420. Bragdy Conwy’s Minera Mountain

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A recent trip to see family in Wales included a rather nice jaunt around some of the remoter parts of Camarthenshire. During our wanderings I came across this from Bragdy Conwy, a Welsh brewer from the very northern parts of Wales. So basically local in the same way the Llanelli Scarlets are local to North Wales!

Anyway, this is another heather beer, like the the Scottish Fraoch, and they claim it was first brewed by locals in the little village of Minera. Heather beer was what the Celts supposedly created before they learned to use hops to give a bitter flavour, and it is a rather unique taste.

Minera certainly has the same herby flavour as Fraoch, but with a lighter more fruity tone – although it is also quite sweet. There isn’t as much aftertaste, although you are left with a pleasant fuzzy feeling on your tongue. Certainly worth a try, went well with a hearth soup and sits in that nice amber-coloured middle ground that make it quite flexible.

three star

419. Springhead’s Drop of the Black Stuff

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As I’ve mentioned on these pages before, I’m frequently impressed by the range of beers on offer from Mr J.D Wetherspoon, so when I found myself in the William Shenstone in Halesowen, I took the opportunity to avail myself of one or two new bevvies.

The dark number was from Nottinghamshire Brewers Springhead, a micro-brewery based in North Nottinghamshire that have just celebrated their 25th year in business. I’m pretty sure I’ve had some of their stuff before – most probably at the Nottingham Beer Festival – and they seem to do a recent range. As you can probably make out in the picture, they’ve won a few awards for their work.

This particular beer is a a fairly weak porter – not as thick as perhaps I would normally like, and although the roasted, toasty coffee flavours were there it was fairly mild and perhaps not sweet enough. I’ll admit I was drinking it on a hot day, so it was hardly in its element, but it failed to impress. It goes down easy if nothing else.

two star

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I’m not always a fan of these as I think they often don’t tell you a lot, but this one – made using the tags and words from the blog – is pretty cool, I have to admit! Couple of things in there that come up more often than I thought! Want one of your own – check out tagxedo.com – although it won’t work on a Chrome browser!

418. Carlsberg Wiener

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This is another interesting one from the Danish giants. The style, a Wiener, is Austrian; the name derives from Vienna. It’s not one I’ve had before but it’s meant to be quite close to the German Oktoberfest beers.

It has a mild, malty taste, reminiscent of the alt style German beer. Also fairly fizzy, the overall flavour is biscuity, but only round the edges. There’s little or no hops, which means there isn’t much of a finish. OK I suppose, but I suspect the proper stuff is better.

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417. Sharp’s Atlantic

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So, now they’re in the big leagues with Coors’ backing, Sharp’s have got two more of their beers into the supermarkets, and this one, Atlantic, has come recommended.

It’s more flavoursome than their better known Doom Bar, a more golden pale ale, with plenty of citrus fruits and a biscuity sweetness. Plenty of fizz and froth too. Somehow it retains the slightly soapy taste that seems to be the brewers’ signature flavour. I certainly prefer it to Doom Bar!

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416. Carlsberg Weizen

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A lovely treat from my chum Barnsey while he visited from Copenhagen; some more unexpected brews from the Danish giants. First up is their Weizen, and it certainly looks the part, pouring cloudy with plenty of frothy head.

The flavour was fulsome and tangy, yeasty with a sour bite. The combination of fizz and lemon sherbert taste made it almost spicy, but the fruity flavour dominated; perhaps more citrusy than I expected. There was a slightly odd, almost soapy aftertaste in places, but the overall experience was interesting and generally pleasant.

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415. Castle Rock Black Gold

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This was a beer sampled outside of its comfort zone – on a hot a sunny day on a plaza in the middle of summer – and yet it stood up fairly well. What possessed me to go for something described as “Nottingham’s Dark Secret” when it was 25 degrees outside I don’t know. This is brewed by Castle Rock and is a fairly weak but very dark mild, completely black with a creamy head somewhat reminiscent of Guinness.

The texture is actually quite thin, not at all oily or heavy, with a slight smokiness – not surprising given the colour – and a mild dark berry fruitiness. It’s actually quite refreshing, and served cold it went down quite well in the heat. Perhaps a fizzy pale or a hoppy lager would have been better suited but it didn’t disappoint. three star

414. Vedett Extra

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I’m back! Did you miss me? No, I suspect not, unless you’re one of the odd number of people that continue to come to my blog to read my post about Lidl Lager (number three on Google at the moment!) Still, a break from the house-based toil and with a new phone and some new beers to review, I should have the blog up and running again.

My first beverage after my enforced break is a little summery number from Belgian brewers Vedett. Their Extra Blond is a pilsner like pale and fizzy drink, fruit and fresh on the tongue with plenty of flavour. There is a definitely crisp, largerly bite mixing with a sharp citrus zing that makes this perfect for a warm summer day. It’s premium strength at 5.2% so not perhaps one to hammer down in the sunshine, but certainly very appealing.

On another note – I enjoyed this while drinking in Birmingham’s (reputedly) oldest pub, the Old Crown in Digbeth. Although it claims to originate from the 1380’s, Wikipedia informs me the impressive timber frame construction actually harks from the early 1500’s. I’m ashamed to say I had never visited before now, although I will say once inside it isn’t anything particularly special, even if it is a nice place to drink – it’s every bit the modern pub, and a lot of the history seems to have been lost.

4_stars_svg

Hiatus

You might have noticed that I’ve been rather (read: completely) quiet on here for a while. This is due to a combination of buying a new house, which has made me both poor and very busy, and breaking my phone, which has lost a number of my reviews and all my pictures/videos from Aberdeen and elsewhere. I’m hopeful that normal service will resume soon, but until then, cheers!

411-413 – Aberdeen part one

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Four days later and I suppose I’ve just about recovered from the hangover – Aberdeen once again delivers a fantastic weekend’s entertainment, and thanks to some more careful drinking and a more generous flight plan, I got to see more of the city too.

I’ve decided to split my review into two, looking first at the Brewdog AGM which took place on Saturday in the day, before considering Aberdeen’s fine selection of other bars in my next post.

Brewdog AGM was much better organised this year; none of the #queuedog fiasco of last year, with six bars instead of two and a much broader range of beers. I don’t think I ever waited more than three minutes to get served, compared to the 20 minutes last year. The selection was better and the food was again quality – if still enormously overpriced – so we were well sated on that front. The music was great too – Idlewild were very good and Twin Atlantic killed it, not bad for a corporate shin dig.

I have to admit I’m starting to get a bit wary of the Brewdog brand now – these guys are absolutely raking it in – the company is now worth £300 million and they increased profits by 60% on last year. It’s hardly very “punk”, and while that in itself isn’t a problem (more success to them I say), it rankles with the David versus Goliath image they like to portray of their relationship with other brewers. It doesn’t help that I think some of their more recent beer releases have been crap (see This.Is.Lager). I shouldn’t moan too much – they do make good beer and clearly support smaller brewers, even if they are making a tonne of cash by selling it in their own bars.

Anyway, as a result I found myself drinking quite a few of the other brands on offer, including the following three (I’ll be honest, I didn’t make notes on everything I drank!)

Mikkeller Chill Pils Yuzu – The first beer I had and probably my outright favourite at the AGM, this is a fruity pilsner lager made using the Yuzu fruit (no I didn’t know that was a fruit either). It’s a full bodied, hazy beer, balancing a smooth carbonation and fairly thick mouthfeel with plenty of juicy, tropical citrus flavours. There’s some elements of a lagery hop flavour there as well, but it would probably be best classified as a fruit beer. Super refreshing stuff from the crazy Danes.

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BrewDog Hinterland – well I couldn’t really not have this once they announced it on stage. A proper thick milk stout made with oatmeal. Surprisingly bitter for a milk stout, it has a roasted, slightly burnt coffee flavour with rich caramel sweetness underneath. It is pretty potent (of course it is) so you get a boozy vapour at the back of the throat. Not as nice as the Bounty Hunter by Beatnik, which I didn’t have myself but did get to rather jealously sample from my drinking companion.

three star

Ballast Point Grunion – An American Pale Ale, this was pretty unimpressive and blandly hoppy. Some herby flavours but mostly just the usual. I later had the Dorado by the same brewer and it was much the same but twice as strong!

two star

I also retired This.Is.Lager just to see if I had a bad pint when I reviewed it last year. I didn’t. It’s still crap.

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