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Hornbeam Top Hop Best Bitter, 4.2%, Manchester, UK

Brewskie

I can’t imagine many people have heard of Denton, let alone been there. Using the youth of today’s scale of rating places which goes as far as to ask the question ‘Does it have a Primark?’ the answer is no, although there is one in Stockport now which isn’t a million miles away from Denton. It does have a TK Maxx though, and it turns out, it also has a micro brewery called the Hornbeam brewery. Having spent a lot of my childhood in Denton visiting my Gran I was particularly surprised to find this out and also saddened at the same time. A quick Google search reveals that I drive past the brewery every Tuesday on the way to taking our little pesky dog to his training course; we even stop at the Sainsbury’s for beer amongst other things fairly regularly. I’ve never seen a bottle of Hornbeam in there and it’s right next door!

In 5: Vanilla, Cloudy, Amber, Citrus, Denton

In a world where it’s cheaper to buy something on ebay shipped in from China than it is to buy the same thing at the shop on the corner of your road this isn’t surprising. Perhaps the issue of the big supermarkets stocking real local produce is an argument for another day.

So how was the beer itself?

It poured nicely, even though it had been kept in the fridge instead of room temperature as directed on the label (not to self (again) read the label first!!!). It has a lovely vanilla nose with a cloudy outlook – a bit like the Manchester weather where it is brewed. It is amber in colour with a sharp yet palatable taste as the sweet vanilla aroma contrasts nicely with the citrus ever so slightly floral taste. If I had to categorise it I’d say it is somewhere in between an IPA and a best bitter and it was thoroughly enoyable.

On a side note, I really love the styling of the bottle and branding of the brewery, great work!

This article is copyright © 2014 

Brewskie

This beer has history: the label says “since 1890”, so San Miguel have had over a century to get the beer right. But there is more to the past than a date, as two years ago in the floods that destroyed a lot of rural Pakistan, my Filipino colleague and I spent a long deployment together discussing our first beer once we left the country. We agreed that we would one day meet to drink a San Miguel in the Philippines, and finally we did it last month.

In 5: Wet, Icy, Cold, Damp, Fizzy

The one I drank that night was in a can. I’m not sure Brewskie will even post a review of a beer that is drunk out of a can (Mr Brewskie is becoming a purist)? In my defence I’ve drunk a lot of bottles the past fortnight too. Still the beer tastes good, and we’re served it with a glass full of ice cubes which appears to be local custom and I assume aims to keep it cold. You can taste the fruit of the hops going in, though it is well controlled so that it is clean with a pleasantly sweet after taste. Equally, the gas is just right providing a sufficiently robust fizz to back up the strength of the flavour. The pale colour is sufficiently golden and keeps its head to keep me sipping, which I’m encouraged to do by the ice cubes which I think are melting and diluting the contents of the glass. I remember my colleague explaining to me how he used to buy a 24 pack with his friends on a weekend and spend all afternoon drinking all the cans and I can understand why. He’s paid the price however and is drinking “San Miguel Lite” which together with the ice cubes looks like it tastes of nothing. There are another two types of San Miguel behind the bar so it is definitely the most popular drink in the country, 95% market share I read somewhere…

The food in this part of the country is a lot of fried or barbecued pork and fish so we keep on drinking, the saltiness is refreshed by a new can. It occurs to me that the ice cubes could be a way of counteracting the dehydration effect in the tropics, but the morning afterwards the beer passes the hangover test too. Like most foreign beers, it is a pilsener with limited scope for doing something special: San Miguel just does it well. If only they wouldn’t serve it with ice cubes…

This article is copyright © 2014 

Brewskie

The quest for international beery goodness took us to Wales recently. Well actually, Wales was brought to us via a wonderful Christmas present consisting of a selection of beers from The Great Orme Brewery. What a perfect gift. For those of you not in the know, the Great Orme is a big rock in North Wales, with a tram, a dry ski slope and an amazing toboggan track (note; it was amazing when I was 12 and may now be in a horrendous state of disrepair). There’s some nice scenery and views too if you’re in to that sort of thing. It turns out there is also a Brewery, although not on the Great Orme itself it’s pretty close by.

In 5: Bright, Sweet, Rounded, Tasty, Citrus

A big fan of a pale ale this seemed like the most sensible choice for a first taste of the Orme “a refreshing blonde ale bursting with citrus notes” according to the fancy label. We certainly don’t disagree. It pours an amber colour and is bright and sweet from the off. The pale hops give a touch of bitterness and the citrusy high notes are quite something. It has a sweet and fruity flavour which give it a rounded finish and offset the bitterness just enough.

It’s a very pleasant beer and would be perfect to provide that much needed refreshing moisture in a beer garden on a fine summers evening after work.

This article is copyright © 2014 

Pacífico Clara, 4.5%, Mazatlán, Mexico

Brewskie

In 5: Tasty, Full-bodied, Sweet, Refined, Quality

¡Ay, caramba!

We discovered this little beauty on a little Brewskie night out in Liverpool and absolutely loved it. Ever since, we’ve been on a mission, scouring the supermarkets and specialist shops looking for the distinctive yellow label to brighten up our day. It took a few months of hunting but we finally managed to track it down and bring some home for a sampling and by Jove are we glad we did. I think we picked it up in our local supplier, Carringtons in Didsbury along with some Dunham Massey Deer Beer (review to follow soon!).

It’s not often we try a lager and something stands out so much that we think, wow, this is truly great stuff. It’s sweet, fizzy and a real mouthful of joy that would taste as good on a boiling hot day as a cold, dreary winter evening. A lovely foamy head stays throughout and it’s hard to believe that a lager can be so full bodied and bold, but refined and refreshing in equal measures. It oozes quality and it really makes you wonder why it isn’t lining the shelves of the pubs and bars of the UK in place of some of the other tripe.

It certainly brightened our evening and having tried quite a few South American beers recently this is certainly up there amongst the best of them. A fantastic start for the South American beers on Brewskie, hopefully there will be some more great ones coming our way soon!

Hasta pronto, Pacífico Clara!

This article is copyright © 2014 

Cisk Lager, 4.2%, Simonds Farsons Cisk, Malta

Brewskie

In 5: Refreshing, Crisp, Cheap, Golden, Tasty

“Is it pronounced Sisk or Chisk?” we asked the lovely Maltese waitress, “Sisk, Chisk, however you want to say it” was the helpful reply. Turns out service isn’t high on the list of priorities in Malta, eating and more importantly drinking beer are very high. On a previous trip to Malta we had a seat on the captain’s bridge of the Malta – Gozo ferry, on the way back we sat in the bar and tried to keep up with our Maltese guide drinking cans of Cisk like they were water. His goal was to drink a can for every 10 minutes of the journey. Our struggles just made him smile.

Everywhere you go in Malta you will see signs for Cisk, outside bars and cafés, on billboards and on umbrellas and verandas. There is no doubting it is the Maltese beer of choice for both locals and tourists alike. Generally speaking the beer you have on holiday will often taste nicer on holiday, and when you get home you go back to your regular tipples. This is not true with Cisk, although we’ve never seen it stocked in the UK the little supply we brought back with us taste just as good this side of the Mediterranean, especially as a curry chaser (lamb tikka jalfrezi if you must know)…

It is a lovely refreshing lager with a nice crisp finish that will barely make a dent on your wallet. By the pool, at the bar, with a meal, it seems that Cisk comes out trumps in any scenario and the Maltese are very proud of this.

It is refreshing to visit a country where the local produce costs local prices and the imports cost imported prices. If only the UK would take note and support local beer!

This article is copyright © 2014 

Brewskie

In 5: Hoppy, Bitter, Oasis, Straw, Tarty

Hailing from these parts we were always going to be slightly biased with our opinions of a beer brewed in the capital of the North. With plenty of water around you would have to be in a real Shambles not to be able to put together a quality beer. So does this beer make a City United, or will there always be those loyal to the Red and those detracting Bitter blues?

Well for starters it is a bottle-conditioned ale, something we really need to start paying a lot closer attention to. The sediment started to escape from the clutches of the bottle after we got a little overexcited pouring – the welcoming aromas coming from this simple yet stylish bottle were too much to handle.

Once in the glass it’s more of a light straw colour than an Ian Brown with a lovely foamy head that alludes to the lively nature of the brew. A single sniff and you quickly Cotton on to where the taste is going as it hits you with a bright hoppy punch. There is a real bitter taste to this tarty little number which is raw and borders on the uncontrolled but it’s brought just back into check by the Oasis of citrusy undertones. It’s nowhere near as fiery as some beers that hit you like a steam train on the world’s first passenger railway line but it certainly packs a good punch.

So if you are Alan Turing around the country and fancy a pint, grab a bottle of Manchester Bitter from Marble and you can be guaranteed a Haciending.

Show your love for Manchester on the I LOVE MCR Facebook page.

This article is copyright © 2014 

Brewskie

In 5: Refreshing, Smooth, Organic, Malty, Mellow

We picked up this funny little misshaped bottle of beer on an educational trip our local Waitrose – to see how the other side live. It is brewed on the site of a medieval hall from water they pull out of the ground on the brewery site itself, which is always nice, considering beer is pretty wet and water is by far the largest constituent ingredient. It is also organic and approved by the Soil Association… Yes, there is something called the Soil Association. Apparently the worm wasn’t so sure but the ants ganged up on him and made him vote yes and no one likes the slug so they didn’t tell him when the vote was.

Back to reality… When you get yourself one of these beers obviously the first thing that strikes you is the shape of the bottle. After drinking so many beers from round bottles we didn’t even realise the shape was like an old medicine bottle until we go it home and into the fridge. Apparently the bottle is a copy of one from Gibbstown, near Philadelphia which dates from c. 1770. There is no real explanation why they copied this exact bottle shape but who cares, it’s different and it’s pretty cool.

So enough waffle, what’s the beer like?

Well firstly it’s got a lovely amber colour to it. There is a lot going on with the aroma too, fruity with a hint of something sweet. When we finally tucked in we were thoroughly impressed with how it tasted. It’s a lovely mellow brew, which is both refreshing and smooth. It has a slight malty undertone to it and as an organic beer the flavours could be a little too strong, and although the beer occasionally borders on the wild side it is just about kept in check with a delicate balance.

This is a real easy drinker and one of the better organic ales we’ve come across. St Peter would definitely have this coming out of the taps in his Basilica if he were still around.

This article is copyright © 2014 

Brewskie

Who’s this beautiful amber beer with a lovely head? It’s not Annie Lennox, it’s Directors Bitter.

Knowing me Brewskie, knowing you Directors bitter. A-HAAAAAA!

Warning: If you haven’t religiously watched Alan Partridge over the years you may as well stop reading now!

In 5: Back of the net, Jackanackanory, A-HA, Cashback, Jurassic Park

Can I shock you? I like wine. Fortunately for us however, Alan Partridge’s favourite tipple is Directors Bitter, he’s got it coming out of his taps don’t you know. So if you’ve just dismantled your Corby trouser press or you’ve been clearing your cellar of a couple of bikes, some smokeless fuel and a bag of cement – gone hard. Sit back, and relax, in Brewskie’s deep bath of Directors bitter and enjoy our Alan Partridge tribute review.

Brewed on the thighs of a virgin this lovely nutty beer really gets you by the jaffers as soon as you let battle commence.  This is most certainly the best ale we’ve had since Gary Wilmot’s wedding. If you can stop smelling cheese for a minute and inhale slowly into your pint you will find that Directors has a lovely fruity nose to it. Not too dissimilar to a microwaved apple pie that’s hotter than the sun and if squeezed would expel a jet of molten bramley apple that could go your way, it could go mine. Either way, one of us is going down.

We love it’s spicy, fruity and nutty flavour, and not just in a way. When you finally dost venture south it’s like a breath of fresh air. It would be a great companion to a curry but don’t forget the keema nan on the side… ooooooo mince.

The best thing I ever did was getting thrown out by my wife. She's living with a fitness instructor, he drinks that yellow stuff in tins... He's an idiot!

It’s brewed by Courage, but not in big sheds that nobody’s allowed in with 20ft high chickens, and these chickens are scared because they don’t know why they’re so big, and they’re going, “Oh why am I so massive?” and they’re looking down at all the little chickens and they think they’re in an aeroplane because all the other chickens are so small. I digress…

Safety announcement: While you sip on your fat shot of Directors Bitter please remember the breathing techniques from tape one. Try to keep your nostrils clear and be careful not to get it all over the valance (the skirt that goes round the bed).

If you can ever accept the fact that they’ve used a collective term for a single drink and tried one, you can be sure you’ll be grabbing more from the fridge and putting them on the slate down your local minimart – a scaled down supermarket that fits inside a petrol station, sells pies, anti-freeze…  Don’t forget to store it below room temperature though or you may invalidate the warranty and always, always order it with a gin and tonic, and a Bailey’s. The Ladyboy chaser. Maybe a scotch egg on the side, but leave it a while to break down before you breathe on anyone or try to kiss your mildly cretinous Romanian girlfriend with an addiction to Snappy Snaps (she almost likes it as much as George Michael).

Tell me about the ladyboys.

Directors Bitter has been described as lovely stuff. Not Brewskies words, the words of Shakin' Stevens.

Directors Bitter is cheaper than a monkey, more expensive than a mouse and you can buy a whole load of Directors for a pony and a bag of hooves, cash in hand of course. You could even get your PA to buy you some when her dead mother’s money starts to come through to supplement her £9,500, so long as she hasn’t spent it all on her hair do that is.

Be careful not to spill the Sunny Delight as you banish it to the fridge, I can’t think of a more suitable drink to enjoy a Bond marathon with than Directors. Anything else would be demented. Just try not to get Bond wrong, or tape over it with America’s strongest man, and If you’re enjoying a few pints round at the house of your new best friend, who just so happens to be a fantastic man, make sure you check their credentials, they may be sex people looking to be appalling. If they invite you round try not to be sucked in by the promise of a Buck Rogers toilet, or their static caravan which can clean up half a pound of mashed up Dundee cake in its chemical loo.

Next time you are at the bar ignore the tea or coffee, tea or coffee, and get that Directors “into me!” Even better if you’ve got a scam going on with a big glass, but just be careful not to have too many or you may end up in a hotel kitchen cooking all the food or legally in control of a vehicle after committing cone theft. Cone’t you take a joke?

Not my words, Carol, the words of Brewskie.

Ideas for Brewskie;

  • Swallow – A Norwich-based drinking series which would put Norwich on the map.
  • Youth Drinking – with Chris Eubank.
  • Brewing in Prison – Needs a bit of fleshing out.
  • An ale amongst the Pigeons – The opening could be me in Trafalgar Square feeding the pigeons real ale.
  • Monkey Beer Pong…

PS. If you’re one of those commuters with your computers you could even buy some online and get yourself some cashback!

This article is copyright © 2014 

Brewskie

In 5: Balanced, Easy Drinker, Hoppy, Tasty, Strong

Ten points for guessing what happens when you get three top beer writers together for a couple of days in a brewery? Well, surprisingly enough they get drunk! Oh yeah, and they make some beer too. Although it seems that the clever schedulers at BrewDog got the order the wrong way round when they invited them over to make a specially commissioned brew – they let them do the drinking before they did the working. If our drunken cookery after a night out is anything to go by – oven left on, burnt toast, cold cans of beans – we weren’t expecting much from this special edition BrewDog brewed by some half cut, hungover beer lords.

Just hanging out with my mates

We know most of our readers aren’t exactly beer experts and don’t worry, we’d never heard of any of these people before we set up Brewskie. Thankfully, through the powers of t’interweb, and with a lot of help from Twitter and the Blogsphere we can find out; what they’re drinking at any moment in time, what beers they like, when they’re going to the toilet, who they’re drinking with, when they fart… you get the idea. Trust us on this though, they really know what they’re talking about and if they like a beer, you can guarantee it’s going to be worth drinking.

They can obviously talk the talk, but are they master brewers who can really walk the walk?

Well first things first, we can assure you that although A-Very Brown Dredge sounds like something they had to do to the Thames once all the Victorians had finished dumping in it, it really is a mighty fine beer.

It pours like a lovely fresh pilsner with lots of little bubbles that keep it alive throughout the experience. Our first impressions were that this is a very BrewDog beer with that same distinctive, hoppy, raw, citrusy taste that explodes in your mouth. However with this beer there is something a little different, something more. A bit like the Combined Harvest that we enjoyed so much, there is a real balance of flavours which stop any one aspect of the beer from getting too carried away and taking over. This balance of flavour, with a hint of bitterness in the aftertaste and just a touch of sweetness, thrown in with the fact that it is ludicrously tasty keeps you coming back, and back, and back for more. For a beer weighing in at 7.5% it is a real achievement to have created such an easy drinker. We just wish we’d ordered more!

The only question we have is; where was our invite to this beer brewing party (and the royal wedding come to think of it)? Lost in the post no doubt… We wait in anticipation for the next brewing session, and a shiny golden ticket!

Dredge A-Very Brown Brewskie – don’t mind if we do thank you.

This article is copyright © 2014 

Brewskie

In 5: Cakey, Fruity, Full-bodied, Strong, Drinkable

Ringwood, the maker of probably our favourite summer beer, Boondoggle, launched their Old Thumper way back in 1979 and it’s gone from strength to strength since then, winning the CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain in 1988. It’s pretty easy to find nowadays in most supermarkets and in little multi packs of real ale you get in your Christmas stocking from Aunties and Uncles. If only everyone would just get us beer we’d be guaranteed an excellent Crimbo every year. I’ve tried drinking a sock; it’s not nice and you end up with a mouth full of fluff.

So how did they manage to bottle up their ‘beast of a beer’? Well I reckon it wasn’t quite as difficult, or anywhere near as much fun to watch as Old Thumper the wild boar on the label makes you dream up it might have been. They probably just used the same big machine that they use on most of their other beers… Yawn.

The first thing that struck us after pouring into a glass was the smell of brioche this beer seems to emanate. You certainly won’t get Boared as its taste changes and grows mouthful after mouthful. You discover new aspects of its flavour with a different fruit coming through with every sip. Its all round body is definitely strong enough to handle a BBQ (or a curry for that matter), which makes me think… If Old Thumper were to accidently end up on a spit, and then someone were to say, place a little bit of fire underneath him that happened to roast him up, a pint of Old Thumper would certainly make a wonderful companion to the any hog that were roasted as a consequence. Just don’t forget the apple sauce, a hog roast needs apple sauce; that is a fact that cannot be changed.

So is it a ‘beast of a beer’? Well in a ‘I’m stronger than you’ contest, it would probably thump most beers straight out of the Ring-wood.

This article is copyright © 2014 

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