Monthly Archives: December 2014

#12beersofxmas – Day 3

Not so long back I reviewed Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Brunch Weasel stout to celebrate National Stout Day. At the time I was torn between the two as to which one to keep and which one to open. The brunch weasel is some stout. Big, thick, velvet smooth with lashings of coffee and chocolate washing over your tongue like a tidal surge. I loved that beer.

Now this beer is really very similar, its Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Vanilla Shake. A vanilla oatmeal stout that I was seduced into buying after seeing Rob Derbyshire’s (@Hopzine) review. That’s my decision making process these days, I walk into a shop and pick up a few bottles then any I umming and arring over I google and try to watch Rob’s videos. Good insightful reviews but short enough to watch on your ickle phone screen.

Rob talked about the delicious vanilla notes in this beer, a big rich sweetness from a big bodied imperial stout. It sounded tremendous. However, the bottle I tried wasn’t quite there for me. In Rob’s review he talked about getting this beer nice and early so the big sweet vanilla is still there in the flavour. And I think that’s where I’ve gone wrong. Don’t get me wrong this was a deliciously big bold stout. There’s an abundance of coffee flavours to this and I really do love an oatmeal stout, that just gives it a more rounded flavour to my untrained tastebuds. I think though that the vanilla was past it best and had faded significantly. I can only apologise to the beer gods for such an unacceptable situation of my own making. The aroma had a distinct caramelised custard side to it that was the bitter platform to get the best out of the vanilla. I’m definitely going to have to hunt out another fresher bottle of this and give it a proper try. The booziness was there to warm your cockles, the thick velvet smoothness and bags upon bags of roasted malt flavours that say ‘Merry Christmas’ like no other beer can!

Before you go, can you please take a minute to take part in this very important piece of research.  Not at all because I just noticed the poll function and fancied playing round with it…….

So that’s my day 3 of #12beersofxmas, going to ramp things up tomorrow with a bottle of Buxton’s Tsar, another Imperial Stout. Not had it before but I’m very much looking forward to getting stuck in!

#12beersofxmas day 2


Last night I stood, as I often do, listening to the Beer O’Clock Show podcast whilst cooking. This podcast was abit different as I’d actually watched it live on the previous Monday night. So you’d think that there’d be no surprises. But somehow I missed the announcement of the beer for their 100th show, namely the Siren/Mikkeller colab Daydream. So I decided to drop that beer from my line up.

Just so happened that I was in town today whilst the lads from Northern Alchemy brewery were having a wee taster session in Mmmmm…. Glug….. in the Granger market. So I popped in there on my way to watch the match. Wish I’d bloody stayed there! Footy was rubbish but their beers were tremendous!

So tonight’s beer was the 60 minute continuously hopped pilsner. There’s abit of a fashion for heavily hopped lagers at the minute so I was keen to see how this stood up against the likes of Camdens IHL.

Northern Alchemy are a relatively new brewery but are making a real name for themselves on Tyneside from their base by the Cumberland Arms. They have genuinely innovative beers which aren’t always everyone’s cup of tea but they’re brilliantly executed. Funny thing is they’re expanding. They currently operate out of a metal transport container and in order to expand have ordered…….yes another transport container. Why the hell not, it works for them!

So first the aroma, citrus hops, you’d think this was an American IPA. It’s a great setting for the hops too. There’s sweet malt backing it up and the final fling is the crisp dryness that you’d expect from a pilsner. But that’s the only sign that it’s a pilsner. I think I love it because of the hop/malt balance in the initial flavour. I’d be more than happy with that in any IPA. Question is does it need that pilsner edge? Maybe if I was coming at this from a pilsner drinking background I’d feel different.

It’s another very well executed beer from these lads. Those hops are tremendous and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. My reservations about the style aside, it’s a good quality beer from a brewery that I will continue to keep an eye on. Keep up the good work lads!!

#12beersofxmas day 1


Day 1 of the #12beersofxmas and I’m drinking a beer I’ve heard a lot about. It’s Siren’s tickle monster. This is a triple IPA laden with mangos.

The initial pour hits a point that could put people off. With a rookie mistake I allow some of the sediment in the glass. Not that I ever really mind that but there does seem to be more sediment than most beers would have. Perhaps the mangos have left behind extra just to boost the fruitiness of it.


It pours with very little head, the colour is as orange as a sun kist fresh orange juice and the aroma coming off it is delicious. Big citrus notes to this. I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Bang, there’s those mangos. The fruity flavours are all there. And you can tell it’s a triple IPA, there’s a boozy richness backing it all up. Initially I thought the booziness was too overpowering for the fruit but actually it soon settles into a warmth which allows you to enjoy that citrusy um bongo style beer. It’s a sipper mind, this isn’t a down it in one beer, at 12% abv you’d be well advised to take your time with it!

Tremendous start to my #12beersofxmas, looking forward to tomorrow’s beer!


12 Beers of Xmas:

Tis the season to be beery,
Tra la la la laaa, la laa laa laaaa
Strong dark beers will keep me cheery,
Tra la la la laaa, la laa laa laaaa
Drink one each day and let folk know,
Tra la la, la la la, la, la, la,
Tweet your thoughts to the beer o’clock show,
Tra la la la la, la la la la

That’s enough of that. Last year I took part in the Beer o’clock show’s 12 beers of Christmas and it was great craick so I’m back again. I’ve tried to get some top, well known beers in there and also raise the profile of some cracking local beers that we have in the north east. So here’s my list as it stands.

#12beersofxmas in no particular order….

1 Brooklyn Brewery – Sorachi Ace (7.2%)
A beer that has long since held some allure for me. Ive significantly increased my American beer consumption this year thanks to Rehills of Jesmond, but I’m hoping this is a real stand out beer.

2 Brewdog – I Hardcore you (9.5%)
Brewdod’s collaboration with Mikkeller, it’s effectively a blend of Hardcore IPA and I Beat you. Sounds good to me.

3 Mikkeller – Beer Geek Vanilla Shake (13.0%)
Imperial stout, Mikkeller does imperial stouts incredibly well. This vanilla version is something Ive been looking forward to trying for some time.

4 Siren – Tickle Monster (12%)
#CAMRGB beer of the year, must be good for something right?! Big ass beer and a great name. Been very impressed with the beers Siren have been producing lately. Some distinctly different beers which are by and large very well executed.

5 Buxton – Tsar (9.8%)
I view Buxton as a solid brewery. They produce solid beers that excel in every style. This is their imperial stout which Ive not had before so it seems apt to have a big hit of stout as part of my #12beersofxmas

6 Siren/Mikkeller – Daydream (12%)
This was one of the headline beers at this years Craft Beer Calling and I had recommended it to a friend before Id tried it myself. He took one sip and declared it undrinkable, I tried it and thought it was fantastic. Big, boozy, bags of character. I look forward to seeing how the bottled version compares to the kegged version.

7 Brewdog – Black Tokyo Horizon (15.2%)
Think high abv, think Brewdog. This is a blend of three signature stouts Nogne’s Dark Horizon, Mikkeller’s Black and Brewdog Tokyo.

8 Panda Frog – Pandamonium (5.5%), Dart Frog (4.7%), Ascendancy (7.4%), Ce n’est pas une biere de noel (7%) (need to get)
I thought I’d celebrate in style on Christmas eve with one of my favourite local breweries. Panda Frog brewery is Mordue breweries experimental arm, basically head brewer Rob Millichamp has been allowed to get creative and explore beer styles. Rob’s a very well educated brewer and it shows.

9 Durham Brewery – Raspberry saison (5.6%)
Another great local brewery, their Magus was one of those go to beers I had growing up. Their range includes some strong stand out beers but I’ve resisted the Temptation, and I’ve chosen to leave the 1994 Imperial White Stout and Diabolous to mature for a couple of years at least, and chosen to try their raspberry season which Ive never had before.

10 Rodenbach Grand Cru
Spotted this in a random corner shop and initial shock was followed by a swift movement to pluck it from the shelves. A beer Ive been keen to try since the Beer O’Clock Show (episode 81) it’s a Flemish red and was highly recommended by beer blogger extraordinaire Matt Curtis.

11 Saison Dupont
Not a new beer for me, bit one that I really enjoy. This is prone to being subbed out if I receive any beers from Santa….

12 Fullers Vintage Ale 2014?
Probably wouldn’t have gone out of my way to hunt down a bottle of this beer but since Waitrose had it for £4 I figured Id give it a go. Again, this is prone to being subbed out if Santa’s particularly kind this year.

I’m gonna try and keep my blog up to date daily for the beers I try, but at the very least I’ll tweet about them.

If you fancy getting involved, do so! It’s dead easy. Buy beer, drink beer, tell us what you think. Just don’t get the hashtag wrong, Steve won’t be happy….