Category Archives: Tomfoolery

Cream tangerine

Best comment:

Someone send this guy a double IPA…just for shits and giggles.

Really I should have given them my address, to see if anybody would. As it was, I had to buy one myself.

What follows is a bit of an oddity, as it’s a review of a beer I didn’t actually like. But it was distinctive and memorable, and after the initial shock it was quite fun to drink in a slightly masochistic way. I’ll leave it unnamed, because of the whole ‘not actually liking it’ thing (and also because those guys get quite enough publicity already… damn, I’ve given it away now).

Brewing instructions

  1. Brew an IPA. Stronger than that. No, get on with you, stronger than that. Boil it down or something. Freeze it, whatever, I don’t know. Use your initiative.
  2. Get a whisky barrel. Still some whisky in it? Great. Not a problem.
  3. Get some marmalade. Scratch that, get lots of marmalade. You want that whisky barrel totally full of marmalade, OK?
  4. Bonfire. Big bonfire. Build us a bloody great big enormous bonfire. Just do it, OK? Whisky barrel goes in there. Right in the middle. No, no, right at the bottom in the middle. Well, I thought it was obvious. Build it back up. Yeah, and then light the bonfire – I mean, obviously…
  5. Go back and check on that IPA. Put in some dry hops or whatever. Yeah, bit more. OK, OK, not that much… never mind, it’ll be fine.
  6. How’s the fire doing? All burned down? Great. Check on the barrel. Nicely charred? Great, bring it out. Well, I thought you’d wear gloves for that part. Come on, I can’t think of everything.
  7. OK, so off comes the top of the charred smoke-blackened caramelised-marmalade-stuffed whisky barrel, and in goes the IPA. Funnel. Use a funnel. Well, put it down and go and get one, then.
  8. Then we carefully position a bottle underneath, like so… and we wait.

Basically I thought this went way, way over the top, in several different directions at once. Dialled down several notches it might have been quite pleasant; if they’d got those flavours working together instead of exploding separately it could have been really good. As it was, I found it physically hard to drink. A very interesting beer, though, I’ll give them that.

Make room for me

This is a late addendum to last weekend’s Open It! jollifications.

Out you come, lads

As you can see, I didn’t have any beer at the back of the cupboard that I wanted to broach for the occasion. (I have got four Marble 750ml bottles awaiting their special occasion – the first four, that is: Decadence, Special, Decadence Frambozen and Decadence Kriek – but by the time I started thinking about Opening It! it was Sunday evening, and I really didn’t want to start putting myself outside that much alcohol. Their time will come.) Instead, I dug out what you can see in the picture.

Lindisfarne sloe gin. This was a bit of a cheek, as this bottle was actually a present to my wife a couple of years ago. Still, she’d forgotten about it, so I thought it qualified (and she had a glass too). In the event, this gave us both a surprise. It was a deep purply red, it was thick and syrupy, it was sweet with an underlying bitterness… and it was sharp: not the slight fruity sourness of a ruby port but a real acidity. Much sharper than we’d expected, and not entirely successful.

I moved on to the

Gordon’s lemon gin. I guess this is also strictly speaking my wife’s property, as it was one of the things cleared out of her mother’s house when she went into a home. She (wife, not mother-in-law) remembers it sitting unopened in the drinks cupboard from her early childhood. Gordon’s stopped making lemon gin in 1980, so it’s at least 30 years old; from the look of the bottle I’d say it’s closer to 50. The strength is given as 60 degrees proof, which I reckon to be 34.5 % a.b.v.

So what’s it like? According to this ad what you get is “the purest gin blended with the juice of the finest lemons”, which sounds like a pretty full-on combination. On tasting, it became apparent that there was sugar in there too, although doubtless they insisted on the purest (or finest) sugar. At first it reminded me of limoncello – it could hardly fail to, given that it’s sweet, strong and tastes of lemons – but as I got further down the glass the gin flavours and aromas came through more insistently, a bit like hop aromas sneaking up on you when you’re drinking a malty beer. Really very nice indeed. I subsequently tried a lemon gin and tonic; this wasn’t as successful – a bit too sweet – but I could easily acquire the taste. If only it were still available!

From the sublime, lastly, to the Offley Port. My wife (I can’t keep her out of this post – honestly, you let the focus on beer slip for a moment and the womenfolk are all over the show) gave me this miniature in 1991, together with miniatures of Fernet-Branca and Cynar, after we’d returned from our honeymoon in Italy. The F-B and Cynar (an artichoke-based aperitif) were just things we kept seeing in bars over there, but the Offley port was a bit of a standing joke: every bar seemed to offer port, and the port they offered was almost invariably Offley, a brand which looks very classy and English but is in fact unknown over here. (Gin was even better: you could either pay over the odds for imported Gordon’s or get the local alternative, Focking Gin. Sadly, when my wife was shopping for miniatures she was unable to find any Focking Gin.)

So that’s the set-up: what about the punchline? I should say that I wasn’t expecting very much from the Offley: apart from anything else, the label clearly states that this is a miniature of Ruby Port, which isn’t normally known for losing its colour in two decades flat. First impressions were actually quite good: it looked a lot like white port and tasted pretty similar, with perhaps a bit of the ruby port blackcurrant flavour coming through. My mistake was to swallow: the aftertaste, and the aroma it seemed to release as it went down, were truly vile. I’d never fully appreciated the concept of a drink smelling “musty” before. This port didn’t just have musty overtones, it genuinely tasted like old books smell. Regretfully, I poured the rest of it down the sink.

But at least I can say that I Opened It – and, in at least one case out of three, I’m very glad I did. And next year, if they’re still there, one of the Marbles gets it.

Time travel in four easy lessons

This is my entry for Zak’s “beer and time” competition.

Lesson 1
We’ll start with the basics. As you probably know, this type of travel relies on “anchor points”: the vivid moments in past experience which call us back through time. Experiments have shown that beer is peculiarly effective in enabling us to access anchor points. As we’ll see later on, anchor points don’t have to be uniquely memorable peak experiences, although these are ones which beginners will generally use.

Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Now, use the beer. Take a generous mouthful, savour the aroma and let the flavour fill your mouth, then swallow and feel the finish. Now do it again, but this time as you swallow think to yourself: the first beer I ever tasted. Ready? Give it a go…

I’m fifteen years old. I’m fifteen, it’s a sunny day, we’re in south Wales and my Dad’s just bought me a half. My Dad’s bought me a sneaky half of Buckley’s and I’ve gone to heaven in a beer-garden. I’m leaning back in my plastic chair blessing him for buying it, blessing the brewery and blissfully anticipating the years when I’ll be able to drink this stuff whenever I like, because this is the best thing I have ever tasted

And rest. Use the beer.

Lesson 2
This isn’t so much a single lesson as a series of practical exercises. Remember the anchor points? Yes, that’s ‘points’, plural!

Use the beer. What is it – a wheat beer, a stout, a Trappist ale? Close your eyes and travel back to the first time – that cafe, that sunny day, the smell of yeast, the sound of foreign voices and the taste of cold beer under an inch of head; that first astonished swallow of Guinness Foreign (what is this stuff…?); that holiday when you worked your way through the Chimays… You’re there. And you’re here, but you’re then.

Use the beer. Relax.

Lesson 3
Now that you’re getting the hang of it, try finding your way back to a wider ange of times. Use the beer. Close your eyes and

bitter, the quiz is going well and I’ve just been bought a pint, no time to drink it though

mild, I’m 22 and there’s a ploughman’s with Stilton in front of me

black-and-tan, it’s nearly midnight but the music’s going strong

And you’re back. Relax. Use the beer.

Lesson 4
Use the beer.

Lesson 4 is for advanced travellers only. You have been warned!

Use the beer.

Don’t rush it; use the beer and relax. You’ll know it when you find it.

Lesson 4 is about the ultimate form of travel: travel within time. At a certain moment – you’ll know it when you reach it – the anchor points stop mattering. All that matters is this moment: this moment that’s perpetually coming into being and perpetually fading into nothing. With enough beer you can surf the wave of the present moment: you can feel the passage of time. All you need to do is relax and let yourself be in that moment.

And use the beer.

Kelly, Ryan

So, farewell then
Ryan Kelly.
Lots of people probably get your name
The wrong way round
And confuse you with Kelly Brooks
Or the one out of Misfits.
That must be annoying.

You brewed beer at Thornbridge
Some of which was OK
And some really nice
(I have to say that I personally couldn’t see what was supposed to be so great about White Swan, whereas I really liked Lord Marples, but that also seems to be a minority opinion among beerbloggers and for all I know you didn’t like it much either, in which case forget I spoke).
Now you are going to brew beer in a place with not many people
But lots of sheep
I hope you have thought this one through.

PS I have never met Ryan Kelly
And have not in fact been invited
To say farewell to him
But I like a good meme.