"You can’t give booze to a baby!"

Keith Brainard’s daughter is better at beer tasting than most of us. This video of a recent beer tasting was crashed by his family, with amusing and frankly rather endearing results:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmc8I2n-fPc]

Keith’s blog is one of our favourites — lots of great tips for home brewers, mixed in with a little domestic detail.


For the source of the title of this post, see this Reeves and Mortimer clip which someone has kindly stuck up on Youtube.

Harvey's porter at the Royal Oak

royaloakpub.jpgIt’s hardly an original observation, but we have to say that the Royal Oak on Tabard Street in Borough is a great pub, with wonderful beer.

It’s an old-skool pub, with some amazing beards on display, but there were also some youngsters, and even a party of very jolly Spaniards in a corner who were enjoying pints of Best and shepherds pie.

The beers are all good — Sussex Best is a classic, the mild is absurdly drinkable at 3% and the Armada tastes like a weak (but not dumbed-down) IPA. In fact, one of the wonderful things about Harvey’s is their ability to deliver astounding beer in session-able doses.

The star of the show was the porter, the strongest of the offerings at 4.8%. Michael Jackson described the taste as “toasty, faintly anise-like”. It had stacks going on — waves of roastiness and dark fruits, with a very unctuous body and great aftertaste. I think I might even prefer it to Fullers*.

The Royal Oak is on Tabard Street, near Borough station, or a short walk from London Bridge.

*Which, incidentally, you can get on tap at the Euston Flyer. Don’t know if Fullers have responded to my prayers and started doing it all year round, or whether it’s just left over from the autumn, but it’s marvelous!

Picture by da mad pixelist at Flickr, under a Creative Commons license.

Bass museum to shut

This via Appellation beer.

The Coors Visitor Centre, aka the Bass Museum, in Burton on Trent, is to close in June 2008.  Apparently it costs £1m a year to run, and visitor numbers are falling, despite a revamp.  Full story here.

We’ve moaned about the lack of any museum celebrating London’s brewing heritage in the past, and it seems sad that there is no appetite for this kind of thing even in Burton.  Not that we’ve ever been — perhaps there’s a good reason for the decline in visitor numbers…

Anyway, we’ll definitely be making the effort to get there before June – it’s been on our list for a while.

The Coors Visitor Centre site is here.  They make no mention of the closure, so perhaps it’s not true.

Sparklers – what’s the fuss about then?

sparklers.jpgOne of the potential downsides to York as a drinking destination is the universal use of sparklers.  I say potential, as the sparkler has its vociferous defenders as well as its opponents.

A sparkler is a little plastic device that sits on the end of the pump and has lots of little holes, to create tiny little gas bubbles as your pint is dispensed.  You end up with a creamy head that takes ages to settle.

We’ve read lots of theories on this – that it alters the taste as well as the mouthfeel; that “northern” beers are formulated to be served like this and therefore alway should be; that sparkled beers are quicker to drink. So we thought we’d try a quasi-scientific test and compare the same beer with the two different methods.

The test brew was “Old Boy” from the Oldershaw brewery in Grantham, the place was the Yorkshire Terrier on Stonegate.   We asked for a half with a sparkler and a half without.  The barmaid was perfectly happy to do this, by the way.

Well, the two looked totally different, as we hope can be seen from the photo.  That’s not particularly surprising.  The taste was also different.  The sparkled version had a creamier mouthfeel and a more “muffled” flavour.  The unsparkled version was rawer — you could say less balanced — but the malt and hop mix hit you quicker.

We both preferred the non-sparkled version, hands down — it just seemed a lot more exciting.  And as a result, it got drunk quicker…

That said, it wasn’t so convincing a test as to make us ask for the sparkler to be removed every time.  And I have to say that late that day I had a lovely sparkled half of Theakston’s Old Peculiar, which I’ve never really enjoyed before in its “raw” state.  So, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to say that non-sparkled beer was “better” than sparkled beer across the board.

It’s probably partly a question of what you’re used to, as much as anything else.