We can't be trusted

Here’s why you should never take our tasting notes seriously (we certainly don’t).

We were sitting in the garden having a drink in the sun. We started with our own Centennial-hopped pale ale and followed it with Brewdog’s 77 lager, described as a pilsener. We thought 77 tasted like a good Franconian pils — noticeable malt flavour with bitter bite at the end, but with quite restrained, herbal hops.

Reading Barry and Velky Al, however, we realise that this cannot be. Surely we should have spotted the Amarillo hops a mile off? But they were drinking this alongside German and Czech versions, and we were drinking it after having had our tastebuds bludgeoned with c-hops.

Tasting is absolutely relative.

We really enjoyed it at any rate, and will be getting a bit more in for the summer.

Question: have Brewdog stopped making Hoprocker?

Imperial stout and Sherlock Holmes

A poster for Mann's starring Sherlock HolmesWe were feeling a little fragile on Friday night after heavy weeks at work and decided to spend the evening in with a game of Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective and a couple of suitably Victorian gothic beers.

Marble Decadence (8.7%) was pleasing in every way; large gulps were a mindblowing treat for the senses, but delicate sipping worked too, giving us chance to enjoy the  chocolate, vanilla, cherry and raisin flavours which emerged in the mouth one after another over the course of several minutes. A bit of a Heston Blumenthal beer, this one — there’s surely some alchemy at work in its brewing.

Brodie’s Romanov Empress Stout was a freebie and even heavier at a whopping 12.1%. It gave Boak an instant headache (lots of alcohol, lots of sugar) but Bailey enjoyed the almost chewy texture and complex, Harvey’s-like sourness and hints of coal-tar. Enthusiastic conditioning meant that the carpet enjoyed most of it, sadly, but then a full 500ml would have probably done for us.

We solved the case fairly easily. The lion tamer’s brother did it.

One of each colour in cask ale week

The real benefit of Cask Ale Week as we see it is not particularly that it encourages punters to drink more cask ale but that it convinces those selling it to up their game a notch.

In a Fuller’s pub (the Mad Hatter Hotel, near Blackfriars and Waterloo) last week, we were spoilt for choice,  with our beloved London Porter (the Cask Ale Week special), a brilliant IPA (Bengal Lancer),  London Pride, ESB and Chiswick all on offer.

Now, Fuller’s, let’s have that variety all year round: interesting beers are for life, not just for Cask Ale Week.

A lot of stout about

Guinness have set out (pretty successfully) to turn St Patrick’s Day into International Guinness Day but their’s wasn’t the only stout about this week.

For example, Cask in Pimlico had the brilliant, Guinness-baiting Sussex Extra Stout, while Shepherd Neame rolled out their own tastefully branded (ahem) Double Stout.

Could it be that the market is managing to do for stout in March what CAMRA is trying so hard to achieve for mild in May? We’d love to see stouts and porters other than Guinness on sale in pubs during the rest of the year, but this is a start.

Pretty wits all in a row

Our own Belgian style wheat beer

As with koelsch, if you drink one Belgian wheat beer in the middle of a session with other beers, you’d be hard pressed to tell one from another. But, drink them together for comparison, and you can really appreciate the subtle differences.

We took Bailey’s folks to the Dove a while back and, as his Mum is a fan of wheat beers, helped her work through a few from their impressive selection.

Steenbrugge wit was like a drier, more lemony version of Hoegaarden. Next to Steenbrugge, Blanche de Bruxelles seemed to taste of honey, a flavour we’d never noticed before. Florisgaarden was the most interesting of the three, with a pleasing aroma and taste of juniper, which we really liked.  Quite a surprise from the big boys. We’ll be nicking that idea for the next Belgian-style wit we brew at home.