The start of another beery month.

GK IPA "action shot"
 Yesterday I made the convoluted journey to Belfast to attend the Royal Society of Chemistry Christmas Lecture "Mines a Pint" given by Professor Jack Pearce, Emeritus Professor of Food Science at Queens University, Belfast. Not having had a chance to meet fellow Northern Ireland chemists, I went along not really sure what to expect. What we got was an entry level talk on brewing and tasting beers with a few tantalising anecdotes and chemistry titbits thrown in.

Jack's first voyage into the world of home-brewing was when he spotted a sign for "brew your own, ha'penny a pint". Fed up with being stung for Belfast beer prices (3/-6!) he opted to give it a try and never looked back. The selection of beers chosen are widely available in supermarkets and in a range of styles, though all from "regional" brewers. Aside from a mishap with beer selection (Old Golden Hen rather than Old Speckled Hen being provided!) the talk went well and the audience seemed appreciative of their new found beery knowledge. 

The beers tasted were Greene King Moorland Old Golden Hen, Shepherds Neame Spitfire & Bishop's Finger, GK IPA, Newcastle Brown and Theakston's Old Peculier. We were given a bit of history about each style and then allowed to taste. Innis & Gunn were mentioned for their use of oak and Brewdog also got a mention, though professedly too hoppy for the Professor! The remaining beer was then shared around and a few cheeses enjoyed.  A fun night but seemed far too brief! Thank you to Dr Dermot Hanna for organising the evening and Professor Jack Pearce for hosting.

18 Empty bottles and a plateful of cheese
I found it interesting to compare Spitfire and Bishop's finger side by side as I always assumed they were the variants on a theme, but noticed that Spitfire was much hoppier and did not really enjoy Bishop's finger at all. I declined the Old Golden Hen as I have recently tried a bottle and the GK IPA was as bland as I remember. I do enjoy Old Peculier however.

Post-lecture we headed along the Ormeau Road to the Vineyard off-licence where I was delighted to see that both Kernel and Buxton beers were in stock, as well as some Sam Smith's beers I had not yet had a chance to sample. I was also on hand to advise my friend Julie on some good winter warmers for Christmas.

Not so Christmassy
We finished off the evening with a pint in the Bridge Bar - Box Steam Christmas Blonde, which is one of those beers that starts off promising but becomes a bit meh by the end of the glass. In fact the whole "Christmas" beer selection for Wetherspoon this time around is fairly dull. To send me to bed with a good taste in my mouth I couldn't resist tucking into my S.C.G.A.NS from The Kernel. It poured hazy pale amber with a good thick head and gentle carbonation. Delicious aroma of mango, lychees and lime zest. Quite a pithy bitterness with resin following on swiftly afterwards. Long finish which saw me all the way back to the hostel. I did not enjoy the early start to get back to Cookstown however!

Whilst I was in Belfast a much bigger beer event was alo happening, the British Guild of Beer writers Annual Awards ceremony. The winners list reads as a whos-who in the beer writing world, and its interesting how all winners are also users of Twitter, suggesting that those who embrace new media and social networking are most likely to get ahead. Rather than list the winners here I'll direct you to someone who was there.

Click to see this properly!
December is shaping up to be another beerful month, what with my planned Fullers Vintage Ale tasting at home next weekend, the 12 stouts from Bristol beer factory and plenty of other beery goodness awaiting me in the run up to Christmas here in Cookstown (and indeed at home in Yeovil) I shall be needing a detox month in January!


  1. Ah! I've been remiss in my blog-reading for a few weeks, and missed your mention of the The Kernel and Buxton stuff in The Vineyard. Serves me right. I managed to nab a couple of The Kernel's IPAs before they disappeared from the shelves, though. And they've still got all of the Buxton beers in stock - fantastic stuff, and a big surprise!

  2. Yeah, I was proper chuffed to find them there! I updated my buxton post (see end of Oct). Wild boar was excellent!

  3. That's good - I didn't buy a Wild Boar the other day, but I've just been back to The Vineyard for my second visit of the week. Couldn't resist picking up another Axe Edge, too.

    Yeah, I remembered the name of the brewery from your earlier post - the only time I'd heard of it before - or else I might very well have ignored the range altogether...

  4. Wow...great stuff! I've just inadvertantly drunk the majority of the bottle in about five minutes. Pity I only bought one, but at least there's the Axe Edge to fall back on.

  5. I've not found any bad beers from Buxton, they seem to be deservedly cleaning up in the Golden Pint awards too