28 January 2009

Scotland Invades the Criterion

Thursday 22nd – Sunday 25th January saw the Criterion, Leicester hosting a Burns Night beer festival, featuring a solid selection of ales from our tartan brothers across the border.

Having previewed the selection a few days prior to the event, both the ‘Monster and I were keen to get over for this one; the line up included no less than six offerings from that most elusive of breweries, Clockwork, and as a result the beer hound in us could smell the scoops on the breeze…

Clockwork is a brewery which I must confess I had no real knowledge of – hardly surprising given that it operates from a solitary brewpub in Glasgow, where the brewery output is consumed and sold exclusively on the premises. How the Criterion had managed this coup I do not know, but much kudos to them for it.

Unfortunately, due to logistical issues, the Clockwork beers did not arrive until after the festival (they’re currently racked up in the cellar, and I’m awaiting a text from one of my contacts on the staff to advise that they’re tapped and ready), so on the Thursday we busied ourselves with the rest of the selection.

The 15 beers available were drawn from six breweries; renegade masters and Portman defeaters Brewdog were represented by Trashy Blond (4.9%) and Zeitgeist (4.9%), with these complemented by three offerings from Fyfe, Boadicea (4.2%), Perle (4.2%) and Weiss Squad (4.5%), and six from Kelburn, Goldihops (3.8%), Misty Law (4.0%), Red Smiddy (4.1%), Dark Moor (4.5%), Carte Blanche (5.0%) and Ca’ Canny (5.2%)

The selection was rounded off with one brew apiece from Harviestoun (Haggis Hunter, 4.3%) and Houston (Texas, 4.3%) and a somewhat calculated offering of 80 Shilling (4.1%) and Deuchars IPA (3.8%) from the behemoth that is Caledonian.

Of these we sampled all bar the Caledonian duo (just too commercial), the wheat beer (just not our bag) and the Goldihops and Red Smiddy (both already scooped). The condition on all was very good, and the beers themselves were generally good – the only real let down was the Perle, a lacklustre, thin and watery offering brewed using this lager hop variety.

Beers on the day which merit particular note were the Trashy Blond, a cracking amber number with a spicy hopped palate redolent with apple and citrus notes and a deliciously dry and bitter finish, the Zeitgeist with its big sweet malt hit, roasted and chocolate tones and lightly fruited hop edge, and the Haggis Hunter for its tangy, fruity malts and late, bitter hop finish.

All in all, the team at the Critter pulled off a good show, and I look forward to sampling the Clockwork brews when they become available.

If there is one gripe to be made it would have to be in respect of pricing – due to “costly delivery charges from Scotland” the prices on all the ales had been increased by up to 20p, resulting in a pint of 3.8% beer selling for £2.50. Still, given the economic climate I guess this is to be expected really!

For those with an interest, the Clockwork ales will be Amber IPA (3.8%), Red Alt (4.4%), Oregon IPA (5.5) and Strong Ale (6.0%) and two keg beers, Original Lager (4.8%) and Hazy Daze Seriously Ginger (5.0%)


23 January 2009

Bull Brewery Showcase №3 - Thornbridge

It's been quiet on here for a while, again. My apologies to our long-suffering loyal readership. My reasonable excuse this time is that I moved into a new flat on New Year's Day and have been desperately trying to get Internet access sorted ever since. You'd have thought I was asking for a satellite link up to the Moon. Three weeks on and I'm still in web limbo. I've also been poorly this week, having escaped the bloggers' Christmas epidemic. Pan-C can site no such mitigation, the lazy swine.

Anyway, there's just time to inform you of Showcase №3 from the Darenth Valley's №1. Not to be outdone by recent events at The Rake, The Bull proudly presents a hearty line-up from the fabulous Thornbridge of Ashford, Derbyshire. From Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th February the following seven ales will be gravity dispensed:

  • Wild Swan 3.5% light session bitter

  • Lord Marples 4.0% honeyed bitter

  • Ashford 4.2% quadruple hopped brown ale

  • Kipling 5.2% South Pacific tropical pale ale

  • Jaipur 5.9% world beating IPA

  • Handel 6.6% Belgian-style dark dubbel

  • St Petersburg 7.7% Imperial Russian stout

I got far too familiar with the St Petersburg at the Rake on Saturday, waking up on my sofa at 1am having lost Jnr and somehow finding my own way back to my new abode. I look forward to respectfully tackling it again, as well as the new-to-me Handel and gorgeous Kipling.

As if that wasn't enough of a temptation, there should be up to five additional handpulled ales from Dark Star to choose from, as Garrett does his best to decide which of these micro titans deserves the accolade of his favourite brewery. He'll also host a lively 'Bingo Quiz' on the Thursday launch night, with some worthwhile boozy prizes sure to be on offer. The Bull's website has become something of an historic reference point in recent months, so be sure to check out their Facebook page for up-to-date information on future events and the ever-changing ale selection.

As soon as the various multinationals involved (that's you BT, Post Office and O2) have pulled their collective fingers out and finally hook me up, a near-full service will be resumed. Please leave your expressions of discontent/contempt for our poor showing below.


Add to Google Add us to your Google Homepage or Google Reader