The Cambridge Brew House

Herbs everywhere, I wonder how long that'll last...

I posted some Cambridge Pub News the other week and I’m pleased to say that one of the pubs mentioned has now opened.

The Cambridge Brew House is located on King St and has undergone a massive refit, which has included the installation of a micro brewery on the site. I’m not going to go into any details about the history of the place, as Adam over at Pints and Pubs has already produced a fantastic blog on the subject.

I managed to visit at lunchtime on their opening day last week and enjoyed a few halves of the beer on offer (they had two of their own on, Adnams Broadside, Black Bar Standing Talking Bitter, Lord Conrad’s Pheasants Rise and Nethergate Growler Bitter). I wandered around and took a few photos, which you can see below. I’m not the biggest fan of going to the pub on my own, even though I seem to do it quite a lot and since it was a flying visit, I think I’ll reserve judgement on the place until I’ve been in the evening with some friends. Having said that, there are a few things that I think they could improve on, but given that this was their opening day, this might sound a bit on the harsh side.

Of the six hand pumps mounted on the bar, three of them were dispensing bitter, two dispensing premium bitter / best bitter / ESB (call it what you like) and just the one pump dispensing anything remotely pale and hoppy, which from my personal perspective, doesn’t bode well. I’d liked to have seen a larger selection of beer styles on offer and while they are obviously keeping it local, which is all well and good, if the local produce on offer is all a bit samey and average, then maybe you need to look a bit further afield. Instead of a couple of those bitters, I’d rather have seen one or two beers from a few of the UK’s more progressive and new wave breweries (Thornbridge, DarkStar, MagicRock, Summer Wine to name but a few).

Of their in house brews (currently being brewed in Henley until their brew house is up and running next week) the King’s Parade was nice and balanced, but tending to the maltier side of things and in my view inferior to the Black Bar Standing Talking; mainly as the later had more bitterness. The Misty River was similarly nicely balanced, but this time slightly to the bitter side of things with a pleasant bitter tickle lingering in to after taste, it also had that smoothness you get from a bit of wheat in the grist and I would happily have another. While both were good solid beers, neither of them would get a beer geeks juice salivating though, but then I don’t think either are aimed at the beer geek, so will probably do very well for the kind of clientèle that the place seems designed to attract.

They do have plans for other beers though, with a US Pale ale already having been brewed. So hopefully with the micro brewery on site, we can only hope that there will be a range of more esoteric and interesting brews to go along with the core range.

I must admit to not paying too much attention to what was was available on keg, as there was nothing that instantly stood out as being different for the norm. I think they could easily give over a couple of keg lines to something interesting from the Bacchanalia or Beautiful Beers like some De Molen, Rogue or anything kegged from the afore mentioned progressive UK brewers; it appears to be working for Benson Blakes in Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge is crying out for somewhere to do some decent craft keg properly. It was a similar story with the bottles, I stopped looking when I saw they were stocking the triumph of marketing over taste, that is Innis & Gunn.

I can’t comment on the food, as I didn’t eat any while I was there, but it sounds positive from blogs like The Moving Foodie and what folks have been saying on twitter.

I’ve not really enjoyed trying to write this bolg, as I feel I’ve been ridiculously over critical for somewhere that had only been open for only for 30 minutes when I walked through the door. I wasn’t expecting a Cask Pub & Kitchen, or Craft Beer Co type place, even though Cambridge desperately needs one. It’s just frustrating walking into a new place and being uninspired by the beer choices on offer, especially when there are plenty of pubs opening around the country with impressive cask, keg and bottle ranges on the bar. I also realise that I’m probably not the target market for this place, there’s too much herbage on the tables for my liking for a start, but I just feel like it could have been so much more beer wise.

I’ll be going back though, I can’t say how often as I’m not the biggest pub visitor, but it certainly another option along with The Mitre and The Maypole, for a quick half on the way back to the office after a lunch break in town. I’m also looking forward seeing brewing return to the City for the first time in a few years and will definitely be paying a visit to try the new US Pale Ale when it hits the bar in a few weeks time.

The guys behind the venture obviously know what they are doing, as they’ve built a pub company before and then sold it to Greene King. This begs the question, are they in this because they love beer, or are they only in it for the money, what ever the answer to that question is, The Cambridge Brew House is certainly a welcome addition to the Cambridge pub scene and I look forward to seeing how it’s evolves over the next few months.

You Can’t Take It With You

In my last blog post I mentioned that I was going to spread my wings a bit and start trying more beer, rather than always going for the perceived best that a brewery makes. That would have been a smashing idea, if I actually had any money. Gone are the days where I could walk into the Bacchanalia and blow £70 – £100 a week on rare and expensive beer. I blame building an expensive extension to the house, the financial meltdown and the fact that everything seems to have got all expensive all of a sudden. Either way, I’m totally skint and the beer fridge is empty.

One thing I have done though, is lay down a load of bottles for a rainy day. As you can see from the photo, there’s quite a collection from various breweries. I’ve never really had a plan when it’s come to ageing stuff though, I’ve just chucked it in the cupboard and tried to forget about it. I’ve not really thought about how long things should be aged for and when they’ll be at their peak and ready for drinking. Some are pure experiments, like the Orval Project (more on that in a future blog post), but most have just been set aside for some unspecified point in the future.

"Death twitches my ear;
 'Live,' he says... 
 'I'm coming."
               ― Virgil

We’ve all seen Dead Poets Society and the numerous motivational quotes extolling us to Carpe diem, Seize the Day. So I’ve decided that it’s time to drink some of the stash, what rainy day am I waiting for? All those BrewDog Abstrakt bottles, why am I holding on to them when most of them are shite? I could drop dead tomorrow from an aneurysm, never knowing what that bottle of Marble Special 2009 tasted like. Unless I’m holding onto a beer for a very particular reason (that 750ml bottle of the original Hel & Verdoemenis 666 is for my 50th birthday for instance), it’s going to either get drunk, or have a date put on it for when it will be drunk.

"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, 
 find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their 
 island of opportunities and look toward another land. There
 is no other land; there is no other life but this."
                                             ― Henry David Thoreau

Why wait for a rainy day that might never come…? You can’t take it with you.

Breaking a Tenner

I needed to break a tenner one day last week, not exactly blog shattering news you might think, but bare with me. Normally if I’m in need of breaking a tenner, I’ll buy beer; in this case I needed a five pound note, so I’d normally have bought a couple of bottles of Thornbridge Jaipur with the other fiver, for instance. However, on this occasion, instead of buying beer, I bought coffee beans and it’s not like I had a fridge full of beer so didn’t need any either. There has definitely been a shift in my spare money priorities…

Same But Different

The definition of craft beer in the UK raised its head on Twitter again at the end of last week, it has also appeared on a few of the blogs I read since then too (here, here, here and here). I was going to blog about it on Friday before it all blew up, but ran out of time and any motivation to make time after work disappeared once I’d cracked open a beer. After much toing and froing, it seems to me at least, that the general consensus ended up with it, yet again, meaning something along the lines of: beers made by brewers I like. Seems we’ve not progressed at all since I last wrote about this stuff.

I do think we need to stop chasing our tails on this one and just let it lie. The phrase craft beer means different things to different people, which is completely unworkable and the main reason why using it is a load of cobblers. Even though we all think we know what it means, as there is no hard and fast definition, like there in the US, it is therefore in our reality, meaningless. I still think we should be using phrases like new wave and progressive to describe brewers, although I quite like Adrian Tierney-Jones’ comment on Tandleman’s post about using the term artisanal (even though the usage of that word can end up being a bit wanky).

The main reason I was going to post though, was about a comparison between craft beer and heavy metal. The idea had been running around inside my head for a while, but it took Simon Johnson’s New Wave Of British Keggy Metal blog to give me the necessary kick to write it down. I’m not going to give a definition as that’s not what this is about, it’s more an observation. Essentially it boils down to this, I think that what is happening with beer in the UK, is just like what happened with rock and the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.

Just as bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon, Diamond Head, Judas Priest et al replaced Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and the like, on the record players, tape decks and walkmen of the youth of the day. So brewers like Thornbridge, Dark Star, Magic Rock, Summer Wine, Marble and so forth are replacing the likes of Greene King, Wadworth, Shepherd Neame, etc, etc, etc in the glasses of the next generation of drinkers. Now I don’t know if it’s a similar thing as happened with Porter, it falling out of favour as it was seen as an old mans drink, but the whole thing does have that kind of aura about it.

Nothing happens in isolation though, the NWOBHM was built on the foundation of those that went before; we wouldn’t have the likes of Iron Maiden without Black Sabbath and their peers. They listened to those bands and used them, amongst others, as inspiration to forge their own paths and sounds. The vast majority of todays new wave and progressive brewers will have grown up drinking beer from this country’s old school regional and family brewers, but are taking their inspiration, not only from them, but from what’s happening in the rest of world, especially the US.

I suppose that if you’re main inspiration is the US Craft Beer movement, then you’re going to want to identify with that by trying to label yourself accordingly. However, the beery environment in the UK is not the same as that in the US and never has been, hence why I don’t think the phrase is transferable. At the end of the day, it’s all wet, brown* and alcoholic and I think there are plenty of other things we should be worrying about, rather than getting our knickers in a twist over the definition of two words. To be perfectly honest, I think the Magic Rock tagline sums up craft beer in the UK best; Same But Different.

* Other colours are available…

White Lady and Screech Owl

Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt 2012

I think Cairngorm Brewery’s White Lady has an identity problem, as it claims to be a crystal wheat beer, which is a German style, yet it’s brewed with orange and coriander, which is definitely a Belgian style. Now Belgian Wit beers aren’t generally clear, they normally have a slight haze from all the proteins in the wheat and/or the yeast, so maybe they’re gunning for a new crossover Crystal Belgian Wit style. Personally, I’d rather have had a bit of yeast sediment in the bottom of the bottle, so that I could shake it up and add that extra dimension of flavour like you do with a normal Belgian Wit beer.

Anyway, it poured a lightly burnished copper colour, with a compact white head. The head was easily formed, but dropped pretty quickly to a patchy covering, before dissipating to a faint ring around the edge of the glass. There wasn’t much on the nose, just a fresh sensation and maybe a hint of some orangey malt. After a few mouthfuls it changed and any malt aromas had gone, leaving only the faint whiff of stale carbon dioxide.

It felt quite fizzy in the mouth, turning to bubbles when swished around over the tongue, although it wasn’t obviously over carbonated by looking at it. There was also a vague carbonic edge to it and a bit of mouth prickle which I can only attribute to overly forced carbonation. It was hard to tell how well balanced it was due to it turning to bubbles and the mouth prickle, but I’d say the body was fine, with a decent level of bitterness. After the carbonic mouth prickle had dissipated, the mouth was left with a slightly juicy, faint orange flavour, which was joined for a bit by some coriander seed spiciness.

Overall this was a really disappointing beer, as I know Cairngorm produce some fantastic multi-award winning brews, like Trade Winds and Black Gold. It would have been so much better if it hadn’t been force carbonated so heavily, that stale carbon dioxide thing that it had going on was really poor.

I wasn’t too sure about this Castle Rock Screech Owl from looking at the bottle, a "Strong IPA" is it? Well no, it’s only 5.5.%, that’s not strong! That’s not as strong as Thornbridge Jaipur IPA or Summer Wine Diablo IPA or any of The Kernel’s amazing India Pale Ales for instance.

As it turns out, I’ve actually had this beer on cask; my untappd comment just says Very Nice, which wasn’t very helpful in reminding me of what it looked or tasted like.

It poured a lovely copper colour, with a fluffy white head. The head was easily formed and dropped relatively slowly. The nose was really exciting, with an obvious hop presence; in fact it reeked of subtle pithy orange and grapefruit. While it wasn’t a patch on the aroma of some beers from some of the UK’s new wave and progressive brewers, any Kernel Pale Ale for instance, it was still pretty decent.

It felt quite full bodied in the mouth, with a bit of malt flavour to support the wave after wave of bitterness that swept through the mouth. The subtle pithy orange and grapefruit aromas of the nose, were also present in the taste, at least initially. Once the bitterness cut in, it pretty much swamped everything and by the time it settled, there wasn’t much left, other than a juicy mouth. Eventually though, the mouth dried out and a slightly yeasty, orange flavoured cardboard taste was left as a last reminder.

It was a beer the promised much and while it delivered most of it, was unltimately a bit of a let down. The bitterness wasn’t integrated well enough with the rest of the body and the aftertaste was non-existent. What should have been a long and lingering bitter orange and grapefruit flavoured taste sensation, was nothing more than some juicy cardboard. Initially I thought it was a good attempt, but the more I think about it and about most Kernel Pale Ale’s I’ve had, it becomes more and more of a let down.

Bath Ales

I often wander into Waitrose or Sainsbury’s to see if they have any new and interesting beers on the shelves. After looking around, I normally pause over the Bath Ales bottles thinking that this time I should buy some, but I always end up buying some Thornbridge Jaipur or Fuller’s 1845 instead. It’s the same story when I go into Cambridge Wine Merchants on Bridge Street in town, they have a really good selection of Bath Ales, but I always end up buying some Moor instead.

I’m not sure why I pass over Bath Ales so much, I suppose it’s my love of all things Thornbridge and Moor that often means other beers don’t get a look in. There may also be some preconceived notion that they’ll be a bit on the traditional side and I’ll thus be disappointed. After all, it’s easier to spend your hard earned cash on something you know you’ll like, rather than take a chance of something you’re not sure you’ll enjoy. Nothing worse than knowing you passed up on some Jaipur or Revival while drinking an average beer.

While life’s too short to drink crap beer, it’s also too short to drink the same stuff week in week out, no matter how good it is; variety being the spice of life and all that. So a few weeks back I decided to take the plunge and bought all the different Bath Ales bottles I could get my hands on, here’s what I thought of them:

Ginger Hare, 3.9%

Poured a pleasing light amber colour, with a rocky white head. The head didn’t last and while wasn’t too hard to get going, you just knew it would fade quickly. The nose was full of sticky stem ginger in syrup notes. In the mouth it was just a tadge on the too light of body for my tastes, with just a hint of wateriness creeping in round the edges. The flavours were pretty subdued, with the ginger being subtle, rather than burn your mouth off, but not too subtle that you were left wondering how much they’d actually put in. That coupled with the pleasant initial malt flavours and the lightly bitter lingering aftertaste, made for a seriously quaffable beer. One of the nicer ginger ales I’ve had.

Golden Hare, 4.4%

Poured a crystal clear golden colour, with a good fluffy white head. The head took a while to get going, but formed quickly there after. Although it hung around for a bit, it did eventually disappear completely. I didn’t get a whole lot on the nose, just some malty cereal notes. In the mouth it was pretty full bodied, and nicely balanced. There was a definite subtle cereal quality to the malt flavours, which were then replaced by a juicy mouth prickle and a soft fruity and slightly bitter aftertaste. A nice solid beer.

Gem, 4.8%

Poured a chestnut brown colour with a large rocky, slightly off white head. The head dropped fairly quickly, and settled at a thin skin over the top. Not much on the nose, except for some dark cerealish malt notes. In the mouth it was sort of full bodied, but I thought it didn’t feel as full bodied as it was, due to all the mouth watering juiciness. It was certainly a malt driven beer, with the slightly dark malty flavours running all the way through to the finish. Even the slight bitterness couldn’t quite get through the malt, even at the end. Pretty nice though.

Dark Side, 4%

Poured a near jet black, with just hints of brown round the edges. The light tan coloured head was slow to get going, but ended in a decent size. It didn’t last though and disappeared completely, fairly quickly. The nose was chock full of roasted notes, with maybe hints of coffee. In the mouth it was medium bodied, maybe a tadge on the thin side, but easy drinking because of it. It was smooth, with drying, subtle roasted flavours. It had a nice bitter tickle in the middle, which lingered in the complex roasted after taste. Very nice indeed.

Barnsley, 4.5%

Poured a lovely mahogany colour with an off white, slightly tan coloured head. The head was slow to form, but ended up quite large. Although it didn’t last long and dropped to a skin fairly quickly. The nose had some soft, subtle burnt toffee, treacle type notes. In the mouth it had a nice soft burnt toffee thing going on, which lead to a lingering stewed fruit juicy mouthwateringness (is that even a word…?). It didn’t feel particularly bitter, being mainly malt driven, but it felt like there was a bit just before the after taste cut in.

Wild Hare, 5%

Poured a deep straw colour, not quite a light amber, but getting there. The fluffy white head that formed slowly, wasn’t that big and didn’t last very long, before dropping to a ring round the edge of the glass. I didn’t get much on the nose to be honest, maybe a hint of some subtle marmalade type note, but nothing that stood out. In was initially pleasant in the mouth, but then I thought there was an odd cereal type flavour that I didn’t really like, that came to the fore. It didn’t dominate, but I found it detracted from my enjoyment of the rest too much, which was a shame. While It had quite an aggressive mouth feel, it was nicely balanced with some good bitterness that wafted down the after taste along with a load of juicy mouthwateringness. Sort of enjoyable, but disappointing at the same time.

I thought all but the Wild Hare were pretty decent, the Dark Side being my pick of the bunch; I thought it was really nice and would love to try it on cask. I didn’t get on with the Wild Hare, but I don’t believe you can judge a beer on one tasting, well in most cases you can’t, so I’ve bought another bottle to give it a second chance.

Was my money well spent though, or did I wish I’d rather bought some Jaipur or Revival? Overall I’m quite happy I tried them, I can’t say I was disappointed by any of them, other than the Wild Hare. I’d definitely give them a go if I ever saw them in a pub, especially the Dark Side. Wither I’ll be buying bottles regularly or not though, I can’t say, it will as ever depend on my mood and whim.

What’s the Point of Lower Alcohol Beer…?

I’ve been meaning to write a post about 2.8% beers for ages, I’ve got a load of tasting notes and everything. Since I decided to stop doing reviews and had a break, I’ve been waiting for inspiration about how to write about these beers without being too derogatory. I like to go by the if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all maxim, but I think I’ve finally found a way to put a positive spin on them.

By and large all the ones I’ve tried have been pretty terrible, don’t take my word for it either, read Duty calls: lower alcohol beer taste test which was published on the Guardian word of mouth blog last week. From bottle or can, they’ve all been pretty thin and over carbonated, with varying levels of flavour. I’ve only managed to try one from cask, Adnams Sole Star which was really nice with oodles of flavour. I have a sneaking suspicion that this kind of beer is more suited to cask dispense then from a bottle or can, but I’d need to try a few more before stating this as fact.

So if they’re all pretty terrible for home drinking, what use can they possibly have? Well, if you’re a bit of a lard arse, like I was in January, weighing in at over 85Kg, you might want to go on a diet to loose a bit of weight. Beer isn’t exactly calorie free, especially the big imperial stouts and what not, even a bottle of Thornbridge Jaipur will set you back 275 calories. However, a bottle of 2.8% beer will probably set you back around 120 to 130 odd calories, or there abouts, quite a saving.

So if you’re calorie counting and you’re still wanting to have more than one beer in an evening, then a couple of bottles or cans of 2.8% beer might fit the bill. If you can stomach the taste…

Glassware

I didn’t go to the Beer Bloggers Conference last month in Leeds, it’s not really my thing. Plus, I’m not feeling very flush at the moment due to being in the final stages of building an extension on the house, so I couldn’t afford it anyway, even with the Molson Coors Scholarship. I did try and follow what was happening via twitter and the various blogs I follow though and I have to admit to a few pangs of jealousy over the weekend.

A few of those pangs were down to the beer that was there, I would have loved to have tried the Williams Brothers Double Joker IPA and had some more Profanity Stout. Equally, the though of trying Pilsner Urquell from wooden casks is enough to get my mouth salivating, I imaging it was amazing and way better than the bottled stuff we normally have to make do with.

The other pang was due to one of the sessions, namely the Comparative Beer and Glass Tasting with Spiegelau. I’ve always had an urge to use the correct glass when having a beer, I have quite a collection, I’ve even paid for some of them. Most of them are currently wrapped in paper and in a box in the loft though, my wife doesn’t share my fetish for glass and we don’t really have room for one of each style and brand in the kitchen cupboards.

I do have a selection to hand though, a proper wheat beer glass, a Duvel tulip, a couple of genuine Italian Teku glasses from Open Baladin, some oversized conical pint and half pint glasses and a heavy duty Rogue Ales conical. I’m not overly precious about them either, they all go in the dishwasher, except for the Rogue Ales one, which I religiously hand wash.

I find that this assortment of glasses covers most styles of beer, although I do sometimes hanker for a proper pilsner glass and wish I hadn’t broken my oversized Moor pint glass. I just happened to be in Kitchen and Things in Newmarket on Saturday and they had some dimpled mugs, which I’ve always liked, so on the spur of the moment, I bought one. I don’t particularly care if it’s reto or hip to drink out of one, I really like them and the two bottles of Jaipur I had out of it on Saturday night tasted fantastic.

I agree with Tandleman that the right glass can make a difference, especially with certain styles of beer. Although I do think that you can still enjoy a Trappist ale out of a conical half pint given the right circumstances. After all, the way a beer tastes is influenced by more than just the glass, it’s also about the time and place amongst other things, yes all that beer moment stuff.

I certainly intend to use my dimpled mug as much as I can, I just love the way it looks and if I’m happy, them I’m more inclined to enjoy my beer. I do have plans to overhaul all the beer glassware when all our building work is finished, it would be nice to have a few sets of the Spiegelau glasses or something similar, so I can serve beer up to friends etc in matching glasses. I suppose I should really get an Orval goblet as well, after all, the best beer in the world should really be drunk from its own branded glassware…

Mini-Kegs

I’ve always looked at the mini-kegs sitting in The Bacchanalia and thought they weren’t for me. How would I get through eight to nine pints of the same beer without it going off? Even the lure of that much Thornbridge Jaipur could’t make me buy one, so why then, did I buy a mini-keg of Adnams New Zealand Pale Ale on a whim?

It was September the 2nd last year, I know this as I checked it on foursquare. I must have been off work, as there’s no other reason why I’d have been in Saffron Walden at ten thirty on a Friday. I have a habbit of always going into the Adnams Cellar & Kitchen Store when I’m in Saffron Walden and picking up some beer, I think I was after some bottles of Ghost Ship, but they didn’t have any.

I’d wanted to try the New Zealand Pale Ale, but there aren’t many Adnams pubs near where I live or work, so getting an opportunity to try it was going to be difficult. I suppose that seeing a mini-keg of a beer that I really, really wanted to try was just too much, so I bought one. I’m still not sure why I bought it, as I managed to try the beer on more than one occasion later in the year, even managing to have a pint in The Sole Bay Inn, just a stones throw from the brewery.

I think the main issue I’ve always had with a mini-keg, is when I would drink it all, as it’s not like you can have a pint and then leave it for a week or two, you need to broach the keg and then finish it. It’s not that I don’t drink the same beer more than once, just look at how many Thornbridge Jaipur’s and BrewDog Punk IPA’s I’ve had (231 and 70 respectively, since November 2010), it’s more that I very rarely drink the same beer more than once in a session, I like variety. I suppose this is one of the reasons I don’t go down to my local pub more often, as I don’t want to drink the same beer all night, every night. That poses a bit of a problem when you have a mini-keg, especially if you’re going to drink it on your own.

This conundrum is probably the main reason why I held onto it for so long, I only drank it at the start of the month. I think that I was hoping for an opportunity to share it with some friends, or some such, but an opportunity never materialised. In the end, it sat in my shed for, pretty much, six months before I opened it, which was far, far too long.

It was only recently that I convinced myself to open it, I also had the perfect oppertunity as my wife was away for the weekend and I had the Friday afternoon off; I had to pick the kids up off the school bus. I figured that I should easily be able to finish the eight to nine pints over the course of two and a half days.

Never having had a mini-keg before, I was a bit unsure of what I’d get out of it and was quite disapointed when the first two pints came out with quite a lot of sediment. That calmed down and the last five or so pints were all pretty much clear. It was quite the novalty to have it draft beer sitting in the fridge, I have to say, it’s just a shame I’d waited so long to open it. The beer had obviously suffered out in the shed for six months, as it was lacking quite a bit of the Nelson Sauvin hop flavour that I remember from my pint at The Sole Bay Inn. It was still nice though, but it would have been marvelous, if it hadn’t lost that extra punch.

The main issue was boredom though. I wouldn’t say I was bored after the second pint, althought something with a bit more IBU would have been nice. I was definitly bored after the second pint on the Saturday and throughly sick of the sight of it by the Sunday. I know that’s my issue though, I’m sure if I only drank Greene King IPA down at my local, then eight to nine pints of Adnams New Zealand Pale Ale from a mini-keg in my fridge, would have been a breeze, but it was just too much for me, just not enough variety.

I know everyone isn’t the same, some people are quite happy drinking eight to nine pints of the same beer, one after the other. I have a work collegue who regularly buys mini-kegs of Thornbridge beer and it quite happy to demolish it all in a couple of days. I don’t think it’s for me though, I need more variety, I need to experience new flavours, I think a mini-keg is just a step too far for me to drink on my own. I’m not sying I wont buy another, but if I do, it will be for a party, where there will be plenty of people to help me drink it.

Advent Beer – Local 2

I’ll be honest, I’ve had this beer before. It was earlier this year and it was split three ways at about 02:00 in a mates kitchen after the Cambridge CAMRA Octoberfest beer festival. So you’ll forgive me for not really paying much attention and having no recollection of what it tasted like.

Unlike the previous Brooklyn Advent Beer, Local 1, this one didn’t blow the cork out of the bottle, which was a bit of a relief, although it did try its best. I managed to force the cork back in until I got a jug ready, but it still took two jugs and my glass to get it all in, as it was foaming all over the place. I didn’t get much on the nose, but to be honest I was suffering with the onset of a nasty cold, so probably wouldn’t have been able to smell raw garlic if it had been thrust under it.

It didn’t feel overly carbonated for a beer that almost spat its cork out, which was surprising, but I did pour from a bit of a height to try and knock out any extra condition. If anything it felt a bit on the watery side in the mouth, it certainly didn’t feel like a nine percent beer. Which was surprising given that it has honey in it, I was expecting something with a much fuller body. I’m not saying it wasn’t full bodied, just not as much as I was expecting.

Maybe it was the fruity citrus flavours that were giving it the illusion of being a bit thin. I home brewed a Belgian Wit, which had a load of citrus peel added after the boil and it reminded me of that. You could also detect the honey, it gives off such a distinctive edge, but I’m not able to describe it. If you’ve ever had Thornbridge Bracia, you’ll know what I’m on about, imagine that, but toned down quite a bit.

It was a complex beer, especially the lingering after taste and while it wasn’t what I was expecting, I think I’d buy another.