Thursday, 23 June 2011

Wedding Bliss

Last Saturday, we abandoned the kids the care of the Aunties and headed down to the big smoke for a Wedding Reception.

We had very kindly been invited to the wedding of a wonderful ratebeer pair MesandSim.

So the Day started with an early start, and a long train ride down to London, but armed with a good book and a plan for when we arrived, we soon arrived. Straight off the train onto the Tube to Euston Station and first stop the Brie Louise. Now i hadnt quite realised how close this was and it barely took us 3 minutes from tube to being served. The Brie Louise is a lovely pub, with 5 Hand pumps and 12 on gravity along with a great selection of ciders.

I order 3 thirds one each of Redemption Trinity, Art Brew Monkey IPA and Camden Town Inner City Green all of which i realy enjoyed and served on a nice little tray

From there we very quickly (less than 15 minutes later) headed off to the Euston Tap, again less than 3 minutes from the Station. In a  lovely old builing (that i foolishly didnt photograph) The inside while quite small looked like it had an upstairs and was dominated with a square bar, with taps along the back wall and fridges to either side.

No thirds hear but i managed to order halves of Bristol Beer Factory Sunrise,Redemption Fellowship Porter , and Matuška Černá Raketa (Black Rocket) 17° while none were bad the only one i really enjoyed was the Fellowship Porter.

Again quickly out and onto the Hotel to get changed and ready for the Wedding.

Once we had changed back onto the overground train back to Euston, and then tube heading towards our third pub of the Day, the Southampton Arms.
However on the way we past through the best tube station in the World. I had reached the Holy Grail of Tube travel

On Reaching the Southampton Arms we discovered a nice range of beers and once again quite a lot of Ciders, not something i have seen in many Scottish pubs.

As luck would have it Renound Blogger Knutt Alber was also here so we grabbed our first coupled of beers and sat down to chat to him however my ratebeer wild side had kicked in at this point (with such a range) and me and Stella shared halves of Slaters Monkey Magic , Otley Thai Bo , Festival Pride, Hardknott Atomic Narcissus, Windsor & Eton Conqueror, and Buxton Blonde as well as trying a couple of ciders and some pork pies.

However it was time to head to the Wedding so me, Stella and Knutt headed off to the Venue.
Im not sure quite what the building was but it was a nice little venue with a reception hall, leading in to a nice open spaced hall with a stage at one end and a large dance floor, later on one of the Best Buffets ive ever had was served along one side. There was lots of great food but the highlights for me were the pork belly and the Hop meatballs.

But now we are onto the Wedding Bliss its not many couple that plan to upstage themselves at there own wedding, but this is just what MesandSim had set out to do.
This was to be no Ordinary wedding.During the Early part of the day we were entertained with a singer/guitarist that was really quite good and I would like to know more about, then later on we had a  band  that was a hard rock band and they were Damn good and i would have loved 20years ago, now i just felt Old.

But the Real upstaging was the Bar. They had set out to supply some of the best beers they could lay there hand on.

Highlights for me were the Brew Wharf chilli stout at 3.3% Brewed by another rate beer friend this was a pretty rich stout for its ABV with a big Chilli Kick, The De Molen Imperial wedding ale. Although this beer had brett in it (something im not fond of) it was fairly light and this was deep rich and complex. Yeah it would have been better with NO BRETT but its was still damn tasty. Then we get onto De Struise, any wedding that has Struise Aardmonnik / Earthmonk   is clearly taking the Piss but thats what was there, then 2 more beers appeared over the evening Struise Black Damnation VIII - S.H.I.T., and the beer named for the Groom. Struise Black Damnation VI - Messy . Now Messy was certainly right as it was a 39% stout based on Struise Black Damnation III - Black Mes   which is a Caol Ila version of Struise Black Damnation This was an amazing beer rich dark sweet complex and wonderfully balanced. Well apart from one thing i dont like Islay whisky, so while i really really enjoyed this the Islay like the brett in the De Molen beer earlier just wasnt my thing.

Saying that my beer of the Evening wasnt one supplied by the Bride and Grrom but by another very generous Ratebeerian who had brought along a 100year old bottle of beer, to help MesandSim celebrate their wedding day and they were all generous enough to let me try a little.
Now its not every day you get to try a 100yr old beer so this already had excitement value, but the smell was just amazing, i could easily just have sat at home smelling this beer for 15 minutes before tasting. Deep dark complex malt roast, some toffee some treacle even a hint of black currant. Just an Aromatic Pleasure, then the taste. WOW this wasnt the best beer of the evening flavour wise not by a long shot, but still this was a pleasure to drink, it was amazing how well this beer had help up for its age. It seemed very alcohol warming without being spirit like, had deep soft mellow meaty malty tone(well you dont expect hop character to survive) definite soy sauce tones but light and adding to the complexity rather than destroying the flavours. If i was to rate this beer for experience, its would be a clear 5/5 it was not only exciting to try but a pleasure to drink, and I salute you for the chance to have tried this.

So Let me raise a Toast to MesandSim, 
"May your marriage bring you as much joy as mine has brought me and Stella"
(I will let you guess if thats a Curse or a Blessing)

Friday, 17 June 2011

A Tale of two Festivals

Well this weekend was the Scottish Real Ale Festival and The Brewdog Alternative Scottish Beer Festival.

So i took Thursday afternoon of work to do the 2 Festivals.

First off we decided to head to the Brewdog bar for kick off and turned up at noon to find only 7 Brewdog beers on, with only the Dogma not being a regular beer. So we decided to pass till later in the day.

Heading off the SRAF (only 2 minutes from the Brewdog pub), We encountered a small queue but it was fast moving and we were soon in.

First up we discovered that despite having third pint lined glasses they were not serving third pints. I just dont get this, and really i cant see any reason for them not to serve third pints.

Hitting the bar we discovered that the first 50 people to down 6 half's pint of beer in different style Won a t-shirt. Now im surprised they are allowed to do this, as it fair encouraged irresponsible drinking as most of the people in my group and at the nearby tables were drinking as fast as they could so they could get a t-shirt and it only got worse when it was reported there were few t-shirts left.

Still downing beer aside I had my wish list of beers and managed to get through them. The best of the new beers was from Burnside and was the "Black Katz", which was a full flavoured mild that while a bit thin in the Body was still tasty. However the other Burnside beer "Mad Dogz IPA" while not bad was just a little bit run of the mill. I had been looking forward to the Tinpot beers and the most interesting was the "Beetroot and Blackpepper", and this was clearly the best of the three and really quite interesting and while im glad to have tried i wont be rushing back any time soon.

The best of the Other beers i tried were Black Isle "Hibernator", which was rich dark tasty and just a delight, and probably the best its ever been, so i was really pleased to have finished with this beer. Also staring earlyier in the dar was Deeside "Talorcan" one of my favourite Scottish beers and while it was delightful it probably the worst ive ever had it. It just seemed to be lacking a little bit of body on this occasion. Saying that it was still my second favourite beer of the day.

The Biggest disappointment was the Orkney "Dark Island Reserve" , just like last year this cask beer totally fails to live up to the Quality of the bottle. The body and balance just fail completely.

All told i really enjoyed my time at the Scottish Real ale festival. While not the best festival beer list ive seen, its got much better than previous years with more beers from the smaller brewers and more beer that cant be found in the Edinburgh pubs on the same day.

But id love someone to explain there refusal to use third pint glasses, They did have a few(if not enough) strong beers where a 1/3 of a pint is a much more respectable sample size.

From there i headed back to the Brewdog bar for just after 4pm, but there was no change with still only the same selection of only Brewdog beers on. A very disappointing beer selection for a pub that was promoting an "alternative Festival".

However i have kids so it was time to head home and get the Tea on.

Having missed out on anything exciting from the Brewdog range i headed back to the brewdog bar for opening time on Friday. Well there had been a little movement in the beers. Three more had appeared. The amazing Angel Share and for a pub in Scotland to have this beer is just amazing, but the other two beers were Brewdogs own AB06 and Chaos Theory. Again not the Rival festival id hoped for. A great selection if you just walked into the bar, but if i had travelled into Edinburgh for this i would be sorely disappointed.

Also advertised on the Board and trailered on the web site was the hoppinator, and from the reports i heard this was a great success, but this was only on a limited times, so a little disappointing to have missed this.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Let there be Cask

and there will be aplenty this Thursday to Saturday at the Scottish Real Ale Festival, with further details at

This Years beer list seems a tad more exciting than last year with Plenty of Breweries that dont make many appearances in the Edinburgh pubs.
So its particularly heartwarming to see some of the smaller breweries, such as Angus Ales, Aye Brewing, Deeside, Devon ales, Luckie, Moulin, and Plockton making appearances, and its specially pleasing to see the fairly new Burnside brewery who i dont think has appeared in Edinburgh before.

As well as the smaller lesser spotted Breweries its great to see Stewarts with a few new brews and im looking forward to trying the CAMRA 40th Anniversary beer. Stewarts have come out with some great special beers of late with theyre Pumpkin and coconut porter.

Highlights though for me will be dark beers as always, so im really looking forward to trying :

Deeside Talorcan again. This is a Great stout with a rich roast malt body, hints of chocolate and rich sweet tones and an odd but pleasant character added through it interesting of Whey.

Orkney Dark Island Reserve. This is an amazing Imperial stout in bottle. really rich ark and complex, but it was a little disappointing in cask last year so it will be interesting to see how it is in cask this year.

From the New beers, Tinpot look the most interesting and definitely the most experimental, and i am particularly looking forward to trying the Beetroot and Blackpepper. Now it may well not work, but fingers crossed. Should be interesting either way.

Im also looking forward to the Burnside Black Katz mild, as ive only every seen the brewery once before, on a visit to Aberdeen, and im a fan of milds so will be interesting to see try a mild from this new brewery.

However for many of the breweries its disappointing to find so little experimentation, as most of these beers can probably be found round and about Edinburgh pubs that week. I never understand why anyone would come to the beer festival to drink Deuchars IPA, or Caledonian 80 as these can be found in almost any pub in Edinburgh, but each to there own and all that.

What i would complain about is the sparsity of high ABV beers with really only two beers there, and both from the Same Brewery. Namely Orkney Dark Island Reserve and Skull splitter. Its a shame we dont see more higher ABV beer and the Lack of Highlands Old Norway, and Orkney Porter is close to a crime. Though it is nice to see Fynes ales new Sublime Stout coming in at a respectable 6.8%, and we can but hope we might see some barrel aged beers from Black Isle next year (as theyve recently tweeted about sourcing some Barrels)

My one great hope from the non published information, is that i hope they include third pint lined glasses as they offer more choice to the customer, and even some small village festivals are providing this option, so really there is no excuse for Scotland's flagship festival not to.

Hope to see some of you there Thursday afternoon.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Why must i choose, Mummy

Brewdog are once again doing their best to drive a wedge between lovers of Great Beer.

This time by organising beer festivals to clash with Both Aberdeen and Edinburgh CAMRA festivals.

Now im a CAMRA member and i love REAL ale. But i also like lots of US style beers including many of them from Brewdog. Ive drunk Brewdog Bars from their Start. Ive tried more of there beer than any one i know.

SO when they use statement like
"This weekend you could spend your time drinking fizzy yellow liquid cardboard, or you could drink dull, bland Ale, each one tasting more boring than the one before. However, at BrewDog we think that sounds unbearable so we are laying on an alternative. "

It just annoys me. The implication is that all other Brewers suck bar them and its just not true.

and why do the Shout "No Cask Ale" like thats a great thing. If its such a great thing when why do their all time heroes "STONE" sell Cask beer in their bar.

and why "No French" thats just plain Racist. Is that the Image they want to portray.

All told I find this behaviour childish. They sound like a divorced parent Demanding that their Child Choose Mummy or Daddy.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

May the Force be with Me

As for sure i didnt want the Dark side, and Man was May another great month for my Solar panels.

Now May is the peak month of the year according to the Prediction tool mentioned in previous blogs. All told i should expect to get 395 units or 12.7 a day. So when the first 4 days average 23 units a day we were off to a great start.

Over the Month the highest i got was 23 units on the 4th and the lowest 5.3 on the 25th, followed by a 5.8 on the 26th

All told i got 514 units. 30% over the prediction. So another Great month.

May was also a great month as i received my first payment. This covers the period 26th Jan(installation) to 13 May and was for a total of 1006 units for which i received payment of £451.19. Now this figure doesnt include any saving i have made through not having to buy electricity but this is impossible to calculate as i only measure what i produce and not what i use or export(Supplier assumes export of 50% and the £451.19 figure includes payment for export of 503 units(£15.60) However i suspect i exporting more than this. So i have assumed i used about 25% and this would include a saving on my electric bill of £27.61 for the period

This brings my Total takings for the period (108days) to £478.80 or £4.44 a day