Tag Archives: Siren


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….

My Craft Beer Calling review

Sat drinking Anarchy Sublime Chaos and it got me thinking…..

Last weekend saw the first holding of Craft Beer Calling.  The event was set up very much like the Boiler Shop Steamer event and as such there was good live music on and a great array of street food to keep the happy punters very happy indeed!  The location was in the Boiler Shop which is an old warehouse on Sussex Street behind the central station and this building represents a very important step forward in the industrial revolution as it was the location where Robert Stephenson built his rocket in 1829 which changed the transport world as they knew it, with rapid expansion of the rail networks following its success. 

I don’t want to make obvious links here but I do think the first holding of this event will probably kick the Craft Beer revolution on further in the North East as there is already a healthy appetite for craft beer but I think it’ll grow all the more as people go to these events as an entry to their Craft Beer voyage of discovery.

I poured over the beer list ahead of the event and selected many beers that I wanted to try over the course of the weekend.  As it turned out there were probably 35-40 beers available at any one time so you had to keep a close eye out for any particular beers that you were hoping for.  One beer that I had read abit about before hand was the keg of xeRRex that Yeastie Boys were sending over.  The brewers themselves will readily admit that this is a beer you’ll either love of loathe.  It’s a big 10% smoky monster of a beer, most of the group I was with couldnt get past the smoky yeast aroma.  This was a beer with bags of flavour and character, delicious.  But beers like that leave you with a dilemma of how do you follow it, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me! 

Its special beers like this which the festival needs.  Initially the organisers will easily attract a crowd of beer drinkers in Newcastle, but attracting the more discerning drinkers from outside the region would be very useful for the city’s tourist industry.  The more unusual beers will put a beer festival on the map.  These weren’t your usual CAMRA festival beers, which is by no way a criticism but this festival had to be a significantly different event to the CAMRA Newcastle Beer Festival.  I suspect the timing was chosen to keep it as far from the CAMRA event as possible for that reason.  It worked, this was an entirely different experience with a very different atmosphere and a very different structure.

The Boiler Shop is a great space, could probably do with a couple more toilets for busier times and the bar did get very busy at times but that apart it worked very well.  There was a very cool tucked away Gin Bar and a brilliant space upstairs where they held the meet the brewer sessions.  There was real beer and food theme too though. The food vendors were all top quality outlets, no cheap burgers here!  That was all brought together by the Beer and Food matching talk that the lovely Melissa Cole gave where she paired beers with the delicious food offerings from Tony Renwick of The Bridge Tavern.  Food pairings were all excellent, and the depth of knowledge from Melissa added real expertise to the talk.  I did feel alittle disgruntled when some at the back of the room were talking throughout the event but I didn’t let it spoil it.  I guess you put people with drink you inevitably get events being abit rough around the edges like that.  Melissa and Tony didn’t seem to mind though.

So anyway, back to the beers.  I wont bore you with a run through every beer I had but there’s a few I want to mention.

Camden’s collaboration with Beavertown, One Hell of a Beaver, was one stand out beer.  It had all the hoppy notes of Beavertown’s Gamma Ray but with the crisp fresh texture of Camden’s Hells lager.  It almost felt like you took a sip of Gamma Ray but swallowed a sip of Hells.  Brilliant beer!  Make more please!

Also worth mentioning was Lagunitas American double IPA Hop Stoopid, which was hops piled on hops piled on hops.  Tremendous!  Also loved Mikkeller/Siren Daydream which is a white stout brewed with coffee, cocoa and vanilla and it had a real boozy warm flavour to warm the cockles.

The regions beers were very well represented, I saw Panda Frog Dart Frog 48 sell out in double quick time (too quick for me to get to try it!), Wylam had their Jakehead in Embryo form (racked direct from FV which was delicious), Tyne Bank’s Heavenly Porter was smooth and rich in bourbon flavours, but the star of the show for me was Anarchy’s keg of 15 month aged national gold award winning Sublime Chaos.  This is a breakfast stout infused with Ethiopian coffee bean from of “natural” type, which means they are dried out on sun terraces!  I love this beer anyway but the aging just saw it mature to a bigger smoother more rounded individual.  The chocolate flavours were more pronounced than normal and the bitterness of the coffee notes kept it perfectly balanced.

Naturally, there were some beers that I missed out on but that just makes me keen to go back again next year.  If the organisers could move it to a different month to Indyman that’d be very much appreciated!  Just to keep the missus happy.

Some minor points to note, I thought it would have been useful to have the cask offerings displayed on the barrels behind the bar at a higher level so you could see what was on when the bar was busy. And it did get busy, the bar area was often packed but we’re British we’re used to queuing.  I thought the bingo card beer tokens seemed abit naff but worked none the less. I think given that they’re my only criticisms I have to say it was a good event.  There was certainly plenty people there enjoying it! 

To my mind this festival was a big deal for Newcastle and the North East.  As I’ve said before the region deserves it to celebrate the great craft beers that we are producing (I say we, I’m mainly consuming them but you know what I mean).   So in that respect I think it put down a good marker for future years. I’d like to see it grow and expand although I’m not sure you’d want more people there or more beers so perhaps attracting different breweries to the event would take it forward.  I’ll leave that for the organisers to sort out though, cos they did a cracking job this year!  Well done!