Wednesday, 30 December 2009

DUCK! I'm Throwing Some Beery Cheer Out There

Afternoon all, hope your Christmas festivities were all you hoped they would be, our ale-roast duck was marvellous - the very simple recipe is below as I think it's also eminently suitable for a bit of New Year's Day comfort food as it can be prepared the day before and served with a potato dauphinoise and curly kale.

Anyway, if you're looking for some beer inspiration over the New Year celebrations then let me first recommend a couple of belter session brews from Lancaster Brewery.

Whilst I've known one of the owners of the brewery, the super-cheery Matt Jackson, for a while as he has the most excellent Sun Inn in Lancaster, I've only tried a couple of his beers on cask and really liked them but I often think the mark of the technical consistency of a small brewery is how well their products translate to bottle - and as he kindly dropped off some Christmas pressies to the father-in-laws pub for the family I've finally got to try a couple.

The Lancaster Blonde is the lightest drinking of the bunch but is a deceptive 4.1% clean, light, lemony and bright but with just enough body to let it stand up to Winter drinking.

But it's the Amber that really blew me away, it's a mere 3.7% and punches well above its weight - it's frankly like watching one of those wiry South American boxers winning a bout in the heavyweight category. Deliciously aromatic, with a great deep spice and crushed nettle on the nose, it follows through to a gingery chocolate flavour and a satisfyingly clean bitter finish and lingering mineral freshness.

We were also lucky enough to have a pin of the special Rederrer, which is very reminiscent of Golden Pride for me, rich, cherry and very luscious - but I'm not sure of its availibility as yet as I'm not particularly keen to harass people for small bits of info like that at this time of year, whether old mates or not! I will let you know though and if you see it, grab a half and savour as it's pretty poky stuff!

Anyway, whatever you end up doing - as usual I have no clue and no immediate plans - have a very beery New Year and may 2010 bring you happiness, health & a wealth of great drinking.

Ale Roast Duck - serves 3-4
One large duck
One bottle of inexpensive smokey beer (whether Rauchbier or something like Okells Aile)
One can of Mackeson Stout
One tbsp soft brown sugar
One each of onion, carrot, garlic clove (latter choped horizontally in half)
Two celery sticks
GOOD chicken stock (can't stress the importance of this enough - cubes just don't cut it)

Method
  1. Pre-heat oven to highest heat
  2. Boil your kettle full of water
  3. Pierce the duck skin all over
  4. Warm the two beers in a pan and add the sugar
  5. Put your duck on a trivet and put it in the sink and pour the kettle of water over it
  6. Roughly chop the onion, celery and carrot in the base of the pan and then put the duck on this and pour the beer/sugar over it so that it part fills the tray but coats the duck
  7. After 20 minutes turn the oven down to 170 fan, add about 250ml of stock to the tray and turn your duck every half hour for three or so hours or until the leg bone is literally falling away and you've got crisp skin
  8. Take out of oven and remove from pan (DON'T THROW THE JUICES AWAY!) and leave to rest
  9. Put juices from resting back in pan, and put the duck in the fridge
  10. Warm up your roasting pan on the hob and add the rest of the chicken stock and scrape the bits off the bottom, sieve into another pan, press hard on the veg to extract all flavour before discarding, and then simmer until reduced to a gravy consistency, put in a jug and put in the freezer overnight
  11. On the day you want it, heat oven to 180 and put duck in for 40 minutes or so, rest in a warm place for 20 minutes
  12. Whilst duck is resting take your gravy out of the freezer, lift off the glorious layer of duck fat and retain for roast potatoes (or use on the day if you're having them instead of dauphinoise) and warm your gravy back up
  13. Serve with whatever you want and enjoy!
Beer Suggestion - there is very little fat left in this dish as it's pretty much all slow-roasted out but something with a good bitter end or lemon sharpness is perfect to counteract the richness, the aforementioned Lancaster Blonde, an Aspall Premier Cru, Dark Star Sunburst or an old classic like Summer Lightning would all go nicely. ADDENDUM: other beers I just thought of - Harviestoun B&T, Brasserie de la Senne's Taras Boulba or Goose Island IPA.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Festive Foodie Fun

Good afternoon all!

Well, as we all wait for that snow to fall let me just give you something to look forward to, my festive food & beer tasting at Borough on Sunday.

Rather than rushing around a dull supermarket, the market is open on Sunday so why not enjoy some artisan food & drink charms and then wind-down with one of my tasting sessions.

An absolute bargain at just £25, for beers like Gale's Prize Old Ale '07 Vintage, Fuller's 2009 Vintage, Bateman's Rosey Nosey, O, Ho, Ho from Otley and a special Santa surprise of very rare proportions!

These will be matched with such delights as Mrs King's award-winning pies, cheese from Neal's Yard, some superb smoked salmon and seriously indulgent choccy delights - all sourced from the market.

So, if you fancy coming along then you can get tickets at the Rake or the Utobeer stand on Borough Market, or if you email melissa@love-beer.co.uk with a phone number we'll call for a card payment.

Cheers!

* this post is for my beer tasting business*

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Totally Off Topic

I'm sorry to do this to you but has anyone else seen this appalling travesty from Joss Stone? Apparently it was directed by her brother!

I can only assume that he's a 15-year-old media studies student with various unfortunate conditions that prevent him from having a) any sense of artistic merit b) to get a wardrobe that wasn't last used by various bad 80s acts and c) to realise that the song is a boring, faux-soul dirge in the first place and will hopefully never even cross the airwaves!!!

First time I've ever felt sorry for a record company, allegedly EMI tried to bury this so deep they hit molten lava!

Monday, 14 December 2009

M-Otley Brew

Oh how I wish I could take credit for that headline but it was the name Glyn Roberts, manager of the Rake, christened a collaborative brew he did with Welsh beer wizards, Otley, which he will be pulling the first pint of in half an hour (it's now 15.30pm).

It's a BIIIIIIIGGGG IPA apparently, so I look forward to trying it a bit later - see you there if you fancy it.

The Rake, 14 Winchester Walk, London, SE1 9AG - nearest tube/train London Bridge.

UPDATE
M-Otley Brew, 7.5%ABV
Rich peachy/pineapple/pear nose leads through to an almost fruit cocktail flavour up front that then transmogrifies into dark chocolate and then liquorice - very moorish, very drinkable, very dangerous! Well done all.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

99 Beer Followers on the Wall

Just a random post to say I've got 99 followers on this blog - who's going to be 100?!

I may send them a bottle of special beer, now there's a shameless bit of bribery, should I censor censure myself given my previous comments about ethics?!

Discuss... : )

Beer & Chocolate Matches

Here's something fun that I did the other week at Bibulous (a new consumer show at Vinopolis), beer & chocolate matches.

I had a few beers to choose from and a very short time in which to knock this together after the organisers mentioned that there were some demo theatre gaps, so I just did three and they, overall, got a good to great reception.

In first place came Left Hand Ginger JuJu matched with Belgian milk chocolate truffles.

In second was He'Brew Origin Pomegranate Beer with dark chocolate-covered cranberries (my personal favourite).

And in third, but not in a bad way, was BrewDog Punk IPA with white chocolate.

All in all it was a fun demo to do, it got a lot of people thinking about chocolate in a totally different way and I'm looking forward to doing some more - if anyone would like to see a specific beer & chocolate matching event drop me a comment and I'll see what I can rustle up!

BTW - it wasn't just chocolate, it was M&S chocolate (all right, give me a break, it was the only place open within walking distance!!!)

Back with a Budget Bang


Well, I apologise for being missing, I'm not going to lie I've been alternately busy and utterly uninspired - but I've decided to give myself a boot up the bum and am going to pay a lot more attention to my blog.

I'm kicking off my reinvigorated campaign of rants with the Budget - what a surprise, no reprieve on beer duty.

There were a couple of measures that may help the industry overall but the kick in the teeth of VAT returning to its 17.5% state and no breaks on beer duty means it's going to be yet another expensive year for the beer industry and pub trade.

Here are some stark facts for you; the Government currently makes five times more profit than brewers or pubs from beer, according to a report from Oxford Economics. What this means in real terms is that the total UK beer market generates £19bn, from which the Government takes 84%, which amounts to £8.6bn total tax and profit generated by beer sales for the coffers.

Seems a little unequal right? But if only we had trade & industry bodies that were designed to represent the interests of beer makers, purveyors and drinkers to do this something about this gross imbalance - oh, wait! We do!

But do you know what? There's just too bloody many of them and they all seem far more interested in protecting their own corners, running each other down and infighting than they do actually securing a better deal for all those involved.

As Pete Brown, in his acceptance speech for Beer Writer of the Year (congrats matey), so eloquently put it, this internicine war has to stop.

We now have, to the best of my knowledge (and I'm sure I've missed a few): the British Beer & Pub Association, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, the British Institute of Innkeeping, Society of Independent Brewers, Fair Pint, the National Association of Licensed House Managers, the GMB, Campaign for Real Ale, Justice for Licensees, Independent Family Brewers of Britain, the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group (and the cider one) and a handful of smaller campaigning groups.

And all of them have roughly the same aims - to deliver a fairer structure to all levels of the British brewing and pub system and gain a better deal for the average drinker, yet they are consistently failing to do so!

I firmly believe that (as I think the above list illustrates) there are too many voices with too many agendas and that will merely give any administration a way to wriggle out of making any changes other than those it wishes to make - because that many voices will always offer the opportunity to twist any given argument to the administration's own end.

There's a lack of focus; if only these bodies could agree to get together on three issues a year to co-campaign on and invest in then I firmly believe that we would begin to see a genuine difference in the attitude of the Government towards the pub & brewing sectors.

Now I'm not saying that I've got all the answers here, I don't, but what I do believe is that a focused and adult approach to working together by all these groups is the only answer.

If the wine and whisky lobbies can do it, why can't we?

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Listen Again!

Hi there,
I was on Radio 4 today, I've got no idea what it sounds like as I haven't had a chance to listen so please be kind if you get a chance!!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00ny8fz#synopsis

Friday, 20 November 2009

BrewDog Meet the Brewer - extra session announced

Good morning,
For those of you who haven’t been able to get your hands on tickets for the BrewDog Meet the Brewer event tomorrow we are now a running a third session at 5pm due to massive demand!

All the info on the beers is as below; but what it doesn’t tell you is that the boys have decided to surprise us by bringing with them the collaborative brew that they did with Mikeller, which has now been aging for a whole year in cask – it’s gonna be good, you know it is!

So, if you would like a ticket for the 5pm tasting, please could you call the office on 020 7378 9461 you’ll be able to purchase them over the phone, alternatively you can pop into the Rake and buy them there.

Cheers,

Melissa

After a year of courting controversy, those bad boys from BrewDog have actually found time to make some seriously top-quality beers, and they’re coming back to Borough to showcase them!

lovebeer@borough is once again playing host to Scotland’s least tamed brewing duo, James Watt & Martin Dickie from BrewDog.

The pair will be bringing a pack of seriously wild beers with them too, offering you the chance to try the very limited edition Christmas beer Shark, of which only 50 will be available, and a very, very special beer that they haven’t even told us about yet!

• 77 Lager – A lager that actually tastes of something? You have to be kidding, right? 77 lager is made with 100% malt and whole leaf hops. It contains no preservatives, additives, cheap substitutes or any other junk

• Trashy Blonde - you just cant get the compulsive malt body and gorgeous dirty blonde colour out of your head. The seductive lure of the sassy passion fruit hop proves too much to resist. All that is even before we get onto the fact that there are no additives preservatives, pasteurization or strings attached

• 5am Saint – an amber red ale with low bitterness but an insanely hoppy aroma, this will really play with your perceptions and then offer up a prayer of thanks to the gods of hops!

• Bashah – when you put iconic American brewers Stone and the BrewDog boys in the same room, all mayhem was bound to break loose, which is exactly what happened with this incredible Double Black Belgian IPA

• Paradox Isle of Arran – another joint venture where we use the casks from the small but perfectly formed Isle of Arran distillery’s casks, which have mostly been previously used to age sherry lending this edition of Paradox a little more sweetness which is balanced by hints of cinnamon and ginger with lovely aromatic, zesty fruit flavours

• Shark Beer – this is the brewery’s special edition Christmas beer, of which only 30 bottles will be released, just think how rare this beer is, worth the price of admission alone!

• Zephyr - after exactly 600 days of maturation, micro-oxidation, dedication, deliberation and celebration, Zephyr, the strawberry refermented double IPA matured in a 1965 InverGordon grain whisky cask is bottled and then undergoes a second bottle conditioning – it’s an utterly sublime and unique offering

The award-winning Rake, above which lovebeer@borough is based, will also be showcasing BrewDog’s beers on handpull and in bottle, for more information on this visit the Rake’s Facebook group.

*this post is for my beer tasting business*

Friday, 6 November 2009

Stout Competition

Here's an interesting one, am at a European Beer Consumers Union event and I've just heard this top bit of gossip; apparently somewhere in Dublin tonight there's going to be a 'taste-off' of all the major stout brands: Guinness, Beamish, Murphy's, O'Hara's and Molly's Chocolate Stout, with the blessing of all the big breweries!

Can't wait to see the results later this evening, will keep you up to date as and when I get the results!

Read the full results on Beer Nut's website Irish Craft Brewer.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Apologies

I've been rubbish recently, but a combination of travelling and (as a result) a bad back (soooo getting old!) have left me bereft of time!

However, coming up is some interesting news & an offer from BrewDog, NYC reviews, a couple of recipes, a full report on the Stella Draught Masters and undoubtedly the odd rant or two!

Chin, chin!

Melissa

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Things Go Bump in the Beer @ Borough

With Hallow'een fast approaching we've got the country's spookiest brewery flitting into town on October 24.

Huddled in the shadow of Pendle Hill, where Britain's most notorious witches were from, Lancashire brewery Moorhouse's takes its inspiration from its sinister local history to brew up some award-winning beers and is bringing them to lovebeer@borough this weekend.

As well as giving tastings of its Champion Beer of Britain, Black Cat Mild, Moorhouse’s will also be showcasing Blonde Witch, Premier Bitter and Pride of Pendle, the brewery will also be showcasing some of it seasonal brews like Broomstick Bitter and Black Witch.

The sessions are at 1pm and 3.30pm on Saturday October 24 and tickets are just £15 from the Rake or Utobeer stall - really good fancy dress gets you in free!*

Moorhouse’s is capitalising on its long-standing success by investing £3.6m in a new brewhouse, which is scheduled for completion in February 2011.
If you'd like to know more about the Pendle Witch Trials then click here.

lovebeer@borough is based above the multi award-winning Rake, in the world-famous Borough Market, and offers a range of tasting experiences for corporate clients as well as an intimate space for brand launches or meetings. The aim of the business is to offer people the chance to learn more about great quality artisan beer, whether they are novices or already interested in what goes in their glass. For further information or images please email Melissa Cole on melissa@love-beer.co.uk, call 07798 568400 or visit the Facebook Group.

The award-winning Rake, above which lovebeer@borough is based, will also be showcasing Moorhouse’s beers on handpull and in bottle, for more information on this visit the Rake’s Facebook group.

*at the organisers’ discretion.

*this post is for my beer tasting business in Borough Market*

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Beery Belly Pork, Mash & Greens

Having played my first game of indoor cricket of the season (okay with the bat, rubbish with the ball, we lost) I needed some comfort food of the highest order.

So a beautiful side of belly pork bought from Borough Market (sorry Glenn, will pay you back when I see  you!), was in order and it just had to go with mash, so I could play with my new potato ricer! (Pathetic I know, but himself's pressie of a kitchen gadget made me 10 times happier than a bunch of flowers ever could!).

Anyway, on with the show - although this is a low slow cook dish, the beery aspect is key in keeping the pork belly moist and it does require some occasional attention.

You'll need equipment-wise:
Deep roasting tray
Trivet
Potato ricer or masher (really recommend the former though, makes waaaay better mash)
Wok/large frying pan
Kettle
Saucepan
Gravy boat

Food-wise for four:
4kg piece of pork belly - rib bones on & get your butcher to score the skin
Two 500ml bottles of full-bodied ale
One onion
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
Garlic bulb
Bouquet garni of thyme, bay leaf & parsley
4 large floury potatoes
Two big bags of spinach
1/2 a lemon
A pat of butter
Milk
Seasoning

Method:
  1. Pre-heat your oven to its highest heat, once it's ready put the kettle on, whilst the kettle is boiling roughly chop your onion, carrots & celery and add to roasting tray with garlic & bouquet garni & one of the bottles of beer (reserving just enough for a sneaky swig!), and add some water too
  2. Get pork out of fridge, place on trivet in sink and pour boiling water all over the top, you should see the scoring opening up
  3. Pat skin dry and rub with a generous amount of salt, place the trivet on the roasting tray above the veg & beer mix and put in the bottom of your super-hot oven for about 25 minutes or until the skin is evenly golden
  4. Make sure you keep an eye on the pork during this time to ensure the tray doesn't go dry and the skin doesn't burn, if the tray is looking dry then add more beer from the second bottle (if you haven't drunk it by now!)
  5. When the skin is evenly golden turn the oven down to 150 fan, 175 conventional or gas mark 4, make sure there is plenty of liquid in the bottom, top up with remaining beer or water and leave it to slowly cook for at least three hours, checking on the liquid levels from time to time
  6. Your pork is done when you can clearly see that all the fat under the skin has rendered through the meat
  7. At this point take it out of the oven, wrap the base of the belly pork in foil leaving the gorgeous crunchy crackling exposed and leave to rest for half an hour in a warm place
  8. Remove trivet, carefully drain off the excess fat into a clean screwtop jar (reserve for roasting potatoes another time) and place roasting tray on a medium hob, scrape away all that yummy, sticky goodness, squeeze the flavour out of your veg, pop the garlic from its bulb, and then sieve into a saucepan to reduce (how much is up to you, I like thicker gravy but if you like thinner then reduce less!)
  9. After half an hour, peel, chop and boil your spuds
  10. When they are done either mash or rice with butter & milk to taste (my tastes run to obscene amounts of butter, try it!) and season well, keep warm with a good knob of butter melting over it
  11. Warm your dinner plates & gravy boat in the residual heat of the oven
  12. Wash your spinach and then pop it in a medium heat wok/frying pan and leave to wilt down with a generous knob of butter and a good hit of pepper (I sometimes like using chilli flakes in there as well for a bit of a change) and some salt
  13. As the spinach is wilting it's time to carve & this couldn't be easier - simply cut the ribs off the bottom (wrapping them in foil and hiding them from everyone else - I'll explain why in a minute) and simply cut generous slices of pork, making sure everyone's got their share of crackling
  14. Finish your wilted spinach with a squeeze of lemon and plate it up with your potatoes and pork - be generous with the gravy and have a bottle of beer already poured to enjoy with it - I find that a really rich strong ale is perfect, I had a Breconshire Brewery Rambler's Ruin & and a Fuller's 1845 with mine, but do experiment with other beers, I'm pretty sure a decent quality pilsner would do the trick too if you wanted to lighten the experience a little

(Hoarding the ribs explained: the thing about being the chef is that you often get to snaffle choice bits to yourself, whether it's the really juicy 'eyes' of meat on the base of a roasted chicken or the flavour-infused ribs from the bottom of the belly pork. Gnawing on these you'll unearth a really intense beery/aromatic flavour that you can share if you wish but, come on, you've done all the hard work, don't you deserve a reward?!)

I shamelessly pinched the piccy of the pig from these people because they look like they take good care of their animals and allow them to run (or wallow) free, so if you can't get to a decent butcher then maybe order from here

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

British Lager Week @ the White Horse


Hola everyone,
British lager week, in association with Lagers of the British Isles, has kicked off at the White Horse and there's a meet the brewer event happening on Thursday, where I'll be joined by representatives from WEST, Cotswold, Hepworth's and Freedom.

It's FREE and starts at 7.30pm.

The rest of the week's itinerary looks like this:

Wednesday October 14 – Coach House British Beer & Food evening
Experience a set three-course menu in the Coach House that comes with British lagers matched to each dish for a set price

Thursday October 15 – Consumer Meet the Brewer session, the Coach House, 7.30pm
Tasting session introduced by leading beer writer Melissa Cole including a brief introduction to tasting beer and a chance to meet the brewers.

Friday October 16 – Consumer samplings by WH staff
The WH staff will offer samples to consumers in the pubn to try then buy!

Saturday October 17 – British lager & BBQ day
LOBI beer recommendations with the White Horse’s famous BBQ dishes.

Sunday October 18 – Sunday Roast & LOBI lagers
Two great British institutions collide in a cornucopia of flavour.

*I am working with this group in a professional capacity*

Enough is Enough

I am the first to admit that the media in this country can leave a lot to be desired at times - if you read some of our papers on a regular basis it's a miracle you ever leave the house - however there a couple of things that I've always been proud that our country has always believed in, that are sacrosanct, and reporting the workings of our Parliament has always been one of them.

However, the Guardian has been gagged from reporting something that is tabled to take place in the House later this week, which is absolutely appalling and I'm pretty confident that the court will find illegal as well.

The slow erosion of civil rights in this country is becoming a subject of increasing concern to me, not the fact that we have legislation designed to protect us, more that we have bodies determined to abuse it  - by trying to prevent peaceful demonstrations for example.

I'm going to be registering my disgust about this gagging with my MP (I know I now sound 70 but there you go, I am outraged of Roehampton right now!), and if you have strong feelings about this may I suggest you do the same.

I have reproduced the majority of the story below or you can read the whole thing here.

The Guardian has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.

Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.

The Guardian has vowed urgently to go to court to overturn the gag on its reporting. The editor, Alan Rusbridger, said: "The media laws in this country increasingly place newspapers in a Kafkaesque world in which we cannot tell the public anything about information which is being suppressed, nor the proceedings which suppress it. It is doubly menacing when those restraints include the reporting of parliament itself."

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

LOVEBEER BEARS ALL IN THE MOONLIGHT

Following the huge success of the last meet the brewer session with America’s Odell’s brewery we thought we’d continue our transatlantic theme by offering consumers the chance to meet the US’s only Abbey brewer and experience some award-winning beers from Sonoma County.

This Saturday lovebeer@borough has Brian Hunt from Moonlight showcasing his beers, and we will also be introducing some beers from Moonlight’s neighbouring brewery Bear Republic – including Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal Winner Racer 5 IPA.

Brian will be bringing with him some incredibly rare beers, the likes of which you will be hard pushed to find outside his California heartland. Just some of the beers on offer will be Reality Czeck-Style Pils, Twist of Fate Bitter Ale, Bombay by Boat IPA and Death & Taxes Black Beer.

Secondly, Brian & I will be showcasing some beers from Sonoma County's Bear Republic – who sadly haven’t been able to make the hop over the pond to join us - including GABF gold medal winner Racer 5 IPA, a speeding bullet of flavour that will run over your senses and worth the price of admission alone.

Having just come back from judging at the Great American Beer Festival I can confirm that the US is at the cutting edge of the brewing scene right now and these are two fine exponents of American brewing ingenuity.

Moonlight’s unique Abbey connection may hark back to the Belgian tradition of brewing as a way for monks to make money to support the community but its beers are all-American without doubt; and Bear Republic’s brews deserve their award-winning status for balancing character & drinkability so delicately.

Entrance price is £15 as usual BUT this time we're holding the sessions at 1pm and 3.30pm.

Available from Utobeer on Borough Market or the Rake (14 Winchester Walk, Borough Market, London, SE1 9AG) or via melissa@love-beer.co.uk or calling 020 7378 9461.

*This post is for the beer tasting business I am a co-owner of*

Monday, 5 October 2009

Crystal Ball Gazing

For the past year I've been predicting that, when the new cask ale figures come out for 08/09, that there would be a positive growth shown - and I'm delighted to say this is indeed the case!

The Cask Ale Report, authored by that top bloke Pete Brown, has clearly shown that cask is in the ascendency, and you can read a bit more here.

What really interested me, at first glance, was this graph - which backs up CAMRA's research earlier this year that more women are drinking cask ale...

Sorry to make this brief but I'm up to my eyeballs in it right now and will write something more extensive later... along with a bit on Left Hand complete with pics from before my camera died in the US!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Heather & Spice & All Things Nice

I have been horribly, horribly remiss recently - the nice people at Williams Bros. have sent me a couple of boxes of beer and, whilst I've loved every minute of drinking them, I've sucked at writing them up - so firstly apologies for that guys!

Now, if you don't know about this brewing bretheren, they are slightly crazy blokes form Scotland who like to make beers with things like heather (Fraoch, 5%) and gooseberries (Grozet, 5%) and tayberries (Roisin, 4.2%) - but they also make some very technically accomplished and extremely tasty beers of a slightly less historic nature, but generally with a twist somewhere.

One of my personal favourites is the 7 Giraffes (5.1%), which is made with seven different malts, elderflower and lemon zest. There is a decent body to the beer, it's not all about the aromatics, with a light bicuity note that perfectly offsets the light lemon and slightly astringent, but delicately floral, elderflower.

As you would expect it is intensely refreshing and just made for quaffing on a summer's day (or a winter's evening when you wish to evoke those past days of balmy weather). I must confess that I'm also being a bit of an old softy about this; the reason it's called 7 Giraffes is that one of the brewer's children pointed out to her dad that a giraffe looked like a 7, and they do at certain angles!

My next big favourite is the Midnight Sun (5.6%), which is a deep, dark sticky porter made with fresh ginger root. The underlying dark bitter chocolate, coffee and liquorice is lightened by the quite strong, yet balanced, flavour of ginger, which also gives a little spicy warming feeling to the beer as well, can imagine this going really well with a dry curry of some sort.

I also very much like the 80/- that the brewery makes too - it's a good hearty representation of the style that is mostly a showcase for the brewer's art with the malts; good deep marmaladey, jammy fruity malt flavours pervade with just enough bitterness to stop it becoming overwhelming, a real Friday night wind-down beer.

I will also be posting about the special edition of their wood-aged Fraoch after the weekend, looks damn good I must confess...

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Recipe of the Week

Welcome to the first of my recipes of the week - I've decided that I spend so much time beer & food matching that I really ought to try and publish some of what I cook & drink at home.

So the first one is spicy salmon with yellow split pea dahl (Caribbean spelling, Indian spicing! If you're that bothered about what I'm wittering about you can check out the definitions here).

Anyway, on with the show, serves two with some dahl left over for another day or freezing.

Ingredients for the salmon:
Two salmon fillets/steaks
Harissa or other hot chilli paste
Garam Masala
Sea salt
Groundnut oil

Ingredients for dahl:
Groundnut oil
100g yellow split peas
One medium-large onion
Thumb-sized knob of ginger
Two very fat garlic cloves
1dsp black mustard seeds
1dsp Garam Masala
Tsp each of dry fried cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds & fenugreek + pinch of chilli powder or flakes (alternatively use a dsp of your favourite curry powder if this seems like a faff)
Can of good plum tomatoes
Small handful of green raisins (optional)
Pinch of sugar
1/2 tsp of asafoetida (you will thank me for this addition, it's a 'digestive aid' - you can draw the conclusion as to how it helps from there!)
Bag/three good handfuls of spinach

To garnish:
Mint
Natural yoghurt (I use fat-free but you don't have to)
Seasoning
Lemon

Method:
  1. Roughly chop your onions, and pop them in a good-sized saucepan to gently sweat, you don't want any colour
  2. After a few minutes grate the ginger and add that
  3. As the onions turn transluscent chop your garlic cloves and add them
  4. After a minute add all your spices and when the mustard seeds start to pop pour your peas into a sieve and rinse under the tap and add
  5. Stir mix together then add the raisins and then add tomatoes and pinch of sugar
  6. Fill tomato can full of water and pour that in, bring to a boil and then leave on a low heat to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, you may have to top up with water, keep an eye on it
  7. After 20 minutes take your salmon out of the fridge and make some slashes in the skin (your knife will have to be sharp for this or don't bother trying, you'll slash your thumb)
  8. Rub in enough harissa or chilli paste to cover the whole surface (be careful it's not a really hot sauce unless that's how you like it) and then sprinkle lightly with garam masala and a little sea salt, and put the oven on (160 for fan, which I think is 180 normal oven)
  9. Leave covered
  10. After a further 10 minutes put your frying pan or skillet on to heat, make sure your pan is hot add some groundnut oil and put the fish in skin-side down, fry until just going golden and going opaque half-way up and pop in the oven to finish - I put mine in for about six minutes to finish as I like it a little opaque in the middle
  11. Chop the mint and stir it into the yoghurt with a squeeze of lemon, season to taste (you can also swirl in some more harissa if you want to, I use Belazu's rose harissa, it's a handy thing to have in the fridge and lasts forever)
  12. Take fish out to rest, cover with foil, and after a few minutes test your peas, they should be done and at this point you stir in your spinach & asafoetida at the last minute but if not then just leave the salmon somewhere warm to rest
  13. Serve salmon on top of spinachy dahl, drizzle with your dressing
  14. Then crack open a Weltenburger Assam Bock or, for contrast, a clear wheat beer like O'Hanlon's Goldblade or Okells MacLir, and stick your feet up
Cheers!
p.s. no pics because my camera broke whilst in Denver, it's for this reason there aren't any pics I took from there on my blog either! Grr!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

All Falls Down

The curtain has fallen on the GABF but the winners were announced yesterday and I've listed them below or you can download a pdf here.

As it's a blind judging we didn't know which beers had won until everyone else did, which was actually quite nerve-wracking as the crowd watching are certainly very vociferous about whether they approve of the judges choices or not!

The stand-out beer for me that I judged, in terms of innovation, was the winner of the gold category in wood-aged beers, the Humidor Series IPA, Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL. It is aged on the wood of cigar boxes, which is called cigar cedar but is actually from the mahogony family, and the spice and aroma it imparts to the beer is absolutely incredible. The base beer IPA itself was technically flawless and the pepper, sandalwood, vanilla, cinnamon, cedar, leather and tobacco notes that poured off it were more akin to a rum descriptor than a beer but still incredible nonetheless.

After my aforementioned dinner at the Samba Rooms (my empanada starter got shared with the whole table as four of them arrived about two thirds the size of a Cornish pasty!) we were wavering about whether to go back to the Falling Rock as it threatened to be a bit of a scrum and we were feeling a little fatigued - well I'm so pleased that we didn't wimp out because it was a brilliant night!

I managed to get myself wedged against the outside bar where the awesome Bill took very good care of me, once I'd finished my very refreshing starter for 10 of Dale's Pale Ale from Oskar Blues (the first people to start putting craft beer in cans by all accounts) I moved onto the Sierra Nevada Harvest, which was as spectacular as you'd expect it to be, wet-hopped, fresh and balanced, then onto the New Belgium Tart Lychee - wow!

I've really begun to change my mind about fruit beers recently and the ones that they've got out here are fascinating; balanced, sour, sweet, a little mineral salt on the palate as a general too. I also got treated to a little Lost Abbey Sinner's Reserve as well, which was very special. A nice sour nose with mocha and chocolate notes leads through to a slightly sour raspberry and charred wood middle and ends on a rich prune note - very rich yet drinkable. And there was an obligatory Pliny the Elder thrown in there too!
I also met a whole host of fabulous people, including Daniel Del Grande, the brewer of the aforementioned Honey Basil Wheat, which I accidentally in a slightly fuzzy state called ale in my previous post (apologies), Bubba from Bear Republic, Chris Fisher from Newport, Ron from Cascade and a whole host of other people, apologies if I haven't name-checked you!

I am back off to Falling Rock on the way to the airport today, and if I am invited to come back next year (finger's so tightly crossed they are creaking) there are some things that I will know.

Firstly, that I'm going to have the pleasure of meeting some amazing people, secondly, that I will drink some truly rocking beers and thirdly that long white trousers which skirt the ground are a very, very bad idea to wear to Falling Rock on the last night of GABF - they are now not white trousers four inches up the leg, nearly crack when folded and have stunk my room out with stale beer despite being in a plastic bag!!!

But, do you know what? I couldn't care less!

Winners
Category: 1 American-Style Cream Ale or Lager, 24 Entries
Gold: Milwaukee’s Best, Miller Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Silver: Hamm’s, Miller Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Bronze: Red Dog, Miller Brewing Co., Golden, CO


Category: 2 American-Style Wheat Beer, 19 Entries
Gold: County Seat Wheat, Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant, Topeka, KS
Silver: Shredders Wheat, Barley Brown’s Brew Pub, Baker City, OR
Bronze: Double Eagle Ale, Rockyard Brewing Co., Castle Rock, CO


Category: 3 American-Style Wheat Beer With Yeast, 43 Entries
Gold: Haywire Hefeweizen, Pyramid Breweries, Seattle, WA
Silver: Hefeweizen, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Portland, OR
Bronze: UFO Hefeweizen, Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA


Category: 4 Fruit Beer or Field Beer, 104 Entries
Gold: Raspberry Creek, Breakwater Brewing Co., Oceanside, CA
Silver: Magnolia’s Peach, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery, Huntington Beach, CA
Bronze: Raspberry Tart, New Glarus Brewing Co, New Glarus, WI


Category: 5 Herb and Spice or Chocolate Beer, 85 Entries
Gold: Stillwater Rye, Montana Brewing Co., Billings, MT
Silver: Imperial Chocolate Stout, Rogue Ales, Newport, OR
Bronze: Rude Elf’s Reserve, Fegley’s Allentown & Bethlehem Brew Works, Allentown, PA


Category: 6 Coffee Flavored Beer, 45 Entries
Gold: Dude! Where’s My Vespa?, Rock Bottom Brewery - Arlington, Arlington, VA
Silver: Overcast Espresso Stout, Oakshire Brewing, Eugene, OR
Bronze: Coffee Bender, Surly Brewing Co., Brooklyn Center, MN


Category: 7 Specialty Beer, 21 Entries
Gold: Chateau Jiahu, Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, DE
Silver: Palo Santo Marron, Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, DE
Bronze: Drunken Angel, Rock Bottom Brewery - Chicago, Chicago, IL


Category: 8, Rye Beer, 21 Entries
Gold: Crazy Jackass Ale, Great American Restaurants, Centreville, VA
Silver: Blue Point Brewing Co. RastafaRye, Blue Point Brewing Co., Patchogue, NY
Bronze: Hoss, Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, CO


Category: 9 Specialty Honey Beer, 36 Entries
Gold: Countdown Honey Brown, Thunder Canyon Brewery, Tucson, AZ
Silver: George’s Fault, Nodding Head Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA
Bronze: Midas Touch, Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, DE


Category: 10 Session Beer, 27 Entries
Gold: KinderPils, Triumph Brewing Co. of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Silver: Firestone Xtra Pale, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
Bronze: Bam Biere, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, MI


Category: 11 Other Strong Beer, 44 Entries
Gold: Cardiff, Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co., Glenwood Springs, CO
Silver: Winter Wheatwine, Rubicon Brewing Co., Sacramento, CA
Bronze: FiftyFifty Imperial Stout, FiftyFifty Brewing Co., Truckee, CA


Category: 12 Experimental Beer, 32 Entries
Gold: TPS Report, Trinity Brewing Co, Colorado Springs, CO
Silver: Bloody Beer, Shorts Brewing Co., Bellaire, MI
Bronze: Brabant, Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, CO


Category: 13 Out of Category – Traditionally Brewed Beer, 82 Entries
Gold: W ‘10, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Portland, OR
Silver: Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
Bronze: S1NIST0R Black Ale, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR


Category: 14 Gluten Free Beer, 10 Entries
Gold: Celia Framboise, The Alchemist, Waterbury, VT
Silver: Redbridge, Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Saint Louis, MO
Bronze: Celia IPA, The Alchemist, Waterbury, VT


Category: 15 American-Belgo-Style Ale, 51 Entries
Gold: Exit 4, Flying Fish Brewing Co., Cherry Hill, NJ
Silver: The Crow and The Sparrow, Rock Bottom Brewery - Chicago, Chicago, IL
Bronze: Temperance, Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery, Boulder, CO


Category: 16 American-Style Sour Ale, 32 Entries
Gold: Rosso e Marrone, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co, Pleasantville, NY
Silver: Raspberry Torte, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Wilmington, DE
Bronze: Diamond Kings ‘09, Brugge Brasserie, Indianapolis, IN


Category: 17 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer, 33 Entries
Gold: Humidor Series IPA, Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL
Silver: Red Woody, Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL
Bronze: Red Brick Anniversary Ale 15, Red Brick-Atlanta Brewing Co., Atlanta, GA


Category: 18 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer, 110 Entries
Gold: Cereal Killer Barleywine, Arcadia Brewing Co., Battle Creek, MI
Silver: Barrel Aged Gonzo, Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD
Bronze: Duck-Rabbit Barrel Aged Baltic Porter, The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Inc., Farmville, NC


2009 Brewery and Brewer of the Year Awards:
Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Coors Brewing Company, Golden, CO
Dr. David Ryder


Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Crosby & Baker Ltd.
Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD
Robert Malone


Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Microstar Keg Management
Dry Dock Brewing Company, Aurora, CO
Dry Dock Brewing Team


Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group
Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA
Pizza Port Brew Guys


Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Briess Malt & Ingredients Co.
Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Will Kemper


Category: 19 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer, 45 Entries
Gold: Bourbonic Plague, Cascade Brewery Co. LLC, Portland, OR
Silver: Vlad the Imp Aler, Cascade Brewery Co. LLC, Portland, OR
Bronze: Phruit Phunk, Nodding Head Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA


Category: 20 Aged Beer, 32 Entries
Gold: Horn Dog Vintage 2007, Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD
Silver: St. Bob’s Imperial Stout, IL Vicino Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Bronze: Winterfest 2008, Utah Brewers Co-op, Salt Lake City, UT


Category: 21 Kellerbier/Zwickelbier, 27 Entries
Gold: Hell In Keller, Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que, Austin, TX
Silver: Natural Born Keller, Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co., Roseland, VA
Bronze: Red Rock Organic Zwickel Bier, Red Rock Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, UT


Category: 22 Smoked Beer, 43 Entries
Gold: Smokejumper, Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO
Silver: Up In Smoke, Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, North Olmsted, OH
Bronze: Diesel Imperial Smoked Porter, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, CA


Category: 23 International-Style Pilsener, 13 Entries
Gold: Gold Leaf Lager, Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co., Roseland, VA
Silver: OE800, Miller Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Bronze: Gold Mountain Pilsner, Silver City Brewery, Silverdale, WA


Category: 24 German-Style Pilsener, 48 Entries
Gold: 106 Pilsner, Rock Bottom Brewery - Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
Silver: Pilsner, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Bronze: Troegs Sunshine Pils, Troegs Brewing Co., Harrisburg, PA


Category: 25 Bohemian Style Pilsener, 39 Entries
Gold: Vermont Lager, Otter Creek Brewing/Wolaver’s Organic Ales, Middlebury, VT
Silver: Gordon Biersch Czech Pilsner, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group, Broomfield, CO
Bronze: Bell’s Lager Beer, Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Galesburg, MI


Category: 26 Munich Style Helles, 31 Entries
Gold: Saint Arnold Summer Pils, Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Houston, TX
Silver: Where the Helles Bill?, The SandLot, Denver, CO
Bronze: Gordon Biersch , Golden Export, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group, Broomfield, CO


Category: 27 Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest, 20 Entries
Gold: Move Back, The SandLot, Denver, CO
Silver: Greenside Up, The SandLot, Denver, CO
Bronze: Capital Bavarian Lager, Capital Brewery Co., Inc., Middleton, WI


Category: 28 American Style Light Lager, 25 Entries
Gold: Budweiser Select, Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Saint Louis, MO
Silver: Keystone Light, Coors Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Bronze: Michelob Ultra, Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Saint Louis, MO


Category: 29 American-Style Lager or Premium Lager, 34 Entries
Gold: Coors Banquet, Coors Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Silver: Miller High Life, Miller Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Bronze: Totally Naked, New Glarus Brewing Co, New Glarus, WI


Category: 30 American Style Specialty Lager, 23 Entries
Gold: Keystone Ice, Coors Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Silver: Pre-Pro, Coors Brewing Co., Gol, Golden, CO
Bronze: Steel Reserve, Miller Brewing Co., Golden, CO


Category: 31 Vienna Style Lager, 25 Entries
Gold: Vienna Lager, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Silver: Vienna Lager, Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co., Roseland, VA
Bronze: Clipper City Marzhon Vienna Lager, Clipper City Brewing Co., Baltimore, MD


Category: 32 German Style Märzen, 45 Entries
Gold: Dogtoberfest, Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD
Silver: Reines Marzen, Dry Dock Brewing Co., Aurora, CO
Bronze: Rocktoberfest, Rock Bottom Brewery - Long Beach, Long Beach, CA


Category: 33 American Style Amber Lager, 45 Entries
Gold: Durango Colorfest, Durango Brewing Co., Durango, CO
Silver: Killian’s Red, Coors Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Bronze: Michelob Marzen, Michelob Brewing Co., Saint Louis, MO


Category: 34 European Style Dunkel, 21 Entries
Gold: Dunkel, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Silver: Gordon Biersch Dunkles, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group, Broomfield, CO
Bronze: Dunkel, AC Golden Brewing Co., Golden, CO


Category: 35 American-Style Dark Lager, 15 Entries
Gold: Session Black Premium Lager, Full Sail Brewing at Riverplace, Portland, OR
Silver: Roadrunner Red Lager, Thunder Canyon Brewery, Tucson, AZ
Bronze: Saranac Black Forest, Saranac/F.X. Matt Brewing Co., Utica, NY


Category: 36 German Style Schwarzbier, 34 Entries
Gold: Schwarzbier, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Wilmington, DE
Silver: Schwarzbier, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Bronze: Dark Helmet, Titletown Brewing Co., Green Bay, WI


Category: 37 Bock, 40 Entries
Gold: Troegenator, Troegs Brewing Co., Harrisburg, PA
Silver: May Bock, Backcountry Brewery, Frisco, CO
Bronze: Fornicator, Piece Brewery, Chicago, IL


Category: 38 German Style Doppelbock or Eisbock, 21 Entries
Gold: The Kaiser, Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, CO
Silver: Samuel Adams Double Bock, Boston Beer Co., Boston, MA
Bronze: Carbonator, Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co., Glenwood Springs, CO


Category: 39 Baltic-Style Porter, 16 Entries
Gold: Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter, The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Inc., Farmville, NC
Silver: Danzig, Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co., Roseland, VA
Bronze: Veles Baltic Porter, FireHouse Grill & Brewery, Sunnyvale, CA


Category: 40 Golden or Blonde Ale, 43 Entries
Gold: Golden Spike, Tustin Brewing Co., Tustin, CA
Silver: Kiwanda Cream Ale, Pelican Pub & Brewery, Pacific City, OR
Bronze: Red Rock Blonde Ale, Red Rock Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, UT


Category: 41 German Style Kölsch, 43 Entries
Gold: Kolsch, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
Silver: Clearwater Kolsch, Ram Restaurant & Brewery (2), Tacoma, WA
Bronze: Stoudts Kolsch, Stoudt Brewing Co., Adamstown, PA


Category: 42 English-Style Summer Ale, 33 Entries
Gold: Light Rock Ale, RJ Rockers Brewing Co., Spartanburg, SC
Silver: Surfer’s Summer Ale, Pelican Pub & Brewery, Pacific City, OR
Bronze: True Blonde Ale, Ska Brewing Co., Durango, CO


Category: 43 Classic English Style Pale Ale, 33 Entries
Gold: Mactarnahan’s Amber, Pyramid Breweries, Seattle, WA
Silver: Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
Bronze: Hopfish, Flying Fish Brewing Co., Cherry Hill, NJ


Category: 44 English-Style India Pale Ale, 40 Entries
Gold: Beech Street Bitter, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA
Silver: IPA, Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL
Bronze: Brewer’s Alley India Pale Ale, Brewer’s Alley Restaurant and Brewery, Frederick, MD


Category: 45 American Style Pale Ale, 108 Entries
Gold: Sweetgrass IPA, Grand Teton Brewing Co., Victor, ID
Silver: 44 Pale Ale, Colorado Brewing Co./Draft House, Boulder, CO
Bronze: Tumble Off Pale Ale, Barley Brown’s Brew Pub, Baker City, OR


Category: 46 American-Style Strong Pale Ale, 70 Entries
Gold: Racer 5 IPA, Bear Republic Factory Five, Cloverdale, CA
Silver: Hopshot IPA, Beaver St. Brewery, Flagstaff, AZ
Bronze: IPA Nectar, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA


Category: 47 American-Style India Pale Ale, 134 Entries
Gold: Union Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
Silver: Sculpin IPA, Ballast Point Brewing Co, San Diego, CA
Bronze: Blind Pig IPA, Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA


Category: 48 Imperial India Pale Ale, 77 Entries
Gold: Organic Ace of Spades Imperial IPA, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Portland, OR
Silver: Denogginizer, Drake’s Brewing Co., San Leandro, CA
Bronze: Hip Hop Double IPA, Hollister Brewing Co., Goleta, CA


Category: 49 American Style Amber/Red Ale, 78 Entries
Gold: Organic Rise Up Red, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Portland, OR
Silver: Red Rock, Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse, Berkeley, CA
Bronze: Hop Head Red, Green Flash Brewing Co., Vista, CA


Category: 50 Imperial Red Ale, 36 Entries
Gold: Shark Attack, Pizza Port Solana Beach, Solana Beach, CA
Silver: 547 Haight - The Toronado San Francisco’s 20th Anniversary Imperial Red Ale, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA
Bronze: Organic Deranger Imperial Red, Laurelwood Brewing Co., Portland, OR


Category: 51 English Style Mild Ale, 17 Entries
Gold: Sara’s Ruby Mild, Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery, San Francisco, CA
Silver: AK Session, Snake River Brewing, Jackson, WY
Bronze: Coyote Moon, Snipes Mountain Brewing Inc., Sunnyside, WA


Category: 52 Ordinary or Special Bitter, 45 Entries
Gold: Big Rapid Red, Beaver St. Brewery, Flagstaff, AZ
Silver: Cutthroat Pale Ale, Uinta Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, UT
Bronze: Numbers Ale, Red Brick-Atlanta Brewing Co., Atlanta, GA


Category: 53 Extra Special Bitter or Strong Bitter, 47 Entries
Gold: ESB, Redhook Ales - Woodinville, Woodinville, WA
Silver: Motorboat ESB, SweetWater Brewing Co., Atlanta, GA
Bronze: Colorado Boy IPA, Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery, Ridgway, CO


Category: 54 Scottish Style Ale, 29 Entries
Gold: Railbender Ale, Erie Brewing Co, Erie, PA
Silver: Kilt Lifter, Four Peaks Brewing Co., Tempe, AZ
Bronze: Cold Smoke Scotch Ale, Kettlehouse Brewing Co., Missoula, MT


Category: 55 Irish Style Red Ale, 32 Entries
Gold: Ridgetop Red, Silver City Brewery, Silverdale, WA
Silver: Colorado Boy Irish, Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery, Ridgway, CO
Bronze: Saranac Irish Red Ale, Saranac/F.X. Matt Brewing Co., Utica, NY


Category: 56 English Style Brown Ale, 41 Entries
Gold: Longboard Brown, Rock Bottom Brewery - La Jolla, La Jolla, CA
Silver: Buster Nut Brown, Ska Brewing Co., Durango, CO
Bronze: Good Grief Brown, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA


Category: 57 American Style Brown Ale, 43 Entries
Gold: Dirty Helen Brown Ale, Barley Island Brewing Co., Noblesville, IN
Silver: Cheyenne Cañon Ale, Bristol Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, CO
Bronze: Great American Brown, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA


Category: 58 German Style Altbier, 35 Entries
Gold: Bismarck Altbier, Dry Dock Brewing Co., Aurora, CO
Silver: Boca Alt, Brewzzi West Palm, West Palm Beach, FL
Bronze: Gordon Biersch Alt Bier, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group, Broomfield, CO


Category: 59 German-Style Sour Ale, 13 Entries
Gold: Berliner Weisse, Southampton Publick House, Southampton, NY
Silver: NBB Love, New Belgium Brewing Co., Inc., Fort Collins, CO
Bronze: Bad Kitty, Brugge Brasserie, Indianapolis, IN


Category: 60 South German Style Hefeweizen, 66 Entries
Gold: Top Heavy Hefeweizen, Piece Brewery, Chicago, IL
Silver: U-Boat Hefeweizen, Dry Dock Brewing Co., Aurora, CO
Bronze: Wiezen, Redhook Ales - Portsmouth, Portsmouth, NH


Category: 61 German-Style Wheat Ale, 38 Entries
Gold: Hefeweizen, Triumph Brewing Co. of New Hope, New Hope, PA
Silver: Weizenbock, The Covey Restaurant & Brewery, Fort Worth, TX
Bronze: Upslope Dunkel Weizen, Upslope Brewing Co., Boulder, CO


Category: 62 Belgian-Style Witbier, 53 Entries
Gold: ZON, Boulevard Brewing Co, Kansas City, MO
Silver: Belgian White, Big Dog’s Brewing Co., Las Vegas, NV
Bronze: Wits End, Great American Restaurants, Centreville, VA


Category: 63 French- and Belgian Style Saison, 56 Entries
Gold: Saison Vautour, McKenzie Brew House, Glen Mills, PA
Silver: Belgian Summer Ale, Great Adirondack Brewing Co., Lake Placid, NY
Bronze: Saison Du Bastone, Bastone Brewery, Royal Oak, MI


Category: 64 Belgian and French-Style Ale, 41 Entries
Gold: Carnevale, The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA
Silver: Demolition, Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL
Bronze: Collaborative Evil-Sacramento, Sacramento Brewing Co., Sacramento, CA


Category: 65 Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale, 29 Entries
Gold: Duck Duck Gooze, The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA
Silver: Red Rock, Big Rock Chop House & Brewery, Birmingham, MI
Bronze: Supplication, Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA


Category: 66 Belgian-Style Abbey Ale, 58 Entries
Gold: Signature Dubbel, Choc Beer Co., Krebs, OK
Silver: Tripel, Allagash Brewing Co., Portland, ME
Bronze: Deschutes Brewery Quad, Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR


Category: 67 Belgian Style Strong Specialty Ale, 70 Entries
Gold: Revelations, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA
Silver: “100”, The Covey Restaurant & Brewery, Fort Worth, TX
Bronze: Father Damien Abbey Ale, Maui Brewing Co., Lahaina, HI


Category: 68 Brown Porter, 38 Entries
Gold: St. Charles Porter, Blackstone Brewing Co., Nashville, TN
Silver: Lazy Jake Porter, Long Valley Pub and Brewery, Long Valley, NJ
Bronze: Black Butte Porter, Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR


Category: 69 Robust Porter, 57 Entries
Gold: Pt. Reyes Porter, Marin Brewing Co., Larkspur, CA
Silver: Mocha Porter, Rogue Ales, Newport, OR
Bronze: Pirate’s Porter, Sullivan’s Black Forest Brew Haus & Grill, Frankenmuth, MI


Category: 70 Classic Irish Style Dry Stout, 19 Entries
Gold: Dark Starr Stout, Starr Hill Brewery, Crozet, VA
Silver: Three Steve Stout, Cambridge House Brew Pub, Torrington, CT
Bronze: Pub Dog Black Dog Stout, DOG Brewing Co., Westminster, MD


Category: 71 Foreign Style Stout, 20 Entries
Gold: Space Stout, Laurelwood Brewing Co., Portland, OR
Silver: San Quentin’s Breakout Stout, Marin Brewing Co., Larkspur, CA
Bronze: Whiteface Black Diamond Stout, Great Adirondack Brewing Co., Lake Placid, NY


Category: 72 American-Style Stout, 22 Entries
Gold: Liberty Stout, Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing Co., Hays, KS
Silver: Troegs Dead Reckoning, Troegs Brewing Co., Harrisburg, PA
Bronze: Stonefly Oatmeal Stout, Third Street Aleworks, Santa Rosa, CA


Category: 73 Sweet Stout, 27 Entries
Gold: Cow Stout, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA
Silver: Cream Stout, Redwood Brewing Co., Flint, MI
Bronze: Steel Toe Stout, Ska Brewing Co., Durango, CO


Category: 74 Oatmeal Stout, 31 Entries
Gold: Ernest’s Silky Smoove, Pizza Port San Clemente, San Clemente, CA
Silver: Oatmeal Stout, Schooner’s Grille & Brewery, Antioch, CA
Bronze: Sleeping Dog Stout, Chama River Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM


Category: 75 Imperial Stout, 56 Entries
Gold: Gonzo Imperial Porter, Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD
Silver: Yeti Imperial Stout, Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, CO
Bronze: Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout, Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, NC


Category: 76 Scotch Ale, 37 Entries
Gold: Reed’s Wee Heavy, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA
Silver: BagPiper’s Scotch Ale, Fegley’s Allentown & Bethlehem Brew Works, Allentown, PA
Bronze: MacPelican’s Wee Heavy Ale, Pelican Pub & Brewery, Pacific City, OR


Category: 77 Old Ale or Strong Ale, 29 Entries
Gold: Old Scrooge ‘98, Silver City Brewery, Silverdale, WA
Silver: Outback X, Bend Brewing Co, Bend, OR
Bronze: 4th Dementia Old Ale, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co., Warren, MI


Category: 78 Barley Wine Style Ale, 54 Entries
Gold: Old Inventory Barley Wine, Valley Brewing Co., Stockton, CA
Silver: Treblehook, Redhook Ales - Woodinville, Woodinville, WA
Bronze: Old Ruffian Barley Wine, Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, CO


2009 Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition
Gold: Herbal Joe’s Columbarillo IPA, Chama River Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Brewmaster: Jeff Erway, AHA Member: Ben Miller
Silver: Alright Already Amber, O’Fallon Brewery, O’Fallon, MO
Brewmaster: Brian Owens, AHA Member: Jim Yeager
Bronze: Time of the Season, Upslope Brewing Co., Boulder, CO
Brewmaster: Daniel Pages, AHA Member: Brian Patterson

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Beered in the USA



Well, the GABF has started off well for me, had a whole series of top-quality beers last night that I thought I'd share with you!

I kicked off with beers from the Blue Corn brewery (Santa Fe), served up to me by the brewmaster and original cowboy Brad Kraus, and the first beer of Atomic Blonde pils at 5% was an absolute treat! Sometimes in this job you can forget that a really good clean pilsner at the right time can be an absolute treat - and this was, clean, zesty and with a little punch of bitterness at the end.

The brewery's award-winning oatmeal stout was also an absolute cracker, an enticing chocolate and coffee nose with a balanced coffee and hop  bitterness combined with a really creamy mouthfeel makes it intensely drinkable and it's understandable that it took a gold medal in its class last year. As an aside it also helps no end that Mr Kraus is an absolute blast and has definitely gained the title of my favourite person in the world to share a Rochefort 10 with.

Then it was on to Buckbean and their 5.8% Orange Blossom Ale, Pallisade, Ahtanum and German select hops marry beautifully with orange blossom, Munich & caramel malts.

The result is not so much an orange blossom ale but a fabulously jasmine tea-like end to the beer that begs to be drunk over and over - interestingly a lot of the craft beers out here are canned, what they do is use the technology that soft drinks companies have been using for years and have a lining on the inside of the can that prevents all metallic taint.

My next great beer was the Saint Arnold Elissa IPA - rather sad that I chose it because it's so close to my name but I'm glad I was feeling childish because it was a really pleasant honey pine nose, with a rich spicy flavour with a not unpleasant prickly hop bitterness, very fresh in the finish and well-balanced.

Rogue Morimoto Soba, which I believe is only around 5%, is a truly incredible beer - a buckwheat nose leads to a similar profile in taste augmented by a light lime, then after you've swallowed you get this most amazing rush back of bready/buckwheat right at the front of the palate - totally unique in my opinion and well worth seeking out.

I also had the great pleasure and privelege of drinking Sierra Nevada's Estate beer at 6.7%, all the ingredients are grown at the brewery and it's a got a lovely clean mineral nose with a bit of peach/passion fruit and then a jammy middle throught to a balanced bitter end - fabulous.

So, that was yesterday, today my standout beers were the 21st Amendment Watermelon wheat, which I'd heard about from Richard Dinwoodie who raves about it, however I was a bit sceptical - ohhhh how foolish I was to be so pre-judgemental, it's utterly, utterly awesome! It smells like watermelon and then on the palate anyone who ever ate the watermelon Nerds as a kid will recognise that sour watermelon flavours are some of the nicest things in the world and that's what this was. Unbelievably refreshing and fabulous this also came from a can and was just a revelation.

Next standout was Bison Brewery's Honey & Basil ale Wheat, I can't tell you how nice this was and how much I wished I'd had something Italian to eat with it. A honeyed basil nose leads through to a really balanced slight sweet herbal body with a great earthy herbal bitterness you'd associate with English hops; utterly stunning and I asked the owner if I could shamelessly try to reproduce something close on one of my next brewing adventures and he was really stoked about the idea, everyone is so incredible like that out here - it's all about sharing ideas, stamping out politics and growing the category.

Deschutes Red Chair IPA was another cracker, I judge these in the World Beer Awards a lot but rarely see them and wish they'd export more to the UK, I really do, a wonderfully restrained example of an American-style IPA, it balances that usual huge grapefruit note out with some nice lime and caramel-bready body (without being too toffee) and a rich jammy bitter finish.

And finally Alaskan's beers were something special, the Smoked Porter is a living legend but I thought the White (the spiced wheat) was very elegantly done. For those of you who have tried the Coney Island Albino Python think this done much more delicately, not to say that's not a great beer, but the White has many similarities without the huge pot pourri nose.

And talking of Coney Island I'm also pleased to say that I've been introduce to the most fabulous American diner called Sam's No. 3, at which I've been eating with Glenn, and today I decided, when in Rome, to have their Coney Island hotdog, which was sublime; if you're ever in Denver then Sam's No.3 is a must-see.

Will update you on the winners etc. tomorrow, back off to the festival now and then onto dinner in the Samba Room!