Archive for March, 2013


Booze on the Ouse 2013

I couldn’t make it as far as Sheffield. Both financial and logistical blockades put the mockers on that. I will have to wait  until next year before I can see what it’s like at Beer-x. I could make it as far as St. Neots though. Which is a stroke of good luck because it was the same weekend as the St Neots beer and cider festival, known as Booze on the Ouse (the Ouse being the name of the river which flows through St. Neots).

I had already asked all the usual suspects about going to a beer festival, and all of them had politely declined. Either work, otherwise engaged or no money were the main excuses. Undeterred I went by myself, I packed a book to read, thinking I’d be myself.

I arrived in town before the festival had opened and I was ravishingly hungry. The obvious thing to do then was to find the Wetherspoons… which I did. I ordered breakfast and while I waited had my first pint of the day, Salopian Brewery‘s Oracle 4%. This was OK, but nothing to write home about. Breakfast arrived and was quickly demolished. It was then followed by a pint of Hambleton Ale’s Nightmare 5%, a really enjoyable porter.

By this time the festival had opened. The festival takes place in the Priory Centre, just off the main road through the town centre. It’s not the worlds biggest venue, but it just about copes with the number of visitors which arrive. Having got there early enough I was able to grab one of the last seats. I sat down with a half of Elland 1872 6.5%, a rich ported which I was fortunate to try while I was in Manchester at the beginning of the year. I knew how good it was and decided to start with that to make sure I got a sample before it inevitably run out, it being the Champion beer of the National Winter Ales Festival, I’m sure it would go quick.

So, there I was, enjoying my book when I hear “Hi Looke, how are you?” I look up to see Matt, a friend of a friend who I haven’t seen for ages. He explains he is here to meet some friends from his course. Naturally he joined me until his friends arrived and when they did they sat down too. Soon after our newly formed group got talking to a a couple of chaps at the other end of the table we were all at, who’s names I’m at a loss to remember (sorry if your reading this).

The younger of the two really knew his stuff when it came to beer, especially the things from the bottled bar, which I usually don’t care much for. By the end of the day we had many different bottled beers which I usually wouldn’t even entertain, including lambic and gueuze beers. I can see why people say they are an acquired taste in beer, but you know what? I really liked them!

As the afternoon drew on people started to leave, the last train home and things like that were calling. Matt, the chap with all the bottled beer knowledge and myself had one more in The Pig n Falcon, a pub in St Neots, well known for its real ale selection. We then went our separate ways, Matt and myself ending up back at home, where we had a few more at the Flitwick club, before closing time.

All in all, a good day out.

It was my Dad’s birthday a few days ago. He has always liked Adnam’s Broadside and he has always been partial to a whisky. So for his birthday I decided to get him a bottle of Spirit of Broadside, a 43% bottle of distilled Broadside. Anyway, while that was on order I decided I’d make the most of the postage costs and buy myself some beer while I was at it. I looked through the whole Adnam’s website and a few things caught my eye, however there was only one thing out of them that you could buy as a single bottle (I’m not going to get an entire 12 pack of a beer that I don’t even know that I’d like!).

As you could probably tell from the title the beer that I did end up getting was Sole Bay. A beer which was first brewed to celebrate 350 years of brewing. It turns up in it’s own tin which is all snazzy and what-not. The whole thing is a very stylish affair with dates on a timeline printed on the tin and on the bottle, which is both corked and caged (obviously I’m not suggesting it might be a crown cap and caged, that would be silly).

OK, what you actually want to know: It pours a mid amber sort of colour with a decent amount of carbonation and an off white head. I can’t say that I got a huge amount off the nose, a slight biscuit-y note, nothing huge. The taste was very sweet, a little banana but mostly a malty sweetness. In the shpeal on the website it said about adding lavender into the end of the fermentation, not all that noticeable either. There was something else in the mix which I couldn’t quite put my finger on which reminded me of ginger beer, and don’t think ginger, it wasn’t that.

I have to say, although there was nothing wrong with per se, I was hoping for something a bit more bold from this beer. Very enjoyable, although I don’t know if it quite justifies the price for me.

Overall Rating: 7 / 10 

Available at www.adnams.co.uk

Staying near Glasgow airport

OK, so I’m back. I’ve just finished a large job north of the border. Starting a few weeks ago we were staying at a Premier Inn next to a pub, now we’re staying at another near to Glasgow airport. Many thanks to Adam Shafi on twitter, who suggested some different pubs to try, however, the boss wasn’t having it. He likes to have secure parking for the van.

Premeir Inn – Glasgow Airport – does not have a pub attached. Instead it has a restaurant in the hotel itself. The beer selection is not good. Looking across the bar I asked for a Guinness, after spotting a Guinness tap, the waiter then advised me that although there is a tap it wasn’t attached to any beer, although I could have a Guinness… from a can. They wanted to charge me more than £4 for a can of Guinness. There was a petrol station directly opposite the hotel which had four packs of Guinness for £5. Go Figure.

We were at this hotel for several weeks, so it was fortunate that I had the brain wave to check inside the airport.  Inside the terminal building is a JD Wetherspoon. Salvation. It wasn’t as cheap as the usual Wethersoon’s prices, but it was in an airport, so we couldn’t really complain.

One beer which I really wanted to try while I was in Scotland was Orkney’s Dark Island. I had tried the bottle and thought it was pretty good and was hoping it would be on tap at Wetherspoon’s. Every day we went in and every day there was a hand pump which said “Dark Island coming soon”. After a few days we asked when it was actually going to be on. They had no clue. They didn’t even know if they had any ordered, it certainly wasn’t in the cellar.

This was the routine then, after work go back tot the hotel, have a shower and head to the airport for some food and a decent pint, ask about Dark Island until… the airport caught fire. It was only a minor fire, but it meant that the last few nights we had to resort to beers from the petrol station and food from the hotel. We never did get a pint of Dark Island, although the Red McGregor from the same brewery was quite nice.

Favourite beer from the whole trip was Clydesdale IPA by Strathaven ales.