Friday, 20 December 2013

Golden Pints 2013

Beer this year just seems to have got Better and Better, some of my favorites have come from Brewers i ve loved, a few from brewers that have seemed hyped beyond my personal liking for them, a few from brewers who have really hiten their stride after a mediocre start, and in one case from a Brewery that i wouldnt expect much from. SO as such Im not going to Pick 1 Beer but mention a few. The interesting thing is how some BEER wow and stick in your memory but others that are Just as good fade into the Past and only my Ratebeers note or a prompt when someone mentions them bring them to mind. Now the one that fade are not to be considered 2nd class winners. It may be that their from a Standout Brewery so i kind of expect it to be bloody good, and conversely those that do stand out are not to be assumed to be from a poorer brewery it could just be an amazing beer on a night of mediocrity. But beer is fascinating and come is so many varieties and colours (Though evidently not all the colours of the Rainbow) 
Best UK Cask Beer
Three Immediately Jump to Mind Harbour Aji Limon IPA  which was an Early opener. I expected a Lemon beer but got a chilli beer, and as any regular chilli beer lover knows all the best Chilli beers are stouts. The Dark rich malt base just carries the Chilli much better. Except it turns out im wrong there (and as as Chris Mair of  NewWave/Hanging bat fame will tell you. Im not often wrong) The Chilli tones and the light lemon that comes from the Chilli were beautifully balanced in this beer. It was so good that I went out and Bought 3 Aji Lemon Chilli plants.  The Second was a Tiny Rebel Beer (and for Dr Who fans go check out Legacy and mobile game produced by Tiny Rebel studios) I was heading back from the Scottish real ale festival and stopped off in the Caley sample rooms to have some Harbour Beers that were still on from a Meet the Brewer and there was Tiny Rebel Grand Regal (Canadian Bourbon)  it just grabbed me by the taste buds and would not let me go, Beautifully balanced. The Third was Batemans Hazelnut Brownie This did what it said on the tin, and was just so rich and complex. Its not often that a Spoons pull out a winner like this but it though it superb. The Last Entry in this Category goes to Blackjack King of Clubs on a visit to Marble where i had 5 minutes before i had to run for a train dragging my family in tow, it may have been a mistake to have headed there with so little time, but this was a perfect Imperial stout just hitting all my soft spots, a delight. The more i think the bigger this section gets, Another delight was in Manchester again very quicky on way to a train home i stopped off in the common Bar. Now sometime there just no new exciting beer to try so your forced to drink stuff you've had before(it can be a cruel world) So seeing Hawkshead Hawkshead Cumbrian Five Hop Export Which was delicious with a soft smooth body and silky citrus hop tones. It just Brought a massive smile to my face. This was Hawkshead at its Best. Golden Beer(nor many stouts) just dont get better than this. The final pick is Oakham Green Devil IPA This is another IPA that just fails to deliver everytime <edit, ok thats me at my best, i meant This is another IPA that just fails to disappoint everytime>. 
Best UK Keg Beer
There are NO good Keg beers
Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer
This one is always going to be   Old Chimneys Good King Henry Special Reserve  There is no beer i buy more of, Drink more of , Give away more of than any other Beer. and the 2011 Vintage is Just Superb
Best Overseas Draught Beer
De Molen Hot & Spicy (Naga Joloki)  but it could have done with being just a little hotter.
Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer
Ive had load but you know nothing is Screaming at me Remember me. Maybe that says something about the UK beer scene. But Trawling Ratebeer is see i loved Mikkeller Cù’t Cà Phê Bia  
Best Collaboration Brew
This should have also been in the Best Bottle Beer section but Wild Beer / Burning Skies / Good George Shnoodlepip was a Wow moment. Its beers like this that make me want to TRY everything. This one was picked up because Wild Beer are always worth a punt, usually decent but not generally someone i get excited by. But this. This is the Bees Knees. For my tick boxes its the wrong colour the wrong style but this is as good as anything ive had all year. So good thats i was straight back into the shop for quite a few more. Its stunning. I hope this is made time and time again but at least ive a few more for now and a few to keep. Not a colab and really should be filed under best Bottled beer but Wild Beer Whiskebeest  along side the Shnoodlepip could easily both be sitting in the Best UK bottle, hell Best World Bottle beer.
Best Overall Beer
Blame the Ratebeerian in me but the Next New Beer. Theres something about the breadth and Depth of  what beer can deliver, something about the anticipation of what this one will be like. Will it be a solid Brewery that disappoints, a poor brewery that excites or will it be just whats expected.  Yeah i Love good beer, and when i find a GREAT one i'll buy a few to a Shed Load but part of my enjoyment is the anticipation. I think MotorHead Summed it up best when they sang
"Come on honey, let me drink you from the Glass,
You know The Chase Is Better Than The Catch"
Best Branding, Pump Clip or Label
Magic Rock or Red Willow. Both have fantastic Branding and follow it up with Great Beers.
Best UK Brewery
There Three Contenders here. Brodies as Always as despite James lack of organisation and regular Promises of More than he can Deliver. I love What they do. I think of Brodies as Aiming for mars but Crash landing on the moon. They dont always Deliver as much as they promise But theyre flying higher than most Breweries dare to dream.

Then we get to Two at the Other end. There here because of their SOLID reliability across the Board. Both these Breweries turn out a Solid well made and Delightful core range, but supplement this with a few Bigger bolder or just different beers. Both of them have released more than 1 new beer this year that probably should have made my best of beers list(but it was growing too big, so i saved them both for here) and they are Cumbrias Finest Hawkshead, and the Inaccurately named Highland Brewery ( I think it must be a Silent H) I dont think ive ever had a bad beer from either of them, i get excited and go out of my way to find any new beer i get rumour of, and there both in a small list of breweries that make a safe and regular return to beer ive drunk before. 

Best Overseas Brewery
This one may be a bit of a Cheat, as ive not really experienced this Brewer in their full range but the Winner this year based on the FOUR different treatments of Tovarisch is the Spanish Brewery Laugar Brewery Sadly there was none of the Base beer but all for versions were superb. Definitely different but each bringing its own Charm.
Pub/Bar of the Year
The Hanging Bat, Edinburgh. Twenty rotating beer lines, fantastic food, regular meet the brewer events. What more could you ask for? I'm Glad its not an Hour away otherwise id cry a lot.
Beer Festival of the Year
There really is only one WInner here and thats DeMolens fetsival, its got the right mix of good beers, rare beer, new brewers and decent prices. The Addition of the Food stalls and the continuation of plenty seating make this a Clear winner. But Honorable mentions need to goto Brodies Bunnie Bash, FyneFest and Egham all who have there own particular charm.
Supermarket of the Year
Really I struggle here. Some have a few but they just dont offer what the great range of independents i have access to do.
Independent Retailer of the Year
Im not gonna Choose Best. But i will give Huge thanks to All the Edinburgh Shops that have put beer aside for me, or strive to have an interesting selection. Almost every Area of the City has a standout Beer shop bar Corstorphine where i live. So biggest thanks goes to Beets who opposite my Work continues to delight.
Online Retailer of the Year
Have never bought beer online recently, so can’t comment on this one!
Best Beer App
Only one i have is the Ratebeer one, Which is handy at time for storing offline notes but i still prefer just using websites direct
Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer
No one will replace him. 

Best UK Keg Beer
Several beers Jump out here Arbor / Moor Double Dark Alliance  was stunning. A Beer in my style that just got it perfect in every regard. Sadly for me the bottle version while still awsome was just a little more bitter(who know how that happens) but that does not diminish Just how good it. I just regret not having more on Keg while it was there. Siren Odyssey 001 at IMBC was again as near as perfect as they come. Ryans move to the UK can only be good news for Access to beers to by the Superb Brewer. Then onto the Highlight of De Molen festival and a beer that foolishly i only tried once before it vanished Thornbridge / S:t Eriks Imperial Raspberry Stout  Bottles of this have been kicking round and while i havent tried the Bottle. I URGE you, find one fine one NOW.

Ive avoided mentioning any Close Friends  here, so if any of you are Reading this thinking. Im gonna Kill that Sorry Son of a .... Well thats the reason.  And i will stick to that Story no matter what you say. Though i maybe bribed with Beer. But not your beer. Its sucks.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Shining a Light on Solar Panels

Well we are fast approaching the 3rd Anniversary of My Solar Panel Fittings, so i thought i would look at the cost/benefit of the actual performance versus the Actuality.

The cost to install the System was £15,000

The predicted number of units produced was 2700 dropping to 2200 in Year 25
The predicted income per year was £1400 in the first year rising  to £1600 by year 25, due to the increase in feed-in-tarrif increasing inline with inflation.

Below i show the first 3 years

So as can be seen, Im producing about 15% more than the independent Prediction site i used to calculate if i thought Installing Solar Panels would be Cost effective.

Next I needed to see how much i had saved on my Electricity Bill.
From the Simply Switch web site i found information that the Average 4 Bedroom house used 6000 Units a year. But looking at my 2009 and 2010 Electricity I used 4335 units and 4265 respectively. About 12 units a Day and a little over Two Thirds of the Average household. So already i was being cost effective.

Looking at the Electricity Usage for 2012 and 2013  i used 2389units and 2505 respectively. This is about 6.7 units a day a drop of 5.3 So not quite half but a considerable saving. This works out as a saving on my Electricity bill of about £210 a year (and this will only go up as electricity prices increase.

Adding this to the the Fits income for the Past 3 years we end up with a  Total of £5000. So I have Paid off a third of the installation costs  in the first three years.

Assuming almost no increase it fits(and its linked to inflation) but just enough to counteract the degradation of the panel.  The income over the 25 Years would be £41000.
If i invested £15000 over 25 years and had £41000 at the end that would be slightly over a 4% per year Return.

But this in not a fair comparison as that assumes that the whole of the 15K and interest is left invested over the 25years. Where as i have been spending the Money generated. So the true return is closer to 8-9%

*Its important to note now that Installation Costs and Fits Payments have both fallen drasticly  and that anyone considering it now should look at Current costs and Fits Payments.

Monday, 14 October 2013

New Doctor Who Found

I got this email this morning but cant afford the $3000 myself, im hoping some of you can help me get these episodes back.

Dear Respected One,


Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into business relationship with you. I got your contact from the International web site directory. I consulted the Stars over it and selected your name among other names due to it's esteeming nature and the recommendations given to me as a reputable and trust worthy person I can do business with and by the recommendations I must not hesitate to confide in you for this simple and sincere business.

I am Emil Keller, the only Son of late Mr Sir Gilles Estram. My father was a poor Janitar  at the Prasar Bharati Corporation in the nineteen sixties, Sadly this week he passed  in a fire but amongst the ruins we found keys to a safety deposit box. We have been out to visit the bank and discovered the first three episodes of Dr Who and the Smugglers.

I have been told that these episode are very valuable and could be sold for that he has a sum of $12.500.000 (Twelve Million, five hundred thousand dollars).

Sadly the bank will not let us take the epiodes out of the bank with out the proper paperwork, but sadly the paperwork was destroyed in the fire. The bank say in absence of the proper paperwork we would need to visit the Capital and have the paperwork redone. But sadly we cannot afford the $3000 that it would take for me and my 2 sisters to visit the lawers in Deli and have the paperwork redone.

Moreover Sir, we are able to lend me the $3000 i would be more than happy to repay you and in addition  to offer you 15% of the sum as compensation for effort in releasing these episodes. If you can find it in your heart to help please email me at

Anticipating to hear from you soon.
Thanks and God Bless.
Best regards.
Mr Emil Keller


Friday, 30 August 2013

Bracia Yourself

Its been a long time coming and ive been waiting till i got a third vintage, and with picking up Batch 4 earlier this month i seemed time to get stuck in.

All look deep darkest black looking almost identical with the middle vintage (batch 2 or 3) having a little more head.

The aroma varies quite a lot with Batch 1 being dark treacle and plums, with a little germoline in there, Batch 4 is a sweet honey woody with light licorice and treacle nose ... and the middle batch is very big honey.. soft chocolate treacle .. much drier and much more intense than the other 2.

Mouthfell wise the first and fourth are a little thiner and a little fizzier than the middle one, with batch one being the fizziest of them all. The Middle batch is rich oily body, softer carbonation and much fuller mouth feel.

Flavour wise theres no mistaking that these are the same beer, but their are none the less noticible differences. Batch 1 seems to have faded and thined out flavour wise, its clearly the less intense of the three.
Its a soft roast with the lighest chocolate hints, sweet honey malts with a bitter woody  nutty tones ... the flavours and deep and rich, very mellow and rounded. The differences Batch 1 is more bitter up front, and bacth 4 is very berry fruits and it clearly the more fruity of the three. The middle has the bitter honey tones i associate with many meads.

So which is my favourite, thats like choosing your favourite Child but here goes, It think its batch 4, but its followed so close by batch 1 its a difficult call. But the fruityness wins out, the middle ones honey bitterness in the linger just drags it down a  bit for me and makes it a little to OTT.

and Because its what he would have wanted

Oddly having it through straws adds a little spicyness to the rich deem nutty malts.

Monday, 17 June 2013

The Fynest Festival on Earth

I thought with Beer Cast Rich not being able to make Fynefest I was in with a chance to cover the festival in my own way without looking second rate but sadly for me Rich has managed to write a better piece (with I'm sure no spelling mistakes) without being there, than I could manage in a thousand years.
But having set my mind to covering this FYNE festival it seemed silly of me not to put the effort in.
This Years Trip started way back in 2012 when I had to cancel our planned trip to Fyne fest, I'm my ever present Beer/Family balance.
But having to Sacrifice 2012 Fynefest and hearing the great reports, I resolved to fit it into my 2013 Beer calendar.
On arrival at the field we were left to set-up our pitch in a nice big flat open field only a short hop from the Stage, bar and food stalls. Then checking in we swapped out tickets for our wrist bands and were handed a couple of bottle of water(given that we had forgotten to bring water this was superb and a nice touch) and wandered off to find the bar. The Bar was set up in a HUGE marquee with the Bar at one end and the Stage at the other. Which worked very well on the whole but at time the music was too loud and this made conversation tricky. Now this wouldn’t have been a problem if it had been sunny but giving the Typical Scottish weather we had there wasn’t really anywhere to retreat to.
 Just outside the marque was six or seven food stalls offering a decent variety, with Venison burgers, all sorts of smelly fish(im not a fish fan), haggis, stew, veggie curry and even a few nice and sticky pudding (that pleased my kids no end). Behind the food were more than enough toilets, and well maintained they were as well(which if you’ve seen bad festival toilets full above the rim!!! you really appreciate well maintained toilet facilities)
But back to the reason I was there. The Beer. It appeared that there was some cooled cellar  for the Cask beer, but however it was managed it was some of the Best quality festival ale I've had, there were a few beers that I didn’t enjoy but not a single beer was served in poor condition. The beer I drank most of should come as no surprise to anyone was the De Molen Rasputin (well it ticks all my boxes), the Beer that most surprised me was Marble Earl Grey IPA, I hadn't really thought much of this when I tried it from the Bottle, but on Cask it was stunning and it may have been my most drunk beer if any had lasted to the Saturday. The Beer that no one but me seemed to like was again De Molen this time De Molen Raad & Daad which was a strange balsamic vinegar toned Barrel aged sour that had a fair bite in back of throat. Now I couldn’t drink much of it but I did really enjoy what I had. The Fynest beer of the weekend was the Bell Rock in Hop which just failed to make my top10 IPA list sitting 11th equal. But the Best Beer of the weekend VERY SADLY wasn’t on tap, it was a bottle of Home Brew. But not just any home Brew, I just happened to visit the Brewery at the right time when Jake Griffin from Fyne had opened a Bottle of home brew Zombier, that he had coco-nutted to the Max,  im a little hazy though he did kindly tell me what he had done and I remember whole coconuts at one stage, coconut milk some other point and I think even some creamed coconut at yet another. This was Superb, But given what he had to do, I cant see him ever being allowed or even able to do it on the Real kit. Which is a shame.
Music wise there was nobody I didn’t like but only one really stood out for me, and I've no idea of their name but they were on First on the Friday night, and I really wouldn’t mind a CD for a better listen.
Theres really only 1 change I would like to see to the festival and that’s the option to be able to park beside your tent. There was a field between the car park and the main Arena that seemed perfect for this, and being used to doing this at the Cropredy festival, we really missed the convenience of having everything to hand. Travelling with a family always seems to involve too much stuff and Having to drag the MASSIVELY heave tent back to the car in a hung over state is not one im Keen to Repeat.
But all told the only thing that wasn’t Fyne about the festival was the weather.
PS. Lookout for a MEGA collaboration brew coming out in the next few month, There were at least Seven Top UK brewers involved in this beer. So my simple maths this beer should be seven times as good as most beers and Three and a half times better than normal collaboration brews. I for one cant wait.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Bash Your Haggis

Now not much has inspired me to write of late, but this forthcoming event has got me excited, and those that know me will know just how big a "FanBoy" i am when it comes to Brodies.

In discussion James from Brodies said he wondered how he was going to make next years Bunny Basher better than last years, to which i quicky replied "Thats easy, just hold it in Edinburgh"

Not particularly funny or clever but i was more puzzled by his reply. "You might be closer than you think but cant say more just yet"  But less than TWO hours later it broke that Brodies were to hold a multi pub event in Edinburgh.

If i knew all James needed was 2 hours to arrange a Brodies Event in Edinburgh id have asked him years ago.

So first off, if you don't know anything about the Brodies home pub you should go read  this

But for those of you in the know, you will no doubt be as excited as i am over the thought of Brodies Haggis Basher.

From the Information ive gleamed from twitter (and i will update as i get more info) It would appear to be a multi pub event held in Edinburgh on the 10th of July 2013, with the Pubs looking to be "The Cask and Barrel Southside", "Brewdog Edinburgh" and "The Hanging Bat"

There will be a mixture of cask and keg with likly upwards of 20 NEW brodies beers, Top amonst these is a Blueberry Version of their Sour, Now all the Brodies sours have been pretty cool, but the small taste i had of the Blueberry was out of this world and  will clearly be, one not to be missed.

Also mentioned is the intriguing  White Chocolate, White pepper, White Stout but their are no real details on this one. While fans of the Big Mofo Stout and Red wine will no doubt be drooling over the Rioja barrel version of this collaboration.

So while details may be thin on the ground at this stage there is no doubt in my mind that this could well be the unmissable Edinburgh Beer event this year.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Has CAMRA Lost its Way

It broke today on Twitter that Cromarty  had a beer order cancelled from a CAMRA festival beacuse they sell the same beer in Cask in Keg.

Now many of my friends know im  an Ardent CAMRA Supporter.

But i was horrified to think that CAMRA’s policy might be to  not support or buy beer from Brewers that Produce the same beer in cask and keg (using the same name) and while not wanting to call Cromarty  liars i just couldnt believe this was policy so i phoned CAMRA HQ

And  bloody Hell it appears to be true, i was told

Policy is
"4.33 Beer festivals are not to stock or admit for any award, any beer brand which is produced in both cask and keg versions that mislead the drinker into believing that there is little or no difference between the versions."

The wording of the policy is such that beer festival organisers are able to determine whether or not drinkers are likely to be misled. If drinkers are not likely to be misled then the festival organisers may stock a beer that is brewed both in cask and keg versions.

Now maybe this one Beer festival is interpreting the rule very tightly but its ridiculous.

Sad to say but i cant see this causing anything but harm to CAMRA reputation, when even i (probably the most PRO CAMRA person i know find this to be nothing but stupid.

And i dont want to be the person answering people at the festival about why a brewery is missing from festival, there bound to get fed up of being laughed at.

In fact looking at

All three top beers in Scotland last year were produced by Brewers who will be selling there produce in both Cask and Keg, and while i will always prefer to see them in cask rather than keg, thats my personal choice.
I dont think the Battle for Cask beer is won, and i think CAMRA has a cause still to fight for, for moves like this do more to harm there cause and make them look stupid. Sadly despite argueing for the Last 2 years that CAMRA are still relevant, it does in fact look like they have lost their way.

You can Read here more about why one of these 2 breweries has Chosen to go down the Keg and Cask route.