Saturday, 12 April 2014

Newcastle beer festival and Battle of the Beers 3

And we win again. Mordue brewery defend the BOB title with Apollo 40.

Here we go again, another award. Newcastle beer festival's Battle of the beers is a pretty much open annual competition where breweries from far and wide across the region lock horns hopeful for a shot at the prize. This year, with it being the 40th anniversary of the CAMRA branch the entrants this time were asked to enter a beer themed around 1974 or 40. Other than that no restrictions were given as far as beer styles, ingredients or alcoholic strength were concerned. Basically this was as open a brewing competition could get.

For the full list of entrants and winners see here. But I would be surprised if my Apollo 40 dominated the field by a long shot in the same manner X squared did last year. Anarchy at second had a formidable entrant with their 6% Belgian pale ale/wheat beer hybrid and Acton ales at third had an IPA that stood out with resiny citrus hops.

Yet none the less I felt we had a beer with complexity, charm and composure. I hoped it was bold enough to stand out as I was aware that any big ass stout or aggressive IPA would certainly grab a judge's attention more than this, humble balanced pale ale with it's caramel malt, orange and herbal notes from the six different hops used.

But as it turns out complexity and approachability were what the judges were after (despite the name, runner up Anarchy Punk Era is a beer packing in plenty of wheaty grain, banana and malt. Big and complex yet approachable). So none the less after meeting the Mayor of Newcastle again and getting lots of photos taken of myself and the Mordue crew it was good to hang out with the diverse set of characters that make up the region's brewing scene and try many beers.

Some of the highlights for me were Wylam's Silver Ghost Re-dux, a turbo charged hopped up version of the original regional classic. Magic Rock Ringmaster was smooth and harmonious as well as very hoppy, a lovely beer. Then we had Allendale Rye Pilsner, crisp and inviting with a spicy edge. Elland 1872 Porter (Champion beer of Britain) also turned up and was as always a class beer. But outside of them there were many interesting beers and the whole day was a great experience. This time we really out surpassed our expectations and are looking forward to entering next year's Battle of the Beers with Mordue as favourites. Obviously by then the scene will have inevitably changed a bit. But bring it on I say.  

Friday, 14 March 2014


Killswitch 51 bags gold in speciality then bronze overall in cask, keg amber wins a silver.
To me Killswitch 51 will always be remembered for Newcastle beer festival's battle of the beers 2012. The all Munich malt brew hopped with Apollo and Galaxy hop varieties fell flat on it's arse as far as winning was concerned. Deemed a total failure at the time by staff. Then somehow overnight it changed, blossoming into something profoundly different from the wall of malt it was. One twitter fan deemed it as the North East's answer to Magic Rock's Rapture. Ever since Killswitch as remained a seasonal beer with a cult following that's proven it's worth winning a regional SIBA gold last year previous to its current accolade. All in all a good consolation to falling short at BOB 2012 you might think

But aside from this Mordue haven't just won a SIBA national award, the North East on a whole has punched above it's weight at Beer X. We kicked ass. Anarchy Brew Co got a gold with surely the most high octane stout of the region, Sublime Chaos. Tyne Bank got a gold for Silver Dollar IPA on keg (still not tried the keg version) then aside from this Wylam, Sonnet 43 and Allendale also bagged medals.

I love the North East's brewing scene, as a beer drinker I was practically brought up with it. Since I have joined Mordue many of the personalities and companies have changed and evolved but I still love it. But it's under-rated. You only have to look at the many nation wide beer blogger end of year 'Golden Pint' awards to see the obvious dominance of the likes of Thornbridge, Redwillow, Summer Wine, Fullers, Hardknott, Siren, Brew Dog, Beavertown an heaps more. Respect to them I say, but it's not all about what beer bloggers think. The North East has some exciting beers, some real (dare I say it) world class beers. From the well established to the new ventures we have quality and diversity. We're not just some fringe region of the UK known for it's random set of virtually unheard of micros putting out 'samey' products.

Brewers of the toon I salute you, for many of your beers were an inspiration to me through my journey of beer. Our scene has grown and thrived and long may it continue to do so.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Gyle 3000

It has been coming, the big gyle 3000. Gyle 2800 came and went, then by gyle 2900 we knew it was creeping up on us. Speculation, what will Gyle 3000 be? A one-off exclusive brew hopefully and not some mandatory batch for an imminent order. The numbers kept rising, from 2946 to 2975 to 2990. But alas here we are, Mordue Brewery's gyle 3000.

Make no mistake that fitting this into the schedule didn't turn out to be easy. It turned out that Gyle 3000 or the G-3000 as I call it was to be brewed as the first part of a double brew (that means mashing in around 5AM). A double dry-hopped 3% table beer featuring Galaxy, Citra and Amarillo hops. So far I'd say it's tasting rather nice, the old term 'neckable grog' seems to fit quite accurately. Keep an eye out for this one in bottle and cask.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Maximo Number 5

Now I've never brewed a beer for a band before. I've brewed up new seasonal beers, beers for pub groups, wholesalers and even for the Panda Frog Project. I have yet to brew a collaborative beer  (at least not commercially) and have never brewed anything for a rock band ever.  Put it another way, I never thought anyone would ever trust me quite this much.

Nonetheless, Maximo No. 5 is Mordue Brewery's beer brewed for North East band Maximo Park. It's aimed to be a 5% American amber style beer brewed with 6 different hops. It's not aimed to be over the top (OK we're still talking over 40 IBU), but with enough going on to keep things interesting. Grape, orange and lychee is what I get, over a firm but smooth malt base.

For more on the launch read about it here or here. We even got a radio 5 live presenter cracking one open on air, that's 43 seconds of fame right there sha'mon. The first casks have left the building so not entirely sure where this could be going, maybe some other bands might gain interest. No disrespect intended but Maximo Park were never metal enough to make it into my top 10 all time favourite bands. If your reading this Dying Fetus remember a 'Fetus Number 6' beer is always possible. But hey I always count my blessings, we could well be brewing for the likes of Justin Bieber or even worse Jedward.

Friday, 3 January 2014

The twelth beer of Christmas

Batemans Vintage Ale 2012

So, finally made it to number twelve, and it's a big one. A 7.5% from Batemans, makers of Rosey Nosey, which I'm sure has been in the twelve beers line-up before. But anyway, Christmas is (just about) over and this was one of last beers in the house. So, a commemorative strong ale from a regional brewery, sounds like something similar to a Fullers Vintage perhaps?

It's a big rich boozy experience that's for sure. Plums, figs and raisins with some vanilla sweetness and a Brandy-like alcoholic warmth. But there's enough dryness to make it not too heavy going. Overall quite different yet a similar sort of breed to a Fullers Vintage. A noticeable difference being the obvious woody-oaky dryness which to me is slightly off putting. Yet everything around that is rather good. Certainly worth a try. Happy New Year everyone.