Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

brooklynipa.jpgBoak’s col­los­sal haul from Quaf­f’s includ­ed one beer we were both excit­ed to try – Brook­lyn’s East India Pale Ale. We’re huge fans of the ubiq­ui­tous Brook­lyn Lager, and of Amer­i­can IPAs, so it seemed cer­tain to appeal.

I’m sure this is the kind of thing that our friends in the US can find fair­ly eas­i­ly, but this is the first time we’ve ever seen a bot­tle in the UK.

We thought it was deli­cious. It’s a love­ly burnt orange colour, with sweet malt and incred­i­bly pow­er­ful Amer­i­can hop aro­ma and flavour.

The obvi­ous com­par­i­son is with anoth­er favourite of ours, Goose Island IPA. We actu­al­ly strug­gled to work out how, if at all, it tast­ed dif­fer­ent, even­tu­al­ly decid­ing that we thought it was a lit­tle more bit­ter – slight­ly “crisper”, to get all la-di-da about it.

It’s also stronger than Goose Island IPA (6.8 per cent com­pared to 5.9) so it might also stand to be com­pared to Titan IPA which we’ve had at the famous Rake bar.

But… Goose Island might still have the edge.

Starring Sierra Nevada

knockedup.jpgWe went to see Knocked Up last night. We liked it, tut this isn’t a film review site – you don’t care what we thought about the movie. You want to know what the beer angle is.

Well, this is sure­ly the first and only film to sig­nal a char­ac­ter’s hip­ness by hav­ing him chug Sier­ra Neva­da Pale Ale through­out.

Paul Rudd’s char­ac­ter, Pete, spends one scene knock­ing back SNPA from the bot­tle like that mock prod­uct place­ment slot for Pep­si in Wayne’s World. Lat­er on, its pos­si­ble to see where his char­ac­ter has been by the trail of small brown bot­tles with lime green labels lit­ter­ing the flat sur­faces in his house.

Does the fact that we even noticed this mean we’ve crossed some kind of line into obses­sion…?

The Great British Beer Festival – highlights


A quick post on the high­lights of GBBF for us. More posts to come on some of the beers we had there in the next cou­ple of days…

Things we liked about GBBF

  1. The diver­si­ty of the pun­ters. You get a lot of peo­ple here who would not nor­mal­ly come to beer fes­ti­vals. The ratio of women to men is con­sid­er­ably high­er here than at oth­er fes­ti­vals, and it’s not uncom­mon to see groups of women enjoy­ing the beers. OK, so there’s still a queue for the gents but none at all for the ladies… but each time we come back to GBBF (we were last here a cou­ple of years ago) it becomes more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the UK pop­u­la­tion as a whole.
  2. Obvi­ous­ly, the huge num­bers of beers, from some quite obscure brew­eries. Nice to see so many milds, porters and stouts – even real ale pubs don’t tend to stock these as much as “plain” bit­ters styles. Our favourites from the UK were “Old Fred­die Walk­er” from the Moor Beer Com­pa­ny in Som­er­set – a dark strong ale (7.3%) with a love­ly rich, raisiny flavour, and Glen­coe Wild Oat Stout, made by the Bridge of Allan Brew­ery in Scot­land. This lat­ter packed in a huge amount of flavour for its 4.1% – and it’s organ­ic too.
  3. We liked the lay­out by region, and the “new” stalls, such as the veg­e­tar­i­an / organ­ic beer, and the “Bar Nou­veau” – handy for help­ing you organ­ise your ses­sion!
  4. The Bieres Sans Fron­tieres stalls. The beer-tast­ing high­light of the evening was prob­a­bly a cou­ple of Amer­i­can beers – Pen­nichuk Hal­li­gan RyePA (5.1%) and the Portsmouth Brew­ery’s “Bot­tle­Rock­et” IPA (6.something I think). Both full of aro­ma and flavour­ing hops, but beau­ti­ful­ly bal­anced.
  5. The third-of-a-pint mea­sure. Real­ly nice lit­tle glass­es, fab­u­lous for tast­ing as much as pos­si­ble – and eco­nom­i­cal too. And you did­n’t feel bad about tip­ping 60-pence worth of beer down the sink.
  6. The pro­gramme was extreme­ly help­ful to beer-geeks and non-beer-geeks alike, and help­ful­ly priced at £1. The tast­ing notes, basic infor­ma­tion about beer, and inter­est­ing arti­cles about beer and food, and the “local” nature of cask beer, will sure­ly help raise inter­est in good beer amongst the casu­al pun­ters.
  7. The fact that we found some Baltic porters! We bought these for take­away (and lat­er blog posts). Seri­ous­ly impressed that GBBF can deliv­er what even spe­cial­ist beers shops and Russ­ian delis can­not…
  8. The food selec­tion – we thought this was pret­ty decent, with a range of meat prod­ucts, Thai & Indi­an food, and of course “snacks to beer” (pork scratch­ings and pies). Not too over-priced either, con­sid­er­ing this was a “pre­mier venue” in the mid­dle of Lon­don.

Devel­op­ment points

It seems churl­ish to point to weak­ness­es when we had such a good time, but as my line man­ag­er would say, there’s always some­thing you could do bet­ter.

  1. The con­di­tion of the beers. This is prob­a­bly our biggest gripe – let’s face it, a beer fes­ti­val is not the best place to store cask ale, and a lot of the beers we tried (par­tic­u­lar­ly low ABV British styles) were slight­ly off – had to tip a few down the sink. To return to the point of yes­ter­day’s post, it seems a shame to get so many poten­tial new pun­ters in one spot and then serve them stuff that smells like farts and tastes like cider. No, I was­n’t at the cider and per­ry bar at the time!
  2. More seat­ing – or at least make sure the floor’s a bit clean­er. If I was being real­ly lah-di-dah, I’d sug­gest more umbrel­las for the tables – this would help the venue feel more like a large beer gar­den and less like an air­craft hangar.
  3. It would be great to have some water points. You need some­thing to (a) cleanse your palate (b) cleanse your glass © help stave off the hang­over.

All in all, we had a great time, and well done to CAMRA for excel­lent organ­i­sa­tion. Spe­cial men­tion of the pre-fes­ti­val pub­lic­i­ty on the Tube and in the Lon­don papers for rais­ing aware­ness out­side the beer-geek world.

Don’t just take our word for it!

Oth­er blog­gers have some good per­spec­tives on GBBF. Stonch gives us a fab­u­lous descrip­tion of the atmos­phere, togeth­er with a roll-call of the great and the good in UK brew­ing. We loved Pete “the sec­ond-best beer drinker in Britain ” Brown’s view on GBBF, which chal­lenges the insis­tence on cask ale but still rec­om­mends you go. Melis­sa Cole (“Girls Guide to beer”) seems to have had a good time as well.


The GBBF is on until Sat­ur­day at Earls Court, Lon­don. We’ve found that a lot of the beer runs out by Fri­day, so go as soon as you can! Link to GBBF page on CAMRA web­site.

American Craft Beer Week


The gen­tle­men at Hop Talk have kind­ly remind­ed us that it’s Amer­i­can Craft Beer Week.

This set me think­ing about (a) how much I’d like to be able to get hold of more Amer­i­can beer in the UK and (b) what a nice term “craft beer” is.

There’s some­thing a bit sanc­ti­mo­nious about the term “real ale”. And it’s also a very vague term – you need to know a lot more to under­stand what qual­i­fies a beer as “real”. “Craft beer”, on the oth­er­hand, is a qui­eter term, and also tells you some­thing spe­cif­ic about the beers it’s applied to – that they’re “craft­ed”. In oth­er words, some care has gone into their design and man­u­fac­ture.

I’m not both­ered, espe­cial­ly, whether my beer comes from a cask; whether it’s bot­tle-con­di­tioned; or even whether it’s ale.

All I ask is that it shows evi­dence of some­one hav­ing thought about it, tast­ed it, and changed the recipe to make it taste nice or at least taste inter­est­ing. I’ve had plen­ty of “real ale” which did­n’t have much craft in it (a load of pale malt, a ton of fug­gles hops, hand-drawn label) and some which was, as a result, bare­ly drink­able. Equal­ly, I’ve had beers from very big brew­eries which indi­cate that some­one, some­where in the organ­i­sa­tion, still cares about their craft.