Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Having a very merry (Samuel Smiths) Christmas

Greetings once again readers, or should I say seasons greetings? As it is still officially Christmas. As I have mentioned in earlier posts much as been expected from this years Christmas day beer session and indeed it was successful. As with last year the Christmas turkey was well matched with the savory character of Samuel Smiths Winter Welcome ale whereas the real gamble came with the match of Christmas pudding and Chimay Grand reserve. This match seemed to work well as the rich fruity flavours of both harmonised well. The afternoon also brought some excellent tastings, including Samuel Smiths Imperial stout and the very rare, oak aged Samuel Smiths Yorkshire Stingo at 8% abv. As a beer I have hunted for some time I found this prestigious offering completely fascinating. As a rich amber ale one would expect rich fruit and malt and possibly toffee nuances, and although this was present the beer seemed to possess and extra dimension (probably from American oak) that brought an unorthodox strawberry and vanilla like tang that bounced off the malt intricately balancing the beer. What was also interesting was how this beer matched Wensleydale cheese (matching Yorkshire with Yorkshire) and I could immediately tell that Wensleydale with cranberry would have matched better.
Sadly the session seemed to deteriorate in the evening as I fell asleep unexpectantly, maybe I'm getting old? But overall it was a great day mainly highlighted by Samuel Smiths and its masterpieces. As a long favourate of mine I have noticed how not only are Samuel Smiths arguably one of the best brewers in Yorkshire but are highly reputable on a worldwide stage with big followings in America and various other countries. But lets not forget the other great brewers of Yorkshire, such as York brewery with its sublime session bitters with cascading hop characters. Acorn with its full bodied chocolaty award winning old moor porter. Black Sheep and Theaskstons with true classics, and not to mention the mighty Daleside brewery with its wonderfully structured malt masterpieces such as Monkey Wrench and Morocco Ale.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Winter Update

Greetings again readers and a seasons greetings to all with only 12 days to go till the big day. Tragically it is sad to say that my 'operation winter beaver' mentioned in a previous post has had to be restricted due to financial problems. Although some good winter warmers were found most have now been consumed, and as a backup plan I have asked for a range of exciting seasonal beers from my good lady for Christmas. This should ensure that Christmas day should bring a mighty all day session of ale similar to last years December 25th session which started at 11:15am with the Christmas dinner appetiser beer.
From memory Christmas dinner was matched with Samuel Smiths Winter Welcome Ale, a classic winter beer. Following this I would have normally matched Christmas pudding to the obvious Youngs Christmas Pudding ale but due to its unavailability went for a more chocolate based dissert matched with Meantime Coffee porter (this was a very memorable experience) . Feeling rather full a very large bottle of Chimay Grand reserve saw me through most of the afternoon before a range of medium to heavyweight beers filled the evening.
This year this list is probably alittle different but should still be good. But dispite this quite a few things have changed since last year. For example the recent news that Carlsberg-Tetley is closing its Leeds site (also its original site I belive), more evidence of the bigger brewers struggling. Sources say craft brewers are surviving well, and this is reflected at my work where demand is heavy at the Daleside brewery over the winter season. Another positve factor is that the the world hop shortage situation seems to have eased off. Interestingly from what I've heard the world hop shortage was not just due to crop shortages, but was worsened by a loss of interest by hop growers (since prior to the shortage the price of hops was very low).

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Tribute to Heriot Watt

As many brewing student readers may know last month saw the graduation of all MSc and Diploma students of the Heriot Watt University. Because of this would like to dedicate this post in tribute to all the folks on the MSc Brewing coarse, congratulations to all. Its been an amazing year doing truly unimaginably awesome theory work, and some very helpful practical stuff as well. Here are some pics from the best bits.

Inside the mighty Blue Blazer, the pub that quickly became our adopted local.

Me Edd and Brian, at the Blue Blazer.

This was me in the taxi home with simon. I think this one was taken during one of my enthusiastic Clubber Lang (from Rocky 3 the movie) impressions. At this time I belived Simon was taking the highest degree of interest to my ramblings.

A quiet review of some cask ale during a session with the Canadians.

Anyway as things have gone I have heard my fellow students have fell to a variety of different fates since leaving Heriot Watt. Some have moved into big brewing corporations, some (like myself) have went into smaller breweries. Whereas others are still looking for work or are working in a completely different industry. None the less, since December is a month to reflect on the year just gone, it is always good to look back on the sucesses that have been made regardless of the failures to give a positive outlook for the year ahead.
What is also exiting is the up and coming bottling of my very first vintage ale on December 30th. After 4 months maturation, this Panda & Frog Brewery Vintage ale 2008 at 11.7% a.b.v will be bottled from its two 1 gallon demi-johns under the kitchen tables into the smallest beer bottles I can find. The beer was formulated from pale, crystal and cara malts, four hop varieties including challanger and goldings alongside a highly attenuative ale yeast. In fact this beer will be served to selected guests only (maybe just the best man) at my wedding in approximatly one years time, now that will be something to celebrate.