IPA – American: Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA

This week’s beer is one of Sierra Nevada’s latest offerings – Hop Hunter IPA. I was lucky enough to try this beer whilst in California, and knew I had to feature it on here. Hop Hunter is apprently coming to the UK soon, and I’m personally looking forward to it a lot.

Let’s start with Sierra Nevada’s Description of the brew:

Hop Hunter IPA harnesses the complex flavors of just-picked hops through an all-new method of steam distilling wet hops before they even leave the fields. This revolutionary technique captures and intensifies the natural flavors, creating a unique and intensely aromatic beer. Our custom process gathers pure hop oil which, when combined with traditional whole-cone hops in the brew kettle, makes for an incredible IPA experience.

I like how this description focuses on the process, as far as I know another brewery haven’t attempted this feat yet. The hops are grown in Sierra Nevada’s farms, which is a nice touch. I think the description really understates the process utilised to get the Oil out of the Hops and distilled. The brewery use a piece of machinery previously used to extract oil from Mint leaves, the Hops are put into huge trailers and the machine steams them, collecting the vapour, cools it and distills it. The process captures the pure Hop Oil. Five Thousand Pounds of Hops go into just 100 litres of Hop oil. Impressive!

So, with that lets get onto which Hops are used. In the kettle we have Bravo, Cascade, Crystal and Simcoe. The Hops used to make the Hop Oil are Cascade, Centennial and CTZ. The Malts and Fermentables in this brew are interesting, I haven’t seen Flaked Oats used in an IPA in a while but they are in this one as well as 2-Row and Caramel Malts. This is then fermented with Sierra Nevada’s house Ale yeast.

When you pour this beer, the first thing you notice is the Golden colour of the brew and the excellent Clarity it has in the glass. A nice Medium White head forms and sticks around for most of the time you drink this one. The lacing drips down the sides of the glass whilst you drink and does not stick. The nose of this beer is incredible, Floral notes combined with big juicy Citrus and Tropical notes with Pine lingering in the background. On the Palate, you get an initial hit of bitter Pine coupled with nice Bready malts, there’s also some big Citrus notes in there. The Malt backbone carries this IPA well throughout, but the Hop notes are definitely not understated. Seeing as there is Flaked Oats in this one, the mouthfeel is quite light for an IPA. It finishes Crisp, Bitter and Dry.

I can’t wait until this one is available in the UK. Until then, ask your American friends to send as many to you as possible!

EST. CALORIES: 186   ABV: 6.2%

Special – Travel: Beer and Food in Arizona

On the way back from the Grand Canyon, we stopped in Flagstaff. Whilst there’s actually quite a few breweries after you cross the train tracks, I’d heard a lot about Lumberyard and we were on a short schedule. There was also another reason, the fact they do amazing BBQ food. For the starter we got the Nachos, which came with a generous amount of delicious Guac, Salsa and Chicken that had been cooked in the smoker with Tequila marinade. These were probably the most delicious Nachos I’ve had. As for the beer, I grabbed their Big Rapid Imperial Red Ale. Ruby in colour with a good, medium head. On the nose there were nice piney hops with sweet malt in the background. The taste was much the same, a big hit of caramel from the malts and a little bit of burnt sugar with a piney hop hit. For the main course, I went for the Santa Fe burger with believe it or not – Baked Beans! However, these were done in the smoker, and had a distinctly smoky flavour that I really enjoyed. The burger was great, very fresh Sliced Avocado, green chilies, salsa verde and pepper jack cheese.

After this I got another beer exclusive to the brewery, their Imperial Porter with Vanilla Pods and Coffee Beans. This poured pitch black with a small tan head, lots of roasty notes and a touch of vanilla on the nose. On the palate, a bit initial Coffee hit with subtle Vanilla notes, finishing with the Roasty malts. A very nice brew indeed. On the way out, I picked up the taster pack of 4 cans, their Flagstaff IPA, Lumberyard Red Ale, Knotty Pine Pale Ale and Diamond Down Lager. Out of these cans, the Flagstaff IPA was the best and I’ll be reviewing it soon.

The next day we were back in Phoenix, and on our way to a brewery I’d been looking forward to visiting for a long time – Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. Arizona Wilderness don’t bottle or can their beer but managed to be the best New Brewery in the world last year which is quite a feat!

I went for the I got a flight with the De Kofa Extra Belgian Pale ale, Gilbraltar Gose, the critically acclaimed Refuge IPA, Signal Mountain Stout and Woolsey Wit. These were all absolutely fantastic beers. The De Kofa Pale is the nearest Amber coloured one above, with a peppery, clove but nicely sweet aroma and flavour. A nice English style Spicy Bitter finish on this one. The Gibraltar Gose is the closest one in this picture, A big Sour Funk aroma, with Lemon Juice, Light Coriander and Sea Salt. On the palate, a hit of Coriander, Salt and an intense Sourness on the end. Excellent Gose that I really enjoyed. Next, was the Woolsey Wit (one in the middle) On the nose lots of Orange Peel, Coriander, Citrus, Oak soaked with White Wine. On the palate some intense sourness with some great Grapefruit, Orange and Herbal characters. Next was the Refuge IPA. This one is incredible and I really thought it was going to be my favourite of the night, on the Palate and Nose loads of Resinous Pine and Citrus with great sweet notes of Ripe Apricots and Caramel. For a bold American IPA this went down so smoothly. Finally, my favourite of the night – the Signal Mountain Milk Stout. On the nose Milk chocolate milkshake and caramel notes. Big Milk chocolate and caramel hits on the palate to start followed by a surprising fruity element in the middle. The Vanilla and Lactose Sugar comes out at the end as well as the Nitro body, bringing that nice Milkshake character to this beer.

It was time for a bit of food for us, and a couple more of the Signal Mountains, Refuge and Gibraltar Gose. Chicken Patty, Red Pepper Salsa, Sauteed Rocket, smoked gouda, Avocado on a Brioche bun and a lot of Hot  Sauce! This was served with Brewery-Cut fries, cooked in Duck Fat and sprinkled with Rosemary and Sea salt. Both of these were absolutely delicious and I can’t really fault the Beer or Food here. Unfortunately, it was time for us to leave.

The next, and final day we decided to walk 5 minutes from our Hotel to the Scottsdale Beer Company for some food and to try their beers.

I went for the Kettle Monster Double IPA, Old Town Hoppy Brown, Texas Tea Double Chocolate Imperial Stout, Uncle Rico’s Red Ale and Orangedale Wheat Ale. The Kettle Monster was a great IPA, tonnes of resinous Pine on the nose and big Citrus hits on the Palate. Very bitter, but in a great way! The Old Town Hoppy Brown was very Toffee and Caramel orientated on the nose, but when you tasted it the Citrus hops soared above the Toffee and Caramel backbone. Different for a Brown Ale, but very welcoming! Next was the Texas Tea, the aroma had huge Chocolate and Roasty notes. When you taste it, it offers nice silky Chocolate to begin with, going towards Roasty malt and a little Coffee on the finish. The Uncle Rico’s was a very well balanced Red Ale with nice Caramel hits with a little resinous Pine in the background. Finally, the Orangedale Wheat Ale, this one’s definitely a warm Weather beer! Pilsner style aromas, with some Orange Peel and Clove on the Palate. Very light bodied and would be perfect for those hot summers in Arizona. As I’d had quite a bit of lovely Southwestern Food during the day, I had the Chicken Chop Salad. Chicken, Black Beans, Corn, Avocado, Tomatoes, Spring Onion, Cucumber, Red Bell Peppers, Queso Fresco and Coriander-Lime Vinaigrette. This was such a fresh, tasty Salad and very nice on a warm evening.

My trip to America was over, I visited some great breweries and had some amazing beers. Every Brewery does absolutely incredible food, and I think that’s really helping the Craft Beer boom there.

Until next year, where I’ll be visiting San Diego for a much longer time!

Milk Stout With Chocolate and Peppermint – American: Twisted Manzanita Enlightenmint

This weeks beer is something I enjoyed thoroughly in San Diego, and was one of the highlights of the trip. Twisted Manzanita Enlightenmint – A Milk Stout with Chocolate and Peppermint. I enjoyed this beer in their Pacific Beach Taproom, a must visit and something I included in my post earlier in the week.

Let’s start with Twisted Manzanita‘s description of the beer:

– Memorable like your favorite holiday treats; Big chocolate with a peppermint burst.
– Flaked barley gives it a creamy, robust body that supports the delicate flavors to the finish.
– Full-bodied and dark as night for maximum enjoyment on a winter evening.

Short but sweet description, which I’m always a big fan of. There’s hints at the flavour, and even the recipe which is always good, but then the real tasting notes are left up to the drinker – which I always find enables you to enjoy the beer more. Although it’s suggested that it’s enjoyed in winter, I had this beer on a warm evening in San Diego and have no regrets!

As for the recipe, let’s start with the malts and fermantables. 2-Row, Crystal 60, Special B and Chocolate Malts are used, with Flaked Barley as a fermentable to add a little body and make it a bit creamier. The hops are Kent Goldings or Mt Hood, as they don’t take a front seat in the brew. Cocoa and Peppermint are added during the boil and Peppermint and Lactose (Milk Sugar) are added during Primary Fermentation. Essentially, this beer is Dry-Minted!

This beer pours Pitch Black with a good sized Tan Head that retains well, leaving a little bit of spotty lacing. On the nose there’s a huge hit of what I can describe as Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate notes, even more Peppermint, Caramel and Cocoa Powder. When you taste this beer, it’s incredible how much the Mint has worked it’s way into the flavour, lots of Peppermint, Cocoa Powder, Chocolate Ice Cream, a little bit of Nut and finishes with some more Sweet Peppermint. This beer grows on you even more as you drink, you can’t tell it’s 8% at all. This beer has a good, creamy sticky body and finishes medium with a touch of bitterness. I’m definitely going to be bringing back more than one bottle of this next time I visit!

Currently, the best way to get this beer is by stocking up on a visit or if you have friends in California, ask them to send you some of this lovely stuff! I’ll definitely be trying to get my fair share!

EST. CALORIES: 240   ABV: 8%

Special – Travel: Beer and Food in Southern California Pt. 2

After trying more than my fair share of Beers at Stone the night before, it was time to go to Ballast Point Taproom and Kitchen at India Street, San Diego. Everyone told me that this is the best of the Ballast Point Taprooms, so I chose this to sample some of their beers and get some grub to line the stomach from the day before! The Taproom and Kitchen do fantastic food, we shared some Crispy Duck Nachos (Blue Cheese Sauce, Duck Confit, Pickled Onion, Arugula (Rocket) and Port Reduction) and as I was in San Diego, I went for the Fish Tacos. Both dishes were absolutely delicious, and very reasonable. As we had to drive back to LA (luckily I wasn’t doing the driving) later on in the day, I decided to try as many beers as possible before we had to go.

I started with a Sculpin IPA, the classic Ballast Point brew, which in my opinion is the IPA it’s hyped up to be and then moved on to a flight of Grapefruit Sculpin, Habanero Sculpin and the Black Marlin Porter. The Grapefruit Sculpin is coming up in my reviews next month but is a truly a World Class beer. The Habanero Sculpin was interesting, as I’m a self confessed Chilli Head I had to try it and I absolutely loved it. The nose is full of Citrus Fruit, Orange Peel and some resinous Pine in the background. On the Palate, there’s a nice initial Citrus and Pine from the hops with the Habanero building in the background. The Chilli isn’t for the weak hearted, but is a nice burn that builds as you drink. The Black Marlin was an equally good Porter, with Big Roasty notes on the nose with Raisins, Stone Fruits and a touch of Citrus on the finish. On the palate, a big Roasty Chocolatey note, with Caramel and Brown Sugar. Fantastic Mouthfeel on this one. Next up, I had a Ginger Big Eye IPA and the Sour Wench Berliner Weiss with Apricot and Peach. On the Nose the Sour Wench has a huge Apricot and Peach Aroma, with a little bit of woodiness from the stones of the Fruit and that familiar funky wheat and Lactobacillus Sour odor. This one is very tart to start off with, followed by the Sour Peach. Apricot lingers on the finish. As for the Ginger Big Eye – where do I start? Big Eye IPA is just as legendary as Sculpin. On the nose there was a big Ginger hit, with Grapefruit, Citrus and a little Soapiness. Although this has a huge hit from the Citrus, Grapefruit and Pine from the Hops, the Ginger is very prominent and compliments the Fruitiness from the Hops.

After this, we headed down to Pacific Beach to visit a smaller Brewerys Taproom – Twisted Manzanita. I got a flight here as time was running by and tried the Gillespie Brown (Brown Ale), Hot Chocolate (Chocolate Stout with Ancho and Habanaro Chillis), Rustic Horizon (Red Ale), Prospect Pale (Pale Ale) Iron Mountain (IPA), Enlightenmint (Milk Stout with Peppermint). I started with the Brown Ale, it pours with a Small Head but with great lacing. On the nose some Pine Nuts and Roasted Malts, when you taste it, it’s warm and boozy with Rasins, Piney Hops and a touch of Chocolate. Apart from the Enlightenmint, which I’ll be posting about on Friday, the Hot Chocolate was my favourite. It’s black as night with a tan coloured ring around the glass. On the nose you get big Chocolate and Coffee aromas and the Chilli is hidden very well, very sweet. On the Palate is where the Chilli comes into play, first a nice smooth Chocolate note that carries all the way through, then the Chilli kick, lots of Citrusy and Hot Spicy notes. Finishes smooth and spicy. The Rustic Horizon was a standard, well balanced Red Ale with Big Pine Notes and a nice Caramel Malt Backbone, The Prospect Pale was very well balanced also, with big Citrus aromas and a bready Malt Backbone. I’ll be Posting about the Enlightenmint on Friday, as it was probably my favourite of the entire San Diego trip!

I really liked Twisted Manzanita Taproom’s vibe, the staff were very friendly and knowledgeable and the decor was quite industrial and basic. The music in this place, and Ballast Point were the best of the entire trip. Although it was a short visit, it was time to leave San Diego.

The next day we made the long drive up to the Central Coast to Visit Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks in Buellton. Unfortunately due to the famous California Traffic, we missed our tour which was a shame. Luckily, Firestone Walker have a Taproom and Restaurant attached and we thought we’d take full advantage. By this time we were really hungry, and there was a table free for us straight away. I dived straight in with the Spicy Chicken Drumettes as an appertizer and a small measure of Velvet Merkin – a barrel aged version of their Velvet Merlin stout. Though I’d had it before when they came to visit in London, it really is a great beer and I wanted to try it fresh.  It’s Jet Black, and the Aroma was a little different. Lots of chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, and toasted bread. The Palate had big brown Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Cocoa, Coffee, and Fig notes. There’s a distinct woody finish on this one. 

It was time to order the main course, and I went for the Sirloin Coulotte Steak with Shallot Butter, Fried Fingerling Potatoes and Chili-Lemon Broccolini and an Union Jack IPA. I must say again, that the food is truely delicious in this place and I really recommend having some if you visit. As for the Union Jack IPA, it was just as good as I remember. On the nose there was lots of Earthy Pine, Grapefruit, Citrus and a touch of sweet malt. The taste really is what makes this beer, some Pine Sap, Citrus, Grapefruit, Tropical Fruits with a great Malt Backbone riding throughout. What an IPA. I decided to skip dessert and go for an Unfiltered Double Barrel Ale and a Velvet Merlin on Nitro next.

The Unfiltered Double Barrel Ale was interesting, the fact it’s unfiltered really changes the aroma of this. Loads of Oak on the nose with Nutty Malt and a little bit of Vanilla Spice coming through. It tastes a little different too with big hits of Vanilla and Oak as well as the lovely Pale Malt backbone and fresh Bread Dough notes. What a great, simple beer! Next up was the Velvet Merlin on Nitro, I’ll start unusually by commenting on the Mouthfeel. The Nitro really improves this beer! The mouthfeel was like a Guiness, but this has way more flavour and aroma. On the nose there’s Roasty Coffee, Chocolate and a Milky Sweetness. The Palate is a tiny bit tart and dry, but with big hits of Milk Sweetness, Coffee and Chocolate. What a great way to end. After this I popped into the Barrelworks shop and picked up a bottle of the well known Parabola, which I’ll be reviewing in the future after it ages a little while!

Last, but definitely not least, we visited the Libertine Brewpub in Morro Bay which was Excellent. Unfortunately I was driving, but still managed to taste one of their Sours along with two other very good beers. I started with the Libertine Framboise, a beer I’d wanted to try for a long time. The Sours Libertine make are famous, if not notorious with people that have tried them! On the Nose a lot of Belgian funk and Sour Strawberry, the taste was great. If you haven’t tried a Sour, I wouldn’t recommend this as the first one, but it is delicious. Lots of Sour Strawberry and Funky Lacto notes with a great Wheaty backbone throughout. A great beer, I witnessed someone else try it and pucker. The Barman pointed at the sign above the Bar – “Ya, We Know It’s Sour.”

Next up, we decided to share a small measure of the Lost Abbey 10 Commandments – As you can see above, it’s got Honey, Raisins and Rosemary. Lost Abbey make Belgian inspired beers, and this one is a 12% Dark Strong Ale. It pours Jet Black, on the nose Chocolate, Molasses, Ginger, Honey, Coriander, Light Coffee and Nutmeg. The Flavour on this one is so complex, Raisin, Caramel, Gingerbread, Thyme, Molasses, Pink Peppercorn, some toasted Rosemary notes and a touch of Anise.

Finally, we shared a Firestone Walker Wookey Jack, a Black IPA I’ve been wanting to try for a while. Partly because of the name, and partly because Firestone’s IPA’s and Maltier offerings are great and I was interested on how they’d do a Black IPA. It pours Jet Black with a Tan Head, on the Nose plenty of Roasty Notes with Pine and Citrus coming from the Hops. They must’ve put a lot of Hops in this one, because they really cut through! There’s also some traces of dark fruits. The Palate on this one is lovely, it starts with a big Roasted Malt kick and as it fades into the background the Clean Citrus tones from the Hops come through, building up to a Roasty, Bitter finish. What a great beer!

That’s it for California. I had a great time. The vibe in all the beer-centric places I went were amazing, the food’s great even if you’re trying to eat healthily and great Beer is everywhere. Join me next week for my adventures in Arizona. Sorry this post was late, we had some Computer trouble!

Sour – Collaboration: English: Wild Beer Co. New Zealand: Good George Beer English: Burning Sky Shnoodlepip

Well, I’m back and trying to fight my jetlag whilst writing this, I think that’s why the picture I took of this one looks extremely sinister (a complete accident). But what better way to cure Jetlag than a great Sour Beer and a bit of Sunshine?

This Friday’s beer is Shnoodlepip. A collaboration of Wild Beer Co from Somerset, Good George Beer from New Zealand and Burning Sky in Sussex. What I admire about Wild Beer Co is that they really push the boundaries of beer, and teaming up with these other craft brewers meant that there definitely wouldn’t be an exception to the regular schedule, if you can call their brewing schedule regular!

Let’s start with the online description of the beer:

A collaboration of three brewers, three nationalities and six ideas brought together to learn, experiment and enjoy. Made by Kelly Ryan from Good George Beer in NZ, Brett Ellis (originally from the US) from the Wild Beer Co, and Mark Tranter from Burning Sky Brewery. This beer explores new ideas, techniques, ingredients, combinations and processes.

Using all three brewers combined knowledge and experiences to create an incredibly unusual and complex beer, this utilises every opportunity to take advantage of amazing ingredients and try alternative techniques.

Full body, gentle-sweet spiciness, a dry depth with oak undertones, and tropical fruit character, all finished off with tangy Hibiscus flowers – this is one shnoodlepippin beer!

I like this description, it’s very light hearted, gives you an insight into how the beer was brewed and the story of the collaboration. What’s also great about it, is that it doesn’t give too much away and although flavours are mentioned, it leaves it open to the “beerholder” (a phrase I learnt in the United States last week!)

Let’s start with the hops in this beer, I believe that the New Zealand influence is definitely on the Hop front and New Zealand Pacifica Hops have been used. As for the malts, I think Two-Row and Caramel Malt have been used, using the Sour Mash method along with Somerset Sharpham Farm Spelt. During Secondary Fermentation in Red Wine Barrels, the Pink Peppercorns are added. Later on, it’s “Dry Hopped” with the Hibiscus and Passion Fruit for a little longer to ensure the flavours come out in the final product. It’s fermented with Brettanomyces Yeast to really get the residual sugars out and create even more of a sour flavour.

When you pour this beer, it’s a very colourful Orange with a medium head which dissipates very quickly. I’d also say it’s as fizzy as Champagne. On the nose there’s lots of Brett Yeast aromas, Spelt which is similar to Wheat in the aroma, Passion fruit and some peppery notes with hints of Honey and Summer Berries. On the Palate it’s a little less complicated, but still delicious with a lot of Sour Brett Notes with Passion Fruit and a light Peppery note in the background, malty sour mash flavours carry throughout. It’s quite a thin feeling beer in the mouth but, as I said the beer is very fizzy and the bubbles more than make up for the body and bulk it up a little. I often find that Sours that have a little more bubbles always go down very well. It finishes dry.

This is a perfect Spring beer, if you can get your hands on it!

You can buy Shnoodlepip in the UK at:

Amazon (out of stock)

The Pint Shop, Cambridge

Bottledog, London

EST. CALORIES: 195   ABV: 6.5%

IPA – American: Rogue Brutal IPA

I just wanted to start this blog to let you know I’m off on some travels over the next couple of weeks, so whilst there will still be a post every Friday the Wednesday ones will resume once I’m back. I’m over in California and Arizona and I’m hoping to bring back some exciting stuff to write about!

Now, on to the main thing. The beer! This Friday’s beer is Rogue Brutal IPA. Rogue products have been popping up everywhere in the UK recently, so I thought I should go ahead and review one. I’ve had a couple of their beers in the past, but this IPA stood out because of it’s title.

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

A non-traditional India Pale Ale with big citrusy, hop flavor and intense hop aroma. Medium-bodied with a vibrant lingering hop-bitterness that is anything but brutal. Enjoy!

Short but sweet on the description here, but with hints at how it should taste. When you read this, you really do hope that this is a Brutal IPA and they aren’t just stating that fact. We’ll find out about that a little later on! Apart from that, there’s not much to this description really, but as I always write – it’s better to let your drinker decide how the beer tastes!

Now, onto the recipe. The malts in this beer are 2-Row, Carawheat, C15, Rogue Farms Dare and Risk. Quite a lot of malts for an IPA, but I’m not complaining! I like how Rogue have their own farm and try to include ingredients from it as much as possible. As for the Hops, we’ve got Rogue Farms Alluvial Hops, exclusively. Another reason to try this beer. After this, it’s fermented with a yeast called Pacman.

This beer pours a Cloudy Amber with a decent sized White head with good retention. It dissipates leaving rings of lacing around the glass as you drink. Probably one of the best IPA’s I’ve had for a while for looks! On the nose there’s some Apricot, Mango, Pine and Citrus fruits. I’d love to get my hands on the Rogue hops. Now for the palate, loads of Mandarin and Marmalade, Citrus fruits, peach, a little pine and floral notes. The malt backbone rides at the back of your mouth throughout with Caramel and slightly bready notes. Well balanced. Full body for this style, finishing surprisingly sweet for something called Brutal IPA. One I’ll definitely drink again, and one I recommend. Unfortunately there’s an Adnams version in the UK being sold in Wetherspoon pubs, but it’s different compared to this one and a little bit more toned down.

You can buy Brutal IPA in the UK Online at:

Beers of Europe (in Stock at time of writing)

Beautiful Beers

EST. CALORIES: 180   ABV: 6%

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: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Lighthouse-Bar-LHB/163527447016088?fref=ts

Special Post – Craft Beer In London

I have been requested lately to write a blog post about where to go Craft Beer wise in London. As you can see from the map above (The best £1.99 on an app you’ll spend drinking in London. Craft Beer London) there’s a lot of places. So I decided to put a twist on the question and test, how many high profile bottle shops and bars can you realistically visit in a day in London without stretching yourself too much? As well as doing that, I’ll do a few mini beer reviews during this post to keep it interesting!

Sourced Market, St. Pancras Station

Since it opened in 2009, I’ve always thought Sourced Market in St. Pancras Station is a great idea. Fresh produce, great craft and local beers, wines, small batch coffee and other great bites to eat. Imagine a Train Station M&S on steroids, and you’re nearly there. Sourced Market really is a great concept and I recommend seeing it for yourself.

I arrived at around 12:15 due to the great British train system’s delays and made my way over from Kings Cross to St. Pancras. Sourced Market is easy to spot, as it’s right under the clock and train times as you walk through the main entrance facing the back of Kings Cross.

Sourced Market’s Beer Selection

Sourced Market’s Craft Beer selection really is something else, if you’re a London brewery there’s a 99% chance you’ll be represented here. There were also some brands from further afield – Anchor Brewing from San Fransico and Vedett from Belgium amongst others. You can buy your beer refrigerated to enjoy in the Market’s Café area or if you prefer that sort of thing and there’s also well kept shelf beers to take home or if you prefer your beer slightly warmer.

I opted for the Chilli, Falafel and Hummus wrap that had been made fresh earlier that morning, a Beavertown Quelle Dry Hopped Saison to take home and a Brixton Electric I.P.A. to eat with my wrap. The wrap was great lunchtime food, was spicy and filling. As I’m a bit of a Chilli Head this went down well but some people may find it a tad too spicy. It went well with the IPA.At first I was a little nervous about trying the beer, as the Pale Ale by Brixton Brewery had mixed reviews and it seemed as though they had a quality problem for a while. I noticed nothing bad about this brew at all. Lots of Pine and Citrus aromas and flavours with a slight sweet and bitter finish. All in all it was a great brew! After a good look in the fridges, filling up and finishing my beer it was time to move on.

Bottledog, Near Chancery Lane Station & 15 Mins walk away from Kings Cross/St. Pancras

Photo Credit – Tobias L

It was a nice day, so I opted for the 15 minute walk from St. Pancras to Bottledog.

Although this shop is relatively small, it has a great selection. Plenty of Belgian beers, American Craft beers, some of the best Craft Beers from London and further afield (think Mikkeller, Evil Twin!) as well as most of the Brewdog offerings (it’s owned by them after all!) I went here as Brewdog had launched a new beer called CapDog, a Black IPA brewed in collaboration with CAP Brewing with cascara, the fruit from a Coffee Plant. I picked up one of these first, together with an Evil Twin/Prairie Fine Ales Bible Belt Stout, Mikkeller Orange Yuzu Glad I Said Porter, a Siren Whiskey Sour (their Limoncello IPA aged in Bourbon Barrels with more lemon zest added) and a Siren Tickle Monster. Some people complain about Craft Beer being overpriced, but this came in at just over £34 which was reasonable.

Photo Credit – Digital Newsroom

All in all, the staff at Bottledog are friendly and very knowledgeable (although usually busy!) and most of the beers are reasonably priced for what they are (Between £1.75 and £18) and I recommend any beer lover to take a trip there. There’s definitely something for everyone!

Utobeer Cage, Borough Market, London Bridge

Credit – Better Bankside

After I finished at Bottledog I made my way to Borough Market – a historic food and drink market to visit the legendary “Cage” Much like Bottledog, this place is small but full of some real gems. There’s a big focus on Belgian beer and American Craft beer as well as some unusual and Craft beers from the British Isles. The Cage is somewhere to go if you’re after something a little harder to find and there were plenty of gems around. The first time I’ve ever seen bottles of Left Hand Brewing‘s beers, Maui Brewing‘s cans in the UK and the biggest selection of Flying Dog Beers (one of my friends favourites) – I had to indulge.

After having a good look on what was on offer, I picked myself 2 Maui Brewing Mana Wheat Beers from the fridge, a Left Hand Brewing Black Jack Porter, a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and a Founder‘s Breakfast Stout. There is no end of great beer at the Cage, and I plan to pay another visit very soon! Again, the prices were reasonable at £27 for these beers. After a quick chat about ABInbev purchasing Goose Island and selling the rights in the UK to Greene King with the guy serving I was on my way. I didn’t ask the staff at The Cage any questions, but from what I heard whilst I was there they too seem very knowledgeable indeed.

The Anchor, Near London Bridge

Photo Credit – Ewan Munro

I stumbled upon this pub by accident, it’s not listed anywhere to do with craft beer but it’s right next to The Borough Market and the River. In all honesty I just wanted to sit by the river and enjoy my Maui Mana Wheat as it seemed too good to save both cans. It’s a Wheat Beer brewed with fresh Hawaiian Pineapple. I’ve got a review for this coming up, so check the Coming Up page!

After this, I had to do something you need to do after a few beers and headed inside the pub. When I went in I noticed they had a few Meantime Keg Pumps at the bar, a Belgian Kriek beer and Shipyard Pale ale on Keg. I couldn’t resist and ordered a half of Shipyard American Pale Ale. I’ve tried their IPA before and quite enjoyed it so thought I’d give it a try as it was the first time I’d seen anything by them on keg. It was an orange colour with a fluffy light head, on the nose some grapefruit, light citrus and some malts. The taste was a little bit disappointing, very malt forward with a touch of grapefruit hops at the end. Although don’t get me wrong, it’s worth a try and still better than the stuff you can get in most normal pubs!

Brewdog, Camden (Near Camden Town Station)

Brewdog Camden is always such a great place, not too busy but with a good atmosphere, an extensive bottle list which involves Craft Beer from around the world, friendly staff and the opportunity to try a flight of some of the guest beers on tap at the time. A flight?! What’s that you ask?

A flight is 4 1/3 of a pints in a little paddle. In Brewdog they usually cost around £8.50, which isn’t too bad seeing as they’re a fun way to try potentially 4 new beers and you get one pint and one third of good beer. This particular one was (left to right) Brasserie de la Senne Jambe De Bois (A Tripel) which I found although strong, a very nice Tripel with hints of Apple, Funky yeast, other fruit flavours and a hint of Coriander, Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, a Hefeweizen with big hits of Banana Bread in the flavour, Brew By Numbers 04|01 Berliner Weisse, one of the best Berliner Weisse Beers I’ve ever had with big sour Lemon and Apple flavours and Brasserie de la Senne Taras Boulba, a Belgian Pale Ale with hints of pepper, grapefruit and sweet caramel.

Credit camdentown.com

I stayed for a little longer, as I’d been rushing around a little and wanted to taste some of the Hopinator, Brewdog’s Hardcore IPA sitting in even more Whole Leaf Hops and Pink Peppercorns and really did create an interesting experience. It made it even hoppier, especially on the Aroma and had a hint of the pink peppercorns on the finish. I stayed for another Brew By Numbers Berliner Weisse and after looking at the time decided to move on. It was a well needed sit down in Brewdog, with reasonable prices, friendly people and friendly staff. They also sell cocktails, wine and spirits for people who maybe aren’t into beer as much.

The Craft Beer Co, Covent Garden (Near Tottenham Court Road Station)

Craft Beer Co. in Covent Garden was probably the busiest of all the places I went, but after you look at the numbers you can’t really resist. 15 Cask Taps and 30 Keg Taps, 45 Craft Beers in Total. On top of this, hundreds of different spirits and an endless bottle selection. You can even take away some harder to find bottles here at 33% off.

Photo Credit – The Craft Beer Co

I went up to the bar and saw a great mix of World Craft beer, including offerings from Dogfish Head, Stone Brewing, Evil Twin, Beavertown, The Kernel, Five Points and more. I opted for the Stone Brewing Co Levitation Ale, as it’s one of my favourite Amber Ales and something I’ll be blogging about on Friday. I’d never tried it on tap, and it was just as good if not better. After this I moved on to a Siren Calypso – a sour beer with lots of tart cherry and lemon flavours, a beer I think is a fantastic seasonal brew from Siren. I finished off with a Five Points Brewing Co Railway Porter a great roasty, dark beer with lots of Coffee notes and then it was time to go. The light was fading and I had one more stop on my list before heading back. The staff at Craft Beer Co. are very friendly and knowledgeable. Even when it’s busy they’ll take the time to speak to you, which is nice. This place is a little pricier, but in a central area it’s expected and definitely somewhere to visit.

The Euston Tap, Outside Euston Station

As the sun was setting I arrived at the Euston Tap for a final drink. I had to include this place in the blog, as it’s been my go-to bar for great beer in London for a long time. If you want to try something you’ll probably not have again on tap in London, this is the place to go. The staff are friendly, the bottle selection either side of the bar is absolutely amazing and the tap list is always to die for.

Photo Credit – pubsandbeer.co.uk

The Euston tap is a tiny place, with some seating downstairs, a little bit more upstairs and a nice open outside area with a relaxed glass policy. This place has been here for a long while, and it’s definitely a great stop if you’re waiting for a train at Euston or you fancy trying some great beer. I picked up 2 of my favorite beers – Buxton Far Skyline to take away and ordered a half of Buxton / Omnipollo Pomperipossa – a Sour Cherry Stout. The barman accidentally poured me a pint, and I quickly told him. He said it was his mistake and charged me for a half. This truely is a complex brew, the roastyness expected from a stout is there but isn’t as heavy as usual and the sour Cherry hits straight away and remains the whole way through. It’s a refreshing stout and it was a great end to a great day. My test was over.

A market that sells great food and has a great Bottle selection, 2 well known bottle shops, a Pub I stumbled upon and 3 well known craft beer bars. I think that’s quite a success for a day in London. I spent between 1 and 3 hours in the pubs/bars and between half an hour to an hour in each of the bottle shops. I didn’t rush around the transport system often walking around. Midday until 10pm on a Friday battling through the lunch rush and the afternoon rush hour, I don’t think this was a bad sample of London’s more well known Craft Beer scene. I’m planning on doing the Bermondsey Beer Mile soon, so watch out for that!