Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Advent Calendar - 10th December 2014

Beer Advent Calendar
Batemans Brewery - Rosey Nosey 4.7%
10th December 2014

In fourteen days time I know full well that I shall be frantically wrestling with the sellotape (other tapes are available I hear, perhaps I should have written 'gift tape') surrounded by wrapping paper as I try and fail to carefully wrap presents. I will of course have had plenty of time to do this, but as usual my total apathy will have meant that I've left it to the last minute again. I recall one year that I was incredibly organised and did all my wrapping early and wasn't nearly as much fun, so Christmas Eve it is again for this year.

A beer, preferably a strong dark one, is my solitary companion when I'm trying how to get the size of wrapping paper I've cut to fit around a gift that is tantalisingly a little bigger than I thought. I'm sure you do the same and I wonder, just because it's Christmas, whether you'll have a Christmas beer too. Todays beer from the Ales By Mail advent calendar would be a pretty solid choice, but with so many Christmas beers which one do you choose?

You could visit your local off-license who may have a selection of the more well known breweries Christmas offerings and maybe a few surprises, or you could stay at home and shop online if you want something a little more specific or exotic. It's hard to decide what you want when faced with all that choice however; will it be a rich and luxurious or sweet and stuffed with festive spice? You could look online of course fro specific reviews or, as I have done for many years, peruse Don Russell's excellent 'Christmas Beer' book.

Published in 2008 'Christmas Beer' is a book of two parts, with the first being 'The Story Of Christmas Beer' chronicling the evolution of the Yuletide brew alongside Christmas itself evolving to become the festival we now, including a section on how it is celebrated in other countries. The second section 'The World's 50 Best Christmas Beers' lists the author's favourite festive beers, and considering it's six years old, and all that has happened in beer in the intervening years, it stands up rather well. It's not just US beers either even though this an American book, with plenty of European breweries beers being included, and it's not just fifty beers either as it goes on to feature a further ninety-eight as well as some beer inspired cocktails. Some of those included are inevitably no longer with us, the much missed George Gale Christmas Ale being one of these, but you may be surprised to see offerings from Nogne O and Mikkeller in the list, who knew 'Santa's Little Helper' was that old?

It's a book I've had since the year it came out, but I read it every December and it never fails to delight me. I've featured it in lists of my favourite beer books and the good news is that it's still available to buy and you don't have to look too hard to find it. I will be featuring my favourite beer books of 2014 in a future post, but I thought I'd mention this one separately as I'm such a big fan. I hope you'll excuse my indulgence.

And now it's time for the answers to yesterdays quiz questions.

1. Chinook

2. Pinkus Muller Brauerei and Munster

3. Fermentation

4. Stein

5. Ralph Steadman

I was a little disappointed with the lack of response to yesterdays quiz, so we'll say no more about it and move on. Just try a bit harder today please.

It's fair to say that Batemans Rosey Nosey is probably one of the most often spotted Christmas-themed cask ales, with it's flashing red nose pump clip literally acting as a beacon, drawing your gaze as you scan what's available. First brewed in 2002 using Maris Otter pale, crystal and wheat malts and English Goldings hops I note that the abv has steadily declined from 5.0% to 4.9% to it's current 4.7% over the years, so let's see what it tastes like.

Pouring a clear russet colour with a thin off white head, it has the aroma of pineapple and raisin, honey and lemon, as well as a thin thread of fruitcake maltiness woven through it, but it's all a little muted and there's a touch of astringency that's making me hesitate before I drink it, but drink it I shall. Full and remarkably plump feeling over the tongue, a huge wave of golden raisin and tinned prune flavours burst in the mouth, sweet rich and delicious and though I've had this beer many times I'm nonetheless astonished by how good this is tasting. Theirs a hint of coffee cream sponge I that comes in at the end of the fruitiness and takes you through to the finish which is slightly woody, but woody as in: varnished wood and wet logs, strangely calming and familiar rather than 'twiggy' and jarringly unfinished. This is a very polished beer with a very British taste but with enough character to be remarkable and familiar enough to feel comfortable, and whilst it's not great it is nevertheless rather good.

As todays beer is a very British beer from a very British brewery I thought it only fitting to choose very British questions for the quiz today. So, thinking caps on, here they are:

1.Which brewery brews Scottish Oatmeal Stout, issued with labels depicting the brewer's grandfather, Robert Younger who founded the Younger's Brewery in Edinburgh?

2. Which style of beer did King Arthur reputedly serve to his Knights of the Round Table?

3. What do you call the northern English method of fermentation that forces the liquid to circulate between upper and lower chambers, thus training the yeast to work slowly, resulting in a well-bodied creamy ale?

4. JW Lees of Manchester issue a much sought after Harvest Ale every year, but what casks was the 2003 vintage matured in?

5. The Samuel Smith Old Brewery of Tadcaster in North Yorkshire was established in 1758 to serve a particular coaching inn. What was the name of that inn?

Best of luck with those, let's see who's first with those answers today.

Of course it's now time for that cracker joke.

Let's see if I can plumb depths lower than I ever have before, a new low in Christmas jokery.

Here goes:

How do you make an apple crumble?

Show it a picture of it's family tied up in your garage

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