Sunday, 25 September 2016

Rochefort 10

Delving into its boozy, figgy depths at the John Bull

There are times in one's journey of beer when a throwback to the old is revisited. A chance to re-live the experience that once changed one's very perspective of beer. It so happens that Alnwick's The John Bull has recently restocked its Belgian beers and after a long time Abbey St Remy Rochefort 10 is now back in stock (after a long time).

Rochefort 10 for me was a world-changing beer of its time. Like the Judas Priests Painkiller Album, a classic masterpiece of metal that still sounds awesome today. The Metallica/Slayer era came along, so did Nirvana and the dark days of 'Nu-metal'. German power metal cheese and new wave American metalcore came in and out of trends but Judas Priest, like Rochefort 10 still evokes great memories. Amongst the various passing beer trends it never really got lost in the crowd and always remained one of the bench mark Belgian strong ales. Rochefort 10!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

North East Brewers Market

Matt and Josh man the Mordue/Panda Frog bar

The North East craft brewers market was was a craft beer showcase held at the Palace of arts in Exhibition Park near Newcastle University. The basic back story is Wylam Brewery have moved site. Their new 'brew' palace is equipped with a big fancy brew kit (which I forgot to photograph) bar area, some kind of barrel aging program and nice interior design.

Wylam keg fonts

The event featured seven breweries of the region on the Friday night session; Wylam, Tyne Bank, Errant, Trufitt, Mordue, Credance and Out There, alongside guests Cloudwater brewery from Manchester. Some quality scran was also on offer.



I got a tour of the new brew kit yet the event was mostly about good beer, good people, good food and camaraderie. Sorachi Dollar from Tyne Bank was an early choice for me, a variant from the much respected Silver Dollar. Pine mouthfeel and not overly lemony compared to some sorachi ace hopped beers. Overall impression was quality premium strength pale ale.

Moving on Trufitt from down Middlesbrough way had a very smooth almost creamy Vanilla Porter. I also got to meet the folks at Errant Brewery, relative newcomers to Newcastle's collection of breweries. The Waimea-cascade hopped Blonde ale  Clever Girl brought pleasant mild orange and pine. Credence brewing also had a nice Red ale, a development of their very straight forward core range.



There were familiar sights like Wylam Jakehead and Hexan as well as the Panda Frog/Mordue bar serving our new Sterling-Hersbrucker hopped Pilsner alongside Northumbrian Blonde IPA and Panda Frog Allelic Drift. I also tried a rather nice Cloudwater Centennial IPL. Overall a rather splendid evening.





Saturday, 25 June 2016

The annual Longframlington Beer fest post



It's becoming an annual post is the Longfram beer fest post. One of the highlights the month of June has to offer. From humble beginnings I have always admired head man Andrew Findlay and the Coquetdale Round Table's efforts on it. A bouncy castle and face painting for the kids meets respectable scran and that's without mentioning the beer.



On the whole the beer range is well selected and balanced despite not being expansive. This is a pleasant change from some other beer fests that seem to overplay the same cards thinking the more session blond/bitters gives the broader the appeal. In other words it's easily possible to have twice the number of beers but half the amount of diversity and choice at the same time.

This year the first one on the hit list for me was North Utsire by Cullercoats brewery. A dark Rye influenced 4.1% bitter. Lots of bready doughy caramelised malt meets peppery Rye finish. Quite straightforward and loads of character for the abv. The two Mordue entries were also on form, Poznian Pils and Breakfast pale. Bad Seed Jester Pale was then fresh with floral summer fruit yet with an odd savory tobacco note. Out of the ordinary was Mosaic Saison by Two By Two brewery. Blueberry and fruity bubblegum with a definite Belgian yeast presence and residual sweetness. Worth a try yet a little unusual.

Brass Castle Session IPA was the final note of the evening. More fruity Mosaic Hop-esque influenced with a decent mouthfeel for 3.5%. Overall we had a splendid day, the bairn had her face painted and now thinks all beer festivals provide this.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

There is beer in the house


One of the most comforting thoughts of them all, the knowledge that beer is in the house. Although the majority of the time, some beer is in the house. Normally it's from a tank or cask at work or found locally, the expanding range of the local Aldi (aka Wonderland, where every man's a rich man) for example.

On this occasion we have none of the sort. Stone Pataskala Red X IPA is a relatively new release from San Diego based Stone brewery yet to be released on the UK market (my aunty Wendy from California is to thank for this). It's a big red 7.3% Red IPA brewed with Mosaic, Cascade and Amarillo hops and the German malt variety BESTMALZ. A unique take on the Red IPA as it says on the bottle and seems reminiscent of so many other Stone beers. The flavours are smoothed out yet big and burly with a perfumed pine aroma from aggressive dry hopping that doesn't compromise approachability (as with many Stone beers). Sweet red fruit, grapefruit like citric notes mix with boozy toffee and thick malt. A big mouth feel contrasted by hop pine. All in all certainly worth a try if you can get hold of it.  

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Code Red 40. The 40th Newcastle Beer Festival


'Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another'
Albert Einstein

Did it again. Mordue Code Red 40 takes the prize

Newcastle Beer Festival trade session day is always a highlight of the year. In a sense like Christmas day but without the presents. A time to catch up with everybody that's anybody from the local beer scene and try various beers from the always impressive beer range. This year it was 40th ever festival and their was a special announcement from Hugh Price on the history of the festival. The venue may have changed, the faces have changed but the spirit remains the same was the jist of it. Many North East brewers and beers were in attendance. From old timers like Hexhamshire and Big Lamp to Northern Alchemy at the cutting edge of new world craft. After Hugh's talk was the announcement of the Battle of the Beers winners and that unforgettable almost agonising 10-15 second period between announcing runner-up and winner.

Code Red 40 is a name modified originally from the Napalm Death Album/song 'The Code is Red, long live the code' was our Battle of the Beers entry and winner. It is brewed with four hop varieties in fitting with this years rules of the competition  (4 hop varieties, between 3-6% abv and named after the number 40 or year 1976). Chinook, Apollo, Citra and Mosaic were the hops used and the malt profile was made rich and heavy with a deep red colour from the use of six different malts and oats compacted to a modest 4.6%.

Yet the story behind the beer goes back much further than just the last 3 or so weeks its been in production. Code Red 40 is the end point of a 12 month conquest for redemption which manifested into the campagne code named 'Operation Crimson Pheonix Thunder'.


In November 2014 a huge (speculative) brew plan was drawn up covering spring 2015. It intention was to guide the ideal conditions for SIBA and battle of the beers victories (concerning new yeast propagation etc). Taking the triple on Mordue's 20th year, the ultimate prize 'Get me in there, get me in that zone' it whispers in my head. Sadly the paternity leave says no. I never really gave the deserved accolade to Matt for running the bulk of 'Operation Gold Serpent Seige' with integrity, precision and discipline, yet like anything, playing well doesn't guarantee anything.

Another time another place a new competition with new rules. The last 3 weeks I revelled 'being back in the zone'. 2016 and brewing forces from the region were amassing in greater numbers than before for the opportunity for recognition in the fifth installment of 'Battle of the Beers' saga. It was time to be bold, this time I wouldn't be taking no prisoners.

Code Red 40 I have often compared to the the antagonist dinosaur from the film Jurassic World the Indominus Rex. It's build upon the DNA of various other beers in the Mordue park. Part Killswitch part Apollo 40 part Maximo No 5, a hint of Pandademic and others, but with (as they say in the film) 'more teeth'. Fortified juicy malt under forest fruit and citrus hop assault this beer was built to ruthlessly decimate the opposition laying waste to entrant after entrant. From the carnage only Big Lamp and Credence brewing were able to hold ground but would eventually fall (into joint second place respectably). I knew a beer with pedigree would at least score well but was apprehensive about our entrant drinking more like a plus 5% beer and thus compromising its drinkability factor.

The defiant roar of Code Red 40

So all ends well at this year's Newcastle beer festival. I got to catch up with various folk and try quite a few beers. Next year I obviously wont be returning to Battle of the Beers with a vengeance, so might just tone things down a bit. A malty hoppy ale, with a malty hoppy finish, classic tasting notes.

Check ma bad invincible award winning self!!!