Beer and beard matching – Mo-vembeer(d) – Does your beer match your beard?

Beer and beard matching – Mo-vem-beer-d –  The traditional beards. (a collaborative post with Paul Fishman)

Beer and beard matching

What a beard!

My first local was in Northampton a small market town in the centre of England. A pub called the Racehorse Inn. Back then it was a place that Goths, Trendies, Hippies and a whole manner of people would happily drink side by side. One of the most famous drinkers at that time was a fella called Alan Moore. At the time I didn’t really know who he was, I knew he knew the score, but I was unaware that he was such a well known writer. I might not have been in awe of his work (as I am a little now) I was, however, in awe of his beard. He’d sup his beer with one hand and stroke his beard with the other. A perfect union of man beer and beard.

I remain in awe of his beard. Indeed, I remain in awe of anyone who is not just able to grow a beard, but who is willing to go through the intensely itchy stages of having a beard. To put up with getting beer, milk and a whole manner of food caught in it. This post is not to mock people with beards but to raise a glass to them.

For this post I am working with fellow booze writer Paul Fishman – he is concentrating on the less traditional beards. We were talking about food and beer matches and somehow got onto beard and beer matching. Perfect to celebrate the start of Movember we thought. Here are some of our friends and what we think their beard says about their drinking habits.

 Beer and Beard Matching – Beard one – The Full Chin Beard

beer and beard matching

Spud and the full chin beard

Here is Spud. He is very proud of his full chin beard, so much so that he has decided to wear a fluorescent jacket in order to reflect as much light as possible onto the bearded area. This man loves his beard.

The top whiskers are crying out for something lightly coloured and creamy to hang off them. To become like a walrus. The sides of the beard have been tailored, perfect mutton chops ride up the side of the face. This is a classy beard and deserves a classic pint.

I’d suggest a Samuel Smiths Oatmeal Stout. The cut of the beard pairs perfectly with the stone square fermentation tanks used by Samuel Smiths. The creamy head will hang perfectly off the top whiskers and the beer a proud Yorkshire pint. It is also vegan, like spud.

Full Chin beard beer match -Samuel Smiths Oatmeal Stout

Beer and Beard Matching – Beard two – The trimmed beard

Beer and beard matching

Dennis and the trimmed beard

Dennis is supporting another traditional beard. He has used clippers to ensure an even spread of hair across his face.

There are some patches of grey in Dennis’s beard that highlight a dark moustache area. The mix of the moustache and the cap could distract and suggest that Dennis would prefer a cold lager above all else. It is veering towards a trailer park look. Yet the image is saved by the proud intensity in his eyes and the perfectly fitting t-shirt. He is rugged and outdoors with a touch of cosmopolitan. This is a practical beard, kept for the minimal amount of shaving and perfect amount of warmth.

He needs a beard that matches these attributes; something warm would indicate something strong in ABV. But nothing too fancy, this has to be a practical beer.  It is then a perfect match for a Fullers ESB. A full bodied, no nonsense ale.

 Beer and Beard Matching Beard three – The Goatee

Beer and Beard matching

The classic goatie beard

Nic’s beard, the goatee dates back to ancient Rome and famous goatee wearers included Abraham Lincoln. It was until it’s 1990 reincarnation that the moustache goatee was born.

It is a half-way style, not quite a full beard, a bit more than a moustache. It deserves some kind of “mash up” style of beer as a result.

In Japan, hipsters are much more likely to have a smaller goatee, indeed many favour the old style Lincoln goatee. A Japanese mash up style is then the order of the day.  The Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale from the Kiuchi Brewery is the perfect choice. Not quite a sake, not quite and ale, earthy and raspberry all at once.

Beer and Beard Matching Beard Four – Unshaven or the Noel Edmonds?

Beer and beard matching

Down but not out

Paul’s beard is an oddity, it’s not quite a beard. Just as Noel Edmonds, its most famed wearer, is not quite a entertainer. Caught between lazy unshaveness and a real desire to be bearded Paul‘s face instead looks confused and unkempt. Granted it’s not helped by the resigned, sullen look held on his face, the sunkeness of many an ill-advised night turning into a regretful morning and the sad anger in his eyes.

For these reasons I match this beard with a warm can of Carlsberg Special Brew. The beer that has been helping the troubled rid themselves of thoughts for over 60 years now.

To see Paul’s choices of beards visit his excellent blog a rare and curious mix of drinking, musings and the occasional whip of dry wit, it is always rather good.

Bristol Beer Festival 2014 a few favourite beers

Vince and Micheal - my drinking buddies at Bristol Beer Festival

Vince and Micheal – Steptoe and son

I had no idea I was going to the Bristol Beer Festival at the Brunel’s old station (next to Temple Meads Station), until midday last night. Myself, Mr Vincent Crocker from Ashley Down Brewery and Micheal Wiper Esq of Wiper and True are joining forces on a project soon (more on that at a later date), and so we needed to meet up. Vincent suggested that we meet up at the festival and, “make wild plans none of which we will remember”. He was quite right.

In this hazy state of mind as I type (the morning after the Bristol Beer Festival) I am desperately trying to recall what I had and what stood out. Of course Vincents (Ashley Down Brewery) Plum Porter 5.2%  was the first drink as its only good manners, considering the brewer got me in for nowt. I say that but I’m a huge fan of what Vince does which is really how I know him, I’d say I was a beer groupie in that respect. His blend of Munich, Brown and chocolate malts along with a “dusty old bottle of port”, made this a spectacular first drink. The porter on its own would have made a great pint, but the addition of port gave it that boost of plums and a slight dry grape to balance the meatiness of the roasted malts.

Micheal Wipers of Wiper and True was up next, the Winter Rye 5.4%. I’m sure I have said before how I am a fan of the underused Rye malt and thankfully there was enough in this to satisfy me. A bold move to use Rye in an amber ale and something that I think shows Wipers ingenuity as the slight pepperiness paired well with the tart marmalade notes.

Despite being one of my local breweries I’d not been a fan of Wipers early work and so dismissed them as a bit of, “Hipster drink”, but I could tell that he’d come along way since then. He even confessed that the first brew that I’d tasted nearly didn’t go out, strangely even with a few faults many still say its their favorite! I forgive you Mr Wiper and I apologize for dismissing your beer, long may you continue to brew good beer that can be drunk by hipsters and men rapidly approaching middle age.

So what else was good?  Well, I stuck local I didn’t try any Bath Ales as I’ve drank their taps dry on many an occasion but I’d recommend Rare Hare 5.2% if you’ve never tried it. Other local favourites that I did try were New Bristol Brewery Super Delux Stout 7%  a remarkable pint, Milk Street Zig Zag Stout (sort of local in Frome) 4.5%, Moor Beer Dark Alliance Coffee Stout 4.7% a collaborative brew between Moor and Arbour with a splash of Clifton coffee. I was also pleasantly surprised with the new Bath Brewery Willy Good Ale, Willy hop 4%

And out of area The Sarah Hughes Mild is always a good bet as complex as it’s satisfying. The Elland 1872 is always a good bet too, Orkney Dark Island is one of my all time favourites and if you haven’t tried it then the Thornbridge Japiur IPA has to be tasted.

As for the ciders, well isn’t having cider at a beer festival like having keg beer at festival? (Right I’m running for cover).

The Bristol Beer festival itself is always a friendly affair as Bristol is generally a very friendly city; but I thought the choice of venue is rather unremarkable and it could have been anywhere. Saying that the Bristol Beer festival is a room full of beer and people that like beer, so really, it’s heaven on earth!

Bristol Beer Festival Beer list

Brewery Beer ABV%  
Abbey Chorister 4.5
Acorn Barnsley Bitter 3.8
Andwell Ruddy Darter 4.6
Arbor Ales Breakfast Stout 7.4
Arbor Ales Yakima Valley 7.0
Ascot Ales On the Rails 3.8
Ashley Down Brewing Ported Plum Porter 5.2
B & T Dragonslayer 4.5
Bath Ales Festivity 5.0
Bath Ales Goldern Hare 4.4
Bath Ales Rare Hare 5.2
Black Dog Rhatas 4.6
Blindmans Icarus   4.5
Blue Monkey Fat Ape 7.0
Bowland Pheasant Plucker 3.6
Box Steam Funnel Blower 4.5
Brecon Brewing Twilight 4.0
Bristol Beer Factory Milk Stout 4.5
Bristol Beer Factory Southville Hop 6.5
Buntingdord Twitchell 3.8
Burton Bridge Thomas Sykes 10.0
Butcombe Old Vic Bristol Porter 4.7
Cairngrom Trade Winds 4.3
Cheddar Totty Pot Porter 4.5
Church End What the Fox’s Hat 4.2
Cotleigh Peregrine Porter 5.0
Cotswold Spring Guv’nor 4.6
Cromarty Brewing Brewed Awakening 4.7
Crouch Vale Brewers Gold 4.0
Cullercoats Watch House Winter Warmer 5.0
Dark Star Festival 5.0
Dartmoor Legend 4.4
Dawkins Bristol Blonde 3.8
Derventio Et Tu Brutus 4.5
Downton Roman Imperial Stout 9.0
Elland 1872 Porter 6.5
Enville Ginger Beer 4.6
Exe Valley Exeter Old 4.8
Exeter Darkness 5.1
Exmoor Stag 5.2
Flipside Brewery Sterling Pale 3.9
Fownes Leviathan 7.0
Freeminer Speculation Ale 4.8
Fyne Ales Jarl 3.8
Gloucester Galaxy 5.2
Goldmark Hop Idol 3.7
Great Orme Welsh Black 4.0
Great Western Brewing Moose River 5.0
Green Jack Orange Wheat Beer 4.2
Growler Umbel Magna 5.0
Hambleton Stud 4.3
Hanlon’s Dry Stout 4.2
Harviestoun Schiehallion 4.9
Hopback Tiaphoon 4.2
Ilkley Joshua Jane 3.7
Inveralmond Brewery Lia Fail 4.7
Isle of Skye Red Culliin 4.2
James Street Brewery Emperor 4.4
Jarrow Red Ellan 4.4
Kelham Island Pale  Rider 5.2
Kennet & Avon Bedwyn 3.7
Kingstone Tewdric’s Tipple Ale 3.8
Kinver Over the Edge 7.5
Little Valley Hebdons Wheat 4.5
Ludlow Brewing Gold 4.2
Lymestone Stone Cutter 3.7
Magic Rock Brewing Ringmaster 3.9
Malmesbury Brewery King’s Wall 5.6
Mauldons Midwinter Gold 4.5
Milk Street Zig Zag Stout 4.5
Millis Gravesend Guzzler 3.7
Moles Gold 3.8
Moor Beer Dark Alliance – Coffee Stout 4.7
Moorhouses Black Cat 3.4
Mordue Workie Ticket 4.5
Mumbles Mile 3.8
New Bristol Brewery Super Deluxe Stout 7,0
Oakham JHB 3.8
Oakleaf Quercus Felium 4.0
Old Bear Great Bear 3.9
Old School Brewery Headmaster 4.5
Orkney Dark Island 4.6
Osset Big Red 4.0
Otley 05 Gold 5.0
Otter Head  5.6
Palmers Tally Ho! 5.5
Peerless Storr Lager 4.8
Penzance Brewing Co Thirty Summit 4.5
Pictish Brewers Gold 3.8
Plain Ales Inncognito 4.8
Potbelly Hop Trotter 4.4
Prescott Ales Hill Climb 3.8
Prospect Nutty Slack 3.9
RCH Old Slug Porter 4.5
RCH P G Stream 3.9
RCH Pitchfork 4.3
Rebellion Beer Co IPA 3.7
Redwillow Wreckless 4.8
Robinsons Brewery Cwrw’r ddraig aur 4.1
Rocket Science Titan 4.4
Rudgate Ruby Mild 4.4
Sadlers Dr Hardwick 8.5
Salopian Brewery Black Ops 7.4
Saltaire Brewery Cascade Pale Ale 4.8
Saltaire Brewery Hopfen 5.7
Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild 6.0
Severn Vale Nibley Ale 3.8
Skinners Ginger Tosser 3.8
Skinner’s Pennycomequick 4.5
St Austell Big Job 7.2
St Austell Proper Job 4.5
St Austell Tribute 4.2
Stewart Brewing Edinburgh No 3 4.3
Stod Fold Gold 3.8
Surrey Hills Shere Drop 4.2
Tempest Cascadian Blonde 4.1
Thornbridge Jaipur 5.9
Three Daggers Daggers Ale 4.1
Thwaites Wainwrights 4.1
Tiny Rebel Fubar 4.4
Tirril Academy Ale 4.2
Titanic Brewery Iceberg 4.1
Towles Berrow Topsy Turvy 5.9
Towles Chocolate Stout 6.9
Towles Philomont IPA 6.5
Tring Brewery Old Wisent 4.1
Twisted Oak Fallen Tree 3.8
Wadworths 125 Celebratory Stout 4.0
Weatheroak Keystone Hops 5.0
Wessex Potter’s Ale 3.8
Wickwar Station Porter 6.1
Williams Brothers 80/- 4.2
Willy Good Ale Willy Hop! 4.0
Wiper & True Winter Rye 5.4
Wolf Brewery Straw Dog 4.5
Woodfords NOG 4.6
Wye Valley Brewery Dorothy Goodbody’s Country Ale 6.0
XT Elephant 4.2
Yeovil Ales Sun Grazer 3.6
Zerodegrees ? ?

Independent Spirit of Bath – Off licence

independent sprit Bath shop frontThere is something about standing in amongst a load of booze that makes me feel at home.  It  possibly has something to do with the fact that my home is always full of booze, but I’ve always loved a good off licence. The anticipation of the evening you are buying the booze for, the dimmed lighting, the wooden shelves full of different coloured redolent liquids from around the world and the fountain of knowledge sitting behind the till awaiting a nudge or comment so that he or she can whirr into action like the silver painted  “robot” buskers of Covent garden awaiting a coin.

This is perhaps why I got so exited when I heard about a new off licence opening up just down the road from me in Bath. Independent Spirit of Bath is to booze, what the very successful Mr B’s Emporium of reading delights and Toppings and company book shops are to books. Namely its a very well run, independent off licence that shies away from the commercial mass produced to favour the well made and the small and to champion the excellent over the banal or over hyped.

I caught up with Chris, one of the owners and asked him a few questions to get more of a feel of the shop that I will be giving much of my hard earned royalty cheques to.

You were both barmen originally is that right and do feel that has helped you get to know what booze your customers might appreciate?
I started off in bars 14 years ago and specifically cocktail bars, travelling to Edinburgh my eyes were opened to single malt whisky through the SMWS (Scotch Malt Whiskey Society). I found very quickly that a passion for quality and education about specific types of alcohol naturally attracted like minded people. It was far, far removed from branding and assumed styles and categories associated with whiskey and discovering new things became the norm for me. What sparked an enthusiasm in me became infectious as I sought to educate and entertain the members.

Customers have preconceived ideas about what they like, I found challenging them to try something different could be enough to give them a spark and let them go off and want to know more themselves.

There are plenty of online booze shops, what do people get from you by coming into your shop that they won’t get online?

bottles of lovely booze

bottles of lovely booze

Service and a range that can move faster and be more specifically relevant to suit both the needs of our regular clientèle who visit us a few times a month and hopefully for special occasion purchases; as well as the visiting customer base who want something local, of outstanding quality and that they can’t get back home or in duty free.

Online booze shops throw a wide net by targeting nationwide or even further afield. Through our regular tasting events and drop in sampling sessions we get to interact with our customer base in a way that ensures that we can build a regular audience for our products. Because of our backgrounds the way we interact with our guests is a cross between hospitality and retail which we hope makes a trip to the shop memorable.

Running a shop like this has got to be the dream of most people, do you pinch yourselves or is it actually a bit of hard work?
I have had a very steep learning curve over the past few years and the retail aspect I fell into by chance. I happened to establish myself quite quickly while working in Edinburgh. It is fun and you get to talk to people who genuinely are interested rather than the 3am drunk. The hard part is mostly over for us, setting up office systems, worrying about budgets stressing about solicitors. As far as we are concerned this is when the fun begins. Looking at stock lists its like being a kid in a candy factory, we always have to be aware of normal business protocol, cash flow and all that but this makes it worth it.

The shop you’ve moved into used to be a Video shop, one of the types of shops that 20 years ago seemed to be part of the impenetrable fabric of daily life; yet within a few years a sustained onslaught from digital in the guise of streaming, piracy, on demand services and DVD’s by post killed it off. Is the love of good beer just a trend and to what extent are you future proof?

Supermarket pricing, rents and rates being liable to the whims of local authority, increased legislation from an out of touch government  and of course the other associated costs in having a physical, as opposed to an online, presence means the UK on-trade on-sale has always been up against it.

The large chains that disappeared had many problems they had money tied up in stock and property and were unable to keep up with trends to name just two major ones. Oddbins (for example) as a chain built itself on its products and its staff. The staff went because the products went and the family atmosphere went and they took their training with them. These guys are now the small independent traders around the UK.
Love of good beer is a passion, its something you share, you savour, most importantly you support it. Its the people who make it, be it the brewers down the road who started up the brewery in a shed as a few friends or the Belgian breweries still in family hands. If there is no passion, no enjoyment then you deserve to go the way of the chains; its more than just a job to us.
The best thing about it is we will never stop learning, we talk to home brewers and breweries. They buy beers from competitors, they buy the Belgian, British, German beer that they first fell in love with.

In your opinion what qualities does a good purveyor of beers, wines and spirits need to have?
Enjoy it and know how to interact with your guests.  If people tell me they don’t like something I challenge them to try it again. Finding out what our guests needs are is part of our ethos and part of the reason we decided to go it alone.

What percentage of your beer stock is British, in your opinion is Britain keeping up with the rest of the world when it comes to choice in beer?
Certainly the bigger range of our beer is Europe and America just now, but we have split the display area into 2 to facilitate a 50/50 split long term. We are sourcing our suppliers right now and are finding quite a movement to try and showcase the variety and creativity of both local ingredients and flavours and unusual combinations of brewing styles. British brewers are right up there with the best of them but I don’t think its recognised because the UK as a whole doesn’t support the industry, the small producer or encourages it as an exportable marketable economy. For example the LCBO in Canada are among one of the biggest purchasers of alcohol in the world and they welcomed in Innis and Gunn and had them create a canadian whisky cask finish just for them, theres definitely a market for out there but no sign of support in or out of the UK.

If you were allowed three desert island beers, one British, one American and one Belgium what would you choose and why?
British: It would be from Scotland, a brewery that isn’t open yet.  Anything from Top Out brewery when it opens, I know Michael who is starting it and anything he brews is pure gold. If his commercial brews are as good as his cupboard brews I’d be a happy man.
American: It would be North American, Canadian in fact. I spent a year working in a brewery in Canada. It would be Steam whistle which isn’t anything special but very well done. They know how to look after people, put back into the community and are quite forward thinking with their environmental strategy’s. Sometimes you just want something refreshing and uncomplicated.
Belgian: Delerium nocturnum just because I can. It does exactly what it says on the tin.

Independent Sprit of Bath is situated just up from the train station opposite Bog Island.7 Terrace Walk, Bath – 01225 340636


How to taste beer with Jane Peyton from the School of Booze

How to taste Beer with Jane Peyton

Jane Peyton Beer tasterLearning how to taste beer is a skill and to learn a skill you need a good teacher, Jane Peyton, the Principal at the School of Booze, is such a teacher.

Jane trained through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and is a tutor at the Beer Academy.

I caught up with her to find out what makes a beer taster, it has to be the most ideal job ever created but can anyone do it?

Jane On beer tasting

What is the difference between beer tasting and learning how to taste wine, and what is the difference between beer and wine tasters too.

Beer tasting tends to be less formal and more fun than wine tasting – but that depends on the tasting tutor and the atmosphere that they have created.  And this is a generalisation but in this country, there will be more men at a beer tasting than women.  Also a beer tasting event has an element of surprise and exploration as quite a lot of people have not tasted a range of beers or know that such beers exist.

No difference in principles of  wine or beer tasting  – if you can taste wine, you can taste beer too.  I do.  I specialise in beer, cider, wine, whisky, gin, Champagne.

Is there a particular type of person who becomes a beer (or any drink) taster? Do you need to have any special talent, for example extra sensitive taste buds, or is it something anyone can do?

Beer tasting is about education – informing other people about the amazing drink that is beer.  So someone who is keen to educate and share their knowledge is the ideal person.

Roger Protz by Steve Parsons Norwich Evening news

Roger Protz – beer tasting Genius

The nose and palate can be trained to recognise aroma and flavour so lots of practice is required!  But some people have a condition called ‘onosmia’ (smell blindness) and unless a person can smell properly then they will not taste properly so should not try being a professional taster.  Some people do have more sensitivity than others so they would be ideal. Also women in general have more sensitive noses and palates than men so women might consider a career in drinks/beer tasting. It helps too if a person has a good turn of phrase and imaginative ways of describing aromas and flavours.  Roger Protz is a genius at this!  So are Oz Clarke and Rupert Ponsonby.

Is there a specific procedure to adhere to and what is it?

With any drinks tasting there is a similarity of principles:

1)       Look at the drink in the glass

2)     Swirl the liquid to release the aromas and sniff.  Try to identify what you smell.  Keep swirling and sniffing.

3)     Take a sip and let it sit on the tongue for a few seconds.  This will warm the drink/beer and release aromas which then travel from the mouth into the olfactory glands in the nose.  A few seconds later the brain will register the flavours.  Let the drink cover the tongue so all the taste buds are engaged – our tongues register different tastes in separate parts of the tongue – salt, sweet, sour/acidic, bitter, and umami (savoury).  Some complex beers are sweet & sour, with bitterness too so the tongue and nose get a work-out!

4)     Check for the body of the drink/beer – this is how much it fills the mouth.  Lower alcohol beers will be light bodied, higher alcohol beers tend to be fuller bodied.

5)     Swallow the drink/beer.  The after-taste is important.  With beer the after taste will be degrees of bitterness.  In beer tasting this aftertaste is often called ‘the Hang’ – i.e. how long the flavours hang around on the palate.  It can also be referred to as ‘the finish’.

6)     Repeat the above!

Do you think knowledge of the brewing process can enhance the enjoyment of beer?

If the drinker is curious about life then yes. 

If a beer doesn’t fit into a specific style, does this matter and if not how do you reference it?

Quite a lot of beers are tricky to categorise – especially nowadays when there are so many more breweries in Britain who are creating beers. 

Some brewers confuse their customers by describing their beers as a certain style when it patently is not that style.  One of Britain’s biggest selling beer brands does this and it confuses customers.  There is a fashion now for Black IPAs – a bit of an oxymoron.  Some brewers make Milds which are very hoppy – a contradiction.

If you’re having difficulty categorising, it’s handy to call it a hybrid of **** and ****

Beers don’t always have a powerful smell, or indeed any smell is “no nose”,  a valid enough assessment?

Yes – this is especially so with Pilsners. But that is the style of the beer so it’s not a fault. If an ale has little nose I would be worried!  Ales should have more aroma than Pilsners.

When looking to describe flavours are you looking for food comparisons or are there a set of beer flavour that you keep to.

Food comparisons are really useful in helping people recognise aromas and flavours.  I always use those references.  But beer can be extremely complex and some surprising aromas and flavours appear e.g. sweaty socks, barnyard, burned rubber.  With cider and perry, Stilton cheese is a very common aroma.  I always say to people that if they smell something peculiar that they are not expecting then they should say it – because everyone is right when it comes to describing what they are experiencing.  Our senses are our own so we’re always right!

Jane on Beer

If you had to pick a top 5 of beer what would they be?

Andy Hamilton holding a beerIt’s really hard to choose because it depends of my mood, the weather, time of day, what I’m eating.  But these are 5 that I go back to again and again and revere.

  1.  Brewster’s Pale Ale
  2. Fuller’s London Porter
  3. Verhaege’s Duchesse de Bourgogne
  4. Brooklyn Brewery ‘s Chocolate Stout
  5. Schneider Weisse’ s Aventinus

And a UK only top 5?

  1.  Brewster’s Pale Ale (My number one beer worldwide or UK)
  2. Fuller’s London Porter (My number two beer worldwide or UK)
  3. Harviestoun’s Ola Dubh
  4. Meantime’s India Pale Ale
  5. Fuller’s Golden Pride

Are there any beers/breweries to watch out for in the next couple of years?

Brewster’s (in Grantham) is constantly good and they have a dynamic range of beers.  They’ve recently invested in some bottom fermenting kit and have been brewing some excellent Helles beers. 

Harviestoun have an excellent lager called Schiehallion – it’s a cask lager using ale hops so some people are confused.  Hopefully it will help change ale drinkers perception of what lager is.

Durham Brewery have some great beers – especially Temptation Stout.

A trend in brewing at present is to bring back heritage styles of beer.  Kernel and Meantime are very good at this.  And Fuller’s have been delving into their brewing bibles from the 1890s to brew beers of that era.

If you could design a perfectly flavoured beer, what would go in it.

I actually brewed it last month – at a brewpub called The Botanist in Kew, SW London. It is called Limey Porter, made with chocolate malt and flavoured with kaffrir leaves which gave it a very subtle lime aroma and flavour.  Chocolate, coffee and lime aromas and flavours are an excellent match. 

To book a beer tasting course with Jane For in London and around the country please contact School of Booze. Choose from: beer tasting,  beer and food matching, chocolate and alcohol tasting, wine tasting, Champagne tasting, sherry tasting, cider tasting, and School of Booze will devise a bespoke entertainment for you.

Beer review of Williams Bros. ‘Caesar Augustus’ Lager/IPA Hybrid 4.1%

Having had a fair amount of success with Booze for FreeI decided my next book should

Andy Hamilton holding a beer

Andy Hamilton beer tasting

be all about my biggest booze love and indeed my first true love, beer. Exactly what it will contain is still undecided as I’m still at the research stage at present. I sat last night in front of the telly and continued with this arduous task of researching a beer book and opened a bottle of Williams Bros. ‘Caesar Augustus’ Lager/IPA Hybrid.

The first thing that hit me with this beer was the lager yeast smell, not unlike a German Kolsch this but it soon dissipated to be overtaken by the typical zesty hoppy smell that is more reminiscent of a classic British IPA. I differentiate here as it certainly didn’t have that huge eyewatering smack of hops that some American IPA’s can have.

Colour –  Not the palest amber as you might expect but certainly a paler ale colour. Emma glanced over on the sofa and suggested that it looked like the colour of the first piss of the morning, then corrected to say, “Your first piss of the morning”.

Mouthfeel – Like a good IPA it filled the mouth with a rich gassy creaminess.

Flavour – As with the smell at first I got much more of a lager than an IPA as this went down. Well I say at first, the mouth feel I got IPA then as I gulped it down it transformed into a lager. But the flavour grows as you drink, a very complex pint indeed. I got biscuit flavours from it and the hops gave me the typical citrus, zesty flavour a good hop but this slowly directed my mouth to a lemon acid drop flavour. I feel even with this description I haven’t done this pint justice, I think it deserves another and another and… to get the full effect of the subtle yet complexity of this truly wonderful beer.

Finish – A nice dry finish. The acid lemon flavours sat in the mouth for a while longer. It didn’t linger for too long, just right.

Food Pairing – Tough one as you wouldn’t want to take away from the complexities of this drink, the obvious choice would be a curry but obviously this is going to mute the flavours of the beer. White fish might be a better choice.

Conclusions – Despite my initial scepticism I can really see this sort of beer taking off. Lager drinkers beware you may be forced to the Land of Ale with drinks like this around. I suspect there will be a glut of copycat ales coming to a pub near you soon. Hats off to Scotland for being one of the first! A fantastic beer.