Sunday, 14 December 2014

Advent Calendar - 14th December 2014

Beer Advent Calendar
Riley's Brewing Co - India Pale Ale 7.5%
14th December 2014

It's Sunday 14th December so only ten days to go to the big one now. It's also International Monkey Day apparently, who knew?

As it's a Sunday, traditionally a day of rest, I thought I'd do something a little different. Instead of writing today I feel that something a little easier on the eye is in order, so I've been flicking through my scrap books of beer labels and picking out some of my favourites. How many do you remember?

An eclectic mix I'm sure you'll agree. Some of the oldest are twenty years old would you believe, but there's also a few from last year in there just for good measure. Who would have thought that Shepherd Neame had so many different labels for their Christmas Ale, and I'm glad that they revived that tradition last year. I've spent a fun hour or so going through them all, and there are about a hundred more that I could have put in as I'm quite a fan of Christmas beer in all it's various guises.

So while I feel all nostalgic I'll give you the answers to yesterdays questions.

1. Black Sheep Brewery

2. Palmers

3. Wild Beer Co.

4. Jeffrey Hudson Bitter

5. A steam engine

I hope you got those. Clayton Chisholm managed three out of the five and as, unusually, his was the only response he gets the glory. Well done mate.

Today's beer from my Ales By Mail Advent Calendar is by Riley's Brewing Co., located in Madera, California and quite a rare thing to see in the UK. The brewery, founded in 2011, started out as a hobby for three unemployed friends meeting in Daniel Riley's garage for barbecues and beer. They started home brewing as more and more friends started to come over until eventually, after a puppy they should have been watching got loose in the house whilst Daniel's wife was out and she promptly banned them from the garage. Fortunately Daniel also owned a 12,000 square foot steel rental building so he and his two friends, Daniel Musso and Joe Holland, decided to open a brewery there, building everything, kettles, fermenters, pressure tanks, from scratch and by hand. There core beers Sancha, Wildcat, Vixen, Siren and Cougar may have a couple of dubious names, and labels to match, but they have had some rather good reviews. I have had their Double IPA at a recent Ales by Mail tasting event, with my Untappd check-in describing it as "nothing special, but not bad", so I'm hoping for something a little better today.

It pours a golden amber with a thin but nicely carbonated off-white head, and an incredible aroma of pineapple in syrup, mango, lime zest and surprisingly a hint of those banana sweets that have no banana in them at all. Thin and rather watery with a decent prickle of carbonation over the tongue, there's pine and pineapple, melon and satsuma, it's absolutely stuffed with sharp citrus flavour, maybe it little bit too sharp around the edges of the tongue, but it cannot be denied, this is one juicy beer, The finish is a touch oily and it doesn't dry out as you might expect but instead fades gently away with a flash of white pepper spiciness at the back of the tongue before those citrus flavours come back, most noticeably in the nose, and linger for some time. This is the kind of beer that improves the more you drink it, becoming more intense with every sip, it's certainly more than "not bad" it's definitely very good.

So, as I savour the last of this beer, here are today's quiz questions:

1. Old Freddy Walker from the Moor Beer Company in Somerset, won the CAMRA's 'Supreme Winter Beer' title in 2004, but what style of beer is it?

2. Reflecting ale taxation, Scottish ale was often graded using the old shilling currency to denote whether it was light, heavy, export or strong, but what were the four denominations?

3. Which Manchester brewery, established in 1849, uses the line 'For those who know bitter' to advertise it's beers?

4. Staying in the same city as the question above, which beer was called the 'Cream of Manchester'?

5. Which brewery uses a distinct shape bottle for it's beers, a faithful copy of a 1770s design by Thomas Gerald of Philadelphia?

And so, after a slightly more relaxed post than usual, here it is.

That groan-inducing Christmas cracker joke you (probably haven't) been waiting for;

What do you call someone who is afraid of being stuck in a chimney with a bag of presents?

A santaclaustrophobic !

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