Beer O'Clock Show

Month: December 2012

Wallowing In A Vat of Ale – A Beery Christmas

Like most of us, for me Christmas Day was all about choosing the rights beers to accompany the food of the day.
For dinner, I chose Shepard Neame’s ‘Christmas Ale’ (7% ABV). This was the last of many ‘Christmas’ beers that I have sampled this year and for our regular listeners, you’ll know that I haven’t had a great amount of success with them. Most have been bulk-standard bitters with a few festive spiced flavours thrown in.  This beer promotes itself more as a winter warmer than a festive beer and didn’t disappoint. A lovely dark amber colour, with deep malty aromas with a hint of hops in the background. The malts continue throughout the beer and the hops leave a subtle but noticeable spicy aftertaste. For me, this was probably the best of all the bottled christmas beers I’ve tried this year.
Next up was ‘Southwold Winter IPA’ (6.7% ABV) from Adnams but brewed exclusively for Marks & Spencer. Now I’ve been pleasantly and consistently surprised with these “brewed for M&S” range of beers.  If they’re not something you’ve come across, then make a beeline for M&S – some of the UK’s biggest breweries has created beers for this range and they are all worth a try.  The Winter IPA pours a light amber coloured and has an instantly hoppy aroma with that distinct ‘craft beer’ aroma and flavour.  It’s fresh and feels lie the outside and has grapefruit and tropical flavours coming through every sip and lingering on the aftertaste. This is quite reminiscent of the ‘American IPA’ that Adnams put out a year or so ago (and that is coming back on cask in early 2013 and as the M&S Summer IPA) and is a truly enjoyable IPA that has you coming back for more and more.
To finish Christmas Day I went for the Meantime ‘chocolate porter’ (6.5% ABV). This is one I’ve been looking forward to doing as all of the media I’ve read about it suggests it’s about a close to drinking an alcoholic cup of chocolate as you’re likely to get.  Brewed with four different roasted malts that all provide natural mocca flavours and then real chocolate is added during the maturation period. The aroma is truly a chocolate one, almost reminiscent of a bar of Dairy Milk. In the glass it looks like a glass of coke, very dark in colour with a light head and some decent carbonation. A little disappointing on the palate though, as none of those chocolate promises follow through. There’s a subtle chocolate aftertaste, but the prominence is with the traditional porter flavours – deep, roasted malts.

Wallowing In A Vat of Ale with… Fullers & TSA Brewing Company

So here we are.
Season 1 of the Beer O’Clock Show has finished and here I (Steve) am with an amazing range of craft beers and fine ales to drink and no one to share it with.  If only there was a social medium that would allow me to share these fine brews with the world…


In this first blog I’m going to be looking at a couple of beers that I sampled as part of a pre-Christmas Christmas dinner.

First up is Fullers Brewers Reserve #4 (8.5% ABV) As always this brew was released at the Great British Beer Festival in August.  Now, those of have who have been us for a while will remember that I did a live review of this beer back in Episode 4 and initially I wasn’t as blown away as I was with the Brewers Reserve #3 from 2011. However having acquired a bottle to enjoy a home, I thought it was only fair to give it a go.

What the bottle says…  “For over 365 days the 4th edition of brewers reserve has been ageing in old Comte de Lauvia Armagnac casks. This is one of the finest oak cask VSOP Armagnacs from Eaux in the heart of Bas-Armagnac in France. The flavours of this Armagnac have been absorbed into the casks and infused into this ale, resulting in a balance of fruity tartness, sweet vanilla and a hint of chocolate.”

So what’s it really like? A lively pour, with heavy carbonation and at least a two-finger head.  The aromas are of strong spirits but with a definite hit of chocolate.

It’s a beautifully balanced taste with warming, sweet malts and again the chocolate coming though on every sip.

In summary, an amazing limited edition beer (when it’s gone, it’s gone) and well worth searching out and trying.

Following a hearty meal, I chose to wash it down with the ‘Double Espresso Premio Caffe Birra” from Traditional Scottish Ales Brewing Company (ABV 6%).  Now this is another winner of the World Beer Awards 2012 for the World’s Best Flavoured Beer and for World’s Best Chocolate & Coffee Flavoured Beer, making this a hat-trick of World Beer Award winners for the Beer O’Clock Show.  I was lucky enough to pick this up during the recent Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt.

The bottle doesn’t say much about the beer, so I got this from the World Beer Awards site…  “Sumptuous aroma, big espresso coffee hit on the nose, not too aggressive. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Rich and fulsome, creamy mocha, woody with metallic notes at the end.”

The aroma straight out of the bottle was pure coffee.  It pours black with a cream coloured head and is a very smooth and easy beer to drink.  the only thing that I could compare this too was like drinking a cold, alcoholic cup of beautifully crafted coffee.  Again, well worth searching out and giving it a try.

Feeling quite pleased with myself after selecting and matching these two with the meal. The Brewers Reserve worked perfectly with the food, while the Double Espresso made for a nice change from actual coffee after a meal.

Episode 20 – Christmas Special – St Peters Christmas Ale

It’s our end of Season 1 special, with our special Christmas episode.

This week we review the St Peter’s Christmas Ale, and reflect on what Season 1 has brought us.

That and our usual beery chatter – Merry Christmas!

Episode 19 – Badgers Poacher’s Choice

This week we try something that’s we’ve both been circling for a while: Badger Ale’s Poacher’s Choice.

Also, Steve’s Beervent Calendar gets another flap opened, and other beery chatter!

Episode 18 – Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

This week we have a taste of something from across the pond, with the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

This and our usual beery discussion, plus the next instalment in Steve’s Beervent Calander!

Episode 17 – Melville’s Craft Lager

This week we have something of a departure: not only do we taste and review a lager, but a FRUIT lager. This is the Strawberry-flavoured bottle of Melville’s Craft Lager from Innis & Gunn.

That, and our usual beer-related banter and reviews!

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