Showing posts with label hobgoblin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hobgoblin. 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.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Beer and Cheese

When I read around beer blogs, I find that I am in minority when it comes to things such as music in a pub, in that I like a pub to have either a decent sound system and the occasional band. Having said that, I don't like pubs where the music is so loud that it gets in the way of talking with whoever I am there with. I am yet to reach that point where my sole purpose in going to a pub is to drink, I go primarily to meet with friends, or because I know the bar staff and am happy enough to drink at the bar and chat with them. If you ever see me in a pub drinking alone, it is because I am waiting for someone, or because everyone else was busy and so I brought a book with me - downing pint after pint by myself is just not my thing.

Because I like a pub with music, I have recently been wondering if there is any correlation between what is coming through the speakers and what I feel like drinking, so below are different songs and the beer styles (in some cases specific beers) that they put me in mind of, call it a soundtrack to Friday!

  • Sweet and Tender Hooligan (song is important here not the "video") - Wychwood Hobgoblin
  • Yesterday's Men - a nice pint of mild, ah lovely!
  • Dignity (yeah right after 15 pints!) - Gillespie's Scottish Stout, I used to love that stuff
  • Disarm - Budvar, a beer and music you don't need to think too much about, just plain good all round
  • Folk Police - too much of the imperial stout and I am soon getting homesick, the Peatbog Faeries stoke that fire quite easily

So there you have it, some nice cheesy tunes and beery pairings! have a top weekend people, do good things, like buy calendars! ;)

Friday, February 13, 2009

To Bee or not to Bee?

Tandleman recently commented on his distaste for honey beers, and so it was with his post in mind that I opened up my bottles of Wychwood BeeWyched last night, having discovered that just the one Hobgoblin wouldn't suffice. Actually, the one Hobgoblin and 2 BeeWycheds didn't suffice either, so I had a Paulaner hefe-weissbier and a M?nchshof Urtypisches Schwarzbier as well.

BeeWyched is a pale ale which is made with FairTrade honey and pours a dark amber, topped off with a fluffy cream head. The nose was mostly sweet, but not overpoweringly so, a light maltiness came through as did subtle citrus notes. The first taste is very much that of a pale ale, but slowly the sweetness of the honey asserts itself, but without becoming too much and cloying. I was worried that it would suffer from the same thin body as the Belhaven Fruit Beer, but it was actually rather robust and velvety. Overall a nice beer, one which Mrs Velkyal rather enjoyed and has asked me to go back to Cider Club today in the hope that they have more - does Primátor English Pale Ale have competition?

I only made a few mental notes about and the Paulaner hefe-weissbier - a supremely yummy beer, overflowing in all the clove and banana goodness you expect from a bavaria wheat beer as well as buckets of citrus that makes it hugely refreshing. The M?nchshof was also very nice, lots of toffee, caramel and fruit with a bitterness which cuts through it all to make it one delightful beer to drink.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, tomorrow is brew day - so hopefully on Monday I will have pictures and what not of the first Velky Ale!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Away From It All

Down a small lane called Friar’s Entry, Far From the Madding Crowd certainly lives up to its name and was the first of the varied pubs I visited during my trip to Oxford. Having bought myself an Iain Banks book to read, I pitched up just after opening time and immediately felt right at home. This is a pub as pubs should be in my book, no fancy décor, plain dark wooden furniture and an unobtrusive bar. The reason I wanted to visit this pub was because I had read that it was the only free house in the centre of Oxford. For those unaware of British parlance, a free house is one that is not tied to any particular brewer and thus free to sell what they want, and in emails to the landlord I had learnt that they rotate a range of ales from the smaller brewers, mostly local.

My first choice of pint was simplicity in itself, Hobgoblin on draught is not something that I have a chance to have very often, so having ordered my pint, taken it to a table, realized that the leather sofa was too soft to write clearly and moved to another table, I started on my mission to try all the beers available that day. According to the blackboard beside the bar, this was a 4.5% ABV, in bottles it is 5.2%, and poured the same dark russet into a tulip glass. I will come to the issue of head in a moment. The nose was unmistakably Hobgoblin, toffee sweetness just imploring you to drink, and like the bottled variant it was smooth, malty, full bodied and with a nice clean bitter aftertaste that relieves it the burden of being cloying.

At this point there was just myself, an older lady having a half pint reading her paper and a couple of barstaff. I have got used to table service in the Czech Republic but I still prefer going to the bar – I am also a fan of sitting at the bar of my regular haunts – and so up I went to get pint number 2, Brakspear Bitter. I loved the colour if the Brakspear, dark amber with an off-white head. On giving it a good sniff it was slighty bready and laced with bananas. The first mouthful was a delight, very smooth and creamy with a refreshing bitterness. But then strange things started to happen, it started to smell vaguely of rubber tyres, oak and even whisky. The problem was a lack of consistency within the pint, one minute there was a strange smell and then the next it was gone. I found that towards the end of the pint it had become stale, reminding me of digestive biscuits that go soft.

As the lunchtime crowd came in, and I reached chapter 3 of my book, I noticed that Far From the Madding Crowds attracts a wonderfully diverse clientele – but a very friendly one. Eventually I was to get chatting with a guy called Frank who was a regular, as well as a very educated guy with whom I shared a good three hour discussion that ranged across educational theory, religious history and textual criticism. My third pint was to be the first of several beers from brewers I had never heard of, in this case it was Shingle Bay from the Quercus Brewery in Dorset. This was paler than the previous couple of pints, being an almost lageresque sparkling golden colour, with a nose that was citrusy and kind of reminded me of sweet and sour sauce. Drinking it though left me about three quid poorer and not much more inspired, it is not a bad beer, but rather just nothing special, not something to turn your nose up, but note something to chase across hill and dale for.

Carrying on my mission, I indulged in the sweet honey tasting Wold Gold from the Wold Top Brewery as well as the somewhat bland and syrupy Elsie Mo from Castle Rock, which is shown above. As the afternoon wore on I found that I was developing a stuffy nose and thus smelling much of anything was becoming difficult. However, that clogged up feeling didn’t stop me from enjoying a lovely pint of No Angel from the Clark’s Brewery, which weighs in at 4% ABV. It is quickly becoming apparent to me that I am a fan of the darker ales, so I was delighted at the dark copper of the No Angel, even though once again there was a thin head – coming to that bit! I would love to tell you what it smelt like but by this point it could have smelt like a miner’s sweaty undies and I would have been none the wiser as my nose was thoroughly blocked. However the wonderful maltiness and gentle bitterness struck a fantastic balance that had me scribbling furiously that this was quite simply the “perfect bitter”, if you will excuse the awful pun, No Angel was certainly divine! (Apologies, but I am sure we have all done similar.)

Which brings me to my one constant gripe about drinking in England at the weekend, and perhaps people will bear with me as I am used to the Czech attitude to head on beer. I will just come straight out and say it, head for me is an important and integral part of having a beer. I am quite happy to lose a meagre half-inch of beer in order to have a better-looking pint – after all, how a beer looks is essential for its enjoyment. I have seen campaign posters for having pints taken , but this just seems to be backward thinking in my book. I worry about people who insist on getting their full extra half-inch of beer at the expense of a better looking pint – does it add to the enjoyment, do the extra few drops get you buzzed quicker, or are you just a moaning minny with nothing better to do that fill the drip trays of the UK? Getting a full pint of beer is all well and good, but instead of looking like a right tight arsed git and saying to some harassed barmaid, “could you top it up love”, how about campaigning for the use of bigger glasses so everyone is happy. Get a full pint and have a better-looking beer.

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 ...