Ilkley Speyside Siberia first impressions

Ilkley Siberia & Speyside Siberia side-by-side
When I was at the European Beer Bloggers Conference a couple of weeks ago I got to try a pre-release bottle of Ilkley Brewery's new Speyside Siberia, take a listen to what I thought of it:
Thank you to Luke Raven (@IlkleyBrewery) from Ilkley Brewery for letting me try it!

Buy Ilkley Speyside Siberia from BeerRitz

George Wright Pacifica

Not bottle conditioned
George Wright Pacifica [baron rating 4/5] - 5.1% gold ale,fleshy tropical fruit smell,zingy pithy citrus taste,dry chalky pineapple finish
Listen to what Chris and the Baron have to say about it

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Thank you to Shaun (@GWrightsbrewing) from George Wright Brewery for handing this over for a baron rating!

Buy George Wright ales direct and from Source Deli

Bridestones Winter Warmer

Not bottle conditioned
Bridestones Winter Warmer [baron rating 5/5] - 6% black ale,dry nutmeg ground spice smell,balanced treacle cloves taste,ground spice finish
Listen to what Chris and the Baron have to say about it

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Thank you to Dan (@BridestonesBeer) from Bridestones Brewing for sending this through for a baron rating!

Buy Bridestones ales direct

Looking forward to baron rating Faversham Steam Brewery's Whitstable Bay Collection ales

Shepherd Neame have decided to revive it's Faversham Steam Brewery identity (originally adopted by Sheps in the late 18th century) to host a new range of Whitstable Bay beers. The range consists of three beers, the existing Whitstable Bay Organic Ale [baron rating 3/5] as well as a new pale ale and a lager:

Nicely branded but wary of the clear glass
Faversham Steam Brewery (Shepherd Neame Brewery)
  • Whitstable Bay Blonde Lager - 4.5% lager with a floral aroma, paired with buttery biscuit base notes (brewed with Lager & Crystal malt and Challenger, Centennial & Saaz hops)
  • Whitstable Bay Pale Ale - 4% pale ale offering a lighter, more refreshing taste. The sweet maltiness balanced perfectly with the fresh pine notes provided by the hops added late in the process, to offer a light-coloured thirst-quenching ale (brewed with [pale] Ale & Crystal malt and Tettnang & Styrian Goldings hops)
Look out for baron ratings for these Shepherd Neame Faversham Steam Brewery beers soon, and a big thank you to John Humphreys (@ShepherdNeame) for sending them through for a baron rating!

Buy Shepherd Neame (& Faversham Steam) ales direct

Looking forward to baron rating these EBBC13 ales

A couple of weeks ago I attended the European beer bloggers conference this year hosted in Edinburgh. I had a fantastic weekend of all things beer plus made loads of new friends and caught up with old ones - I had an absolute hoot!

One aspect that I love is the bottle swap/grab/giveaway that occurs, here are the beers that I'm looking forward to baron rating with Chris over the next few tasting sessions:

  • Badger The Roaming Roy Dog - 7.5% 2013 limited edition ale, a dark porter with a complex malt character derived from a combination of aromatic, crystal & chocolate malt. Bramling Cross and Galaxy hops add a subtle blackcurrant and mango aroma - cheers Anna from Badger
  • Fyne Sanda Black - 5.5% black IPA, a forward thinking, distintive black IPA packed with New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops. Bold flavours with aromas of passion fruit and gooseberry burst onto your taste buds before being balanced by roasted chocolate smoothness
  • Fyne Zombier - 6.9% deep black porter with a caramel tan head. Big aromas and flavours of treacle, toffee and liquorice with hints of chocolate and coffee. A lingering roasted malt bitterness returns from the dead with bite - thank you Fyne Ales for handing these over

  • Harviestoun 30th Anniversary Ola Dubh - 11.3% We make Ola Dubh 30 by taking our Old Engine Oil (amped up to 10.5%) and aging it for up to 6 months in casks that previously held Highland Park’s phenomenal 30 Year Old single malt whisky - thank you Harviestoun
  • Tempest Old Parochial - 10% barrel aged imperial scotch ale - massive thank you to @stravale for this)
  • BrewDog Hello My Name Is Mette Marit Censored - 8.2% lingonberry double IPA - thanks to the BrewDog brewer for this very special pre-release bottle of this beer

  • Weird Beard Mariana Trench - 5.3% transpacific pale ale, Pacific Northwest meets Pacific Southwest as the best of American and NZ hops meld together with just enough malt backbone to allow them to sing. A riot of mango and passion fruit on the nose but balanced enough to drink by the bucketful. Dive in and grab another bottle but don't get the bends
  • Weird Beard/Elusive Brewing Nelson Saison - 6.9% The second in their single hop series, showcasing the Nelson Sauvin hop so expect elderflower and gooseberries blended with Saison yeast character - thanks to @tabamatu for handing over his colab beer (as well as the other Weird Beard one)
  • Williams Bros Impale IPA - 5.5% impishly hoppy golden ale - "a fantastic beer created by one of Heriot Watt University's students - Ed Young" - thanks to Chris from Williams Brothers for handing over this ale
Look out for a 'baron rating' for all these beers soon!

Adnams Native Britten

Not bottle conditioned
Adnams Native Britten [baron rating 3/5] - 4.5% amber ale,floral wheat smell,balanced wheat floral taste,elderflower slight vanilla finish
Listen to what Chris and the Baron have to say about it

Subscribe in iTunes
Thank you to Sarah (@Adnams) from Adnams Brewery for sending this through for a baron rating!

Buy Adnams ales direct

Looking forward to baron rating Sharp's Connisseurs ales

Twitter is a wonderful place for like-minded folk to hang out and talk. A couple of weeks ago Sophie Atherton (first female beer sommelier & freelance journalist) pinged me asking if I'd tried Sharp's Spiced Red ale. I said that I hadn't (you don't really see Sharp's beers up north) and she suggested that maybe Sharp's should send me one to try. Sharp's Brewery promptly got in touch that afternoon and before 9am the next day a box of beer arrived!

Sharp's Brewery

2011 Series
  • No. 1 Quadrupel Ale - 10% dark ruby ale, aroma of perfumed alcoholic fruit. A full bittersweet fruitiness leads to a warming alcoholic finish
  • No. 2 Single Brew [baron rating 4/5] - 4.5% mid-golden ale,fresh herbal lemon aroma,light barley sugars give way to perfumed bitterness. The finish is dry, clean and exquisitely appetising.
  • No. 3 Honey Spice Tripel - 10% ale with an aroma of juicy citrus fruit and candyfloss,the flavour is a journey from rich fruity bitterness through to an appetisingly dry finish
Note: I got to try the 2011 series at last year's Beer Bloggers Conference and even managed to bring a bottle of each home. The Single Brew I rated (see above link), the Honey Spice popped it's top and the Quad is still in my 'strong beers that need rating' box!) Really pleased to be able to sample them again, will make sure it's not a year before I post the reviews this time...

2012 Series
  • No. 4 Single Brew - 4.5% with attention-grabbing aroma of fresh Citra hops. The promise of a clean and fruity beer in the mouth, leading to a crisp moreish finish
  • No. 5 Spiced Red - 9% deep-red spiced ale brewed with coriander and a really fruity yeast from Ireland. Dry hopped with Hallertauer Perle hops and spiced with coriander just before bottling.
  • No. 6 Dubbel Coffee Stout - 7% strong dark ale brewed with coffee beans and the world's fruitiest yeast to create the perfect marriage of an imperial stout and a Belgian dubbel
Look out for a 'baron rating' for these Sharp's Brewery beers soon, and a big thank you to @SharpsBrewery for sending them through to me!

Buy Sharp's ales from direct

Ship In The Bottle Honey Brown Ale

Bottle conditioned with perfect carbonation
Ship In A Bottle Honey Brown Ale [baron rating 2/5] - 4.5% dark amber ale,floral honey smell,honey brown bread taste,long mild sour finish
Note: This beer is brewed for Ship In A Bottle by Liverpool Organic Brewery
Listen to what Chris and the Baron have to say about it

Subscribe in iTunes
Thank you to @ShipinabottleWK from Ship In A Bottle for sending this through for a baron rating!

Buy Ship In A Bottle ales direct

Looking forward to baron rating Salopian Boomerang

this box had a rough life
A battered & ripped box arrived a week or so ago (I'm a bit late in writing this up due to attending the European Beer Bloggers Conference)with bits of bubble-wrap peeping out and the box generally looking like it's contents were going to be useless.  Luckily for me Jake at Salopian had carefully wrapped the bottles so all survived intact.

Inside was the next in their 330ml bottled-conditioned screenprint-like labeled bottle series:

Stunning looking bottle
Salopian Brewery
  • Boomerang - 6.9% IPA hopped with Nelson Sauvin, Riwaka and Galaxy
Look out for a 'baron rating' for this Salopian Brewery beer soon, and a big thank you to Jake (@SalopianBrewery) for sending it through to me!

Buy Salopian ales from Holborn Ales

Live beer blogging at #ebbc13

A number of breweries running around tables of beer bloggers - pouring, introducing and explaining their beer in just a few minutes whilst the bloggers frantically write up their findings? What could possibly go wrong...

Birra Toccalmatto Surfing Hop

8.5% American double IPA but using Belguim malt and US hops, syrupy fleshy fruit smell, rich resinous taste like a hoppy barley wine, rich long finish, really really good [baron rating 5/5]

Inveralmond Blackfriar

7% dark amber ale, plummy dark fruity eatery taste, balanced easy to drink, nice finish [baron rating 4/5]

Harviestoun Ola Dubh 30

11.3% chocolate dark cherry vinous smell, choc whisky smooth taste, cherry whisky finish [baron rating 5/5]

Shepherd Neame Brilliant Ale

5.6% golden ale, buttery citrus slight floral smell, balanced drinkable citrus fruity taste, clean finish [baron rating 4/5]

WEST St Mungo

4.9% gold lager, their only bottled ale. Grassy herbal smell, crisp biscuity with a touch of basil? taste, clean finish [bron rating 4/5]

Ilkley The Mayan

6.5% chocolate chipotle stout, very dark brown ale, Bornville chocolate smell, balanced chocolate touch of coffee taste, long choc mild green chilli finish [baron rating 5/5]

Badger The Roaming Roy Dog

7.5% bottle conditioned unpasterised ale, vineous berries, dark fruits sweet vinous taste, long fruity warming spicy finish [baron rating 5/5]

Traquair Jacobite Ale

8% dark brown ale, chocolate smell, fruity complex taste [baron rating 5/5]

Innis and Gunn Oloroso Cask

7.4% scotch ale, copper/gold ale, sweet fruity vanilla smell, full flavoured sweetish spicy slight herbal taste, short creamy clean finish [baron rating 3/5]

BrewDog - Brewing up a storm

Presented by Sarah Warman @BrewDogSarah

Established in 2007 by James Watt & Martin Dickie. Built a £7m Eco-brewery, opened 11 UK bars and one in Stockholm, exporting to 32 countries worldwide, and has raised £4m vie Equity for Punks. Planning on opening a visitor centre, bottle shop and brewing academy.


They are very active on many social media platforms but the two key ones for them are Facebook & Twitter. She then ran through the main platforms talking about the number of users, etc.


Visual content is huge, they post at least one photo a day taken from the brewery. They also do quite a bit of crowd sourcing to get their customers viewpoints.


She then moved on to talk about the Fake Lager campaign, they did an April Fools gag about producing a lager and ditching the craft beer scene, on April 2nd they said tht they would still be producing the lager which caused lots of conversation about BrewDog on social media platforms.


#mashtag was a twitter crowded sourced beer recipe, name & label. People were voting for how they wanted the beer to end up. They also brewed Sunk Punk - the first beer to be brewed under the sea, she showed a video of the making of the beer, the sinking of the vessels and the raising of them too - gave the complete picture.


When every word counts... (by Susanna Forbes)

Content is king but people read the web differently then print media. You need an angle to capture people's attention as they briefly scan your site. people do read but selectively.


Who is your audience and how do you engage them? You need to have a clear view of how they are so that you can tailor your tone and the way you write to them. Find something novel and new, create a story.


Assume the reader doesn't know the history of an event, offer context and build bridges. Either encompass the story in the first sentence or use an intro sentence or paragraph. Embrace visuals and liven up the captions.


Don't defame or breach copyright, be fair & balanced, get your facts right, correct mistakes after publishing.


See her work over at DrinkBritain


Whiskey Barrel-Aged Beers with Harviestoun

Decided to use Old Emgine Oil as the beer to barrel age in whisky casks. Originally called Old Engine Oil Special Reserve. Highland Park distillery won distiller of the year and so was selected as the casks to use to continue the process. All of it was exported to the states. Most of the Ola Dubh is pre-sold, they are playing catchup.


Ola Dubh is a throw back to Ken Brucker (founder of Harveistoun) meaning "black oil". They do a 12, 15 & 18 year old version as well as very limited 30 & 40 year versions.


We then got a chance to try number of the different barrel aged beers: Old Engine Oil, Old Engine Oil Engineers Reserve, Ola Dubh 12 years - all stunning but different.


The history of the cask makes a big difference on the end result, they now get more information from Highland Park about the previous life of the cask. Issues with customs regarding ABV has taken a long time to figure out, liquoring back helps as it reduces the ABV.



Keynote from Garett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery

Started with Beer Geek video:

He admits that he's used two or three of those lines himself. Took them a while to feel comfortable about using social media, feeling like the old guys in the brewing scene. Bread that can stay fresh for two weeks in a bag - over forty ingredients to keep it fresh, it's not even been baked but steamed and then sprayed to look baked! Same has happened to beer - its had so much stuff added thats it's not really beer at all!


Moved to London and tried cask ale - brown, flat, warm - but enjoyed the variety of tastes that ales that Europe had to offer. Moved back to the USA in 1984 and found there was just US lager. Started brewing professionally since 1989 learning from Sam Smiths brewery.


First to do colaboration brewing with Brakspear back in the 90s, more famously with Schnieder Weisse. Brewing is a very friendly industry, fellow competitors helping each other out.


Was talking about beer ratings - they don't look at the beer ratings, they don't want to listen to the audience as they are the artist (as a brewer) who is trying to make something beautiful rather than for the audience. Are you going to change your beer based on the ratings or are you just after flattery? Did Bob Dylan 'focus grouped' his albums?


Is talking about IBUs and original gravities making beer appealing? It might work for kindred spirits but does it work for the general public?


Wine people still own the media. You don't see an acidity number on a bottle, or the tanning number - why? Because it's not delicious! We need to start talking about the flavours and tastes rather than the technical details of the beer. Never talk down to anyone about beer and beer styles, let them try anything and everything as you never know what they will like.


What is craft beer? If there is a personal vision in what is going on (used Sierra Nevada as an example). Brooklyn Brewery are trying to be the brewery that they have always wanted to be. It's taken him twenty years to start to be the brewer that he's always wanted to be.


They make over twenty different beers a year, some are 'ghost beers' - limited edition beers of very limited release. Ended with a toast with Sorachi Ace saison - lemon peel and dill, nice spiciness, balanced, herbal funkiness at the end.


Shepherd Neame Brilliant Ale

Not bottle conditioned
Shepherd Neame Brilliant Ale [baron rating 4/5] - 5.6% gold ale, citrus smell,spicy orange buttery limey taste,spicy bittersweet finish
Listen to what Chris and the Baron have to say about it

Subscribe in iTunes

10 Saints 10 Saints

Not bottle conditioned
10 Saints 10 Saints [baron rating 1/5] - 4.8% gold ale,skunky wet cardboard smell,wheaty sweet mild vanilla taste,cloying cardboard finish
Listen to what Chris and the Baron have to say about it

Subscribe in iTunes
Thank you (I think!) to Gemma (@SlurpBeer) from Slurp for sending this through for a baron rating!

Buy 10 saints ales from Slurp

Bucanero Fuerte

Not bottle conditioned
Bucanero Fuerte [baron rating 2/5] - 5.4% gold ale,wheat boiled sweetcorn smell,buttery herbal taste,cloying mild vanilla bittersweet finish
Thank you to my in-laws for bringing this back from Cuba for me.

Thwaites Fallen Nun

Not bottle conditioned
Thwaites Fallen Nun [baron rating 5/5] - 7.4% black ale,vineous resinous citrus smell,velvety orange dark choc taste,resinous choc finish
Listen to what Chris and the Baron have to say about it

Subscribe in iTunes

Baron on Tour: The Liverpool Craft Beer Expo

What an awesome event.

Great beer (cask & keg), superb food and an amazing venue - this is how to do a beer event! Below are a few photos that I took during the Saturday afternoon session.

A few things stood out to me at this event: the large number of young people enjoying the many varied beers, the tonal palette of beers on the table (yellows, ambers, orange, brown and black) and the great vibe of the place - chilled out yet busy!

Ever seen a beer board that big?
Cask or keg - the choice was yours
The varied palette of craft
Beavertown were live brewing on Saturday afternoon
Chris (Left), Bone's mate & @VillaBone (right)
Beavertown Gamma Ray APA was my beer of the festival
What a cool venue, indoors but you felt outdoors
Thanks to Liverpool Craft Beer Co. (@Craft_Beers) for the free ticket to the event, can't wait for next year!