Chimay Bleue – 9% Trappist Ale

25 07 2011

Brewed by Trappist monks in Belgium; Chimay Bleue is for many people the definitive Trappist ale.

At 9% it is the strongest of the three Chimay offerings, four if you manage to get your hands on their Patersbier and the one most frequently seen in pubs and off licences world over.

Like all of the Trappist beers Chimay Bleue is sold solely in order to fund the monastery and to help promote it’s good works….all the more reason to keep drinking!

A quick word of warning, the strength of Bleue is very, very well masked with very little alcoholic taste evident, as such it is quite possible to forget it is 9% and end up really quite drunk 😉

In terms of appearance Bleue is a coppery red/brown with a thinnish off-white head which dissipates quite quickly. It is typically a clear beer but I have had a couple of bottles that were quite cloudy, either way the taste wasn’t affected and that is the main thing!

A lovely sweet and fruity aroma is present upon pouring, it really puts me in mind of Demerara sugar and really plump, juicy raisins or sultanas….mmm heaven

The taste is just great, it really is, for such a strong beer it is surprisingly sweet and well-balanced. Early on you get a malty sweetness with a slight hint of spiciness creeping in, next you get the fruits hinted at in the aroma – again we are looking at dark dried fruits and even a hint of plums or damsons.

There is a nice finish to the beer with just a hint of bitterness beginning to edge in, this isn’t unpleasant in any way and actually serves to perfectly cut through the sweetness and richness of the fruit before it becomes overwhelming or cloying and gives a nice refreshing element which leaves you craving the next sip.

There are very few beers that I really finding myself longing for, sure I have personal favourites or beers that I can’t walk past without drinking but there are literally a handful of beers that I ever find myself craving….Chimay Bleue is one of that handful.

5/5





Duvel double pack

17 07 2011

A few weeks back I wrote about the Maredsous and Chimay triple packs that have recently reappeared in our local off licence.

Well hot on their tasty little heels is a new arrival; the Duvel double pack with glass goblet…

 

The glass is great… odd as it sounds to say that it really is, anyone who hasn’t tried Duvel from one of these chalices/goblets is really missing out, the flavours open up a lot and a beer that is already great becomes truly excellent -you can read my review of Duvel here.

The price on this was particularly good, I paid €6.25 which seems like a little bit of a steal when you work out that each bottle of Duvel by itself is €3.80 and that last time the goblets were in stock they wanted a whopping €7.50 for them





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.

3.6/5





Maredsous taster pack with glass

28 06 2011

Being the kind chap that I am I thought I would bring to your attention an offer I stumbled upon in my local off licence the other night.

They are selling a “Taster pack” of 3 bottles of Maredsous packaged with an attractive branded glass.

Now personally I am a sucker for beer related glassware and can regularly be seen poncing around with my oversized Chimay chalice or some other piece of promotional tat but fancy glasses aside these packs represent both great value for money and a great introduction for anyone not familiar with Maredsous.

The pack contains 3 x 33cl bottles, one each of the Blond – 6%, Bruin – 8% and Tripel – 10% all of which are great examples of Abbey beers and are cracking beers in their own rights.

I also mentioned that these packs are often good value for money; in my particular off licence each individual bottle of beer would set you back  €2.80 and glasses – when they have them, are normally a fiver so that would be a grand total of €13.40. 

Now this taster pack is selling here at €9.99  so that is a massive saving of €3.41 or in real terms the difference between me going home with 3 bottles of Maredsous and a glass or me going home with  3 bottles of Maredsous, a glass, a bottle of Fullers 1845 and a packet of scampi fries.

Not that I advocate the eating of scampi fries.





BrewDog AB06 Goes Live

25 06 2011

Some of you might have been keeping pace with BrewDog’s Abstrakt range of beers, click here to find out more if you haven’t.

Well I have finally managed to get my hands on my first bottle of AB 06 and will be drinking it and reviewing it at the first available oppurtunity, until that time here is what the BrewDogs themsevles have to say about it.

 

“The latest version of our Abstrakt Series is now for sale.  You can get your paws on some here: http://www.brewdog.com/product/abstrakt-ab06 and from the abstrakt website here http://www.abstrakt.com/product/ab06 

 AB06 is a 11.5% Imperial Black IPA which has been triple dry hopped.  This beer is savage; boasting more bitterness and more hops than any BrewDog creation to date, combining loads of awesome malts and monumental amounts of our favourite hops.

 As always with Abstrakt, each bottle is individually numbered and very well suited to ageing. Drink one now and then age one for a couple of years and see how it develops. Cellar it up.”

 





Hoegaarden Witbier 4.9%

9 06 2011

It has been a while since my last beer review but rest assured I haven’t been resting on my laurels sipping water, far from it, in fact I have been quaffing a ridiculous number of beers covering the whole spectrum; the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

So without further ado I give you today’s offering:

Hoegaarden may not be the most adventurous or hard to find of the beers I have/will reviewed but it a far cry from most of the mass-produced tat you are likely to find being pumped out down your local and as such is well deserving of my time.

Hoegaarden is a Belgian Witbier  that has been around in one guise or another for a damn long time…it has been brewed in the village of Hoegaarden since 1445  to be precise.

The modern incarnation of this venerable beer came about in 1965 when Belgian milkman Pierre Celis recreated the traditional recipe in his hayloft following the closure of the last commercial brewery in Hoegaarden some ten years previous.

Now what a recipe it is;  water, yeast, wheat, hops, coriander and dried Curaçao orange peel.  Not quite what you get in your dull old Heineken!

Now as the sharp-eyed amongst you might have spotted from the picture this is a slightly cloudy pale beer with a good-sized white head that lasts reasonably well with plenty of lacing.

The aroma of the beer is great there are hints of citrus, freshly mown grass, a slight hint of yeastiness rather like freshly  baked bread  and a hunt of spice… a good start.

On drinking the beer there is a big burst of flavour right up front, cloves, coriander and citrus pretty much explode into your taste buds with a background fruitiness not dissimilar to banana and a slight touch of pepper.

This really is a great tasting beer and as much as there are a lot of seemingly strong flavours they are balance out well and there isn’t anything that ever threatens to overwhelm.

In short a really, really good beer.

4.5





1,300 pubs closed in the UK last year.

16 03 2011

According to the latest figures from the British Beer and Pub Association there were 1,300 pubs in the UK that shut their doors for the final time last year.

The number of pub closures has fallen from 40 a week in 2009 to 25 a week now, with the rate of losses highest in London and north-west England.

The BBPA have stated that these pub closures have resulted in the loss of over 13,000 jobs nationwide.

BBPA  chief executive Brigid Simmonds had this to say:”The closure of 25 pubs every week is bad news for the economy, as the sector plays such a vital role. It’s also a blow for local communities, with pubs often acting as the hub of local life.

“With the right policies, this vital part of our tourism and hospitality sector could be creating new jobs, and helping to bring Britain out of recession.

“If we really do have a pub-friendly Government as the Prime Minister says, the time to act is now – with a freeze in beer duty in the Budget.”

So there we have it folks loss of pubs, loss of choice and loss of livelihoods. Pub closures are a bad thing at anytime but to see this many jobs lost in the midst of one of the worst recessions ever is even worse. Fair enough the rate at which pubs are shutting has slowed but we are still on a slippery slope.

If you are concerend about the closure of British pubs and the loss of jobs then please lobby your local MP or contact CAMRA to see how you can help.





Bateman’s XXXB

3 01 2011

Batemans is an independent brewery from Wainfleet in Lincolnshire; the Bateman family have been operating the brewery on a pretty much continual basis since  1874 and along the way have turned out some cracking beers and picked up rather a lot of awards – the most recent of these being “Best Regional Brewer” at the Publican Awards 2010.

XXXB is their 4.8% premium bitter and has previously been voted as being one of the top 50 beers in the world.

I have sampled XXXB on a number of occasions over the past few years, both on tap and most recently bottled as part of a deal from our local off licence – all Batemans beers €2.00 a bottle, a real bargain by Irish standards!

XXXB pours to a nice clear coppery finish with a mid-sized head that lasted reasonably well with a fair amount of lacing.

The initial aroma that I picked up was that of a slightly bitter  black tea with some citrus and a bit of sweetness coming in afterwards  – possibly toffee.

On drinking this beer the first thing I noticed was that there is very little sweetness to it, the citrus comes through quite clearly along with a slight nuttiness and some biscuity richness from the malts.

There is a lot of bitterness present through out along with the slight taste of black tea, this with the slight element of citrus makes for a very refreshing pint although some might find it a touch sour towards the finish.

The body is reasonably light but the carbonation is spot on resulting in a very pleasant mouthfeel overall.

In my opinion XXXB is better than average but there is certainly room for improvement.

4/5





White Horse – Black Horse Porter

30 12 2010

Black Horse Porter is a seasonal beer from the White Horse brewery (see what they did there…) from Stanford-in-the-Vale in Oxfordshire.

I have encountered a couple of their beers before and had found them to be well above average, in particular Volund’s Hammer and Wayland Smithy.

I came across this beer on cask at the Argyll Arms at Oxford Circus and after looking at the tasting notes – great idea everywhere should do it – I decided to give it a spin.

In terms of looks this is exactly what a porter should be, so dark it’s nearly black with a good firm white head that stays well for the duration of the pint.

You get the expected aroma of chocolate malt along with a rich biscuity note and some very light fruit.

The taste of this porter is superb, rich roasted malts give real depth and body to the beer whilst there is a nice hint of dark fruits which add a little tartness without making the beer in anyway fruity or overly sweet. There is a long dry finish and a really surprising kick of hops which really makes this porter sing.

I found this porter to a be a real treat, it was warming and full bodied with a great depth of flavour to it and the liberal use of Kentish hops really made it stand out.

4.7/5





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.

4.0/5








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