Monday, 28 July 2008

Westons Stowford Press LA Cider

This is my top recommendation for warm summer evenings.

Westons are renowned world-wide for producing some of the best ciders available - and now they have a low-alcohol version containing less than 0.5% alcohol-by-volume!

Perfect for the summer, this medium-sweet cider is great served chilled over ice.

Stowford LA is matured in old oak vats to produce a light, refreshing low-alcohol cider with that particular quality and character only associated with Westons.

Contains no artificial colouring, flavouring or sweetening. Suitable for vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs.

Contains less than 0.5% alcohol-by-volume.

Sold in cases of 24 x 330ml bottles.

If you order any 12 bottles of 750ml wine from The Alcohol Free shop, and subscribe to their newsletter, you'll pay no delivery charge for your entire order - including unlimited cases of beer!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Thronbridge In The Media

Congrats go out to the Thornbridge brewers for achieving the enviable. Its no mean feat to be featured in the Guardians Saturday supplement and the write up by Matthew Fort who knows his stuff when he writes for Around Britain With A Fork is outstanding. Heres a link to the full article if you missed it. I am pleased to see Matthew is another member of the growing Jaipur fan base. Although I'm not sure how he manages to use his fork with this one.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Deception - Abbeydale Brewery

"We're just folk who love making quality beer!"

 Patrick Morton began his brewing career as many do home brewing from scratch, it wasn't until after he did a stint at Kelham Island Brewery Patrick along with his Dad decided to invest in a new brewing venture and Abbeydale Brewery was born. Their distinctive 'ruined abbey' logo was designed by a local artist, inspired by the frontage of Beauchief Abbey as is the names of many of their ales for example Absolution, Belfry, Daily Bread and Brimstone.

"At Abbeydale, we love beer. You could even say we're a little evangelical about it."

 Abbeydale Deception is a seasonal ale available throughout January and February, a very pale blond made with Nelson Sauvin hops which carry aromas of elderflower and gooseberry to excite the nose while plenty of citrus flavours rush through to the palate. Strong grapefruit is typically present but there's also a wine like quality to this ale which laces well to the glass and has a light foamy head. Deception is an eminently quaffable session ale with a good, long finish. ABV 4.1%

Friday, 22 February 2008

Wychwood Dirty Tackle

The Wychwood Brewery is tucked away behind the main street of the market town of Witney, in the heart of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. Witney is historically famous for its 3 Bs; its bread, its blankets and its beer. Brewing has taken place in Witney for centuries.

By 1997, Wychwood Brewery was producing nearly 30,000 barrels a year, including a full calendar of limited edition seasonal cask ales, under imaginative names and pump clip artworks. Following the success of Hobgoblin in bottle, Wychwood continued to bottle some of the other most popular cask ales, Christmas and seasonal beers. Many of the beer labels took their inspiration and artwork from myths and legends associated with the ancient medieval Wych Wood Forest. The brewery gained a growing fan base, as keen on the beers as they were on the artwork and imagery of the brewery labels.

Following the closure of the Brakspear Brewery in Henley on Thames, in October 2002, Wychwood was committed to bringing the brewing of Brakspear back to Oxfordshire. Following a £1 Million redevelopment of the Wychwod Brewery site, the Brewery now incorporates a separate Brakspear brewhouse and Brakpear fermenting room, using much of the original Brakspear equipment from Henley, including the famous ‘Double Drop fermenting system, used to brew Brakspear beers since 1774. For more information on Brakspear beers, please visit

A full-bodied malty beer with a clean citrus aroma which tackles your taste buds and kicks its opponents into touch. Brewed to perfection using Crystal, Malted wheat and Target, Northdown Challenger hops. Sweet with a caramel flavour, Dirty Tackle is easy to drink and a pleasant session ale. More noted for their legendary Hobgoblin ale, it is important to remeber Wychwood make a fine range of ales.

  • ABV: 4.0%

Saturday, 9 February 2008

The Brewing Of Beer

The Brewing Of Beer By: Michael Kyle

This wonderful libation has been quenching the masses for centuries and yet most of us admit to knowing very little about the brewing process. Well if a visit to a brewery is not in your near future this article will at least get your on your way to knowing more about one of North America’s favorite beverages.

There are two main families of Beer: Ales and Lagers.

Ales are top fermented and require much less conditioning time than lager. Ales are generally brewed at higher temperatures (between 15 - 24C or 60 - 75F) at these temperatures the yeast will produce a significant amount of esters and aromatic flavors in the ale. This will tend to give Ales “fruity” or floral compounds. Ales tend to be slightly sweeter than Lagers. Some Styles of Ales include but are not limited to, Stout, Barley Wine, Best Bitter and Albier.

Lagers are Bottom fermented and require much more conditioning time than Ales. Lagers are the most commonly consumed of the two families. Lager undergoes a primary fermentation at 7 - 12C or 45 – 55F then it will undergo a secondary phase or the “lagering” phase at 0 - 4 C or 30 - 40 F. This secondary fermentation will clarify and mellow the brew. The cooler temperatures will inhibit some the byproducts associated with brewing to give lagers a crisper taste than Ales. Some familiar styles of Lager are Pilsners and Bock.

Of course to start the brewing process we need to have a few vital ingredients:


Hops are derived from the cone of the Humulus Lupulus plant. Hops were originally added to beer as a preservative. It is now mainly used for its bitterness and aroma. The bitterness of the hops will generally balance the sweetness of the malt. The bitterness of commercially brewed hops is measured on the international bitterness unit scale and other than beer production, there is very little in the way of commercial uses for Hops themselves.


Barley is a cultivated cereal and is major food and animal feed crop. It is heartier than wheat and will thrive in cold temperatures. It was used by the ancient Egyptians for bread and of course beer. The Barley that is used for today’s beer production is malted barley. A process where the cereal grains are forced to germinate and are then quickly dried before the plant develops. This malting process allows the enzymes to convert the cereal grains starches to sugars, most notably of course in Barley.


Water is the primary ingredient to beer and when heated becomes known as the brewing liquid. Different water from different regions will affect the beers taste due to mineralization. Hard water is generally used for production of darker beers such as Stouts and Ales while soft water is better suited for Light beer production such as pilsners or lagers.


Yeast is a microorganism responsible for fermentation. It interacts with the Starches and sugars of Malt barley to create alcohol and carbon dioxide. Before 1876 and Louis Pasteur’s discovery of the single yeast cell, the fermentation process with yeast was a natural occurrence, hence the localized flavors of different regions being affected by the different naturally born yeasts. Now that Science has controlled the formation of yeast it can be broken into 2 main strains. Ale yeast (top Fermenting) or Lager Yeast (bottom Fermenting)

Brewing 101

Brewing beer has become a scientific process of late with several variations, filtering characteristics and flavorings but the process itself is a simple five step constant of Mashing, Sparging, Boiling, Fermentation and Packaging.

Mashing is the first process in brewing. The barley grains are crushed and soaked in warm water creating a malt extract. This extract is kept at a constant temperature to allow the enzymes to convert the starches of the grain into sugars.

Sparging is where water is filtered through the mash to dissolve the sugars inside. The result is a dark, sugar heavy liquid called Wort.

During the boiling process, the wort is boiled along with other ingredients, excluding yeast, to kill any microorganisms and release excess water from the brew. Hops are added at some point in this process.

Fermentation then takes place. The Yeast, either Ale or Lager yeast is added to the mix and the beer is then allowed to settle. This is called the primary fermentation process. There can be a second fermentation process but many breweries may simply filter off the yeast at this point.

Packaging the beer is the next step. Beer at this point will have alcohol but very little in the way of Carbon Dioxide. Many large scale breweries will infuse CO2 into the beer through the keg or bottling process. Smaller breweries or craft breweries may add residual sugars or small amounts of yeast to the bottles or kegs to produce a natural carbonization process. This is called Cask or Bottle fermented beer. No matter what process the brewery takes, all beer eventually ends up in steel kegs, bottles, cans and sometimes casks.

Although you now know the beer brewing process iside-out, the proper packaging of this libation has created much debate over whether beer is fresher when bottled or left in a keg.

The answer: A KEG.

The keg captures beer directly from the brewery and is kept refrigerated during transportation to your local pub!

Bottles on the otherhand are transported by unrefrigerated trucks and left on shelves where the beer is exposed to enough light that will inevitably have an affect on taste!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Leeds Brewery - Leeds Best

Leeds Brewery is Leeds’ only independent brewer, established June 2007.

Brewing on a 20 barrel plant Leeds Brewery have the capability of producing around 6000 pints per brew and have the capacity to brew 80 barrels (24,000 pints) per week.

Within their small team Leeds Brewery have a wealth of experience which means that they can ensure every aspect of the brewing process comes up to the highest standards.

Alongside the finest malt and hops Leeds Brewery use a unique strain of Yorkshire yeast which helps to give their beers a distinct and original flavour.

Leeds Golden Best Bitter is a fine example of what bitter should taste like, sharp and refreshing whilst dry with caramel coming through on th palatte. Not overly fragrant, the natural aromas of its ingredients gently waft from the glass. Crystal clear and golden when held to the light with a creamy white head this ale laces to the glass perfectly with every mouthful.

  • ABV 4.3%

Monday, 28 January 2008

Fyne Ales Highlander

The Fyne Ales brewery was set up in 2001 using the redundant milking parlour in the traditional farm buildings at Achadunan, Cairndow, Scotland.

The first commercial brew was on St. Andrews day that year. The design for the brewery and the impact which the brewing makes on the locality are arranged to have as little environmental impact as possible.

Water is sourced from a burn above the brewery overlooking Glen Fyne and the head of Loch Fyne

Highlander is a strong traditional ale with intense malt flavours and a citrus hop aroma. A smooth beer with a well-rounded, distinctly moreish appeal. Deeply golden amber in coulour with an off white head, Highlander is very pleasant to the nose and to the palatte. Fruity notes mingle with gentle spices creating a harmonious blend of flavours finishing with a dry ginger hit in the throat. Smooth and malty, this is indeed a fine ale from Fyne Ales.

  • ABV 4.8%

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Kelham Island's Bete Noir

The term bête noire (IPA: /ˌbeɪtˈnwɑr/ or [bɛt nwaʀ]; French for black beast) refers to someone or something unwanted or even hated, a pet peeve or strong annoyance.

The unicorn featured on this pump clip is hardly reminiscent of the legendary black beasts roaming the moors. And why would Kelham name an ale after a pet pieve? Maybe this ale was a beast to brew.

It is not a beast to drink, however. It is smooth and creamy. Heavy on the caramel and richly malted with a suprising bouquet on the nose that reminds one of an old fashioned sweet shop. Parma violets and bonfire toffee mingle with butter mints and warm freshly made fudge.

Black throughout with a creamy head and deceptively drinkable.
  • ABV 5.5%

Monday, 21 January 2008

Slaters Top Totty

Slaters Ales - formerly known as Eccleshall Brewery is a very successful family run brewery which was established in March 1995 in its original premises behind the George Hotel in Eccleshall by Ged and Moyra Slater.

In an effort to meet increasing demand from customers for their award winning beers, Slaters took the unprecedented decision to move to new premises in 2004. With a blank canvas and ten years of experience, they built the current operation from the ground up and are now operating in a state of the art brewery producing some of the finest beers in the UK today. Slaters have seen production capacity increase three fold from 10 barrels to 30 barrels during the last two years.

Slaters have employed a clever play on words when naming this ale.

The original meaning of Totty is as follows:

Tot"ty, a. [OE. toti. Cf. Totter.] Unsteady; dizzy; tottery. [Obs.or Prov. Eng.] Sir W. Scott.

The modern meaning is well known:

Totty noun Brit. informal girls or women collectively regarded as sexually desirable.

Both meanings derive from the same source - Tot. Which as we all know is an alcoholic drink.

  • ABV 4.0%
Tasting Notes: Top Totty is an award winning ale - SIBA Gold Award 2006. One taste and you can see why. This ale is good from the top of the glass to the bottom. Pale in color with a light foamy head, Top Totty is crystal clear. A well balanced alchemy between complex hop notes and a rich malt create a refreshing drink with a dry finish. Brewing excellence shines through in each mouthful but the hops are not obvious and I think that is the key to this ale's success. Not flowery like many pale ales and an eminently quaffable session ale.
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