Sly Fox – 113

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Brewery: Sly Fox / @SlyFoxBeer

Style: IPA

ABV: 7%

Purchased From: Booths

Pouring and Look: This pours out of the can real nicely. The colour is deep and golden and it is clear. The head is frothy and off white with an orange tint.

Smell: It has subtle smell of marmalade, sweet sugars with an earthy, malt loaf base. It doesn’t smell sickly but it does smell sweet.

Taste: Initially, it tastes as it smells, like a subtle mixture of marmalade and malt loaf. It’s not sickly but it is a little sweet. The after taste is a light sprinkling of hops which add a pine and citrus flavour leading to small lingering bitter kiss.

Thoughts: I actually enjoyed this IPA. The marmalade taste in some beers really puts me off as it can make them too sweet and sickly. This isn’t the case with this beer there’s just the right mixture of the marmalade and the hops to balance each other out. It works really well but for a 7% beer I want a little more character, I could have drank this all day as it tasted more like a session beer than a 7% beer. I want my bigger beers to have a more complex, bigger taste and this beer didn’t have that. It was good and if this beer was around 4% and be tearing my shirt off, beating my chest and screaming about how great it was.

 

Thornbridge – Jaipur X

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Brewery: Thornbridge – @Thornbridge

Style: Imperial IPA / Double IPA / Thunderdome IPA

ABV: 10%

Purchased From: Source Deli –  @SourceDeliPaul

Pouring and Look: The body is a crisp amber gold, clear with a frothy white head. It’s how I imagine God’s piss would look. The head dissipates very quickly, I’m not too sure if this is now an analogy for God’s penis but i’d expect more staying power if it was.

Smell: Smell where art thou?! Okay, that was a little unfair but the smell is really subtle, initially, you get the citrus from the hops with a hint of a caramel with a malty base. BEWARE: You may snort some beer accidentally by trying to get your nose close to the smell.

Taste: Firstly, you’re hit with the bitter, sharp, crisp, citrus taste. You’re getting the usual suspects – minus Kevin Spacey – grapefruit with the softer but sugary blood orange. After the initial hit the taste opens up with a malty, caramel base.

Thoughts: The flavours in this IPA are blended really well, the hoppy first hit is balanced against the caramel, malty aftertaste, it works really well. The only issue I have with this beer is that the bottle says Imperial IPA with an ABV of 10%, now that comes with some responsibility. At 10% I want the taste volume turned up to 11 but it isn’t with this beer. Everything is well balanced, the flavours are subtle and varied, if this was a 5% IPA I’d be banging the war drum and raving about it. For a 10% Imperial IPA ,that costs the same as other IPA at that ABV, I expect really BIG flavours, unfortunately, this subtly tasty beer didn’t live up to my expectations given the ABV and price tag.

To get over the disappointment I had to listen to Tina Turner’s “We don’t need another hero”. I have a message for Tina and it this “you may not need another hero but the rest of the world certainly does”.

Mad Hatter Brewing Company – Imperious

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

Style: Double IPA

ABV: 11.7%

Purchased From: Source Deli –  @SourceDeliPaul

Pouring and Look: Cloudy copper like a dwarf’s codpiece with a frothy off-white head.

Smell: The initial smell is a really rich and freshly baked malt-loaf, not the cheap crap you get for 40p but the homemade stuff that fills your house with a rich, deep, sugary marmalade smell. You can loose yourself in this smell, it’s really deep with a hint of booze.

Taste: Burnt sugary marmalade, malty and earthy with a bitter sweet kick. Boozey but not overpowering it gets better with each mouthful as your taste buds get acclimatised you can start to pick out the more subtle flavours, cinnamon, floral, the hop kick is there in the band but it’s the rhythm guitarist and not the pretty boy at the front. As your taste buds and sense of smell become one with the force you just loose yourself in this beer.

Thoughts: I really love this beer, wow. At 11.7% it’s a beast but so drinkable. It’s sublime. Beers like this are what “craft” beers should be, full of flavour that overwhelm your senses. It’s perfect and my ears are tingling.

As I’m writing this, Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds has just started playing and that’s a classic as is this beer. It’s serendipity.

 

The Jester’s Craft Predictions: 2015

2014 was a busy year in the hop shaped world of Craft Beer, empire’s rose and fell and the oceans were finally Burtonised, but those things are now behind us and we stand staring into the abyss of 2015. What horrors will 2015 unleash, will any heroes rise to fight them, are we ready for the shocks, the trails, the tribulations and the glory to come? To ensure that we are all prepared for the 2015 hopocalypse I will stare into my crystal ball and share my divinations with you all.

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Dog of the Brew

2015 will be a busy year for Brewdog. In the spring of 2015 they will create their very own professional wrestling promotion Extreme BrewDog Wrestling (EBDW). The promotion will concentrate exclusively on shouty video interviews by men wearing only their underpants and beards telling us about how they’ll “bring the pain”, “lead us all to hoptopia”, “slay the giants with nothing but the power they gain from all the little Brewdogsters out there” and other such statements. Most of the interviews will be nonsensical ramblings but when they actually get round to putting on a wrestling match it will be spectacular, sometimes.

The slaying of giants will play a major role in 2015 for Brewdog. In an effort to push the “brewing envelope”  coupled with drunken night of watching Guardians of the Galaxy and reading Jack and the Bean Stalk the BrewDog boys will go on a mighty quest armed only with a handful of magic hops. Around summer 2015 the magic hops will be planted and, with the support of a massive trellis, a hop vine will grow to the clouds. Upon climbing the vine and slaying the clueless giant they find there the Bewdog boys will hollow out the giant’s skull, ferment the gooey interior and bottle it up. “Brewdog Giant Killer – Brewed in a giant, using a giant” will push the envelope so far into the crafttosphere that people will be talking about how innovative it is for all time. The taste, however, will not be great.

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Craft-Speak

By the end of 2015 anybody sporting a beard will only be able to communicate in “craft-speak”, it will take a little while longer for those who are deemed “uncraft” to fully adopt “craft-speak” but eventually it will be the only form of acceptable communication.

The purpose of Craft-Speak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the craft-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Craft but to also make all other modes of thought impossible.

Craft-Speak Diary 2nd Ed.

To ensure that you are prepared for the rise of craft-speak I will give you a heads up on the basics. For any descriptive word just add ey or y to the ending as it cuts down on the amount of actual words you need to use (and you don’t need to be specific).

Non Craft-Speak example:

“You can really taste the cascade hops, it has a floral flavour with the hint of grapefruit”.

Craft-Speak example:

“It tastes flowery, hoppy and citrusy” or “Hoppy goody”.

 

New suit, who suit, I suit, law-suit

The craft based trend of taking legal action against any company that bears any resemblance to your own will carry on throughout 2015. The top 10 reasons for lawsuits in 2015 will be, in no particular order;

  1. Having the same customers.
  2. Using the words beer or ale.
  3. Using colours on your label.
  4. Not using colours on your label.
  5. Using similar ingredients.
  6. Using letters from the alphabet to describe your ale.
  7. Being sold on the opposite pump.
  8. Being sold in the same pub.
  9. Contained in the same size can, bottle, cask or keg.
  10. Being of a wet consistency.

 

The Next BIG Taste

Pina Colada beer

 

Final Thoughts

It will be an interesting 2015 full of ups and downs with the biggest selling Christmas craft beer being Carling. This may come as a surprise but in Autumn 2015 there will be a repulsion against fresh ingredients and beer that tastes of something. All hail Carling our future craft overlords.

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).