Hello and welcome to February, the shortest month of the year so definitely the one to choose if you were thinking of having a dry month. For all of you who like to enjoy a beer or two all year round though read on as we delve into barrel ageing, price versus value and of course a little bit on Valentines. Well love is in the air and in the beer.
Cloudwater Biere Brut Series
If you have ever wondered how barrel ageing can change a beer’s flavour profile then the new Biere Brut series from Cloudwater is a must. Having fermented a beer with champagne yeast and then finished it with a touch of saison yeast they then split the brew and aged it in three different types of white wine barrels. After trying all three I can say without giving too much away that while recognisably similar the effect of the different barrels is immense. They shared heritage can be tasted but the way the barrels impart their own flavour on the beer is fascinating. Coming in large 750ml bottles and not being particularly cheap these are great for sharing. As a special offer buy all three together and we will include two tasting glasses free so split the cost with a friend, enjoy a night of beer tasting and then keep a glass each.
Price versus Value
Writing about the Cloudwater big bottles raises the question of how much a bottle of beer should be: ‘What?! £13 for a bottle of beer I can get 20 cans of Foster/Carling/John Smiths whatever for the price of that’ and yes you can, on a pure pound to ml scale the Cloudwater is hugely more expensive than any supermarket beer. The thing is though price and value are two different concepts and what constitutes value rests entirely with the consumer. I might consider £10 on a bottle to be good value but £60 on tickets to a football match to be a waste of my money. We all have our own ideas on what constitutes money well spent, I think we should all just be happy that there is beer available at all price points.
My first beer in the UK
I definitely did not spend a lot of money on the first beer I had in the UK back in 2005. What was that first beer? Well it wasn’t some glorious, frothing pint of hand pulled cask ale but a Carling. Yes, a Carling. Admittedly I had it brought for me and had no idea what it was. On first sipping it felt rather watery and tasteless and I felt confused. Surely this isn’t what cask ale is meant to taste like? I mean I had had some proper cask ale in a real ale brewpub in Auckland but I didn’t know it well enough to know what to expect. I thought I might just need to drink a bit more of it to get used to it, kind of like how your first ever pint of Guinness can be hard work. So I had a second pint with the same result. It was not until I paid closer attention at the bar I realised that hang on, this is coming out of a keg tap just like 99% of the beer in NZ rather than one of those hand-pump things I had seen in photos. After that second pint I switched to a pint of ale and so began a road of discovery that continues to this day.
Valentine’s Day beer
Feeling the love this Valentine’s day? Well we definitely are with our range of Valentine’s Day themed gifts. We have put together a special Valentine’s Day beer gift box with tasting notes to make things easy for you or alternatively here are some ideas:
Give the traditional gift of chocolate in beer form with Chocolate Marble or perhaps Organic Chocolate from Sam Smiths.
Harveys have released a special Valentine’s Day beer called Kiss named after and featuring a photo of Rodin’s statue of two lovers passionately sharing a kiss.
For the more practical rather than romantic gift go with a gift voucher and let your Valentine decide themselves.
Or if beer isn’t your Valentine’s thing then go with the gift of sweet, sweet mead, perfect for the honey in your life.
And well, if it has been a bad start to the year and not particularly romantic there is always Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch or Stone’s Arrogant Bastard.
North London Brewers Redemption will feature for the first time this month. They brew a core of 6 ales so we have chosen a couple to try and see what you all think. Their Trinity will be the lightest draught beer we have ever sold at only 3% so a great one if you feel like a few pints without feeling it the next morning. Rock the Kazbek is a little stronger at 4% and is a blonde ale featuring the Czech Kazbek hop for a zesty and refreshing beer. We will have Neck Oil pouring towards the end of the month along with some Cloudwater session IPA’s and there might just be some more Thornbridge as well.
Bottles and Cans
With so much good beer out there we do find it hard to control ourselves when ordering so as always we have plenty of new beers either on the shelves or patiently waiting in our coolroom. Here is a small taste of what we have coming. Verdant from Cornwall started to get a lot of chat on beer forums and blogs towards the end of the year so we have joined the bandwagon and got a couple of their beers in. Light Bulb is a light and slightly sweet pale while Pulp is a fruity, hazy double IPA which brings big fruit flavours to the party. Following on with the can theme are beers from Belleville Brewing out of London who specialise in American style beers. Plus look out for new beers from Arbor, Lervig and Pressure Drop.
That’s about it for now, don’t forget to keep an eye on www.oxtedbeerfestival.com for information and ticket sales and of course the beginning of the beer list.