Once again, last week we found ourselves in a restaurant which had made a bit of an effort with the beer, but not quite enough.
On the up side, there was one of each colour — Hoegaarden (yellow), Guinness (black) and Innis and Gunn (brown).
Sadly, the Guinness was the widgetised draught bottle (fairly bland) and Innis and Gunn’s beer is nowhere near as good as their marketing.
It wouldn’t take much to improve the beer offer here, without getting too geeky. Non-widgety Guinness Original isn’t bad; Hook Norton bottled Double Stout or Fuller’s London Porter would be even better.
And why not replace Innis and Gunn with… well, almost any bottled ale?
We guess the owners are buying what they can get at their cash-and-carry of choice, or through their wine supplier. We’d be interested to hear from anyone who knows how this works, and what would need to change to improve things.
The restaurant was the otherwise very good Eat 17 in Walthamstow, London.
In a crap pub, a bottle of Budvar is often the last refuge for the beer geek. Sadly, those little green bottles are almost always past their best — stale and flavourless.
It was nice this week to be reminded that it doesn’t always have to be that way with bottled lager, though, when Augustiner Lagerbier Hell (our beer of the week) transported us to Bavaria with one sip.
There were veritable hops, sweet malt and — hooray! — no off flavours.
It also helped that it was served in a nicely shaped and properly branded glass. That shouldn’t matter, but it does.
Cask, a nicely refurbished pub in Pimlico, London, continues to impress. This week, we noticed that their range of German bottled beers includes a Berliner weisse, which is a style we’ve been wanting to get our hands on for a while.
We have had it before — on a trip to the city of its origin in 2002, when we knew absolutely nothing about beer, and submitted to having it spiked with bright green fruit syrup.
So, drinking this 3% abv wheat beer straight, we were very impressed. It more than makes up for a lack of alcoholic kick with plenty of sourness and grainy flavour, and is certainly something we’d like to have around at our next party or barbecue.
For balance, we should say that Ron Pattinson’s not a fan of this brand — he considers it “disgusting crap”.
These days, it never seems to be the right time to tackle a strong or quirky beer. Maybe it’s the weather — we’re craving cold lager or, like Knut, wheat beer. Ron’s of the view that there’s nothing better in the heat than a chilled Guinness Foreign Export, but we’re not convinced.
So, the Brew Dogs, the Belgians and the bocks sit gathering dust in the ‘cellar’ while our recycling bin fills up with empty bottles from beers like Svyturys (contains rice) and Franziskaner (contains no real hops). We’re also slowly working our way through our oh-so-small stash of homebrewed lager.
Maybe this weekend, we’ll tackle our recently acquired Lou Pepes. They ought to be refreshing and worth taking notes on.
We’ve noticed this week that a couple of bottled German beers on sale in the UK — including Franziskaner wheat beer — list only malt, yeast and hop extract in their ingredients lists.
It’s quite common for even decent beers to contain hop extract as well as hops to add a bit of pep, but is it going too far to use nothing but?
It makes us feel a bit uneasy.