All About Beer

Although this blog is generally about wine – every so often I think it’s fair enough to go “off piste” (an unintentional pun – but I’m leaving it in).

So this post is all about beer.

I was raised on real ale – there is a picture of me somewhere as a two-year-old trying to neck the dregs of my Dad’s pint jug outside the Bird In Hand.

Growing up near Henley-on-Thames, everything on tap was generally Brakspear’s – brewed in the town centre. Going to college there, I learned to love the smell of hops wafting across the town when coming out of lectures.  The brewery was bought up by a big drinks co and brewing moved to Manchester and while the pubs continued to serve it, the new improved version had a slight tang of eggs (it never travelled well) and despite attempts, for me, they never really got that old pint back.

I reminisce about this as I’d moved away from this somewhat – and probably more likely to have a glass of wine in hand than a pint and it was a welcome surprise to go to an impromptu beer tasting at a friend’s house.

The majority of the beers were from the Eden Brewery near St Andrews – based at the former paper mill and only on site for about five months or so.

It featured their St Andrews Ale, a light fizzy beer with a grapefruity aftertaste; a special Christmas beer – that had shades of cinnamon and tasted like a Christmas pudding; and a dark and rich porter.

The highlight for me though was the three different Edradour beers which were made in whisky barrels – a limited edition because once they’re used once, the barrels will never produce the same beer again.  There were three varieties, one with a Sauterne finish, a sherry cask and my personal favourite – Claret.Beer line up

This 6.9 per cent alcohol beer had been stored for 50 days in Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux barrels, which had held Ballechin whisky for seven years. It had such a distinct flavour – the smoke and peat of a good whisky and a finish of a good Bordelais wine.

In Scotland and now further afield, one of the big movers in microbreweries has been Brewdog. The company originating in Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire has made a lot of noise with its range of strong, well-marketed and colourfully labelled beers – it promises the drinker something different from the “yellow fizzy lagers” – but also sets itself apart from the Campaign for Real Ale and its image of fuddy-duddy old men with beards.

I’ve found the image a bit of a turn-off to be honest, but more than that, never really liked the beers I’d tried. But with one of the last two offerings in the tasting I had to eat my words.

Both from their Abstract range and a whopping 12 per cent alcohol, special editions sent out to people who’ve taken up the offer to buy shares, the first had a delicious rich port taste

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One response to “All About Beer

  1. I only just saw this, but wanted to share the Scottish Borders Brewery with you: http://www.scottishbordersbrewery.com/ as it’s kinda up your way and having drunk copious amounts at a wedding last year, I can vouch for its deliciousness. P.s. The whole Brewdog thing, being high ABV and a little bit trendy, is too reminiscent of the Two Dogs Alco-lemonade junk that was released in the late 90′s to be of interest to me (but I suppose the target audience are too young to remember ;) ). Am not a fan of high alcohol beer tbh – if it’s 12%, I’ll drink wine.

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