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Tottenham, North London, London, United Kingdom

Monday, 18 November 2013

Nicholson's Summer Ales

The launch of Nicholson’s Summer Ales

Blustery, June weather provided the setting for this evening at Nicholson’s ‘Walrus and Carpenter,’ pub, the wind continuing to beat upon the windows of the beautifully decked-out bar. The theme of the evening, hosted by the eternally enchanting beer aficionado, Melissa Cole (above) was Great British summer ales. Year upon year, thousands of British tourists are jettisoned off to various corners of the earth for their summer breaks, all in search of escapism from this consistently rainy isle. There was a concerted effort then amongst the various brewers this evening to scoop a little bit of tropical sunshine from the far-flung corners of the earth and plop them within the pints of ale served.
First up was Red Squirrel brewery based in Potten End, Hertfordshire with their summer ale, ‘Hoppy Horatio.’ Brewed with Cascade and Nelson Sauvin hops, it has a refreshing zing and zestiness. The Horatio dispels the common conception that a high ABV is the route to all flavour. At a relieving 3.8%, it has on the nose, a strong mentholated kick that could shift any lingering cold or sniffle and a continuing fruit intensity that results in a wholly satisfying pint of session ale that has the oomph of an I.P.A without the percentage.
In-keeping with the apparent New World feel of the evening was Thwaites brewery’s ‘Sunshine and Lollihops,’ from Blackburn and Robinson’s brewery’s ‘Globe Hopping,’ from Stockport. The former was nice and moderately strong at 4.6%. Very refreshing in taste and with a dry bitterness, the fruity elements of the beer emerged as the pint went down. A slight error in either transportation or how it was kept meant that the beer had an unfortunate, slight scent of Iodine that you get every now and again with cask ale…hey, it happens.
The Robinsons concoction was a real experiment and really achieved the idea of jet-setting across the planet, because, that’s what they did. Gathering ingredients from around the globe, English malt, American/New Zealand hops with rice and Papaya from Asia, Robinsons’ offering had a genuine exotic scent that gave way to a savoury biscuitiness from the first taste to the last. This was accompanied by a tropical flavour that held it’s own with a subtle bitterness around the mouth.
Another great pale was the ‘Welsummer,’ by Roosters brewery in Knaresborough. Twin brother brewers Tom and Oliver decided also on The United States as the influence for their pale endeavour. Using Cascade, Citra and the very rare Eldorado hop, they created a sessionable, balanced, aromatic moment of the evening with a flavoursome, sweet violet aroma. Upon the subject of ‘terroir,’ the theory of the flavour of an ingredient being endemic to the personality of it’s region, Melissa Cole stated that ‘American hops are loud, forceful and shouty.’ Yes, that does exist in this beer but there is also the tempered British reserve that Melissa explained of our very own hop varieties.
Moving on then, to the ‘Hawaii 340’ by Cropton brewery in Pickering, North Yorkshire. The over-whelming scent was that of a lovely, sweet butterscotch with elements of mint which reminded me of sticky murray mints given to me by my granddad at Margate FC matches. Lovely and refreshing, the malt works in tandem with the hop to create at once, a fruity, tropical flavour whilst maintaining the nutty butter and toffee experienced with the first whiff. Mixed in there too were tasty citrus notes.
With all the citrus, passion fruit and mango knocking around the room, it was time to take a trip to Scotland for a slightly more savoury affair. Not everyone holidays abroad and Perth’s Inveralmond brewery created their ‘MBU’ to show what a great time one can have within the confines of Great Britain. A terrific dark red, this earthy ale had a turf-like smell that also possessed the scent of cress and shiny nuts that had fallen from great trees. Spice emanated from the taste that was resolved with a terrifically firm body. The focus was on the malt (Rye malt which is remarkably difficult to brew with) and not the hops. This did not, however take anything away from how refreshing the beer was.
Ben Lockwood and Duncan Sambrook from Sambrook’s Brewery
London then, as we move on to ‘Lavender Hill,’ by Sambrooks brewery. Famous in the pre-industrial era for the cultivation of the balmy herb, the Lavender Hill’s history is key in this beer (think terroir again). Instead of raw Lavender, Sambrook’s have instead opted for heather honey which is a little less dramatic and resolves itself in more of a silky, smooth way that conjures in my head, memories of summer holidays roaming as a child in Provencal fields. The honey and lavender work satisfyingly in tandem with the beer revealing notes of stewed orange marmalade.
I shall finish with ‘Natural Beauty,’ by Moor brewery in Pitney, Somerset which is ridiculously good. Un-refined and natural, the beer uses the Dana hop from Slovenia. The Eastern bloc relationship does not stop there. Brewed with pilsner yeast (a Czech stalwart) it is bone-dry. There is a sharp grapefruit in the scent, taste and sight. It is at once, earthy, rustic and bracing, possessing qualities of good Eastern European lagers, fresh Belgian saisons and good British cask ale. The citrus pang is constant throughout and makes the punter go back and forth for more.
Ben King and Justin Hawke – Moor Beer Company
John Perry and Greg Blesson from Red Squirrel Brewery
Eight different cask ales using various ingredients from around the world. But we’re good at that in this country. We go around the world, bringing things back and then subverting them in to something that is definitely our own. The brewers gathered this evening showed the power of British ingenuity in this sense. Some day soon, the sunshine will come back, literally and not figuratively providing a fitting backdrop for these beers as they are drunk upon the terraces of the British capital.

Ealing Beer Festival

Visiting Ealing Beer Festival

Beer festivals are strongly entwined within the memories of my youth. I still go to the Margate Winter Gardens’ ‘Thanet Beer Festival,’ with a uniformity that can be likened only to obsessive compulsion. The uncomfortable, red, fuzzy chairs, the close atmosphere and crap yet good pub bands are an enduring memory of my Kentish adolescence. The Ealing beer festival of this year though different was nonetheless enjoyable. Within the settings of an affluent, countryside-esque, London green, the event was open air, a long beer tent along one end and scattered plastic chairs dotted with red Fullers umbrellas to protect the average sandle-footed punter from the rain of the English summer. Glorious stuff that it is at this time of year, I stayed out in it with a choice of around 200 real ales as company.
Wiltshire ale
So, kicking off proceedings is the slightly lower ABV stuff. ‘Taiphoon,’ by Hopback Brewery in Salisbury (4.2%) was a little bit weak on the nose yet had enough fruitiness from the first to last taste to carry it through (a slightly glib analysis, I know but sometimes that’s all that can be said).
dark ale
Then there was the ‘Tewdrick’s Tipple,’ by Kingstone (3.8%) from Tintern in Monmouthshire which regrettably again lacked something in the scent. There was a fruity berriness though that matched the summery setting, so all good on that front.
Jennings Brewery
In the same vain was the ‘Cumberland Ale,’ (4.0%) by Jennings of Cockermouth that possessed the smell and taste of both honey and malt whiskey that was at the same time, kind of basic. Worth a drop, but you won’t be racing back for another.
Moorhouse brewery
There was a couple of very notable lower ABV ones on show this evening. The ‘Blond Witch,’ (4.5%) by Moorhouse from Burnley was sensationally good. A light, pale in colour and body, this magnificent beer had a musky fruit smell that was curiously reminiscent of green tea yet bizarrely, then gave way to a lovely strawberry taste, compressed and intense like the manufactured yet delightful flavour of an old fashioned boiled sweet or ‘Campino,’ all resolved beautifully with a light-hearted bitterness.
Might Oak brewery
Alongside this was ‘Oscar Wilde Mild,’ (3.7%) by Mighty Oak of Maldon, Essex. Strong, dull and malty, there was a coffee residue musk (more mocha than espresso) that retained a saccharine nature. It was smooth in consistency with a level of liquorice sour.
walpole park
The infamous breweries of Belgium are often seen as the zenith of beer inventiveness. It is for this reason that fruit beers are often seen as their reserve and solely within their expertise. Fruit beer from Flandres consistently translates well in the medium of keg or bottle, the flavour of the fruit creating a boozy intensity that is compressed and concentrated. Little though is covered on the combination of British cask ale and fruit. If done well, it results in a truly innovative combination in which the fruit and ingenuity of the medium combine beautifully. This was best recognised this evening by the sheer contribution of Coach House brewery from Warrington, Cheshire, producing as they did, several fruit ales that were uniformly 5.0% (so you know how much you’re drinking) and uniformly pleasant also.
Coach House Brewery
We started off with the seemingly popular passion fruit variety, which had a subtle scent of the fruit in scent but could possibly have used a bit more ‘oomph!!!’ This aside though, there was a delightful desert-like fruitiness that can be attributed as much from the hops as much as it could by the tropical fruit itself.
Cherry House Brewery
Split opinions next with Coach House’s coconut beer. Many smelt cheap Malibu and bad pinocoladas, me, not so much. It grew on me. The coconut as expected was prominent in the first smell. This, though gave way to an almost baked rice pudding smell, a rice pudding though, that is pronounced ‘arroz con lecce,’ or ‘crema catalana.’ It was a lovely marriage between the Caribbean and traditional British cask that resolved itself with a tropical yet subtle nuttiness.
coach house brewery
Another from the same brewery was the cherry beer. Again, a traditional Belgian flavouring to beer, this was no kriek, rather than a cherry bakewell, lacking only a slick of cream and a cup of Darjeeling on a charming middle-England day. Really nice.
B&T brewery
So, diverting from Coach House, were a couple of other fruit niceties. Firstly, the ‘Fruit Bat,’ (4.5%) from B&T Brewery in Shefford, Bedfordshire that possessed a delightful Chanel fruit perfume that gave me a blast from the past of seaside resort ice-cream parlours which to this day I still love by the way.
Equally delicious was the hazy ‘Raspberry Wheat,’ (5.6%) by Milestone Brewery in Newark, Nottinghamshire that was light amber in colour. There was a strong scent of the fruit nose-wise and this was mirrored in the first taste. The savouriness of the other ingredients then enters, yet the fruit stays with a jam-like taste, something that can incidentally be said for all the fruit beers on offer this evening. There is enough of the taste of beer to prevent these from being too sickly.
I.P.As to me are vital to the English summer experience, as vital I would say as Al Fresco dining and ‘jumpers for goalposts,’ down the park. It was for this reason then, that we sampled a couple of the ones on offer. The Raj I.P.A (5.5%) from Tryst Brewery of Falkirk possessed an apricot taste with citrus notes of orange and lemon. The fruitiness and boozy quality earns it’s I.P.A status yet this is not to detract from it’s un-arguably palette-cleansing qualities, even if there is that lingering bitterness.
Windsor & Eton brewery
Windsor & Eton brewery have a rich tradition in creating very traditional, very hoppy British ales, so it was a pleasure to see their less-than-traditional ‘Kohinoor I.P.A,’ on offer. A unique blend of hops, invents something that is altogether zesty yet possessing also, elements of cardamom, mint and lemongrass, truly harmonious yet with those flavours being so prominent, it is truly embracing of the title ‘India Pale Ale.’
Milk Street Brewery
As the evening reached its end, the skies started to darken, following suite then, we switched to some of the darker coloured beers. Firstly then was the ‘Zig-Zag Stout’ (4.5%) by Milk Street brewery of Frome, Somerset. There was a lingering smell of spent Espresso cups that had been since filled with a drop of after dinner liquor such was the fermented coffee smokiness that emanated from the glass. This was reciprocated with the first taste that when knocked around the taste buds, possessed a sour-mash taste of boozy bourbon, a very pleasant glass of beer indeed, and considering the relatively low ABV, one that I would go back for.
outstanding brewery
Next up was Outstanding Brewery’s (of Bury) ‘Stout’ (5.5%) that was resolutely full-bodied in consistency and colour. So dark it was that the fingers on the other side of the glass could not be seen. A pint of bread though it was not. Velvety and smooth, it possessed the vanilla chocolate taste of a stout that had been well treated with good malt.
Finally then, my personal star of the show. TSA (Traditional Scottish Ales) of Stirling have created a truly swashbuckling ‘Double Espresso Stout,’ (4.5%) and good lord, it is potent. Whereas most beers will allow you the option of smelling them in your own time, this seductive lass does no such thing. The equivalent of a curry so spicy that you can hear it before you can see it, the espresso stout even when on the other side of the table grabs your nostrils in a vice-like grip, and it is a remarkable smell. Although the coffee is prominent, it can be likened more closely to a strong cappuccino such is the strength of the cocoa that is existent. This naturally follows through with the taste, albeit with added elements of hazelnut and caramel that is reminiscent of a well-made gypsy tart (something I have grown to love since my school canteen memories of the stuff). This confectionary flavour though, does not get carried away, the levels of sourness being sufficient in stopping it from tasting like some bad Tokai wine. Again, like many other of the beers on the slightly sweeter side, there was enough of a savoury nature present that can ensure that you’ll be able to manage a pint of the stuff, if not perhaps more.
I had never been to the Ealing Beer Festival before and instantly decided that I would return. I looked back at the scattered chairs, now jauntily-placed parasols and persistent stewards ushering us towards the exit and remembered just how good we are in this country at doing these types of festival. I had not seen a glum face all evening…well, there’s a good reason for that.

Moncada Brewery

Visiting the Moncada Brewery

head brewer
As we step in to the Moncada Brewery of Ladbroke Grove, West London, we are met warmly with welcoming eyes by brewer, Julio Moncada himself. An Argentine with a history of cooking, Julio is a walking endorsement for the re-imagining of cask ale, its clienteles and purveyors. The point that has been stressed so tediously, by myself, included (for which I apologise), is still important, that cask ales are not purely the reserve of hoary old gentlemen in sandals or that of young, ‘rah!’ rugby players. On the contrary, Julio is young, ambitious and perhaps most importantly, is from a Latin background, an environment in which cold, carbonated lagers usually rule the roost. Although, Moncada’s beers are not necessarily revolutionary, they are certainly a big step in the right direction.
So, a little about the man, first. Currently in his early thirties, he has finally found the career choice for him. He explains his first venture as being that of an extreme sports instructor which is naturally surprising coming from anyone’s lips. It does make sense though when I am told about his get-go attitude in regards to the other endeavours in, his life so far. After finishing in this trade, he took the surprising step of switching to cordon bleu cookery which he apparently excelled in too. Eventually, after long, stressful hours in a high-end restaurant, Julio decided on the idea of setting up a straight-from-the-source deli with his wife and selling from there, small runs of home-brew with which, by then, he had become quickly adept. The idea soon blossomed in to establishing a fully-fledged micro-brewery and was resolved finally in scrapping the idea of the deli altogether and concentrating purely on the beer.
ladbroke grove
Like most brewers, Julio started with home-brewing, feeling it to be an interesting new outlet for his interest in cookery and flavour. Indeed, he still believes this to be the case, explaining to me that it is ‘almost the same thing, only with less ingredients, lengthier processes and using liquids and not solids.’ Simplistic as this may sound, that is exactly the case. Again, most brewers seem to share a common interest in cooking and general flavour creation. Of course, Julio possesses this to a great degree and has no doubt, aided him in creating his beers.
beer containers
Once the idea was set in stone to create a fully-operative micro-brewery, Julio set about participating in various courses at Brewlab in Sunderland. Along with 3 intensive courses, one lasting 3 days, another 3 weeks and finally 3 months, he consistently attended breweries across the U.K in order to pick up tips and handy ideas for his own concoctions. In fact, he is still a frequent visitor of other breweries and a consistent taster of other beers (he often goes to The Union Tavern on a Friday lunchtime with his wife to do exactly that).
cascade amarillo hops
All of this translates wonderfully in to a very contented man operating a brewery that he loves and runs brilliantly well. Sweating in the deep summer heat, I am the stark opposite of the man sitting opposite me, calmly answering questions with a broad smile as the sheen of cleanliness emanates from his moderate yet pristine brewery (incidentally he will soon be up-grading his facilities to a larger space). This meticulous nature in cleanliness is mirrored in his obsession for the right flavour of his beer. Julio is quick to stress the enjoyment he gets in seeing people come back for another of his ales but does concede that his enjoyment of the product is just as important. Illustrating this, is his presentation to us of three amber ales, all dry hopped and all with slightly adjusted recipes that he will unveil officially at the opening of his new premises. It is a privilege to be given such an opportunity to try out un-released brews like this, so we naturally take him up on the offer. Three glasses are presented, the first with Amarillo and Cascade hops which has all the perfumed fruitiness in scent and taste that can be attributed to those hop varieties. The second is the same only with more hops, the result of course being something that is punchier, but still very sessionable indeed. Finally, we are offered a wee taste of the Hallertauer variety that has the slight dryness of tea whilst retaining a fruity peach taste throughout.
We are also presented with a couple of other offerings by our host. Fresh from the cask, we try Julio’s summer offering which possesses a nice balance between hops and malt, and is potent with seasonal English flavour. It’s naturally fruity and has an almost mentholated taste that finishes with a a light bitterness. There is a little bit of wheat involved too which creates a little bit of fruit and spice whilst owing the beer a wonderful-looking beer with fantastic head retention.
launch party beer
Also, from an un-labelled bottle (which I thought was quite cool), we try another one of his amber ales, brewed this time with stella hops. There is a lovely berry fruitiness that exists but also a lovely pack of malt that can be seen in the slightly darker colour. In flavour too, this is evident as the malt emerges increment by increment.
moncada beer
Moncada brewery produces beers that are stalwart session beers with the promise of porters and stouts on the horizon. They are not particularly ground-breaking but they are evocative of the English ales that Julio first fell in love with when he first came to this country. Flying the flag for West London’s contribution to the craft beer movement, Julio Moncada’s product is well worth a go. Watch this space, he’s going places.

Judging GBBF

camra beer of the year
We again donned our hi-vis jackets to walk through the exhibition hall of The Olympia, this time to judge the finest British beer produced from cask. I was given the task of judging the best beer of nine from the ‘strong bitter’ range. Again, the criteria was similar to the previous day, with beers being judged on appearance, aroma, taste and after taste. With this, we were also asked to consider the balance and depth of flavour with the main ingredients, again a slightly unfair task in that my category also included a range of I.P.As which will often focus primarily on the hops rather than the malt. Anyhow, dem’s the rules and I of course, had to adhere to them. The beers were marked P7-X7 and were as follows.
Highland Orkney IPA
P7 had little to nothing in the way of head which I shall not hold against it (same with the rest) as it had a turbulent, long journey from cask to jug to glass. The body though, was clear and bright and so was the scent, with an amazing, vibrant fruitiness. The first taste was similar to the aroma with a perfumed berry citrus counter-balanced with a deceptively subtle taste of light malt. Q7 meanwhile, was not so great with an overly boozy, solvent-like smell that had little subtlety and was not much better in the taste.
dark star festival
R & S 7 were probably the best of the lot, R possessing a large malty clout that was evident also in the darker, amber colour. There was a sweet and sourness to the beer that developed over the period of about 10-15 minutes in to a drink that showed levels of spice, nuts, tropical fruits and a ginger nut-esque wholesomeness. S7 had a lot of vanilla and fruitiness on the nose that was more subdued, the first taste having notes of banana, marmalade and allspice and finishing all malty with enough dry bitterness in the finish.

camra beer judging
T7 had malt and zest on the nose which then really hit the back of the throat in the first taste with sweet flavours of red apple. The general consensus of the after taste though was that it was a little bit ‘too much.’ U7 meanwhile, was clear, light and golden with a very strong zing of cascade hops and their customary, exaggerated Rowntrees fruitiness.
Thornbridge Jaipur
V7 didn’t fair very well. Despite my lack of criticism in regards to the retention of the head, the appearance was still poor; cloudy and murky. The aroma of it was also off, sulphureted and eggy with a wee bit of malt knocking around. The taste was under-whelming and the after-taste, non-existent. W7 as well, needed to be better. There was next to nothing in scent and was not much fun. A bit of fruitiness in the first taste was then entirely over-powered by sheer booze. Quite frankly, it was strong and nothing else…bit like a vindaloo.
X7 though, rounded the experience off nicely. The appearance was bright with sunshine and the first taste continued that summer theme with definitive notes of grapefruit and citrus. Like U7, it was very American with it being packed full of delicious Cascade hops.
Before re-entering the hall for the main event, the other judges and I were again guided in to a make-shift press room, strangely adorned with children’s toys, before being revealed the names of the beers that we had just judged. The beers were revealed as such.
P7: Highland ‘Orkney IPA’ 4.3%
Q7: Mordue ‘Radgie Gadgie’ 4.8%
R7: Dark Star ‘Festival’ 5.0%
S7: O’Hanlon’s ‘Stormstay’ 5.0%
T7: Rhymney ‘Export Ale’ 5.0%
U7: Salopian ‘Golden Thread’ 5.0%
V7: Moorhouse ‘Pendle Witch’ 5.1%
W7: Fat Cat ‘Marmalade Cat’ 5.5%
X7: Thornbridge ‘Jaipur’ 5.9%
The winners of the competition are below:-
Gold – Dark Star, Festival (from Horsham, West Sussex)
Silver – O’Hanlon’s, Stormstay (from Whimple, Devon)
Bronze – Highland, Orkney IPA (from Swannay, Orkney)

Great British Beer Festival 2012

Enjoying the Great British Beer Festival

olympia london
Come the strike of twelve noon and we were given the green light to join the other punters in sampling some of the best beers from this country and from around the world. After sloping around in the strange waiting room with a half pint of again, un-named bitter and several small portions of party cake, I did just this, over-whelmed as I was by the sheer array that was on offer.
I will not pretend that we went about the place in such a categorical fashion as to divide our sampling country by country, rather we tried something when we saw it and when we fancied it. However, for the sake of an article that does have some semblance of order, I will categorise each section of beer by each nation that we tried, starting off with our old friend, British cask ale.
There was Goachers Brewery’s ‘Mild’ 3.4% that was precisely that, brown and light in colour with a light rocky head, it had a light malt scent on the nose that was still nicely fresh and had a sourness in taste that was reminiscent to the Victorian recipe of that beer.
ramsgate kent
Soon after this I decided to back my home team and try the delightfully garbled named ‘She Sells Sea Shells,’ 4.7% by Gadds Brewery of Ramsgate, neighbour to my native Broadstairs. Gadds’ beers were the first of its type that I ever tasted and I hadn’t tried this pale variety of theirs in a long time. It did not disappoint, a burst of multiple light, tropical fruits emanating from the glass that gave way to a dry but not stultifying bitterness that classified itself generally as a wonderfully sessionable beer, perfect for summer and with a reasonable percentage that will make you a bit light-headed after a few…very glad to be be writing kind words about this brewery.
ian bearpark
Steve was insistent on acquiring a recommendation from Thwaites’ Ian Bearpark on one of his own brews, and I’m glad we did. After a brief deliberation within himself, Ian concluded on ’13 Guns,’ 5.5%, his ballsy homage to American I.P.As. Before I took a sip, I was smacked in the face by the sheer bolshiness of the hops, recognising this, Ian, with a wry smile listed the New World hop varieties within; Centennial, Citra, Amarillo and dry-hopped with Apollo. Furthermore, he listed the malt involved. Either way, it was all a very harmonious melange, smooth and delectable with a clear amber body, firm-white head and a lot of fruity sweetness, stewed like a good marmalade.
american double hopped ale
Being at a London-based beer festival, it would’ve felt odd not swinging past the Fullers stand to try anything new that they might have on offer. We ended up trying a couple. ‘Wild River’ 4.5% has been out for a short while now and I had not yet tried it, so I opted firstly for this. Another homage to American pales, it possessed a helluva lot of Cascade hops that again produced that intense boiled sweet, confectionary smell which carries through to the first taste and finishes with a very light bitterness. The rain may have been pattering on the beautiful, transparent ceiling but there was a real essence of summer in the beer. It was thoroughly sessionable, but with a slightly higher ABV than you might expect.
armagnac casks
Next up was one of the talks of the whole event, Fullers’ newest ‘Brewer’s Reserve,’ 8.5%, stored in Armagnac barrels and released only half way through the afternoon.
fuller's beer
Naturally, like many other punters, we pounced on it when it was released. It was well worth the wait, the scent foreseeing the taste in a perfect marriage between the British capital and the south of France. The booziness in the taste was powerful to the extent that it could be enjoyed in the same respect, after dinner as much as the liquor itself. It was though, not volatile. Whereas other Fullers reserves have been flavoured with whiskey, owing to a more bolshy flavour, this variety is smooth with prune notes and is utterly delectable.
Lervig Aktiebryggeri
Upon the recommendation of many people in the reception area, we found our way to the American beer stand where we were introduced to Norway-based American brewer, Mike Murphy of Lervig Aktiebryggeri (above). Mike and his beers were arguably the discovery of the day. The welcoming nature of Mike was such that he insisted on us trying a range of his bottled beers, an invitation that we were not going to pass up.
nelson sauvin
We started with his ‘Hoppy Joe,’ 4.7%, the most lenient of his range in regards to the ABV but nonetheless delicious. Described by Mike himself as a decent session beer, it is packed full of Nelson Sauvin hops that results in a dry, fruity scent that translates perfectly in to utter freshness in taste with a subtle malt taste at the end, a brilliant introduction to his beer and one that I would have more of.
mike murphy
No sooner had I finished my last drop of the ‘Joe’ when Mike eagerly poured me half of a bottle of his own ‘Brewer’s Reserve,’ 8.5% which was a different entity altogether but nonetheless sublime. With a firm white head, the scent was sweet and almost meaty, rich yet still fresh, like a good Boeuf Bourgogne, the taste reciprocating in a savoury, nutty taste of parmesan and earthy fruits. This fruitiness becomes more evident as the liquid goes down.
beer collaboration
The next offering from Lervig lifted the bar that much more,with his own collaboration with brewer, wizz-kid, geek, Mikkeller. A 14% I.P.A, it’s a handsome beer with a debonair body and firm foamy head. There’s a real variety in there, Citra, Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe…(and then Mike loses count), all in all, 25 kilos of hops (that’s a lot!!!). Combined with this is pilsner malt and oats which most likely explains the excellent head retention and wonderful consistency of the beer. On the nose, it’s potent, grassy and mentholated, the taste, boozy and chocolaty with fruity notes of prune finding it’s resumption in a very powerful bitterness. Ultimately, it’s a very serious beer that means business. Do try it if given the chance.
For a little bit more information on Mike Murphy and his brewery, take a look at the website www.lervig.no He’s going places!!!
As my tenure at the festival reached its end, we were accompanied by Steve to the highly-reputed ‘Bieres sans Frontieres’ stand displaying a very interesting collection of Italian ales. Fancying something fresh and tasty, we found the right stuff in these truly exotic ales. I have mentioned before, the dominance that light lagers tend to have in Latin or Mediterranean areas but these are the guys that are having a good old go at making tasty ales within the confines of their own countries. I opted to take home with me, a bottle of ‘Spaceman,’ 6.5% by Brewfist brewery of Codogno having been already exposed to their terrific beers at the bar where I work.

Upon the recommendation of our new American friend, I tried firstly, ‘Tipopils,’ 5.8% by Birrificio Italiano of Lombardia. There was an orange marmalade on the nose that was stewed and zesty and indeed evident in the colour of the beer and in its taste. With this, there was a light, musky, rosewater like quality also that developed in to a subtle caramel. Completely refreshing and utterly moreish.
italian sour beer
italian ale
I had to divert my attentions elsewhere to another recommended beer, this time ‘BeerBera’ 8% by Loverbeer Brewery of Marentino. Brewed once a year with the inclusion of red bera grapes, it is what can be described as a ‘wow beer,’ i.e something you would never have tasted before. A dark red currant in colour on account of its key ingredient, its sharp and sour on the nose as much as it isin taste and man alive, it is so sharp. Geuze and lambics take a while to get in to but once they’ve got you, you’re hooked, and this is very much the case also for the ‘BeerBera.’ Fortunately for me, I’m now accustomed to sour, dry lambics so I enjoyed this ‘geuze away from home’ immensely. What with the sharpness of the Bera, I decided to finish my evening with a real treat for myself with something along the same lines.
italian beer
I have only ever experienced the joy of the Cantillon Brewery’s Geuze in bottle before but had previously spotted that it was being served on cask a la the way they serve it in its native Brussels. Having been told the joys of it on cask by my friend, Joe, I couldn’t decline the chance and enjoyed every moment of the half pint that I had. Crisp, sour and dry, it is and forever will be an absolute class act.
beer brewers
All in all, the two days have been very curious indeed. Whilst at the same time sampling the stalwart beers from this country, we have also explored the more inventive and daring side of it, embracing truly the experimentalism of British brewers. Whilst this is true, the festival has showcased the more cosmopolitan side of the beer world with a large arm out to some of those countries that you may not associate with good 

Them Lot