¿Cómo mantener una verdadera cultura cervecera?

English version

Jorge Mario, de Columbia, ha preguntado:

¿Cómo construir, consolidar y mantener una verdadera cultura cervecera?

Voy a definir una verdadera cultura cervecera como una, donde hay un montón de diferentes fábricas de cerveza, y donde hay una buena variedad de cervezas disponibles. En otras palabras, debe haber elección para el consumidor. España tiene una gran cultura de cervecerias y bares, pero no es decir que hay una verdadera cultura cervecera allí.

Continue reading “¿Cómo mantener una verdadera cultura cervecera?”

A real ale pub that doesn’t feel weird

Dark Star Espresso Stout
Dark Star Espresso Stout

On a recent business trip to Cheshire, I got billetted in Frodsham. My taxi driver volunteered the information that the pubs in town were decent and recommended the Helter Skelter.

Good call.

It’s pointedly a “real ale pub” but with an extremely mixed clientele and a genuinely relaxed atmosphere. There were lots of lads and ladies drinking lager, some middle-aged couples on a double date, a few old ladies on a night out and, of course, a huddle of men with beards having an earnest conversation over a notebook.

The beer was in astoundingly good condition. Phoenix’s West Coast IPA offered a late taste of summer and lived up to its marketing (a weaker Liberty Ale?) and Dark Star Espresso Stout was sweeter and chewier than from the bottle.

The beer was served with a sparkler, as you’d expect in that part of the world, but here it just seemed to give the head some body without turning it into shaving foam. I’m coming round to the idea.

What is this pub getting right? Friendly staff, for one thing. Lots of information, for another — a board behind the bar with a guide to the colour of the beers on offer is a stroke of genius. It helps that they’re not trying to beervangelise to anyone: there are no scary signs telling people off for not liking real ale, for example, and you can get a pint of Stella if that’s what you want.

And a bit of quiet background music doesn’t hurt, either.

Bailey

La Ronda #3 – Una cata de cervezas virtual

English version.

Delirium ha organizado esta Ronda, en la que tenemos que proponer una cata de cervezas virtual.

“Suponed que lo que queréis es dar a conocer esta bebida a gente que por lo general no es bebedora habitual de cerveza….tiene que haber un mínimo de 5 y un máximo de 8 cervezas…Mejor no escoger cervezas elaboradas tan sólo en una microcervecería, accesibles tan sólo a unos pocos”

Como nos gusta beer-vangelizar de vez en cuando, hemos hablado mucho de este tema. Después de mucha consideración, optamos por la siguiente seis cervezas. Continue reading “La Ronda #3 – Una cata de cervezas virtual”

Hogs Back brewery — some of it our cup of T.E.A

Various Hogsback Brewery beers
Various Hogsback Brewery beers

Lots of people seem to rate T.E.A. (Traditional English Ale) by the Hogs Back* brewery. We’ve had it on a number of occasions (on cask and in bottle) and never really liked it. There’s just something a bit acrid about it. So we’ve never made much of a point about seeking their stuff out.

However, the other night we were in Stonch‘s pub, and he got out some of their OTT, a 6% old ale. As he says in his post, it had a “surprisingly sour, funky character”, tasting almost like an Oud Bruin. It worked extremely well and was very tasty, but we did wonder whether it was supposed to taste like that.

We’ve just drunk a bottle we’ve had stashed away for a while, and it’s a very different beer. There are elements of a dark Belgian beer like Ciney Brune in the nose and mouth. I suppose there’s a hint of sourness right at the end, but you would not call this a sour beer. It’s much more fruity. It’s very pleasant. I don’t know which I prefer — this version, or the potentially “off” bottle we had the other night!

Anyway, this made us keen to try the rest of the Hogs Back stash we’d accumulated over the years. Burma Star Ale is 4.2%, and a percentage of the revenue goes to the Burma Star Association. It’s a well-rounded, red ale, with spicy, fruity aroma. An almost creamy maltiness gives way to a nutty, dry finish. Nice.

Then came Wobble in a Bottle, which packs a powerful punch at 7.5%. It didn’t look all that great — the head vanished almost instantly — but this tasted like a good Belgian abbey brew. Similar sugary-fruity-chewiness. I really enjoyed this one.

Finally, we had to try T.E.A. again. I would love to say that the conversion process was complete, but it still didn’t work for us. But it made wonderful beer-rye bread.

Boak

*And there’s another lack of apostrophe to wind the Beer Nut up.

Green beer – good gimmick?

Green beer by Stringberd at FlickrNo, I’m not talking about environmental issues for once. During the recent spell of hot weather, I ended up in Dogget’s Coat and Badge, by Blackfriars bridge. With around a fifteen minute wait to get to the bar, I told my friend to get me the first ale she could see.

She came back with Sign of Spring, by Stonehenge Ales. It was very green.

I’ve had green beers before, most notably Berliner Kindl-Weiss mit schuss, and something Polish with some additive in it. I expect green beers to taste of something other than beer, so it was quite confusing to my senses to realise that this beer was just a normal, rather pleasant, ale. Trouble is, I was so focused on it not tasting green that I can’t really remember what it did taste like.

The advantage of colouring your beer green is that it attracts attention – at least two people asked me what I was drinking, and a few more were staring at it. So perhaps it’s a shrewd marketing gimmick. On the other hand, as with silly names, any kind of gimmick with beer automatically makes me think the beer itself won’t be any good. For example, Andreea reviewed a green beer on her blog recently, where the only point of interest seemed to be its colour.

So is it a good gimmick? If I’d known the beer was green, I probably wouldn’t have ordered it. Then again, at least I remembered it.

Boak

Dogget’s Coat and Badge is right next to Blackfriars bridge and has fabulous river views. I’d always assumed it would be awful, for some reason, probably to do with the queues, but actually, it’s pretty decent. They had at least three real ales on (not your usual suspects either), and Fruli on tap. It’s made me decide to (re)visit all these riverside pubs that I’d written off in the past.

Stonehenge Ales seem like a very interesting lot. I’ve had their Danish Dynamite before and thought it was lovely, although I can’t remember many details about it. (Pale and hoppy?) Unfortunately, their website appears to be malfunctioning at the moment, so I haven’t included a link, but you can read Adrian Tierney-Jones on Stonehenge and other small West Country breweries here. UPDATE: they’ve fixed the site, which you can find here.

Photo courtesy of Stringberd at Flickr, under a Creative Commons license.