is pretty interesting, tasting, as many black IPAs do, as a rather light porter, full of smoky, charcoal and coffee flavours, with a bitter coffee tang that’s almost fruity. It’s sweet and occasionally nutty as well, without a huge amount of aftertaste. Quite complex but not overly filling, mild enough to drink a fair few.

three star

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