Banks UCB – Ultimate Curry Beer

28 06 2011


Here is a bit of an oddity that I turned up on draft at the Coppermill in Walthamstow last time that I was back home.

As the sharp eyed amongst you may have spotted UCB stands for Ultimate Curry Beer and it has been brewed specifically to accompany said food stuff, now as anyone who has set foot in the Coppermill will know there isn’t really food on offer in the pub, pickled egg anyone, as such I was drinking this with my usual accompaniment of more pints.

I have heard from a few people that UCB really isn’t a beer to be drunk by itself and whilst I don’t completely agree with them I can see their point, it has a very strong, very hoppy flavour and may not be to everyone’s tastes, however with a good spicy curry it would work perfectly.

Personally I like strong tasting beers and actually enjoyed this as a nice pint for a relaxed afternoon session, the 5.3% ABV is easy going enough that you could sink more than a few pints with ease yet strong enough that know you still know youare having a beer.

In terms of appearance UCB is a rich, golden brown with a fairly thick creamy head not unlike a pint of stout or dare I mention it… Caffreys – Shudder. The head lasts well for the duration of the pint with a fair amount of lacing.

In terms of taste and aroma the hopping comes through very clearly along with some strong citrus and a little floral hint, as mentioned previously the hopping IS strong but in a refreshing way.

All in all a pretty good pint and worth a try IF you happen to come across it, if you are lucky enough to come across it at the same time as a good hot curry then you are in for a real treat.


Abbot Ale – 5% English Ale

13 12 2010

Abbot Ale is Greene King’s flagship beer and is also one of the first real ales that I ever had the pleasure of trying back in the day.

As such it is probably a little surprising that it has taken me quite so long to work my way round to writing a review on this particular beer.

I guess the biggest reason is that of choice; there are so many other beers out there and I am so keen to try them all (ambitious I know!) that if I am out in the pub I will drink pretty much anything before I consider heading for an Abbot, likewise if I am in an off-license there are literally hundreds of bottles that would come home with me first.

First things first let me state that this is a cask pint from the Hamilton Hall at Liverpool Street Station. It is NOT – note the capital letters –  from one of these cans with a widget in. I don’t really like most ales in a can and Abbot is no exception.

When poured properly, not like my first pint that was slopped into the glass whilst the barmaid was chatting to her friend, you should see a clear golden/amber pint with a decent white head of about 2 fingers width which slowly fades away to a thin layer which stays throughout.

You can quite clearly make out the smell of malts, some fruity sweetness and a touch of hops but everything is fairly muted with no one aroma standing out from the crowd.

The first flavour that really hits you is a sweet toasted maltiness but before that can start to seem a bit too much you get the hops kicking in, there are some floral notes and a slight Earthiness – some have even said it seems a bit skunky on occasion. After the hops have started to recede a little you get the bitterness of the beer coming through along with a slight hint of citrus/orange  as well.

The flavours in Abbot ale are all quite crisp, strong and well-defined the only slight issue that I have is that everything is a little bit mish-mash and all over the shop, for example there is a fairly distinct cinder toffee note that you get right towards the end of the beer and because there is nothing around to balance it or cut through it you are left with a slightly burnt after taste. Not unpleasant by any standards but possibly a little disconcerting to some.

I have an old friend who always accuses me of being more complementary of Abbot Ale than I should be as a result of it being one of my first real ales. He might have a point but then again sod him,  there is something to be said for flavours or smells that take us back to a certain time or place and if Abbot Ale does that for me then so be it!

When all is said and done I still  have my original problem with Abbot; it is a good beer, there is nothing about it that is unpleasant or even less than pleasing but it isn’t a great beer – I wouldn’t ask for a pint to be bought to me on my death-bed.

If you are looking for a good example of an English Ale than Abbot will see you just fine but there are better beers to be had.


Marstons Old Empire Original Export IPA 5.7% A.B.V

12 10 2010

Following on from my post about Harviestouns Bitter and Twisted here is my promised post on Marstons Old Empire I.P.A as raided from my local off licence before they vanished into the mist as everything interesting there is want to do.

Before I start reviewing this beer I am going to take a brief moment to make sure everyone is up to speed on quite what an IPA is and why it is such named.

IPA quite literally stands for India Pale Ale and the clue as to it’s birth and reason for being are in the name; back when England had an Empire the expats who made up the British Raj had a bit of a thirst on and understandably they wanted to ease that thirst with beer.

Most popular beers at the time weren’t stable enough to make the long sea journey to India from good old Blighty and such something new was needed.

IPA was the perfect solution it was well hopped so would last for longer, it had a higher alcohol content, again for longer shelf life and it was light and refreshing making it perfect for drinking in the warm Indian climate.

It was an instant hit with the Raj and before long it was a hit at home as well.

Well that is my little potted history lesson completed so it is time to crack on with the beer in hand (well now in stomach)

Marston’s Old Empire Original Export IPA is one of just many hundreds if not thousands of brands of IPA available to the beer drinker today.

However if you were to mention IPA to a lot of people they will instantly think of the Greene King offering which thanks to their size and marketing savvy is available in most pubs you set foot in, even if they don’t offer any other real ale.

There is nothing wrong with Greene King IPA however as with everything variety is the spice of life and there are a whole range of great flavoursome IPAs out there ready to be drunk; Marston’s Old Empire is one of these.

The aroma of Old Empire is not dissimilar to a slightly damp pine forest there are some pine and grassy notes a hint of citrus and a malt note almost hidden away at the back.

Marstons might have been aiming for this sort of damp forest floor aroma from Old Empire but I just found it to be more than a little skunky, if I had to hazard a guess I would say that this skunkiness is a result of the choice of a clear glass bottle.

Old Empires pours a dark golden colour with a mid sized white head which leaves very little lacing .

On tasting the beer you notice a nice bitter ctirus peel flavour, some hint of caramel maltiness and a nice grassy/hay like note creeping in.  There is a nice zing to Old Empire along with the ever so slightly sulfurous taste that you get with all of Marston’s beers due to Burton on Trent being such a hard water area.

There are two main downsides to the taste and feel of Old Empire, the first is that the hint of skunk that you can pick up in the aroma is still there lingering in the background when you drink it and the second is that bearing in mind that it is supposed to be a traditional IPA made to an original recipe I would expect it to be a bit “bigger” particularly given that it’s ABV is on the high side for a lot of modern IPA.



Who are CAMRA?

29 04 2010

You will probably hear me mention CAMRA a great deal in my posts, as such I should probably explain who they are and what they do.

In a nutshell CAMRA is the CAMpaign for Real Ale, they were formed back in the 70s with the aim of promoting and raising awareness for Real Ale, Real Cider and the British Pub.

They tend to promote smaller brewers and champion the less common types of beer and other traditional drinks; for example porters, milds, perry and stouts.

They publish a good beer guide each year, along with their monthly magazine which goes out to about 100k members.

CAMRA also organise and support a large number of beer festivals around the UK including the Great British Beer Festival at which there are often awards given out to beers that they deem to be particularly worthy.

If you want to find out more about them or possibly even become a member than you can visit there website here

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