Sunday 23 September 2007

Discounted Beer!

The nice people at are trying to build their beer portfolio, which can only be seen as admirable, and are offering the readers of this blog a 10% discount.

But what can you expect? Well they are the only people to sell Henley-brewed Lovibonds and they were nice enough to send me some bottles.

Henley Gold, the 4.6% wheat beer, is refreshing and sufficiently unusual to appeal to my traditionally wheat beer-hating other half, with lovely banana notes on the nose and a really crisp green apple aftertaste.

I personally loved the Henley Dark, a 4.8% rich porter with lightly smoked notes, which is made with a blend of seven different malted barleys including one smoked with local beech wood from the surrounding hills of the Chilterns. Perfect as the nights close in.

So, for a discounted price on these and some other English ales visit Surf4Wine and enter ENGBEER as your discount code.

Friday 21 September 2007

Mon Sherry!

Well, I've just spent a week out in Spain, the sherry triangle to be precise, drinking - well, sherry actually!

I know what you're thinking - sherry? This girl's a beer writer! Well actually as you'll see from my previous post that I don't only write about beer - I'm just a professional dipsomaniac...

Anyway, I had the most amazing time and, believe it or not, seriously enjoyed some of the sherries but I really can't get my head around this spitting business that the wine trade indulge in - what a waste of good booze!

On a beer front it was interesting to note that the UK isn't alone in going for the super-chilled lager option - Spain's Cruzcampo has done the same thing, but it works so much better when the temperatures are in the mid-high 20s, which is something we're unlikely to see again this year.

Rather delightfully I did get to drink some Alhambra Reserva 1925 whilst I was out there which I really like. Malt and honey overtones dominate without being too cloying because there's a lovely long bitter hop balance it all out.

The only problem I have with this beer is that until it gets three inches from the end of your nose it just looks like a green bottle because all it has is embossing which, whilst gorgeous from an aesthetic point of view, is total toilet marketing.

So, don't be detered if, when you are looking in the fridge, there appears to be a plain green bottle - give it a whirl.

Although, thinking about it, make sure you ask first whether it's the Alhambra or you might end up drinking a bottle of the local moonshine!

Friday 14 September 2007

Slightly Off Pissed

Iceland - what a funny country it is. Booze is so expensive it makes Londoners take a sharp intake of breath and, in my experience, they are, as a nation, either gorgeously smiley and friendly or staggeringly rude.

However, Hotel 101 and the Seafood Cellar in Reykjavik are absolutely outstanding and outside the capital - which is surrounded by a frighteningly lunar landscape on one side and a very industrial harbour on another - there are some staggeringly beautiful sights like geysers and amazing waterfalls.

Beer is the most affordable drink out there, at around £5 for a bottle, but all I could find was relatively pedestrian lager - nothing too wrong with it nothing terribly right to be honest. Egils Premium at 5.7% and Viking at 5.6% were okay though.

I was actually there with Martin Miller's Gin which, whilst distilled in this country, is shipped to Iceland to be blended with the water due to its purity, and not only were the PR and brand people lovely so is the product - citrus and fragrant without being 'old ladies perfume' it's the only gin I've ever been able to taste and appreciate neat, good work guys!

A special mention has to go to the funniest man I've met in years however, Andie Jones from Player magazine - I haven't laughed so hard in a long time - mate, you're a legend.

Friday 7 September 2007

Hooray for Open-Minded Editors

A beer piece, in Sainsbury's Magazine - surely not I hear you cry! Isn't that one for 'the ladies'?

But hats off to Sue Robinson (the editor), she was an instant convert to the beer cause after falling in love with a Meantime Porter and Valharona chocolate dessert match at a lunch I worked on for the English Beef & Lamb Executive and decided to commission the piece as a result of experiencing the amazing qualities of different beers first hand - so thanks for being so open-minded Sue (and for ignoring Ian Botham's continued attempts to feed you wine instead!).

My point behind this post is that too often we beer nerds think that telling people what they want to drink is the way to convert them to the beer cause, but I disagree.

The key for me is education and passion on the subject of beer, not patronisation or fundamentalist attitudes.

For example: I held a tasting last night at the Printer's Devil in Fetter Lane, London for a group of lawyers and their clients at which there was one woman and one man who both said they never drink beer at the beginning of the evening.

By going right back to basics about how alcohol is made, how beer was discovered, dispelling myths about some mainstream brands containing chemicals and giving a bit of a story behind some of the beers, the original beer-avoiders left swearing to experiment more - what more can you ask?