Thursday, 11 December 2014

Advent Calendar -11th December 2014

Beer Advent Calendar
Firemans Brew - Redhead 5.5%
11th December 2014

Two weeks to go! Are you getting excited yet?

Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s I don't really recall alcohol featuring particularly in the Christmases of my formative years. I can remember the men going off to the pub whilst the women, mainly my grandmother, mother and aunt got on with the cooking. I think this was more because they were better off out of the way rather than getting in the way, although my father wasn't often among then as, having a car he was dispatched to collective relatives and subsequently take them home before he could relax, often with a large whisky rather than a beer. It was the annual New Years Eve party, planned with immaculate precision, that he would have a couple of beers at, and whilst my uncles open the industrial drum that was the 'Party Seven' he would often have a can of lager, Heineken I think, or perhaps a John Smiths bitter.

Sherry and port were the drinks that my grandparents favoured as they dozed restlessly in our most comfortable armchairs after the Queen's speech, which for some reason my maternal grandfather had to stand through, sometimes saluting much to our bemusement. As we grew older we would have a bucks fizz, champagne and orange juice, with our Christmas morning fry up, although we could never quite stomach the thick sweetness of the snowballs that my aunt would drink in quantity in the afternoon.

Inevitably, as soon as we were old enough or maybe a little before, Christmas Eve became the main Christmas drinking session, congregating with school friends in The Golden Lion, a fifteenth century pub situated in the centre of Romford in Essex, a tradition that continued well into the mid-nineties. In fact it was in the Golden Lion one Christmas Eve that I asked out the woman who would become my wife, so it holds many fond memories for me. Inevitably this excess would overshadow the big day itself on occasion, and we would rise later and later for our lunch with every successive year. One particularly memorable evening, I arranged to go to with a couple of friends to our nearest pub, The Royal Oak in Barking, for a few pre-Christmas lunch drinks. Despite having plenty the night before I duly arrived at the pub, downing three pints of Courage Best bitter before wending my somewhat wobbly way home. My mother had prepared a wonderful lunch which I somehow managed to eat most of before excusing myself from the table and heading upstairs for a lie down. That was the end of my Christmas day as I woke up fully clothed on Boxing Day morning absolutely ravenous. Needless to say I didn't do it the following year.

I'm sure you have lots of similar Christmas stories you could tell, and if you'd care to share it in the comments section at the bottom of this post I'm sure there's plenty of folk who'd like to read it, not just me. Take the plunge.

Talking of taking the plunge, I'd like to thank Andy Parker for picking up the gauntlet and being first with the answers to yesterday's questions. Here are those answers:

1. Broughton Ales

2. Bragget

3. Yorkshire Square

4. Lagavulin (or Calvados, I would have accepted both)

5. The Angel and White Horse

They were hard but Andy got them. Well done mate.

Now onto today's beer.

Founded by two firefighters, Rob and Ed in Canoga Park, California in the year 2000, Firemans Brew are an interesting proposition. Comprising of two distinct parts, On Duty Drinks comprising coffees and soda and an Off Duty Drinks section through which they sell their beer, although this is brewed for them at the Mendocino Brewing Company (part of United Breweries Limited and owners of the 'Kingfisher' lager trademark). Donating a proportion of their profits every year to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, they have three beers in their range: Blonde, a pilsner-style lager, Brunette, a German-style Doublebock, and todays beer, Redhead, a Red Amber Ale. Choosing hair colours, particularly those associated with women limited their options somewhat, but ignoring that let's see what the beer actually tastes like.

Pouring a deep ruby red with a thin but bubbly beige head it has an interesting aroma that seems to combines cherries and strawberries, brown bread crusts and cranberry in equal measure, but there's an underling creosoted wood note that brings the whole thing down a notch and throws it slightly off-kilter. It shuffles apologetically across the tongue, a confused ambling liquid dropping little globs of flavour, some good, some vague, as it does so. The good stuff is rich with fruity caramel with echoes of black cherry and chocolate, but there are also some unsettling gaps where the ghosts of bitter burnt sugar and some flat strawberryade lurk, and these become more pronounced the more I drink. The finish is neither one thing or another, perhaps fruity, perhaps caramel, perhaps ... and it's gone. This isn't a beer that's satisfying me at all, it's a beer I want to see the end of and move on. It's not a bad beer as such, it's just not a very good example of the style and I'm afraid it doesn't do anything for me at all.

So as I wash up my glass and grab my next beer (it's Brewdog's Dogma in case you're wonderingI, here are today's questions:

1. Adnams of Southwold used to brew a sweet ale called Suffolk Punch, but what is a Suffolk Punch?

2. Name the Barleywine launched in the early 1900s by Robinson's Brewery which takes it's name from the then brewery cat.

3. Which London brewery brews Chiswick Bitter?

4. Harvey's Brewery from Lewes produce a Thomas Paine Ales, named after Thomas Paine who worked as an Excise officer in the town, but which important document did he help draft?

5. Name the illustrious brewery established in 1792 in the Irish city of Cork which was celebrated for it's Irish Red Ale.

I've made them a little easier than yesterday, so let's see how you get on. First person with all answers correct get's a mention tomorrow so best of luck!

It's corny joke time!

Oh yes, I know you love this bit (because you've told me so) even though it probably makes you wince a little bit.

Let me see if I can make you wince some more.

What do call a flock of young sheep rolling down a hill?

A lambslide!

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