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.