Saturday, 29 December 2012

Doctor's Orders

Having escaped work a bit early yesterday I finally got a chance to pop into my new local, it having opened on Sunday. Doctor's Orders is Nottingham's first Micro-Pub, and the name came about because it used to be Carrington Pharmacy (which has now moved a few doors closer to town). This also explains the 'prescriptions' window through which you can have a look at the beer stillage. Room being at a premium there's no bar, it's just a matter of grabbing yourself a table and ordering your beer, and don't be expecting much other than beer or cider or you'll be disappointed. It's cask only, and all that straight from the barrels you can see on the (rather posh spring-tilted*) racks. No hand-pulls, no frills - anywhere!

I had a half of Lincoln Green 'Marion' Pale Ale, which was in damn good condition. The beer range looked decent, if not hugely adventurous - it'll be interesting to see how they develop the range they do. It was also nice to be able to have a look at the 'soon to appear' beers - there's a chalkboard as well as printed beer menus.

All in all, and despite it being a fleeting visit, I was really impressed. It's certainly a good place to have within five minutes walk of my house, especially since the fact they don't do food means that me and the dog will be welcomed providing we behave ourselves. As far as I remember they're open 12-2 and 5.30-12 daily. It's a bit of a trek out of the city if you are visiting Nottingham, it being a good mile away from any of the 'must visit' city pubs, but it's a great addition to the (very) local beer scene.

* I was a bit jealous; none of the weekly chock-combat against 18 gallon casks we used to have in the pub I ran.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Kernel India Brown Ale

Just to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas. I hope you're both well...

This was supposed to be a post for #seasonstweetings twitter tasting, as set up (over a week ago now) by the irrepressible Phil over at Beersay. My crazy busy December meant I failed completely to get any seasonal beers in, but when you have to make do with The Kernel it's hardly a sacrifice! In fact, had I not already done my Golden Pints for this year, it may well have been a contender for a mention somewhere.

It all starts with a gorgeous creamy chocolate aroma with the faintest touch of hazelnuts and pine/citrus (orange) hops. It's a soft, thick luxurious duvet of a beer, scarily drinkable and rarely has 33cl seemed such a small portion! There's milk chocolate in there but the nuttiness balances out the sweetness, and that's what this beer represents to me - complexity and balance.

Marvelous. Happy Christmas everybody!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Horses and Hops

I had a couple of decent beers the other evening. One I picked up recently from the newly opened Flipping Good Beer Shop, and another I'd had stashed in the cellar for a few months and came across it while I was having a bit of a sort out (if you horde beer/wine/whisky like I do you know exactly what I mean.)

First up was the Sadler's Hop Bomb. I probably served it a bit cold, because there wasn't much on the nose at first, maybe a touch of elderflower but if I'm really honest, it didn't hang around long enough to warm up and allow me to savour the aromas - it's far too quaffable for that! It's 5% abv; strong I suppose, if you like your beer at a more 'sessionable' strength, but quite low for a modern IPA and I thought it was all the better for that; it's less about the sweet tropical fruit than vibrant fresh apricot and white grape flavours, all leading to a gentle sherbet finish rather than harsh bitterness.

5% abv. £2.65 (33cl) from The Flipping Good Beer Shop.

The other was the Welbeck Abbey Brewery Dark Horse, not one that is part of their core range - I think I'm right in saying it's a seasonal/experimental brew from earlier in the year.

There's lots of well-done toast on the nose along with a touch of red and dark fruit. On the palate it is plummy and rich, but keeps its balance rather than descending into a heaviness that its 4.8% abv couldn't support. There's marmite flavours and a lovely sweet hint that comes through on the finish. It would be a hard one to put into a style category - is it a dark ale, a hoppy mild or a lighter Black IPA? When it tastes this good, I for one don't really care!

4.8% abv. £2.60 (50cl) from Hops in a Bottle.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The 'Golden Pint' Awards 2012

It's that 'reflective' time of year again. Organised by Mark Dredge and Andy over at Beer Reviews, have a look at Mark's site if you want to know what it's all about but it should all be pretty self-explanatory!
  1. Best UK Draught Beer: Thornbridge 'Kipling.'
  2. Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer: Hardknott 'Queboid.' A close call with several others, but I picked this and the Brasserie d'Achouffe for number four because they switched me on to a style I've not really been a massive fan of before.
  3. Best Overseas Draught Beer: Duchesse de Bourgogne. Although I only had a bit of a taste, its balsamic loveliness really sticks in the mind.
  4. Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer: Brasserie d’Achouffe 'Houblon Chouffe
  5. Best Overall Beer:  I think it has to be the Brasserie d’Achouffe 'Houblon Chouffe' - I absolutely loved it!
  6. Best Pumpclip or Label: I might be biased because the beer's so good (it was a contender for number 2) but I love the elegance of Harviestoun's 'Ola Dubh' Highland Park aged range.
  7. Best UK Brewery: Williams Brothers, because I can't remember having a beer from them that I haven't enjoyed - they're experimental but don't compromise consistency.
  8. Best Overseas Brewery: Although here aren't many I've had more than one beer from Nils Oscar's beers seem to be consistently good.
  9. Pub/Bar of the Year: The Kean's Head in Nottingham. Yes, I'm biased because it's the pub company I used to work for and it's run by a friend of mine, but even on Friday and Saturday nights in town it's a nice little oasis of calm amid the madness.
  10. Beer Festival of the Year: The Sheffield Tap. Well, it's the closest I got to a beer festival (for shame) but life's hectic. Although I didn't get there, and so I'm judging by amazing sounding write-ups, the Indy-Man Beer-Convention is the one I'd most like to get to in 2013, finances permitting.
  11. Supermarket of the Year: I might plead the fifth on this one. Nobody really deserves any recommendation. Nottingham's Waitrose rarely has anything they advertise as a chain, and their 'deals' are perplexing at best. I've left beers at the counter too often when it turns out 'it's not those, it's the ones next to them that are on offer.' Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt was a lame effort this year, mostly average beers which they hardly bothered to promote. The only positive thing about supermarkets for me is the bakery they've opened at the Lidl near me. Go independent!
  12. Independent Retailer of the Year: Hops in a Bottle in Mansfield; friendly, and clearly run by beer fans for beer fans.
  13. On-line Retailer of the Year: Beer Ritz. A considered selection rather than trying to stock everything for everything's sake. Easily navigable website and speedy service. 
  14. Best Beer Book or Magazine: Michael Jackson's Beer Companion. Why would you need anything else?
  15. Best Beer Blog or Website: Boak and Bailey. Informative and entertaining!
  16. Best Beer Twitterer: Simon H Johnson. Same as last year, same reasons as last year, and this year I got to meet the man beneath the merkin!
  17. Best On-line Brewery presence: Durham Brewery, in the form of Elly Bell, although Broughton deserve a mention for sending me beer when I win their Tuesday Trivia Twitter quiz - I'm entirely open to bribery!
  18. Food and Beer Pairing of the Year: Williams' 'Cock O' the Walk' as part of a Burns' Supper, even if the whisky sauce was the star!
  19. In 2013 I'd most like to: Get to a CAMRGB Twissup and meet some of the guys I chat to on Twitter!
  20. Open Category: BrewDog. Some superb beers, although there is the occasional slip-up! and they opened a bar in Nottingham. Kudos.
Cheers, all the best beverages for 2013.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Flipping Good Beer Shop

I'm a bit behind with this one, but given Nottingham's fairly laid back approach to the whole craft beer thing, it's probably quite appropriate...

We've got a new specialist beer shop. It's out in Gedling and it's a retail arm of the Flipside Brewery. Gedling might be a bit out of the way but what is most definitely a big bonus is that there is a (free) car park directly opposite. Given we sometimes go out that way as a family to walk the dog down by the river I'm sure I'll be much more easily persuaded to do so on my days off now I know that on the way home I can pick up a few cheeky bevvies from a rather interesting selection. I might even get a chance to browse a bit more at my leisure if I'm not fighting to control my daughter who seemed at least as interested as I was in the beer selection, even if she's a little less capable of looking with her eyes rather than both hands!

Pictured is my first (I'm sure of many) haul. I'll probably post some tasting notes to let people know what I think when I get a chance. My wife picked, and drank, the Flipside 'Dusty Penny' and enjoyed it - the other ones I've yet to crack open.

Their shop-specific website is in a bit of a work-in-progress state at the time of writing, but you can check it out here. Good luck to the folks at The Flipping Good Beer Shop, I hope it works out well for you!