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 🙂