Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Battle of the Brewers

Edinburgh has been buzzing of late with Tap takeover events and new beer launches, and amongst these Stewart's have hit upon a great promotional tool. The Battle of the Brewers Evenings.

The formula for each event is the same, a beer style is chosen (not quite sure how), and then Stewart's and an invited Brewery both brew their take on that style. The beer is then sold in a chosen Pub(s) as "Beer X" and "Beer Y" with a vote being taken before the winner is announced and each beer attributed to the respective brewery. Each event is tickets £5 but this includes a half pint of each beer with the proceeds of the event going to various Charities.

So far Stewart's are 2-0 up. With the previous events being
Battle 1 : A Summer Ale : Stewart Brewing vs Williams Brothers
Battle 2 : A Black IPA : Stewart Brewing vs Harviestoun
I like the idea of these as it promotes both cooperation as well as competition between Scottish brewers. I think its driven Stewart's to new heights as their Black IPA is probably their best beer and one of the best Black IPA's i have had.

Tomorrow (30 May 2012) brings the 3rd of these.
Battle 3 : Red IPA : Stewart Brewing vs Cairngorm

The Venue this time has been split between my 3 Favourite Edinburgh Pubs, Cloisters, The Bow Bar and The Stockbridge Tap.

From the past events Stewart's have in my mind not only been the clear winners, but the ones to have capitalised best on the events. Though i didnt make the first event from all reports, it looks like Williams Bros just tweaked and existing recipe, Harvistoun put more effort in and produced a very tasty new beer, but it failed to live up to the Black IPA style. But neither Harvistoun or Williams Beers were seen after the event and both breweries seem to have failed to capitalised on the promotion this event gave them.

While Cairngorm are not a brewery that generally excite me, they also produce the best cask (sub 6%) stout in the UK. So there is no doubt that they can take the ball and run with it if they choose, which I hope they do.

As to who will win this one, well we will know tomorrow night. Best of luck to both brewers.

More information can be found here

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Why i wish i was at European Beer Bloggers Conference 2012

This can be summed up in three words Pilsner Urquell Kvasnicov√Ĺ

Yeah, those of you who know me may be surprised after al its a lager, and everyone knows that i am no lager lover, in fact you could say that i am really not fond of lager at all. However this is no ordinary lager.

While the normal Pilsner Urquell maybe a massed produced industrial lager, this version bears so little resemblance to the mass produced beer that its next to impossible to believe its the same beast.  I dont know if there is anymore to it than the fact that it is unfiltered and aged on wood. But be that the only difference or be it that some magic happens that i am unaware of. This is truly a world class beer.

Hazy yellow with a  big white head, it has a  very fruity nose, soft body with low carbonation  loads of tart fruity hoppiness, big juicy pine and grapefruit flavours with a big drying linger, a very very drinkable beer.

All told I would love to drink this beer again, and that is why im disappointed not to have make EBBC 2012

Though rumour has it that this version may make it across to the UK, However rumour also has it thats its only 4 cask every 2 weeks. So don't expect to just find this down your local.

But if you hear its in town, or even the next town over, get there, don't stop to think, don't even take the time to take a deep breath, and whatever you do don't blink, just jump in the nearest taxi, after all it may not last long and you don't want to miss this one.

Magic Rocks

Im a huge fan of Penn and Teller, and if you havent seen there most recent show "Fool us" you should take the time to hunt it down.

But this isnt really what i want to blog about today, What i really mean to say is "MagicRock" Rocks.

As my previous blog mentioned Magic Rock had an Open day for the Europeans Beer Bloggers Conference, and I crashed the event.
(It got much busier than the picture shows but i was too busy socialising by then)

Surprisingly we were not the first people there, but only just, so we got a great look round before the crowds appeared the first thing you notice is the "Magic" Rocks.
 It turns out that the name isnt just a cool brewery name, but actually based on the "magic" rocks being sold at the same location.

But we were not there for the Scenery, but for the beer, and man were Magic Rock generous, a pallet of glasses was just sitting there and we were told to help ourselves to the Beer from the newly fitted tap system.

True to form, i took the time to try ALL the beers and i have to say that the Dark Arts was as good as always, but the surprise of the day was the Human Canonball, I am not sure if it has improved since i last tried it, or if I was just  in the right mood for it that day, but it was cracking. Huge juicy hop, clean crisp and refreshing. Tours were on offer, as well as the Magic Rock guys mixing with the crowd to answer any questions or just chat and then there were Burgers, and its hard to beat a Beer and Burger Combo, especially when the beer was that good.

It was great but as at nearly all beer events, but its the people that make it go from great to awesome. Not only was it good to catch up with all the guys at Magic Rock, but it was good to catch up with lots of people i know from twitter, both those ive met before and but especially those i was meeting for the first time, its always nice to put a face to a name. Plus one guy even turned up with 2 unexpected beers for my tasting group, Man i love beer people.

And then at 12:40, the carnival arrived in the form of a Bearded Lady, and not just any old Bearded Lady.
Man was she pretty. Dark as night, Rich as Creosote , as lovely as a very lovely thing, with a degree in delicious, from the university of adorable.

Plus it was FREE, and if theres one thing better than FREE Bearded Lady, thats FREE BOURBON BARREL Bearded Lady and this was indeed that lady.

All told i can see why Magic Rock has gone from strength to strength, and the strength of turn out at a brewery that was only 1 year old was fabulous. All told it doesn't surprise be that their beer must be flying out their door. Why else would they need a flying Van.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Family Holiday Gone Wrong

Well this year has been a strange year, It clearly wasn't going to be my best Beer year. Early on it was clear that i wasn't going to make the Copenhagen Beer festivals, and that GBBF may not quite work out. Im still a little worried over transport to that. So i resigned myself to less of a beer year and decided that the time should be put to good use with lots of Family holidays.

Well that didn't quite work out, yeah i managed lots of family holiday, I've had some great times with the wife and kids, but almost every one of the holidays have turned into a beer event.

First my London trip, turned into Egham and Brodies festivals of fun, then the family visit to my sisters, ended up with a day trip to the Reading festival, and now this.

This weekend we went to visit friends in Manchester, and when your away you need to eat or so my theory goes, and if your going to have to eat, you might as well eat in a brewpub, so the plan was the "Horse and Jockey" in Manchester, on the way to my friends house, Then a side trip to Huddersfield for lunch at the "Sportsman" on Sunday followed by a very quick half in the "Rat and Ratchet" just to see what it was like. Then on Monday on the way home, a stop at the "Croglin Castle hotel brewpub" for lunch.

Seemed a good mix, and then it all went wrong. I spoke to Richard from MagicRock, to discover that on Sunday they were holding a Meet the Brewer event for the European Beer Blogger Conference, and i was welcome to come along. Oh that was just TOO tempting, but really this was a family holiday, "Sorry did you just say you were serving Bourbon Bearded Lady". Ahhh i was mistaken its not a family holiday after all.

Then in the final planning stages i discovered a Brepub just up the road from Hawkshead. Oh wait, thats a great idea i can stop by the "Watermill" for lunch and Nip into Hawkshead. (not that the Hawkshead food isnt great. It sure is,but like all things in my life i love to try the new), and that on the way to "Watermill" we pass by the "Brown Horse Inn" which just happens to offer a few of their beers in bottles.

And so once again my family holiday involved. 1 Brewery, and 6 brewpubs

Best of all my Kids had a great time and my wife is still talking to me.

This is a great BEER year.

(ps More to follow on some of the actual events in my next exciting blog post)

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Edinburghs Gone Batty

As can be read about here Edinburgh is soon to see its only functional Brewpub. Glasgow currently has 2, The Clockwork Beer Company, and another i refuse to give any publicity to, due to their insane choice of charging £2.50 for a half pint, while only charging £3.50 for a full pint.
Edinburgh many years ago had a brewpub in the form of McCowans Brewhouse, but this has sadly only been operating as a pub for the last few years, with the Kit on display as expensive window dressing. Rob Knops of Knops brewery did try to lease this kit and put it to good use, but sadly the owners were not interested.

Now while i cant add any meat to the bones of TheBeerCast article i still thought this great event was worth blogging about, Edinburgh has seen many changes in the last few years, with great old standing Cask pubs such as Cloisters and The Bow Bar, offering a better range of keg beers. Replacing Guinness with Black Isle porter was move that just hasn't had enough praise or promotion and how smoothly 99% of drinkers transitioned is a testament to these bars, But we have also seen them offering up stronger ABV beers, holding many more Themed or Brewery promotion nights and actively promoting great beer.

Along side that we have seen the opening of the Likes of Brewdog, and the Holy Trinity of Holyrood 9A, Red Squirrel, and The Southern, offering many keg beers from the likes of  Nogne and Mikkeller.

However, in my eyes at least Edinburgh just hasnt changed quite enough, there have been numerous occasion where the turnover of particular cask or keg beers has been particularly slow. The geek market just isnt as big as i migth have hoped.

Thus when i first heard rumours of the Hanging Bat, i wondered was there room for another cool keg bar. But i think they have found the niche that will make  it work for them, and thats the Brewpub.

Being able to offer their own beers, will make them stand out.
Their location will compliment and enhance both themselves but the other great bars within a short distance walk.  
Offering a chance for people to brew beer that will then be sold in pub, was a stroke of genius, as who isnt going to want to visit the pub to try the beer their mate helped make. Plus i know of at least 5 great home brewers that let loose on the Kit can only enhance the bars reputation, and if each brewer is marketed to include who brewed it, then im sure they will get people coming back time and time again to try the next beer by brewer X. 

All told i think this place looks to be a great addition to the Edinburgh beer scene. My only one reservation is that if this place is anywhere as successful as i think it might be, a brewkit where you can only brew one keg at a time may just be more hassle than its worth.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Vintage Brewdog: Can the old Dog still bite

This Wednesday (16-05-12) im planning on holding a vintage Brewdog tasting. Ive sorted and catalogued my Brewdog beers going back to their very earliest beers.

Lined up we have

Paradox 001 or 006 (these are the same cask but im lead to believe 006 was 2nd time though barrel)
Paradox 007
Avery Brown Dredge
Royal Virility Performance
Hello my name is Ingrid
Tokyo 12%
Divine Rebel 2010
Nanny State 1% vs vintage 0.5% (dont expect these to have held up well)
Alpha Dog
Vintage Chaos Theory
How to Disappear Completly
I Hardcore You
Basha Highland Park and Black Raspberry

I think this is a pretty good cross section of Brewdogs history and am really looking forward to seeing just how well many of these beers have held up.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Rangers Fiasco

Earlier today i tweeted that i had the solution to the Rangers Fiasco, and that was to just to fold the club and transfer al the fans to Celtic.

However about an hour later i can a call from Celtic Manager Neil Lennon saying that they didn't want them, they didn't like their tunes, they can't sing and most of all they smell.

So that left us with a problem. But i thought i had the solution. There were plenty more clubs in Scotland.

So i tried my home town of Dundee first, Dundee United said that Blue doesnt really go with Orange and migth just cause confusion all round, Dundee said that their really  not used to dealing with more that 20 or 30 fans and that the influx might cause some problems. Aberdeen agreed at first but after trying to talk to a few of the fans said, "They'd take them but only if they learn to speak English".

That the left the 2 Edinburgh sides and odd they both agreed but with the same condition. Both clubs would agree to take all the fans except "Robert Peterson" and "Michael Smith" and insisted that the other side take those 2 individuals as part of the deal, Now ive no idea who these 2 guys are or what they have done but neither side was prepared to take them and once again the deal fell through.

So it  turns out it may not be as simple to solve the Ranger Fiasco as i first though