Waening Again

I  hadn't tried any beers from Waen since my very first blog post, some 2 1/4 years ago; so decided to rectify that when some untried beers popped up in stalwart bottle supplier Ales by Mail.

I must say the new branding is much more eye catching and stylish than the previous multicoloured stripes, I wonder how the beer stands up?

Up First is T.W.A. standing for traditional Welsh Ale, though how that differs from pale ales elsewhere is anyone's guess. This is a dark burnished gold with herbal hop aroma, sweet biscuit malt, vegetal notes then some sweet red berry leading to a dry grainy finish. Not my favourite of their beers really, could be from any UK brewer.

Landmark is a hazy dark amber with fluffy off white head. Herbal dry noble hop nose, fairly high carbonation, full bodied, biscuit malt sweetness, slightly vegetal astringent bitterness. Good for quaffing.


Chili Plum Porter (6.1%) pours a hazy ruby tinged brown with tan tinged head. Gives little away on the nose some muted cinnamon notes and cardboard. Begins fairly sweet, a dusting of cocoa, stewed plums, a tingle of chili, burnt roast barley notes, some coffee. Finishing fairly dry. A little lacking in chili but plums are certainly there.Its not quite what I had expected but enjoyable nonetheless and certainly doesn't drink its strength. One for cask sampling I'd wager.

So are these beers simply not as good as the first ones I tried or has my palate moved on a bit? A bit of both I'd wager. Try them yourself as I may be wrong.



#CABPOM August Seno RusioKvass and Diplomats Siers

Something a little different cheese and beer wise this month. Perusing my local Eastern European food store I came across a selection of nominally alcohol free Kvass beers. Kvass is fermented from rye bread and a beer style I've been interested in since reading Pete Brown's account in Three Sheets to the Wind. Here's what I picked up:
Yes, the middle one is in a plastic bottle!
These particular examples are from Lithuania and Latvia. I don't expect them to be a patch on the real thing, particularly the one in PET (I suspect this is made with syrup and force carbonated) but its fun to try new things and ranging from 50p- £1.10 in price they don't exactly break the bank.

In drinking order Porteris, Kvasa, Gira Kvass.

Bauska Porteris Bezalkoholisks pours a ruby tinged brown with a lacing of tan head. Lactose sweetness on nose but fairly faint. Fairly sweet with plenty of carbonation, fudgey full bodied, plum, muscavado and toffee finish.

The Sencu Kvass is a sparkling ruby chestnut with lacing of off white head. You can see its fairly similar to the porteris in appearance. Malty with sultanas, dusty flour on the nose. Very fizzy, very sweet but not exactly unpleasant. Sweetened coke.

Best of the bunch is Seno Rusio,unsurprisingly the "strongest" at 1.5%. It also differs somewhat from theother two in that it retains its head. Perhaps this is actually brewed? Dark chestnut with a tan head, retains well, sour aged fruit and christmas cake on the nose. High carbonation with a sweet molasses and fudge flavour, but the body helps to absorb it and prevent cloying. Liquid Edinburgh tablet with stewed plums. I'd love to try a higher strength version of this...I guess that would be a scotch ale.

What better to go with Lithuanian and Latvian beers than the corresponding cheese? I also picked up an unaged and a smoked Gouda style cheese from the same shop. Certainly thefirst time I've tried Latvian cheese.

Diplomats Siers (unaged) first, its waxy with a semi-open texture (holes) Rich milk fattiness and a semi-aged edam quality about it with a hint of smoke. Slightly waxy texture. Would make a good beer cheese for snacking on with a pilsner.
The Rokiskio Suris Rukytas appears to be a smoked cheese,with waxed rind. The paste here is solid and a darker yellow than the first cheese. There's a good level of oak smoke on the nose and immediately smoky in the mouth with a richer depth of flavour and very Edam like, unaged cheese.

So how do they fare with the beers?  Well the Diplomats reduces the porteris sweetness whereas the Rokisko brings outblack forest ham notes. The same cheese coaxes kola from the PET-bottled Sencu whereas Diplomats does nothing much. It does add a lot of depth to the flavour of the Seno Rusio however, the richness of the cheese complementing the texture and taming the sickliness somewhat,could enjoy the whole bottle with the cheese in tow. The smoked cheese, whilst tasting good has an unusual chalky texture with the Seno; so falls down at thefinal hurdle. 

The winner this month? Seno Rusio Kvass and Diplomats Siers. What are your thoughts on kvass (interesting article here from Beer Hunter Michael Jackson)? Have you ever tried any beer /cheese from Lithuania or Latvia or where's the most exotic place you've had beer/cheese from?


Buxton Sours

One beer style which is currently "on trend" in the UK at the moment is the berlinner weisse, or even sour beers in general. We've had a number from Brodies and now Buxton is getting in on the act.

They recently launched a collaboration, Sky Mountain Sour with To Ol which I enjoyed very much indeed whilst in Edinburgh and the general view from twitter too is that its a great beer. I was also kindly given a few pre-release bottles of Buxton sours, by Denis  brewed by the Buxton team separately to the collaboration brew. They use three strains of yeast/bacteria to ferment (Buxton house yeast, lactobacillus and Bretanomyces) which all contribute to the beer in their own unique way.

Raspberry sour is what it says on the tin, scarlet tinged pale amber with a nose redolent of raspberry jam. There's  a fair bit of up front lacto-sourness then the tart, earthy raspberry flavour comes through. Its packed full of flavour despite its relatively meagre 3.2% strength and its something that went down well, chilled in the heat of Scotland's heat wave.

Even better is the snozberry sour (snozberries? who ever heard of a snozberry). This frankenberry concoction pours a deeper shade of red - crimson perhaps with a melange of berry fruits on the nose, redcurrant and blackberry seem prevalent. In flavour its difficult to distinguish any particular berry, but they all work together well, bouncing off the tart weisse backdrop to produce a flavourful and refreshing beer. It finishes fairly dry too with the added Brettanomyces yeast chomping through residual sugars leaving its familiar fermenting hay notes on the palate. I could easily spend an afternoon session on pints of this and still be compos mentis on the way home.

Buxton will be launching these beers in bottle at their new Tap House, due to open iimminently.I hope to visit before the year's out. If we're lucky they'll make a bigger batch for keg too. Fingers crossed! TThey've also recently released a black sour which sounds intriguing!
I'd love to see more UK brewers take on this style, though understandably we probably won't see many go "full gueuze" because of the risk of contamination of regular brews. I think Brewdog have suggested they may use their old brewery for wild yeasted beers and of course Somerset's own Wild Beer Co are doing all manner of interesting things with wild yeasts. More please!


Craft Beer Explosion

Keg and cask to keep everyone happy!
Bristol is awash with decent new bars and breweries at the moment. Fresh on the heels of the Barley Mow's refurbishment comes the change of use of one of Bristol's iconic gig venues, the Croft, now the Crofter's Rights. I called in for their soft opening last Friday to find a place almost unrecognisable from what one stood there. The staff have been hard at work refitting the place to host a bustling craft beer bar, with taps in the wall a-la Euston tap now de rigeur for such venues.

Ideal if bricks and mortar are your thing
Of course, not everything was ready with a smell of fresh paint in the air, but we were able to try some excellent, well-kept beers from the likes of Magic Rock and Camden Town. The toilets were a little hair-raising, with a tight spiral staircase for access and no doors yet in place but these should all be sorted in time for the full launch!

Also recently opened is the Bristol Beer Emporium, a subterranean beery Mecca that on our visit was rammed due to the Bristol Harbour side festival also happening that weekend.
Fairly unassuming from the outside.
A good range of both local, national and international brewers on cask and keg, there were no seats left so we stayed for a swift half before heading out for some more Gromit hunting. I shall certainly be returning here when its not quite so manic! I particularly liked their branded glassware and the food menu sounds good too.

And so onto the breweries...
Great branding guys!
I managed to snag the final third of Rocket Science's Oort Cloud Wit in the Barley Mow. Not so much wit as weisse, there's plenty of wheat character in there and served from keg on a summers evening it was very refreshing, but I was just looking for a little bit more stand-out in flavour.

This I got from New Bristol Brewery's Flame. Its a hop-forward amber ale a la Brewdog 5AM Saint though with more of a focus on pine hops. Dark amber, with mango pithiness and a dry, slightly chalky finish, this beer could develop into something of a regular. Certainly hope to try more from this brewery.

There are plenty more breweries and pubs to explore in Bristol. A third new craft beer bar is due to open in October handily located off St Nicholas Market; so you can get some decent beer after having your fill of decent food. Right next door to the Beer Emporium is the newly refurbished "craftised" Famous Royal Navy Volunteer, focussing solely on UK beers a la Hanging Bat. Four new bars following hot on Brewdog's heels...were they the motivator or simply a vanguard?

October sees the inaugural Bristol Beer Week, check out their website and follow them on Twitter for more details. Hope to see you there!


Hunting Gromit

(Or a stealth pub crawl in Bristol.) 
Wake up, sweltering heat not entirely all there from the night before

Long wait for packed bus courteous shirtless belying stereotypes

An old new bar, welcomed by staff
An old old pub, welcomed by staff
Beers supped in each, great quality

Roadside jerk chicken, don't mind if I do

Clocked location of new new bar, will return soon

Semi-expected deluge miles from anywhere

Cake and coffee in a garden centre

Wet feet, harbour side gravity stillage, don't mind if I do*

Floored drunk revellers eating peanuts from a wok

Stuff face with excellent Tapas

Return to new new bar, salivate, drink new wheat beer.

Spectacular fireworks, then home for a nightcap.

See you again soon Bristol.

*An unexpected find, Siren on cask in Bristol, was impressed, hope to see this London Brewery out and about more.Also on offer: tynebank, harbour, magic rock, hand drawn monkey a well chosen, none too common selection, well done to the venue in question.


#TheSession #78: My Elevator Pitch for beer

First Friday of the month means the session is here again; this month hosted by James of Beer Bar Band. We're asked this month to argue for beer in 250-words or less in the style of an "elevator pitch" (or lift spiel if you will). Ignoring the practicality that most people don't talk to each other in lifts (and that you shouldn't really criticise people for their own drinking choices anyway) here is what I'd say.

"Hiya, I see you're enjoying a beer, great to see that you're drinking something that Britain is famous for. There's been a lot of breweries opening in recent years; with all manner of interesting beery flavours. Here try this...*tosses can of Brewdog punk IPA*. You can pick these up pretty cheaply in the supermarket its a good reflection of what is good in UK brewing at the moment and you're supporting a British company whereas a lot of other widely available beers are owned overseas. Plus the beer is unpasteurised which means the flavour is fresher. Besides the cans are smaller so can fit in your fridge more easily and you can pretend its a soft drink so get away with drinking it in places where beer isn't allowed*"

Person leaves lift pleased to have received free alcohol.

I believe the best way to convince people to think about new beer is to get them to try it, no amount of talking is going to persuade them. If you offer them a free sample then they don't even have to part with their money.

*Busses for instance..ahem