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Archive for October 2014

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

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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.


Written by timhampson

October 27, 2014 at 5:28 pm

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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 https://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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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!


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

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St Austell’s Celtic gold – a Tribute to brewing excellence

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England in the 1850s was a vibrant time for entrepreneurs and a new generation of visionary industrialists. One such was Walter Hicks, who decided to mortgage his farm and home for £1,500 and set up a maltings.

One thing led to another, first a pub then another and finally the decision was taken to build a brewery, which we now know as the St Austell Brewery.

Hicks’ vision was in step with the time and was a grand Victorian concept, of a vertically integrated company – from the farm to the glass – the whole process was within his embrace.

As this part of Cornwall prospered so did the brewery. Generations of mineworkers toiled mining Cornwall’s white gold, china clay, which was widely used by the porcelain and paper industries. And once the clay was dug, other workers toiled loading it onto boats to take it away to distant factories. It was thirsty work, and what better to slake the throats of thousands of working men than pints of Hicks’ beers?

One of the brewery’s best known beers is Tribute. It was first brewed as seasonal beer in 1999 to mark the total eclipse of the sun at 11am on 11 August and was called Daylight robbery.

The beer was brewed by the company’s then new brewer Roger Ryman. Unlike many brewers of his era he saw beyond the beers brewed within the British Isles and sought inspiration from brewers across the Atlantic in the US and the continent. His thirst for unusual beers was inspired by the late, genius beer writer Michael Jackson, whose writings were making faraway beers seem close to hand.

Previously Ryman was assistant head brewer at Maclay’s in Scotland, where he had to brew a new beer every two months “and then just move on”. And so one of Ryman’s first beers for St Austell, Daylight Robbery was born. But rather than sedate and demure English hops, tangy , citrusy hops from Washington and Oregon in America were thrown into the copper. Seemingly, handfuls of them. And so Daylight Robbery went on sale, but unlike the clouds which disappointingly covered and masked the eclipse, the beer was a shining success.

The two month sale period, became three and then to four and so it went on. The company’s directors had a success on their hands, and decided in 2001 to rename it Tribute and make it a permanent feature of the company portfolio.

Drinkers loved the beer’s look and taste. The white gold of Cornwall’s china clay industry was replaced by a new golden star. It success is undoubtedly is down to the beer’s look and taste.

A 21st century beer, Tribute is a glass of white gold with  intricate, intertwining floral and orange and lemon citrus aromas and more than a suggestion of elderflower, which comes from a cocktail of Willamette Fuggle and Styrian Goldings, which dance over the tongue.

And not forgetting the brewery’s Cornish roots and Hicks’ farming heritage, it used the new Cornish Gold barley which was grown in the county which gives the beer a soft biscuit malt embrace.

Ryman and his team continue to develop new beers. Many of these beers can be tried at St Austell’s Celtic beer festival which takes place in a labyrinth of cellars under the brewery for one weekend in November.

This year’s festival is on 22-23 November and is the 15th to be held. The festival is an X-Factor for wannabe beers. Every year there will be something different. It could be a barrel of Tribute which has been aged for two months in a cask which once contained bourbon, producing high flying wine and spirit notes. There have been strawberry flavoured lagers and beers fermented with a Belgian trappsit yeast.

The creativity just goes on and on. One of the early graduates from this academy of beer was Clouded Yellow. Who would have thought one of England’s traditional ale brewers, with a reputation for conservatism and playing safe would have produced a German style wheat beer, which was full of spice, apple and banana flavours?


Written by timhampson

October 5, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Adnams a king of brewers which gets into the spirit

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Adnams still

Adnams may be more than 140 years old, but this is no old-fashioned company – it has some great green credentials, brews some fabulous beers and is introducing a new generation to the delights of malt and hops.

But it was the fact that it is now a distiller which took me to Southwold, in Suffolk as I was there to write a piece for my forthcoming book the Haynes Whisky Manual.

And what a fabulous state of the art distillery the Copper House Distillery is. It might have only been opened four years but it is already being given many accolades for its gin, whisky, vodka and other distilled gems.

However, the trip enabled me to renew my love affair for one of my favourite beers Adnams Broadside.

A pier, a lighthouse, beach huts and some fabulously intimate pubs all make the town of Southwold on England’s East coast standout from the crowd.

However, it is the brewery, in the shadow of the lighthouse, where in 1345 the “ale-wives” of the town made beer, which makes it truly memorable. In 1872, two brothers, George (who was later eaten by a crocodile in Africa) and Ernest Adnams bought the brewery, with an inheritance from their father.

Today, the brewery has the reputation for making some quintessential English ales and for being the “greenest” brewery in Europe.

The production of its “beers from the coast” is overseen by Fergus Fitzgerald. As the head brewer he has to turn his hand to many things including the introduction of eco-friendly technology. However, his passion is not just the brewing of traditional ale, he is revelling in exploring the limits to which styles can be pushed – be it low strength or higher alcohol beers – cask or keg.

American hops, Champagne yeast and spices and can all be found in the brewhouse

Cinnamon a touch of juniper and were added to a spiced winter beer. And drawing inspiration from other great brewing cultures, he has produced a Belgian style wheat beer, a Dutch Bok and a New Zealand Ale.

But it is not just Champagne yeast that can found in the brewery, there are Champagne bottles too, which when filled are helping bring beer to a new audience. And as the brewery also has its own boutique distillery, we can perhaps soon look forward to some wood aged beers?

But it is the Broadside which is my favourite, with a bold mouth feel the taste is dominated by blackberries and other dark fruit which vie for attention with the rich, roasted sweet, caramel malt. It’s rich but not overwhelming. There are lots of hops and spice on the nose. Its sheer pleasure. And like the sound of the sea rolling in from the turbulent North Sea, I’ll never tire of it.

Written by timhampson

October 4, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Posted in Adanms

Hops to it – US brewers cry our for English hops

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British hops logo

Beer drinkers on both sides of the Atlantic will soon be enjoying more beers made with British hops.

The decisive factor in this development is the astonishing fact that although the US craft beer segment accounts for only one per cent of world beer production, it requires more than 10 per cent of the world hop crop for it.

And this is good news for England’s hop growers as half their harvest will be heading for the US.

Even better news is that England’s hop growers are celebrating a bumper harvest and are determined to show that the flavours in British hops are a match for any of “flavour” hops grown in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

And the British Hop Association (BHA) hopes drinkers rather than raving about the attributes of US hops such as Chinook or Citra will soon be talking about UK varieties Endeavour, UK Cascade and Admiral.

BHA spokeswoman and a hop grower Ali Capper said: “British craft brewers often rave about new world American and New Zealand hops.

“American and New Zealand craft brewers are starting to rave about British Hops. These overseas brewers are now seeking delicate, complex hop aromas to create drinkable session beers.

“And it is the unique terroir of British Hops with lower levels of myrcene that makes British Hops the perfect hop to brew a drinkable session beer.

“All British Hops share the same wonderful terroir– great soils and a unique mild maritime climate with even rainfall throughout the year.

“British Hops use the natural resources available, which means that very few hops are irrigated. It is this special and sustainable terroir that produces British hops delicate and complex aromas and makes them perfect for brewing the best session beers in the world.”

This year 50 per cent of the harvest will be exported to the US. Says the BHA.

Fresh, green, plump and full of citrus zest, fresh green hops.

Fresh, green, plump and full of citrus zest, fresh green hops.

Written by timhampson

October 3, 2014 at 12:05 pm

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