Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Beer of the Week - Chimay Gold

A mysterious invitation to the launch of an unknown beer, a collaboration from two internationally renowned breweries, in the crypt of a church down a hidden street in old London town. Well it would pique the interest of any beer lover. Down in the belly of the church we could have been hidden in a secret bar under the Grand Place in Brussels, sipping on Chimay Red and snacking on cheeky deep fried mussels and aged Chimay cheese being offered up on the trays of Belgian waiters.

The main announcement came, the reason we were here, the launch of Chimay Gold, a 4.8% pale ale. The monks' own beer is a light and refreshing ale, spiced with coriander and orange. It falls somewhere between a pale ale and a Belgian Wit but with the unmistakable Chimay yeast character giving it fruity flavours of tangerine and apple. It is both creamy yet zesty and spicy which makes it perfect with rich cheese or even with a barbecue as I'm enjoying this bottle today.

Fullers are now importing all the Chimay beers including Gold and it is available on draft from a number of Fuller's London pubs and in bottle around the country.

The list of London pubs is here.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Wine of the week - Manz Cheleiros, Dona Fatima, Jampal (2011)

We've been fans of Portuguese wines for a while now, grasping the opportunity to taste them when available. This bottle of Manz Cheleiros Dona Fatima was bought completely on a whim and the recommendation of the salesman in Oddbins when given the brief of 'something interesting' by Sam. He wasn't wrong, this is a really interesting bottle.

Jampal is a rare Portuguese grape variety, which Jancis Robinson described as a "southern Portuguese grape with possibly unrealised potential" in her 'Guide to wine grapes' back in 1996. I think she's right, and according to the Manz website this is the only example of a single varietal Jampal in the world.

The wine is pale lemon in colour and has lush fruit aromas of green apple and citrus, with hints of stone fruit and an oily minerality. To taste it's dry with a medium body and acidity, and a long finish. There are hints of nuttiness, the citrus on the nose delivers through the taste with a grapefruit pithiness,  lemon, and then some stone fruit follows afterwards. The flavours are bright and it's a really interesting wine with some very complex flavours.

RRP £15, Currently available from Oddbins.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Beer of the Week: Partizan Brewing's Grisette Saison

Slightly cloudy on the pour with very little head, golden in colour.

On the nose you get wheaty yeasty notes and sherbet, and to taste it's very similar. It's very refreshing, slightly earthy and biscuity, with wheat, a slight grassiness and the predominant sherbet taste. It reminds us slightly of a Belgian Wit but with less of a funky off flavour than you'd normally get with these.  Overall we both loved this one and look forward to tasting more from Partizan Brewing.

4.8% ABV, available from various London locations - see their website for details.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Beer of the week - Brewdog Torpedo Los!

For my birthday, we visited the fantastic Lichtenstein retrospective at the Tate Modern last week. If you get the chance make sure you get there before it finishes in a few weeks time. I remarked as we walked around that Lichtenstein's bold use of primary colours and comic book aesthetics make for a visually satisfying experience. My favourite section of the exhibition is the section of Lichtenstein's homages to masterpieces by the likes of Picasso,Van Gogh and Mondrian.

In celebration of this exhibition at the Tate Modern, Brewdog have produced a pale ale named after a Lichtenstein classic, Torpedo Los! On the label Brewdog modestly liken themselves to the artist claiming to be revolutionaries creating abstract beers. I was going to make some less complimentary comparisons by talking about copying classics using a primary palette and broad brush strokes but then thought it might come across like a piece of GCSE art history homework. Instead I'll talk about the beer.

It's a very good beer in the US pale ale style with a little bit of red rye to give it some colour and composition. The US hops are fresh with piney greens and bright yellow lemon zest. Good structure comes from a solid malt canvas. In fact the broad strokes used in the creation of this beer are impressive for one designed to be sold in an art gallery. This beer isn't a masterpiece but it's far more than just a pretty label, so well played to Brewdog, more like this please. 

The Lichtenstein exhibition is on until the 29th May so hurry to see it before it closes. It's well worth the trip.
The Beer is available in bottle at the Tate Modern and on tap in the Brewdog bars. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Beer of the Week: Warsteiner Premium Verum

We were really pleased the Warsteiner came in a brown glass bottle, eliminating any chance of it being light-struck. A German Pilsner, with a refreshing, crisp, clean taste. On the nose you get aromas of hops, and this follows through on the taste where the bitterness lingers, with quite a long finish. Perfect for a glorious summers day (which as it happens when we tasted it, it was).

It also comes in an alcohol free version which we didn't like as much, but then we've yet to taste an alcohol free beer which we've enjoyed!

Available from Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Tesco & Morrisons at around £2 for 500ml.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

London's Brewing: Beers of the Festival

Just a quickie today with a summary of our favourite beers of this weekend's London's Brewing beer festival.

Zero Degrees - Gari (4.2%)

A German style hefe-weizen and in this case a good solid wheat beer. It's what you'd expect for this style of beer with a slightly fruity funky flavour. Small amount of diacetyl on the nose. Full creamy mouth feel, not blowing me out the water, but certainly a very nice pint.

Beavertown - Dark Saison (5.4%)

An impressive Saison which has tasted better in bottle but here still shines. The rich and slightly sour malt notes are beautifully offset by the funky yeast character.

Weird Beard - Five O'Clock Shadow (6.6%)

We've been waiting a long time to taste Weird Beard's beers and here we were initially disappointed. It turned out they had the wrong and quite horrible beer on instead of the Mariana Trench we were expecting. But when we tasted the wonderful Five O'Clock Shadow we knew it was the real deal. Thick, deep and a thoroughly satisfying hop bomb. Tropical fruit and floral hop flavours are balanced with a solid malt foundation and well controlled bitterness. This is a clever beer that will impress anyone who drinks it.

All in all we were really disappointed with this event. There was no beer list on the website (I like to plan my beers in advance to get the most from any festival). We arrived dead on 12 when the doors were due to open, and then were left standing in the rain for 45 minutes before they actually started letting anyone in. Given they'd opened an hour late on the previous (trade) day, this wasn't really a very good result. When were were finally let in we were confronted by a very small bar and a very large queue. In fact 'crowd' would be a better word than 'queue' - and it filled a good proportion of the small venue. I don't know if they'd underestimated how popular the event would be, but this event was really poorly organised. The bar was far too small for the number of beers they were serving, the bar staff didn't seem to know anything about the beer or what they were doing, and it took them an hour and a half to get the second bar open, which even when it had opened only had a small proportion of the beers available. Disappointing.

the bar - it was busy...