Friday, 27 January 2012

Millennium Bridge Ale

For those that don't know the Millennium Bridge is a fairly new massive(ish) bridge that crosses the River Tyne and is one of the signature landmarks in Geordie land (North East England). Some Mordue fans may remember that last year we brewed a one-off batch to commemorate the bridge's 10th anniversary way back last august. We were on TV, and remember how odd it was having a film crew in the brewery as the big man Mick Henry took his bad invincible council leading self round our gaff for a short tour of the crib.

If the Mayor likes it, it must be good!
Ah those were the days. Back then, before the Red Rye Riwaka work-a-thon, the Christmas rush and Yeast Maister Dave getting his cask washing level two badge (his celebrations went on long into the night).

But anyway, it seems the time has come for it to be brewed again (as it is the February seasonal) and I sure am looking forward to the brew day. Millennium Bridge ale is one of those simple, straight down the middle beers that's a joy to put together. Like a fish finger sandwich or cheese on toast, the finished article is also damn nice. So in the next few weeks I will have my eye on the orders list to see where I can hunt out this one for quality control purposes.

The bridge in all it's glory

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

That other good pub in Alnwick

Last Saturday I wandered into my second favourite pub in Alnwick, The Tanners Arms. Since I moved to Alnwick I've been a fan of The Tanners. On my visits to Alnwick's award-winning John Bull Inn the Tanners has always been that back-up option that rarely gets used. However recently I've taken a certain liking to the place and at first I was confused as to why this was. The John Bull has has a superior beer range (whereas the Tanners has rarely more than three handpulls on the go at once) and an immense array of over a hundred malt whiskys on offer (the Tanners has an alright range). 

But this isn't the point. The thing that's interesting about pubs is that each has its own charm, its own individual vibe almost. Those that know the pubs of Newcastle know that sampling craft brews at the Free Trade isn't the same as knocking back pints of Gladiator at the Crown Posada. The same goes in Alnwick. The Tanners has its own charms, atmosphere, friendly clientele and a tree right in the middle of it. Even though the giant wide screen TV looks totally out of place an a bit wrong the place still gets the thumbs up from me. 

But here's the question. How important is it for a pub to have a good beer range? For me it definitely makes a difference especially on first impressions. But without any interesting beers at all I usually end up walking straight back out the door.     

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Melissa Cole. Let me tell you about beer

It all went wrong when they too out that injunction

I would say this was definitely one of my top ten Christmas presents from last year.  Let me tell you about beer, by Melissa Cole, does more or less what it says on the cover with the aid of plenty of cool pictures of beer, brewing, beer with food, Melissa Cole, Melissa Cole with beer, bottled beers and so on. The layout makes things easy-going, delivering things chunk by chunk in a Randy Mosher (esque) but not quite so quirky sort of style. The dialogue is easy to follow and comes across quite passionate at times and the contents cover pretty much everything a book on beer should (brewing basics, history of beer styles etc).

One of the strong points about this book for me are the beer style categories, which are really well summed up. Here loads of  Cole's favourite beers are in the book exemplifying the different styles covering everything from The Kernel, Great Divide and Mikkeller to Cantillon and Orval to Moorhouses, Adnams and Theakstons and not to mention all those crazy Italian craft brews. So it covers a huge variety of different beers without being one of those 1000 page epics trying to cover every worthy beer on the planet.

In short, its a good book and its approach to the reader is a lot more easy going than a lot of the old CAMRA publications (sorry Protzy, I did nod off a bit during those last couple of books). Basically I can see any beer curious individual taking a lot from this very easily and as an insight to the current world of craft beer, there isn't really anything that's missed out.

So after my strict evaluation of the M.Cole book I have reached the conclusion that its proppa bo!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The twelth beer of Christmas

Baladin Xyauyù

Yep, it's more or less all over now. All thats left to do is take the decorations down. To be honest this beer would have been great on Christmas or Doxing Day as an after dinner drink. Ir's bold, approachable and about as far away from a conventional beer as beer can get.

Xyauyù apparently is the name of Baladin brew master Teo Musso's daughter's imaginary friend. To make it even more crazy the 14.5% monster brew is matured in open top tanks as a method to purposely oxidise the beer so it develops rich sherry/Madeira flavours. It pours a deep reddish mahogony brown in the glass with no trace of carbonation whatsoever.

The aroma is fascinating. Sweet fig like fruit and sherry like alcoholic notes, which is similar to how it tastes. This sure is one heavyweight beer, incredibly rich yet immensely smooth with a long silky finish of warming alcoholic sherry and toffee apple. Strangely enough I love it.