The Cambridge Blue

It was the summer beer festival at The Cambridge Blue last night, so I met up with a friend for a few beers. If I’m being honest, I was a bit disappointed as a lot of the beer I wanted to try wasn’t on. I know they have to keep some back for later in the week, but practically everything I wanted to try wasn’t there.

  • RateBeer Oakham
  • Lady Gwydir, 4% (1/2 pint)
  • Had a slight spiciness to it, other than that it was pleasant enough.
  • RateBeer Oakham
  • Inferno, 4% (1/2 pint)
  • I was a bit meh with this and the Lady Gwydir, I may have been dehydrated, so I should really give both another chance.
  • RateBeer Dark Star
  • Sunburst, 4.8% (1/2 pint)
  • To be honest, I preferred the one I had from a bottle earlier in the year. It seemed to have a bit of a haze, so not sure if it was on its best form really.
  • RateBeer Abbeydale
  • Deception, 4.1% (1/2 pint)
  • Very pale and it tasted very thick with hops. I had an Oakham Citra that tasted similarly thick with hops earlier in the year and had better on a subsequent tasting, so I’ll hold judgement on this till I can try it again when it’s in better form.
  • Fox
  • 90 Minute IPA, 6% (1/2 pint)
  • I had high hopes for this one and to be honest, if you give your beer the same name as something from Dogfish Head it better live up to the expectation. Initially I thought it was too malty and not bitter enough, it did grow on me, but it needs more hops.
  • RateBeer Acorn
  • Conquest, 5.7% (1/2 pint)
  • I think this is the first beer I’ve had from Acorn and I was quite impressed, it was really nice.

Thornbridge St PetersburgOakham Lady GwydirAbbeydale Deception

Jaipur and Halcyon 2009

Thornbridge JaipurI’ve been waiting to try both of these beers for a while. I couldn’t justify the outlay on a whole case of Halycon, so had to wait until the Jaipur was ready, so I could buy a mixed case. As it happend, The Bacchanalia then got a big order in from Thornbridge which contained both beers, so I didn’t need to order on line after all.

the Jaipur poured a very pale coppery straw colour with a large fluffy white head. The head dropped to a ring round the edge fairly quickly. There was basically no sediment in the bottle, not sure how they managed that, but I’d love to reproduce it with my homebrew. The nose was all fresh grassy hop, with a hint of malt, I’d bee nable to smell the hops from the moment I started the pour.

Fruity malt and hops domminated the taste with a nice lemoney bitterness lingering during the long aftertaste. The beer is well conditioned with few bubbles rising, which really makes me wonder what they did with the sediment. This is a pretty damn awesome beer on cask and now it’s pretty damn awesome in a bottle, I can see the summer months being full of drinking this.

Thornbridge HalcyonWhile the Jaipur was awesome, it was the Halcyon that I was really looking forward to. I’ve had a couple of bottles of it now and I’m pretty much going to discount the notes I wrote the first time I tried it. I think I must have been a bit dehydrated, as it tasted different to every bottle I’ve had since. I could have sworn that it was all resinous c-hops on the nose and grapefruit and bitter orange on the pallete, but it’s not.

It’s a beer of two halfs, there is a lot of loose sediment at the bottom of the bottle and it tastes subtly different if you add the trub to your glass or not. It’s stunning without, but with the trub in, it’s like Spinal Tap have given Thornbrige some hops that go to 11, everything is amped up and more in yer face.

It pours a pale golden straw colour with a good fluffy white head, it has a natural haze fro mall the hops, so it’sa not crystal clear. If you dump all the trub it, it’s not the most appealing looking beer, due to the cloudyness and lumps floating around. The nose has a distinct fresh pineapple smell and if you put the trub into a seperate glass, it’s all resinous and bursting with hops.

It’s got quite a large malty body that disapears under an assault of tropical fruit flavoured hops. Pineapple and mango fruit salad with a nice biting bitterness that lingers during the lovely long aftertaste. It’s so morish it’s rediculous, it’s such a shame but also a pleasure that it’s a once a year beer that you need to drink fresh.

This beer is sublime and I can’t wait to see what next year’s vintage will bring.

I’m not the only one to think Halcyon is rather good:

Cambridge Beer Festival

It’s the 37th Cambridge Beer Festival this week and so far I’ve managed to get to a couple of sessions, one on Monday evening and the other yesterday lunch. I’ll be working tonight, hopefully on the foreign beer bar and all day Saturday, so if you’re around, drop by and say hello.

  • RateBeer Thornbridge
  • Kipling, 5.2% (1/2 pint)
  • Not had this one before and it was a bit of a revelation, really, really nice.
  • RateBeer BrewDog
  • Punk IPA, 6.2% (1/2 pint)
  • This was really disapointing, it was the end of the cask and the hops were having a bit of a holiday.
  • RateBeer Potbelly
  • Eastfield IPA, 7.5% (1/2 pint)
  • another disapointing beer this one, it had a nasty green apple (Acetaldehyde) right in the middle of the taste. Not sure if a bit more conditioning would have got rid of it or not. It was a shame as it would probably have been quite nice otherwise.
  • RateBeer Cairngorm
  • Trade Winds, 4.3% (1/2 pint)
  • I didn’t think this one was as good as the bottles I’ve had in the past, which was a shame.
  • RateBeer Sambrooks
  • Wandle, 3.8% (1/2 pint)
  • I thought this was a nice and plesant session beer.
  • Royal Tunbridge Wells
  • Royal, 4.1% (1/2 pint)
  • Disapointing this one, I know they are a new brewery and everything, but… It didn’t have any condition and was all malt driven with hardly any hop character.
  • RateBeer Hopshackle
  • Double Momentum, 7% (1/2 pint)
  • Delicious, I serious considered throwing a sickie so I could stay and drink some more…

Hopshackle Double MomentumThornbridge JaipurCrouch Vale Amarillo

The Cambridge Blue Festival of Winter Ales

Moonshine Pickled MoonAs I mentioned yesterday, I spent last night at The Cambridge Blue Festival of Winter Ales and had a great time, fantastic company and some awesome beer. I had a hit list of eight beers that I wanted to try, one of them wasn’t there, so I managed the other seven, which is quite good going for me.

Moonshine 800 Years of Innovation (Gruit)I decided to start off at the lower end of the ABV scale with a couple of beers from the local Cambridge Moonshine brewery. First up was Pickled Moon, a 3.5% apple beer that was served out of a wooden cask. It tasted like cider and was lacking any sort of wooden buttery lactic notes. Next up was 800 Years of Innovation, a 3.5% gruit with no hops but five different herbs and you could certainty smell them. It was okay, but not really my cup of tea, I’d rather have some hops.

Thornbridge JaipurI really wanted to try the Adnams Beglian Wit, but it wasn’t there, so I moved onto Thornbridge Jaipur, a 5.9% proper IPA. This is a beer I’ve read a lot about on the internet and on twitter, it’s even moved people to come up with new words. I’ve tried it from a 330ml bottle before and was distinctly underwhelmed, so I had high hopes. From the first sip I could see why people have been raving about it, it was really nice, lots of body and lovely and bitter with some blousey hops.

Thornbridge SeaforthThornbridge Seaforth was next up, again it’s a 5.9% proper IPA and is supposed to be a version of Jaipur that only uses British (English?) ingredients. To be honest, this was my beer of the night, it totally blew me away. The balance was fantastic and it was just so, so drinkable, I’d recommend this to anyone it’s just sublime.

Thornbridge RavenThere was one more Thornbridge beer to try, Raven, a 6.6% black IPA, yes I know that is an oxymoron, but it’s easier to set expectations about what it will be like by calling it that. It was really nice, sort of like a BrewDog Black Dog with a bit more oomph. Of the three, Seaforth was the stand out, utterly superb, Raven would be next followed by Jaipur. I’d happily drink all three again, although I would probably just find myself drinking Seaforth if given the choice.

Moonshine Transforming TomorrowAs I was relying on the goodwill of some friends for a lift home and time was running out, I decided to get to grips with a couple of the stronger beers. I headed straight for Moonshine Transforming Tomorrow, a 8.6% stout served fro ma wooden cask. Unlike his apple effort, you can really taste the wood with this one, a distinct buttery lacticness that coats the top of your mouth during the after taste. I popped into The Bacchanalia at lunch today and was chatting to Ed, he thinks that the cask this beer was in is has infected wood and that there is a distinct taste noticeable. I’ve never had the beer before, so I can’t comment either way, it was slightly different to what I was expecting though.

Adnams Tally HoTo finish the evening I plumped for an Adnams Tally Ho that had been aged for 16 months in the pub cellar. It poured very still with little conditioning and was a malty, fruity delight to drink. I enjoyed it so much I forgot to take a photo, hence why there is a picture of a bottle in the recently drunk gallery.

It was a great evening, great company, some nice beers and some great beers. If you are around Cambridge either tonight or tomorrow, then you could do a lot worse than pop in for a pint or two.

  • Moonshine
  • 800 Years of Innovation (Gruit), 3.5% (1/2 pint)
  • RateBeer Moonshine
  • Transforming Tomorrow, 8.6% (1/2 pint)

Off To The Pub

I’m off to The Cambridge Blue this evening as they have a winter beer festival on. I wasn’t planning on going, but I’m meeting a couple of friends and I have some Adnams beer (Tally Ho and William Godell) for one of them, so it’s the idea opportunity to hand them over.

The beer list for the festival looks quite good, I have my eye on two Adnams beers, three Cambridge Moonshine beers and three Thornbridge beers. Hopefully they’ll all be on and in good nick.