Welcome to August and the latest news and views from your local beer shop. Lots happening this month in the way of new beer and other events but before we get into what is happening this month there are a couple of items to cover off from July starting with a very messy incident in the shop.
If you were wondering about the picture we have used for this month’s blog here is the answer. Early in July Ruth got a bit of a surprise when she showed up to open the shop for the day. Standing at the door prior to unlocking it she was met by a strong smell of beer. Now customers often comment on how lovely the shop smells thanks to the draught beer but we don’t normally smell it standing outside the closed door. Upon opening the door the cause of the smell became obvious: beer, beer, everywhere! The floor was covered, our shelving under the counter was covered and our plastic storage boxes had an inch of beer in them. 72 pints of fine British ale had decided to enter the world early by blowing out the keystone (where the tap is hammered in) of the cask it was settling in. Needless to say that Ruth was not impressed, I was just happy that I was busy elsewhere and so avoided the clean up! It was a long afternoon of cleaning in the shop plus time at home cleaning each carrier bag with soapy water which explains the photo, well if it works for clothes why not our bags?
On a more serious note the other big event for us in July was of course the Oxted Beer Festival. For those of you who don’t know we were involved in the ordering, delivery and racking and tapping of all the cask ale for the festival. After months of planning there were more than a few nerves leading up to the event but I think it is safe to say that it went off without a hitch. Approximately 280 casks were delivered, racked or placed into storage on the Wednesday, Thursday night saw all 100 different ales sampled and then Friday we were into the event proper. Those of you who were there might have seen us scurrying around racking fresh firkins, tapping beer and generally making sure that the ale was flowing for you all. While it was hard work we had a great time (and drunk some great beers) It was great seeing so many of you there and having a quick chat where we could. No doubt the planning for next year will begin soon!
That was July for us, if you are now off on a summer holiday have a great time, for those of you who are not here are some great new beers to look forward to:
Bottles and Cans
Based in Bristol Moor are a brewery who champion leaving the beer as natural as possible so their beers are unfined, unfiltered and unpasteurised when canned. Don’t be alarmed if they are hazy when pouring, that is just the hops and yeast that they have crammed into the beer. In addition to our usual range of So’ Hop, Nor’ Hop, Hoppiness and my favourite Revival we now have:
RAW – An untraditional bitter
Return of the Empire – A British Style IPA
PMA – Pale Modern Ale
Illusion – A session strength version of a Black IPA. This one is my pick of the new beers, black IPA’s might have fallen out of fashion lately but this beer shows how when done well it is a lovely style of beer.
Bottle wise all you hop lovers out there should check out Anderson Valley Hop Ottin IPA and Left Hand Extrovert IPA, both big, bold, punchy American IPA’S. Plus if you ask nicely there might just be one or two special IPA’s from Cloudwater hiding under the counter. Being summer we have stocked up on the lagers so there is plenty of your favourites such as Augustiner, Westerham Bohemian Rhapsody and Fruh Kolsch plus some exciting new beers like:
Sierra Nevada Nooner – Their take on a classic German Pilsner. Easy drinking but plenty of hop flavour to keep you interested.
Flying Dog Ancho lime Paradise Lager – summer not hot enough for you? Try this lager which has lime and Ancho chilli in it. Forget any bad memories of a lime shoved into a neck of a Corona this beer balances the smoky heat of the ancho with the refreshing notes of lime and at 6% ABV it will definitely warm things up if the sun doesn’t come out. Best enjoyed with something spicy such as fish tacos with a zingy salsa.
Draught this month we have a couple of Beavertown’s finest making a return on Keg, some Arbor to get the month started then a mix from Bristol Beer Factory, Triple FFF and Blackjack to follow up. As always we will have a fine local beer on each weekend as well.
What we are drinking?
My favourite beer on the shelf at the moment is Pressure Drop Pale Fire. This beer can easily be found in London as it is brewed in Hackney. Pale Fire brings back many great memories of drinking with my mates and it is always a go to beer to quench your thirst and get a hit of hops. It is a lovely easy drinking American Pale Ale at 5%. This beer is brewed with varying recipes as the hops are always changing so there is always something new to try.
Here are a few facts about Pale Fire…..Pale Fire stole its name from a novel in the form of a poem, whose title was lifted from a Shakespeare play…. The cultural plundering doesn’t stop with the name of the beer. The label too is an homage to the great Californian poolscapes painted by David Hockney. Heat haze, pine trees, swimming pool all you need now is a beer. Perfect.
Has been drinking a lot of the Williams Brothers Birds and the Bees. A 4.3% golden ale which has elderflowers added towards the end of the brew. A perfectly refreshing summer beer for drinking when the suns out.
The summer sunshine has me thinking of home and naturally of New Zealand beers. There are currently only a handful of kiwi brewers exporting to here but luckily enough one of them is Tuatara with their punchy APA. This time though the first A doesn’t stand for American but for Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand. Packed full of a trio of New Zealand hops plus a little bit of Cascade for good measure this beer delivers massive notes of citrus fruits with a refreshing bitterness which works with rather than overwhelms the malt base. Check out the bottle design as well which mimics a Tuatara, a native New Zealand lizard.
With it being warmer now customers are asking what temperature they should be serving and drinking their beer at. The short answer is really whatever temperature you like, at the end of the day you are the one drinking it. But if you want to bring out the best in the beer serving temperature is crucial. Too cold and the flavours are hidden hence why Fosters, Carling etc are served ice cold, it masks the poor flavours that are present. Too warm and the drinking experience is unpleasant, we don’t want to be drinking warm soup. A very rough guide is for lagers, IPA’s and pales to be lightly chilled, a couple of hours in the fridge works for me. Stronger beers don’t always require chilling but if they have been stored at current room temperature I think they are better slightly chilled. Remember that beer will always warm up once poured into a glass so it is better to have it too cold to start with. Cask beer is ideal at around 10-13degrees and is definitely not served warm! Interestingly enough Ruth and I have slightly different preferences for what we drink our beer at, I like mine a few degrees colder probably as a result of doing a lot of drinking in New Zealand where beers are served colder generally.
Keep an eye out for our beer club which we are aiming to launch in September. While we have not finalised all the details yet we are looking at 5-6 different bottles complete with tasting notes and possibly 2 pints of draught beer all for one great price each month. No subscriptions will be required, just pop into the shop and pick up that months selection. We would love to hear any thoughts or ideas you might have about this, the best suggestion or comment will win a prize (probably some free beer) contact us via email or have a chat next time you are in the shop.
Great British Beer Festival
The biggest beer festival in the land and one that I am looking forward to attending for the first time this month. Hundreds of different British cask ales plus beers from all over the world, it will be a struggle to know where to start. Not sure if we can write this off as product research! Ruth and I are going on the trade day which is Tuesday the 9th of August but never fear the shop will be open as normal and beer will be pouring! Look out for a full report next month.
If you are looking for a family friendly way to spend the afternoon on Friday the 26th of August check out Wedstock where we will be running our Pop Up Bar. Ben and Sarah, the owners of the Pistachio Café at Redhill Memorial Park are having a wedding with a difference where they are inviting the public to take part in the celebrations. There will be live music, food trucks and of course fine beers courtesy of ourselves! Details are Friday 26th August 1 – 8pm Redhill Memorial Park.