One woman's ale journey

A beery boozy journey with delightful snacks along the way and a book in my hand.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 24

Well that's all folks!  I've really enjoyed the Morrisons beer advent calendar this year - I've got new beers to try as well as getting reacquainted with some old favourites and, although I think it is a little overpriced at £30 for such small bottles, I would definitely get one again (especially if it's reduced to half price).  

Opening the final door sees a bottle of Williams Joker IPA being revealed.  It is 5% ABV in a 330ml bottle and is described as:

Created from a complex later of malts and blended hops, this well balanced IPA delivers satisfaction every time.  Golden in the glass, fruity on the nose with hints of cedar, Joker IPA is bittersweet, full of flavour and is sure to put a smile on your face.

Saturday 23 December 2017

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 23

The penultimate door has a bottle of St Edmund's Golden Beer hiding behind it.  This beer by Greene King is 4.2% ABV in a 330ml bottle and is described as:

St Edmund, the first Patron Saint of England, lends his name to this fresh golden beer with a citrus finish.  Brewed using pale malt and Cascade and First Gold hops, it's a refreshingly crisp ale.

Friday 22 December 2017

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 22

I was delighted to find another one of my old favourites behind door number 22.  Cameron's Strongarm is a fabulous ruby red ale at 4.3% ABV in a 330ml bottle and is described as:

The brewery's flagship beer.  Well rounded, ruby red ale with a distinctive, tight creamy head.  A good balance of malt, hops and bitterness.

Thursday 21 December 2017

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 21

Wow, the last 3 weeks have whizzed by and there's only 3 more doors on my Advent Calendar to open.  Today's beer is a Courage Light Ale that is 3.2% ABV in a 275ml bottle and is described as:

With over 200 years of brewing heritage, Courage Light Ale continues the tradition of quality brewed beer from the Courage stable.

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 20

Behind door number 20 we have a bit of a marmite beer - Wells Banana Bread Beer; there's no marmite in it, but you'll ever love it or hate it.  I tried this many years ago and really liked it but I know others who thought it was awful.  I'll be interested to see how my taste has changed when I try this again.  It's a surprising 5.2% ABV in a 330ml bottle and is described as:

Tempting banoffee aromas tempered by a grassy, lemony nose all leading to a finely balanced, fresh, delicate flavour of peppery hops with a lingering dry finish.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 19

I was so excited when I saw what was behind door number 19; it's a ruby ale, my favourite style of beer!  Fantastically named Ruddy Darter, what it lacks in size it makes up in alcohol content.  It's only a 275ml bottle but 4.6% ABV and described as:

Intense malt sweetness leads to refreshing fruity palate led by tart blackcurrant from the Bramling Cross late hop.  A more easy drinking balance that belies its abv and reveals a smiling communication between malt and hops.  Satisfyingly luscious yet moreishly thirst quenching.

Monday 18 December 2017

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 18

I recognised Shepherd Neame's Spitfire straight away from the RAF symbol on the lid when I ripped open door 18.  It's rather fitting that it should be door 18, as my dearly departed next door neighbour was a Battle of Britain pilot and he would have been 18 years old in 1940, however, he flew a Hurricane as I was reminded every year when I gave him a birthday card with the 'wrong' plane on it.  This one's especially for you, John!

One of the better Shepherd Neame ales, Spitfire is 4.5% ABV in a 330ml bottle and is described as:

This 4.5% Kentish Ale was first brewed by Shepherd Neame in 1990 to commemorate the Battle of Britain which was fought in the skies above Kent some 50 years earlier.  A premium amber ale which has a lingering malt and hop flavour and is a well-balanced, thirst quenching and popular drink.

Sunday 17 December 2017

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 17

I've finally caught up with my posts as a Young's Double Chocolate Stout is revealed behind door number 17.  I love the purple label; it makes me think that something very decadent and smooth is waiting for me when I decide to pop the lid.  A good alcohol content at 5.2% ABV in a 330ml bottle, it is described as:

Chocolate malt and real dark chocolate are combined with Young's award winning rich, full flavoured dark beer to craft a satisfying indulgent, but never overly sweet experience.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 16

A very patriotic looking Belhaven Scottish Ale is hiding behind door number 16.  I don't have any Scottish blood in my ancestry but I do like the sound of this one, especially with it being labelled as rich, nutty and smooth - a little bit like myself ha ha.  It is a 5.2% ABV ale in a 330ml bottle and is described as:

Belhaven's signature Scottish Ale is their best selling bottle sold worldwide.  Brewed from 100% Scottish barley malts for a nutty, biscuit character, balanced with a subtle spiciness from Challenger and Goldings hops for an all-round satisfying beer.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 15

A North Pale Ale is behind door number 15.  At 3.9% ABV in a 275ml bottle, it is described as:

A delightful golden traditional Pale Ale brewed with pale, gold, oat and wheat malts for a fuller flavour.  With a refreshing blend of Challenger hops it has undertones of soft citrus and passion fruit, finishing with a light bitterness.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 14

I was delighted to find a Camerons ale behind door number 14.  Camerons Strongarm is one of my old favourites but I've never heard of Tontine milk stout.  This is 4.1% ABV in a 330ml bottle and is described as:

Tontine is a contemporary North East milk stout brewed using both chocolate and crystal malts which gives this a distinctive black colour.  The roasted aroma and flavour are complemented by a gentle sweet aftertaste obtained from natural milk sugars.

Saturday 16 December 2017

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 13

There is a bottle of Williams Bros Fraoch Heather Ale behind door number 13.  It might sound light and floral but it is a mighty 5% ABV in a 330ml bottle and is described as:

Scotland's Original craft beer, brewed by Williams Bros from a 4000 year old recipe.  Leann Fraoch or Heather Ale is the oldest style of ale still in production today.  A light amber ale with a floral, peaty aroma, full malty body and spicy herbal finish.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 12

As a Northern lass, I do love a brown ale so I was delighted to find a Manns Brown Ale behind door number 12.  I was surprised to see this labelled as the original brown ale, as I haven't heard of it.  For history buffs among you, Newcastle Brown Ale was launched in 1927.  With a surprisingly low alcohol content of only 2.8% ABV, it is in a 275ml bottle and is described as:

Manns in the Original Brown Ale, first brewed at the Mann's Whitechapel brewery in 1902.  The historic recipe produces a dark, rich, full bodied ale with a luscious flavour and hints of roasted creamy toffee.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 11

I love the label of this Yardbird Pale Ale from Greene King that was hiding behind door number 11.  With the treble clef it looks very Nashville inspired and I could just imagine sitting in the Bluebird Cafe listening to some great live music with a bottle of Yardbird in my hand.  Back to reality, Yardbird is 4% ABV in a 330ml bottle and is described as:

Full of hops with a lasting fruity flavour, Yardbird is inspired by the bold American pale ales.  Brisk, hoppy and not too strong - perfect for enjoying with friends.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 10

A fabulously named King John by Andwell Brewing Co is behind door number 10.  4.2% ABV in a 275ml bottle, it is described as:

Malty with a gradually developing crisp bitterness.  Finish is bittersweet with the three aroma hops bringing a fruity length.  A composed and extremely well centred beer with an understated character but with satisfying depth.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 9

A new one for me, Bowman's Quiver is behind door number 9.  I love the play on words of this one; it makes me think of Robin Hood.  It's 4.5% ABV in a 275ml bottle and is described as:

Gloriously rich golden in colour and with a wonderful mown grass aroma, this premium bitter is full of complex flavours including a tiny amount of caramel.  The addition of American hops gives it a full hop flavour with a dry finish.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 8

Door number 8 produced a Ram Rod strong ale from Young's.  I've never heard of this ale so I was surprised it had been around for so long.  It's 5% ABV in a 275ml bottle and is described as: 

Named after the magnificent Dorset Horn ram on which the Young's trademark is based, Ram Rod has been one of Young's most famous ales for over 30 years.  A strong, mature and full flavoured ale for savouring with a wonderfully balanced palate of fruit and hops.  Brewed using Fuggles, Golding and Target hops and a blend of Maris Otter and Crystal barley malt.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 7

Another old favourite of mine is revealed behind door number 7.  Wychwood's Hobgoblin at 5.2% in a 330ml bottle is described as:

Traditionally craft brewed with chocolate and crystal malts and a blend of Styrian, Goldings and Fuggles hops.  A full-bodied ruby beer that delivers a delicious chocolate toffee malt flavour, balanced with a moderate bitterness and an overall fruity, mischievous character.

Friday 15 December 2017

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 6

Behind door number there's a Marston's beer I've never heard of.  Resolution is 4.7% ABV in a 275ml bottle and is described as:

In order to deliver all of that wonderful flavour, which Marston's is renowned for, Marston's Resolution undergoes a double fermentation process which turns all sugars into alcohol.  The end result is a strong, refreshing beer that's less filling and easier to drink.  Not only this, but it's also great tasting with lots of full-bodied flavours which are finished off with a refreshing, crisp note.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 5

Behind door number 5 is Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale.  I've had this one before but I'm already looking forward to trying it again.  Surprisingly strong at 5% ABV in a 330ml bottle, it is described as:

Rich full flavoured beer with a deep copper colour.  Wells Sticky Toffee pudding has all the warmth, aromas and appeal of the dark pudding from England.  It has a sweet taste of caramel and toffee along with a smooth and robust after taste.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 4

Young's Light Ale is behind door number 4 and it is light in alcohol at only 3.2% ABV in a 275ml bottle.  It is described as:

Pale amber in colour, with a complex but clean and slightly fruity nose, this is one of Britain's favourite light ales.  It offers a satisfying blend of malt and hops, slightly more bitter than the average light ale.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 3

One of my old favourites was hiding behind door number 3.  Wells Bombardier at 5.2% ABV in a 330 ml bottle is described as:

Savour the distinct aroma, then surrender to the perfect balance of malty richness, tangy hops and sultana fruit on the palate.  Brace yourself for a long soft spicy finish.  Natural mineral water, the ripest English fuggles hops and crushed crystal malt deliver this experience of England in a glass.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 2

Door number 2 reveals a Gold Muddler by Andwell Brewing Co.  Not one I've heard of, so a great choice to allow me to try something different.  This one is 3.9% ABV in a 275ml bottle and is described as:

A sweet fruity impression, soft and moreish with the quirky Hersbrucker late hop giving a hint of a floral, herby mid palate which leads to a surprisingly dry finish.  Good body for a beer of its gravity.

Beer Advent Calendar - Door 1

First up is a Craft Pilsner by Scottish Brewers, Belhaven.  It's 4.8% ABV in a 330ml bottle and is described as:

Brewed using 100% Scottish barley, classic lager yeast and water drawn from Belhaven's own brewery well.  A long cool fermentation and extended maturation produce a classic continental-style pilsner with a pleasant biscuity aroma and a fresh, lightly malty flavour.

Beer Advent Calendar 2017

It seems these days that we're inundated with so many choices of advent calendar in the run up to Christmas.  Gone are the days of the 99p chocolate advent calendar, now you can spend anything up to £1,000 on a rare malt whisky advent calendar.  Seriously, it's true - click here to see for yourself.  It's enough to make my eyes water!

So after trying Beer Hawk's advent calendar last year and felt it a little too pale ale for my liking, I was going to make my own this year.  Then I spotted a beer advent calendar in Morrisons reduced to £15 from £30 - well I could hardly say no.

I know the quality of beer will not be as good as the Beer Hawk one but it was 80% cheaper and it has beer in it - what's not to like?

So it says on the box that it's filled with a mixture of 330ml and 275ml beers and there's a list of the beers on the back for anyone who can't wait to find out what's in the calendar.  There's also a picture on the side of what you can expect to find inside from well known names such as Wells, Youngs and Wychwood.

So join me as I open my advent calendar and find out what's behind each door.  I bought it on day 12 so I have a bit of catching up to do but I'll share my surprises past, present and future with you!

It even comes with a free glass behind the 'Open Me First' door.  It's nothing exciting, just a 330ml tumbler style glass but I like the extra thought of including a handy receptacle from which we can drink our exciting beers.

Sunday 10 December 2017

Three Kings Brewery Canadien Red

I popped into The Exchange in North Shields for a coffee but I was like a kid in a sweet shop when I saw all the local hand pulls on offer.  I went from tempted to sold in 0-60 seconds when I saw a red ale was among the brilliant selection.  Each pump had a little kilner jar of ale in front of it so you could see the colour of the ale, but obviously I wasn't going to go for anything other than the Canadien Red from Three Kings Brewery.

The first thing I noticed, after the mouthwatering ruby red colour was the thick tight creamy head.  It was as smooth as a milk pond and the whole appearance is like a ruby red Guinness.  It has a lovely light malty fruity aroma but I admit to not being able to resist diving in for a taste without lingering on the smell.

Oh it is just heavenly.  It is deliciously malty with a liquorice undertone but with a slightly citrus and metallic bitter aftertaste.  It is a full bodied ale that is SO smooth it slips down far too easily and I could have stayed for a few more.  I even let my Mam have a taste and usually she would comment with a 'bleurgh' but she liked it and said: 'I could drink that'.  Give it back!!!

Canadien Red, Ale Be Seeing You Again and I might even buy my parents one instead of a coffee next time we visit North Tyneside.

Brewed by Three Kings Brewery, North Shields
4.8% ABV

My rating:

Sunday 3 December 2017

Adnams Innovation IPA

A lovely deep golden IPA with a frothy off-white head that lasts right to the end, leaving impressive lacing.  The aroma is amazing with a very strong smell of tropical fruits and a slight hint of lemon citrus.

I was expecting a very bitter lemon taste but was surprised to find it wasn't as lemony as I imagined.  It has a definite citrus taste but more of a bitter grapefruit with a sprinkle of biscuity sweetness that takes the edge off the bitterness.

The bubbles are quite harsh at first but it becomes very easy to drink and for me, not being a great fan of lemony citrus, it is one of the more pleasant IPAs I have tried.  The effervescent fizziness and mouthwatering tropical fruit aromas would make this a lovely summer drink.  Perfect to glug on a sunny day in the garden with a good book.

Brewed by Adnams, Southwold, Suffolk
6.7% ABV

My rating:

Sunday 12 November 2017

La Trappe Dubbel

As with all trappist ales, this one burst out of the bottle and I found it quite difficult to keep the head under control whilst pouring.  The frothy beige head does settle to a more manageable tight thick layer after a while.  This dark brown ale has a beautiful ruby glow and you can buy this for around £2.69 at Beer Hawk, so it's quite a reasonable price for a trappist ale.

The caramel malt smells amazing; it oozes treacly sweetness with a slightly sour nose.  First sip is one to savour as the sweetness of the malts give way to a slightly metallic bitter aftertaste.  The overall impression is one of a succulent malt loaf sprinkled with brown sugar as I could taste dark fruits baked in a mouthwatering loaf.  Despite the evident carbonation resulting in the huge initial head, it feels very smooth and would be quite easy to drink quickly but for the high alcohol content.

It's one of those beers that results in you licking your lips long after you've finished it to make sure that you savour every last drop.  Those monks sure knew a thing or two about brewing and Ale definitely Be Seeing this one Again.  

Brewed by De Koningshoeven Brewery, Holland
7% ABV

Pint rating:

Find out more at De Koningshoeven Brewery

Saturday 11 November 2017

Durham Brewery Bede's Chalice

I've neglected my beer blog of late, so what better way to storm back online than with a 9% Belgian Tripel from my local Durham Brewery.

This is a bottle conditioned beer so I made sure to pour it carefully and managed to get a lovely clear pint, leaving the little bit of sediment in the bottle.  It's a traditional 'beery' coloured ale, being deep golden/light amber with a thin but very very tight off-white head.  The head is so tight that it looks like you've poured a layer of milk on top of your beer - very impressive.

There is quite a complex aroma - at first it just smells of malt and hops but it seems to develop into a smell of fruity peaches with a slightly floral edge as it lies in the glass.  So let's dive in and see what it tastes like.

It tastes exactly as I would expect from an abbey ale with the distinctive sweetness of fermented fruits but with a surprisingly bitter aftertaste.  You can't disguise the high ABV as the strong alcohol content is very apparent in the taste but it doesn't overpower the other flavours, as I've found with some other strong ales.  An added hint of caramel makes it feel initially very smooth until the zingy orange citrus aftertaste tingles your tongue.

A lovely beer for a treat and one Ale Be Seeing Again but I wouldn't have too many or I'd be dancing on the tables...with an empty purse at £4.49 per bottle!

Brewed by Durham Brewery, Durham
9% ABV

Pint rating:

Sunday 17 September 2017

Consett Ale Works Red Dust

This is one of my old favourites after being introduced to it by a real ale loving ex-boss who used to buy it by the case.  It is named after the red coloured clouds of dust that were formed during the steel making process in the famous Consett Steel Works.

Red Dust is a beautiful deep rich mahogany colour with a frothy beige proper Northern head, although the head does disappear quickly there is enough left to lace the glass.  It smells deliciously fruity on opening with a strong malty aroma which left my mouth watering in anticipation.

Despite the strong aroma, the flavour is not terribly strong but it is absolutely sublime with hints of toffee and biscuit but a definite taste of malt and bittersweet hops.  There is a slight citrus bitter aftertaste that rounds it off nicely.  It is softly carbonated to give a pleasant tickly tongue feeling.

I really like this one, it's easy to drink and not overpowering in flavour; it won't give your tastebuds a work out, it's just a damn fine ruby ale.  Of course, Ale Be Seeing You Again.

Brewed by Consett Ale Works, County Durham
4.5% ABV

My rating:

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Salute Gold Rover

Salute Brewery is a North Eastern brewery which offers job opportunities to ex-servicemen with a passion for beer.  I love their statement that they make beer brewed with military precision and the poppy logo on the label is absolutely spot on.  As a fan of ruby beers, I really wanted to try their Dragmaster ruby bitter but, when it wasn't available, I picked up Gold Rover at the North Shields Christmas Market 2016.

Gold Rover is a beautiful deep golden colour with a thin loose head that disappears very quickly.  I could smell fruit, hops, malt and some delicious sweet golden honeycomb so I couldn't wait to have a sip.  My first taste impression is one of sweet toffee and caramel but with a hint of sourness.  It's definitely not too sweet; like Goldilocks, it's just right.  Despite the appearance in the picture, it's more smooth than fizzy once the initial burst of bubbles dies down.  It does feel rather thin and watery in the mouth, though.

It's a shame the head disappeared so quickly as it's definitely a decent ale.  Perfectly balanced to be slightly more sweet than bitter, I'd really recommend you give this a try.

Say cheers with beers to those guys and gals who selflessly served our country by supporting Salute Brewery.  Ale Be Seeing it Again!

Brewed by Salute Brewery, North Shields
4.2% ABV

My rating:

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Shepherd Neame Spitfire Gold

A deep gold fizzy beer with a thin white head giving it the look of a traditional beer.  It smells very strongly of hops, as I've found with all Shepherd Neame ales.  Once my nose got through the strong smell of hops, it is replaced with a fresh pine and tropical fruit aroma.

There is an initial lovey taste of sweet malts but it is quite fizzy which enhances the fruity bitterness that follows.  The aftertaste is creamy rather than bitter which makes it one of the better Shepherd Neame ales.  The head is non-existent after a few minutes which is a shame, but it's very easy to drink and not bad at all for a mass-produced beer.

Definitely one Ale be happy to See Again.

Brewed by Shepherd Neame, Kent
4.3% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Shepherd Neame

Monday 31 July 2017

Adnams Dry Hopped Lager

A light straw yellow lager with an almost non-existent head.  It has a lovely fruity pineapple aroma and lots of hops.  It tastes so light and refreshing and it's definitely on the dry side - I almost felt as if it needed a squirt of lime to give it a bit of sweetness and some flavour.

It is different from standard lagers, although it feels quite thin and watery in consistency. It has a slightly sour and bitter taste but is so crisp that it's definitely well labelled as 'DRY'.   Despite the lava lamp appearance, it is surprisingly lightly carbonated and would be a perfect thirst quencher on a sunny day, should we ever get one in the North East of England.

Brewed by Adnams, Southwold, Suffolk
4.2% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Adnams

Sunday 23 July 2017

Hogs Back T.E.A.

I can't start my day without a nice cup of tea, so a beer named TEA feels like it was made just for me.  In this case TEA stands for Traditional English Ale, aka bitter.  It's even the beautiful russet/deep amber colour of a good cuppa, but I'm not a fan of cold tea so I'm hoping that's the only similarity.  There's a thin tight beige head that laces beautifully and a delicious aroma of sweet malts tinged with copper coins.

As refreshing as my morning cup of tea, Hogs Back T.E.A. is a smooth, malty, fruity bitter with hints of caramel and a dry finish.  There is no metallic aftertaste that you often get with bitters, making it very palatable indeed.  I'll definitely be looking out for more fantastic brews from Hogs Back.

As an all round bitter person 😉, Hogs Back T.E.A. is most definitely my cup of tea and Ale Be Seeing You Again!

Brewed by Hogs Back Brewery, Surrey
4.2% ABV

My rating:

Sunday 2 July 2017

Robinsons Trooper

Inspired by Iron Maiden, Trooper is a deep golden ale that looks like molten toffee with a fabulous thick, tight creamy head.  It smells deliciously hoppy and malty and I couldn't wait to have a sip.

It has quite an unusual mix of flavours leaving an extremely pleasant taste explosion on the tongue: tangy, sweet, metallic and slightly citrus, but they all work so very well together.  It has a nice sweet toffee and biscuit flavour with only a slight hint of citrus which makes it very refreshing.  It's relatively softly carbonated so feels quite smooth, helped along by the thick milky head; an impressive head that doesn't lace, it sticks to the glass.

I really liked it, it's what I would call a 'proper beer' and one Ale definitely Be Seeing Again!

Brewed by Robinsons, Stockport
4.7% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Robinsons Brewery

Friday 30 June 2017

United Dutch Breweries Oranjeboom Premium Strong

A 7.5% lager beer with a traditional golden yellow body and a bright white head.  It pours crystal clear and has an aroma of hops and sweetness.

Now for a 7.5% ABV beer, I was expecting strong tastes to come through but it's all very subtle.  The initial taste is sour and sweet but this is replaced by a metallic aftertaste and an almost wooden whisky cask or cheap vodka flavour.  Due to the high ABV, you can actually taste the raw alcohol but I would have preferred a bit more beery taste.

I bought it half price from the local shop, so it's not bad for £1.25 but I wouldn't buy another one.

Brewed by United Dutch Breweries, Holland
7.5% ABV

My rating:

Find out more at Oranjeboom