Soliciting Flavours

Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine

Home alone – oh beer what to do?

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Periodically Mrs. SF (with the dogs) decamps to her Mother’s for a week, leaving me to fend for myself (usually quite badly). As I work long hours and am generally tired when I get home each day, I tend to fair badly food wise (not having the energy to cook much).

Whilst I quite enjoy my own company (well someone has to), I do miss Mrs. SF and the dogs during these solo weeks. It is a long running joke between me and Mrs. SF that I have the go go dancing girls in, which tells you something about how old I am, but in reality a drop of something nice to drink is what I wile away the evenings with during these weeks.

Usually (as readers of the blog will know) my tipple of choice is wine, but I also like a nice beer so this particular week I decided on that rather than wine. When I say beer I mean proper beer not the mass produced gassy tasteless rubbish that is mostly labelled lager in the UK. It makes me laugh hysterically and then cry a little every time I see a Budweiser bottle with the phrase “King of beers” on it. If that stuff is the king of beers then the moon is made of cream cheese and I’m next in line to the throne of the United Kingdom!!! As for Fosters, don’t get me started – hideous stuff!!

The Beers

Seren Brewing Co – Factory Steam Amber Ale

First up on Monday was a beer from a Pembrokeshire craft brewer – Seren Brewing Co. As a steam beer it says on the label that it is brewed using lager yeast at an ale temperature. What that means I have absolutely no idea.

It had a lovely deep amber/copper colour with a good creamy head that did not dissipate. On the nose I got very subtle hints of stone fruit (peach) and also a touch of menthol. Tasting it there was a nice crisp bitterness to this beer, with some fruit and minty notes. It went well with my dinner of a steak pie and jersey royals.

The 4.3° alcohol suggested it would be fairly light, but I am not sure how many I could drink as it felt quite heavy to me. I got it from the rather wonderful Gravity Station in Cardiff for £3 (as part of a buy 3 for £9 offer they do). No picture am afraid as I deleted the one I took by mistake after I had drunk the beer and thrown away the bottle.

St. Austell “Proper Job” IPA

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Next up on Tuesday was a St. AustelI beer. I have always had a soft spot for St. Austell Brewery as it reminds me of holidays in one of my favourite places, Porthleven, in Cornwall (great for food obessives and also very doggy friendly, so perfect for me). Sitting in the sun by the harbour, with a pint of St. Austell Tribute, looking out to sea – bliss. As for the Proper Job name, this is pure West Country (where I mostly grew up) slang, used as an all purpose cry of approval, as in "this beer is proper job". A somewhat presumptuous name, so did it live up to it?

Well actually, yes. This had a golden hue, with the head disappearing very rapidly. On the nose there were aromas of dried herbs and a good hit of citrus. On taking a swig it was nicely hoppy, with a lovely lingering taste of grapefruit. Even at 5.5° it felt a lighter beer than the Seren (4.3°) and was eminently quaffable.

Food wise, as an IPA, the classic match is spice (curry). I had it with some very nice Argentinian chorizo sausages from Charcutier Ltd. It was an excellent foil for the garlic and paprika in the sausages.

This beer was £1.97 from Waitrose. I really liked this beer and it is one I would certainly buy again at this price. It was indeed “proper job”.

Shepherd Neame – Double Stout

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Wednesday was Shepherd Neame day with this brewery, at least according to the bottle, being Britain’s oldest brewer having been established in 1698. They, therefore, have had plenty of time to perfect their art.

As a double stout this was pitch black capped with a nice creamy coloured head. On the nose there was malty chocolate and roasted coffee (nice). The taste was of bitter espresso with a hint of burnt toast (that dry carbonised flavour- sounds unpleasant, but it wasn’t at all as was just the right side of burnt, flavour wise). It was very moorish. Whilst 5.2° in alcohol, it was easy to drink and nicely balanced. I had it with pasta, fried bacon lardons and Hungarian turo cheese (thank you Eszter from work for bringing some back for me from Hungary and the serving suggestion – it was lovely). Simple, but robust flavours which the beer complimented very well.

I bought this from Waitrose for £2.34 (there was an offer of two Shepherd Neame beers for £4, which I didn’t take advantage of and wish I had in hindsight).

Waen Brewery – Landmark IPA

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Thursday and it was back to good old IPA, with an offering from Waen Brewery based in Powys, Wales.

On getting back from work, with the weather so lovely and the light nights, I had no excuse not to mow the lawn and boy was it thirsty work. After this the Waen’s Landmark IPA went down a treat.

In appearance, it had a slightly cloudy golden colour with a very energetic white head. On the nose there were very pleasant hoppy citrus (lemony) aromas, with a touch of something else, strawberry I think. The taste was more of the same in terms of citrus and hops, with added (but nicely subdued) floral notes and a pleasant dry bitterness at the end. Even though 5.5° alcohol (strongest of all the beer I tried) it was very easy to drink on its own and was a very good match for the cottage pie (which Mrs. SF had cooked and frozen for me) I had for my dinner that night.

I bought this from The Gravity Station in Cardiff for £3 (as part of their 3 for £9 offer).

Vale of Glamorgan Brewery – Rorke’s Draught IPA
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Last beer of my home alone week was from a Vale of Glamorgan Brewery, a brewery based in Barry, just down the road from Cardiff (where I live and work). I was drawn to the brightly coloured label (god I am a sucker for marketing ploys) with a Redcoat, bayonet fixed, readying himself to fight off the Zulu hordes descending on Rorke’s Drift.

Despite a label that promised fighting stuff, to me this was a bit wishy washy. Not much on the nose or on the palate with hints of hops and bitterness, but not much else. I drunk this with a pizza with toppings of bacon, blue cheese and Hungarian turo cheese on it and these strong flavours overwhelmed this beer totally. Alcohol wise is was 4.6°, but felt much weaker. Definitely my least favourite beer of the week. In no way unpleasant, but just a bit lacking on all fronts. It was purchased from The Gravity Station in Cardiff for £3 (pricey for this beer I thought) as part of their 3 for £9 offer. Very much inferior to the other IPAs tasted (including the Proper Job which was over a £1 cheaper) and I would not buy it again am afraid.

The verdict

It was nice to try a few new beers and I definitely found some beauties. To me (discounting price) first place went to the Shepherd Neame Double Stout, closely followed by the Waen’s Landmark and the St. Austell Proper Job. In terms of value for money, I would say the St. Austell Proper Job was the winner.

I would buy all of these beers again, bar from the Vale of Glamorgan of Brewery Rorke’s Draught which was a tad disappointing.

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Best beer of week

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This entry was posted on June 14, 2014 by in Alcoholic drink, Beer, bitter, Cardiff, Drink, IPA, Outside Wales, Real ale, retail, Waitrose, Wales.
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