Belgian IPA – American: Green Flash Le Freak

This week’s beer is Le Freak, brewed by Green Flash in San Diego. A Belgian IPA at 9.2%, it’s definitely one that can keep you warm during the winter!

Let’s start with Green Flash‘s Description of the Beer:

Le Freak™ is the first-ever hybrid ale of its kind: the convergence of a Belgian-Style Trippel with an American Imperial IPA. Spawned over barstool pontifications between Publican and Brewmaster, this zesty Amarillo dry-hopped, bottle-conditioned marvel entices with fruity Belgian yeast aromatics and a firm, dry finish. Experience a legendary beer phenomenon.

I like this description, Green Flash claim to be the originators of American Brewed Belgian IPA. It also doesn’t give too much away about the beer, apart from the fact Amarillo hops are used to Dry Hop during Fermentation. Belgian beers are notoriously hard to get right, and lets hope Green Flash have!

Apparently, Le Freak uses the recipe for Green Flash’s well known Imperial IPA. The malts in this beer are two row pale barley, Carastan, a British crystal malt to help the beer’s body, mouthfeel and colour and crystal malt. Quite an American mix of malts apart from the Crystal! Next, the hops. Now I know I always say the hops are what makes an IPA, but with this you have the yeast to think about too seeing as it’s a Belgian Style Imperial IPA. Hops are Summit and Nugget, and it is then Dry-Hopped with Amarillo during Fermentation. Sounds like a pretty standard IPA, right? Wrong. This is where Green Flash work their magic, using their house yeast and White Labs Belgian Yeast to ferment the beer together. The Belgian yeast is put in for the first 2 days of Fermentation, then the American House yeast is added 2 days later. It’s then Bottle Conditioned with Fresh Yeast. Triple Fermentation? Yes! And that’s why it’s over 9%! I think this is a great way to make an American/Belgian beer.

When you pour this beer, it’s Amber coloured with a thick white head. It eventually Dissipates to a thinner head, but it is ever present during drinking the beer. It looks like an IPA, so how does it smell? This is where the Belgian Yeast comes into play, with Pepper, Coriander (Cilantro), Banana Bread with some Floral and Citrus aromas in there too. It’s something you definitely want to dive into once you smell the slight Brett notes in the background too. The taste is a lot like the nose, Banana Bread, Coriander, Pepper, Dried Orange Peel, Melon with that West Coast Citrusy IPA finish. This beer really does taste absolutely like a cross between American and Belgian beers! Like a Trippel crossed with a West Coast IPA! The mouthfeel is quite thick, leaving bitterness under the tounge and a sweetness on top of the tounge. Truely a great brew, and something that’s on my list for when I visit San Diego next year!

I really do recommend this beer, whether you’re drinking it in the sun, or snuggled up by the fireplace on a cold Winter’s night.

You can buy Green Flash Le Freak in the UK at:

Beers of Europe

Ales By Mail

The Bottle Shop


Unfortunately, Green Flash beers are not widely distributed in the UK at the moment, but this is hopefully set to change soon as they have teamed up with a Belgian Brewery!

EST. CALORIES: 276   ABV: 9.2%


*Guest Post* – Mike Richardson – Hey Porter! (Guiness’ attempt at tapping the Craft Beer Market)

“Hey Porter!, Hey Porter! What time did ya say?

How much longer will it be til I can see the light of day?”

Hey Porter! – Johnny Cash

I would bet that virtually everyone is familiar with the ubiquitous dark black-brown “stout” known as Guinness; whether you like it or not it is absolutely everywhere. Personally I’m not a huge fan and find it a bit bland, watery and characterless, but in some pubs and clubs it’s a choice between a pint of Guinness or mass-market fizzy lager, so I’ve been known to down a pint or occasionally ten.

So The Black Stuff is everywhere; you’d be hard pushed to find a high-street pub or even back street free-house that won’t be able to pour you a pint. But with the resurgence of the craft brew industry and it’s growing fan base this very fact is maybe causing the owners Diageo a little bit of a problem.

Familiarity breeds contempt, as the saying goes, and so despite having an iconic brand bolstered by super-chilled versions, sports sponsorships, cans with widgets, St. Paddy’s Day extravaganzas and that cheeky toucan, they are obviously worried about the more educated and adventurous breed of beersumer that is emerging.

I have no doubt this is behind the recent decision to nudge their way into the craft beer market with the release of limited edition “Brewers Source” releases. Apparently based on historical records from their Brewers’ notes these twists on the omnipresent black liquor are obviously an attempt to bring the more educated hop-addict back to their fold. Labelled as “porter”s to differentiate them even further from their usual “stout” there is in fact no difference, “stout” being merely a truncation of “stout porter” i.e. a stronger version of porter.

While it would be easy enough to dismiss this as a cynical ploy to squeeze out the competition and line the pockets of a giant corporation at the expense of the little guys you have to remember that however massive Guinness is now, at one time it too must have been a much smaller and less corporate lead operation.

So in the interest of fairness, and out of a fair bit of curiosity, I grabbed a couple of bottles of their historical porters from Tesco when I saw it on offer the other day. Dark beers are my favourite type and porters in particular, so a tough test lay ahead of the brewing giant..

First impressions; the packaging is ok; Nothing wild but it includes a fair bit of information about the heritage and composition of the recipe, which is always nice to see. The brews are still recognisable as part of “Brand Guinness”, but looking old-fashioned and far less sports oriented, which can only be a good thing in my book.

“West Indies Porter”. (ABV 6.0%).

First up was a glass of a Caribbean style porter, allegedly based on a recipe from 1796 this is the stronger of the two I had picked up. At first quaff I was pleasantly surprised.; burnt spicy hops and coffee / liquorice hit the palette with a zing and make it a much livelier and more interesting version of standard Guinness. It danced over my tongue in a rather pleasant fashion and certainly didn’t have any of the thickness or sweet – heaviness that one might associate with a beer of this strength. Still recognisably Guinness the flavours lifted it above the standard offering, for a while at least.

Unfortunately the lively nature of the brew went rather flat fairly quickly. Once the carbonation had died down a little this particular beer lost its charm and turned flat and uninspiring, much like its modern counterpart; still drinkable, but nothing special. Perhaps I was drinking it a little too slowly (it was a school night), but at this strength is it really going to be something you’re going to guzzle down anyway?

Mike’s Brew Rating – 7/10 fading rather quickly to 4/10

“Dublin Porter”- 3.8%

From a 1801 entry in the brewer’s diaries this moderate strength standard Porter was bound to be different to the regular blackstuff. . Again kitted out with an old-fashioned looking bottle I wasn’t expecting an awful lot from this after the eventual disappointment of the previous ale. However overall I probably enjoyed this more than preceding tipple, something I didn’t expect as I normally prefer my beer around the 5%+ mark.

Totally different in style to the West Indian offering this was actually more like a mild than a porter in my opinion. Heavily carbonated and therefore “a bit of a belcher”, it did a fizzy dance over my tongue leaving a trail of sweet vanilla-caramel rather than the coffee or dark chocolate you would normally associate with this style and with enough hopiness to give a refreshingly dry finish.

Unlike the first bottle this beer managed to retain its lively nature to the end, though I probably did in all fairness drink it a little more quickly. That was partly due to the thirst-quenching nature of this particular drop. I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it again due to the lower ABV,, but if I was offered it on a hot day I’d guzzle it down in short order (and burp like a hippopotamus afterwards!)

Mike’s Brew Rating – 6/10

So, unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately if you’re a microbrewery) it seems that Guinness’ attempt to tap the craft market revival has fallen a little short. While I preferred both offerings to “standard” Guinness there are far better and much more interesting examples of the style readily available, even from your local supermarket.

If you have never tried stout / porter style beers (possibly because you have sampled the omnipresent Irish pint or can’t be bothered to wait for it to be poured) I really would recommend giving them a go, especially if you like coffee, dark chocolate or fruity notes. Available in a number of subtly different variations they are perfect for a winter’s eve by a fire in your local, or snuggled up on the sofa with a loved one.

Mike’s Stout / Porter Style Ale Recommendations

Titanic Brewery – Plum Porter (4.9%); Delicious and satisfying with a sweet, fruity character.

Ridgeway Brewery – Bad King John (6.0%); Incredibly moreish Black English Ale.

DG – Dragon Stout (7.5%); Strong Caribbean style, sweeter than English varieties.

William Bros. – March of The Penguins (4.9%); complex and creamy. One of my favourites.

Mike Richardson is a freelance journalist, photographer and radio presenter. He also likes the odd beer or five.


The Ministry of LOUD Noises –

Rebel Crow Photography –

Black IPA – Scottish/Swedish: Brewdog/Cap Brewing CapDog

This Friday’s beer is a Black IPA, a collaboration between Brewdog and CAP Brewing. Although we’ve had a few Coffee beers over the last week, this is the last one for a little while! I think the reason being is that I haven’t been sleeping much lately and have been working double time on this and my day job, so Coffee is well and truly on my mind! CapDog is a Black IPA infused with Cascara – the fruit of the Coffee plant making for a brew I was very interested in.

Let’s start with the description of the beer –

CAPDOG is a warped smoky black IPA brewed to imperial strength, infused with cascara – the fruit of the coffee plant.

Subtly sweet, with big resin and chocolate notes, balanced by spicy and smoky flavours, CAPDOG is a curious collaboration between CAP and BrewDog.

A good description of the beer – we’re expecting spicy, smokey flavours with some resinous hops, chocolate and some sweetness. Not a balls-to-the-wall description I’ve come to expect from Brewdog, but sometimes it’s nice to have a change! Also, it’s good for them to work with a Brewery unheard of in the UK until a little while ago.

Capdog is brewed with Extra Pale, Crystal, Rye and Carafa malts. I like this mix of malts for a Black IPA, if anyone tries it without the infusion of Cascara, let me know! The malt bill seems like it’s intended for a clean, yet Chocolatey and Roasty flavour. Only one lot of Hops in this brew, the famous Centennial. I think this is a great hop for the beer, as the Lemon and Citrus flavours from this hop will compliment the Cascara nicely. I can imagine either the Cascara is put into the boil, or is made into a “Cascara Tea” and added to fermentation.

This beer pours a thick Black with a Mocha coloured head, there’s a tiny bit of sticky lacing on the sides of the glass. The head dissipates quickly, which is expected for a 9% brew leaving a tan coloured cap on the beer. What a great looking beer! It really looks like a Winter Brew. On the nose there’s lots of Citrus, Dark Fruits and a little bit of Coffee and Pine. It’s quite an inviting smelling brew, especially if you like Citrus Forward beers. When you taste this beer, you get lots of Roasty and Chocolate notes, followed by some Clean Coffee tones, Dark Fruits finishing with a strange Coca Cola/Kola Nut flavour and some pine. The mouthfeel is thinner than I was expecting for a dark beer, but this is an IPA afterall! Medium carbonation and finishes quite dry, despite some of the sweet flavours. If you can get your hands on this beer, I really recommend it. Perfect tucked up next to the fire on a cold Evening when you don’t fancy something more heavy like a Stout.

You can purchase CapDog in the UK (be quick!) at:

Ales By Mail (IN STOCK at time of writing)

Unfortunately, Capdog was a limited brew, but for any Bars/Shops wanting to stock Brewdog’s Collaborations and more Limited Releases I’d really recommend signing up to their Mailing List.

EST. CALORIES: 270   ABV: 9%

Collaboration Stout – English: Squawk Brewing Co/Bean Brothers Coffee Co. – Espresso Stout

Today I’m writing about a very interesting collaboration between Bean Brothers, an Artisnal Coffee company and Squawk Brewing – a Craft Beer Brewery. The beer is called Espresso Stout. After Reading Claire from Dap n Drink’s article about Cup North I knew I had to try this beer. It’s really interesting for me, as a Brewery and a Coffee Company have collaborated together to make a Coffee Stout instead of the brewer sourcing their own from anywhere they want. The fact that a Blend created by Bean Brothers created the blend of Coffee in this Stout makes it a true collaboration. The fact I get the impression Bean Brothers instigated this collaboration is even more interesting! I contacted Jeremy from the Coffee Company and he was happy to send me a bottle. Thanks again!

Lets start with Bean Brothers and Squawk Brewing’s description of the beer:

We are delighted to offer our espresso stout. It is brewed by the magnificent Squawk brewery using their award winning stout recipe. We showcased this stout at CupNorth this year and it is fair to say that it was loved by all! A clean tasting stout with the espresso beautifully present and finishing with a sweet aftertaste. If there was a desert stout , this would be it. Excellent accompaniment to cheese and chocolate based desserts.

I like the description for this beer, it lets you know about the beer but it also shows that all involved are passionate and confident about their product. I prefer descriptions like this to over complex descriptions, or ones that leave too much to the imagination. They could have easily just had “Stout brewed with our Coffee Blend.”

Onto the Brewing process, I’ve discussed this with Jeremy from Bean Brothers who has been very helpful. As this beer is very Coffee forward, let’s start with the Coffee in this brew. The stout is brewed with BB’s “Derek” which is a seasonal Espresso Blend. It’s a blend of 3 Coffees, Brazil Sul de Minas, a chocolaty and roasty Coffee, Ethiopian Sidamo which has a fruity Blueberry flavour and a less known Coffee from Timor that has a herby and sweet taste. Oliver at Squawk then uses a blend of six different malts involving Chocolate Malt. As I was told about the Chocolate Malt, I’m going to try and guess the others. I think the other Malts are Dark Chocolate Malt, Black Malt, Caramel Malt, Blackprinz Malt and Crystal 150 Malt. I could be wrong, as this beer is so Coffee forward! As for the hops, a small amount of Cascade is used. I also detect a little bit of Kent Goldings in there too. After this the Coffee is added and left to Ferment. The Fermantation is ended early to improve the Mouthfeel of the Brew and to keep some of the sweetness. I also detected some Lactose Sugar notes in this brew, but this could well be the sweetness of the Timor Coffee.

I was very interested behind the story behind this beer, so I asked Jeremy at Bean Brothers –

Relationship-wise, we have known each other for at least 12 years, I have a speciality coffee shop in the heart of Huddersfield called coffeevolution and Oliver used to be a barista there before starting his business Squawk Brewing Co. I suppose the fact that that he has a good knowledge of coffee has bolstered his understanding when embarking upon the Bean brothers Squawk brewing quest!

What an encouraging story! It’s obvious why Squawk were chosen – it’s always good when a Brewer knows their Coffee when trying to make a Coffee Stout!

When you pour this beer, it pours very dark with a light Copper coloured film on the top of the beer. This dissipates quickly and looks a lot like Espresso afterwards! On the nose there’s loads of Milk Chocolate, Roasty Coffee aromas, lots of dark Roasty Malts, Dark Fruits which eventually fades to some Herbal Tones. It smells very inviting indeed, and I couldn’t wait to try this Brew! The Stout starts with a Fruity, Acidic Coffee Kick with hints of Nuts which fades to Dark Roasty Coffee, Milk Chocolate Raisins with some Lactose Sweetness. Again, I’m not sure if there is Lactose Sugar in this, and it could well be the sweetness from the blend of Coffee used. The beer has a Coffee-Like mouthfeel, with light Carbonation. It finishes Sticky and Sweet.

This is definitely a beer I’d recommend for Coffee lovers.

You can Purchase Espresso Stout at the Bean Brother’s website here.

For any bars/shops that would like to stock Espresso Stout, I’d recommend contacting Bean Brothers and/or Squawk Brewing.

EST. CALORIES: 195   ABV: 6.5%

Stout – Danish: Mikkeller Beer Geek Vanilla Shake


This week, as the winter is taking it’s hold I will be writing about a Legendary Stout from Mikkeller – Beer Geek Vanilla Shake. A Stout brewed with French Press Coffee and Vanilla.

This beer really is one of those sought after brews, and as soon as I saw it I knew it had a place here for Winter. I’ve had it cellared away for a couple of months.

Let’s start with Mikkeller‘s description of the beer:

From the beer geek breakfast series – the beer that really put Mikkeller on the map – we decided to shake things up by adding a truck load of vanilla to the french press coffee trick, creating a whole new dimension to the beer that are loved by freaks and geeks worldwide.

I like Mikkeller’s descriptions – he always knows that the beer he has brewed is good and he taught some of the best brewers in the world. Tobias Emil Jensen and Tore Gynther, who went on to form To Øl for example. The French Coffee trick is impressive, and although I’m still not 100% sure of it I have the recipe for the base Stout and I will attempt to decipher what they do. There’s always a mystery to the descriptions, and I think that creates a good interest in the beer itself. As Mikkeller is a Gypsy Brewery, this one was brewed at the Lervig Brewery.

As with all Stouts, the all important Malt comes first. As Vanilla Shake is based on an Oatmeal Stout, there’s quite a lot of fermentables involved! Pilsner Malt, Flaked Oats, Cara Munich, Smoked Malt, Chocolate Malt and Roasted Barley are in this one. As for the hops, we’ve gone American as this is quite a sweet stout. Centennial and Cascade hops are used, aiding the sweeter and fruitier tones in the brew. The next part is where this brew comes into it’s own – Coarsely ground Coffee Beans and Vanilla Beans are brewed using the French Press Method. Scalding water is used (just before boiling point), a little salt is added. Whilst the water is reaching scalding point, the coarse ground Coffee and Vanilla is put into the French Press. The scalding water is added, the Coffee and Vanilla mix stirred and left for 4 – 5 minutes to steep. After this, the plunger is pressed down at a steady speed and the Vanilla Coffee is added to the Fermentation after cooling.

When you pour this beer, it pours a thick black. I know everyone describes Stouts as something light cannot penetrate but light really cannot penetrate this one! There’s a thin Cola foam coloured head which dissipates quickly, leaving a mocha coloured ring around the glass. The lacing is very sticky and leaves a small ring after drinking. Now on to the aroma, wow! As soon as you open the bottle you get a blast of Vanilla Beans, with big Roasty malt and Sun-dried Fruit with Rum notes in the background. Given the fact this beer is 13%, it’s expected that there will be some sort of boozy smell but the Vanilla and Chocolate malt have transformed this into a satisfying Vanilla Rum smell. The taste initially goes with the Aroma, lots of Sweet Vanilla to start with, making way to some huge Roasted Malt flavours and Espresso. There’s some Belgian Dark Chocolate finishing with some Rum-Rasin Ice Cream notes. The Beer is very thick in your mouth, a lot like a Vanilla Milkshake. Carbonation is low making way for a Creamy Mouthfeel. You’d expect this beer to finish bitter, but it finishes sweet with a final Vanilla note. This beer would be great with a Christmas Pudding (or even baked into one!) or after a Roast Dinner on a cold Winter’s evening and it’s something I’d definitely recommend to anyone.

You can Purchase Vanilla Shake online at the following places, unfortunately it is always in high demand and it’s a hard beer to get at times. I got mine from Bottledog in Kings Cross, London.

Mikkeller Website

The Beer Boutique

Bourbon Barrel Aged version can also be bought from Mikkeller’s Website here.

For any Bars/Shops wanting to stock this beer, Mikkeller beers aren’t imported in big numbers to the UK. The best people to speak to about getting some of their beers are Brewdog or Mikkeller themselves!

EST. CALORIES: 390   ABV: 13%

Special Post – Winter Brew Fest, London

Last weekend I went to Winter Brew Fest. Located at BL-NK, which is just around the corner from Old Street Station in London. Although a little more central compared to the London Craft Beer Festival earlier in the year, the event was still just a stone’s throw away from most of the great breweries in London.

First of all I booked the Sunday session, but as a friend wanted to join me I asked the owner Nicholas I could change the ticket to the Saturday Daytime session. Luckily, Nick agreed (thanks again!) I woke up on Saturday Morning and me and the friend coming were feeling worse for wear (not beer related!) so I was on my own. I arrived a little later than the ticket stated at 12:30 but there was no queue. Winter Brew Fest seemed a little more relaxed than LCBF, and I’ll mention that again later.

I walked into the Festival, past the outside area (mentioned later!) collected my tokens, glass and had a look around inside. It was a little smaller than London Craft Beer festival, and in a way I was glad that it was. It didn’t remind me of a CAMRA Beer Festival, and it didn’t remind me of LCB Festival either. Winter Brew Fest had it’s own unique feel and you could tell that it was a nice, chilled out day session for Beer Lovers with some quality Alternative Rock, Some old school classics and some great remixes – great mix DJ Bolter!

Around was all of the brewers, Anspach & Hobday, The Five Points Brewing Co, Fourpure, Gipsy Hill, Hammerton, Hawkes (a Ginger Beer and Cocktail producer), The London Beer Factory, One Mile End, Redchurch, Thistly (Cider Producer), Truman’s and Weird Beard. It was quite quiet at this point, but there was still a buzz in the air and more people turned up later on during the day.

I headed straight for Five Points to try some of their collaboration beer with the Brewdog Bar in Shoreditch – Smoke and Mirrors Imperial Porter. I thought this was a very well balanced Porter, with hints of Roasty Coffee and then a touch of Smoke which was nice. It finished surprisingly sweet for a Porter, but I suppose that was the Imperial (Double) amount of Malt going into the brew.

As I want to review the event and day, I will make the Beer Reviews shorter than usual. Taking notes at a Beer Festival is indeed important, but taking in the atmosphere and speaking to people is also important and I want to try to get this across. What I liked about looking around the room was the fact there was a great representation of the Breweries that have been around in London for less time than some of the bigger ones. This gave me an opportunity to try some harder to acquire things and that added to the charm of the event.

Next, I headed over to the One Mile End stall. One Mile End are a Microbrewery/Brewpub called The White Heart and it was great to see them there. I noticed that they had 2 beers on – Farmhouse Pilsner and Snakes Alive Double IPA. I was intrigued by the Farmhouse Pilsner and asked about it. I was told that it’s made like a normal Pilsner and then White Wine grapes are added during fermentation. Unfortunately the Keg was running low, but I was given a small taster which was great. It had a very clean White Wine style nose and it was a shame it was the end of the Keg. I was told that it was yeaster than usual, but I think it added to the Farmhouse style and the White Wine Grapes still cut through in the flavour. Something I definitely need to try again! I went for the Snakes Alive DIPA and it was a great example of the style – lots of Pine in the nose and Sweet Pine and Citrus notes on the palette. 2 Great beers and a very friendly brewer – it looks like I’ll have to give the White Heart a visit!

After this I went over to Weird Beard hoping for a taste of a few as they had a good selection of taps on – I asked for a taste of the Coffee IPA but unfortunately they were right by the speaker and I got a full 3rd. I handed over my token and was interested if this beer would be similar to Siren’s Coffee IPA Americano. As I took a smell there was no roasty notes but some light Citrus and Fruit. I tasted the beer and found the beer was quite Citrus forward (which Coffee can also be sometimes) with hints of other fruits and a light Roasty Note at the end. This was definitely a different take and something I enjoyed.

After two >7% IPA’s I thought it would be a good time to explore the outside area and get myself some food. I opted for Ayam Happy – Indonesian Street Food. I’ve always been one to go for Authentic food from this region of the world and went for the Chicken Satays with Peanut Sauce, Chilli Sauce (The lady asked me if it would be mild or spicy – I went for spicy as always) and Warm Rice. I’m glad I went for the spicy Chilli Sauce. Apart from the fact I am a complete Chilli Head (as long as it has flavour!) it cut through the Peanut Sauce really well and was a welcome addition. It was definitely something to eat during a Beer Fest and hit the spot extremely well. It also went down really well with Weird Beard’s Coffee IPA – but Spicy things always do with an IPA!

The atmosphere outside again was a lot more chilled out than the Summer Festival, but there was music from OMD’s Stool and there were plenty of places to sit. A small tent (Far right), some Benches (on the left) and a small seating area next to Ayam Happy. I felt like the set up was to encourage people to speak to fellow beer lovers about what they were drinking and was something that worked well during the Festival.

I went back inside and worked my way over to Redchurch Brewery for their Shoreditch Blonde. On the nose there’s lots of Lemongrass and Citrus. Very Citrusy and Fruity in flavour with some Lager Yeast. I thought this was a good beer and something I could definitely drink a few of!

After this I went over to Hammerton for a definite Winter Beer, their Pentonville Oyster Stout. On the nose, lots of Sweet Chocolate, light Liquorice, and a tiny hint of Sea Salt. The Palette was quite dry with Medium/Low Carbonation with some Roasty notes, Sea Salt and light Cocoa. It had a surprisingly light mouthfeel for an Oyster Stout and had a good drinkability I was impressed with. Something for those cold Winter nights when you fancy a few beers!

Anspach & Hobday – Table Porter

After this I walked down and had a chat with the UBrew guys about their Kickstarter Campaign and how successful it was. It was nice to see them promoting what they’re doing and I’ll definitely be doing a brew with them at some point next year! I’m looking forward to the amount of Gypsy Breweries cropping up from their success!

Next up with Anspach & Hobday, I was amazed when I saw they had a 2.8% Porter and asked for a glass. It was very Roasty on the nose, and Roasty and Chocolately on the palette but with a light mouthfeel. I had to figure out how they did it and went back to the stool. A&H lowered the paler Maris Otter malts but kept the Speciality Roasted and Dark malts up. I thought this was a great idea and it’s something I’ll be seeking out very soon indeed!

After this, time was running out and I started rating my beers, so I’m going to be a little more brief for the rest. Plus I don’t want to bore you with endless beer reviews! Ratings are out of 5…

London Beer Factory – Session – Had quite a boozy smell, but the ABV lower than it smelt. Very clean and sessionable, yeast and light hop – 3.7

Gipsy Hill – Pale Ale – Very Piney and very sweet with Candi Sugar Notes – 4.2

Fourpure – IPA – Citra hops?! Lots of Citrus and Tropical Fruit. This has improved massively since the first time I tried it! Very friendly on the stall too – 4

Truman’s – Stout – Very roasty and wintery indeed, Chocolate and other dark malt flavours – 4.3

Truman’s – Export Pale – Very fruity and almost Wine fruit notes, almost Sherbert Sweet – 4

Redchurch – Hoxton Stout – Very roasty but sweet, reminded me of a Milk Stout – 4/2

Pressure Drop – Stokey Brown (Bottle from Bottle Shop at festival) – Almost like a Porter but with some light nutty notes – 3.7

After this I chilled out and talked to Nicholas the Organiser for a while, he has a real passion for beer and it was great to see someone so passionate throwing such a successful event. A nice chilled out atmosphere with room to speak about what you’re drinking with fellow beer lovers, some well picked great food and amazing beer. Although didn’t try them, there were options for non-beer drinkers too – a Cider stool and a Ginger Beer/Cocktail stool which I thought was a very nice touch indeed. Roll on next year!

Guest Post – The Lighthouse, Margate

Guest Poster: Eddie Castle – @EddieTG_Castle

Old Dairy Brewery – Red Top

Traditional Kentish Bitter / Pale Ale

ABV: 3.8%

This week I have been roaming around the interesting and quaint town of Margate in Thanet, East Kent. As with any seaside town, the cobblestone streets are littered with all sorts of interesting historic buildings, independent stores, amusement arcades and of course, pubs!

 In the heart of the old town high street, I stumbled across a lovely rustic tavern known as The Lifeboat. If it weren’t for the sign at the bottom of that window that read “Local ale and cider” I probably wouldn’t have even noticed this pub tucked away in the backstreets.

Upon entering through the door, I was instantly greeted with the smell of a wood burning fireplace. (Instantly earning 10 Eddie points in my mind!)

Already this place is like no other tavern I’ve ever set foot in.

When you enter, the first thing you’ll notice are the kegs. So rather than keeping them in the basement to serve them using pumps, a nice lovely pint of ale can be delivered straight to your glass right there and then!

 Apart from serving quality ales and ciders, this fine establishment prides itself on beautiful, old time-y decor and charming handmade wooden tables and benches. Since they serve their drinks straight from the kegs, there’s no need for a traditional bar that you’d expect to see in other pubs and taverns. They do however, have a little desk where you can pay for drinks. Situated on this desk is a wonderful old fashioned cash register! (20 more points)!

We now know that the place itself is great…but what about the beer?

Well, when I came up to the bar I was overwhelmed with choice as well as excited with all the great little bits and bops I enjoyed. So I asked the waiter “What would you recommend?”

She said “Well, I’ve just tapped a keg of Red Top”

So I went for a pint of the traditional Kentish Ale, Red Top.

Now, as you can see from the picture moreover as the name suggests, this ale boast a pleasantly warm red hue.

The aroma of this ale has tones of citrus (my guess would be grapefruit or lemon) and a tangy, malty smell.

The initial taste is a pleasantly relaxed grassy, hoppy flavour which is followed by an almost sweet malty taste.

The aftertaste is earthy and bitter but a bit sweet which left my tongue thirsty for more!

Overall, I’d 100% recommend both this wonderful tavern and this brilliantly refreshing and accessible pale ale. If you’re ever in Margate and you’re looking for a place to grab a proper, tasty ale with plenty of character, pop in to the Lighthouse rather than popping into the local Wetherspoon.

You can find this bar on:

Porter – American: Odell Cutthroat Porter

As the weather gets colder, beer gets darker! It’s always been the way. There’s nothing better than a nice dark Porter or Stout on these cold evenings. This Friday’s beer is Odell’s Cutthroat Porter. This beer is brewed in Fort Collins, Colorado and is meant to emulate an English London Style Porter, so you would expect it to be similar to the dark beer that was popular with Street and River Porters throughout the 1700’s and 1800’s. Porters were one of the first beers to be aged before selling them in the 1700’s.

Enough history for now – Let’s start with Odell’s description of the beer:

Not quite a stout but definitely no lightweight, Cutthroat Porter is smooth and robust. Inspired by the classic London porters, we use dark roasted malts to create a deep, rich color and flavor that hint at chocolate and coffee. We named it Cutthroat Porter as our tribute to the Colorado state fish – with its own rich heritage and unmistakable dark coloring. And while we’re big fans of small batches, here’s to the currently threatened Cutthroat population reaching mass quantities.

A nice little blurb regarding the beer, a small story and a hint at the style/flavour is always good. Also, I like how Odell are often connected with Colorado and naming this beer after the Cutthroat Trout is a nice gesture.

Usually with the London Porter style, the Malt takes the front seat, whilst the hops are still there in the background. After a little research, I think the malts used are 2-Row, Caramalt, Crystal, Brown, Munich, Chocolate Malt and Roasted Barley Malt. There is possibly a little bit of Smoked Malt hiding in the brew also, but I am not sure of this and going on flavour alone. I like the malt profile that has been used, as it’s a good mix of traditional Malts used in Porter and American Style Malts. Next the Hops, Fuggles, Kent Goldings and Northern Brewer. Again, two traditionally English Hops, and then some US grown Northern Brewer Hops which are similar to Kent Goldings. This makes a nice bitter, profile in the background with hints of honey allowing the all important Malt to shine through.

The beer pours black with a medium sized off-white head. The head retains well and leaves rings of lacing around the glass as you drink. This really is a nice looking beer. On the nose hints of Honey, Caramel, Toffee, Brown Sugar and some Coffee notes. This beer was one of the first Porters I ever had, and as soon as I smelt it I was absolutely hooked. When you taste this beer, the first thing you notice are the light Roasted Coffee notes. They aren’t as pronounced as a stout, but they are definitely still there! After this the flavour moves onto hints of Toffee, Caramelised Sugar, Molasses ending with a hint of Butterscotch at the end. Odell really have got the flavours and hops right in this brew, as it has that bitter hoppy finish a lot of Modern porters tend to ignore. Malty in flavour, but with the hop bitterness at the end. The beer is quite light bodied with medium carbonation. Although bitter, it finishes surprisingly sweet. There is also a light smokeyness which is a very nice touch and well received. It’s not like a Smoked Beer, but on the aftertaste there’s a nice hint there.

All in all a great example of an American Brewed London-Style Porter, and it frequents my fridge/cellar.

You can purchase Odell Cutthroat Porter in the UK at:

Beers of Europe (Low stock at time of writing)

Beer Ritz (IN Stock at time of writing)

Beer Gonzo (IN Stock at time of writing)

Honest Brew

Unfortunately there is no distribution for Odell in the UK, but if you’re a bar or a shop Beer Ritz does offer 24 bottles of this great Porter with regular shipments from the US.

EST. CALORIES: 150   ABV: 5%

Double/Imperial IPA – American: Stone RuinTen

To expand the content of this blog, I’ve decided to write about some of the harder to get (in the UK) beers I’ve had the pleasure of getting my hands on separate from the Friday posts.

Today’s beer is the great RuinTen IPA from one of my favorite West Coast Breweries – Stone. This beer is released once a year in June to commemorate the creation Stone’s awesome Ruination IPA. Originally released in 2012, there was such a huge demand for this beer that Stone decided to make it a Seasonal offering. It was too good to just be one of those “one off” brews.

Let’s start with Stone Brewing Co‘s online description of the beer:

We first released this decidedly indelicate beer in 2012, as Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our belovedly bitter Stone Ruination IPA. Stone RuinTen IPA uses the same recklessly hoppy recipe as the 2012 release; only the name has changed, since we’re now unleashing this belligerently delicious hop monster upon the public on an annual basis. We packed a whopping five pounds of hops into each barrel, and cranked up the ABV to stand up to the hop onslaught. The results are glorious, and we know you’ll rejoice in tasting this audacious gem of hoppy splendor once again. You’re welcome.

The description of the beer on the bottle is a little different, although has less sarcasm than some of Stone‘s other offerings. However, it definitely tells us what to expect – a hell of a lot of Hoppy flavour and a little bit of alcohol warmth.

After a little bit of research and having a look at the website, this beer uses a malt backbone of 2-Row and C15. Now for Stone’s specialty – the Hops! Stone have used a Hop blend called CTZ which stands for Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus, Centennial and Citra. The beer is also dry hopped with Citra for that extra Hoppiness. As soon as I found that out I really wanted to try this brew, as Citra is one of my favourite hops.

This beer pours Golden with a white creamy head. It dissipates quickly, which is expected for a beer that’s over 10%. It leaves a dotty lacing on the glass which is inviting and a thinner head that seems to stay throughout drinking. On the nose you’ve got some Pineapple and Tropical notes from the Citra and some Citrus and Nectarine. This beer really smells inviting, and so deceiving with an IPA over 10%! When you taste this beer, you get a wave of Pineapple, Tropical fruits, a hint of Bubblegum ending in a massive Grapefruit crescendo. The beer is medium to high carbonated and ends with a nice long, clean bitterness. On the finish I would say it’s medium sweet. I really like this beer, and honestly think it’s a contender for the much sought out Pliny the Elder I tried earlier this year.

Although I said this one is pretty hard to find, you can buy Stone RuinTen IPA at:

Brewdog Online Store

It’s currently in stock over there, so grab it whilst you can! Hopefully it’ll be back next year.

As always, a google search is good too!

For any bars, shops etc that are interested, unfortunately Stone beer is flown in by shops that stock it currently but Stone plan to open a brewery in Berlin next year which means wide distribution of Stone Beer soon!

EST. CALORIES: 324   ABV: 10.8%