Showing posts with label tale of the ale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tale of the ale. Show all posts

Friday, April 6, 2012

Why I Blog


I have always enjoyed writing, and I hope it is something that I am not too shabby at. I make no claims to be anywhere near the standard of my favourite authors, Umberto Eco, Nick Hornby and Andrei Makine among them. However, in addition to my regular ramblings about beer on here, I occasionally write on another couple of blogs, one about whatever pops into my head and the other about philosophy and religion. Writing has always been part of my life, when I was a practising Christian I had about 30 poems published in various magazines and anthologies, as well as writing music reviews for Cross Rhythms magazine. I have written technical documentation, articles about real estate in Prague and sales proposals, I am even trying to write a novel, though that is going through a major mental revision at the moment.

It is just shy of four years ago that I wrote the first post on this blog. In that first post, I said that my posts could consist of:

"posting pictures and stories about beer, and most importantly the people that my journey brings me into contact with".


When I started blogging there were only two other beer bloggers that I knew of in Prague, Evan Rail and Max Bahnson. At first I read them, then met them and today I feel honoured to call both of them my friends. In various constellations we have shared many a beer, and to this day they are two of the people I miss most from Prague. Many a Saturday afternoon finds me wishing I could send either of them a text message and arrange to meet for a pint at Pivovarsky klub or Zly ?asy.


In November 2008 I realised a long standard ambition to visit Ireland. Mrs Velkyal had a friend that had married an Irishman, and so as we had a long weekend and it was close to my birthday we flew over. The Irishman was to become the author of The Tale of the Ale blog, and since then we have shared several beery adventures. One trip took in the delights of Prague, Brno and Southern Moravia, while more recently me met up in Paris to wander the streets and down many pints. During our initial trip to Ireland we went to Galway and found the most perfect pub on the planet. Sheridan's on the Docks, now sadly departed, had Budvar and Galway Hooker on tap, a peat fire and the rugby on the tv, it was simply idyllic. At the end of the trip Mrs V and I met with the eponymous Beer Nut and Barry, an Irishman writing about beer life in Germany having Bitten the Bullet.


Within weeks of moving to Charlottesville, we had met with one E.S. Delia, and his lovely wife to be, whose blog Relentless Thirst gave me plenty of insight before moving over. Eric had commented on Fuggled before we moved and invited us to his rooftop tasting. Meeting and getting to know Eric has been one of the highlights of life in Virginia.

I could wax lyrical about the people I have met, and friends I have made as a result of beer, but one story stands out. As you may know I work at the Starr Hill tasting room occasionally. Last year, I was there for my one day that month and my colleague asked me to come and chat with a customer, a fellow Brit. A couple of minutes later my colleague asked me where I thought the customer was from. Given the slight London/Estuary thing going on his voice, I assumed he was from the south-east corner. The customer's response was "I'm Scottish", and through a series of questions and stunned responses it transpired that we had both grown up in the Outer Hebrides, from adjacent islands and he had been 2 years ahead of me at school. We know a lot of the same people and happened to meet in the brewery on the one day of that month I was working. He is now my regular drinking buddy here.

That's what beer means to me, and by extension blogging about it. The people I have met. Beer people are good people, and this blog has opened many doors to meet them. That then is what drives me, writing not just for myself, but for the people I have met and hope one day to meet.

This month's Session is being hosted by the guys at Brewpublic and the theme is "what drives beer bloggers?".

Monday, January 9, 2012

Parisian Blonde

Tucked away on the Rue des Cannettes in Paris is a brewpub that goes by the name . It is a place that I have been aware of pretty much ever since my parents moved to the Limousin area of France and going to visit entailed a couple of hours in Paris waiting for a train. The main reason Mrs V and I had never visited was because we were either waiting for said train early in the morning, or we only had a very short amount of time and needed to eat and drink somewhere close to Gare d'Austerlitz.


As I mentioned last week though, just before Hogmanay we spent a couple of days in the city, with The Tale of the Ale author Reuben and his wife. Finally we had time, and it is never a bad thing to have exemplary company to go to a pub with.

From the outside it kind of looks like many an ethnopub in the great cities of the world, dark wood, lights that are perhaps a tad garish, you know the kind of places, often they go by the name "The Dubliner", "The Rose and Crown" and so on.

The first thing I noticed as we were being led to our table (never sure how I feel about that in a pub, but that's a different story) was the taps*. No fancy set ups, no labels telling drinkers what was coming out of each one, brass, chrome and wood, industrial, suggesting a confidence in their product. This was clearly a beer place, and beer places are my kind of places - I am starting to believe that the pub is a transnational institution.

They had four beers available the night we visited, a Blanche, Blonde, Ambrée and Brune. Did I mention yet that the place was packed? Absolutely to the rafters packed and so in fear that there may be too long of a downtime between pints, Reuben and I ordered two pints each while the ladies had a bottle of wine. A quick side note, did you know that Virginia law stipulates that a person can only have 1 alcoholic beverage at a time? It was nice not having to think about such stupidity.

I ordered the Blonde, described as a "Lager Ale", and the Brune, described as a "Stout". I was fairly sure that the Blonde would be something along the lines of a K?lsch and I wasn't disappointed. Clean, crisp and with a fruitiness that balanced the hop bite very nicely, it was just what the doctor ordered after strolling the streets of Paris in the rain. The Brune was nice too, not really a Stout as we would understand them, but then the style is less important than how good it tastes, and taste good it did. Admittedly I stuck with the Blonde from there on out, served as they were in hefty mugs that made a satisfying clunk as Reuben and I cheersed each fresh pint.

Good company, good beer and a pub with a good atmosphere, what more could anyone want from a night out drinking?

* For some pictures of the night and the taps, see .

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Local - Guest Blog

Pubs are a ubiquitous feature of life in many European countries and Ireland surely has one of the more celebrated pub cultures. So, off to Ireland we go, and this week's post comes from Reuben, writer of the Tale of the Ale blog and all round good egg. I'll be hanging out with Reuben and his wife in a few weeks in Paris, something Mrs V and I are very much looking forward to. Without further ado.....


Ah the local, a term of endearment. It's a home away from home. For many it might feel more like home than wherever you live. It's an odd term "Your local". What does it actually mean? In the strictest terms, your local should be the pub/bar that's closest to your place of residence, or at least in the vicinity. What happens if you live in a small rural town with only two remaining pubs? That's my current situation, since I have moved to the town formerly known as Beggars Bridge, though the Irish name Droichead Chaisleán Loiste means Castlelost Bridge and refers to a ruined castle named Castlelost and so on. Yes there is history to this little town, though little of it all that interesting. Not until you get to more modern times. Apparently (and I have no evidence either way), my humble little town is the site of the country's first strip or pole dancing club. I'm not sure which, or even if it's true but since it happened before I moved here, I also don't care.

What I do care about is that of the two pubs remaining in my town, neither have any beer worth drinking. Now that would not bother me so much if my closest pub, Bagnalls (the one VelkyAl has been to) still served food. When we moved here first they actually had lovely food and Sunday lunch was fantastic. It was not a carvery, it was menu and table service but the cost was about the same and the food quality far superior to a carvery. Sadly they stopped serving food a few years ago and as a result, we stopped having a reason to go there. I have tried a few times to make it my local. For a time they had bottled Guinness and I went to watch a few rugby games but it just had no atmosphere.

The other pub called Lysters is more of a farmer and GAA pub. I have only been in there once while waiting for the post office to open. When I mentioned this to the bar man he pointed out that in actual fact the post office closed in 20 minutes and I had been waiting for it to close all that time.

I now have a dilemma. The closest homely pub to me is in my closest large town of Mullingar. Daly's serves craft beer and is a lovely pub as well. It is hard to get to using public transport. My only real option is to either use a taxi at over €20 each way, or I can cycle as I did in my report.

That means my real local, the one I feel most at home in must be somewhere with a better public transport link and where else but my home town of Dublin?


There are many great pubs I can choose but The Bull & Castle usually ends up as number one, as long as we are talking Saturday or Sunday afternoon when it's quiet enough to sit at the downstairs bar and read. Later on weekends they bring on a DJ and loud music to ruin the atmosphere and ability to have a conversation. This can be overlooked for their dedication to craft beer, their sheer range of craft and world beers and also because if I get hungry, as I often do when drinking beer, I have some fantastic dishes to choose from. The manager also runs a blog listing their latest beers and current rotation cask and keg offerings.


Sitting at the bar downstairs is probably my favourite place to be while enjoying a beer, a book and perhaps something to eat. Upstairs is the German style beer hall but there is something more homely & more welcoming about the downstairs bar if you are on your own. If not, head upstairs to the beer hall and pick any bench style table. Pick a beer of any of the chalkboard or table menus. See what's on cask that day or watch a match on the projector, assuming there is one. It's a great place to watch Rugby matches.

There are quieter and more relaxing pubs, pubs that serve better food perhaps or even pubs that might be better craic, but as an all round great place to be, for their sheer number of speciality world and craft beers, their dedication to Irish craft beer and their cask offerings and many other indefinable reasons, The Bull & Castle is my local, my home away from home.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Homebrewer of the Week

For Homebrewer of the Week today we head over to Ireland and the author of the Tale of the Ale blog, whose wife is a good friend of Mrs Velkyal and hosted us in November 2008 when we visited that most fantastic country.


Name: Reuben Gray

How did you get into home brewing?

I had been thinking about it for a while and Velky Al introduced me to Irishcraftbrewer.com during a visit to Ireland. Amazing that it is an Irish website and I never knew it existed.

Are you an all grain brewer or extract with grains?

All grain

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

There are a number of fantastic beers I have brewed but the one that stands out for me the most, and perhaps it is for sentimental reasons is my first all grain brew called Cloaked Stranger. A very strong, bitter, toasty dry Irish stout. I have never had a commercial stout I like more.

What is the worst, and why?

The worst is not even a bad beer. I would say that Wheaty Goodness is the worst. This is a recent brew which doubled as a demonstration to a fellow homebrewer who wanted to move to All grain from extract. It is a wheat beer but with extra hops, one of which is Rakau from New Zealand. I think what happened is that a wild yeast made it in to the fermenter so it was initially very sour. This has now mellowed out and is a rather refreshing beer now but due to the suspected wild yeast infection (harmless to consume) it gets worst beer vote.

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

Cloaked stranger is my favourite all-time beer although the beer I am drinking right now, Hoppety Hop is a double IPA and in this warm weather is so refreshing that it is my current favourite brew. It is so bitter (106 IBU) and refreshing but the sweetness makes it seem very drinkable.

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

Yes I would love to open a brewpub at some point.

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

For pure ease of drinking in quantity, perhaps Blonde Beggar which is a simple blonde ale although Seeing Red was a much more complex beer but could pass as a session beer. The cascade finish from a very malty red ale was just superb so I will go with Seeing Red because everyone who likes beer was blown away with it. The style is aiming towards Clotworthy Dobbin but was not a clone of the beer, just the inspiration.

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

Random thoughts, there is usually very little planning. One of my latest beers is called Random Summer Sunshine and was born out of what ingredients I had handy that were getting on in age and the need to make another summer Quaffer.

What is the most unusual beer you have brewed?

I brewed a Belgian style Dubbel and I was going for the less sweet style of Northern Belgium (Bruges). I made a very complex beer using all kinds of different grains and I thought it came out fantastic and exactly what I want. One comment I got from a very experience home brewer was “wow that’s weird…” I don’t think he knew what to make of it but I loved it as did my wife and the comments were positive on the whole.

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

I would like to work with Bells and do my Seeing Red with them because Bells Oberon was the first craft beer I can remember and is what got me in to Craft beer in the first place. I was very much of the opinion that Americans only brewed beer flavoured water like Bud, Miller etc and was shocked when I came across a taps I did not recognize and found that American bars usually also serve local beers. So everywhere I went I asked for the local beers and the rest is history. Bells will always have a special place in my heart. That and they are from Michigan were my wife is from.

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...

男女真人后进式猛烈动态图_男人让女人爽的免费视频_男人脱女人衣服吃奶视频