Friday, 8 July 2011

What Makes a Great Pint of Real Ale?

Finding a good pint of real ale is not always easy. Here are a few pointers to make life a little bit easier in finding a satisfying pint.
1) Having too many beers on draught can be a bad sign. This leads to beers that are not fresh due to some of the less popular beers being on tap for too long. Unless the pub is known for good ale. It would be advisable to stick to the well-known beers that would presumably sell quicker. Thus guaranteeing a fresher pint.
2) Always watch how the beer is poured. Serving real ale takes time. The swan neck hand pump works on gravity and has a piston inside. It takes a few moments for the piston to fill up after each pull. If you don't wait, air gets into the system. It leads to a poor head and adds oxygen into the beer which spoils the flavour of the beer. Brewers go to great lengths not to add oxygen to their beer as it leads to infection and beer spoilage.
3) The appearance of real ale should be clear unless stated to be a cloudy wheat beer. Also make sure there are no foreign bodies in the beer (if there are it could mean they don't clean their lines). In most cases the beer should also have a good head. A good tip is if you stick your finger in the head. There should be a nice amount of the head stuck to your finger. There are some regions where they do not like much head on the beer. A great beer will almost have a shine to it due to the crystal clarity.
4) As with wine, the aroma of the beer is also key. It can tell you a lot about the beer before tasting it. It can tell you quite simply if a beer is bad. If you detect vinegar or T.C.P.'s take the beer back as it's "off". You are looking for floral, fruity and resinous notes from hops. From the malt you should detect nutty, malty and caramel notes.
5) When you finally taste the beer you are looking for "beery" qualities. A good beer will have what we call a "start, middle and end". A good brewer picks his/her ingredients so that there is story to the beer. Generally you get the malt flavours coming through first. You may get a smoky flavour and some sweetness. As the beer passes over the tongue the bitterness of the hops will come through. Finally you will get a warming feeling and sometimes a little sharpness from the carbonation. Flavours you are not looking for are metallic and sulphury.
6) As you are savouring your ale. It will warm up as it is in your hands and from the ambient temperature of the surroundings. The flavour of the beer may change accordingly. It will make a bad beer more obvious to spot as the warmer the beer the more flavour can be detected. A good beer will often get better as it gets warmer as the flavours of the malt and hops become even stronger.
7) Finally if you start with a good head on your pint and it continues always the down the glass. It is a very good sign. It means the beer has been brewed without too much agitation in the process. The more processes a beer goes through the more it is moved generally leads to less head in the finished beer.

A good beer does need to be treated well. A good pub/bar will go through set procedures to serve a good pint. In the UK there is now a volunteer mark system. It is called "The Cask Marque System". Bars/Pubs volunteer to have their pubs assessed by independent auditors with good public houses receiving a pass and accreditation.
Do you love beer? Neil, the author of this article runs a site dedicated to the latest news and developments in real ale [].
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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Andwell's Ruddy Darter

Through the swirling clouds of ruddy ale comes a clear vision of ruby red with a clotted cream head. Wheaty bread and hoppy fruit start to play on the palette and follow on with sweet raisin, redcurrant and blackberry. Dry but not bitter, welcoming but not warming Andwell's Ruddy Darter is punchy and pronounced. An excellent lunchtime or session ale that marries so perfectly with a packet of cheese and onion crisps, close your eyes and you can imagine this as the perfect accompaniment to a mature cheddar truckle and wheaty crackers for the perfect summer picnic.

Andwell's Ruddy Darter is a rich ruby ale with a fruity aroma. This Hampshire ale is named after a deep red dragon fly found in local rivers and wetlands. The ale, newest to the Andwell’s range uses malted rye to create its characteristic ruby glow. The flavours and aromas derive from a combination of English hops.

The malts used by Andwell’s are supplied by Warminster Maltings which use malt barley grown in farms around the Brewery. Andwell’s ales also benefit from the locally-sourced water used in the brewing process. The water is rich in natural ions having percolated out of the chalk aquifers located beneath the Brewery.

The Ruddy Darter attains a wingspan of up to 6cm. The head, thorax and abdomen of the male are vivid red, while the female is slightly smaller, and is a golden-yellow colour with black markings. The Ruddy Darter can be found between the months of July and November.

The Ruddy Darter is to be found in temperate regions throughout Europe as far west as Siberia and as far south as the northern Sahara. Its conservation status is regarded as secure, and indeed numbers seem to be increasing in some locations such as central England. It tends to prefer quiet bodies of water that feature semi aquatic vegetation such as rushes and reeds.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Saddlers Yellow Mellow

Saddlers are an award winning family run brewery situated in Lye, near Stourbridge. The Windsor Castle Brewery is situated in the heart of England’s famous, industrial ‘Black Country’. First opened in 1900 by Thomas Alexander Sadler, the brewery supplied its twelve tied public houses run by the Sadler family, the most famous being the Windsor Castle Inn, Oldbury which adjoined the Brewery.

They brew a number of different ales and one of their 'signature' range is Yellow Mellow, a pale honey ale with a gravity of 4.1%

Yelow Mellow is as the name suggest pale lemon in colour, crystal clear with floral honey flavours mingling with a chalky, dry citrus twang. This is an eminently quaffable session ale with the scent of summer meadows, a very pale creamy head and a sherberty bitter finish. Lemon meringue pie hits the tongue and pineapples tease the nose.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Breweries in Suffolk

Although Suffolk was not historically a prolific brewing county, we are, since the takeover of Scottish & Newcastle by the Danes, the county with two of the UK's largest remaining brewers, Greene King and Adnams. Suffolk is also home to lots of smaller breweries whose styles range from the solidly traditional Bitters and Milds (one of the last bastions in southern England of this threatened style), through to exotic beers made with wheat, fruit and spices. So find out here which one is to your taste -

Adnams Brewery
This is a highly successful, traditional brewing company, set in the lovely seaside town of Southwold. Still Chaired by one of the Adnams family, the Company was established in 1890 and last year moved into a new multi-million pound, state-of-the-art brewery in Southwold. Adnams brews a distinctive range of authentic beers from the finest of ingredients. Each has its own fresh, unique and vibrant character that will appeal to the most discerning drinkers - drinkers who cherish individuality and seek out brands with personality and style. These beers are popular throughout the country in free pubs, and range from - Mild, Bitter, Extra, Broadside, and Seasonal Ales such as Barley Mow, Old Ale, Mayday, Tally Ho..... and the latest brew, Adnams Explorer. They also run their own pubs as well as two lovely Hotels in Southwold (see Crown Hotel and The Swan Hotel), and have recently branched out with kitchenware and wine with their highly successful Cellar and Kitchen Stores

Earl Soham Brewery (ESB)
This fun, young, brewery had been brewing in Maurice's old chicken shed behind the Vic since 1985. In 2000 ESB bought a bigger shed, the Old Forge building opposite the village green. With the help of old friends, the shed was turned into a brewery and it finally became productive in May 2001. We haven't looked back since! They feature the Victoria Bitter, a fantastic light, hoppy brew, all year round. They also produce at least 7 other ales at any given time.

The Kings Head
Located in Bildeston, a 15th Century Free House with its own micro-brewery located in the old stables at the back of the pub.The owners are real ale enthusiasts, active members of CAMRA and have been brewing real ale at home from the grain (not kits) for several years. The brewery is capable of producing 4 barrels (144 gallons) of real ale each run. Malted grain is supplied by Muntons a few miles away in Stowmarket (, whilst the hops are sourced from various suppliers as required by each recipe. Worth checking out to taste such brews as "Dark Vader", "Blondie", and "J.J.'s Lemon Bitter".

Mauldons Brewery
In 1795 the Mauldon family of Sudbury first became involved in brewing, for in that year Anna Maria Mauldon began brewing at the Bull Hotel in Ballingdon on the outskirts of Sudbury. As the business prospered, additional pubs and hotels were purchased and in the early 1800's the brewery moved to larger premises in Ballingdon Street. The brewery is well established, and using only traditional methods and quality materials supplies a range of premium real ales throughout the country.
While the recipes remain the same, some artwork on the pump clips has been designed to include reference to Charles Dickens who has a history with Sudbury. It was in 1834 that Charles Dickens the young reporter for the Morning Chronicle, was sent to Sudbury to report on the corrupt dealings of some of the town councillors who would meet at the Rose and Crown Hotel. Sudbury was named Eatanswill in Dickens' Pickwick Papers.

The Old Cannon Brewery
The Old Cannon in Bury St. Edmunds doesn't keep it's brewery hidden away at the back--rather the miro-brewery makes a stunning central feature in the pub bar. This makes it unique in Suffolk and well worth a visit. People often assume the magnificent stainless steel mash tun and boiler are for show but they are, in fact, in use every Monday for brewing a line of regular beers including Old Cannon Best Bitter (3.8% abv); Blonde Bombshell (4.2%) and Gunner's Daughter (5.5%). In addition, Old Cannon produces various seasonal ales.
Originally known as The St Edmund's Head, the pub opened in 1845 with its own adjacent brewery - known locally as 'The Cannon' - built two years later. Brewing ceased in 1917 and Greene King subsequently closed the pub in 1995. The brewery was converted into five comfortable bed and breakfast rooms and - after a short spell as a photographer's studio - the pub reopened in 1999, restyled as The Old Cannon Brewery, complete with unique, state-of-the-art, stainless steel brewing vessels housed in the bar itself.

With such a huge range of available breweries, and a great selection of pubs that carry them, Suffolk is a fantastic place to visit for a Real Ale experience. For more on pubs, breweries, and things to do in Suffolk, check out the Suffolk Tourist Guide
Will Averill [] is a freelance travel and entertainment writer and administrator for the Suffolk Tourist Guide, a complete online guide to Suffolk accommodation, travel, and entertainment.
From Luxury Hotels for a romantic weekend, to days out with the children, or even office team building or client hospitality, you'll find just what you want here in Suffolk. Use the Suffolk Tourist Guide to find all you need to know and Click straight through to make a booking.
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Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Rise of the Nano Breweries!

While the above title might be reminiscent of bad sci-fi movies or sound like something straight out of a quantum physics lab, neither interpretation is right. Nano breweries are the newest trend in the craft brew world, and are going to be a force to contend with in coming years. So, what the heck is a nano brewery and why should it matter to you?
Simply put, nano breweries are very, very small operations - often no more than a guy brewing up beer in his garage for sale. Technically, nano breweries are smaller than microbreweries. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) cites a nano brewery as making 200 gallons of beer per year if there are 2 adults in the household, or 100 gallons if there is only 1 adult in the household. As you can see, they're small - they really do deserve the nano designation.
Why should you care about these tiny little breweries, though? Actually, you'll find that the "nano" term is being bandied about with ever-greater abandon. You'll even find nano brew fests popping up around the nation. For instance, Rogue put on a nano brew fest in August of 2010 in the Portland area. Another, the Nano Beer Fest, was put on by Fanno Creek Brew Pub in Tigard, Oregon.
The Rogue nano beer fest brought out 25 different small brewers, while the Fanno Creek event saw 15 different brewers offering their beverages for consumer enjoyment. What's the real story, though? Perhaps the real issue here is that nano breweries are to today's world what microbreweries were several years ago. While the industry has started using "craft brewing" more than micro brewing, nano breweries hearken back to the roots of the movement in general - a guy brewing beer in his garage.
The results of these tiny operations can be amazingly tasty, and with names like Red Fury Ale and Russian Imperial Stout, there seems to be quite a variety of different brews to sample at events like this. Moreover, these festivals and events are probably going to be the only place that you can get your hands on nano brewery products, as they're not really available for purchase on a large scale. Given the success of just the two events listed above, you can probably look forward to some nano-scale festivals coming to your area in the coming months, so you can get a firsthand sample of brewing innovation.
Dustin Canestorp is the Founder and General of the Beer Army. Join the ranks of the Beer Army at Take a stand and let the world know your position. If you are going to drink, drink BEER!
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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Father's Day Ale Selection - Case of 20 Real Ales

Still looking for a Father's Day gift? How about a Real Ale Selection Case of 20 from Marks and Spencer on special offer for just £40.00? It's a special mixed case of British ales -  Lincolnshire Best Bitter, Staffordshire IPA, Southwold Summer IPA, and Cambridgeshire Summer Ale

Show Dad he's the best with this top gift plus there's Free delivery on this product - enter code FREE4DAD at checkout

It's been specially put together for Father's Day so you can treat him to something unique.

Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild

Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby is a rare example of a strong mild, it weighs in at 6.0% and is brewed to a pre World War I recipe. Before the Great War strong milds were the norm, in fact there were four strengths of mild ranging from 5.5% to 7% abv and designated by x's xxxx being the strongest. However grain shortages during WWI restricted the brewing industry and weaker milds replaced their stronger counterparts.
Dark Ruby is as the name suggests red in colour and very sweet with some hops on first tasting moving on to a blend of malts. Dandelion and burdock flavours mingle with bubblegum, dried fruits and cherries with an acid bite to finish which is almost vinegary. Concentric lacing decorates as this rich, sweet ale descends the glass a little speedily for an ale of such strength. Very easy to drink and very moreish and available all year round.

If you like Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby, look out for Dark Star's Victorian Mild another strong mild available in May.

A beer from a less well known mild tradition for strength with soft flavours and gentle hops. Mashed with 100% mild ale spring barley malt and then with Golding hops in the copper give the restrained bitterness.

Extract: Dark Star Website

Monday, 13 June 2011

Lake District Breweries

I hear a rumour that there are 28 breweries in Cumbria. Certainly, I ran out of fingers AND toes listing the ones that come readily to mind! I tried to come up with a Top Ten from that fabulous long list, but I'm afraid it just wouldn't get shorter than fourteen. There are plenty of self catering lake district cottages to stay in near these breweries, it'd be crazy to miss out. So, in no particular order, enjoy!
1. Keswick Brewery
Thanks to the Keswick Brewery, Brewery Lane is once more alive with the sounds and smells of a proper craft brewery. Established in 2006, the Keswick Brewery is located on the site of the town's Victorian brew house, producing a number of popular beers all named 'Thirst - something': Thirst Run (4.2% ABV), a golden pale ale; Thirst Fall (4.8% ABV), a chocolatey, malty bitter; Thirst Noel (6% ABV), a dark, rich, malty ale and Thirst Rescue (3.7% ABV ), a citrussy, golden bitter that makes a donation to the Mountain Rescue.
There are brewery tours all year round with a charitable donation from each tour divided equally between the Climate Contribution Fund and Red Squirrel Conservation. The Keswick Brewery's beers are available from the on-site shop and many pubs in northern Cumbria.
2. The Strands Brewery
The Strands Brewery is based at the Strands Hotel public house in Nether Wasdale. They brew only for their own use, producing a number of beers which are nonetheless favourites with the CAMRA crew. The pub was runner-up in West Cumbria CAMRA's Pub of the Year competition in 2009.
Their most famous beer is 'Errrrrrm' (apologies if the incorrect number of 'r's are quoted!), a name developed as an apparent absence of creativity inspired a very unusual moniker! Errrrrrm (3.8% ABV) is a light, hoppy, amber bitter. Still lacking name inspiration when they brewed a delicious dark, smooth, porter-style ale, the pub's regulars submitted suggestions and T'Errrrrminator (5% ABV) was born.
3. Hardknott Brewery
Until recently, Hardknott's brewer was the landlord of the Woolpack Inn at Boot in Eskdale, where he brewed a few interesting numbers from a tiny set-up behind the pub. The Hardknott Brewery seceded from the pub earlier this year, setting up new premises in Millom. The Woolpack still stocks their brews, though (phew!). News is still thin on the ground since the relocation, but Millom seems to have been very good for their creativity. Try their Continuum (4.0% ABV) 'there is always time and space for good beer' and Dark Energy (4.9% ABV) 'without it, the cosmos would be inexplicable'. So there.
4. Coniston Brewery
Home to the very popular Bluebird Bitter, the Coniston Brewery is based at back of the Black Bull pub in Coniston. They've won a lot of awards, and reckon that Bluebird is the bestselling bottled beer at a certain regional supermarket! They supply a lot of pubs, including The Manor Arms at Broughton-in-Furness and the Kirkstile Inn at Loweswater.
Bluebird Bitter (3.6% ABV), named after Donald Campbell's ill-fated boat, is a very pale ale with a hint of orangeyness. Old Man Ale (4.2% ABV) is something a bit different; complex, chocolatey, fruity and bitter. At this time of year, perhaps we should try Winter Warmer Blacksmith's Ale (5.0% ABV), a rich, strong ale very reminiscent of Christmas pudding.
5. Jennings Brewery
Founded in Cockermouth in 1828, Jennings is by far the largest brewery in Cumbria. Aficionados were shocked when the brewery was taken over by Wolverhampton & Dudley in 2005, later migrating to Marston's. But the consensus is that Jennings remains Jennings, continuing to brew all the old favourites on site right here in Cockermouth. They also gained brownie points by collecting 10p in the pound for every pint sold in the aftermath of last year's cataclysmic floods, raising a tremendous £178k. They too were flooded, but brewing again by spring of this year.
Favourites are Jennings Bitter, Cumberland Ale, Cocker Hoop and Snecklifter with seasonal specials including Yan T'yan Tethera, Tom Fool, Cross Buttock, Crag Rat and World's Biggest Liar (Jennings sponsor the annual competition, based in the Santon Bridge Inn in Wasdale). Their beers are widely available in pubs and by the bottle.
There are brewery tours throughout the year, with sampling. There is a bar and tea room on site.
6. Stringers Beer
This micro-brewery in Ulverston on the west Cumbrian coast makes lovely beer, but that isn't all there is to get excited about. They're powered by Cumbrian nature - wind, wave, hydro and solar energy.
Popular brews include their Champion Stout (4% ABV), jet-black and, for a stout, very quaffable. Their West Coast Blond (4.4% ABV) is a flavoursome, floral ale made with blond hops on the west coast of Cumbria - no Californians here! They make a number of specials from time to time, including this summer's Sunbird, a curiously tangerine-y number; we look forward to their Christmas brew.
7. Barngates Brewery
Based at the Drunken Duck between Ambleside and Coniston, Barngates is lucky to have its own water supply, which adds its distinctive flavour to their brews. All their beers are named after various pub pets, so it's a good job for all of us that there have been quite a few!
Try Cracker Ale (3.9% ABV), a clean, smooth ale, named after the pub's favourite Jack Russell, Cracker. Aaah! Chester's Strong &Ugly (5.2% ABV) is popular with CAMRA and at the local beer festivals.
Red Bull Terrier(4.8% ABV), named after a dog called Brutus, is a proper winter ale; tangy, spicy and malty. It won three awards at the latest SIBA North Beer Competition.
8. Hesket Newmarket
If you're scrabbling around in your brain thinking, 'I've heard that name somewhere... something to do with Prince Charles', then you're spot-on. It doesn't really have any royal connections other than the fact that Prince Charles is very happy to support this community-owned co-operative, and often pops in when he's in the Lakes.
The brewery is based at the back of the Old Crown pub in Hesket Newmarket, near Caldbeck, and with one noble (and delicious) exception, names its beers after fells. Try Doris' 90th Birthday (4.3% ABV), a fruity number with butterscotch and bitter flavours; Catbells Pale Ale (5% ABV), an easy-drinking pale ale; Great Cockup Porter (3.0% ABV), dark and chocolatey, and Old Carrock Strong Ale (6.0% ABV), with a rich, Christmassy flavour.
Evening tours of the brewery, with a curry at the pub next door, are available all year round.
9. Ennerdale Brewery
Those feeling the loss of the old Whitehaven Brewing Company will be happy to hear that it has been re-born as the Ennerdale Brewery, based on a farm near Cleator. Using skills gained as a head brewer for Jennings, the Ennerdale Brewery has launched a number of beers all with 'Ennerdale' in the name: Darkest Ennerdale Best Bitter (4.2% ABV), Ennerdale Copper (3.8% ABV), Ennerdale Blonde Golden Ale (3.8% ABV), Ennerdale Breeze Mild (3.9% ABV) and Ennerdale Spice (4.2% ABV). It's early days yet for the Ennerdale Brewery - hence no website - but it's looking promising!
10. Yates Brewery
Following the buyout of Jennings, Yates's became the oldest independent brewery in Cumbria. Based at Westnewton in northern Cumbria, Yates' beers are widely stocked in pubs throughout the county and in bottles at Booths' supermarkets. They also have an on-line shop.
Try Yates' Bitter (3.7% ABV), a golden, complex bitter, or their Solway Sunset (4.3% ABV), a golden beer designed to bring to mind an evening at the west coast seaside town, Allonby. Their Christmas number, Yates' Best Cellar (4.6% ABV) became so popular that this old-fashioned, flavoursome beer is now available all year round in the bottle.
11. Bitter End Brewing Co.
Since Jennings was bought out, Bitter End takes great pride in calling itself the largest independent brewery in Cockermouth. They brew six regular beers and a number of specials throughout the year.
Try their Lakeland Bitter (3.8% ABV), a light copper bitter with a sweet, biscuity character, or Lakeland Amber (4.0% ABV), a pale, refreshing beer. Their Lakeland Honey Beer (5.0% ABV) is popular amongst beer-lovers, with a pale golden colour, floral hops and - you guessed it - a hint of honey flavour.
12. Cumbrian Legendary Ales
This Hawkshead-based brewery gained its name producing beers named after legendary Cumbrian characters - Wicked Jimmy, Buttermere Beauty, King Dunmail and Croglin Vampire - but since its takeover by Loweswater Brewery last year has concentrated on producing equally top quality, but more normally named, beers.
Try Loweswater Gold (4.3%), recently voted Best Gold Ale in Cumbria; Langdale (4.0% ABV), a bitter with strong orangey notes, or Melbreak (3.7% ABV), a quaffable bitter with lots of body. Rannerdale Robin (4.0% ABV), a rich, malty Christmas beer, is due out in December.
13. Ulverston Brewing Company
Fed up of brewing in their garage after Ulverston's only native brewery, Hartley's, had closed, the owners of Ulverston Brewing Co. finally launched earlier this year. Many of their beer's names pay tribute to Stan Laurel, who was born in the town.
Try Another Fine Mess (4.0% ABV), a pale, hoppy, citrus-y beer, or Lonesome Pine, another pale beer with sweet, honey notes. Fra Diavolo (4.3% ABV) is a fiendish little number with a dark, rich flavour with the bitterness of chocolate and express. Yum!
The Brewery accepts visitors at most times, and can also arrange more formal tours.
14. Beckstones Brewery
Based at The Green between Millom and Broughton-in-Furness, Beckstones makes characterful beers that are worth hunting out at nearby pubs including the Punchbowl at The Green and the King's Head at Broughton.
Their Leat (3.6% ABV) - Cumbrian dialect for 'light' - is a thirst-quenching fruity number. Black Dog Freddy (3.9% ABV) - another beer named after a dog! - is a mild which won a couple of awards when it was launched in 2008. And we all know when it's Beer O'Clock (3.9%) - the perfect time for a pale golden beer with lots of hops.
Talking of which... I think it might indeed be Beer O'Clock. I'll have a pint, please! There are several Lake District cottages near these fantastic breweries, why not come and visit one?
Lake District cottages
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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Taste Scotland's Finest Real Ales at the Trossachs Beer Festival

You may think that malt whisky is Scotland's finest produce, but a trip to the Trossachs Beer Festival could persuade you to think again. Scotland's distilleries and selection of single malts are, deservedly, highly regarded around the world, but the country is also home to a number of small breweries producing unique real ales using ingredients such as heather, seaweed and porridge oats.
There are few more luxurious ways for you to sample Scotland's best brews than by staying in a castle during a late summer trip to the Trossachs and attending the beer festival.
The celebration of Scottish beer takes place at the Lade Inn in Kilmahog - a venue which is famous for brewing its own real ales and serving a menu packed with local produce. Located in the shadow of Ben Ledi, the pub is well worth visiting at any time of year, but that is especially true during late August and early September when the festival is on. In 2010, the event runs from August 27th - September 6th.
As well as the Lade Inn's own beers, real ale connoisseurs will be able to taste produce from a variety of Central Scotland's other small breweries, including Tryst, Harviestoun, Williams Brothers and Traditional Scottish Ales.
Drinkers who have booked into local castle accommodation will also be able to meet the brewers behind the unique flavours of Scotland's real ales at special tasting sessions, as well as being entertained by local folk bands. If you develop a love of any of the brews, you will be able to pick up a few bottles to take home from the Lade Inn's real ale shop.
You will probably also want to use your break in Scotland to explore the natural beauty of the Trossachs National Park, which is one of the UK's largest expanses of unspoiled countryside. Staying in one of the castles for rent in Scotland will provide you with an ideal base from which to see the rugged beauty of the park's mountains and lochs.
If you are the adventurous type - and haven't overindulged at the beer festival - you could even hike up Ben Lomond or Ben Ledi to give yourself a magnificent view of the area.
But, if you are looking for a less energetic way to see the region, why not try a leisurely boat ride on one of the lochs - you may even be lucky enough to see seals in their natural habitat.
If you're thinking of staying in a castle for your next holiday then look no further than Scotts Castles for a huge range of castle accommodation. With a wide selection of castles for rent in Scotland you're sure to find accommodation that suits your needs.
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Friday, 10 June 2011

Vale Brewery - Grumpling Ale

No Grumpling from me about this great Old Ale from Vale Brewery in Buckinghamshire. A mahogany, chestnut ale with a full flavour Grumpling is a little on the heavy side with a 4.6% ABV and molasses. Bitter rather than sweet there's citrus and pear in this ale, however it remains traditional in flavour and is extremely moreish.

Historical connections:

Witchert is the local name for mud walling, a crude but effective method of building which has continued in use for thousands of years in all parts of the world. The method of construction varies from place to place according to the properties of the local earth, as does the name; pise de terre in France, mass cob, clom or korb in central England, clay lump in Norfolk.

First a foundation of rough stone was laid, wider below ground than above, and continued up for about a foot to an even course. This upstand was called the "grumpling". When the grumpling is completed, the witchert, is laid down in courses. Each course is then called a 'berry'. One berry must be left to dry before another is put onto it. When the berry is about 'two-thirds' dry the sides are trimmed straight with a flat spade, and each must be so trimmed before the next is put on to it.

Ram Tam Thankyou Ma'am

Someone once told me Timothy Taylors Ram Tam Mild was simply Landlord with extra caramel as Wikipedia states "some dark milds are created by the addition of caramel to a pale beer." Well I can tell you now that jaded review is wholly inacurate. I haven't tasted this dark ale for a few years, it seems to have fallen off my ale spectrum and I had forgotten how good it tastes. In what could only be described as a sea of weak, hoppy home brews the classic Taylors pump clip stood like a becon welcoming me home. Who could say no? Not I.

A sensible 4.3% ABV Ram Tam is not heavy drink like its inky dark colour suggests. Indeed on the Timothy Taylors website it suggests its a winter warmer but there I was drinking it on a warm summers evening no problem but it is a mild. It most definately has its own character distinct from any other Taylors brew and is genuinely mildly hopped.

Caramel is present in this ale alongside roasted malts, giving it a mild nutty flavour with earthy tones with just a hint of freshly roast coffee beans. Ram Tam is not overly bitter and drinks a little below it strength.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Raw's Grey Ghost IPA

Last night there was a party and the theme was black and gold. Amongst the casks of porter and stouts there shone the golden glow of an exceptional IPA, Raw's Grey Ghost.
The Raw Brewery are new kids on the block relatively speaking not withstanding a passion for real ale that cannot be denied. Pint in hand the inner geek surfaced when I realised quite joyously that I was talking to the brewer and drinking the brew simultaneously. You don't get an experience like that with a pint of John Smiths.

On to the brew itself. Grey Ghost IPA is predictably yellow in colour with a pale off white head. Typically of an IPA these days plenty of citrus hoppy flavours bang straight through to wallop the palatte with notions of long summer days rolling in the hay. Its a light ale for 5.9% ABV that doesn't drink its strength. Its that tipping point from sober to merry that makes an ale special, this ale has the same effect as a welcoming dark winter warmer such as Wychwood Hobgoblin.

"Powerful American hopped IPA with citrus and grapefruit flavours. Smooth and deceptively easy to drink. Award winner - Silver New Brewer Peterborough"

Extract: The Raw Website

Flavours roaming round the glass are lemon, lime, typical of american hops grapefruit with a tad of vanilla and maple syrup eminating from its malts. Overall a good contender in the IPA market worthy of a place on anyones bar.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Smoke me a porter I'll be back for breakfast!

Smoked Porter 4.8% ABV. I'm not quite sure why the Abbeydale guys squeezed three British Rail porters into a branded sardine tin when this classic ale was originally brewed for the fish porters of Billingsgate Market and their ilk. But it is a Sheffield porter rather than a London porter so maybe that image is more fitting.

Porter is a dark-coloured style of beer. The history and development of stout and porter are intertwined. The name was first used in the 18th century from its popularity with the street and river porters of London. It is generally brewed with dark malts. The name "stout" for a dark beer is believed to have come about because a strong porter may be called "Extra Porter" or "Double Porter" or "Stout Porter". The term "Stout Porter" would later be shortened to just "Stout". For example, Guinness Extra Stout was originally called "Extra Superior Porter" and was only given the name Extra Stout in 1840 (Wikipedia)

There's nothing fishy about the taste of Abbeydale Porter, its smooth and not over-smoked which I personally prefer. Its a dark, deep, complex ale which plays with the taste buds and the imagination. Layered with beech smoked malts, spiced exquisitly, this is a fruity ale with a hint of dundee cake. This ale really does what it says on the tin, delivering a well balanced taste with a sincere smoky aftertaste.
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