Saturday, 6 February 2016

Discovering a new beer style; Grodziskie


Grodziskie is a traditional Polish style wheat beer known to feature oak-smoked wheat. The style is highly carbonated, not overly cloudy and brewed with sulphate-heavy water and moderate hop bitterness. Combined with a low abv (3.1% in this case) this style is dry and flinty.

This take on it, Piwoz Grodziska from Polish micro brewery Browar w Grodzisku pours with no more yeast than your standard bottled conditioned beer. The aroma is faintly smokey, peaty, seaweed. The taste is dry and spritzy. There's a subtle clean, but fresh, noble hop pilsner esque feel about it that doesn't distract from a soft smokeyness. Note, no banana or crazy phenolics and light on the palate (tho I certainly doesn't come across watery for 3.1%).

Obviously this is a fairly rare traditional European beer style and it would be interesting to see if this ever caught on with the UK craft beer scene one day.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

And like that the year was over

That's right, it's certainly gone quickly. 2015 has been an interesting year, for me I would say 2015 has been a year of change. That point where you think you had the game sussed, everything under control but then the game changes. Like looking after two kids instead of one for example.

me and bairn number two


While there's been sucess there's also been set backs but without a doubt the arrival of Harvey has been the highlight of the year. SIBA awards from IPA and Killswitch 51 also perked things up and on the whole it's been a good  year. Having a second kid has kicked ass more than it's been hard work, yet 2015 on the whole has been hard work. Nearly as hard work as 2012.

Mordue IPA SIBA awards


Not a great number of beers have been discovered this year hence the lack of material on the quest. There's been some intense periods of brewing (again affecting blogging duties) especially during the summer. Of course the wider beer world is changing too. More successful independent brewers being bought out by the dark side. Or is it really the grey or teal blue side depending who's opinion it is. The big get bigger, cover more territory to compete with the small brewers getting more numerous and diverse.

Locally more breweries are opening up, too many for me to keep up with. Will probably get to try the wares of many of them at next year's Newcastle beer fest, by that time another new wave of upstarts will be on the way.

One thing that has often surprised me is how much the North East beer scene has thrived in recent years. Despite the expanse of competition the respective brewers of our region are up scaling, thriving beyond the region's borders and winning awards. I am still enormously proud to be part of this region's beer scene and represent one of the oldest most respected breweries of the area.

So at the end of this very balanced year, I may not feel we totally smashed it like 2013 but I do feel the prospects ahead ain't half bad. Happy new year everyone.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Being prepared for; The December effect



December, the busiest time of year for local trade at almost any brewery. Sometimes it's called unpredictable, almost every time it goes by like a festive flash of brewing, racking, cleaning, assembling orders and so on. Before you know it the relatively steady January period is here and it's all over.

So what is the December effect? Big sales and lots of beer going out? It's more complicated than that. You plan ahead, 10-20% increased stock flow from November. All the brew dates are in place, especially in response to national orders. But at some point things change, almost from under your feet, a few barrels of product leave the door. Next thing you know another core beer gets hit, then another. Panic sets in, next week's stock levels look somewhere between insufficient and very tight.

So within the space of an hour or so an entire fortnight's brew schedule has been re-written. Brew schedules get re-written far more often in December. So the answer must be simple I hear you say, just brew a heap load of beer. Yet one of the worst outcomes of this season is the possibility of landing in January with masses of (by then slow moving) stock.

So, like a very drawn out penalty shoot out the December effect is a long, enduring, nervy balancing act of stock fall against volumes brewed, solid graft against party, alcohol and relaxing with the family. So being prepared for the December effect isn't really that simple, its more about being prepared for anything.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The return of Pandazilla


That's right, we have finally brought it back. It was way back in 2012 when the 7% Pandazilla made its debut as the first-ever release from Mordue's Panda Frog side project. I certainly blogged about it enough at the time and since then we've had plenty of requests to bring it back.

This up-scaled version of the original was to be a highlight brew day of 2015. Notably we didn't get quite enough carafa malt for it and hopping rates are slightly increased but overall it's pretty much the same beer. I'd comment that the big coffee front from the 2012 version isn't as obvious. I will let you make your own mind up about it.

Pandazilla it to be unleashed in cask, keg and bottle form. Long standing Panda Frog artist Oliver Fowler's new take on the original label is also very cool. Hunt it down now.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

A box from Beer 52



Having beer in the house fills one with great comfort. These days beer doesn't stay in the house all that long. As it happens the other week I was kindly sent a box of beer to review from our friends at Beer 52. For those unaware Beer 52 distributed Panda Frog Pandamonium IPA last month, and are soon to distribute Panda Frog Allelic Drift.
Beer 52 are one of a number companies that provide a monthly beer subscription. Customers sign up to receive a regular beer delivery and get the opportunity to try new beers that they wouldn't ordinarily find on supermarket shelves.

Opening the box I half expected to see an Allilic Drift (and now we're sending it back to you) but here's what I got.


Cloudwater Grisette 3.5%



Started things off at the low end of the abv spectrum. Basically it's a saison, which these days could  mean all sorts and it's from Cloudwater, a new(ish) Manchester-based brewery that's come out with some impressive stuff. Grisette pours on the hazy side with gooseberry and lemon aromas. It's a snappy affair of herbal, citric yeasty notes with some sweetish bubblegum countering the bone dry finish. It's a palate cleanser, not really a session beer but more a pre-dinner appetizer.

Vocation brewery Heart and Soul 4.4%.



Basically a session IPA with a lot of in your face citrus and tropical hops about it. A typical Citra hopped session IPA but with more tropical notes. The finish is light and clean with a good dose of resiny bite. Well brewed, good stuff.

Lervig Lucky Jack 4.1%



From Norway of all places. Nice, sappy, grapefruit over a caramelised malt backbone. A nice all round session pale with a good all round weight and balance that you would expect from a higher abv beer. Quality, straight-forward session beer.

Bronher Large Lager 4.7%



In short Spanish craft lager featuring an array of US and European hops. Lots going on, sweet citrus switching to grassy herbal notes. Feels bit heavier than it should almost under attenuated. Not my kinda thing.

Brew Fist/BeerHere Catapillar Pale ale 5.8%.



A rye pale ale with Motueka and Columbus hops. A characterful little number that comes at you with peppery tropical pithy orange and apricot. It's a tad rugged, quite individual and rather good.

Gosnells London Mead 5.5%



I'm no expert here. Last time I tried mead was many years back and I wasn't a fan. First impressions here; sparkling elderflower. Initially very refreshing. It has the drinkability of a soft drink, yet when it warms brings sweet plumb and caramelised honey. Overall rather pleasant and certainly worth a try.

6 degrees North Hop Classic



This one gets my beer of the box. A euro hopped Belgian IPA brewed in Scotland. Tropical and dried fruit, yet it's malt led. Apples & pears with some banana meet grassy herbal hops. Very nicely put together.  

Dark Sister 6.66%



This was a good one. Woody grain and plain chocolate interplay with resonating citruce and mature fruit. Bold and balanced is the overall theme.

Loved my box from beer 52. If you would like a to try out Beer 52 you could get a £10 discount via this code;  BEERQUEST10. Also check out facebook.com/beer52hq, @Beer52HQ on twitter and instagram.com/Beer52HQ.