Saturday, 20 December 2014

Advent Calendar - 20th December 2014

Beer Advent Calendar
Five Points Brewing Company - Pale 4.4%
20th December 2014

Five days to go!

And so inevitably after Black Friday, once the hangovers from the night before have worn off, comes mad-spending Saturday. Apparently today is the single biggest spending day of the year and I admit that I had to join the merry (!) throng of happy shoppers up and down the land trying desperately to remember if Aunty Ellen is a size six or seven in a slipper or whether George has already got the latest Script CD. Undecided on both issues we get them both vouchers and let them sort it out for themselves in the New Year sales.

I went to Stratford in east London this afternoon, or more specifically Westfield shopping centre, and mixed it up with the best of them. Thankfully I knew roughly what I wanted and where I wanted to to go, but it was still busy, why would I expect anything less, and I took me a full fifteen minutes walk from one end to the other.

Fortunately a saviour was at hand, an oasis of calm in amongst the chaos of sharp elbows, indecisive choosers and meandering shopping bags, and that haven was Tap East. 

I do like Tap East, even though it can be a bit pricey, but as a bit of a treat and by heaven you need to treat yourself when you're Christmas shopping, it does have some beers that you don't see elsewhere. Now you may recall that on Day Eight of this calendar I extolled the virtues of a Christmas shopping bolt hole and today Tap East fit the bill nicely, but particularly because it happens to have a host of seasonal specials at this time of year. I used it as such last year, and drank Thornbridge Raven, Magic Rock High Wire and De Ranke Pere Noel to help me through, but this time when scanning the taps my eyes immediately fell on Anchor's Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (Our Special Ale) 2014. 

I can't recall ever having seen this on tap in the UK before, although I'm sure it has been, and I became more than a little excited having only discussed this beer in my Beer Advent only two days ago as I'm as big a fan of the concept and the execution as I am of the beer itself. I already have a bottle of this years vintage stashed away but I simply couldn't resist it. 

Now, I normally wouldn't do a mini review of one beer before the main event, however, with it's flavours of burnt sugar and oodles of toffee caramel it has a real depth of flavour that belies it's initially thin mouth feel and I have to say that it's probably the best recipe for some years. Grab a bottle if you can or, if you're able then get yourself over to Tap East and sample something a little bit special this Christmas and get your celebrations under way the Anchor way.

And now, before today's beer I have to give you the answers to yesterdays questions. How did you get on?

1. Weihnachtsbier

2. Bieres de Noel

3. Avec les Bons Voeux

4. Wassail

5. God Jul

They were a bit tough weren't they? Perhaps a little too tough as there were no correct answers, so without further ado it's time for the beer.

The Five Points Brewing Company from the heart of Hackney in east London, and not a million miles away from where I was shopping earlier on, only brewed their first batch in March 2013 but have gained a reputation for clean flavoured, great tasting beer. I reviewed their Red Rye Ale as part of my Beers of London Series back in the June of that year and closed by saying that they would be a brewery to look out for and I was most definitely right, so let's open that bottle.

Pouring a hazy golden amber with a thin off white head, this beer has a simply dazzling aroma full of peach juice, mango, grapefruit peel and a twist of lemon and lime zest and a faint underlying crisp bread maltiness, it's juicy with a capital 'J'. Cheeky and bubbly over the tongue it makes you smack your lips with pleasure as it's sharp bitterness unleashes a wave of pine accented citrus fruits with peach and satsuma juice, mango and grapefruit, all mixed in with little caramel which lowers it's intensity but makes it more balanced and ultimately a better ber for that. The finish is fruity a gooey, like a soft citrus fudge, smooth and delicious and the best thing is that it lasts for absolutely ages. I have had this beer many many times and it has never ceased to delight me, and while it may not be a Christmas beer it sure is a cracker.

This superb beer it is the last of the beers from my Ales By Mail Advent Calendar that isn't a Christmas one, it's seasonal brews form here on in, you have been warned.

Talking of warnings we have that christmas cracker joke coming up in a minute, but first it's time for today's questions:

1. The family-owned brewery Brouwerij Lindemans of Vlezenbeek, Belgium is famous for which kind of beer.

2. Which brewery, today a science centre and college as well has crowned the Nahrberg Hill since 725 AD, and claims to be the world's oldest?

3. The Brasserie Dubuisson Freres of Belgium, dating back to 1769 brews a seasonal ale called Scaldis Noel in the USA, What is it called in Europe?

4. I reviewed Hardknott's first Christmas beer in an earlier post, but in which county is the brewery based?

5. The Hartwell Brewery of Finland brews it's beer using the icy waters of the Tornio River in the Lapland wilderness but can you name their best best selling brand?

A mixed bunch there, but I hope you're able to get them.

Go on, cheat a bit and look up the answers online, it is Christmas after all.

And now.

To finish.

That joke.

How did Darth Vader know what Luke Skywalker had got him for Christmas?

Because he felt his presents (presence)!

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