Beer drinker, beer brewer and lover of all things beer.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Wicksteed Park Beer Festival

Another weekend, another Beer Festival. This event is being held at the Wicksteed Park pavillion in Kettering and is the parks 3rd summer beer fest. I don't like this fest as much as the one held at the rugby club as it is not as near, it's a good ten minutes walk!
Expect to see about 40 real ales on from local brewers and some from further afield. They usually get the right balance with beers from Kettering microbrewery Potbelly, regional brewers like Elsgood and Oakham ales to much further afield like Brewdog. The beers are always kept well and entertainment is provided along with food.
I will be making my way over with my beer disciples on Saturday evening so don't expect there to be too much left on Sunday! I am hoping for more of this lovely weather so we can sit out on the gardens outside the Pavillion cause there's nowt like drinking beer in the sun.Wicksteed Beer Festival

Thursday, 24 June 2010

It's the Beer Wot Won it!

There is a story circulating this morning that the secret behind Englands success yesterday was the players having a beer the night before the game. Fabio Cappello told reporters after yesterdays victory "I did something different. Yesterday evening, they drank beer. You can ask them."  Frank Lampard said that most players were wary of Capello's treat. And he said: "You don't have ten beers, you just have one."
Now it's hard to see what difference one beer would make to the players. It certainly wouldn't make any difference to their physical state. I do believe it was a good move by Cappello to let them have a beer together because their is no better way to relax than to have a beer. More essentially though having a beer together creates unity and would help to build team spirit. We all know their is nothing more social than having a beer with your mates/associates and I hope the players are allowed to continue to partake in this activity. Cappello may even let them have two!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Beer in Good Press Shock!

A report extolling the virtues of beer drinking has been suprisingly given a lot of coverage in the press. The report starts by clearing up myths about beer like it contains fat and that it is produced using chemicals. The report goes on to inform us of the health benefits of drinking beers such as real ale. It reveals that beer is a rich source of anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre (are you reading this Mrs Beer Demon?)
It's refreshing to see beer being painted in such a positive light at a time when it has been bashed in many corners and blamed as the cause of all our social issues. It is however not suprising that this report gives beer such a glowing report when it was produced by experts at the Beer Academy. The Beer Academy is an educational body run by members of the brewing industry, the Director of Brewing at the British Beer & Pub Association and the Chief Executive of Casque Mark amongst other experts in this field.
The Beer academy became an arm of the IBD in 2007 and delivers education to professional brewers and distillers worldwide. Check out their website at:

Thursday, 17 June 2010

A Drop of Scotch

Beer that is, not the distilled malt. Scotland has a long history of brewing beer and they have used herbs for bittering and flavouring throughout that time. The Celts would use a gruit using herbs like Meadow-wort and this style would continue in Scotland long after the hopped style became  dominate in England. Hops would replace the use of gruit by the end of the 19th century but some old styles have been revived creating some interesting and quite satisfying beers coming from north of the border.

Williams Bros Brewing Co
A lady of Gaelic descent went into the Williams owned homebrew shop in Partick, bearing a translation of a 17th century recipe for 'Leanne Fraoch' (Heather Ale), Inherited from her Gaelic family.  This translated recipe was developed in homebrew size quantities by shop owner Bruce Williams to the recipe that is used today. The company started life in 1988 with Bruce brewing their flagship beer Heather Ale in a
tiny brewery in Taynult where they could produce no more than 5 barrels per batch. As demand grew a series of relocations ensued till they took over the New Alloa Brewery at Kelliebank, Alloa and started trading as the Williams Bros. Along with Heather Ale, 4 other historic Scottish ales are developed using natural Scottish produce such as elderberries, the shoots of Scots pine, seaweed & gooseberries.


This flagship beer is brewed using flowering heather that is added to the boil and then the hot wort is run into a fresh vat of heather flowers where it infuses for an hour. The idea of this may sound quite bizzare and even un-appealing to some. I was pleasantly suprised to discover what a pleasant beer this makes that is not unlike a floral hopped beer. This Amber ale has a floral earthy aroma that invites the drinker in. With a strong caramel maltiness the heather flavour provides a subtle spicy medicinal tang. The finish is dry with elements of grape. This is a suprisingly morish beer and worth a sampling. 4 out of 5.


Made from a 16th century recipe this beer could be considered more a fruit lager. Brewed using lager malts and wheat it's bittered and flavoured with Bog Myrtle, hops and Meadowsweet. Scottish Gooseberries are added to the secondary fermentation. This 5% beer looks like a lager in the glass as it pours a pale blonde with plenty of fizz. The aroma is very sweet and citruisy but with a suprising roasted quality almost coffee like. This beer is very creamy on the tongue with only a light citruis flavour that is dominated by the sweetness. You are left with a dry mouthfeel and the citruis lingers nicely. 3.5 out of 5.

Atlas Brewery
This small brewery is situated in the Scottish highlands village of Kinlochleven. They have been brewing since 2002 in a building used previously as an aluminium smelter.

Three sisters
Named after the Glencoe mountain range this beer is brewed with chocolate and crystal malts. A dark ruby session beer at 4.2% abv. An inviting aroma of toffee and berries pours with a thick creamy head. There is strong notes of chocolate and liquoriche balanced by a caramel sweetness. You are left with a pleasant kick of dark berries and a medium dry bitterness.
Very satisfying 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Another Tax Hike

Alcohol prices look set to rise again, as the Treasury considers increasing the tax on alcohol by another 5% in the emergency budget next week. With VAT going up by 5% also the increase is set to reach about 20p a pint. This comes of the back of Labours 5% rise back in March.
The BBPA said: ‘A beer tax plus VAT increase would see the price of a pint rocket by 20 pence on the eve of England’s third group game against Slovenia on 23 June. Such a move would spell disaster for thousands of community pubs and for Britain’s brewing industry,’ BBPA added.
CAMRA, the Society of Independent Brewers and the British Beer and Pub Association have come together for the first time to call for a beer tax freeze to help community pubs. Give your support to them by visiting this site Back The Pub and lobby the chancellor.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Beer Genie

No I havent found a magic lamp and summoned one up (that search still goes on.) This is the name of a new website put together by the BBPA (British Beer and Pub Association) to promote a positive image of beer. This comes at a time when beer has been attacked in many quarters and associated with the 'binge drinking culture' that is supposedly threatening our country. You have to respect what the BBPA are trying to do here with a site that Director of brewing Andy Tighe says 'It’s all about trying to present beer in a better light and is part of our new strategy of getting on the front foot and being more positive. Beer is a sociable product and a low alcohol option and we wanted to re-awaken that sociability factor. This is not about brands it is about beer as a category'
Beer Genie is very user friendly and covers different topics such as beer history, beer facts and beer & entertaining. This is a great site for newbies looking to increase their knowledge of beer and also a good reference for news on events. Have a look at

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Hook Norton fall foul of FIFA

More World Cup related posting. This story in the Publican reports on how the Oxfordshire breweries limited edition Striker beer has caused a stir with the football governing body. The caption 'Brewed to celebrate the FIFA World Cup 2010' is what has caused the stir even though only 8 firkins were sold before the pumpclips were changed. FIFA's legal team are looking into the matter but Hook Norton have not been contacted over the issue. This probably amount to anything now they have corrected their 'oversight' but the question is who reported them? I can't see many FIFA delegates drinking in any of Hook Nortons 50 pubs so someone has obviously gone out of their way to bring the matter to their attention. This must be a very sad individual who would go to that length or possibly a drinker of 'the beer of the world cup' who is worried that Striker may dent the sales of the humble little brewer AB-InBev.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

World Cup Beers

The worlds biggest sporting event kicks off this friday in South Africa when 32 countries compete for footballs biggest prize the World Cup. Such is the pull of this magical event that millions of people across the country (including those who don't give a fig about the game the rest of the time) will be glued to the screen for the next month. The thing is we all know watching football and drinking beer go hand in hand with each other. The supermarkets will do a killing over this period and pubs with the good sense to invest in a big screen should do pretty favourably too.
I will succombe to world cup fever and start believing that maybe just maybe this will be England's year. I will become engrossed in a festival of football that will bring to our screens a whole different perspective to the game than the premiership provides us. I will give my wife a well earned break from me and I'll negotiate working hours with my boss to make sure I don't miss a minute.
I will also of course endulge in the ritual of drinking beer while watching footie, but what is the perfect footie watching beer? Of course the answer to that depends on the indivdual and their taste but is their a formula we can use to determine what Ale is most suitable? Now the first thing I will do is rule out the fizzy pop that will be drunk by the masses as in my prejudiced view lager (I'm not including quality european Pilseners in this) is just the cheap lazy option. The obvious choice is a session ale. I am not looking to get rat-arsed during the games and I don't want to waste beers that should be reserved for proper appreciation. I am not looking for a hop-bomb or something matured in whisky casks. I want something smooth, refreshing but still satisfying.
There is another option which I think would be a lot of fun and a good way to get into the spirit of things. I could pick beers from all the participating countries and drink them during the relevant matches. There is a major flaw in this though, what if some of the countries don't produce there own Beer? I would imagine the African countries would be a major stumbling block but the alternative would be to choose the beer of choice of that country. The other problem with this is it would take some organising and may prove a tad expensive.
The route that I think will be best for me is to bring in a whole host of my favourite session ales and work my way through them during the course of the tournament and hopefully by the time Stevie Gerrard climbs the steps to lift World Cup aloft I will have it sussed. Oh come on I can dream can't I?

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Kettering Beer Festival

This weekend sees the return of the Kettering Beer Festival organised by the Kettering Rotary Club and Kettering Rugby Club. The event takes place on the grounds of the rugby club at the end of Waverley Rd in Kettering. This beer festival is a particular favourite of mine, not because it offers over 50 real ales or it raises large amounts of money for local causes, but because it takes place about 30 metres from my house. Now if I wasn't a beer lover I might not enjoy the prospect of drunken revellers gathering so close to my home but as I will be one of them I shant complain! The good thing about this event as opposed to other events held on the grounds it is inhabited by real ale lovers and every one knows real ale lovers aren't the types to get rat-arsed and go looking for trouble.
 This is the 4th year the event has been held and previous years have been a great success. A musical act is provided each evening and we even have an oompah band appearing! There is always a good choice of ales from local breweries and from farther afield. My only criticism would be that they could do more to make it family friendly and put on something to entertain the children.
The first night is tomorrow Thursday the 3rd and it runs till Sunday but I wouldn't expect many ales to be left by then. I will be making a couple of appearnces there and will give a report next week.