Friday, 25 July 2008

The Great Lawn Session of 2008

Last Monday saw the advent of the great lawn session of 2008 due to a day of brilliant sunshine. The session opened at early afternoon after much scrambling to prepare and frustrating traffic on the A1 south. With the only thing missing being my shorts, I opened the session at 13:31 with a Bitburger pils, before moving into weizen territory which included the full bodied flavour packed Meantime Grand Cru Wheat. Some quality pale lagers featured strongly in the mid afternoon including the maverick of all lagers Brew Dog Cult Lager. Next in the line-up were the pale ales, and although the annual attendant Landlord did get drank, the bottle consumed seed a little on the tired side.
Clear skies and some patchy cloud continued to dominate the day before gradual cloud cover came in at 19:50. Indoors the session continued with some Belgian blondes and the very sweet, potent barley wine Samuel Smiths strong golden finished the session. Overall a lawn session almost as good as the ones from the old days of 2003-2004 era, but defiantly much better the GLS 2007.

Claims to fame.

Note that this week I am featured in a small column in the supplement Northumberland Now with myself reviewing three summer beers. Furthermore I am also featured on the Allendale breweries website with some reviews I did for them the other month. See it now on

Monday, 21 July 2008

The most peculiar of sessions

Last weekend me and my fiancée Helen went to visit my aunties in their caravan over in Whitby for good long sustaining session whilst playing board games inside (because it rained most of the evening). Tragically I was expecting brilliant sunshine and so packed mostly summer beers meaning I ended up drinking them in the incorrect mood and moment. However the darkest beer of the evening, Theakstons Old Peculiar, a well known old ale, I decided to drink later in the evening whilst playing trivial pursuit. It was around this time that my aunty Judy decided to test if Monty (my grandmothers chocolate Labrador) liked the smell of old peculiar ale by giving him a sniff of the bottle in which Monty replied by giving the bottle neck a good lick.
How peculiar I thought, and decided to pour alittle into my hand and gave him a try in which he frantically consumed with much enthusiasm. After our doggy friend had licked up a few handfuls he did nothing but beg for more, looking at me with those puppy dog eyes saying “please Rob, more beer Rob, give me some more beer”. So I poured a few hundred mils into Montys water bowl and he happily slurped it up. Althoght we didn’t want to give him to much more fearing the consequences (him barking abuse and starting fights with other dogs of the campsite, before staggering lifelessly about and throwing up in the gutter after his Jumbo kebab and fries). But still to be confirmed is the question of would Monty like other beers if on offer? And if so which style of beer would he prefer? Because of these event I have decided that later this year I shall attempt to home brew my very own brown ale dedicated to Monty called ‘Montys Brown ale’ by whole grain. Although I wasn’t thinking of making the recipe complicated at all, a simple beer to reflect the character of a simple minded but rather strong dog.

Monty: A dog with good taste.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Beer Drinking in July

Beer festival in the John Bull. 9/7/08.

Last Wednesday saw Alnwicks very own beer centre the John Bulls host its very own beer festival which featured some classics such as York Guzzler and Al wheat pet, an old favourite that sold out before I could even get a sample. Highly ranked by myself was Okells summer storm, a soft textured wheat beer with plenty of hop complexity in the finish as well as Banks & Taylor fruit bat, a refined easy drinking fruit beer of very pale appearance with over-toned blackcurrant and plumb. It was overall an eventful evening with all the regulars taking part and as usual, as with every night in the John Bull I ended up chatting away with some old folks I never knew about beer and anything related to beer, something that only happens in the John Bull of all the places in Alnwick.

Improving weather gives hope for great lawn session.

As the summer twists through unpredictable turns of rain, sun overcast and light cloud it is noticeably this month that the weather has seen more frequent sun which means more possibilities for the Great lawn session of 2008 to be executed. Already are the beers in place in my parents spear fridge, lined in order of consumption. Hese include the likes of Bitburger pils, Brew Dog Lager, Timothy Taylors Landlord and a couple of good wheat beers.
All that really hangs in the balance is having free days in the right places to get the event underway, and in the meantime I can concentrate on my new beer drinking project. The Northumberland Gazette (who I wrote beer reviews for last winter) has given me the offer to do reviews on summer beers in there Northumberland now supplement. I have over a week left to submit my work but already have the first review written. Also to mention to any readers of beers of the world magazine that I may already be slightly famous. In this months issue the opening letter by the editor mentions a single hardcore fan at the beers of the world event who followed Roger Protz around with a notebook and carefully studied the back of all bottles. Funny thing is I don’t remember anyone else participating in such activities whilst at the event. All another step towards world stardom for not only myself but craft beer in general, good show.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The rules of beer drinking etiquette.

Here are the rules of beer drinking etiquette, follow these rules at all times in all places to become a true connoisseur of beer.

1. Never drink directly from the bottle, even at house parties or picknicks always use the appropriate, clean glassware.

2. Always use the correct glass for the beer your drinking. For example always use a champagne flute or pilsner glass for pilsners, a wheat beer glass for wheat beers and the standard nonic for most English style ales, find out more on

3. In restaurants always order a beer that will complement the food you choose to eat… Correction, always choose a dish that will complement the beer you will be drinking, this applies at home, picnics, barbecues, dinner parties or anywhere else.

4. As continuation to rule 3, if a restaurant or any establishment licensed to serve alcohol does not sell any interesting beers do not give service to these establishments.

5. Avoid all beers served by nitrokeg or any beer promoted as ‘light’ or ‘extra cold’.

6. During session drinking, always start with the beer of the lightest palate.

7. In a session always choose at least one beer you have not tried before.

8. Have shame on those who think all beer is classified as ether lager, beer or Guinness, but also be open minded that these people can better themselves.

9. Always try to control the speed of which you drink in accordance with how many new beers are available, how much time you have and how many beers you are planning to drink. I usually make a mental time plan of the session before I start so I know which beer im starting on, finishing on, matching with the first course etch. Remember getting to plastered to fast spoils the enjoyment of each individual beer. Stay in the comfort zone, be at one with your beer, focus on it, and ignore anyone urging you to down it so we can move to the next bar.

10. Don’t drink and drive. This can cause spillages leading to sticky beer damaging the electrics. Its also Illegal.

Final note: although I do not always live by these rules I do consider them as strict guidelines. For example sometimes in restaurants I accidentally missmatch the wrong food with the wrong beer, and sometimes rule 6 must be broken in times when only a limited choice of beers is available.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

New beer style of the month

As mentioned earlier last week I conducted my John Bull birthday session with a few mates which after opening with the wonderfully balanced Batemans Middle wicket and a few other cask beers turned into a Belgian beer fest. It began with a craving for a good sour red ale mid session, which led me to choose the Rodenback Grand Cru, the sourest beast of a beer in the house. After this it was getting late, and I decided to venture into the heavier beers. A peculiar newcomer on the board, Grimbergen Optimo Bruno at 10% alcohol proved itself with a distinct, refined, but ultimately complex palate of bold treacle tart and golden syrup reinforced by warming alcohols. A very rich beer that’s strangely clean and well integrated, defiantly recommended to match sweet desserts such as treacle tart or sticky toffee pudding. The night was then finished with a Trappistes Rochefort 8, an old favourite served in its correct glass.

As we know it is now July and therefore mid summer, but also time for a new beer style of the month. The new beer style of the month weizen, and this included all German wheat beer styles including hefe weizen, weizenbock, dunkelweizen and steinweizen. So if anyone has any good weizens they’ve tried lately, feel free to comment and I shall scope my records to see if I’ve reviewed it. Adversely if your out hunting for some Germen wheat beers feel free to let me know how it goes and remember in restaurants (good ones with a range of beers) that weizens are renown to be well matched to fish based dishes.