News, Nuggets & Longreads 15 April 2017 — Metal, Myrcene, Milk Stout

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the world of beer and pubs in the last week, from heavy metal to heavy hops.

For Noisey, the music section of Vice, Sammy Maine has written what she calls ‘A Love Letter to British Metal Pubs’, highlighting the threat to this particular type of pub:

Another blow is the case of Bristol’s The Stag and Hounds—a metal/rock pub focused on the promotion of local and DIY shows—which will be closing next month. Announcing the news on their website, the team explained that ‘through a series of events and circumstances (some out of our control) we have looked at the books and it’s not viable for us to carry on to see the contract out.’ This kind of statement is becoming a broken record when it comes to fans of metal pubs—their presence tumbling thanks to various issues like tax hikes, the persistent demand for luxury flats and the feeling that they simply don’t feel hugely relevant or crucial anymore when metal can often feel more like a genre you pass through, rather than one you commit to.

(This is actually from a couple of weeks ago but we only noticed it the other day.)


Wild hops, Richmond, London.

Emma at Crema’s Beer Odyssey has shared a long, detailed post on the science of hops, based on research for a talk to a South London home brewing club. It is technical without being remote and typically forthright, acting (perhaps incidentally) as a rebuke to us and others who have failed to get on board the drink fresh train:

There are always people who say, ‘oh but I prefer my IPA with some age on it’ or similar. If you look around online it’s quite easy to find evidence of people drinking IPA or DIPA when it’s months or even years old and insisting it’s still great. It’s nice that they enjoy old beer but that’s not what the brewer intended. Of course, depending on the size of the brewery, there are steps which can be taken to give their beer as long a shelf life as possible (filtering and cold chain distribution, for example). For smaller breweries there is a much simpler option: advise your customers to drink fresh by applying a short best before date to your hop-forward beers, e.g. three or four months.

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Magical Mystery Pour #3: Chocolate Cake

Magical Mystery Pour logo.The third of four beers recommended to us by Dina is Siren’s Caribbean Chocolate Cake stout, a collaboration with Florida’s Cigar City.

In her sleeve notes Dina says:

Oh, hi dark chocolate stout, I enjoy the way you feel. It’s like sleeping on black satin sheets in a forest on a moonlit night. In the Caribbean, I suppose, but I get more western South Dakota. I am recommending this one to you guys for a bit of luxury. Go on, you’re worth it.

Its ABV is 7.5% and we bought our 330ml bottle from Beer Gonzo for £4.25.

It looked lovely when we poured it — clingy black with a stable berg of red-brown crema. Espresso with chocolate ice cream on top. (The pic below makes it look beige; it wasn’t.)

The aroma was subdued amounting to no more than a whiff of roasting nuts.

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The Session #17 – Anti-seasonal drinking

This month we’ve been asked by Rob D’Anunzio of Pfiff! fame to go against the grain and drink something not in season. Of course, the additional challenge for British bloggers is to determine what season we’re actually in at any given point in time…

Rather than go for a particular style, we raided our stash for Christmas beers.

First up was one that’s intrigued us for a while – Chapeau Christmas gueuze from Brouwerij de Troch. Now I always think of gueuzes as being a pretty summery drink, particularly when they’re lovely and fresh on tap. So the very existence of this beer seems anti-seasonal and in the spirit of the session. Reviews on Ratebeer and BeerAdvocate range from “weird” to “rank”, so we really didn’t know what to expect. It’s not actually bad – it smells and tastes like a fairly uncomplicated cherry beer, one of the sweet ones. If you’ve had, and liked, Timmerman’s or Boon Kriek, you won’t be disappointed. We’re not sure what’s wintry about it – maybe you’re supposed to mull it?

So onto Glad Tidings, a “spiced milk stout” from the Chiltern Brewery. I’ve heard many great things about this brewery but have never tried their stuff on tap or in bottles – strange considering they’re not that far out of London. This Christmas stout is 4.6% and has a gorgeous head. This is a very interesting beer – we can’t quite decide if it’s genius or amateur. They’ve rather gone to town on the Christmas spices, which dominate the nose and the aftertaste. There’s also a strong fruit flavour – probably from using oranges? Or maybe plums? It tastes a bit peachy, almost sour. It’s got a great body too, and a head that lasts – we have condition envy! Worth trying again, and definitely worth getting our arses out to deepest darkest Bucks to see what else these guys are up to.

Remaining in the UK, we have Hepworth‘s Vintage Christmas Ale. They claim this 7.5% beastie will keep for years, and we wonder if we’re being premature drinking it two years before its best before date. It pours a glorious clear red, with a nice creamy head. The taste is difficult to describe, but it’s extremely fruity and warming. I was reminded of something like Bigfoot Barley Wine, except without the C-hops, if that makes sense. It has a gooey body, with a really good solid malt flavour. It’s a little nutty with hints of vinous fruits and oranges, and a beautifully balanced hop flavour cuts through but doesn’t overwhelm. Lovely stuff.

We were going to have a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale to top the evening off, but I can’t see how it would beat that. So we’ll leave it there, with the long chewy aftertaste of Hepworth Christmas ale lingering on.

Boak