‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly

26 11 2009

HoHoHo Folks, I’ve just received this press release for what looks like a jolly good evening’s entertainment.  I’m not what you would call the most religious of people but I do enjoy a bit of a Christmas sing song (wonder if they know any Trans Siberian Orchestra?) and I have been known to have the occasional pint or two so this should be a perfect combo really.  On the plus side I should know most of the words (well the odd verse and chorus here and there) but on the down side it’s my department’s Christmas do the night before so I’m not sure what state I’ll be in.  As yet there is no word on what beers will be on offer but Big Lamp produce some really good ones including Summerhill Stout and the wonderful, if dangerous, Blackout.


Beer, Carols & seasonal music at All Saint’s Church Hall, West Avenue, Gosforth, Newcastle, NE3 4ES

Saturday, 5th December 2009

Carols + Beer = Christmas Cheer!

All Saint’s Church, Gosforth is inviting everyone to get into the Christmas spirit with a fun night of drinking beer and singing carols in their church hall on Saturday, 5th December.

The team promise a great evening with music provided by a live band and special guest speakers introducing the carols and songs.

To lubricate your throats and voices, a selection of real ales will be supplied by locally-based Big Lamp Brewery, with the emphasis being on traditional beers for the winter season.  Other drinks will be available for the non-beer drinkers out there.  The team are hard at work planning, choosing suitable beers and rousing music for this special pre-Christmas event.  Be sure to join us and get into the Christmas spirit early.

The inspiration for the event came after the hugely successful Beer and Hymns event in April when over 80 people came and raised the roof with their singing.

All Saints’ Youth Worker and Ales in Advent protagonist, Chantal Noppen, says: “There are many instances in the Bible where Jesus and his disciples combine theology with alcohol, so we are following in hallowed footsteps. This a great chance for people to get into the true Christmas spirit, while letting their hair down.”

Doors will open at 7pm, with singing starting at 7.30 – be sure to come early – and join with the happy throng raising glasses and voices in hearty song.

Tickets are £5 and include your first drink. The team are anticipating they will sell out, so to make sure of yours, book now by contacting beerandhymnsgosforth(at)googlemail(dot)com

I removed the phone numbers from the press release for security but contact me directly if you want them.



Local Beer Fest News – The Cumberland Gets A New Cellar

25 11 2009

Well I’ve been a bit lax in posting this week due to feeling under the weather…and no, it’s not man flu.  A bad back has been hampering me and a dodgy stomach has meant I’ve been off the beer too, so a miserable week all round really.  Still, things are improving and I hope to be able to sleep tonight with waking up in pain every time I try and turn over.  Which, handily, would be just in time for me to enjoy the following beers at the Cumberland Arms in Byker:

Allendale – Beacon Fire 4.6% (Chilli beer)

Big Lamp – Northern Star 4.8%

Bradfield – Farmers Blond 4.0%

Bull Lane – T.A.G 4.2%

Consett – White Hot 4.0%

Cumberland Breweries – Corby Ale 3.8%

Dark Star – Old Chestnut 4.0%

Dark Star – Winter Meltdown 5.0% (with ginger)

Durham – Evensong 5.0%

Durham – White Gold 3.9%

Geltsdale – Brampton Bitter 4.0%

Hadrian Border – Ouseburn Porter 5.2%

High House Farm – Matfen Magic 4.8%

Jarrow – Brown Ale

Jarrow – Swinging Gibbet

Mordue – 5 Bridge Bitter 3.9%

Mordue – Workie Ticket 4.5%

Old Bear – Sun Bear 4.2%

Summer Wine – Teleporter 5.0%

Wentworth – Bier Des Deutschen Ursprung 5.4%

Wold Top – Bitter 3.7%

Wylam – Northern Kite 4.5%

The beers are being put on from tomorrow as a bit of a celebration in honour of the new cellar at the Cumberland and the usual great selection of ciders and perry’s will also be available.  I imagine the beers will be available through to the weekend so even if I don’t feel up to it tomorrow I guess I’ve got a few more days to get myself down there.


Local Beer Fest News – Top Arms, Top Beer

19 11 2009

Today sees the start of the Newcastle Arms Winter Beer Festival which is just as well because they were down to a mere 3 hand pumps, in preparation, when HH and I popped in yesterday.  The Beer list (courtesy of Eric) looks very promising.

ACORN – Cashmere 4.7, Lebelski 4.7
ADUR – Rope Tackle 4.3
ART – Hip Hop 4.3
ASCOT – Winters Ale 5.2
BIG LAMP – Newcastle Arms Winter Pale 5.0
BLUE MONKEY – Amarillo 3.9, BG Sips 4.0, 99 Red Baboons 4.2
BOGGART – Big Ginger 7.5
BOTTLEBROOK  – Pot Luck 5.0, Sand in the Wind 6.0
BREWDOG – Belgian Trashy 4.1
DARK STAR – Choc Stout 4.5
DURHAM – Bede’s Chalice 9.0
EAST COAST – Hoppers number 2, 4.1, Scarecrow 4.1
FALSTAFF – Carina 4.3, Cetus 5.7
FULL MASH – Castle Gold 4.0,Monty’s Whistle 3.8, Mortimer’s Ale 3.8
FULSTOW – Beata Gold 4.3 Rossi’s number 9, 4.6
FUNFAIR – Hotdog 4.5
GREENFIELD – Gardeners Gold 4.0
HADRIAN & BORDER – Tyneside Brown 4.7 (new badge)
HAVANT – Dropped 3.9, Stopped Dancing 4.4
HEADLESS – 1st Bloom 4.3, 5 Gates 5.0
HOLLAND – Blonde Belter 4.5, Lipsmacker 4.0
HOOK NORTON – Old Hooky 4.6
HOPBACK – Entire Stout 4.5
ILKLEY – Grandma’s Pud 4.3, Ruby Cascade 3.8
KELHAM ISLAND – Easy Rider 4.3
KELTEK – Trystan’s Triumph 4.5
LYMESTONE – Stone Cold 4.7
MALLINSON’S – Motueka 3.8, Nile 4.5
MARSTON MOOR – Churchill’s Armour 3.9
MONTY’S – Maple 3.8
MUIRHOUSE – Stout Fellow 3.8
RUDGATE – Ashingdon Hill Porter 4.0, Dutch Courage 4.2, Good, Better & Best 3.8
SAMBROOK’S – Junction 4.5
SALTAIRE Copper 4.1
SPRINGHEAD – Snatch & Lift 4.2
THORNBRIDGE – Kipling 5.2
WINDIE GOAT – Bolt Hole 4.6

HH and I (along with the potential of a Cider Tart or two) will be in residence from about 19:00 so get yourself along if you can.


Multi-flavoured Swap Shop

15 11 2009

beer_swapLOGOGiven that my #Beerswap selection has finally reached its Collect+ arrival point I thought I would do a post about my experiences so far of the whole thing.   Well, for starters, I can’t say it was any easy selection process by any means.  The biggest problem was trying to get the balance of my selection sorted.  As I’ve stated previously I’m predominantly a dark ale man so my first thoughts were to go rushing off and by bottles of my favourite local darks but then I got to thinking, ‘what if my recipient is a hoppy, light beer lover?’

My dilemma was helped somewhat when I found out that my recipient was also supplying me with their selection.  So, the plan went, I would just wait for their selection to arrive, check it out and try and surmise what sort of beer they favoured.  Naturally, in the end, they had been very sensible and posted me a good cross selection of beer styles which, of course, is what I should have been looking to do all along.

Next problem, how the hell do you limit yourself to four beers? To solve this I took the scattergun approach and bought far more than I needed and drank my way down to four.  Not the most scientific of methods, I agree, but damned good fun.  Some of those that failed to make the final cut, for no reason other than I drank them, included Alnwick IPA, Durham Archangel and Wylam Rocket.  So what did make the final four?

Jarrow – Westoe IPA 3.8%

Allendale – Wolf 5.5%

Hadrian & Border – Ouseburn Porter 5.2%

Durham – Temptation 10%

All great beers, I think, but I’ll let @WindsorBeerFest be the final judge of that.

The chosen delivery method, via Collect+, has been a pain free experience although I am aware that other people have had problems with the service.  All I can say is that it has been great fun rediscovering some beers that, because they are local, I have tended to take for granted, which in my eyes has been the major plus point of #beerswap.  Well that and getting to try some beers I’ve never even heard of never mind tasted and I’ll post a review when I can finally find some time in my diary to sit down and enjoy them properly.


Local Beer Fest – Winter’s Here

12 11 2009

Tonight sees the start of the Gosforth Winter Beer Festival 09, held at Gosforth Civic Hall.  The event is to be opened by Alastair Gilmour, an award winning beer writer and journalist, at 18:30.  The selection looks to be an interesting mix of beers, both local and from further afield, although I was surprised to see only two beers at 5% ABV or over.  The local Cider Tarts are also catered for.

Opening times are as follows:

Thursday 12th November 4.30pm – 11pm

Friday 13th November 12 noon – 11pm

Saturday 14th November 12 noon – 12pm

I will be there from about 19:00 tonight and plan to go again on Saturday but as I’m playing cards with the boys on Friday evening I may not be in a fit state to make it.


Bacchus For Good

11 11 2009

Firstly let me apologise for the delay in getting this post done but I’m afraid work has been making too many demands of me this week.  Still, it pays the bills and allows me to head out on jaunts like this along with the Good Lady Wife (GLW) and, so far unseen, co-writer (HH).  Of course I could just point you in the direction of Liz’s excellent post but as I’d made some notes, well…

With military precision plans were made to drop of my #beerswap parcel at a local newsagent’s, get into town early and pick up a couple of pre-ordered Christmas pressies and meet up with HH in Waterstones.  Of course, the military themselves scuttled these plans by marching the army (OK just some of it) in parade between ourselves and HH, effectively cordoning off Waterstones in the process.  Still beer was the order of the day so despite their best efforts rendezvous was made and we strolled along to the Bacchus.

Arriving a polite 15 minutes early we discovered the doors closed so edged up the lane 10 yards or so to stand on the street corner and not look like three desperate types gasping for the pub to open.  Within a few minutes a couple of other groups furtively edged towards the doors and catching the hint of a Yorkshire accent on the wind I realised that Pete from The Brew Company had arrived so over we popped to introduce ourselves as fellow twitter correspondents.

I have to admit to having a coffee as my first drink of the day.  Given all the beers we were due to be drinking and the fact that the GLW would only be having a few mouthfuls of each before decanting into my glass (and HH’s) I figured this to be prudent.  HH of course went ahead and had a half of the Abyss “to warm up”.  Seating was secured on the raised rear level where a collection of familiar faces were congregating and now all we had to do was wait for the menus to arrive.  It was at this point I suddenly thought about the food for the first time since the event was mooted, which I guess goes to show where my priorities lay.

Starting proceedings Pete stood up and gave us all a low down on the Brewery and what we should expect from the days event.  I prepared all my essential gear, phone for tweeting the courses as they happened, camera to take the pictures you see here and a notebook and pen for the taking of tasting notes before bracing myself for what was about to come.  And then came the beer and food…

Course 1: Abyss Best Bitter 4.2% – Duck Liver Parfait with Brioche Toast


Looking like a traditional, mid brown Best Bitter the Abyss gave off lovely toasted caramel aromas in the glass.  The sweetness of the caramel was present upon tasting too with a lovely balanced bitterness finishing things off.  This proved to be a great match for the course, the sweetness matching that of the onion marmalade and the bitterness cutting through the richness of the parfait.  What a start!

Course2: Slaker Pale Ale 3.8% – Radiccho with Thai Crab Salad


What a revelation this was.  I would normally avoid something this colour like the plague but what a wonderful beer this is.  With surprisingly more body than I was expecting this was an easy drinking, smooth, fruity beer with just a slight hint of bitterness at the back of the throat.  The bitterness became a bit more prominent when drank with the food but was never overpowering.  I could quite happily drink pint after pint of this stuff on a warm summer’s day/evening and even the odd one during colder months as a pleasant change of pace.

Course 3: Hop Manefesto 4.8% – Mexicana Cheese Tart


Blimey, you want hops? Well here you have them and more so.  My first taste of this was like sucking on a juicy grapefruit and all a bit overpowering for me.  However when tasted in conjunction with the tart things settled down somewhat and it did become drinkable.  Hats off to the tart here which, with its rich, cheesy pastry and dense, flavoursome filling, saved this course.  This is not something I would choose to drink again, reminding me too much of the OTT BrewDog beers that I just don’t get either.

Course 4: St Petrus Stout 5% – Fresh Oysters, Lemon Juice & Coriander


You can’t get much more classic than this, now can you?  Smooth, full bodied milk chocolate giving way to a hint of liquorice bitterness towards the end, absolutely bloody glorious.  This worked really well with the salt and lemon juice on the oysters which didn’t clash at all.  This is close to my perfect beer so naturally the GLW decided she liked it too meaning I got very little decant this time around, although I did gain several oysters from both her and HH as compensation.

Course 5: Hop Ripper 4.3% – Thai Fried Noodles


Hmmm, Hop Manifesto Lite anyone?  I have to admit I really didn’t like this beer, although the consensus from surrounding tables was very positive.  It didn’t have the shock factor that saw my glass of Hop Manifesto emptied and I only drank about 1/3 of a pint, the noodles were particularly nice though.  Sorry Peter.

Course 6: Tantalus Belgian Dubbel 6.5% – Sticky Pork Spare Ribs


Ah, back on the rails again, this is more like it.  A dark and rich Belgian style Dubbel beer, my notes at this point read “Black treacle and malt extract…yum…yum…yum” which I think says it all.  Some of my favourite childhood tastes blended in a wonderful adult pleasure.  The pork ribs were a lovely match too but a bit fiddly when impatiently waiting to get back to the booze.

Around about now a combination of the poor phone reception, me not understanding how to use my phone properly and the effects of the beer resulted in me tweeting pics of this particular course 4 times, but it was worth it.

Course 7:  Autumnus Porter 4.7% – Dark Chocolate and Courgette Brownies


The first of two pudding courses and the end of my tasting notes so these are from memory alone.  Another great beer and food match what with the crispy/gooey contradiction of the brownies highlighting the surprisingly delicate spices of the Autumnus.  This was much more of a subtle flavoured beer than I was expecting but a particularly nice one at that.

Course 8:  Raisin to Live ~ Black Chocolate Raisin Imperial Stout 7% – Strawberry Crème Brulee


A special one off brew by Pete for the Sheffield beer festival and this was one of two remaining barrels he tells us.  There is no way you would have guessed that this was a 7% beer, it was so easy drinking with no cloyingness at all.  There was chocolate aplenty and the raisins added a wonderful fruity sweetness that made me wish that I hadn’t drank so much already.

So there you have it…quite a spread eh? In truth too much of one really and, perhaps, six courses would have been more manageable but, hey, I’m not complaining.  Pete worked like a Trojan, visiting all the tables with every course to give us a bit of background on each of the beers and that added so much to the afternoon’s events.


Andy, Paul and Pete

Thanks must go to Andy for hosting things, Paul for cooking things and once again Pete for adding depth to the whole proceedings.  So when’s the next one?


Packing For The Off

9 11 2009

Here they are, my final selection of beers for the Twitter phenomenon that is #beerswap.  I’m keeping their identity largely secret for the moment in order not to spoil the excitement for my recipient.  I’ll post a quick write up on the beers once I know they’ve arrived, or been irretrievably lost.

#beerswap bottles

My eagle eyed recipient may also recognise the packing used…recycle for the win.

bottle wrapped

Of course, my bottles would have to be a little broader in girth than 2 of those I received so things were a bit of a snug fit but we got there.

Boxed up

Handed in to the Newsagent on Sunday morning and wending their way south very soon.