Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Twelve Beery Days of Christmas

Christmas and New Year are well and truly over now but, as hinted at earlier, here are the notes I kept of the beers (all bottled), that I drank at home over the course of the festive period. The list doesn't include the occasional foray out into the world of publand, during Christmas and New Year. It is rather a mixed bag, as alongside beers I'd purposely purchased in advance of the Christmas period, it contained beers brought back from travels to Germany and the Czech Republic earlier in the year, plus a Belgian beer acquired as part of a Christmas gift-pack.

Youngs Special London Ale 6.4%. Full-bodied, fruity and quite drinkable, but nowhere near as hoppy as I remember it.
Batemans Mocha 6.0%. Intense chocolate aroma. Distinct chocolate and coffee taste. Contains real. Arabica coffee and Belgian chocolate, which makes this beer a good. after dinner drink.
St Austell Proper Job 5.5%. Powerfully hopped India Pale Ale. Golden coloured, intensely well-hopped pale ale with strong citrus flavours.
M&S London Porter 5.5%. Brewed exclusively for M&S, by Meantime of Greenwich, this dark brown beer is purported to contain seven different malts to create an historic recipe dating from 1750. Full of rich chocolate and coffee notes. Certainly does what it says on the tin (bottle). Probably one of the best examples of a traditional porter, dark brown, slightly sweet with a smoky maltiness.
Budweiser Budvar 5.0%. No introductions needed for this one, but a nice refreshing “palate cleanser” following a Christmas Eve lunchtime session on the Larkins.
Hepworths Classic Old Ale 4.8%. Traditional, dark, Old Ale, described by the brewery as “a Sussex traditional winter brew, bottled for all year round appreciation." Silky smooth and rather moreish.
The Kernel 4C India Pale Ale 7.1%. Stunningly well-hopped IPA. (4C=Citra, Cascade, Columbus & Centennial Hops).Amber coloured, with wonderful, fresh hoppy aroma and citrus-like taste. A good one to start Christmas morning with, and a good introduction, for me, to this well-respected brewery.
Steen Brugge Wit Blanche 5.0%. Wheat beer from Bruge, which according to the label is “enriched with Gruit”. Quite a refreshing beer, and a good appetiser before Christmas dinner. Typical wheat beer nose, but perhaps a little on the sweet side. Part of a selection pack of beers from the De Halve Maan Brewery in Bruges.
Fuller’s 1845 6.8%. Classic bottle-conditioned ale that needs no introduction. The perfect accompaniment to a roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings.
The Kernel Export Stout London 1890 7.2%.  Rich, intense almost oily dark stout. Bitter-sweet with roast coffee and chocolate notes. Perfect with the cheese course.
Pilsner Urquell 4.4%. Classic pilsner; again no introductions needed, but a good accompaniment for the turkey sandwiches. One sometimes forgets just how good this beer is, despite being owned now by global giant, SAB Miller.
Svijansky Rytir Pivo svetly lezak 5.2%. Premium pilsner-style beer from Pivovar Svijany, Northern Bohemia. I found this beer to be unpleasantly bitter, and also slightly hazy. This may be due to the breweries beers being un-pasteurised, and this bottle being slightly past its Best before date. (Only by 3 weeks).
Fuller’s London Porter 5.4%. Classic dark brown, London Porter with a smooth, chocolate flavour, coupled with an underlying bitterness from the Fuggles hops.
Tap Room Brewing Co, IPA 6.3%. Brewed by the Tap Room Brewing Co. of Rochester, New York. Full bodied, with a distinct hoppiness from the 3 (un-stated) hop varieties used, this full on IPA is a recent, and welcome, addition to Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Range.
Augustiner Heller Bock 7.0%. Golden in colour, intensely malty, but not cloyingly sweet. Classic pale bock from Munich’s premier “big” brewery. Dangerously drinkable for a beer this strength, and one of the most enjoyable beers I have tried recently.
Bernard svelte pivo 10° 3.8%. Excellent, pale golden lager, with a surprising depth of flavour for a beer of this low gravity. One of the best low-gravity lagers I have drunk, and like the rest of Bernard’s beers, a real classic.
M&S Southwold Winter IPA 6.7%. Brewed by Adnams, I found this beer slightly disappointing, especially when compare to the excellent Southwold Summer IPA, from the same company. Still quite drinkable, but not quite what I was expecting.
Velke Brezno Breznak 14° 6.4%.  Pleasant enough, golden amber Czech lager, with slight bready notes. Improved once the beer had warmed up slightly.
Meantime IPA 7.5%. Comes in a wired, corked 750ml bottle. Is this beer supposed to be bottle-conditioned? It doesn’t say so on the label, yet this one was very cloudy when poured. Didn’t detract from the taste though, incredibly well-hopped with lots of resinous flavours. Deep amber in colour, with the right amount of sweet juicy malt to balance the hops.
M&S Southwold Winter Beer 4.0%. Brewed again by Adnams, this mid to dark brown beer is a pleasant enough, warming winter brew, despite its relatively low gravity. Full-bodied and flavoursome, with distinct chocolate notes, not a bad beer for a damp January night.
Old Dairy Snow Top 6.0%. This Winter Warmer from Rolvenden-based Old Dairy Brewery, does what it says on the label –warm’s you up! Slightly darker in colour than the Adnam’s beer above, this rich warming ale is packed full of juicy malt, balanced by just the right amount of hops. Sampled on draught as well, just before Christmas.
Harvey’s Christmas Ale 7.5%.  A fine ale to drink on Twelfth Night, and a good one to end the  Christmas/New Year period on. Dark brown, with loads of juicy malt flavours combined with sackfuls of hops, this is a Christmas Ale that really lives up to its name. Harvey’s brew this classic beer each October and then allow it to mature slowly, in a vat, over a bed of fresh Golding hops. Definitely one to savour and one of the finest examples of a true, traditional Christmas Ale.

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