Clash of the Titans – #IMPOFF

Over the past year I’ve had the privilege to be involved in some great Twitter beer related events. We’ve had #openit, the #whitestout night and the #7point5 campaign night to name but a few. They are a really enjoyable and most importantly, are a very effective way of getting lots of people talking about a common theme or message regardless of location.

Next up is #IMPOFF, brainchild of the ever effervescent Elly Bell of Durham Brewery and brought to life by various twitter folks including Simon at CAMRGB, myself and several other beery types.

The basic idea is that if possible you get yourself a bottle of Durham Brewery’s Temptation to start with, the reason being that the whole thing began with Elly suggesting that Temptation would stand up to or generally be superior to most imperial stouts out there in the market place today. Bold claims huh? 😉

In all seriousness though it was all tongue in cheek and not boastful. Elly is passionate about her breweries beers and quite rightly so, they are top dollar. The main premise was to follow-up on the massive success of White Stout night and get people to check out Temptation, whilst comparing it to those on an initially “suggested” list all being available from Beerritz online to make it easy for folk to buy them all in one place. That list is below:

Magic Rock – Bearded Lady 10.5%
Dark Star – Imperial Stout 10.5%
Durham Brewery – Temptation 10.0%
Kernel Brewery – Imperial Brown Stout 9.8%
Buxton Brewery – Tsar 9.5%
Thornbridge – Saint Petersburg 7.7%
Bristol Beer Factory – Ultimate Stout 7.7%
Samuel Smiths – Imperial Stout 7.0%

That list is by no means full and comprehensive nor is it meant to be restrictive, these are suggestions only so get involved by drinking what you have, what you can get hold of, or even what you are comfortable with. After all these are BIG beers and obviously too much to handle for one person in one night. It doesn’t even matter if you can’t get any Temptation to compare yours with just join in anyway and lets get folks talking about Imperial Stouts… Don’t forget to use the #IMPOFF hash-tag.

I’m planning another mini get together tasting session for my #IMPOFF night, on a smaller scale than my last with four to six lucky imperial stout loving guests. On the night we will be comparing the merits of all or a selection of these fabulous beers:


That’s the plan anyway which may change dependant on how I arrange the tasting on the day. Official kick off time is below but again this is not restrictive if it doesn’t fit with your plans on the day, do it before, during or after, just do it and enjoy…. 🙂

Temptation and Friends #impoff
31st March 2012

8pm onwards 

Note: If you are a beer specialist, bar, shop, beer retailer or a pub etc and are running an #IMPOFF Imperial Stout night yourself and want it advertising here, drop me a response on the blog with the details, links etc and I’ll do the honours. Please pass this on, RT, Facebook, email whatever and help make this another great night for beer.


Small acorns and all that.. #WHITESTOUT

If you are a beer fan or a Twitter user you simply must know that last night (Weds 8th February 2012) was White Stout night, where across the UK and perhaps beyond, beer lovers opened their shiny bottles of White Stout in unison and shared the beery love. I was one of those many and had gone a step further in organising a mini gathering for a tasting session and to try a bit of cheese/beer pairing.

So why did I get involved to such an extent, when I’d not ever tasted a Durham Brewery beer before never mind the White Stout as the new kid on the block?

Three reasons really, one, I’d been involved in similar Twitter events before like #openit (next one is 24-26 Feb 2012) and #7point5 and really enjoyed them, great interaction with other folks is a great way to experience and learn about beer. Two, I’d been watching Elly from Durham Brewery‘s tweets about #whitestout and was drawn in by her bubbly enthusiasm about her brewery’s beer. Finally three, it was giving me the opportunity for the first time to host a little tasting session with food pairing, a thing I’d been itching to get going in Stoke for a good while, I’d moaned about it long enough, time to roll up the sleeves and get stuck in.

I was to hold my #whitestout session at my local The Bulls Head, where I’d arranged for a few fellow beer lovers to gather together on a week night when the pub would normally be pretty quiet. As I only had one beer to draw them out on a cold winters night i decided to pad the night out with some cheese pairings to try. I enlisted help from trusty twitterfolks Rick Furzer and Steve Lamond who have experience in this area plus thoughts from Elly at the brewery, so armed with their suggestions I hot footed it up to my local deli Brown and Green.

Andy (as pictured above) was an absolute star, although he didn’t have everything on my shopping list he was fantastically enthusiastic about finding alternatives, things that would work or that people would just simply enjoy. He busily cut away at various cheeses, we’d sample a hunk of this and a chunk of that before narrowing it down to a final four.

Godminster Organic Vintage Cheddar

Godminster Organic Vintage Cheddar

Dovedale Blue

Abdomnance Fermier

Y Fenni

Oh and some bacon jam!! 😉

Wednesday afternoon came and I set about getting things started, I had deliveries to make to a few local brewers, pub and marketing folk that couldn’t make it, my tasting beers too to their cellar to cool and cheese to chop, this done I set off to The Bulls Head.

Arriving later than I’d hoped I have to confess it was a little chaotic, people arrived and wanted to get straight into their White Stout before drinking any other ales. I scrambled with help from the bar folk to get glasses sorted and beers poured. BOOM disaster, one of my white stouts was decidedly dark. In my haste I’d opened a bottle of their 10% Imperial Stout “Temptation” and started to pour it into a half filled glass of white, a mistake which turned out to be a really interesting combination as it rocked. A mistake that Ghostdrinker made purposely in his tasting session funnily enough to similar happy results.

Drinks served we all tucked in,    silence…

Even I was quiet (for a while), deep in thought, I’d not tasted this before either and it was well, different. The looks around the room were worrying, pensive faces not WOW faces I’d say, yes it was good but did it live up to the hype, probably not in that moment. I quickly jumped in to say it was probably too cold and the flavours were stifled. The beers had not been chilled apart from in a cellar environment but this definitely was the case.

As the glass warmed and time wore on those pensive faces stared to have smiles and soon busy chatter started and phones came from pockets to tweet their thoughts. We cracked the cheeses and started to tuck in and sample one against the other. I was so glad that we’d enough beer for seconds as it was a revelation with the second batch that had sat in a warm room for a while, great beer in great condition.

On the cheese pairings there were mixed reviews, all four cheeses were fantastic in their own right. The Y Fenni didn’t pair well but being fair it wasn’t meant too, Andy and I had picked it as a great eating cheese, it’s made with wholegrain mustard and ale which just seemed right for the occasion, it was and was popular. So too was the Godminster Vintage Cheddar, probably too good in fact as before I knew it the gannets had wolfed the lot and I didn’t even get to try any…

For me though, the cheesy stars of the show were the Abdomnance Fermier and the Dovedale Blue. Abdomnance Fermier was as a replacement for aged Gouda as suggested by Rick, it has a deep nutty flavour, slight sweetness and a nice firm texture. Dovedale Blue was a twist on the Stilton or a soft blue as recommended by Steve and Elly. I really enjoyed this one and for me it was the winner by a cheese wire of margins, soft, rich and very creamy which really went well with the sweetness of the stout, but it had a nice acidity and saltiness from the blue veining which brought the whole thing together, marvelous. In truth I’d recommend any of them to try but these two for this beer.

Conscious that I haven’t mentioned the bacon jam, I will, you’re intrigued aren’t you admit it?

I was too as Andy rushed to a chiller at the back of the cheese counter and produced it. It had similar results when I presented it to my astonished/repulsed guests “BACON JAM”!  This stuff is ace, I can only describe it as a sort of minced bacon chutney, loads of bacon texture in a rich sweet, spicy paste-like sauce. Everyone tried it tentatively at first before diving back in for more and more. Personally I loved this with the Abdomnance Fermier, but apparently it’s designed as a relish on crusty bread, burgers etc, also for adding to stews, pasta dishes as well as a side for cheese. I’m thinking spread on bread before toasting a vintage cheddar on top..hmmm.

OK to round-up what would I do again next time around if the chance arose. More beer in terms of more variety and some that I had tasted before to add value as a host rather than being one of the crowd. Venue, the pub was great and I thank them heartily but thee was no wi-fi and general phone reception is awful (for me at least), thankfully the pub is due wi-fi in a few weeks time (box ticked). More cheese pairings definitely and more quantity, I’d love to expand the food into other things too like sweets and savoury dishes as Leigh, Zac and co are doing up at Beer-Ritz. Minor things and easily rectified.

So why small acorns? (NO PUNS REQUIRED IF YOU PLEASE ;))

Well this all started from a small acorn of an idea by I assume Elly Bell at Durham Brewery, it grew into a massive oak tree of an event joined by thousands across the UK and I’m sure was a resounding success. Twitter was full of the #whitestout hash tag and I’m sure would have trended had it not been for a certain Italian ex England footbal manager

But also it was a small acorn for me too, the start of something I’d like to grow here in my area. I said earlier I do enough moaning about it, get stuck in and get it moving, hopefully this did just that.

Thanks to everyone who attended, assisted, joined in and hopefully enjoyed, particularly you Elly at Durham Brewery you’re a star.

See you all on the next one, CHEERS

A time to reflect on the nights events with Jim & I finally giving in to temptation.

White Stout Night

The Durham Brewery – White Stout Night Weds 8th Feb 2012 – 8:30PM

“White Stout Night” is a social media event dreamed up by the lovely folks at Durham Brewery. The idea is that Twitter and Facebook users who are lucky enough to get a bottle all open their White Stout on or after 8:30 PM on Weds 8th Feb 2012. There are some live tasting events out and about across the country too so check with your local to see if anything is happening near you.

They want drinkers to engage in real-time and virtual conversations online with other drinkers and the folks from the brewery. Twitter is the best tool for this as you will get real-time responses from the brewery and other drinkers. Facebook users can join in too by liking The Durham Brewery and commenting on their wall. Twitterers please use the following hash tags in your Tweets and share your thoughts, tasting notes & comments, this is really important to get involved and make the night a success.

#whitestout #beersay

@filrd (me) @DurhambreweryEl @dbrewersean @durhambrewery

Brewery Notes:

“White Stout is the ultimate beer in our “WhiteRange”. While the word “stout” has come to mean a dark beer, the original meaning was strong and true. Before the porter brewers commandeered the word to mean a stout, or strong, porter it referred to any strong beer. We have rehabilitated and improved the genre. White Stout is a very pale, full-bodied, strong beer. American Columbus hops are used throughout to give massive floral and resinous character. At a strength of 7.2% this is a true stout. Indeed, few modern stouts of any colour are true to the word for strong.”

Check out for more beers and the online store.

I’ve not tasted the beer myself yet but have a few bottles to share on the night and hopefully review post the event itself, please visit the blog and comment on the event round-up and how it went for you.

Looking forward to hearing from you. Cheers 🙂

Duty can “Do One!”

To your every day regular beer drinker tomorrow, Saturday 1st October 2011, will be no doubt as any other, it will come and go and Saturday night drinking will be no doubt unremarkable. You will buy your regular pint, grab your normal change and carry on regardless.

But to anyone who likes something a little different, something special, like a Belgian Trappist, an Imperial IPA or Stout, or basically anything “speciality” of higher strength though it’s going to be a bad day at black rock… 😦

All because of government legislation passed late last year, weakly excused as a way to cut down on binge drinking and the Tennants Super or Special Brew street drinking brigade:

Changes to the beer duty regime – The review of alcohol taxation in November 2010 announced measures to encourage the consumption of lower strength beers. The Government will introduce a new additional duty on beers over 7.5 per cent alcohol by volume (abv) in strength at a rate of 25 per cent of general beer duty. This will add 25 pence to the price of a can of “super strength” lager.

A reduced rate of 50 per cent of general beer duty will be introduced for beers of 2.8 per cent abv or below and above 1.2 per cent abv in strength. This will reduce the price of a pint of beer at 2.8 per cent abv by 18 pence. These changes will come into effect from 1 October 2011. (Finance Bill 2011)

There have been a few debates flying around as the day of reckoning approaches, some supporting the change, some dead against as put so very well on Ghost Drinkers blog (to whom I owe homage as to the main influence to put finger to keyboard here) and finally some with complete indifference.

The thing is though regardless of which side of the camp you are on, should we just accept it, let it pass unremarked? After all it’s high strength now, but what’s next???

OK, I concede that generally most folk don’t drink beer of 7.5% regularly or should I say all the time.

When I go to the pub I’ll drink a 3.5% session bitter, mild or pale ale without issue as long as it’s tasty and refreshing. But sometimes at last orders or maybe midweek sitting at home or even when I just fancy something special, it’s usually the opposite. At these moments I want a beer to knock my socks off, not just in terms of alcoholic strength, I want depth and complexity of flavour too, something to savour..

There is an argument that if you are affluent enough to afford such luxuries, then you shouldn’t mind paying an extra 50p here and there for the privilege.

I say “I pay quite enough thank you” and in doing so help the British brewing and beer industries. Even if it’s a foreign import I still do my bit for the economy in terms of trade and duties too.

On the flip side though there is another side to that argument, what if you are not in a position to afford them, or can afford them rarely. Surely this will drive more people away and make them difficult for our beer establishments to stock, just when good beer is suddenly an exciting industry again with brewers trying more and more to tempt our palates with exotic tasty brews.

Tsar pic courtesy of Neil at Eating Isn’t Cheating

So to make my own personal stand I’ve written to my MP to express my discontent and ask a few questions.

I understand that in the grand scheme of things it may be a feeble, pointless exersize. I’m sure too that many of you could have put it a lot more eloquently than I, plus no doubt have included some inside industry insight, but it’s my point and at least it’s said..

I’ve copied a link to it below, it may draw scorn from some quarters (although I hope not), I really hope it drives debate and discussion. But most of all I hope it drives you to do likewise and let the powers that be know you are not happy.

It’s easy to do and can be as short and direct or long winded and detailed as you like, just click HERE, type your postcode and your MP’s contact details will appear with a link allowing you to say your piece..

Whatever you do, find out when your local retailer be it pub, supermarket or specialist beer store is putting up the prices and fill your boots. Lets make this not just a party as Ghost Drinker suggests, make it a full week of indulgence..


You can read my letter by following this link!

Coastal Brewery – Kernow Stout – 9%

I first came across this little gem at the Bhurtpore Inn Beer festival. I’d had a few Coastal beers before, all had been pretty good, their Erosion being a fine example, described as being a powerful, warming old ale, coming in at 8% it was  certainly that and more.. 

For the last few days the Kernow’s been on at The Bulls Head in Burslem, I’d been eagerly awaiting the it’s arrival as soon as the pump clip appeared on the “coming soon” board and had even managed to blag a couple of pre pump pints from the cellar. 😉 In a similar vein to Erosion this is a dangerously drinkable beer, it slides down far too easily for a 9% Imperial Stout that’s for sure. As it’s delivered across the bar the first thing that strikes you is the appearance, a swirling mass of dark brown, slowly settling to a jet black body topped with a thick chocolate brown foamy head. It smells of espresso, molasses and strong molten chocolate. The mouth feel is thick, sweet, bitter all rolled into one whilst remaining very drinkable, there are all the flavours as per the aroma list above, but suspended in a rich liquorice caramel which is long lasting. Fans of big imperial stouts will love this, it’s a truly impressive beer. If I had to pick a winner out of the two, Kernow and Erosion, I reckon the latter just edges it on drinkability, saying that both are powerhouses in terms of alcoholic strength and manage to hide it very well. For fellow foodies I’d like to try this instead of a good port and pair it with a nice strong stilton, or maybe in place of a desert wine with a good pud. How well are Coastal known in your area? If you’ve not tried them, a brewery to look out for most definitely, maybe hunt one down for International Stout Day.. 🙂

About Coastal Brewery

If you enjoyed reading this blog post then please spread the love by telling your friends. Facebook share it, RT on Twitter or send it on by email. I’d love to read your views just click the button and wax lyrical in the comments section of this page. Or if you’ve nothing to say, just click the rating stars below..  Cheers Phil

Introducing, Project “Time Capsule”

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but have never managed to get round to it, start to age some beers that is. It’s taken so long for two reasons really, time and lack of it, plus the fact that I’ve never had enough beers that fit the bill around long enough to start..

So to start the ball well and truly rolling, this month I placed an order which included a few extras so that I could taste specific beers fresh, then set another aside for the ageing process. These have joined others that I have amassed and set aside over the last 6 months. Finally though, I am able to introduce you to, project “Time Capsule

It’s nothing to look at I know, just an old beer delivery box, but once filled, sealed and placed in a coolish dark place, I’m confident that it should provide a decent enough environment which is about as close as I can get to a real beer cellar.

For those who have not ever tried this before, I am reliably informed that basically you just need somewhere with a pretty constantly cool temperature without too much fluctuation. It also needs to be dark or at least certainly not in sunlight to prevent the beers getting light-struck.

Beer choices are partly trial and error and some through research. Some beers suit ageing better than others, high alcohol Belgian Trappist beers for example, but avoid anything light and hoppy as they really need to be drunk fresh. I’ve thrown a few in here that may not really fit the bill but as it’s a first time attempt then I’ll learn as I go.

So what’s in the box so far?

6 x Westvleteren 12

2 x Orval, Rochefort 10, Chimay Blue, Hoegaarden Grand Cru.

Large bottles of Achel Bruin Extra, St Bernadus 12 and St Bernadus Christmas, De Glazen Toren Canaster Winterscotch, Leffe Christmas  and Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van Der Kieser.

Then single small bottles of Goose Island Pepe Nero, Samuel Smiths Imperial Stout, Kapitel Prior, De Halve Maan Straffe Hendrick Quadruppel, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Thornbridge St Petersburg, St Bernadus 12, Robinsons Chocolate Tom and finally a Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (the last two are not pictured).

The list is by no means a closed book, I intend to add to it as I go on and obviously drink some in time as this becomes a living beast. Each bottle that goes in is labelled with the date it was bought or roughly at least, so that in a few years time I can keep track of how long each beer has been kept. Willpower depending…. 🙂

I’d definitely be interested in comments and suggestions from beer enthusiasts, brewers, publicans etc, in fact anyone really with knowledge or experience to share as to how you think this will work out, have I made any glaring errors for example.

Are there any MUST HAVE beers that just have to go into the box (there are a few already in mind)?

Are there any beers already in there that you just know already are not going to improve and I may as well just enjoy now?

How long, is too long (or not long enough)?

I am learning here, so any input will be gratefully received..

Wish me luck…

If you enjoyed reading this blog post then please spread the love by telling your friends. Facebook share it, RT on Twitter or send it on by email. I’d love to read your views just click the button and wax lyrical in the comments section of this page. Or if you’ve nothing to say, just click the rating stars below..  Cheers Phil

I am NOT obsessed with beer!?!

I had an accusation levelled at me over the weekend, saying that everything I’ve posted on Facebook, Twitter etc recently has involved the word BEER and that I was obsessed, this understandably left a bit of a bitter taste..

What nonsense I thought, ridiculous in fact and although normally I’m a mild mannered man, thought I’d better hop to it and prepare to stoutly defend myself from such accusations at the dubbel.. To prove my point I’m going to have a Bass at explaining why I’m not obsessed, without mentioning the “b” word at all, it’s gonna be Hardknott to, but ale try my best.

It is true that I like a lovely brewed beverage or two, it’s tasty, relaxing and much safer than taking pils. The more I drink though, the more I learn and I only seek to pass on that knowledge, wort and all, by sharing it with the mashes. This inevitably leads to tuns of posts, status updates and tweets..

Not to labour the pint, each time I write a blog post it is published on Facebook, Twitter and email automatically, so instead of seeing one, you can see up to Tripel the amounts of mentions of the unmentionable. Therefore if I’ve quaffed an ale and am itchen to share it with you, it seems Scilly not to tell you all it Wentwell whilst I’m Fuller information straight after the Session.

So there you have it, a full and comprehensive explanation of the facts without a single mention of ” “. Conclusive evidence, displaying no obsessive behaviours whatsoever, in fact as you can see I’m completely Fyne.