Tim Hampson's Beer Blog

The quest for the perfect beer

Beers I’m looking forward to – De Dolle Stille Nacht

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Still_nacht_dolle_brouwers

Most travelers flying into Brussels’ main airport will have flown over the small West Flanders village of Esen.

Not many people will know that it is home to the De Dolle brewery one of the new wave of craft brewers which Belgium is becoming famed for.

Founded in 2008, by three passionate home brewers Romeo Bostoen and the brothers Kris & Dr Jo Herteleer, who took over a rundown, very traditional brewery.

They called themselves The Mad Brewers – De Dolle Brouwers – and set about breathing new life into the brewery.

Today, only Kris is still involved with the brewery, and he is famed for his knowledge about the history and tradition of Flanders many great beers.

One of the great traditions of Belgian’s beer culture is the brewing of Winter/Christmas beers – usually richer and stronger than other beers in a brewer’s portfolio. They are an affordable extravagance and the perfect partner for a dark night and a roaring fire.

Stille Nacht (Silent Night) was brewed for the first time in 1982 and fans of the beer recommend that you should always buy more than one of bottle of each vintage of the beer – one bottle is for drinking now, the others for storing and to see how they evolve over time.

Originally brewed at 8%, it is now brewed to 12% alcohol and goes on sale once a year at the start of December. The beer is bottle conditioned, which means if it is stored in a cool dark place it can “last forever”.

Golden in colour, it swirls with aromatic Nugget hops grown in nearby Poperinge. Smooth and complex, the beer is full of pear, banana and apple flavours with a luscious overlay of sugar and spice.

Is makes a perfect partner to a venison stew, which if you can spare it, is made even better by the addition of some of the beer to the gravy.

http://www.dedollebrouwers.be.en

Written by timhampson

October 27, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A pint or two of beer is good for male fertility

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Reproductive Medicine

So you want to be a dad? Men who drink a pint of beer a day double their chances of becoming a father – just don’t follow it up with a cup of coffee say academics.

Researchers presenting at the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine have identified interesting and somewhat surprising effects that alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco use can have on male fertility and sexual function.

And the news is better for beer drinkers than you might think.

Boston researchers analysing data from the Environment and Reproductive Health Study have found interesting connections between male partners’ drinking choices and clinical pregnancy rates after IVF.

High male caffeine consumption appears to reduce couples’ chances of achieving a clinical pregnancy while male alcohol consumption appears to enhance their chances.

Men who underwent IVF at Massachusetts General Hospital between 2007 and 2013 provided information on their pre-treatment diet, including alcohol and caffeine, which was analysed, adjusting for male and female age and BMI, infertility diagnosis, male smoking, male nutrient intake, and female caffeine and alcohol intake.

Couples with male partners whose caffeine intake was in the study’s highest range (more than 265 milligrams a day- or about three  eight ounce cups of coffee) were only half as likely to have a clinical pregnancy as couples where the male consumed less than 88 mgs of caffeine a day.

“For couples whose male partner consumed alcohol, the chances of clinical pregnancy increased with consumption levels,” said American Society for Reproductive Medicine press release.

Meanwhile, a group from the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York found that infertile men who smoke tobacco are more likely to experience sexual or erectile dysfunction, but those who drink alcohol are less likely to report sexual or erectile problems.

Between 2003 and 2011, men being seen at the infertility clinic completed 753 surveys on their drinking and smoking habits and their sexual health and satisfaction. Their average age was 35; 16 per cent of them used tobacco and 73 per cent used alcohol.

Drinkers reported better sexual function than teetotalers. Men who did not consume alcohol were more likely to report deficiencies in their erections and ability to complete intercourse. However, there was no difference in sexual satisfaction reported by drinkers and non-drinkers.

For more information go to http://www.asrm.org/Men_Trying_to_Conceive_Go_Ahead_and_Have_a_Drink_Watch_the_Caffeine_But_No_Smoking_Please/

Tim Hampson’s Tweets can be found @beerhero

His published work includes The Beer Book, World Beer, Haynes Beer Manual, Haynes Whisky Manual, Eyewitness Companion Beer, Great Beers, 101 Beer Days Out, London’s Riverside Pubs, London’s Best Pubs, London’s Best Style Bars, Room at the Inn.

He was also a contributor The Oxford Companion to Beer and 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die.

He is currently chairman of the British Guild of Beer Writers.

Written by timhampson

October 20, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Keep calm and make homebrew beer

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Haynes cover

Warning The Haynes Beer Manual could change your life.

Most books about home brewing tell readers how to make beers at home, which are not only the same as they drink in a pub but will be cheaper.

The Haynes Beer Manual is much more than that, not only does it describe beer from its earliest days but it is intended to give the reader the skills to produce beers which surpass commercial creations. And yes they could be cheaper than a beer from a pub, but that’s not the point.

Becoming a home brewer is to become part of a growing movement which embraces men and women, the younger streetwise as well as those who might be older and more sedate.

Some might secretly want to turn a hobby into a profession others might be professionals piloting new beers at home while others are brewing to entertain themselves and their friends.

In the United States home brewing is a seriously cool hobby for tens of thousands of people, most towns have at least one home brewing club and there is annual convention where thousands of different beers can be tasted. And the signs are that something similar could be happening here. It has never been easier

Brewing your first brew at home is the first step on a journey which will bring you new friends and take you to different places. Beer is a social lubricant which fires people’s imaginations and conversations.

Brewers, be they humble creators of beer at home or those who work for commercial concerns love to talk, swap ideas and recipes.

Home brewing with the help of the Haynes Beer Manual is easy, fun and very rewarding and you end up with the beer to drink.

Anyone can do it. You don’t need lots of equipment to make quality beer. If you can open a can of soup and heat it, then you can make beer.

It’s not going to cost you lots. A basic kit, with everything you need can be found around £30-£40.

And you first brew will be done in next to no time.  From start to finish and depending on the beer, it will take about three to four weeks to make your first beer.

Brewing: two hours; fermentation: 10 days; bottling: one hour, a cask would be even quicker; conditioning: two weeks and the time to drink a glass – well that that all depends on your thirst.

So buy the book now and you could be enjoying a glass of your own brew with your Christmas dinner.

Buy it as a present and you could be drinking your own beer by the end of January.

For more information go to http://www.haynes.co.uk  or Amazon

 

His blog –can be found at http://beerandpubs.wordpress.com/

His published work includes The Beer Book, World Beer, Haynes Beer Manual, Haynes Whisky Manual, Eyewitness Companion Beer, Great Beers, 101 Beer Days Out, London’s Riverside Pubs, London’s Best Pubs, London’s Best Style Bars, Room at the Inn.

He was also a contributor The Oxford Companion to Beer and 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die.

He is currently chairman of the British Guild of Beer Writers.

Written by timhampson

October 20, 2014 at 11:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Canned beer comes of age

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Felinfoel cans

The canning of beer has really come of age for quality brews.

Canned beer came to the UK since the 1930s when Welsh brewer Felinfoel stole a march on its competition by being the first in the country to can one of its beers.

Canning was already being used in the States and I think it was Krueger’s Cream Ale which was the first.

However, for decades canning has been regarded as rather down market and only suitable for pile it high sell it cheap beers in supermarkets.

Convenient? Yes. Easy to dispose of? Yes. And the quality of the beer? Hmmm.

Well now some of British brewers are showing that quality beers and cans do go together.

In May of last year, Camden Town Brewery became the first “microcanner” in England. The brewery cans its own Hells Lager and two beers it brews for the Byron Hamburgers eateries. This autumn it will can two more beers.

Fourpure Brewing and Beavertown Brewery have now both bought canning lines too and the people at Them that Can will soon be offering a mobile canning line for use by smaller brewers.

Fourpure is the first craft brewer to shift from bottles to cans for its core beers, and who can blame them.

Fourpure’s can sales have far surpassed its 2013 bottled sales. “In our first month,” says brewery co-founder Daniel Lowe said, “our cans doubled our historic bottle sales. The second month they quadrupled them.”

And it is not just supermarkets that are selling beer in cans. Plenty of pubs, including JD Wetherspoon are getting in on the act. And for the first time a canned beer is likely to be served at this year’s British Guild of Beer Writers annual awards dinner.

Logan Plant with cans, low-res (800x800) Logan Plant, pictured, founder of Beavertown, said his bottle use is waning. “I’m looking to push bottles out but for a few specialty beers,”

Plant said. “The acceptance of our cans has been amazing. We started up our canning line in May and cans have already become 65 per cent of our sales, while bottles are just seven per cent.”

Plant says his richly flavored canned beers benefit from the freshness-keeping power of aluminum cans.

“We use a lot of US hops in our beers, with those big resiny and tropical flavours. The only way to look after them is to shove them in a can. I don’t think a bottle is up to the task,” said Plant.

Cask founder Peter Love, whose company makes canning lines said canned craft beer is the hottest craft beer package in North America.

He said: “The segment is just beginning in England, but it’s starting much, much faster than it did in the US.

“Cans provide complete protection from light and oxygen, a fresh beer’s biggest enemies. Cans are also highly portable, welcome in places bottles are not, and easily and infinitely recyclable.”

These can benefits and others, including reduced shipping and fuel costs due to their light weight have fueled the massive rise of American canned craft beer.

It was the Oskar Blues Brewery & Pub, in Colorado, USA that was the first of the new wave of brewers to turn to cans in 2002.  The brewpub’s savvy efforts turned it into one of the fastest-growing breweries in the US.

According to the Brewers Association (the US trade group for craft brewers), more than 10 per cent of America’s nearly 3,000 small and independent craft brewers are canning all or some of their beers.

A US website, CraftCans.com, lists about 1,500 canned craft beers from 418 US craft breweries, in a wide array of different beer styles.

www.cask.com .

Tim Hampson’s Tweets can be found @beerhero

His published work includes The Beer Book, World Beer, Haynes Beer Manual, Haynes Whisky Manual, Eyewitness Companion Beer, Great Beers, 101 Beer Days Out, London’s Riverside Pubs, London’s Best Pubs, London’s Best Style Bars, Room at the Inn.

He is currently chairman of the British Guild of Beer Writers.

Written by timhampson

October 16, 2014 at 10:57 am

Posted in Beavertown, Canning

Age well, by drinking beer

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Snooker

Should pubs be bringing back billiard, bar billiard or pool tables? The answer is yes if one academic is correct.

According to Aske Juul Lassen from University of Copenhagen’s Center for Healthy Aging “old age has, in a sense, been cancelled”.

And he says the senior members of our communities should be getting down the pub having a beer and a game of billiards.

Lassen said: “30 years ago, the elderly were not expected to be active at all – they were actually advised not to exercise as it was considered dangerous.

“Playing cards were seen as a more fitting activity. Today, we are all expected to live active, healthy lives until the day we die – in good health – at the age of 90.”

Lassen said: “Playing billiards often comes with a certain life style – drinking beer and drams for instance.”

And of course most billiard tables are in pubs and clubs.

“But billiards does constitute active ageing. Billiards is, first of all, an activity that these men thoroughly enjoy and that enhances their quality of life while immersing them in their local community and keeping them socially active,” said Lassen.

“And billiards is, secondly, very suitable exercise for old people because the game varies naturally between periods of activity and passivity and this means that the men can keep playing for hours. Not very many old people can endure physical activity that lasts five hours, but billiards enables these men to spread their physical activity out through the day,” says Lassen.

So rack up the balls and bring on the beer and let’s say cheers to a long and active life!

http://healthsciences.ku.dk/news/news2014/active-ageing-is-much-more-than-exercise

Tim Hampson’s Tweets can be found @beerhero

His published work includes The Beer Book, World Beer, Haynes Beer Manual, Haynes Whisky Manual, Eyewitness Companion Beer, Great Beers, 101 Beer Days Out, London’s Riverside Pubs, London’s Best Pubs, London’s Best Style Bars, Room at the Inn.

He is currently chairman of the British Guild of Beer Writers.

Written by timhampson

October 11, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

New edition of The Beer Book on sale in time for Christmas

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BEER Book update cover

Today is Super Thursday when in the UK books go on sale in the run up to Xmas. So great to see an updated version of The Beer Book available.

First produced in 2008 it featured more than 800 breweries worldwide and their beers, as it still does.

Well a lot has changed in the last six years, and the opportunity to update the book for its re-issue has resulted in a major rewrite.

It was sad to take some breweries out because of closure or other reasons but it was great to include some of the bright new stars which light the beer drinkers’ world  – so amongst some of the many new entrants are BrewDog, Camden and Grain.

And while once the beer world seem staid and unchanging in the last six or so years has seen the creation of many new and exciting beers from established brewers which are now included.

The first edition of book had a fancy cover intended to look like a drip mat on a bar, well this time the clever clogs designers at Dorling Kindersley have it appear like a six pack takeaway of beer, complete with finger holes to carry it. And apologies for my poor photo of it, which really doesn’t do it justice, for comparison I’ve included a pic of the original cover.

It’s clearly the perfect carry out book on beer!

And as the publisher says “The Beer Book is an indispensable guide to the world’s favourite drink”.

It’s on sale at all the usual places – and probably some unusual outlets too.

 Beer Book 1Tim Hampson’s Tweets can be found @beerhero

His published work includes The Beer Book, World Beer, Haynes Beer Manual, Haynes Whisky Manual, Eyewitness Companion Beer, Great Beers, 101 Beer Days Out, London’s Riverside Pubs, London’s Best Pubs, London’s Best Style Bars, Room at the Inn.

He is currently chairman of the British Guild of Beer Writers.

Written by timhampson

October 9, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Posted in DK

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Brussels Beer Challenge – still time for British brewers to enter

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Brussels Beer Challenge

The Brussels Beer Challenge (BBC) is now in its 3rd year and it looks set to establish itself as one of the most important beer competitions in the world.

And it would be great if more British brewers keen on developing their export trade entered the competition.

Brewers from Belgium, US and Germany all recognise the value to their businesses of entering the competition and winning a medal in one of the categories.

And brewers from Brazil, Canada, Denmark, USA, Estonia, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Monaco, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic are all sending beers to the competition.

One of the BBC organisers said: “This professional beer competition is a unique opportunity for all beer producers to compete with the best international and Belgian brewers.

“Award-winning beers from The Brussels Beer Challenge benefit from media exposure and international recognition.”

After Brussels (in 2012) and Liege (in 2013) this international event will take place in Leuven, one of Belgium famed beer cities.

During two days a tasting panel of 60 international renowned beer connoisseurs will taste 750 beers from all over the world.

The beers will be tasted during two mornings and split into eight categories: Pale-Ale, Dark-Ale, Red Ale, Lager, Stout/Porter, Wheat, Flavoured beer, Speciality beer

And in addition there are 50 sub-categories including Lambics, Abbey beers and chocolate beers.

The participating beers are divided into categories based on style and then evaluated. At the end of the two tasting days, the best beers, in each category, will be awarded a gold, silver or bronze award.

The Brussels Beer Challenge will take place from the 31st October to 2nd November 2014, with the award winning beers being presented to the public on the last day of the competition.

The Brussels Beer Challenge will take place from the 31 October to 2 November 2014.

For more information go to www.Brusselsbeerchallenge.com or visit the BBC’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/brusselsbeerchallenge

Tim Hampson’s Tweets can be found @beerhero

His published work includes The Beer Book, World Beer, Haynes Beer Manual, Haynes Whisky Manual, Eyewitness Companion Beer, Great Beers, 101 Beer Days Out, London’s Riverside Pubs, London’s Best Pubs, London’s Best Style Bars, Room at the Inn.

He is currently chairman of the British Guild of Beer Writers.

Written by timhampson

October 7, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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