The Session #63 – The Beer Moment

The SessionThis months Session is being hosted by Pete Brown "The Beer Drinker’s Bill Bryson" and the topic is The Beer Moment.

While I’ve had plenty of beer moments, I have a memory like a sieve, so would be hard pressed to remember many. Mostly beer moments are fleeting, it’s all about the time and the place, the people you’re with and obviously the beer. They come, they go, I appreciate them when they happen, but I don’t dwell on them.

Since it’s all about the time and the place, can you plan a beer moment and have it all sketched out in advance? Or are they ephemeral and of the moment, unable to be planned?

I hope they are a bit of both, while the unplanned ones are a joy when they materialise, I have a beer moment that I want to happen, that I’m clinging to for dear life. We’re having a load of building work done on the house, it feels like it’s been happening forever, as it took eighteen months to get it through planning and they broke ground last October, on what was supposed to be a four month build.

All the upheaval, the noise, the dust, the ruined garden, the triple glazed argon filled composite windows, the under floor heating, the (not quite as fancy as we really wanted) kitchen, the stress, the financial burden of trying to get what we want, not just what we can afford. It’s all taking its toll, but the light at the end of my tunnel is a beer moment.

The moment when my wife and I sit in the new extension on a balmy summers evening, with the double doors wide open, looking out over the ruined garden to the paddocks beyond and share a beer. At this point I don’t care what beer, although a Pyraser Hopfenpflücker Pils would certainly hit the spot, it’s just about sitting there and forgetting all the stress and worry and just appreciating what our hard work has enabled us to build for our future.

The thought of this beer moment is keeping me going every time I get home to the dust and grit that has invaded every nook and cranny in the house. Every time a new problem arises and a delay occurs, every time a new quote comes in that makes me wince, I think of the beer moment that awaits at the end of it. I don’t know how far away this beer moment is, a couple of weeks, a month or two, at who knows? But when I it does arrive, I hope it’s as good as the one that’s in my head.

The Session #58 – A Christmas Carol

The SessionThis months Session is being hosted by Phil Hardy at Beersay and the topic is A Christmas Carol. This should have been posted on Friday, but I was travelling to Paris. I could have auto posted it, but that would have involved actually writing it before the day it was due, which is not my style… The extra few days have given me time to think though and ponder on what the three ghosts that visited Ebenezer Scrooge would make of my past, present and future Christmas day beer drinking.

I can’t really remember what I used to drink on Christmas day before I was a beer geek. I suppose it was whatever my Dad bought from the local supermarket. That would probably be bottles of Duchars IPA, Cally 80/- or ale from other Scottish breweries. It wasn’t about the beer back then though, so it didn’t matter as long as it was wet, brown, alcoholic and not from a can.

Things changed a couple of years ago though, as I’d been introduced to Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel earlier in the year and I was so going to have a bottle of that on Christmas morning while opening the presents. This was a mistake, we drove up on the evening of the 23rd and the bottle got shaken up on the 7 hour drive. A single day wasn’t enough for it to settle, so I had a pint glass full of yeast lumps, which rather destroyed my enjoyment of it.

I have another bottle of Beer Geek Brunch Weasel in my cupboard, which I’d been saving for this Christmas day, along with a bottle of Amager Hr. Frederiksen and the collab brew between Mikkeller and Amager, Hr. Frederiksen Væsel Brunch. I was going to take notes and blog about them, but I’ve decided not to. As I alluded to in my last Session post, beer has become a bit of a dark obsession for me, I was going to do a further blog post on that, but I’ve not got round to it yet. So I’ve decided that spending bits of Christmas day ruminating and jotting down notes on beer isn’t the way forward. Christmas isn’t about beer, it’s about spending some quality time with those you love. Beer blogging can wait.

So this year, I’ve decided that I want something light and easy going, something that I can drink all day. Something that I don’t have to think about, something that I can just enjoy, while enjoying spending time with my family. So I’m going to pop into the Bacchanalia and buy a bucket load of Collective São Gabriel Brewers & Union Unfiltered Lager and Pyraser Hopfenpflücker Pils and I will enjoy myself.

But what about future Christmases? I have dreams of being a brewer, which is why I homebrew I suppose. Once our extension is finished and my brew shed is back in it’s correct place, I’ll be trying to brew once a month. Who’s to say that I wouldn’t brew a Christmas special, wither it be a pale and hoppy, an imperial stout or an imperial gooseberry and elderflower hefe. I might, or I might not, but what ever I do, it wont be to the detriment of my family. I wont be taking notes, blogging or generally being a beer geek, I have another 364 days of the year for that.

I suppose you could say that I don’t need a visit from Ebenezer’s ghosts, I’ve already know what my demons are and they are not going to ruin another Christmas.

In Pyraser Of Pilsner

I started this blog as I was stuck in a rut, week in week out I was buying and drinking the same beers from the local supermarket. I’d like to think that in the two years since I started this blog, things have changed, they certainly had last year judging from the stock take that I did. I’m not doing a similar stock take this year, probably, not because I think it will show me reverting to my old behaviour or anything, more that things have changed.

There has been a seismic shift in my mental state about my obsession with beer, I’ll be covering it in another blog. It centres around The Box Of Delights Demons that I have at the Bacchanalia and how that and other factors have created a self sustaining cycle of destructive behaviour. That blog will be necessarily dark, this one should be the complete opposite, as it’s about an awakening, basically the realisation that I like lager*.

I’m not sure when this new found love of Pilsner has come from, it’s sort of sneaked up on me a bit. It’s not like I’ve never drank lager though, although I think we can except the Skol & Lime from my later teenage years from this discussion. Till now, it’s mainly been bottles of Budvar, Karen, my wife, got me into that as we sat on various Cambridge commons and greens on balmy summers evenings when we first got together. I tried others, but I didn’t really get on with Pilsner Urquell, really, really didn’t get on with Staropramen and pretty much hated everything that came out of Germany, especially Jever.

I suppose I can trace the tipping point, to the day I bought some Bernard Nefiltrovaný ležák for Karen at The Euston Tap. Of course I had a sip and was blown away at the amount of flavour that it contained. When I found myself back in The Euston Tap a couple of months later, it was one of the first beers I went for before getting stuck in on the stronger stuff. Since then I’ve been buying copious quantities of Pilsner, both filtered and unfiltered, in bottles from the Bacchanalia whenever they’ve had some in stock.

Stand outs for me this year have to be Italia, the Thornbridge collaboration with Birrificio Italiano, Brewers & Union Unfiltered Lager by Collective São Gabriel and Hopfenpflücker Pils by Pyraser. The later I’ve really been taken with and while we speed head long into Winter and strong, dark beer territory, I for one wont be giving up on the Pilsner in the coming months. I’m really looking forward to next Spring when our extension is complete and I can sit with the doors open and enjoy a cool, clean flavoursome, preferably, unfiltered Pilsner, with the evening breeze wafting into the house.

* I’m of course not talking about any old Lager, you wont suddenly see me necking cans of Carling or Stella any time soon…

How Bad Can It Be…? Kaiserdom Pilsener and Dark Lager Beer

Time for another installment of How Bad Can It Be? This time, it’s two beers that I picked up from a local Tesco, Kaiserdom Pilsener and Kaiserdom Dark Lager Beer. They looked like relatively cheap Euro lagers, so I thought I’d give them ago and see what they were like.

As it turns out, the brewery is from Gaustadt, which is now part of Bamberg, in the Bavaria region of Germany and can trace its history back to 1718. It also appears that the brewery isn’t part of some multi-national behemoth, which is quite cool, but has been run by various generations of the Wörner family for over a century.

I decided to try the Pilsener first, it poured a crystal clear insipid yellow, with a fluffy white head. The head dropped to a patchy covering fairly quickly. It smelt fresh with some subtle grassy notes.

It had a fairly light mouth feel, without too much malt character. The main flavour reminded me of the cereal notes that you get in industrial lager, luckily this didn’t last long. A bitterness eventually cut through and lingered long into the after taste. It wasn’t really bitter though, it was just enough to cut through the initial flavours. By the time I got to the end of the bottle, it had all gone a but watery and flabby. The cereal notes were more prevalent and it it wasn’t hanging together very well.

The Dark Lager Beer poured a really dark, dark brown, so that it appeared almost black. A large tan head was easily formed and just like the Pilsener, dropped to a patchy covering fairly quickly. It smelt dark, with very vague roasted notes and an almost yeasty edge

It was very smooth in the mouth, with subtle roasted flavours, all washed down with a slightly drying yeasty finish. There wasn’t any noticeable bitterness, in either the fore or after tastes. Again, it got a bit a bit watery after a while, although not quite to the same extent as the Pilsener.

While the Pilsener wasn’t bad, it’s not a patch on something like Pyraser Hopfenpflücker Pils, or even a Budvar. The Dark Lager Beer was the better of the two, not as insipid as the Pilsener, but still miles away from being as good as something like Bernard Černé Pivo 13°. Would I buy either again though? Certainly not the Pilsener and probably not the Dark Lager Beer either, unless there wasn’t anything else…