Showing posts with label everards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label everards. Show all posts

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Wish List

When I go to a bottle shop I am instinctively drawn to the British beer section, swiftly followed by the "European" section - I say "European" because you sometimes get the feeling that there are only 5 types of beer: American, British (usually with Irish beers included, though not mentioned specifically as "Irish"), Belgian, German and "European" or "Other". It is in the "European" sections that you find Czech lagers more often than not, although I have seen them in the German section, oh such delicious irony.

This habit got me wondering over the weekend about the breweries whose products I would love to see available in Virginia, assuming of course that they aren't already elsewhere in the US. So here, is my wish list:

Kout na ?umavě, as I have mentioned many times, make the best lager on the planet. End of story. Full stop. To achieve this magnificent feat of zythophilic engineering there is no imperialising, no india-ising (made up word I know, but you know what I mean), but making great beer using excellent local ingredients (sounds like a story I know from history...). I have heard rumour that someone is trying to bring it in to the States, so hopefully rapture is near indeed.

Leicestershire based Everards make honest to goodness superb ales. Again you won't be finding any imperial best india bitter shite going on here, but traditional British bitters and ales, superbly made. They bottle, to my knowledge, 3 of their line, Original, Beacon and Tiger. Don't just take my word for how good their beers are, see here, and here.

I have raved many times about Lovibonds on here, Jeff was the first Brewer of the Week and yes my Lovibonds glasses are my favourites. The best thing to put in a Lovibonds glass though would be a Lovibonds beer, in particular the Wheat Wine you see in the picture, or the Henley Dark. I can't comment on the 69 IPA, because you can't get it here - but if past experience is any guide, then I look forward to it when I am home in Blighty come this summer.

A Kentish brewery making a range of lovely drops of ale that in my opinion deserve a wider audience. You see that bottle of Timothy Taylor Landlord in the back of the picture there? I would love to find that in a Virginia bottle shop as well.

These are just some of the beers I would love to see available over here, and maybe some of the distributors are listening. I can think of a few other breweries that I would love to see over here, purely on reputation as I haven't actually had any of the beers, Hardknott springs to mind, as does Dungarvan. What beers would you like to see available where you live?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Homebrewer of the Week

The beginnng today of a new semi-regular series, in the spirit of my recent Brewer of the Week I introduce Homebrewer of the Week! First up is, well, me. So here goes.

Name: Velky Al

How did you get into home brewing?

My homebrewing was a result of my getting into beer more seriously than just chugging gallons of whatever industrial stuff was available while watching football in the pub. As much as I love Czech beer, which is predominantly pale lager, my first beer love has always been stout. My first legal beer was Guinness, I loved Murphy's and Beamish as well. I wanted to make my own because there is so little ale being made by commercial brewers in the Czech Republic.

Are you an all grain brewer or extract with grains?

I brew with extract and specialty grains. I don't have the space at the moment to go all grain, though I plan to eventually, the key word being eventually, I am in no rush.

What is the best beer you have ever brewed and why?

Difficult to say, I really enjoyed my imperial stout I brewed last winter as I did my Christmas beer. Having said that, a week or so ago I open a bottle of a barley wine I brewed last November in preparation for Thanksgiving to see if it was worth putting forward for the Dominion Cup. Well, simply put it was smooth, boozing and obscenely easy to drink for its 12%abv.

What is the worst, and why?

My first brew in the US was a total disaster. I wanted to make a pale ale with Amarillo hops, using White Labs' Burton yeast. For some reason the yeast didn't do its thing and the beer didn't ferment properly, so I had to pour 5 gallons down the sink. That was the reason I ditched the 5 gallon batches for 2.2 gallons and clear carboys rather than white buckets.

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

It has to be LimeLight, my lime and coriander witbier, which is also very popular with people who drink it. It is such a simple recipe and the results are consistently good. Without having to go through the hassle of all grain brewing, I am done with LimeLight in about 2 hours from start to finish.

Do you have any plans or ambitions to turn your hobby into your career?

I would love to, but I have to admit that as much as I enjoy brewing, I prefer seeing the enjoyment other people get from drinking it. Working in a brewery tasting room has taught me plenty about serving beer, keeping lines clean and the like, so I would like to have a pub at some point in the future, whether my own brewpub or taking on a tied house with one of Britain's regional brewers.

Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

My favourite to drink is my Scottish export ale, which I call Gael 80/-. It is very much a classic Scottish ale, more sweet than it is malty, lightly hopped and at only about 4.5% abv something I can drink plenty of. It was also the first beer I successfully conditioned in my polypin/cubitainor to replicate cask conditioning, and it was even better!

How do you decide on the kind of beer to brew and formulate the recipe?

As I said in the first question, it started out wanting to brew a stout. Otherwise I think about the kind of flavours I am looking for and then go from there, sometimes I want to brewing something as close “to style” as possible. For example at the moment I am planning a beer based on my favourite chocolate bar, the Twix. I am thinking about using Biscuit malt, Chocolate malt and one of the Caramel malts, and very lightly hop it.

What is the most unusual beer you have brewed?

In terms of ingredients, my Christmas beer was the most unusual, especially as I wasn't following a given style, just making it up. My initial idea was to make a beer that reminded me of the gingerbread houses my mother made at Christmas when we were kids. I started off with an amber DME base and added some Caramel 80 for colour and a touch of sweetness, for the hops I used French Strisselspalt, a very low alpha acid type. Nothing drastically unusual so far, but then came the spices I added to the boil, the classic Christmas spices of cloves, ginger, and cinnamon, as well as dried sweet orange peel. The result was essentially a very yummy liquid gingerbread, which I called Biere d'épices.

If you could do a pro-am brew, what would you brew and with which brewery?

A very difficult question, and I can think of several breweries I would like to do something with, all of them back in the UK. Everards would be an automatic choice as Mark there has given me tons of invaluable advice for my homebrewing, and I learnt a lot from his when we met up in Prague to tour some of the brewpubs there, not to mention the fact that I think Tiger is one of the nicest beers I had last time I was in England. Another brewer who has been a great source of knowledge and enthusiasm for beer, and whose beer I love drinking, is Jeff at . Finally would be Dave at the HardKnott Brewery because he seems to like doing random stuff, which kind of chimes with my own way of thinking about brewing. In an ideal world, we would all of get together to brew something, perhaps with one us choosing the malt, one the hops, one the yeast and the other the water!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Brewer of the Week

For this week's Brewer of the Week we head to the East Midlands, and regional brewery .

Name: Mark Tetlow
Brewery: Everard's

How did you get into brewing as a career?

I started out to be a dentist but it wasn't for me, so I moved to food science. During my hols I worked in a brewery and decided to do a brewing degree, so went to Heriot Watt and did a BSc in Brewing and Micro biology. I have always been more interested in the science side of things and of course I like beer, so brewing seemed a natural choice

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

Passion, you have to love what you do. Although you are a scientist who applies their knowledge you also have to be an artist to create something new and unique.

Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?

No, I never homebrewed. I did have a go at making wine and I also like cooking, so food and drink production in one form or another seems to inspire me

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

Sunchaser. Its unusual being brewed with lager malt and hops but fermented with ale yeast. You get a very light beer with lots of fruity characters from the ale yeast. Refreshing and flavoursome

If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?

Marstons Pedigree. I loved the opportunity to work with traditional union sets to produce a true burton ale from the heartlands of the British brewing industry

Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

Sunchaser when I want a fresh clean flavoursome beer. Original when I want a beer to savour by a warm fire reading a good book

How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?

Authenticity isn't important, its about being innovative and creating something that people want to drink. After all I would suspect that a lot of the older beers when first brewed were cloudy and sour hence the use of herbs and spices to mask the off flavours. The brewing industry has a lot of history but we shouldn't keep looking back we need to look forward. If we spend too much time trying to make it what it used to be like we lose todays drinker, who as a rule doesn't care about the past, they want something that represents now.

If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?

I would love to work with some of the American micro's as they seem to be prepared to experiment and push the boundaries. I love what they are doing with extreme beers, it suddenly makes beer exciting, not a drink that old men in flat caps drink. They are not hamstrung by history !

Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?

It's not been invented yet but beer that appeals to women and they can claim its virtues for themselves. As brewers we are not targeting half the population, we are still too chauvinistic. We're missing a trick.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why Drink Beer Instead of Wine?

An interesting question, and the basis of the poll on the side bar, but I want your opinions as comments here as well.

The question was put to me by one of the brewers at Everards, who will be appearing on BBC Radio Leicester next week to answer this exact question, so beer lovers of the world go crazy and answer the question!

Why drink beer instead of wine?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Glassware Stories

I don't really have an extensive branded glassware collection, and even less of an unbranded collection, though I am sure Mrs Velkyal would beg to differ and then regale you with stories of my obsessive care for said glasses. In some ways she is right, I am somewhat overly attached to my glasses, but each one has a back story, a link to a beery event or to the generosity of brewers or some such moment of nostalgia which makes me fond of them. I don't have any chalice style glasses for Belgian style ales as that would be largely pointless because I rarely drink Belgian beer, beyond the Trappists that is. Here then is the full, branded collection.

A motley bunch to be sure, a few Czechs, a couple of Brits, a German and an American.

The glass that features very regularly on Fuggled is of course my half pint, actually it is one of two glasses, and I think I most fussy about what gets done with this pair. When I lived in Prague, I wrote a couple of reviews of Lovibond's excellent beers that I had bought in the UK a while back, and the owner of the brewery, Jeff, very graciously sent me a couple of glasses, which I think are the most beautiful in my mini collection. When we moved over to the States, I was worried that these glasses wouldn't survive the journey, so I was very relieved when it came to unpacking boxes and there they were, good as new.

Chodovar is a family brewery in Western Bohemia that I have liked ever since I tried their Skální Le?ák at PK, first in the bottle and then on tap. This glass though I picked up in a pub on the other side of Prague, simply by asking how much I could pay them for it, and they said "take it", so I took it. The glass itself is pretty much like the vast majority of half litre beer glasses you get in the Czech Republic, and fits perfectly in the hand for swilling glass after glass of amber nectar.

I bought this hefty mug at the Slunce v Skle event hosted by Purkmistr back in 2008, on the day I had the pleasure of meeting, and getting royally rat arsed with Pivní Filosof for the first time. I also bought a delicate little goblet glass which I did all my beer tasting with that day, and which again survived the trip from Prague to Charlottesville, only for me to break it by missing the cupboard shelf by half an inch. Purkmistr also make a lovely weizen glass that I would love to get my hands on - so my Czech readers, get me a new goblet and a weizen glass, post them to the US (address will be provided by email) and I will send you the money to cover said purchases.

Beck's reminding you of a renowned craft brew pub in Dublin just sounds wrong, but it does. When Mrs Velkyal and I went to Ireland for my birthday back in 2008 we arranged to meet up with The Beer Nut and Barry, of Bitten Bullet fame, in the Bull and Castle. We drank plenty, had a good feed, and the manager was trying to get rid of these Beck's Vier glasses, so Mrs Velkyal said she wanted one, and I claimed it would never survive the flight back to Prague, I was wrong, as you can see. One thing I didn't realise with this glass is the laser etched bottom which extends the life of the head, something I still think is intrinsically wrong, hence I refuse to purchase a Sam Adams glass, despite it looking so fabulous.

The glass was a give away to celebrate their first anniversary back in November, and a nice glass it is too, though I think I will have to buy one of their goblets at some point in the future, just because they look so nice. My glass is another which is very close to my zythophilic heart, and again shows the generosity of the brewing world. You can't buy Everard's lovely ales in the US, which is damned shame in my world because I would love a pint or six of Tiger almost every Friday, but I enjoyed it in Oxford when I was last there, and had the pleasure of showing one of their brewers around several of Prague's best brewpubs a while back. The glass is another celebratory souvenir, but this time for the company's 160th anniversary, and Everard's were good enough to send one over to the US for me - such lovely people, who make such lovely beer!

I am hoping that I am not the only person who attaches memories to my glassware, in fact I am sure we all do it, hence the sepia tinged picture above, with the unbranded glasses chucked in for good measure. Of course, one should never look back too much, so I have a growing list of brewery glasses I want, but that would be telling!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Getting it Right

My minor rant at the poor quality of many craft brewery and brewpub web sites on Monday got me thinking, always dangerous, about those breweries and brewpubs that actually do have good web sites, and what are the features of a good web site? Obviously we all have our own preferences, and also our own idea of what a web site should do, but I think there are some features which are universal to a good web site, regardless of the business a person is in:
  • visually attractive
  • easy navigation
  • engaging content
One brewer who gets all three right from my perspective is , back in the UK, take a quick look here at their home page:

I am a big fan of the colour green, it is after all the colour of my eyes, and this particular shade of green is very appealing. But notice that the design is not just plain green, the pattern in the background is very reminiscent of the classic pub wallpaper which no doubt every British reader has seen in dozens of traditional pubs. Perhaps I am over psycho-waffling here, but that creates an image of a company that values tradition, and the traditional role of the pub as community centre. Personally I find the layout of the home page very easy to follow, and the navigation bar just underneath the banner has clear labels and there can be no confusing what you are going to see when you click on "Our Ales" for example. In terms of content, Everard's pubs are clearly described and beautifully photographed, while the list of beers includes the Cyclops notes, which of course Everard's pioneered. 

For me, the Everard's web site works on every level, as does the new web site for Lovibonds, another of my favourite breweries, here is their home page:

Now, this is quite different from Everard's, but what it shares with the Everard's site is that it is visually attractive, I particularly like the slide show which forms the bulk of the home page, scrolling through the various beers the brewery makes. Again the navigation is very easy, and as a craft brewer with no pub estate, the "Where to Try" tab on the navigation bar is vital! I also like the fact that they have integrated e-commerce into the web site, so people can order their beer from the brewery.

So there you have it, rather than just ranting about poor web sites, a couple of examples of breweries doing as good a job with their cyber presence as with their brewing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Brewing Some Thoughts

Having perhaps been a mite critical of All About Beer magazine this week, even though I do generally enjoy reading it, I feel I should balance that out by giving some praise to Brew Your Own magazine, which I also thoroughly enjoy - probably because it gives me loads of ideas about beers to brew and some technical brewing info to boot.

Take for example, this edition's featured beer style, dunkelweizen. I have enjoyed several dunkelweizens, usually at PK in Prague, but I am yet to brew one for myself, so a few recipes and a well written article describing the flavours and how it differs from a regular hefeweizen was well appreciated. Now all I need to do is work out my own recipe, which I have already decided to hop with the extra bag of Saaz I have in the fridge, and find a slot in my brewing schedule.

Also in the current BYO is an interview with James and Martin from BrewDog, which was interesting, but best of all some clone recipes for Punk IPA, Hardcore IPA and Rip Tide! So that's another couple of projects for slipping into the schedule, though I was kind of chuffed that my Machair Mor is somewhat similar already to Rip Tide, I use far more chocolate malt though and has a higher ABV. The recipe for Hardcore IPA looks like something I will try in the spring and leave to age for autumn.

The BrewDog article got me thinking about the difference between the US and UK brewing scenes, and how the experience of Prohibition is such a driving force here. Thankfully we never had Prohibition in the UK, our brewing industry has never been destroyed by fanatical religious folks on a crusade to make society better, though by "better" they usually mean, just like them. Post-Prohibition beer until the Craft Brew Revolution was simply awful from what I have heard from those older than me.

I am sure many of us have mixed feelings about CAMRA, but right now I am glad that they took a stand against the watering down of Britain's brewing traditions and laid the foundations for a growing independent brewing scene in the UK (I admit that is perhaps overstating their role). I wonder how many of the regional and independent brewers like and would have ended up as brands for InBev and the like without CAMRA re-igniting interest in cask ale?

I guess what I am trying to say is that Britain has centuries of brewing history and tradition that needs to be valued by beer lovers and praised by beer bloggers and writers, the likes of Everards and Fullers make beer that people, whether nerds or not, want to drink. It is great that BrewDog are opening people's horizons to American style IPAs, but we should never forget the great British beers that can be found up and down Great Britain, without CAMRA how many of them would still be around?

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Welcome Break

I gave myself an extended weekend, took last Thursday and Friday off. I wasn't planning to get out of Prague or do anything special, I just decided to take a couple of days off and enjoy laying in my bed longer than normal.

The laying in bed plan was partly because on Wednesday night I had arranged to meet with the brewer of Everards in the UK, who was over in Prague for a few days with his wife. So Mrs Velkyal and I spent the evening at Pivovarsky klub enjoying their company and various rather nice beers - my personal favourite was the American IPA made by Pivovarsky d?m.

During Wednesday night we arranged to meet up on the Thursday for a guided tour of some of Prague's brewpubs, which actually turned out to be just Pivovarsky dv?r Chyně and U Medvídk?, where we went up to the brewery part of the pub and sat dranking their excellent Oldgott Barrique, whilst watching a fresh batch being made - that was certainly fun! I also learnt that it is actually possible to talk for 9 hours straight about beer, and after we had gone our seperate ways I went to U Slovanské Lípy for some Kout na ?umavě lagers - as you can imagine, Friday was spent generally recovering at a very slow pace.

Drinking with a professional brewer is definitely something I would recommend, especially when you have heard people raving about a particular beer and then the professional highlights a couple of problems with the beer, and their possible causes, as happened in Chyně. Plus with Everard's being one of the larger regional breweries in the UK it was interesting to get a different view on the tie than I have heard from most people, a subject I have been mulling over and will no doubt come back to.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cyclops Website

I have mentioned the Cyclops tasting notes system before, and personally I use a variant of it when writing my own notes about the beers I try.

Developed by Everards in Leicestershire, they now have a website showing all the brewers using the system, as well as listing their beers with the notes.

A useful resource indeed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Up in Arms

I was looking forward to Saturday very much. Mrs Velkyal was in her conference most of the day, my brother wasn't working and my mate Gaj was coming to Oxford from King's Lynn, where he is a doctor. And of course my brother and Gaj knew that the plan for the day involved sitting in pubs and boozing whilst waiting for Mrs Velkyal.

Our original plan was to meet Gaj at around midday then go for lunch at the Royal Blenheim, which is on St Ebbe's just after BHS - this I had ascertained on the Friday when in Oddbin's, picking up some BrewDog Punk IPA, I asked for directions and happily found it to be very close to here Mrs Velkyal was conferencing. From the outside it is essentially a picture postcard of what a British pub should be. Unfortunately Gaj was delayed, so it was just Scott, myself and the better half. I had come across the Royal Blenheim when I found the website. When we arrived there were 4 beers on the pumps - I didn't really pay too much attention to the bog standard tap stuff, similar situation to Far From the Madding Crowd - two from Everard's and two from the White Horse Brewery, who were a new name to me and have just taken over the pub. Again we had to change plan as the pub was having the kitchen refurbished and as such there was no food, so I ordered a pint of Tiger for myself, a pint of Sunchaser for Mrs Velkyal and some mass-produced lager for my brother.

I found this to be a much better poured pint that some of the ones I had tried in Far From the Madding Crowd, which means it had a decent head on it, which stayed largely intact while drinking the beer. I really liked the Tiger glass as well, mainly because it had the Cyclops tasting notes for the beer on the side. And to quote the old adverts for Ronseal - it does exactly what it says on the tin. I really like the toffee notes in this beer, and the fact that the sweetness is nicely balanced by a spicy hoppiness, after a couple of pints I have to admit that it has become one of my favourite British ales, and one I will be hunting out whenever I go back to the UK. I only had a quick sip of Mrs Velkyal's Sunchaser, which is a blonde beer that is nicely refreshing and crisp, with a gentle lemony flavour. She certainly enjoyed it.

Because my brother and Mrs Velkyal were chatting away, trying to plan where to get some lunch, I had finished my pint before they were even half way down, so I went up to the bar to try one of the White Horse brews. Having never heard of either, I asked the barman (I think he may have been the landlord), what the difference between White Horse Bitter and White Horse Wayland Smithy was. He explained that the Smithy is more of an Best Bitter, although the 3.7% Bitter, although a session ale, was hoppier - sounded a treat I thought to myself. And a very nice beer it is too - the kind of bitter that I could happily drink all night. It has quite a light body without being watery at all and the hoppiness comes to the fore without being overpowering. In general the Royal Blenheim was a very nice pub, with a nice relaxed atmosphere and well poured beers, can't really ask for more than that can you?

Unfortunately the need for food was becoming rather pressing, as was the time for Mrs Velkyal to get back to her conference in the Town Hall. Plus Gaj had finally made it to Oxford, so while I went to find him, Scott and Mrs Velkyal went to get lunch - fresh handmade Cornish pasties! I don't think Scott and I were overly hungry because we had enjoyed a great couple of pies in Oxford's Covered Market, his being wild mushroom and asparagus, mine was steak, kidney and ale. With lunch well and truly enjoyed, the three men decided to head for the pub, shock horror!

We decided to go to the , a Young's pub which is just far enough off the beaten track to be missed by a lot of tourists, but it very popular with students and locals, and understandably so. The place is cavernous and has all the traditional elements of an English pub, wooden floors, tables and chairs, except for the old no-smoking room with had carpet, as did the snug. On draught was a full range of Young's beers, with a good selection of bottles as well - and the Ploughman's lunch we shared between the three of us was superb. I didn't taken any notes of the beers I drank, but I thoroughly enjoyed them all, even if my brother turned his nose up at the Luxury Double Chocolate Stout, in particular I liked the Tribute Premium Cornish Ale. The King's Arms is a pub which if I lived in Oxford I could very easily imagine being my local, simply a great place to sit, drink and hang out with friends.

One thing I really enjoyed about being in Britain was the standard of service I got in every pub I went in to. Friendly, knowledgable bar staff are always a delight, as it prompt and efficient service in general - to my mind the King's Arms has exemplary service, and barmen who seemed to know their beer.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Eye, Nose and Throat Specialists

In a couple of weeks I am going to Bicester in Oxfordshire as Mrs Velkyal has a conference to attend in Oxford, and I fancied a jolly. Being a good and dutiful husband I having been looking for restaurants and the like to eat in during the days when we are in Oxford itself, the reason we are staying in Bicester is that my brother lives there and we can combine the conference with seeing some family. Being a good and dutiful drinker of beers, I have have been looking for pubs that serve real ales and traditional British food, this is also good for Mrs Velkyal as she can discover the delights of steak and ale pie, chicken in a basket and fish n' chips - honestly this is for her benefit and not to satisfy my cravings for British food.

Anyway, back on track - in the course of my searchings I have been reading a lot about the brewers in Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties, several of which I have made mental notes to try when I am there. One of the brewers I came across was Everards, who brew in Leicestershire but have a single pub in the centre of Oxford. One thing that I found particularly interesting about Everards is that they created the Cyclops Tasting Notes, which you can see below - this one describing Everards Tiger Best Bitter.

Although I have been drinking beer for nearly 15 years now, it is only in the last 3 that I have started to drink craft beers and I have to admit that sometimes I try a beer and wonder what am I supposed to be smelling and tasting - while it may taste great to me, is it what the brewer intended? That is really a secondary question, because if it tastes great then I don't give two hoots what the brewer wanted to do, what he did was good.

Being something of an anorak - I guess hunting out pubs wherever you go is the beer drinker's equivalent of standing on the platform of Crewe railway station on a wet Wednesday in October videoing trains coming and going (I have seen it done!) - I love the fact that Cyclops lists the primary malts and hops which have gone into the beer. It is more than knowing what I am drinking, it is learning to recognise the flavours of the ingredients in the beer, thus making me more knowledgable. As I am a number 5 according to the Enneagram of Personality, this is hardly surprising - I am just thankful it is beer and brewing I am fascinated with rather than the glue on the back of a stamp.

From the Cyclops description of the Tiger Best Bitter I am looking forward to hunting down the Royal Blenheim and having a swift pint. I would love to see Czech brewers adopting this system as a way of educating drinkers here.

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 ...