Showing posts with label bishop's finger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bishop's finger. Show all posts

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fuggled Review of the Year - Amber and Dark Ales

This category is something of a catch all for those beers which don't really fit in the world of Pale Ale or in Stouts and Porters, and as such the beers presented here are all rather different from each other,

Without further ado then, the three contenders for Amber and Dark Ale of the Year are as follows:
I guess some would claim that the Henley Amber belonged in the Pale Ale category, but as it is a shade or two more red than most pale ales I chucked it into this category. To my mind, the work Jeff is doing at Lovibond's is as impressive as the likes of BrewDog. Sure he doesn't engage in strange marketing practices, but boy does he know how to make a great range of beers. Henley Amber is crisp, refreshing and with a long, lingering finish it is one of the best sessions beers I have had this year.

Hobgoblin is one of those beers that I simply adore and will drink whenever I have the opportunity, whether on cask or from the bottle, I am always left satisfied by the toffee sweetness and the smooth drinking of this wonderful beer. Best of all, it was readily available in Prague when I was there, and many a bottle shop in this neck of the woods have it as well. You really can't go wrong with Hobgoblin.

The beer that turned my head to traditionally crafted ales, Bishop's Finger is everything a strong English ale should be, full of Kentish hops, caramel flavours in the background and obscenely easy to drink - you are probably seeing a theme here, I like beers that are easy to drink rather than "extreme" beers which I tend to think of as "pivni penis envy" (pivni is the adjectival form of "beer" in Czech). Whenever I have a bottle of Bishop's Finger I wish I was sat in the beer garden of a Shepherd Neame pub near my brother's place in Ashford, listening to the test match and idling away the day.

Anyway, back to the cold reality of Charlottesville in December and expecting over a foot of snow today. The Fuggled Amber and Dark Ale of the Year is:
  1. Lovibond's Henley Amber
As I said earlier, drinkability is one of my big watch words when it comes to choosing beers to rave about, and Henley Amber is precisely that, a beer you could spend all evening downing with mates in the pub and then walk home. The good people of Henley-on-Thames are very lucky to have such a fantastic brewer on their doorstep and should acquaint themselves with Jeff's wears as soon as possible.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Fuggled Review of the Year - Beer of the Year

So there we have it, my overview of the year. I have left out many excellent beers, many beers which I hope to try again before too long. That list includes many new beers to me, such as:

And of course a number of favourites that I will buy regularly:

To choose my favourite beer from 2008 is an exceptionally difficult task, and I do so in full awareness that I am being entirely subjective. My beer of the year is thus the one that has given me the most pleasure, the most instruction in all that a beer can beer and the most inspiration as to what I can do with my own beer making. As such, my beer of the year is more than just a drink of the year, it is also a reflection on the brewery which has in many ways defined my beer drinking in the last year.

Therefore my beer of the year, and by extension my brewery of the year is:

  1. Pivovar Varnsdorf for their Kocour V3.

Flying the face of your culture is always fraught with danger and laden with potential booby traps. Flying the face of Czech brewing culture and tradition is like voting Conservative in Scotland. Well done the guys (and most especially the breweress) for being true to their stated aim of not being boring.

May you prosper in 2009, and far beyond.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Session #21 - What is your favourite Beer and Why?

The very word “favourite” is so nebulous, so transitory and so subject to whim that to address a question such as “what is your favourite beer?” is like asking which breath in the last 33 years was the best? Like the vast majority of beer drinkers there are times when I only drink a particular style of beer, whether through design or availability. There are beer styles that I love, such as Alt, which seem to combine the drinkability of lager with the flavours of ale. I guess though the beer I would choose as my favourite is the one that has the same effect on me as the ratatouille Remy places in front of Anton Ego – yes I love Pixar movies – though obviously when I fell off my bike my mother didn’t give me a pint of ale to sooth my ills.

My favourite beer is very much like my best friend, I very rarely get to see him – seeing as though he is the American Consul to Kazakhstan, my friend that is, not the beer. It is very rare that I get to enjoy my favourite beer, simply because it is very difficult to get British ales in the Czech Republic. This beer, as well as being my favourite, is also the beer that opened my eyes to the delights of good beer, rather than throwing pint after pint of megaswill down my throat. That beer was Shepherd Neame’s Bishop’s Finger.

Bishop’s Finger was the first cask conditioned ale I ever drank, or at least that I remember drinking, sitting in a village pub in Kent with my eldest brother. A friend who I met in Prague used to work for Shepherd Neame and recommended that when I got back to the UK I should hunt out Bishop’s Finger – so it was all Mike the Hat’s fault, even though it was some 2 years after he had left Prague that I actually got back to the UK. Whenever I have a bottle of Bishop’s Finger these days I am taken back to the pub garden on a sunny July day in Kent.

I love the colour of Bishop’s Finger, deep copper, almost red crowned with a white head, forgive me if I become pompous and wax lyrical – after all this is my favourite beer! The nose tells you that this is a strong ale, full of malt and with just a tinge of the alcoholic delights to come. The beer tastes rather fruity, almost bittersweet like blood oranges that have zing and this being a Kentish beer, the hops are very noticeable in the finish. The beer is big and bold, yet smooth and easy to drink, with flavours that blew my mind when I first tried it all those years ago.


This month's Session is hosted by Matt at A World of Brews.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My life in beer

This is entirely the product of a completely random thought - would it be possible to trace the breweries which are local to my family and the life I have led so far, and more to the point I should make an effort to try at least (key phrase there) one beer from each of them. So here goes:

My dad is from Chiswick - making his local brewer the wonderful Fullers, which is ironic in a way as they have long been a favourite of mine.

My mother is from Fraserburgh in the north of Scotland, home to Brew Dog Beer.

My eldest brother lives in Kent, home of great hops, and of course Shepherd Neame.

My elder brother lives in Bicester, near Oxford and not too far from the Hook Norton Brewery - one of the few remaining tower breweries in the UK.

My wee brother lives in Alness, in the far north of Scotland, and just up the road from the Black Isle Brewery.

My wife is from South Carolina, the first Confederate state to secede from the Union and where you will find Thomas Creek beers.

I spent about 6 years in total living in Celle in the north of Germany - the delights of being an Army brat - the local brewer there is Brauerei Carl Betz, whose wares I will be enjoying at Easter when I visit Celle for the first time in over 20 years

I spent most of my childhood in the Hebrides, and there you will find the Isle of Skye Brewing Company.

At university in Birmingham I knew no better so I drank Caffrey's mostly, in various O'Neill's pubs - usually on Broad Street.

Most of my adult life has been in Prague........I guess this is what the blog is about at the moment.

The drink that changed my relationship to beer?

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Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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