Adnams – Jack Brand Dry Hopped Lager

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Brewery: Adnams – www.adnams.co.uk /@Adnams

Style: Dry Hopped Lager

ABV: 4.2%

Pouring and Look: Pale golden colour, tiny white head, hardly any carbonation.

Smell: An initial burst of fruity, citrus hop that goes quicker than the postman when he knocks with a parcel.

Taste: Slightly metallic, dry bitterness, slight earth malt taste. Surprisingly no real hop taste or the crisp taste you’d expect from a pilsner malt lager.

Thoughts: I normally love Adnams beer but I have to admit this was a disappointment. Initially it smelt amazing but that smell quickly went as did all the carbonation. The taste was okay but nothing fantastic, maybe if there was more carbonation it would liven things up a little.

The Perfect Time to Drink it: Any time you need a really good cry over something that should have been perfect but wasn’t.

Wychwood – Hobgoblin Gold

 

 

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Brewery: Wychwood – www.wychwood.co.uk /@Hobgoblin_beer

Style: Golden Ale

ABV: 4.5%

Pouring and Look: Nice golden amber colour, white frothy head. Exactly what you’d expect.

Smell: Faint citrus fruits from the hops, hint of fresh grass, floral.

Taste: A kiss of citrus hop bitterness with undertone of a malty raisin and licorice taste reminiscent of the original Hobgoblin.

Thoughts: I have have to admit to having a softspot for Wychwood beers as it was bottles of Hobgoblin that got me into ale when I was in my teens. I did enjoy this beer, it didn’t blow my socks off but I didn’t expect it to, it’s refreshing and well balanced and I would happily drink it again. However, it cost £1.89 from Bargain Booze which is in no way expensive but for £1.79 I can buy a bottle of Oakham’s Citra which is exceptional for the price.

The Perfect Time to Drink it: For the past four hours you’ve been battling for your life. Standing shoulder to shoulder with your shield brothers you’ve repelled wave after wave of orcs, goblins and hobgoblin. Stab, hack, slash, it’s all become a blur but now your work is done, you gaze out over the eerily quiet battlefield as the first crows start to land to begin their feast. The silence is broken by the coarse shout of your sergeant;

“You’ve done well today lads! You’ve stood firm and looked fear in the eye. Well done. To show his appreciation Lord Breatherton has opened up his own cellar, so drink deep boys and sleep well!”.

 

The Ormskirk Beer Scene

 

Photo taken 13 August 2014

Photo taken 13 August 2014

I’ve lived in Ormskirk for 6 years now and in that short time I’ve seen the beer scene change totally from several typical town pubs – serving a few uneventful cask ales – to a scattering of craft bars and suppliers. In this blog I’ll guide you around the beer based wonders of Ormskirk – Imagine ancient Rome and you won’t go far wrong…..

Back in the day in years now passed counting the only place, which I knew of, where you could buy really good beer, was from Source Deli – @SourceDeli. Source Deli, as the accurate name suggests, is a deli which specialises in using locally sourced products to create fantastic tasting food – if you’re in Ormskirk then you need to eat here (if you can get a seat!). To match the excellent food Source Deli has good selection of brilliant beer, all of which has passed the owner’s Paul’s (@sourcedelipaul) educated lips and rigours tasting policy, which I believe, to paraphrase, is “if it’s crap I’m not selling it”. It was here where I purchased my first bottles of magic juice from breweries such as Brewdog, Marble, Liverpool Organic and Stringers. These beers were, and still are, a taste sensation especially to someone who’s height of beer exoticism, or perhaps eroticism?, at that point, was Wychwood’s Hobgoblin (I do still enjoy the raisin taste of Hobgoblin but that’s probably because it reminds me of the youth of my beer life).

Slightly outside of Ormskirk centre is a little bar called La Cantina – @LaCantinaL39. My inner geek is always disappointed it wasn’t called Mos Eisley Cantina but I suppose Disney would have filed a law suit. Personally, I find the name La Cantina cringe worthy, if you’re not French then why give your bar a French title that gives the initial impression of cheap imitation instead of the drinking gem which it is? I’ve heard La Cantina described as “a boys den” and I suppose that’s an accurate description of a bar that has ceiling so low that if it was artexed it would cause serious and regular head lacerations. On a plus note however, La Cantina now has an indoor toilet which has eliminated the need for the quick tipsy dashes in the dark when it’s raining. These quirks coupled with the owner, John’s, friendly personality and small but excellent beer selection make La Cantina well worth a visit. I’ve had many a gem on keg there, Hawkshead IPA, Windsor and Eaton’s Conquer, Salopian Darwn’s Origin, and Stringer’s Victoria to name a few.

Directly across from La Cantina you will find Holborn’s Cask Ales – @Holborncaskales – who are a beer and wine wholesalers. Holborn’s have fantastic range of beer that is constantly changing so it’s always worth popping in and seeing what goodies are on offer. If you’re going to visit the best time to go is at the end of the week, Friday, when all the deliveries have been completed and the shop will be staffed.

Back in the centre of Ormskirk there is a small and very busy inn that concentrates on, mainly, Germanic beers with a small selection of ales from the Burscough Brewery –  (as they own the Inn). The Hop Inn Bier Shoppe reminds me of the old Victorian temperance bar I used to visit with my Dad when I was growing up. Wood panels, cabinets filled with beer and dead animal heads decorate the Inn. It’s exceptionally small and also exceptionally busy on most occasions so expect a wait for the single male toilet, if you’re a lady then you’ll probably have to wait even longer (at a guess 2-4hrs) and if you’re visiting on a Friday or Saturday night then make sure you’re wearing comfy shoes as you’ll be standing. The Hop Inn Bier Shoppe is a victim of its own success as it’s often too busy to go for a relaxing pint due to the amount of people crammed into such a small space, because of this it’s now become a place I’ll have a pint in before moving on. As with La Cantina I really don’t like the name of ‘The Hop Inn Bier Shoppe’. I know what they’re trying to do but it’s just bollocks. For one a ‘bier’ is what you put a coffin on and yes can they’re trying to make a link to the Germanic spelling for beer but it’s just needless especially when you add second layer of bullshit into the name with the antiquated spelling for ‘shoppe’. For me it just cheapens the place by playing to established stereotypes. Why not just call it “The Hop Inn”?!

Across from The Source a new Weatherspoons has opened called The Court Leet – @court_leet_jdw.  At the moment it’s sill new and shiny and has a beer selection that you can find in any Weatherspoons – nothing truly exciting except for the cans of Six Point’s Bengali Tiger but enough variety to keep you interested for a night. The “highlight” of the Leet Bar is a Willy Wonka-esq glass elevator which leads to a roof terrace that overlooks Ormskirk’s main car park. It’s a sight to behold, stood on the roof-terrace gazing out over the car park like Jon Snow stood onto of the wall waiting for the onslaught of the wildings to begin.

Finally, Ormkirk will soon be getting a new bar that specialises in cocktails and craft beer. The premises for Salt Liquor Ormskirk is currently being re-furbished and open within the next few months, you can follow their progress on twitter @saltliquorormy.

As you can see for a small market town we’re really lucky to have so many excellent places in Ormskirk that sell really good beer. If you do visit Ormskirk for a craft wanker night out you might be lucky enough to meet some of Ormskirk’s very own Titans of beer; The Baron (@Baron_Orm), Chris (@Christopher_R), The Bone (@VillaBONE) and Paul (@SourcedeliPaul).

That’s one big pile of…

I’m going to start this blog off by ruining the twist in the film the Usual Suspect.  If memory serves me correctly the film ends with Kevin Spacey’s character being revealed as ‘the man behind the curtain’. As he lights his cigarette to have a triumphant smoke Spacey’s voice-over informs us that ‘the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”. This led me to start thinking about the thing which everyone knows about but no one really mentions in the beer world. There is an elephant in the room so colossal that it astounds me that it is only spoken about in hushed whispers. There seems to be a fear that mentioning the thing by name will cause it to strike them down in the middle of the night, as if by naming it you are somehow giving it power. But I believe the opposite, it is only through naming it, by shouting its name into the abyss – shoulder to shoulder, together – that we will illuminate this demon and destroy it!

“Beer Shits” I name thee! Yes, beer shits, they bring even the mightiest of us low, they are the pain to our beery pleasure, the Robin to our Batman, the Gollum to our Samwise, the Yin and the Yang. The Beer Shits are truly indiscriminate, everyone suffers from its foul acidic smelling, tar like grasp, but no one ever mentions it, perhaps from embarrassment. The UK government is currently looking at the possibility of adding health warnings to alcohol but I guarantee that they’ll be no health warning that states “This beverage, if consumed excessively, will give you the shits the likes of which you have never experienced. The toilet bowl will look like the scene of a massacre; the acidic smell will make your eyes water and strip the wallpaper off the wall next door. Your relatives will hate you”.

Now I’ve noticed that since diving into the world of Craft Beer, the affiliation has become worse. No longer do I get struck down after a lot of beers, now, thanks to craft, it can be after only a few bottles. So why is this, why does good beer leave the door unlocked and the welcome light on so readily for the old watery foe? Well I actually, but not surprisingly, have a few theories which I will now reveal.

Devine Retribution – Because really good beer is by its definition really good and enjoyable it must be therefore bad for a spiritual soul. If it’s enjoyable to the body then it will be bad for the soul. So perhaps beer shits are divine punishment?

Conspiracy – Perhaps the mass producing beer breweries are using a form of physic osmosis to affect our very stomachs to cause a mass purge of all the crafty goodness.

Science – Now this is the most likely solution. Craft beer is generally stronger than your average run of the mill mass produced swill. So could it be that the increased alcohol level has an adverse effect on the gut? Well alcohol is a poison so it would make sense that the body would want to get rid of any it couldn’t purge itself. However, other higher alcoholic drinks don’t have the explosive effect as beer, so I theories that it can’t be purely down to alcohol content.  So what else could cause this super-volcano reaction? I personally believe that the reason we buy and drink craft, for the taste, is the reason behind the beer shits. To get the beer tasting fantastic the beer magicians generally known as brewers use a hell of a lot fresh ingredients, barley, malts, yeast and hops.  Fibre, if I remember correctly helps with digestion so getting too much of that in several liquid hits through the barley and the malts in the beer can only act to supercharge your stomach. Your stomach also contains bacteria which breaks down your food into useful bits and the waste. I’m no expert but surely adding several different types of live yeast from different beer would send your native stomach bacteria – coupled with all the fibre – into a confused overdrive with the end product being a blow-out of biblical proportions! KA BOOM!

Now I might be totally wrong, as it was a long time since I completed my GCSE Science, and even if I am right this knowledge will give you no comfort the next time you’re glued to your toilet, weeping, as your innards are pushed, forcibly, noisily, and stinkly, out  your bottom. I’ve made the first step to expose this unspoken evil… so will you continue the good fight and join me in fighting this common enema?!

Stringer – Mutiny

Photo 15-07-2014 18 30 29 (HDR)Brewery:Stringers – www.stringersbeer.co.uk /@Stringersbeer

Style: Double Stout

ABV: 9.3%

Pouring and Look: Very little carbonation, small caramel head, deep black body like the abyss.

Taste: Liquorice and dark treacle, rich red berries. You can also smell dandelion and burdock which reminds me of going to the temperance bar with my Dad as a kid.

Thoughts: One of my favourite beers, packed full of rich flavours and compliment each other perfectly. It’s a stout that smells as good as it looks and tastes even better.

The Perfect Time to Drink it: Obviously, it’s after you’ve led a successful Mutiny… aghhhhhrrrrrr!

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Stringers – Delta V

 

 

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Brewery: Stringers – www.stringersbeer.co.uk  / @Stringersbeer

Style: Pale Ale

ABV: 6.5%

Pouring and Look: Light, clear copper, small white head, very little carbonation.

Smell: Light tang of citrus hops, oranges, malt base and sweetness.

Taste: Bitter grapefruit taste with a marmalade sweetness, the after-taste reminds me of the of malt-loaf.

Thoughts: A perfect BBQ beer, full of flavour and very tasty, it packs a punch at 6.5%. It could do with being a little more lively. There was a nice head at the start but as you can see that went totally in the time it took me to take the picture. Still a fantastic beer though.

The perfect time to drink it:

Once upon a time in a land far away there lived a very grumpy dragon. Everybody annoyed the dragon; the local knights harassed him as they tried to steal his treasure, his neighbour – the unicorn – was continually too happy and the way he pranced around wound the dragon up even further. One Sunday afternoon was particularly bad for the dragon, he’d met an overly chatty mermaid and magician who wanted to capture the dragon and ride him. He’d had enough, he was going to move! Looking out of his cave, at the foot of the valley, he spied a very large and tall mountain in the distance. “That’s it” he thought “I’m going to move up there away from all these cretins that live around me“. So in the space of two days the dragon had moved all his possessions – mainly treasure and a spare pair of underpants – from his valley cave to his new cave high up in the mountains. Now I think it’s safe to say that the dragon loved his new home high up in the mountains, he had a fantastic view and wasn’t interrupted by crazed magicians, prancing unicorns, thieving knights or overly chatty mermaids. Life was good – in the first week alone he’d already gone through the backlog of his books and his daily high altitude flights made him fitter than ever.

But as the weeks went by and the dragon had nothing left to be grumpy about he began to feel a little empty inside. You see the dragon kind of liked being angry at everyone as it gave him a little fire in his belly, of course it was nice being relaxed some of the time but he was made to blow fire and gobble cattle, not read books and lounge around. The dragon realised he needed the annoying cretins for him to be a dragon. With a set heart the dragon flew down from his mountain cave to the valley below. On the way he picked up – and roasted – a few sheep as he’d decided to host a BBQ. He invited the magician, wizard, mermaid and even the unicorn. Their idiocy annoyed the hell out of him and made him grumpier than ever. At the end of the BBQ once everybody had gone home the dragon felt grumpier than ever, to celebrate this he opened up a hidden bottle of Stringers Delta V and thought it’s good to be a dragon again.

Mad Hatter Brewing Company – Dia De Los Muertos

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Brewery: Mad Hatter – www.madhatterbrewing.co.uk / @MadHatBrew

Style: Pumpkin Beer

ABV: 6.5%

Purchased From: Holborn Cask Ales –  @Holborncaskales

Pouring and Look: Cloudy copper with very little head.

Smell: Sweet, floral, wet hay, all very subtle.

Taste: Tangy, yeast sharpness, orange with a burnt marmalade after-taste. No carbonation at all.

Thoughts: It actually tastes really nice, it’s sweet with a tangy bitter after-taste but it could do with some carbonation just to liven it all up. The carbonation really lets it down.

The perfect time to drink it: Obviously November the 1st!

Norman ‘Flash Pants’ Taylor had been for the better part of his childhood and all of his adult life a very poor magician, at least in public. In the privacy of his own studio, which he shared with his long suffering man-sized rabbit Clive, he was, by his own reckoning, the greatest magician that ever lived. He could fill an empty glass with water by just looking at it, he was the master at pulling all manner of wildlife out of different places (Clive kept his distance when Norman was practicing this trick) and his illusion magic was so strong that he once lost the bathroom for two full days when he cast a simple cleaning spell causing the room to completely disappear leading to both Norman and Clive using a bucket to answering “the call”.  When Norman got on stage, however, the magic seemed to go wrong, in one memorable incident he managed to blow his trousers clean off his body which was surprising as he was only taking his hat off. Norman’s act was now seen as a comedy, he was making very good money and selling out theatres but people where coming to see him fail, Norman was magician not a fool. He wanted the respect and admiration of his audience not their laughter. Something had to change, and change soon, but Norman had no idea what that something was.

One day when Norman was philosophising on the toilet he was struck with the most excellent notion. All his magic success had taken place at his studio whilst Clive was present. Was Clive his familiar, his focus, his magical mojo? There was only one way to find out and that was to take Clive to his next show.

From a pure magical point of view that evenings show, with Clive in attendance, was a huge success. All the tricks went off without a hitch with no accidental disintegrations. Norman was ecstatic; he would now be hailed as the greatest magician of the age. The crowd, however, were not happy, instead of cheering they were booing! They’d come to see a comedy show, disguised as magic show not a magic show disguised as a magic show. They wanted their money back and they wanted it now. Clive the man sized rabbie could see what was happening from his vantage point behind the curtain. He’d spent too long channelling his own magic through Norman for the fool to ruin it all now. Clive had become accustomed to the wealth generated from Norman’s failed magic show, he’d spent hours and hours of his life in promoting the “Greatest Worst Magic Show on Earth” and Norman was about to ruin it all by being a real magician. This wouldn’t do.

Quick as flash Clive was on the stage and at Norman’s side. He had an idea to win the crowd back; he’d have to change his long term plans, as Norman’s ego meant that he’d always want to be a serious magician when all the people wanted was farce, but Clive was willing to make that sacrifice.

“Norman” Clive whispered “the only way you can win them back is by jumping in the box and vanishing”. “You’re right Clive! If they see me disappear they’ll hail me as the greatest magician ever” Norman replied as he leapt into the box. As Norman pulled the lid down on the box, Clive picked up the saw and held it up for the audience to see. A hushed silence fell over the crowd, they’d never seen a giant rabbit cut a man in a box in half before. Clive started cutting the box, it only took him a few minutes to cut through the box and by all the screams through Norman. The stage was filled with blood as Clive lifted to the bloody saw into the air to the cheers of the crowd.

Clive

Clive