Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Tasting - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Putin Chilli Zombie Ale
From left to right - Putin Ale, Chilli Ale and Zombie Ale

I actually tried these three beers a month or so ago but am only now getting around to writing up a review. But don't worry I'm not that far gone that I don't remember what their taste and characteristics.

Hello My Name Is Vlad is a typical Brewdog IPA (if there is such a thing as a typical Brewdog beer) in that it's big, bold and full of flavour. One of their political/current events bottlings this one protests the Putin Regimes anti-gay laws with a label depicting a lipstick wearing Vladimer Putin. In terms of political protest it's more along the lines of  satire such as 'Spitting Image' rather than anything too preachy or overbearing. It's essentially taking the piss out of something that fully deserves to have the piss taken out of it. Their other political/current event releases have included - Never Mind The Anabolics (London 2012 Olympics) - Royal Virility Performance (Marriage of Prince William and Kate Midleton) - Vote Sepp (Scotlands bid to host the UEFA Cup) and technically Nanny State counts as well as it was brewed in response to some pratt from the Scottish Parliament criticising the alcohol percentages in some on Brewdogs beer.
Tastewise I remember this one the best, a full flavoured double IPA with plenty of hop flavour and a nice blood orange/grapefruit afterbite, easy to drink despite being 8.2% I liked it so much that bought it again when the off-licence (the excellent Baggott Street Wines) got it back in stock. Also Brewdog donated 50% of the profits from this beer to charities and groups that specialise in helping oppressed minorities.

Brewdog/Fyne Beers Smoked Chilli Dark Ale is next up, made as collaboration between two Scottish breweries this is a smoked ale with Jalapeno chillies added during the brewing process and I didn't like it. I really didn't, I didn't even finish the bottle and that isn't like me at all.
Now I like hot food and chillies, in fact I make myself a very fine chilli vodka but this ale is something different. It's not spicy or hot in any way, the capiscum heat must be lost in the brewing process. On the first taste there's quite a pleasantly strong ale flavour followed by a lingering aftertaste that hangs on for far longer than it should. The closest thing to this aftertaste that I can think of are these roasted red peppers that come preserved in jars of olive oil. A pepperish but rather oily and clinging flavour, very acceptable in a salad with a bit of feta cheese but really off putting in a beer.
This was a once off limited edition beer so they may never make it again and it wouldn't be any loss if they didn't.

Nice in salad not in beer
Nice in a salad but not in a beer

Last and sadly very much least is the Zombie IPA. What an amazing eye catching original label and what an average so-so beer. There was nothing wrong with it but also nothing particularly great about it either, it was a perfectly fine, drinkable session beer and I wouldn't have been in any way disappointed with it if the label hadn't promised to blow my mind with undead hoppiness.  Still a good drinking beer though. Maybe thats what they should put that on the label - "A damn fine drinking beer". I'd drink that.

But then I'll drink nearly anything ...

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Whats new - Three boozy goats

Jack Cody's Smiggy Amber Ale

The Old Punchbowl is now stocking Jack Cody's Smiggy Amber Ale and to announce its arrival I took this photo to post on the pub Facebook page and Twitter feed.

I have to say that I'm very happy with how it turned out. It's an engaging and eye catching image. I like the idea of the toy goats next to the beer bottles with their own goat logo and I'll probably do something similar again soon.

The beer itself, the Smiggy Amber Ale, is excellent - hoppy, smooth and very drinkable - it's already a favourite of mine.

* The brown goat is facing the wrong way to be talking to the kid #composition

* The bottles standing up are full and capped. The bottles lying down are empty #drinking

* In retrospect I should have had more light when I took this. The bottom right hand quarter where the kid is is particularly dark #hindsight

The Burglar Who Counted The Spoons - Lawrence Block
Rating: 10 spoons out of 13

 Bernie Rhodenbarr is back after a ten year absence and up to his usual tricks once again. In a fast moving, comedy crime caper Bernie has to deal with a mystery involving an obsessive button collector, a dead body, a agoraphobe who never leaves his apartment, a rare and valuable set of silver spoons and some very attractive young women with rather questionable morals.
The novel has plenty of sidebar passages where the characters discuss life, love, books, etcera but this doesn't distract from the plot but rather adds to the books charm and readability. The plot itself - no spoilers - it zips along at a good pace and it isn't anything too deep. The denouement is another satisfying Bernie Rhodenbarr/Nero Wolfe set piece.

"I suppose your wondering why I gathered you all here..."

Overall the 'Spoons' is a worthy addition to the Bernie Rhodenbarr series. I just hope it isn't ten years until the next one.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Recipe for The Old Punchbowl Christmas cocktail


Recipe for The Old Punchbowl Christmas cocktail

This warm mixed drink was a hit during the cold winter months and is easy to make once the preparation is done.

You will need for ten drinks

1 Litre Pressed Apple Juice
Mulled Wine Spice
10 Star Anise
10 Cinnamon Sticks
2 Cloves
Rum or Gin

1 - Prepare the infused apple juice

Add the 2 cloves and the mulled wine spice to the litre of pressed apple juice and heat slowly until the juice is thoroughly infused. This should take about ten to fifteen minutes. Use the same amount of spice that would be used on a full bottle of wine.

Strain out the cloves and spice and then refrigerate. The infused juice will keep as long as any regular juice.

2 - Making the cocktail

 2 parts of juice

 1 part Golden Rum

 1 Star Anise pod

Mix together then heat till warm. 30 seconds in a microwave should do it.

Serve in a brandy glass while still warm with a cinnamon stick on the side.

3 - Variations

Making the Christmas cocktail with Rum gives a wonderfully rich warming flavour but if you swap out the Rum for a good Gin ie Hendricks the flavour profile changes completely, creating a delicious  tartness reminiscent of fresh Granny Smith apples.

Friday, 31 August 2012

A drop of the black stuff...

  Guinness Black Lager, Guinness' newest offering, certainly lives up to it's promises in that it's a lager and it's black.  Very black in fact, inky.  It tastes nothing like Guinness stout though, there's no tang or maltyness present at all.  Close your eyes and take a sip and you'd swear you were drinking a regular, generic, amber lager.  Personally I wasn't very impressed, it seems to be a very average lager with an unusual colour attached and I can't see where the market is for it.  Too bland for craft beer fans and too weird looking for lager drinkers.  Time will tell I suppose.

  If it's not broke, don't fix it, sound advice that someone should pass on to the marketing department of Guinness.  I love Guinness, I really do, the original 'black stuff' and still the best.  The Guinness marketing heads don't appear to share my love though as they keep trying to recreate Guinness in new variations that never seem to work.
  In recent years we've has :

Guinness Light - low calorie stout launched in the 1980's - an infamous failure that's still a laughing stock

Breo - marketed as white Guinness it was actually a German style Weissbier with a thick head - gone within two years

Guinness Brewhouse Series - a series of four stouts made by Guinness using different recipes and ingredients  each available for a limited period of six months - due to poor sales and despite a major ad campaign the Brewhouse series was abandoned after the third stout was released

Guinness Red - a red ale with a creamy Guinness head, launched in the U.K. in 2007 it never made the trip across the Irish sea and now seems to have quietly disappeared

  After all those failures and embarrassments we still have the original product doing well, a sedate cash-cow producing steady profits from a legion of loyal drinkers.

  Honourable mention for 'Bad King Johns Black Ale', a bitter very dark ale from England with a smooth finish.  Well worth sampling.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

We celebrated the start of the 2012 London Olympics with these specially made 'Olympic Shots'.   The five Olympic rings represented by Jagermeister and four flavours of Mickey Finns Schnapps ( Blueberry, Sour Raspberry, Sour Irish Apple and Butterscotch ).

Friday, 27 July 2012

  How well do craft brewers know their target market?  Also, how well do craft beer drinkers know how their favourite drink is made? Or do they care?

  The label on Stonewells Cider states that all their apples were sourced locally in and around Kinsale, Co. Cork and then goes on to list each variety of apple that went into it and fair dues to them, they've produced one of the best tasting ciders I've ever had.  Big on apple flavour with a crisp bite and an incredible expansive bouquet of apples and alcohol, Stonewells is a world away from the sweetish conformity of most commercial ciders.

  Apparently in times gone by they used to put nails in cider when it's being brewed.  Just a few regular two inch iron nails placed in the wooden barrel at the start of the brewing process.  By the time the cider is ready to drink the nails aren't there anymore, they've completely dissolved into the drink.  The more iron nails in the barrel the dryer and sharper the taste of the end product and its good news for all the anemic cider lovers.  Does anyone still make cider with this method?  I seriously doubt it, it seems a bit too extreme for most craft brewers and if there was a cider out there brewed with nails (from one of the more eccentric brewers, the ones who will try anything, sometimes with great results, sometimes not) it would have it's ingredients featured prominently in both the name and label.

  I'd buy a bottle anyway, just to try.  I might not like it but I'd definitely try it.  I am their target market.