Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Unadventful Calendar

I really should learn my lesson about how aft the best laid schemes of mice and men gang agley.

Before I went to New Orleans and revelled in the delights of Koutská Desítka, I had this grand plan to do a blog post Advent calendar of locally available, though not necessarily locally brewed, Christmas beers. I admit I pre-gamed the few days when I was in Louisiana, but when I got back I had a craving for Josephbrau Winter Brew from Trader Joe's, and that kick has lingered for the last couple of weeks.

Of the beers on my Advent Calendar list that I did try, there were two distinct highlights, and one absolute drain pour - something I haven't done in quite some time. Let's get the drain pour out of the way first...

I have to say it looked the part when I poured it out, dark copper with some orange edges, a long lasting, rocky, ivory head, it really is a pretty beer. And then it all went down hill. Barely any aroma other than a very generic maltiness, and while the aroma was generic, the flavour was unpleasant. Burnt toast and a metallic tang was basically all that was there, perhaps a trace of grassy hops, but really nothing much. Yep, it was a drain pour, and so that's where it went. It was the first time I have tried this beer so maybe I got a bum bottle, but having been unimpressed by Breckenridge before, I am in no rush to find out.

Onward and upward...

Deschutes, nominally a "local" brewery as they have some kind of operations just down the road in Roanoke, are becoming a trusted brewery in the Velkyal cosmos, especially their simply magisterial Black Butte Porter. In common with the Breckenridge Christmas Ale, this was my first ever Jubelale. Again it is a very pretty beer, a deeply festive red, topped with an inch of beige, so appealing. Yay, an aroma, well several. Candy sugar, toffee, spices, nutmeg in particular, and a hint of caramel, think caramelised nuts and you're close. Wow, what a big bready malt character Judelale has going, then take that bread and smother it with Biscoff spread, yum, yum yum, oh and don't forget the gorgeous spicy notes, assuming from the hops. What a great beer, beautifully integrated, delicate yet strong, seriously a wonderful beer, whatever the time of year.

Sierra Nevada simply do not get enough credit for their aptitude with lager beer, and Winter Warmer Lager join the increasing ranks of SN lagers that I will be keeping an eye open for. This one pours a deep, burnished garnet, topped off with a light tan head that quickly becomes a schmeer of foam. There is lots of fruit on the nose, mainly plums. Also in there is grassy hops, a trace of spice, like cinnamon, and a bit of toffee sweetness. I am assuming that the beer used a fair proportion of Munich malt as that classic sweetness that you get with Munich is there in spades, it's not caramelly, but it's sweet. There was also a bit of burnt sugar, cookies, and no much in the way of hop flavour at all. This is definitely a beer for sitting by the fire and enjoying with some winter pudding. Seriously lovely lager.

Friday, November 30, 2018

An Adventful December?

One of the highlights of growing up in Germany, the joys of being an Army brat, was getting a fancy German Advent calendar with chocolates rather than just wee pictures - perhaps my memory is faulty but I always remember the British ones being somewhat dull as a kid. Complete side thought, Germans in particular, and more broadly central Europeans, do Christmas the best. Any how, it seems that Craft Beer™ Advent Calendars have been all the rage in recent years and I thought I'd jump on the old bandwagon. Only one minor issue, I have an aversion to having stuff curated for me, I much prefer to survey what's available and make my own decisions, yes I can be something of a contrarian, I know.

The plan as it currently stands is to buy 24 bottles of seasonal beers, drink one each day of Advent, and then write a blog post about it. Pretty simple really, and if you have any recommendations of beers to include, I am all ears - assuming I can find them in the stores of central Virginia.

However, Advent is just the lead up to Christmas, and so naturally that got me thinking about what I am going to have on my table come dinner time on the 25th. I have a decent collection of big boozy beers that would go nicely with dessert - hopefully Mrs V is going to have another stab at making a traditional British Christmas pudding, minus the coins. So I need something from the cellar to go with pud, here's the long list of options:
  • Schlafly Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout - 2013 vintage
  • Olde Hickory Irish Walker Barleywine - 2012 vintage
  • Victory Old Horizontal - 2010 vintage
  • Bell's 25th Anniversary Ale (2010)
  • North Coast Old Stock Ale - 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016 vintages
  • Fuller's Vintage Ale - 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 vintages
  • Starr Hill Bandstand Barleywine - 2013 vintage
  • Lickinghole Creek Enlightened Despot Batch 1 (2014)
  • Alewerks Brewing Grand Illumination - 2009 vintage
  • O'Hara's Barleywine Aged in Irish Whiskey Barrels Edition 3 - 2015 vintage
Naturally with twin 14 month old sons to deal with I won't be just parking on the couch and drinking all of the above, though tempting it may be, so I will have my latest batch of my best bitter homebrew on the kegerator, this time hopped with Australian Galaxy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What the Dickens!?

I am guessing that tomorrow I will be in no fit state to post, after all I have plenty of the Machair Mor to enjoy, and share with my in-laws, and of course it will be the official unveiling of Biere d'épices - the spiced ale I made back in November especially for Christmas.

For those members of the family that I am unable to guilt trip into trying my homebrew, which at 9% and 7% respectively might not quite be their cups of tea anyway, I also have the Samuel Adams Christmas box set, whose delights include a Cranberry "lambic", their Winter Lager and the Holiday Porter. If, as is entirely possible, they aren't really into that stuff either then all the more for me!

Beyond all the boozing though, I want to wish all my readers a very happy and peaceful Christmas, whether or not you believe in the Christmas story, which is after all the reason it is called Christ Mass - and let's not get into all the arguments about the birth of Christ, but focus on the message that Jesus brought humanity, one of peace, compassion and humility - things I know I need more of in 2010.

So Merry (take that as you will) Christmas people!

Just to justify the title, here is a little quote from A Christmas Carol:

“It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Happiness is...

Judging by the pouring rain and the cooler temperatures, you can safely say that Autumn has arrived. I am one of the few people I know who loves it when it rains, probably just as well given the winters I grew up with in the Outer Hebrides - a little aside here, I always died laughing when people in Prague thought a force 4 wind was "really windy", heaven knows what they would make of a North Atlantic gale. In fact I love Autumn and Winter so much, I have sometimes wondered if I have Seasonally Affective Disorder in reverse, the colder and darker it gets, the happier I become. The big thing I love about the drawing in of the days, the darkening skies and the rain is that I know the best time of the year for my favourite beers is coming.

Sure, summers drinking weizen and pale ale are great, but as the things get colder I turn to darker thoughts, a pint of stout, a good strong ESB, a barley wine - I style I only really discovered last Christmas and which became an instant favourite and one that is on special at Starr Hill at the moment, hence I plan to bring some home with me tomorrow and use it for a creamy sauce to go atop my sticky toffee pudding. As I mentioned in my last post, this is the time when I plan to make my autmnal quaffer and some big hitters for the winter. From my provisional brewing calendar, I will making dark and/or strong ales from now until March.

The only problem I have is how to recreate the ideal drinking environs given the size of our flat, and the absence of a live fire. I have a slightly insane idea of buying a proper barbecue, not a gas thing, and using it to have a fire on our covered patio and get a few blankets to drape over the patio furniture. It may also be time to buy a nice bottle of whisky or two, if I can find Talisker over here.

It is also this time of the year that my family starts preparing the traditional Christmas foods. None of your shop bought, over-sugared junk for us, no sir! My mum still makes mincemeat with meat in it, originally a preserving method, still makes proper Christmas pudding, and will soon be making the Christmas cake to be loving fed brandy every weekend until the season is upon us. Mum might be thousands of miles away, but the family recipes are just on the next table, so Mrs Velkyal will be preparing them this year.

I will stop myself there, the temptation to rattle on and on about how much I love autumn and winter is becoming too much! Have a good weekend people!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Time Travel

I have to say that I rather like being able to write something and then schedule it, in full assurance that it will get posted and I can focus on other things - such as trawling my way through my Christmas present - if O'Hanlon's Port Stout can't make the Queen's Speech worth listening to then I guess I will move on the Durham Temptation, and so on until something good happens - like the opening of the pub at the end of the road.

Being the only one of my family without children I will no doubt get to vanish for an hour or so of sanity - perhaps dragging my brothers and father with me.

Hope you are all having a lovely Christmas - and if Christmas is not part of your culture then I hope you are having a fantastic day anyway!


Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Not So Special

Liverpool being top of the league was probably the highlight of my weekend, especially as with only 21 minutes to go we were staring at the distinct possibility of yet another 0-0 draw, which would have been the first time in Liverpool’s history that we had three 0-0 draws in a row. Thank goodness though for Xabi Alonso breaking the deadlock and we eventually ran out 3-1 winners to remain 1 point ahead of Chelsea.
Straight after the game I had to dash off and meet a friend as we had arranged to pop into Klá?terní Pivovar Strahov to try the recently released Christmas Special, a 19° Doppelbock, which you can see in the picture above. My overwhelming impression was that it was just too sweet, with a powerful dose of alcohol, for my tastes - it was almost like drinking alcoholic honey to be blunt. I guess the root of my disappointment was that I had really enjoyed their autumn special and I asked if they still had some available, but unfortunately to no avail. Feeling peckish – as one does after a stressful game and rather too much beer – we decided to eat. I am a big fan of black pudding, much to Mrs Velkyal’s abhorrence, and so with the Czech version jelito on the menu it was an easy decision.

Strahov is one of my favourite brewpubs in Prague, not the cheapest by any stretch of the imagination but certainly one which I always enjoying going to. Doppelbock is very unlikely to become a regular tipple, but Strahov do make very nice beers, so if sweet and syrupy is your thing get up there soon and enjoy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Finalised Christmas Beer List

A wee while ago I compiled a list of beers which I was considering buying myself for Christmas, having decided that I could indeed afford 24 bottles of various British beers, here is the final list in full:

  • Burton Bridge Santa's Porter
  • Cropton Rudolphs Revenge
  • Gordons Christmas Ale
  • Naylors Santa's Choice Winter Warmer
  • Naylors Scrooge's Christmas Barrel
  • O'hanlon's Goodwill
  • RCH Ale Mary
  • Woods Christmas Cracker
  • Black Sheep Riggwelter
  • Bradfield Farmers Stout
  • Hook Norton Double Stout
  • O'Hanlons Port Stout - 2x
  • Durham St Cuthbert Ale
  • Durham Benedictus
  • Durham Temptation
  • Thomas Hardys Ale
  • Wentworth Oatmeal Stout
  • Harviestoun Engine Oil
  • Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted
  • Traquair House Ale
  • Traquair Jacobite Ale
  • Brewdog Rip Tide
  • Atlas Latitude

I can't promise reviews of all of them, but I can promise they will all be drunk (I may be rather pickled myself as well!).

I ordered all of these from BeerRitz - and was very impressed at the speed with which the first 12 bottles arrived at my brother's place in Kent.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Dandelion wine and mead

Ok not really a post about beer.

Mrs Velkyal decided earlier this year that she would like to make dandelion wine, so on Tuesday it was decided that we buy a 5 litre bottle of cheap Italian wine - see a previous post - and start the process.

Before chucking the wine down the toilet we decided to try a bit, just in case it was worth drinking. To put it bluntly it was the most awful wine either of us had ever tried. It was so comically bad that it reminded me of a Ukrainian wine I bought in Birmingham way back at college. But a 7 euros for 5 litres what do you expect? We only wanted the bottle anyway.

So sitting in the flat is a bottle with dandelion petals and slithers of lemon and orange - it will sit there for another 8 days, doing whatever it is it does, before being filtered into a primary fermenter and having wine yeast pitched in. We are hoping for some yeast from Moravia for this, but we also bought some commercially available from the UK. Apparently this wine will be ready just in time for Christmas.

Next week I will be going through the process of buying a bottle of awful wine again, this time with the intention of making a cinnamon infused mead. Also for Christmas.

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

I have to admit that there really are not that many things that I miss as a result of this pandemic. I am sure that comes as something of a ...