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Man Time: Beers

When it comes to the world of alcoholic beverages, I'm a simple creature who likes very few drinks and will usually only say 'yes' to having one if it involves ginger beer, ginger wine, gin, fruity cider or a mountain of fruity mixers and comes with a sparkler/umbrella/biscuit/some other cocktail decoration nonsense. Back when I felt a little more lively and didn't get two day hangovers (or any hangovers at all for that matter - *those* were the days) I would go out regularly drinking and uni certainly encouraged that tenfold. Fast forward to now though and I would identify as being t-total for the most part. When you tell people that they usually reel in horror, realising that as you don't drink you are undoubtedly going to be the most boring person they've ever met. It used to bother me but not anymore! Now I'm more than happy to say 'no' to drinks and actually enjoy a beverage that tastes nice to me but one person who does love a good alc-beverage is Matt.

Matt is a big fan of his beers and also perno and lemonade (who'd have thought that would be something a new, young couple would bond over) so I figured as I'm *super* busy with work at the moment and Matthew is an excellent writer, he could do a little feature here on NB. When we were doing our weekly shop, we stumbled on an offer in Waitrose in the alcohol isles. A lot of beers and ales which we had never seen before were on some sort of offer so Matt went a little spend-happy and picked up seven new bottles to tickle his taste buds. When he was testing them out, we both thought it would be a great idea if he did a little review of each one that I could feature here as I reckon he knows a thing or two about beer (and hangovers but that's a whole different post). Now I know I've called this post "man time" and that isn't me being sexist and saying ladies can't enjoy a beer before any pedantic Petes jump on me, but it's man time because it's Matt time. So, enough of me rambling. If you like your beers and you'd like to read some reviews and check out what might be some new tasty recommendations for you, then carry on reading!

Erdinger Alkoholfrei Beer (0.5%)
Admission time - If I’d paid more attention when I picked this up and noticed that it was alcohol free (well, 0.5%) it may well have remained on the shelf. I have no particular issues with alcohol free beer, but I can think of so many more booze-less beverages I would rather drink if spending an evening on the waggon.

That said, this isotonic wheat beer is pretty tasty. It’s got a slightly fruity taste (a summer berry jam or red currant jelly type of vibe) and the thousands of tiny bubbles makes it feel soft in your mouth and more like drinking carbonated water than a lager or ale. That carbonated water feeling continues into the slightly salty aftertaste that’s unexpected, but not unpleasant.

I’m not sure if there is ever going to be such a thing as a truly healthy beer, but at the moment, this may be it. Not only is the alcohol content minimal, but it also contains folic acid (which your body uses to make new cells) and vitamin B12 (which helps maintain the nervous system and create new blood cells). The label proudly proclaims that one bottle per day “contributes to a healthy nutrition” and while I’m not going to indulge on a daily basis, I’d feel much less guilty cracking open one of these than a pilsner or porter.

Curious Brew (4.7%)
If I’ve learned anything about food over the last couple of years it’s that if you re-cook something it will taste even better than the first time. Triple cooked chips, refried beans, banh mi made with leftover roast pork. The list is almost endless. That’s why it comes as no surprise that this lager, re-fermented with champagne yeast, is bloody delicious. It’s crisp and refreshing, with a pilsner like taste that is mellowed by champagne flavours. And unlike champagne it doesn’t leave your mouth tasting like a badger has been sleeping in it, which is always a plus.

Treason West Coast IPA (6.0%)
If I head to the pub after work for a quick couple of jars, IPA is my go-to brew. For me it’s a brilliant all rounder, equally suited to being supped in front of a fire on a cold winter’s night as it is to being drunk in a beer garden in the middle of summer. Unfortunately, this IPA from Uprsing Craft Brewing doesn’t quite do it for me. The original flavours (citrus and grapefruit) are light and refreshing, but then the hops takes a bitter turn leaving an aftertaste that I just couldn’t get on with.

While the IPA doesn’t do it for me, Uprising also brew a Christmas stout called Scumbag Maggot (the bells are ringing out…) which I’ll definitely be sampling when winter once again comes south of the wall.

St. Stephanus (7%)
This Belgian blonde beer comes with a cellar release date and has been matured for three months before being put on the shelves. The bottle claims that it will continue to grow in flavour over a year and a half period, but the likelihood of a beer lasting 18 days, let alone 18 months, in the flat is slim to none. To me, blonde beers always taste like the smell of tinned sweetcorn. Does anyone else get that? Thankfully, St. Stephanus is low on flavours that the Jolly Green Giant would endorse and instead has a subtle blonde beer taste that’s quite pleasant.

Waitress Belgian Blonde (6.3%)
Another Belgian blonde. I’m not a huge fan of blonde beers and so I’m still trying to work out why I bought two of these. Whenever I have one it always feels as though I’m drinking a hangover (although, I think this is due to a bad experience with Blue Moon during my student days). The bottle talks of spice and honey, but to me, it tastes near identical to St. Stephanus. Again, it’s not bad and goes down easy enough. If you’re a fan of blonde beers it’s certainly worth a punt.

Camden Pale Ale (4.0%)
This is a lovely little beer. It’s clean and crisp, and has a hoppy taste that’s not accompanied by a bitter aftertaste that is common in beers like this. It’s a brilliant summer ale being incredibly refreshing and weak enough, at 4.0%, that you could sink a few while sat in the sun without fear of keeling over.

Hitachino Nest Beer (5.5%)
Amy picked this beer out and did so solely on the fact that it’s got an owl on the bottle. I hate to admit it (especially to her), but she picked out a really good one. This Japanese white ale tastes quite similar to the alcohol free beer, but has the added advantage of being, well, alcoholic. The bottle talks of coriander, orange peel and nutmeg - I’m not sure about the spices, but the orange definitely comes through and leaves a pleasant citrus aftertaste. I just wish Amy had persuaded me to pick up more than one.

And that's it! Big thanks to Matthew for putting this wee post together and I know I know, he's a wordy wizard and I suck at photography (the fact that the bottles aren't quite in height order has destroyed Matt & I's souls I assure you). But I hope you all enjoyed this slightly different injection on the blog and if you'd like to see more from Matt I imagine he won't take much convincing to dabble in the blog posting again sometime soon! If you'd also like to see some more food/drink related posts on NB, do let me know because has been a good while since my last recipe instalment so I should really rectify that soon.

- A.
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