Archive for July, 2013


The Second Beer Ashes Test

OK, so England are now 2-0 up in the Ashes series. This is good. Unfortunately it’s not going so well for England in the Beer Ashes when in the last test Australia trounced them with their Little Creatures Pale Ale. Can England regain the lost ground with the next category: Golden Ales.

What’s on offer? For England is Ridgeway’s Oxfordshire Blue, and against them Cooper’s Sparkling Ale (Both were £2.09 from Beers of Europe). Similar features of these beers are that they both have a deep golden colour and that they were both bottle conditioned.

The Beer Ashes - Second Test. Ridgeway's Oxfordshire Blue v. Cooper's Sparkling Ale

The Beer Ashes – Second Test. Ridgeway’s Oxfordshire Blue v. Cooper’s Sparkling Ale

The cooper’s was very fizzy. I know I wasn’t to expect a lifeless beer with a name like Sparkling Ale, but this was to a fault. When the beer was first poured the voratious bubbles were almost painful in the mouth. Thankfully it did calm down a bit. The flavour was a there but it wasn’t very well pronounced, a bit thin. To be honest it was what I was first expecting when I ordered these Australian beers. Big fizz – little flavour, but quite refreshing if served freezing cold. As the pint went down a little a few more of the flavours emerged (but I was looking hard). Notes of biscuit and a honey sweetness, some malts and a dry finish. There was little aroma but a buttery smooth mouthfeel.

By contrast the Ridgeways was a thicker, more full bodied affair. I could taste the beers strait away away, which was a plus, which meant it wasn’t so hard to describe. To an Australian I’d say take the idea of the Sparking ale, tone down the bubbles somewhat and add a more malty flavour with a few subtle burnt notes. That’s basically it.

This for me is an easy win for England. I just didn’t get the sparking ale, even on a hot day when, in theory at least, it should have been most refreshing and enjoyable. I much preferred the Oxfordshire Blue. This leaves the current series score at 1-1, not quite as good as the Cricket but were catching up!

Adnam’s First Rate Gin

With the weather so warm at the moment I need a drink which is really refreshing. Something cold. Something crisp and clean. I want something (I can’t believe I’m saying this) better than a beer. Don’t get me wrong, an ice cold pils would be nice and I wouldn’t kick someone in the eye if they offered one to me, I just need more that that for this thirst. There is, in my mind, only one thing which will fit the bill: a good G&T.

This need is the perfect excuse to crack open a bottle of Adnam’s Gin, which I’ve been holding onto for some time now. Plenty of ice, a good measure of gin, fever tree tonic water and a good portion of lime. Heaven. The gin in question is Adnam’s First Rate Gin (48%) £27.99, not to be confused with their standard copper house Gin, which has 6 different botanicas, this has 13 different botanicals, which are infused into the drink for a wonderful, floral bouquet and a sweet, complex flavour. For me, definitely the best gin I’ve ever had, and with the Fever Tree (widely regarded as one of the better tonics which are easily available (Tesco £1.69) ) probably one of the best G&T’s I’ve ever had.

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Gin and tonic Bliss

When it comes to gin I’m no connoisseur, I’ve probably only had about half a dozen different brands but it is hard to see how any other distiller can make anything which can top this. It’s Friday night. It’ the perfect weather. It’s time  for a long drink!

The Beer Ashes

You will probably know about, even if you did not see, the close first test of this year’s Ashes series. Just incase though, it was a very close thing in the end with England just scraping victory. This got me thinking: I wonder what would happen if these two great nations were to fight the Ashes with beer and not cricket? Who would be the winner then? That is why for every test match during the coming Ashes series I am going to try two beers which I have never had before, one Australian and one English. To try and make it fair I have picked beers which are a similar style and are of similar price (where I couldn’t find exactly the same price I gave Australia the price advantage to counterbalance the advantage of the umpire (me) being overbearingly English).

For the first test I had pale ales. Batting for Australia was Little Creature’s Pale Ale and bowling against it was Nottingham breweries Extra Pale Ale (both £2.59 from Beers of Europe). The Little creatures was a great beer, it was hoppy, a real treat with great lemongrass notes to it. A sweetness like jellytots and with only the faintest maltiness which lingered long after. On the other hand the Nottingham  was much more piney and resinous, and way to carbonated for my tastes. At times it almost tasted more akin to a lager than a pale ale. Goes to show you can’t judge a beer by its label.

The Beer Ashes - First Test. Little Creature's Pale Ale vs. Nottingham's Extra Pale Ale

The Beer Ashes – First Test. Little Creature’s Pale Ale vs. Nottingham’s Extra Pale Ale

I must be honest with this, and so I shall be. I am ashamed to say that unlike the real ashes which took place in Nottingham over the weekend, the beer Ashes go one up to Australia. Had these beers gone up to bat the Nottingham would have been lucky to get a run, whereas the Little Creature’s would have knocked it to the boundary for four.