Brighton Beerish Tour

Mission is quite simple. Pop to the shops and get back to mow the grass. At the same time my lovely girlfriend has given me a print out of a cake to buy from M&S. “Do not forget!” Easy, what i didn’t say was that the trip to the shops would fit around a beer tour of Brighton. 30 mins away from casa del Newbie. Easy.
Pack the usual on to the bag, a book, Football Weekends magazine, (devoted to watching football in random places around the world) Sunglasses and a packet of chilli hot wave doritos, a hearty brunch. I love Brighton and Brighton seem to love everybody, it is a laid back place where no one is judged and from experiences, every one is smiling. I am sure if i wore my Minotaur outfit no one would bat an eye lid. i opted for shorts and t shirt instead.
Through my giddiness and school boy excitement i forgot to look in M&S for the cake….ah I am sure there is another somewhere. First stop, The Craft Beer Co. It’s Shut. Plan B, head towards the Brighton Dispensary which by my terrible calculation is a couple roads away. Oh look an M&S. I need a beer first, i’ll pop in after.
Magazine in hand, beer ordered (Brighton Bier – West Pier Pale Ale – 4%) time to relax and enjoy the beer. Sadly i was distracted by a gentleman who walked in and just proclaimed
“All of this means nothing to me” waving his hands and pointing at the board and pumps in front of him. He clearly needed a beer and needed it fast. Thankfully the staff talked to him about what styles he likes and after a few tasters he walks away satisfied and picks the table behind me.
Obviously i have 2 choices, Sit and read my magazine or pretend to read it and use my dumbo ear to listen to their conversation. This man is gold. He starts off moaning about how empty the pub is and no atmosphere (12 pm on a Thursday is hardly happy hour) then proceeds to slag the beer off. Luckily his wife must be used to this kind of bashing and decided to change subject, talking about the postcard they need to get and the itinerary for the day…only to be shut down and nagged at for how expensive postcards are these days. More slagging off is done about the style and decor of the pub, which i think is perfect. This man really isn’t enjoying his day but something tells me he never does.
Enough of this negative ninny, time to move on to the next stop which is The Craft Beer Co. Thankfully it was open and i had the whole place to myself which meant i could take my time choosing what to have. This time going for a beer from Marble Brewery and their Chocolate Marble. Thankfully there was no taste of marble (i’ll get my coat) lots of Chocolate, in fact it felt like i was a kid again drinking chocolate milk and enjoying my football magazine…..but this time it was more manly. kind of.

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The soundtrack in the pub was fantastic, which meant i ended up reading a whole feature on Icelandic 4th division football without actually taking anything in. Damn it. The only thing that woke me from my musical daze was a text to remind me to pick up the cake form M&S, which reminds me i must go there next seeing its so close.
Next stop – M&S. PIKACHU! there is a real life Pikachu across the road, not the Pokemon go stuff but a grown man or woman dressed in a Pikachu outfit. It’s the little things that impress me. Anyway where was i? oh yeah, Bison Arms beer shop down by the sea front.
Every time i find myself in Brighton i always stop in to pick something up. I used to ‘stumble’ across the shop until my girlfriend realized the 8th/9th time wasn’t a coincidence and now she even reminds me to pop in. What a gal. Bison Beer have the local pride and appeal that draws you in, which was evident with a launch a few day before of the new local brewery Lost and Found and i got talked into buying a couple, didn’t take much persuasion mind.
Starting to lag now, fuel is low. Food is needed and probably another beer, so after a brisk walk it was a glorious sight to see the iconic Brewdog sign in the distance. I love the huge board above the bar shouting at me whats on, shouting at me to get Ace of Citra from Brewdog themselves and it surprisingly worked well with my Chuck Norris burger (chicken for us mortals)
I was surprised at the amount of people walking in and acting shocked at there being good and different beer to their normal tipple. i counted 10 or so times where the staff talked them through the tastes and styles…..i should probably get back to my magazine. 1 More beer left before i finally go to M&S, AND WHAT A BEER! one of my favourites in the world, one of the first beers that got me into good beer. Beavertown – Gamma Ray.
So finally got to the end of a mini adventure and a plan is up my sleeves, there is an M&S at the station.

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I got distracted again, mysteriously pulled into the North Laine Brewhouse which is a pub with their brewery behind and above the bar. Ah, too good. Shouldn’t be long, a quick North Laine Ale which went down far too quickly and easily followed by their IPA. At this point i got caught staring at the brewers above the bar working away like i was staring at otters playing in the zoo. I bloody love Otters.

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Either way it was time to grab a train beer at Trafalgar Wines and go in search of that silly cake. Mikeller – Stateside IPA was a good finish with a can that is packaged in a way that i could get by with people thinking it was a juice drink, that’s what i’m going with anyway.
Walk in the door, mowed the lawn.
“You stink of beer……where’s the cake?!”

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Hook Norton Brewery Tour

I am slowly falling in love with the midlands area. Lucky enough to have in laws who live in the area (on a canal boat believe it or not) and treat us and show us some amazing places. This weekend whilst the lovely ladies of our lives explored Stratford we decided to take in the Hook Norton Brewery Tour and coincidentally try and drink more than we ever have in the space of a few hours.

The first thought that popped up when i realized where we were going was that it’s going to be a huge warehouse space with equipment and of course a mini shop/bar, surely? Wrong….VERY wrong. pulling into a small country road, named Brewery Lane (Already got me smirking…its the little things in life) we saw what van only be described as one of those haunted houses you see in a horror film. Surely it can’t be in there? Wrong again!

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Ok maybe i should stop guessing and assuming what i will see today. Just look forward to the beer instead, which i already know all about. After a nosey look in the shop and tasty lunch it was time to join up with the group and head into the unknown. Scott the tour guide was fantastic about answering questions he probably hears hundred times over and going into great detail about everything we see.

The brief history of the building was really intriguing and surprising. A grade 2 listed building which means not much work can be done on it and when they put a new tank in they had to remove part of the roof and individually mark every tile and beam then put back in exactly in the right place…..then a while after that the other half of the roof collapsed anyway!

I won’t go into loads of detail for every bit of kit that i laid my eyes upon, instead of taking notes i was pretty much in awe of everything that was in the brewery. The way the steps are small and narrow and wind up and down onto the different floors. The hop room and the way they still weigh them like they did all those years ago and carry the sack up and down the stairs by hand.

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The most interesting part of the tour to me was probably the way they brew through experience. Once again i was wrong thinking that most brewing was done by pressing buttons and letting the machine to some or most of the work…what an idiot. After going up and down the stairs seeing everything and the old equipment which was still there from the 1800’s it was time to head back to the bar and sample some of the beers

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We tried the 3 core beers, Old Hook, Hooky and Lion and heard the history behind them. I was quite happy and content with the amazing days tour when the tour guide said that we had time to try some more beers…what a surprise! I tried the seasonal beers, Harvest Hop – a very light tasting beer which was no comparison to the Haymaker which was so good i went back and got some more.

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All that was left to do was grab as many beers and glasses my tiny human hands could carry and go off into the night and sample more Hook Norton delights.

 

First Beer Festival

First Beer Festival, What did i expect? I expected beer, bottles, cans and to be honest, a ton of beer!

Warwick Beer Festival was a Friday and Saturday event held at Warwick Race course, which thankfully was timed perfectly when visiting relatives. We picked the Saturday so we can have a long session and hopefully with the weather being good we could relax and be care free.

Turning up at the event i was like a curious Meerkat trying to peer my head over the organizer and get a peek of what looked like a huge marquee and any beer i could fixate on. Unfortunately for me whilst in my beer trance i managed to completely ignore the rules and the reason we have tokens and what to do when your glass was empty. Luckily i finished my trance and handed over £10 whilst nodding in agreement as if i understood and listened to everything that was said…Can’t be too hard right? After the excitement of having my first beer glass from a festival and my own programme i had to figure out how the tokens work. The tokens were split into 50p on the page and worked out at £1 for a third of a pint and £1.50 for Half. Sounds extremely reasonable.

Skimming the pages of the programme and reading all the local Breweries i have never heard of and a hell of a lot of beer at my disposal, i had to think of a game plan.

Try one from every Brewery? – Great Idea! except there were 26 Breweries and 49 Beers. Nope, cant do that one.

Go up in ABV from low to high? – Sounds doable, apart from every beer being the same or similar percentage. That won’t work.

Pick them based on funny names? – Potentially, but will i learn from that?

Read the Beer descriptions and mark the ones i want? Finally an idiot proof plan. A great tactical plan, a Mourinho move. How smug i felt.

First beer. Church End Brewery – What the Foxes Hat. Oh for god sake I’ve picked it because of the name. Great start. It did kind of work because it was a great tasting Beer, beautiful golden colour and a light refreshing drink that hit the spot perfectly.

Beer number 2 – Dark Star – American Pale Ale – 4.7%. A local beer to me down in the south of England, Horsham to be exact. I know the brewery well and was excited to try a beer i haven’t tried yet and was not disappointed! The flavour was huge and a dry finish complimented it so well.

Beer number 3 was my joint favourite from Old Pie Factory – Humble Pie – 4.2%. An amazing caramel taste with a chocolate finish, ah it was amazing and even more amazing was that everyone i was with hated it which meant i got more. I was going to go back for more but i was a deer caught in the headlights when i ordered and just blurted out “20, a third please” absolutely no idea what it was and a quick flick through the book shows that its called Malty Pig from Stratford Upon Avon Brewery and is a bitter. Not as tasty ad the Humble Pig but it was still good, smooth with a nice bitterness to it.

Beer Number 5 was broken up with some food from the truck, Pulled Pork and stuffing baguette, sadly the beer was awful and had no taste or aroma to it, which is very odd. Anyway no need to complain, straight to a New World IPA from Slaughterhouse, a clean citrusy beer which was a little different to the others we had.

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Last Beer of the day and my other joint favourite, Church Farm Brewery – Black IPA – 6.5%. Another citrus flavour with  darker finish which i just couldn’t quite pick up on. Either way it was amazing and given more time i would’ve got another.

What struck me about the Festival was the relaxed attitude to it. I thought it was going to be a rowdy and loud affair, instead their were people there who to taste and try the beer (including quite clearly some 17/18 year olds trying ales for the first time and struggling with the taste, we have all been there) Families sitting on the grass, people catching up and some even there to watch the live music on show. I hope every beer event and festival is like this?

 

 

 

Football and Beer

Football and Beer, it goes together like Flip and Flop, Ant and Dec and Mary Berry and Baking. Without even knowing, last night during the Euro 2016 Final i was sitting there with Beer in hand (Hogs Back – OTT if anyone is wondering). It’s just a normal thing that they are twinned. Majority of fans meet at the pub before the game, drink during the game and meet again to discuss what they would do if they were in charge.

I frequent the odd non league game where you can still drink whilst watching the game and i always think to myself, “Why don’t more teams have good beer?” obviously most teams and people don’t know about whats beers are out there (apart from Whitehawk FC who are partnered with Brighton Bier) but if the club house only served good beers, people will drink them? after all Beer and Football go hand in hand.

I have waffled on long enough but it is something i have always wondered, What if Football had good Beer?

Newbie Journey – Where I am

Where am I? apart from currently sitting in a coffee shop bemoaning the fact there isn’t a pub in walking distance serving good beer, ah well….that’s part of the journey. A journey which has led me to try and complete a challenge.

Last summer was when i started and fell in love with everything craft beer and I’ve loved every good beer, bad beer, great beer, funky beer, great bars, terrible pubs and everything in between.

Highlights are the Local Surrey Brewery Tillingbourne, Beavertown – Gamma ray and Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager from Hogs Back Brewery. Every trip to London is Beer gold and i love popping along to my local bottle shop Cobbett Real Ales to stand there for 10/15 minutes panic and end up buying the prettiest looking bottle.

Anyway, for myself personally i function better when i have a challenge or an end goal, which is why i am trying to conquer the Britain’s 100 Hottest Beers 2015. It’s the best way to try as many different breweries and styles…..now i have to think of a way to find all of these beers

 

Newbie Reviews #2 Hogs Back Brewery – Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager

I have spent weeks moaning about having my own bottle opener, no point having the generic boring one found in most peoples cutlery draw. I need my own one. Instead of buying one its been an episode of American Pickers searching the deepest depths of random friends and families to find one. Did it work?

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Ignore the thumb, actually don’t its a pretty good thumb. I’m happy with it.

Hogs Back Brewery is local to me (Surrey) and probably the only brewery where i have had a few beers from and liked every one and this beer was no different. My little bit of research tells me that they used dark chocolate from Montezuma (a Sussex company) and intended to use it in an Ale but tried it with Lager which worked and here we are.

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It smells amazing and not like any chocolate bar I’ve had which instantly makes me want to try one. Not overpowering which i think is a good thing, a good balance.

Looking at the drink messes with your head a bit as you expect a dark colour or any sign of chocolate…instead it looks like your normal Lager. The first sip is a strange one, taste of dark chocolate and then a crisp lager…and the after taste is of the Chocolate again which sits in the top of your mouth through the whole glass.

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To test the drink i let my girlfriend have a sip. A huge critic of every beer I’ve had and especially critical of any Lager, the scrooge of anything beer She loved it and especially the Chocolate taste which is there for every sip instead of disappearing….before i know it half my drink has gone. We have a winner.

This is my favourite beer in a while and love how they are a local brewery.

Types of Beer – Beer Newbie Struggle

The thing i am struggling with at the moment are the types of beer. At first i thought the styles were Lager, Ale and Cider…..But since trying as many as i can i have had, American IPA, American Pale Ale, Australian Pale Ale, Belgian Strong Pale Ale, Blonde Ale, Czech Pilsner, English Bitter, English IPA, English Pale Ale, English Strong Ale, Euro Lager, German Pilsner, Golden Ale, Golden Lager, Helles Lager, Pale Lager, Pilsner, Vienna Lager, Witbier.

What a list….and my head hurts just coming to terms with it. my next Beer i have ready in the fridge is a Porter and everything i am used too tells me i shouldn’t like it. Black in Colour and dark in flavour, will little old Lager drinker be accepting of the taste? bloody hope so.

What Style that i haven’t tried would you recommend and Is it possible to try every style available? my heart says “I hope so”….my liver says..”please don’t Try”

Beers so far…

How do i go about trying Beer? Do i just hunt down the best ones, try random ones or just local?…..or go for a bit of everything?

Anyway here is the list of beers i have had so far

  • Blue Moon Brewing Company – Belgian White
  • BrewDog – This. Is. Lager, Dead Pony Club, Punk IPA
  • Brooklyn Brewery – Brooklyn Lager
  • Camden Town Brewery – Camden Hells
  • Coopers Brewery – Original Pale Ale
  • Dark Star Brewing Co – Sunburst, American Pale Ale
  • De Halve Maan – Brugse Zot
  • Duvel – Duvel
  • Goose Island Beer Co – Goose Island IPA
  • Hardknott – Azimuth IPA
  • Hogs Back Brewery – T.E.A
  • Hook Norton Brewery – Old Hooky
  • Kiuchi Brewery – Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale
  • Meantime Brewing Company – London Lager
  • Oakham Ales – Bishops Farewell
  • Pressure Drop Brewing – Wallbanger Wit
  • Sierra Nevada – Pale Ale
  • The Five Points Brewing Company – Five Points Pale
  • The Wild Beer Co – Fresh
  • Vocation – Pride & Joy
  • Westerham Brewery Company – Audit Ale, Viceroy India Pale Ale, British Bulldog

First Experience

About a month or two ago i realized that there was a whole other Beer world out there, a separate and intriguing culture. That moment was after a period of not drinking and returning to the usual lager down the local. Whilst sipping and moaning about how tasteless it was i decided to change lager…..which turned into another pint of sipping and moaning how it just wasn’t the same.

After sulking for the rest of the evening i returned home to find a 6 pack of Meantime London Lager on my doorstop given to me as a gift from work. What is this? Why didn’t they just get me a normal pack of beer?

The Beers sat in my fridge for a couple days before i plucked up the courage to try one and what do you know…it was surprisingly good. It made me look at the Meantime Brewery online and showed me that there was another side to Lagers and beer altogether.

I’m barely scratching the surface after a couple of months of watching, listening and reading about beer so any recommendations will be grateful