Beer O'Clock Show

Month: November 2013

Episode 50 – Fullers 2012 Vintage Ale

We’re 50! Well, 50 episodes old at least, and it’s a very special episode with a very special beer: Fuller’s 2012 Vintage Ale.

How will Steve and Mark enjoy a beer they’ve been holding on to for over a year? Will they drift off into hours of reminiscing? How have they last this long, anyway?

All this and the usual beery chatter – it’s beer o’clock!

Episode 49 – Kona Fire Rock

Another trip across the pond, and feeling the sand between our hairy toes as we walk the beaches of Hawaii (at least in our minds) for this week’s beer: Kona’s Fire Rock Pale Ale.

Also, updates on all manner of Beer O’Clock Show goodness! Upcoming milestones, christmas crawls, and more!

It’s Beer O’Clock!

Wallowing In A Vat of Ale – Beer and Music Tasting

Earlier this week I was contacted on Twitter by Gareth Langston who work works for !TA* Venues about attending a ‘beer and music’ tasting event in London tonight. I asked for more details and was duly informed that it was a VIP invitation-only event being held at Brewers Hall and being hosted by none other than legendary beer writer Pete Brown.

I have been promised an evening that will be a “live experiment proving how our taste buds are influenced by the music we hear” and that the event will “challenge my sensory perceptions”. The evening is the result of several years’ of research by Pete and will bring together cutting edge research into how music can influence what we taste as we listen.

Music? Influencing how beer tastes? Really? Stay tuned for live* updates…

I arrive at Brewers Hall in London to find myself in the midst of a gathering of industry bods, beer enthusiasts and associated others. Grand old building no doubt steeped in history and about the participate in the ‘Beer and Music’ matching evening. I’ve had a cheeky look at the beer list (yum) and he music list (hmm?) and I’m now just waiting for the start.

First beer up is Chapel Down Curious Brew Brut (4.7%) – British lager brewed with champagne yeast. Paired with Sugababes ‘I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor’. The beer – a very winey aroma with a very cleansing taste, not like a beer at all, almost like a sparkling wine but with a very dry finish. Wouldn’t be one that I’d go back for again but let’s see if the music improves it… The combination is designed to make it feel like Saturday night. Hmm. I don’t like cover versions or the Sugababes and wonder if this would have been better with the Arctic Monkeys original but it is feeling like Saturday night in the local club.

Next up a staple favourite and beer that we’ve featured on the show before – Duvel (8%) and this is to be matched with The Pixies ‘Debaser’. I have no musical reference point here! We know the beer’s good as we’ve reviewed it before, so let’s see what the music does… Well that works. Again, taking me to a club back in the 90’s but complimenting the beer really well.

There are some great scientific insights from Pete about the senses affecting the way that we perceive things but I’m finding it difficult to keep up with what he’s saying and to capture it here. But take my word for it, the science behind this is truly fascinating. Although I did get “it’s a load of bollocks” at one point. And that was from Pete himself!

Moving on we’re heading into sour territory with Boon Oude Gueuze (7%) matched with Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’. The beer – it’s got that amazing aroma that you get from a lambic and this one has been brewed with wild yeast. Yes! Palate cleansing or destroying but just what I’m needing right now. There’s sharp lemon and that ‘packet if refreshers in the mouth’ feel to it. Stunning. Radiohead is blaring in the background. Meh. (Although that might say more about my musical preferences than anything else!!!)

Love this next beer – Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA (7%), I’ve gone on record before to say how much I love this beer but we’ve got two tracks to accompany this one – one for the bitterness (Porcelain by Moby) and one for sweetness (Turn Turn Turn! by the Byrds). Both tracks compliment the beer in equal measures as the initial sweetness followed by the subtle bitter hint continue to wash over me.

Excited about the last two pairings! First up, Rochefort 10 (11%) with some Hendrix. Hang on, I might need a few moments…

The aroma of the beer is Black Forest gateaux through and through. There’s a smokey aroma, taste and lingering finish. A little bit of cream in there but finished perfectly by the faultless fretting of Hendrix and ‘All Along The Watchtower’ in the background.

The final combo. Oh my. Worthington White Shield (5.6%) and Elbow ‘One Day Like This’. Please give me another moment…

This track gives me goosebumps EVERY time, it is without fault in my mind. The beer works perfectly with it. It’s very English, has an initial hit a bittersweet flavours followed by a long, lasting bitter finish. A great finish to the night.

Thanks to Gareth, !TA* Venues and Pete Brown for a very insightful and enjoyable evening. As the guests begin to depart a few of us hang around and I get chatting with Chris from The Guest Ale while we drain what was left of the selected beers. I go in for another Boon Oude Gueuze and this time I get the whole bottle to myself! Having cleansed my palate sufficiently I say my goodbyes, find Elbow on my iPod and head home.


*This was originally our first attempt at a live blog and has since been edited.

Wallowing In A Vat of Ale at Hop Stuff Brewery

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Crowd sourcing. These days it seems to be being used to fund all sorts of ventures, and most recently is helping wannabe full time breweries realise their dreams.

James Yeomans, founder of new start up Hop Stuff is one such brewer. Based in Woolwich and with a nod to local history and a passion for brewing great new beers, Hop Stuff starting producing their first batches in September and had their official launch party last Friday.

We featured an interview with James back in episode 45 which was recorded shortly after he achieving his Crowdcube target and this week we grabbed another of the show’s recent guests, Mark Berry and we trundled off to Woolwich to visit James at the new brewery for a catch up and for a taste of what’s brewing…

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On arrival at the brewery it’s clear to see that Hop Stuff have only just moved in and clearly made it a priority to start brewing over anything else as the sign on the door still says that we are entering a printers – we are met by Barley the brew dog (yes we did just do that) who has only been with James for a matter of days but who already seems to be very at home at the brewery.

James tells us how it’s quite literally been non-stop brewing since moving into the premises and although he’s now working very long hours, its a life that he is more than pleased to have traded for his former life as a city boy. Hop Stuff are a fairly small set up (10 bbl system, 1630 litres) and are produced two staple beers as part of their range in ‘Fusilier’ (English bitter) and ‘Pale Ale’ (does what is says on the tin).

IMG_1222There is also ‘Renegade’ (IPA) and ‘Gunners’ (Porter), the latter of which was quietly fermenting away during our visit ready for a release in time for Christmas (look out for the take home variety which James has plans to put in champagne-sized bottles to encourage sharing). We gave the Gunner a try straight out of the FV and while it’s still got a way to go there’s already that malty, warming feel that you would expect from a good winter-warming porter.

There are big plans for the brewery – James has already identified a loft space that (license hearing allowing) will become a bar where he will be able to serve Hop Stuff beer as fresh as it comes and also hold events at the brewery. Currently occupying said loft space are two IMG_1221hop plants that presumably in the future will become the feature of a batch of beer. There was also some talk of adding a third FV and a smaller kit for experimentation, but for now James’ focus has been on getting his two staples to market and to build a customer base. His beers are already a feature of the local Dial Arch pub and there are plans to continue to supply the local scene in Woolwich, hopefully expanding to sales in what may become a rejuvenated Woolwich market.

Hop Stuff had their official launch last weekend which James recounts was a time when he can’t remember having ever drunk so much beer but all seems to be going well in Woolwich and there are exciting times ahead for the locals it would seem.

With that James grabs Barley and we head off to the Dial Arch to sample his wears. It’s obvious that James is still getting used to this lark as when the barmaid begins to tell him what his own beer tastes like, he rather coyly mentions that “yes, I know, it’s my beer”. So is the beer any good? Lets see…

IMG_1230 (2)Fusilier (4.3% ABV) – its a good old fashioned bitter, dark amber colour with a lovely malty and biscuty aroma. Subtle flavours throughout, very smooth and very, very easy to drink. This is truly a session beer and all three of us agree that ‘quaffable’ is the most apt term for this beer. Would happily give this 3/5.

Pale Ale (4.5% ABV) – not quite so pale in it’s colour, in fact a very similar colour as the Fusilier. It has a much sharper finish, with a lovely citrusy, sharp edge to it and a palate cleansing dry finish. Again, a really easy drinker and one that you could quite easily lose an afternoon with. Of the two, this was my preferred pint and easily a 3.5/5.

There are big things ahead for Hop Stuff, and we’re certainly looking forward to enjoying more of James’ beer in the future and to trying some of the specials that are planned to start coming out in bottles in the future.

Thanks to James (and Barley) for giving up some time to show us around, check for up to date information on what’s going on or follow them on Twitter (@hopstuffbrewery) or Facebook (@hopstufflondon).

Episode 48 – Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale

This week we paddle across the pond (and across land a bit) to the Sierra Nevada mountains in California for a barley wine style ale as another feature of this season’s US Beer Adventure. It’s a Bigfoot Ale from Sierra Nevada.

We’re joined this week by Mark Kelly from the Beer Boutique in South London for some light-hearted, beer-related chatter.

It’s Beer O’Clock!

Wallowing In A Vat of Ale with the Craft Beer Social Club

“Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!”

We all remember that quote and I’m sure most of us think it every time we hear the word ‘club’ attached to a phrase. This is how we come to be in London Fields on a Friday evening, standing outside a rather unassuming building wondering if we found the location of The Craft Beer Social Club (CBSC).

Upon entering we’re a little unsure if we’re in the right place, until we see the bottles and kegs at the back and then the aroma of onions, spices and meat are filling the air. There’s a band sound checking and a number of young (and what we can guess are local) tenders gathering nervously behind the ‘bar’.

We’re told to help ourselves to a drink and according to the pump clips we’re getting a Fuller’s Frontier, however what’s in the glass doesn’t look or taste like Frontier and we soon find out that what we were actually drinking was Faithless XXV, a gooseberry saison by Redwillow (4.9%) Not a bad little beer actually, all the straw and spices that you’d expect are there and the gooseberry offers a sweet, tart edge that finishes the drink nicely.

Minor teething problems aside it’s great to see the CBSC using a local workforce. These guys don’t need to know about their beer as you would expect from a craft beer bar or other pop-ups because you’ve got tasting notes, a wealth of industry bods and lots of craft beer fans in attendance to cover that – all they need to do is serve the stuff.

Once we’ve worked out that there are four beers currently available and which beers they actually are, it’s possible that we might have set a world record for the ‘table to bar dash’ in our efforts to get to the Wolfscote barrel aged black sour from Buxton (3.3%). A tremendously low ABV and a taste that has you going back for sip after sip. It’s like drinking a chilled espresso on a hot day. The bitterness of the coffee is well balanced with the salty edge that the sour offers resulting in a welcome experience that is altogether different from a coffee/mocha porter or stout.

We follow this with the next beer along the line which is the Fest Bier from Meantime (5.6%) an Oktoberfest Bier brewed with authentic Bavarian malts and yeast (so the notes tell us) and has a thick, sweet taste that balances perfectly with the sour notes of the Wolfscote that are still hanging around. Only one place to go from here and that is to the Fuller’s Frontier (4.5%) which is branded as ‘small batch craft brewed lager’ but actually isn’t too bad an offering from one of the biggest brewers in London. It cleanses the palate quite nicely but it’s not too long before we find ourselves with another Wolfscote in our hands.

The format of the CBSC is quite simple, you buy your ticket which gets you free beer all evening and a couple of trips to the Primal Feast (tonight’s offerings include llama, horse, kangaroo, moose and zebra). There are a number of staple beers on keg all evening which you can back to time and time and time again (these are shaded in grey in the tasting notes) and then every now and then a tray of samplers are handed round, you’re told which number you’re drinking from the tasting notes and then you’re chatting to the people around you about the beer.

We find ourselves chatting with Shaun, Harviestoun’s London/SE business development manager while drinking a Schiehallion (4.8%) and talking about our review of the very same beer on our latest show (weird?). But we learn some things about the Scottish craft brew lager that we didn’t know – like how protective of this particular brand Harviestoun are, hence why our listeners outside of Scotland may have struggled to get their hands on a bottle and why the variants in Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer are ‘variants’ and only called ‘Scottish Craft Brewed lager’.  While we’re chatting to Shaun we’re handed the next drink – The Honey Beer by Hiver (5%) which is enjoyable enough and with the sweet honey coming through in every sip, too much of this could indeed be too much. An observation that we make at the table we’re sitting at only to then be introduced to the founder of Hiver Beers, Hannah Rhodes (see foot in mouth for a more apt description) and after further discussion (and beers) with Hannah a brewery that we’ll hopefully be featuring on the show in the future.

As Sam Green and the Midnight Heist take to the stage to deliver a set of good old fashioned barn storming foot stomping bluesy/folksy tunes we’re offered further beers from Hastings Brewery (Handmade, an Australian Blonde that delivers tropical flavours and at around the 4% mark could be an easy session beer) and then from Allendale Brewery (Curlew’s Return, a 4.2% very easy bitter that is smooth and delivers a subtle spicy kick at the end) which may well have been the beer of the evening were it not for the presence of the Wolfscote.

At this point we finally get round to doing a bit of work and take the opportunity to grab a quick interview with Justina, the founder of The Craft Beer Social Club, which you can hear on the show here.

Sadly we’re only about a quarter of the way through the tastings when the timings of public transport begin to get the better of us so we say our goodbyes and head back towards London Fields station.

Upon leaving the Fight Club quote springs to mind again – “Welcome to Craft Beer Social Club. The first rule of Craft Beer Social Club is: talk about it. Lots. And share it.” This is definitely no secret.

For more details on the Craft Beer Social Club and to book tickets visit

Wallowing In A Vat of Homebrew

Last week we released our long awaited Homebrew Special in which we discussed and reviewed Monarch from Still Thinking, Black IPA from Andrew Drinks, Red Snow Rye from Crema Brewery and Simcoe Citra Big DIPA from Elusive Brewing. But that’s not enough for us, no. Having four homebrewers talking about their beers and passion for homebrewing simply wasn’t enough! So in this special version of ‘Wallowing’ we’ve asked three more homebrewers to share their passion for homebrewing with us.

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Wallowing In A Vat of Ale – Back in Black

It’s November, the dark evenings are here and it’s time to start thinking about those winter beers. What better way to start this than an evening of black beers, hosted by us in conjunction with CAMRGB and suitably titled #BackinBlack.

I’d been quite excited about this for a while now, in fact we’ve been previewing my selected beers on the show for a few weeks running up to the event. I’d been watching Twitter and noticed that a few of the show’s ‘official fans’ jumped the gun and were in early. When our co-host for the evening, CAMRGB jumped in shortly after, I couldn’t hold back any longer and cracked my first beer.

d45746aa-e6c9-4d25-960f-880cdfd1a00cMy first of the night was planned to ease me in – a lovely little black number in the form of Crouch Vale ‘Black’ at 6%. This is a beer that I’ve had before, but it does seem to have aged really well. Lovely sweet aroma and flavours with a strong citrusy back bone and subtle roasted notes coming through towards the end.

It was still fairly quiet at this point with a few #BackinBlack hashtags here and there – check our little Storify feed to get a feel for what was going on.

69279cdc-79a6-4a7a-b9db-a9a1faa33dd3Next up for me was Weird Beard’s ‘Fade To Black’. A black IPA weighing in at 6.3%, this had lovely piney aromas and gave an initial hit like a big, hoppy IPA. A light bitterness but with a really balanced roasted aftertaste coming through. The flavours changed as it warmed and it finished very smoothly.

It was around about that this that #SomeRandomBlokeOffTwitter waded in with his usual, innovative take on beertography and shared his planned beers for the evening with us.  It was also about now that I had realised that I had got so carried away with the chatter on twitter that I hadn’t been checking any of my beers in Untappd!

4661981b-9031-4ae2-a93a-d0d07486f44fMoving on to my next beer, one that I’d been looking forward to for a while in the form of Camden vs Odell ‘Baltic Porter’ at 7%. An absolutely stunning aroma and went down far too easy. This is probably the easiest porter I’ve ever drunk. Sweet and smooth at the same time with light, hoppy hints and no bitterness on the aftertaste.

As the evening progressed, we were even getting live reports from Bristol courtesy of Mark Landells – have a look at the Bristol report on Storify.

ab9c7151-b127-47a7-b69b-5d0f1f0d301eNow, had I stuck to my original plan, at this point I would have moved onto my last beer of the evening. This is quite possibly where it all started going wrong and I decided to throw in a joker and the last of my GBBH beers, the Ridegway Brewing Querkus Smoked Porter. At 5.8% this has a lightly smoked aroma but a tasted like a mouthful of bonfire. No bitterness and a smooth finish but very, very smokey.  In fact, by the end of the bottle, the smokiness was overpowering and bordering on becoming unbearable.

There was an observation at this point that very few of the black beers being consumed across Twitter were lower than 6% in their ABV and as I continued to deviate from my plan I chose this moment to let Twitter choose my next beer. It was between two heavyweights in Brewdog’s Psycho Cocoa (10%) and Harviestoun’s Ola Dubh 16 (8%). Some bright spark (thanks David Martin) suggested I blend them – and having already had four beers in me, my beer bathed brain decided 6305590f-0dc8-4512-a2d5-13d552c1ec6ethat this would be a good idea and ‘Psycho Dubh’ was born!

The resulting brew had strong coffee aromas, with a sharp bitter aftertaste akin to a good espresso. The undertone was typically Brewdog-esque but was complemented by strong dark chocolate and coffee favours. God knows what the ABV would have been on this brew and common sense should have been telling me to have stopped at this point.

We were joined at this point by Jim Chaney, who is a show regular from the States and a few others who were continuing to share their beers (another Storify) and in my demise also it would seem.

18a935e2-4edf-4153-8311-f2d1ac1e49c0I still had the half bottles of Psycho Cocoa and Ola Dubh 16 left so polished them off for good measure. On their own, the Brewdog was all coffee with citrus undertones and was really smooth and easy to drink. In direct contrast, the Harviestoun was amazing with smooth coffee notes all the way through and a lovely dark, bitter after taste just makes you want to keep diving in for more.

As 10.30pm approached there were only a couple of us still going, and continuing to ignore common sense I decided that it would be a good way to finish the evening by entertaining a Bearded Lady.

af67289c-6bfc-4fba-8162-d89728e05953At 10.5% I’ve probably had better ideas but once again Magic Rock Brewing haven’t disappointed with the rich, imperial brown stout. I found it very smooth and warming, with subtle roasted notes. It was at this point that I decided to have a ‘beer off’ with Justin to which it would appear I lost – you can see for yourself via this Storify link.

With my stocks depleted and feeling fairly worse for wear (I only originally intended to drink 4 beers) I decided that it was time to call it a night.

Back in black, I hit the sack, it’s been to long I’m glad to be back. Indeed.

Thanks to everyone who took part in #BackinBlack and thanks to Simon for allowing us to host the event under the CAMRGB banner.

Episode 47 – Homebrew Special #1

It’s a huge show this week, with FIVE guests joining Steve and Mark in the BoCS studios for our first ever Homebrew special, with four – FOUR – different beers. Hoo boy.

We have the mighty DOODY from Still Thinking with his saison Monarch.

Chris and Emma from Crema Brewery and their Red Snow Rye

Andy from Elusive Brewing with his DIPA

and @Andrew_Drinks from a Brewery Yet To Be Named with his black IPA

No beery chatter – no beery news. Just wall-to-wall beer! It’s Beer O’Clock!

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