Saturday, October 9, 2010

Straw poll: Winter ales?

A quick question for all readers (and writers) of this blog: what winter ales would you recommend? (Any thoughts on what defines a winter ale also welcome.)

Have you ever tried any of the following seasonal beers from some of my favourite breweries?
  • Box Steam, Xmas Dark Box
  • Cairngorm, Howler
  • Orkney, Clootie Dumpling
  • Ringwood, XXXX Porter
  • Vale, Hadda's Winter Solstice

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Best Pub in London? - 2

This is a follow up to our previous post, about the Bree Louise, that surprised us with the selection of real ale and ciders on offer. Even though we only had some chips to eat, others have also praised their homemade pies and I will probably go back to try them.
Despite being very busy (it was a Friday night), we had good service and managed to get hold of a table while we were still drinking our first pint. Great conversation, office gossip, news sharing and many cheers followed and here are my thoughts on some of the ales and cider I tried.

Brew Dog Punk IPA, clear orange pale ale with fresh, gently citrusy head; dry golden, a bit tingly first taste; bitter and mild on the tongue with a good mix of hops and bitterness on the swallow. And is this mix that made it my favourite of the night. As GB suggested, Punk must be a reference to the cheeky foretaste, an uncompromisingly in-your-face beer.

Tempted by the selection of ciders and because I am in a Perry-liking phase (usually Perry is too sweet for my taste), I tried Weston Country Perry. Very light, extremely sweet but eminently quaffable; like a juice you could have drunk the whole pint down at once. Not much pear in the taste, but much less harsh than an apple cider. Good, but not impressive.

Towards the end of the night, I had a dark ale with a christmasy name: Downton Chocolate Orange. Quite dark golden/brown, creamy porter aroma; shocking hit of chocolate and sweet citrus straightaway, but a bit artificial and it doesn't last, and is replaced by a very palatable bitterness; not too dark-tasting at all, but the noticeable chocolate orange hit is a pleasant surprise.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Best pub in London?

To my great delight (although also shame) I was introduced for the first time earlier this week to the Bree Louise, an amazing pub (local Camra's best last year) with a range of 16 real ales on pump or gravity cask, plus lots of ciders (*ack*). (The website sucks, so don't judge it on that.) They haven't gone to great lengths to make the pub itself beautiful either--mismatched tables and rickety chairs are over-crowded into the space, smoke from the smokers on the pavement and in the doorways carries into the bar, and there's almost nothing vegetarian on the food menu, but the range of beer and the friendly and knowledgeable staff more or less make up for all that.

When I arrived at the bar I couldn't see what was on gravity, so I asked the barmaid for "something dark but not too dark", and received a perfectly drinkable pint--but I neglected to ask what it was, so there's not much point in reviewing it.

I then ordered a pint of the Dark Star Festival, which is a clear dark ale with a scent of fruity sap; it's a little tart, but has a good strong bitter flavour and a very satisfying swallow. This could easily become our regular evening beer. (But not tonight.)