Friday, 15 February 2013

Ticking in 2012

I'm not going to meet my target. 335 beers in 335 days. From the start of the blog to my wedding day. At the moment I have 151 beers left to try and less than 36 days in which to drink them. Wedding planning is reaching a whole new level, dwindling funds are being directed towards name cards and glass hire.

But, the target is no longer the important thing. It began as a focus for the blog, and a way in which to structure an education into beer. My journey isn't finished. It won't be finished at the end of the 335 days. It will never be finished. That said, my knowledge has increased tenfold. To those who aren't in the know, I can impart a little wisdom, and to those who are, I can at least keep up with the conversation, even occasionally contribute. Mr Ticker and I share yet another interest, and that's incredibly valuable to me.

This week I watched Jamie and Jimmy's Food Fight, and it was beer related, a battle between British and Belgian beers. During the show I got embarrassingly excited because I guessed beers that would come up before they mentioned them, and recognised bottles from a distance. All a bit sad pants, but I don't care, I had fun!

So, I may be on track to lose the challenge.... But winning comes in many different forms...

Friday, 8 February 2013

Norfolk Spoils 2

Our temporary scoring method (see previous post)

180: Old Stoat Wobbler, Beeston Brewery, 6%
A dark stout, smells lovely, coffee, slightly burnt coffee. Taste didn't match up to it though. Tasted a bit of coffee, liquorice root and hazelnutty. Perfectly ok flavours, but not as rich as expected and let down on the whole by the strange, flat carbonation, which made it feel thin and really let it down. Perhaps a good beer for cooking with. A 4/10.

181: Twisted Porter, Norfolk Squared Brewery, 6%
A porter described as having hints of cocoa nibs, chilli and coffee. The chilli was the flavour that made us pick it I think. Quite highly anticipated. Smelled really odd, like fresh chilli and liquorice root. To taste, a hint of chilli... a weird sweetness thing... creamy texture. Everyone agreed that it didn't do what it said on the tin. One tasting note included the description: "the vomit of the crow that picked the eyes out of a dead frog". We weren't keen. 1/10.

182: Smokehouse Porter, Poppyland, 5.7%
We ended up with very few notes for this beer, it was a better carbonation, not particularly smokey but hints of it, smelled hoppy, definitely tasted hoppy for a porter. It turned out the hops are smoked, not the malt. We liked it. Mr Ticker liked it a lot. 8/10.

183: Amber Ale, The Norfolk Brewhouse, 4%
Perhaps we served this too warm. A split opinion on this beer, half of us liked it, half of us thought it was only ok. It smelled very sweet and tasted a bit so too, more malt and yeast flavours than hops. A 5/10.

184: Ruby Ale, The Norfolk Brewhouse, 4%
Tasted really similar to the Amber, we guessed the brewery uses the same yeast in both beers. A darker beer, looked like a sherry in colour. Smelled almost like a sherry too, slightly sweet and a bit woody. A couple of the group had tried this before and said this tasting wasn't as good as the previous time. But weren't sure if they were being influenced by other beers they had tried that evening or if the bottle wasn't as good. 6/10.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Norfolk Spoils

We managed to steal a 4 day trip to Norfolk and Cambridge with some very good friends. Not wanting the trip to be all consumed with beer notes and chasing round the county trying to find local beers we hadn't planned on blogging. But, when we passed a sign for a shop that our guests knew proclaiming 60 different Norfolk beers we could not pass the opportunity, and our hosts were keen to join in.

We agreed on using a different format: scoring beers as a group unanimously out of 10, 0 being a beer so disgusting it moved you to tears, and 10 being a beer so amazing it moved you to tears. There were 5 of us so opinions sometimes varied, but will try and represent everyone!

177: Citraville, Old Slewfoot, 3.9%
Chosen because of the name, and one of my favourite hops. Citrusy, peachy, fruity. A refreshing sessionable beer, really fine bubbles, almost champagne-like. Perhaps a slight metallic aftertaste. Some debate about the score, withh our guest contributors rating it lower than ourselves, but we settled on a crowd pleasing 7/10.

178: Honey Ale, Norfolk, 5%
Hints of honey to smell, but not so much to taste. Not too sweet, acceptable, but certainly not punchy flavours. Rich, full, mouthfeel. General consensus was "alright". 5/10.

179: On the Edge Saison, Poppyland, 6.3%
We'd already heard of this brewery before the trip via twitter, and were hoping to try some. A saison, notoriously not one of my favourite styles. To me it smelt like a muted version of a typical saison, banana and spicy. Others got apple and muscovado sugar, reminiscent of German weisbiers. To taste, it was not overpowering phenol, rather delicate but complex. It tasted as though it should have been sweeter but actually was verging towards a sour beer, hence the name. A strong 6/10.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Merry Christmas Eve

Mr Ticker was working Christmas Day, so we had a treat night together o Christmas Eve. Home made chicken liver pâté, a couple of steaks and Christmas pudding... Hohoho! Of course, such celebrating could not take place without a couple of beers to accompany the evening... So...

171: White Stout, Durham Brewery, 7.2%
Surprisingly sweet although Mr Ticker says stouts are supposed to be but are usually counteracted by a bitterness. Not much of a bitterness... More of a tang. A not sure if this is a different kind of bitterness or if it is from the carbonation. Mr Ticker wonders if this is because its an older bottle we have had in the cupboard for about six months.

172: Merry Xmoose, Purple Moose, 5%
Dark colour but not stoutish. Expected colour from a Christmas beer, that of a Christmas pudding, but not opaque. Smells slightly sweet, portesque. Tastes full of flavour, sweet yet bitter, but not hoppy bitter... Really nice. I usually prefer my dark beers thick and cloyey, and this is not that, but having said that, it is a really good bottle!

Accompanied by Stilton and port flavour crisps!

173: Hoppy Lovin' Christmas, Mikkeller, 7.8%

Smells sweet and spicy. Light in colour. Thick. So so thick. Despite the pale(ish) colour. Hint of spice. Orange. Just a hint mind. Heavy bitterness. As usual gorgeous beer from Mikkeller.

174: Viven Ale, Brouwerij van Viven, 5%
Smells delicate. Pale. Tastes more malty and less hoppy by a long shot from the Mikkeller although its meant to be hoppy for the tourists, or so we were told. Nice. Spicy. Belgian. Still unsold on Belgian on the whole.

175: Viven Blonde, Brouwerij van Viven, 6.8%
Not a Wheat beer. Tastes it and smells it however... Maybe the choice of yeast. Nice enough but not my fave.

176: Taras Boulba, Brasserie de la Senne, 4.5%
So I've had a starter. And I'm full up. And there's still two courses of Christmas Eve spectacular food to go. And I'm a bit sloshed. As is the usual for me on Christmas Eve. But with that ever familiar voice over my shoulder reminding me not to overdo it and spoil the day tomorrow...
So this smells exactly like the Viven blonde. And tastes almost identical. Except perhaps a tidge more bitter. Please, those of you who have infinite more beery expertise than me, bear in mind my inebriated state... But that's it really. Almost identical.

Happy (über belated) Christmas!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Golden Pint 2012

Mark Dredge and beer reviews Andy are again organising the golden pint awards. I am new to the whole beer thing so this is going to be spectacularly hard because most of the beers I have drunk and the experiences I have had have been new and exciting, and picking the best is going to be hard. Next year......that'll be easy I'll be a hardened drinker cynical of my likes and dislikes. Right?
Mr Ticker will also be giving his opinions.

Best UK draught beer
PT The Kernel double S.C.C.A.N.S IIPA
MT Magic Rock bourbon barrelled bearded lady

Best UK bottled or canned beer
PT The Kernel India pale ale Stella
MT The Kernel India pale ale citra

Best overseas draught beer
PT De Garre triple
MT De Garre triple

Best overseas bottled or canned beer
PT Einstock toasted porter
MT Mikkeller Nelson Sauvin single hop

Best overall beer
PT Hawkshead brewery Windermere pale
MT Thornbridge Jaipur

Best pumpclip or label
PT Mikkeller single hop series/10 hop/19 hop. I liked the single colour for the single hops and then the rainbow esque labels for the other two.
MT Anything by Redwillow.

Best UK brewery
PT So so so many but, partly due to the beer hall and experiences within and an always dependable and never bad beer Hawkshead brewery
MT Magic Rock

Best overseas brewery
PT Westvleteren
MT Mikkeller

Pub/Bar of the year
PT De Garre, Bruges
MT The Sparrow, Bradford

Beer festival of the year
PT Coopers beer festival
MT Coopers beer festival

Supermarket of the year
PT Booths
MT Booths

Independent retailer of the year
PT Beer ritz
MT Beer ritz

Online retailer of the year
Our Independent retailer of the year is so good and so close it negated the need for an online beer order this year.

Best beer book or magazine
Haven't read any, hopefully in 2013!

Best beer blog or website
PT The session in general

Best beer twitterer
PT @Bradfordbeer
MT @brouwervanklomp although he probably doesn't want the accolade!

Best online brewery presence
PT The Kernel for this piece of brilliance, using the internet for entirely benevolent purposes!
MT Brewdog

Food and beer pairing of the year
PT Brewdog evening at Coopers Guiseley. A bit before the blog started but only just and it was this year!
MT De Garre triple and those tiny chunks of cheese they serve it with.

In 2013 I'd most like to...
PT complete my beer ticking challenge.
MT carry on encouraging pintsizedticker to buy and drink great beer.

Best beer drinking companion (and beneficiary)
Mr Ticker Snr, for buying a few eye wateringly expensive bottles of beer, sharing our journey with us and taking us to France, giving us an excuse to take him to Westvleteren

Friday, 14 December 2012

Street food + beer=happiness

December 14th, a rare night off for both of us, at a time where everything seems very busy and cram packed with Christmas plans. We don't often get out on an evening, preferring a few beers in the afternoon, or evening beer drinking at home instead.... Old fogies in our late twenties, doesn't bode well for twenty years time!

We visited the Sparrow, I've blogged before how much I like it there. It's the first time I've been there on a Friday night, and it was a lot busier than it usually is when I go, prompting me and Mr Ticker to find a quiet corner to hibernate in.

The Sparrow have begun street food Friday where different foodie vans park up outside and serve up their grub. Tonight was El Topo (@ElTopoUK) which served burritos, tamales and quesadillas. We piped for a couple of burritos and a tamale to share, and were treated to a beautifully cooked, deliciously flavoured tea. Perfect with beer, perfect for an evening at the pub.

169: Earl Grey IPA, Marble Brewery, 6%
Smells delicate, but full of flavour. Tastes sweet, with a hint of bitterness after the first mouthful. It tastes pretty. I think that is the best phrase to use. Not brash and in your face, but pleasant, with depth and easy to drink. A lovely treat after some recent abstention from beer.

170: Winter Ale, De Koninck, 6.5%
I ordered this via Mr Ticker based purely on the name. I have to admit I was hoping for a stout, a rich heavy dark beer for a freezing winters night. Wasn't as I was hoping, but was still nice. My now familiar "red" flavour was predominant, and it was a nice enough beer. Perhaps a recent cold had squished my taste buds a bit, because Mr Ticker thought this tasted peppery... Couldn't taste this myself though.

Sorry for the poor photographs  I'm not going to take the big camera out on a Friday night. A shortish quiet evening, but a lovely venture out on a Friday night, thanks again Sparrow!

Friday, 23 November 2012

USA: Beer Advice!

Next year, Mr Ticker and myself are travelling to the US of A. Not until March, you understand, but being excited planner types, we want to get an itinerary set up! We would really like some advice and ideas about what beers to look for, and bars/pubs/breweries to visit whilst we are there. Flights are booked, but hotels, accommodation, and excursions are all open to suggestion, and we want to make the most of the time to explore beery goodness. It will be our honeymoon, so we are open to a little bit of extravagance. Please help!

First stop is San Francisco and Oakland.

Next, Vegas.

Finally New Orleans.

Any suggestions will be most gratefully received!