Hello and welcome to the September Blog! Apologies that it is a little late, time got away on me at the beginning of the month. Autumn might have officially started but never fear it isn’t cold yet and there is still plenty of time to enjoy a crisp lager or refreshing pale in the heat of the sun. Although as the month creeps along I have a feeling that the richer and darker beers will start to become more popular. So crack open a beer and have a read about what we got up to in August plus what to expect from September.
The biggest beer festival in the land and one that I was very excited to visit for the first time. With over 900 different beers to choose from I channelled my inner beer geek and scrolled through the online beer list noting down which beers I was really keen to sample. Looking back over my list and realising that even if I stuck to thirds like I intended it was still close to 15 pints I had to have a second go at composing a list. For me the size and choice was immense so having narrowed down a selection beforehand really helped and the fact that Ruth and I could share beers so we could try more. Being lucky enough to attend on trade day also helped as we managed to mostly avoid any queuing. So in no particular order some highlights were:
Trying a Vocation beer on cask for the first time, look out for them in the shop over the next couple of weeks.
The American cask beer, first for the novelty of drinking American cask beer but more importantly for just how good the beers were. A particular favourite was the Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA, having a cask beer from this iconic brewery was a real geek moment, just perhaps I shouldn’t have had a half pint of a 10.5% beer.
Having a quiet moment with a beer and a bag of fiery chilly pork scratchings. Pretty much the perfect lunch.
Meeting some of the beer bloggers that I have been following for years. Hopefully I didn’t say anything too stupid after all the samples I had had.
Hearing that Surrey Hills had won gold in the best bitter category with Shere Drop, congratulations to Ross and the team.
All in all it was a great day out and well worth attending for all lovers of beer.
Congratulations to Ben and Sarah who were married on the 26th of August and decided to turn Redhill Memorial Park into a mini festival to celebrate their wedding. Great music, blazing sunshine, tasty food and of course great beer courtesy of ourselves turned it into an epic afternoon. We are looking forward to the 1st anniversary festival next year!
If you are looking for something traditional and sessionable these are the beers for you. Based near Dartford Bexley are a family run brewery whose aim is ‘to produce exceptional session and seasonal ales’ and I think it is fair to say they have achieved their aim. Over the next few weeks the beers will be appearing on the shelves with Five Arches summer ale up first.
Hailing from Croydon Cronx is a local brewery who we are stocking for the first time. Their beers proved to be a hit at the Oxted Beer festival with 6 casks of their beer being drained. In stock now we have Kotchin, a citrusy blonde ale and Entire, their take on a London porter.
A couple of new beers which are ideal for drinking while the sun is still out include:
Siren Tschuss – A blueberry Berliner Weisse with mint, lime and Orange. Slightly sour and super refreshing this really hits the spot on the warmer days.
Marble Built to Fall – A hit when we had it on key keg this American Pale Ale zings with tropical fruit flavours with just the right amount of bitterness to enliven but not overwhelm your senses.
While it might not be quite our field of expertise like beer after extensive cider tasting we have selected a small range for those of you who fancy a cider from time to time.
Sitting in the cool room patiently waiting for its turn to be tapped is our first Big Smoke keg beer. Summer Rye Ale is a pale ale brewed with Rye for extra smoothness and body. Unfiltered and unpasteurised this will pack plenty of flavour but at only 4.7% a couple of pints isn’t going to cause too many problems. *******Breaking News****** The keg beer has been hit hard the last few days and so the Big Smoke is pouring early. Get in now if you would like to try it.
We have had it in bottles, and then on cask, now it is coming on keg. Thornbridge Wild Swan is one of Ruth’s favourite beers of all time. Pouring almost white in the glass with a refreshing note of lemon and a touch of sherbet this is a beer that slips down all too easily. I will have to keep an eye on Ruth as she might just conduct multiple quality control tests on this one.
Coming up on cask is Brodie’s Prime from Hawkshead, a dark robust beer and one that we will save for when the weather cools as it inevitably will towards the end of the month. New to us on cask are beers from Salopian Brewery in Shrewsbury. First up is Pogo which is loaded with resinous hops. Following that will be Golden Thread, a multiple award winning golden ale which might be 5% ABV but drinks a lot lighter. Plus we have some great locals from Surrey Hills, Dark Star and our first draught beer from the Oxted Brewery.
What we are drinking?
Brighton Bier Lucky Boy
Weighing in at a hefty 7% Lucky Boy from Brighton Bier is not necessarily a beer I am drinking a lot of quantity wise but when I do have a can it is really hitting the spot. Is it a black IPA or a Cascadian dark ale? Brighton bier leave it up to the drinker to decide. What I get from it is big hop flavours working in harmony with a smooth yet powerful malt body. Delicious!
After finishing work one Saturday afternoon I spontaneously got the train to London in search of new beer (not that I need to try more beer but I love it!). A lot of you probably know about the ‘Bermondsey beer mile’ but for those of you who don’t it is a craft beer crawl visiting the microbreweries that have sprung up in Bermondsey. Best beer of the afternoon for me was Partizan Stout. It is full of coffee, chocolate, raisins, liquorice with a rich malt roast. Maybe it’s not your normal summer time beer but it was so good it is now on the shelf.
Gipsy Hill x Three Boys Bogan
Not long on the shelves and Paul has already made a big dent in our stock of this one. A collaboration brew between Gipsy Hill of London and Three Boys from Christchurch, New Zealand, this is a pale ale which has been dry hopped exclusively with Nelson Sauvin. This hop gives notes like a Marlborough sauvignon blanc wine hence why it is called Sauvin. Tropical notes and gooseberry predominate but with enough of a malt backbone to balance it out. The label is a great piece of art as well, if you are wondering what a Bogan is just ask next time you are in the shop.
Last month I wrote a little about serving temperatures and how it affects the taste and enjoyment of beer. Following on from that I thought this month I would mention how what the beer is served in affects the taste. Try an experiment next time you have a bottled beer or can, pour some into a glass and leave some in the container. Have a swig from the container first then try a sip from the glass, notice how different they taste? When we drink straight from the container no aromas can escape for us to smell and aroma plays a huge role in what we experience when eating or drinking. Think about times you have had a blocked nose and foods just taste muted, the full flavours not returning until your nose is clear. So when circumstances allow always pour your beer into a glass (especially if bottle conditioned) Next month I will talk about what glass go with what styles of beer. If you are keen to get pouring though our Hop Stop sample glasses make great all rounders!
Chiddingstone Country Fair
Find us at the Chiddingstone Country Fair on Sunday the 11th of September where we will be running our pop up shop. It will be a fun day out for the whole family find out more at www.chiddingstonecastle.org.uk.
That’s all for this month. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with all that is happening at Hop Stop.