Men Explain Beer

And now for something completely different. I would like you to imagine a scenario.

A woman goes up to the bar and studies the beer selection. In the absence of any detailed information on the beers, she asks the bartender for advice.

“What kind of ale is this?” She asks.

“It’s a real ale,” he answers.

This is an answer, but probably not the answer she was looking for. A real ale could be a stout, a porter, a mild, a bitter, a golden, or any one of a number of other variations. Seeing that she is not going to get any more useful information, she decides to try a different method.

“Can I try it?” She asks.

Now the purpose of the bartender telling her only that the beer is a real ale is to let her know that it is not for people like her. This becomes apparent from his next answer.

“If you like lager, your probably wouldn’t like it. It’s an acquired taste.”

At this point the woman (who is this instance is Kamala, but could be any woman who enjoys beer) samples the beer, ascertains that it is a golden ale, orders a pint and drinks it. Because she does like lager, but she also likes golden ales, and stouts and porters and the many other beers which fall under the umbrella of ‘real ale’.

This is sadly, all too common an occurrence for women who drink beer.

A few weeks ago I was in a bar with some friends, and got chatting to a man at the bar.

“Oh you’re drinking stout?” I said, about to ask him how it was as I was considering ordering a pint myself.

“No, no.” He said. “This is a very special oatmeal beer.”

At this point I could have told him everything I know about oatmeal stout, and everything I know about mansplaining, but instead I foolishly told him I write a blog about beer, at which point I became officially desirable and had to spend the rest of the evening dodging his advances.

I have, of course, had positive experiences discussing beer with men, on both sides of the bar. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a conversation with a fellow beer enthusiast. But the kind of conversation I’ve detailed above needs to stop. Men do not need to explain beer to women.

 

The Great South London Brewery Crawl: Part Four (BrewDog Clapham Junction)

Apparently we can’t resist BrewDog. We included the Aberdeenshire brewery’s Camden bar in our very first brewery crawl in North London, and as Kamala and I stumbled towards Clapham Junction station at the end of The Great South London Brewery Crawl we happened upon the Clapham Junction branch of BrewDog. What could we do but taste some beers?

The Beers

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L-R: Kingpin, Dead Pony Club, 5AM Saint, Jet Black Heart

At BrewDog Camden, we had mistakenly tried a selection of non-BrewDog beers, so this time we sampled only house brews.

Kingpin Lager

Julie: It’s basically just a lager, and I feel like this blog is ruining my appreciation for ordinary lager. I have nothing bad to say about this, but also not much good. 6/10

Kamala: It’s crisp and avoids the sharp flat taste we’ve had a lot of today. I feel like I could drink 10 pints, though that’s not necessarily a good thing. 6/10

Dead Pony Club

J: It definitely has some bitter notes, but is also quite flavourful. I’ve tasted some better IPAs today so I have to mark it down. 6/10

K: Best beer of the day! Fruity but not a snakebite. Bitter but not sherbet. The Mecca of beer. 8/10

5AM Saint

J: This is less bitter than the Dead Pony Club, and has more flavour, although it’s still quite hoppy. 7/10

K: The name is giving me flashbacks to last night. I can’t think of anything else… 7/10

Jet Black Heart

J: It’s like drinking cold coffee. Very smooth, but I like my beer with a bit more fizz. 6/10

K: This is the coffee I missed out on this morning. It really is the espresso martini of the beer world. 6/10

The Ambience

J: It’s weirdly quiet for a Saturday night, I’ve knocked points off for the lack of tater tots (our favourite item on the Camden menu) and the weird men sharing our table, but added them on for the flights and the friendly staff. 7/10

K: I’m sitting and they have flights, which makes me happy. But there are men talking about sex next to us…do men even have sex? 6/10

For more information on BrewDog, and specifically their Clapham Junction branch, go to https://www.brewdog.com/bars/uk/clapham-junction

Next time on Beers and Bouts we remain in South London with the Bermondsey Mile. 

The Great South London Brewery Crawl Part 3: Bullfinch Brewery

Once we finally escaped from Canopy, along with its direwolves and Ribena-beers, it was only a short walk to Bullfinch Brewery, also located in Herne Hill. We reduced our beer consumption here to a rather civilised six. The highlight of this brewery was making Jane sample several different dark beers, for which she may never forgive us.

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First flights of the day!

The Beers

Luna Light Pale Ale

Julie (JF): Light, but with some body. Spoiled by a bit of an off taste at the end. 6/10

Jane (JM): I liked it, it’s light as the name suggests. It doesn’t have a huge amount of flavour but it’s very drinkable. 7/10

Kamala (KHB): I like that the name sounds like vagina light (that’s a roller derby reference for you all). It feels like it has some flavour without being boring. 7/10

West Coast IPA

JF: First real hops of the day and I’m not happy. After being able to taste other flavours in the rest of the IPAs we’ve had today, now I can just taste bitterness. 3/10

JM: It tastes like a Guinness in wolf’s clothing. I’m not a fan. 4/10

KHB: So hoppy it makes my nostrils clench. It’s giving me flashbacks to the West Coast breweries so I suppose it’s well-named. A bitter pill. 3/10

RYPA

JF: Also quite bitter, lacking in the smoothness which many rye beers have. 3/10

JM: This is rank. Who would drink this? Very few redeeming features. 3/10

KHB: The rye at Canopy was so much better. Bullfinch boy bye! (By this point, Kamala had reached the ‘witty reference’ part of the crawl.) 5/10

Notorious Black IPA

JF: Nice coffee notes, taste more like a porter than an IPA. It is a little bitter at the end though. 5/10

JM: It’s too much for me. I just don’t really like dark beers. 4/10

KHB: I think if it wasn’t black I could drink it. Does that make me racist? 6/10

Black Wolf Black IPA

JF: I was quite scared of this one, but it’s really smooth with a good coffee flavour. It’s rather heavy though, so I’m not sure how much I could drink. 7/10

JM: The first sip’s quite nice but I just can’t do dark beers. 4/10

KHB: Weirdly sweet. It feels like a dessert but it’s still better than the Berry Bramble! 5/10

South Eastern Bloc Stout

JF: This is drinkable but I just wouldn’t choose a stout. 4/10

JM: I’m breathing stout. 3/10

KHB: I feel like I’ve just ingested a happy meal. It’s nice, but intense and heavy. 6/10 (on the stout scale)021

Ambience

JF: They have more tables than anywhere else we’ve been today and they serve FLIGHTS! There’s no real music though, which is a let down. 7/10

JM: It’s a bit like the Starbucks of the beer world. Everyone is very clean-shaven. (Don’t ask me why customers with beards are necessary for the enjoyment of craft beer) 6/10

KHB: There’s a very intense couple having an argument behind me. I think I miss the direwolf. It does have flights though. 8/10

For more information on Bullfinch Brewery, go to http://www.thebullfinchbrewery.co.uk/

Next time on Beers and Bouts, the Great South London Brewery Crawl reaches its final stop, at Brewdog in Clapham. 

The Great South London Brewery Crawl Part 2.2 (Yes we’re still at Canopy)

As you may recall from my last post, we got a bit carried away at Canopy Beer Co and tried ten beers. Or, as Kamala and Jane said, nine beers and one snakebite/Ribena. We dissected the first six last week, now it’s time for the final four and the all-important ambience score.

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The Beers

777 Red Rye Ale

Julie (JF): [By this point we had tried a lot of sweet beers] This is sweet, but in a less offensive way than the Troy Town Saison, I think because it’s smooth. I wouldn’t mind a pint. 6/10

Jane (JM): I like how smooth it is but it’s just too perfumed for me. 5/10

Kamala (KHB): Super smooth. It feels like I could gulp it down (and apparently she did because her next comment was “oh my God it’s almost gone!”) 8/10

Full Moon Porter

[At this point Kamala and I realised we have developed a taste for porters and discussed this at length.]

JF: Maybe it’s just an absence of dark beers today, but I think this is really good. It has a nice smokey flavour but slips down easily. 8/10

JM: I’m not a huge porter fan but I like this one, maybe because it doesn’t taste too strong. 7/10

KHB: Porters are growing on me! I blame this blog, or maybe it’s just that I haven’t had a coffee today. 8/10

Pure Session IPA

JF: I don’t know what Canopy do with their hops but they seem to have mastered the art of making an IPA without a hugely bitter aftertaste. I’m a fan. 7/10

JM: It’s a bit too hoppy for me, which takes away from what I think could have been a good flavour. 6/10

KHB: Excellent beer, good mix of flavours and doesn’t taste like I’m chewing on a hop. 8/10

Berry Bramble

JF: Very sweet, with weird citrus notes which I think are meant to cut through the sweetness but just don’t really work. You can’t really taste how alcoholic this is either 9it’s 9%) so it’s dangerous. 2/10

JM: I didn’t know that Ribena had branched out into beer. This is for children, shame about the 9% alcohol content. I do quite like it though, in a Smirnoff Ice kind of way. 4/10

KHB: This is snakebite. Stop marketing it as beer. 1/10

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Kamala reacts to the Berry Bramble (feat. Direwolf)

Ambience

JF: As the cinema ratings would say, mild threat (of being drenched by the water collecting in the gazebo-style roof). Good music and a nice space generally, although more tables would be appreciated. 8/10

JM: The seating design leaves a bit to be desired. I enjoyed the pumping beats but not the imminent threat of drowning. 6/10

KHB: Good music, good bar staff, and I like that the beers are brewed here, but I’m being attacked by a direwolf tail. I’m not sure what to do. 9/10

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That shadow is the water which threatened to drench us at any moment

For more information on Canopy, go to http://www.canopybeer.com/

Next time on Beers and Bouts, the Great South London Brewery Crawl continues with Bullfinch Brewery. 

The Great South London Brewery Crawl: Part Two (Canopy Beer Co)

After Brixton Brewery, we thought our second stop on The Great South London Brewery Crawl would be the London Beer Lab. We were wrong. As it turned out, someone had not done their research properly (that someone may have been me) and it was only a bottle shop. As you can imagine, we were very impressed.

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The beer crawlers find a no drinking zone

Still, we wouldn’t let a non-existent taproom and a no drinking zone keep us down for long, and continued on to Canopy Beer Co in Herne Hill. Here, we fell into a black hole and tried so many beers that I have decided to split this post in half. In this post, I’ll talk about the first six.

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I know there are only two beers here. I can count, I promise.

The Beers

Champion Kolsch

Julie (JF): Fairly indistinct flavour and not much body. It’s light and drinkable but it could be a Kronenbourg. 5/10

Kamala (KHB): I was expecting it to be lighter but they brought out the heavyweights. It gets better with every sip. 7/10

Jane (JM): Not too hoppy and yet that’s all you can taste. If I ordered a pint I’d be disappointed! 5/10

Love Walks Small

JF: I was scared because of the facial expressions the other two were making but I quite liked it. A little sour on the first taste but at least it has some flavour. 6/10

KHB: No love, glad I ordered a small. Why do sour beers exist? 4/10

JM: It looks like the slops of other beers. 5/10

Brockwell IPA

JF: It almost tastes perfumed and isn’t insanely hoppy – really drinkable. 7/10

KHB: Sharp again like a razor. Do I like this? Has it been mixed with a sour? Do I have any tastebuds left? 5/10

JM: It has a nice fruity taste and isn’t too hoppy. 7/10

Milkwood Amber

JF: This has lots of flavour, but unfortunately none of it is flavour that I like. 3/10

KHB: It tastes like sherbet gone wrong. I literally would prefer to snort it. 4/10

JM: What is that horrible aftertaste? An unusually sweet beer. (I apparently don’t like sweet beer). 4/10

4Pure Pils

JF: More flavour than I would have expected from a pils, but again it’s quite sweet. 6/10

KHB: Just a bit flat – it tasted like the dregs. 6/10

JM: It’s a summer beer but has a bit of an aftertaste. 6/10

Troy Town Saison

JF: This doesn’t really taste like beer, it’s too sweet and herbal. Maybe we should stop ordering saisons. 4/10

KHB: Is this a beer? Is it? It’s not. Say no to saisons. 3/10

JM: It’s a no from me. Tastes like it’s gone off. 4/10

For more information on Canopy, go to http://www.canopybeer.com/

Next time on Beers and Bouts, the Great South London Brewery Crawl continues with Canopy’s final four beers. 

The Great South London Brewery Crawl: Part One (Brixton Brewery)

Our next brewery crawl was uncharted territory for me. We were venturing south. I made a lot of comments like “So this is what south of the river looks like” and “Where’s the nearest tube station?”. Despite this, we all had a lovely time.

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For this crawl, we brought along a guest taster. This is Jane. She is not drinking beer in the picture, but she is in a brewery so we’ll forgive her. She also came up with some hilarious comments so she’s welcome back on a brewery crawl at any time.

We started at Brixton Brewery (well actually we started in Wetherspoons, but we will never speak of this again). We didn’t stay long as the tiny brewery was rammed with people, forcing us to sit outside with our legs in the road, narrowly avoiding collisions with passing traffic. But we did manage to taste three beers and jot down some thoughts, even if many of them were about how the beers we were tasting compared to Kronenbourg. Wetherspoons has ruined us.

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The Beers

Atlantic Pale Ale

Julie (JF): Light, refreshing, good flavour of citrus and not too hoppy. It would be good for a pub session as it’s a bit more exciting than a Kronenbourg. 7/10

Kamala (KHB): Too fruity for my liking. I hate fruit beer – keep it out of my pint! 5/10

Jane (JM): It feels a bit like a lager that’s trying to be trendy. 7/10

Reliance IPA

JF: Not so many exciting flavour notes in this beer. It’s drinkable but a bit bland. 5/10

KHB: This is a drink for light beer drinkers…like me! 7/10

JM: I quite liked it but I don’t think it’s a beer I’d remember. 6/10

Effra Ale

JF: This has a nice body, but still slips down and is very refreshing. Another fairly boring beer though. 6/10

KHB: It’s like an amber mixed with a Kronenbourg, which speaks to my low level taste. 8/10

JM: I don’t really like dark beers. This is drinkable but I doidn’t really enjoy the taste. 5/10

004Ambience

JF: There’s not much space but I like the fact that it’s obviously a working brewery and the staff are very friendly. 6/10

KHB: We could get run over at any time, this is the ultimate in dangerous beer drinking!. 6/10

JM: I like the music but it does smell a bit like hamster. 7/10

For more information on Brixton Brewery go to  http://www.brixtonbrewery.com/beta/

Next time on Beers and Bouts, the Great South London Brewery Crawl continues with Canopy Beer Co. 

The Great East London Brewery Crawl: Part Four (Howling Hops)

We finished The Great East London Brewery Crawl at Howling Hops, conveniently located just a couple of doors down from Crate in Hackney Wick. It’s a shame that by this point we were rather sleepy after too many beers and too much delicious Crate pizza, as this seemed like a great place to spend an evening. As it was, we sampled a few beers, compared notes, and made a run for it.

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The Beers

Amber Dexter with Coriander

Julie: I can’t say I’m getting any coriander, but this is a nice smooth beer and very easy to drink. I could get through quite a lot of this! 9/10

Kamala: I want to drink this at our bouts. Ambers FTW! 7/10

Howling Pils

J: Very light and easy to drink, and I could keep going on it for some time. But I don’t have anything much to say about the flavour, it’s quite bland. 7/10

K: Slight like dishwater. I want to wash it down with another Pilsner. 5/10

Special IPA

J: Very hoppy but without being insanely bitter. Some citrus notes, and relatively light and drinakable. 6/10

K: Special in all the right ways. This is my favourite IPA of the night. Other breweries, you should leave IPAs alone. DIPA, WTF?? 8/10

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The Ambience

J: Still no flights, but I love the tanks. The music is good if a bit loud for beer nerds trying to compare notes, and there’s tonnes of space (unusual on this tour). 8/10

K: Best music all day and there are loads of attractive women dancing really near me. 7/10

For more information on Howling Hops, go to http://www.howlinghops.co.uk/.

Next time on Beers and Bouts, we begin The Great South London Brewery Crawl at Brixton Brewery.

Las Vegas Special: Banger Brewing

As mentioned in my last post, last week I was in Las Vegas at RollerCon with a large group of roller derby friends old and new. I also mentioned that I would be strapping wheels to my feet. In the process of strapping wheels to my feet and doing the roller derby thing I decided that a rational response to being hit would be to do a back flip (cool) and land on my ankle (less cool). I spent the remaining three days demanding that my friends push me around in a wheelchair (it was only a sprain, the wheelchair was perhaps unnecessary but I like to think that they enjoyed it).

But before Backflipgate, Kamala and I had time to check out a Las Vegas brewery, Banger Brewing on Fremont Street. We had just been on the Slotzilla Zoomline, a 114ft high zipline over the Fremont Street Experience and decided to reward ourselves with beer. Everyone needs beer after doing something incredibly fun, right?

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The Beers

El Heffe (Jalapeño Hefe)

Julie: I can smell the jalapeños and taste them too. This is a good beer, very light without overpowering spice despite the flavour. 8/10

Kamala: Incredibly sharp and hoppy for a hefe, almost painful to drink. It’s a bit like drinking washing-up liquid. 5/10

Perfect 10 (Pale Ale)

J: I’ve had a lot of IPAs now and this is definitely not my favourite. Although it’s fairly light, the toasty flavours that they mentioned are only really evident when you search for them. 5/10

K: Oh America, the land of extremes, ruined by syrup. Can I get it in diet? 6/10

One-off Series: Amber with Cocoa Nibs and Orange

J: Very strong orange flavour coming through right away, fresh and not too sweet but it tastes a bit artificial. 5/10

K: Oh god, all my worst fears colliding. Did they add squash to this? I’d prefer a stout. 4/10

DTB (Brown Ale)

J: It’s smooth with a strong roasted coffee flavour, but I’m not really getting the caramel or chocolate promised so it’s lacking the nice syrupy edge some of these beers have. 7/10

K: God, what has happened? This beer is my favourite. I blame East London. It’s refreshing (for Vegas) without too much of a sweet aftertaste. 7/10

Hefeweizen (most imaginatively named beer of the night)

J: This is nice but it does not taste like a hefeweizen, it’s basically a strong Pilsner. I could drink quite a few but it is not as advertised so I’m removing points (I should point out that my love affair with beer started in Austria, so I’m picky about my hefeweizens). 7/10

K: A classic of our time, nice and crisp to taste, super enjoyable, slightly flat hoppy aftertaste but otherwise great. 8/10

Morning Joe (Coffee Kolsch)

J: It’s definitely like drinking coffee, quite sweet and perfumed but they did promise hazelnut and caramel flavours and they add to the enjoyment. Very light too despite the sweetness. 8/10

At this point we had to rush off to meet our friends at a nearby casino, so none of us will ever know what Kamala thought of the Morning Joe, or what we either of us thought of the ambience at Banger Brewing. But personally I would recommend Fremont Street, the Slotzilla Zoomline and Banger to any future visitors to Las Vegas. Spraining your ankle comes less highly recommended, so I would suggest not trying to combine roller derby and gymnastics. 

We Brought Beer Tasting Night

This week I bring you something entirely different. Well, not that different, it’s still a list of beers which Kamala and I tasted with our opinions and ratings, but it’s different because it’s not part of a beer tour.

Kamala’s friends Kylie and Claire invited us to We Brought Beer, a craft beer shop in Balham for a tasting night. The shop had invited a brewer from our old favourite brewery Beavertown to show off some general Beavertown beers and some new specials. The results were mixed, as you can see from the below video.

We tried five beers in all, but the first was a Neck Oil, which we already reviewed during our Beavertown visit, and which I had drunk far too much of on my birthday outing on Saturday.

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The Beers

Peacher Man (Peach Cobbler Wit)

Julie: I quite like it, it’s sweet and wheaty but not overwhelmingly so. It doesn’t taste like a 6.2% beer though, so it’s dangerous for that reason. 7/10

Kamala: I’d prefer a peach. It’s still hideous so pleased it’s in small enough amounts to drink through and dodge. (I don’t know what Kamala scored this beer, but I’m guessing it was low).

Yuzilla Phantom (Sour Ale – yes, the one from the video)

J: It’s very sour, kind of like drinking lemon juice. I used to drink lemon juice as a kid so you’d think this would be great but the sample makes my stomach hurt. 4/10

K: I hate sours, God is punishing me! My taste buds no longer work, I think I just drank a gulp of sea water!! 3/10

Black Betty (Black IPA)

J: It’s quite syrupy and smoky, with strong coffee notes. It’s pretty light but it stings the back of my throat a little on the way down which is not what I’m looking for in a beer. 7/10

K: Coffee, I’m revived!! Is this refreshing I can’t tell? 8/10

Kamala then went off on a tangent about the potential hotness of the brewer, but neither of us have the requisite interest in men to confirm this. Instead, I bring you this gem from Claire, who described the Black Betty as tasting ‘like a weak espresso martini’. Claire may be a better beer critic than either of us.

Tempus Project (Barrel-aged IPA)

J: We had a bad experience with barrel-aged beer at One Mile End, but this didn’t taste of neat bourbon which was an immediate count in its favour. It was very light but with lots of flavour and although I was initially unsure of the aftertaste it definitely grew on me. 8/10

K: Fave of the night. Almighty gritty after taste..but best experimental beer I’ve had ever. 8/10

Next week I will be away in Las Vegas strapping wheels to my feet and throwing myself into pools (not at the same time though). We will return with your regularly programmed brewery crawl updates the week after. 

The Great East London Brewery Crawl: Part Three (Crate)

After a shaky start, The Great East London Brewery Crawl improved as we ventured further into Hackney. My hangover was by now a distant memory, and we were making better beer choices. Crate, in Hackney Wick, was one of our favourite stops, despite the fact that it was now bucketing down with rain. We’ll have to return when the weather is better, although judging by the current state of the English summer that may be sometime never.

(Also, an apology. In Crate I got distracted by the giant pizza which I ordered and again forgot to note most of Kamala’s scores. I am now so paranoid about repeating this that on our last bar crawl I asked her to tell me each score at least six times.)

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The Beers

Saltaire Kardinal

Julie: Flat and also pretty hoppy, which is not a great first impression. I don’t think I’d drink too much of this. 4/10

Kamala: We’ve only ordered flat beers, and I think this one is really easy drinking.

Crate Golden 

J: Fairly sweet, and goes down well. It’s a little bland but is very easy to drink. 7/10

K: Light and almost fruity – like drinking a banana. It’s good and not boring.

Crate Rye

J: Rye is another first for us, this is unusual but not in a bad way. It has a strong flavour without being overpowering and I could keep drinking it for a while. 8/10

K: It has the flavour of a porter with much more smoothness. 7/10

The Ambience

J: I’m not a big fan of the music, but I am a big fan of the pizza so that makes up for it. I like the outdoor area with its big tables, ideal for sharing with a big group. 7/10

K: Why is it raining?! Still, there’s a good vibe here, and zero children.

For more information on Crate, go to http://cratebrewery.com/.

Next time on Beers and Bouts, the Great East London Brewery Crawl makes its final stop at Howling Hops, Hackney Wick.