Sunday, 7 December 2014

Advent Calendar - 7th December 2014

Beer Advent Calendar
Fyne Ales - Holly Daze 5.0%
7th December 2014

Todays beer marks a week of daily blogging, something I haven't done in quite some time. Today is also the day we are going to put our decorations up, the day our house becomes officially Christmassy.

Every year however, this job becomes a little harder as a few extra ornaments appear on the shelves. Whether it's something that the children have brought proudly home from school to show us or, as is more often the case a few more beer glasses are taking up the space.

As I look at these glasses now I am reminded of some of the festivals, and places I've been to this year. There's one from Craft Beer Rising that got home remarkably unscathed considering that I didn't, and a cool Pilsner Urquell half pinter that immediately brings to mind the time I brewed a 'Citron Pilsner' with Martyn Cornell and Andy Parker. What an experience and one I'd particularly like to thank Pilsner Urquell UK and Mark Dredge for. Then there's the BeerBods glass that I use every Thursday at 9.00pm, my GBBF third glass, one from Summer Brew Fest, some Teku glasses, one from the Hanging Bat in Edinburgh (one that I bought, I didn't steal it before you ask), and finally, at the end of the line, one from my favourite festival this year, the Indy Man Brew Con in Manchester this past October.

Great times with some lovely friendly people and some fantastic beer, all instantly recalled by a fragile memento. Here's to even less space on those shelves next Christmas.

So, as I reflect on a wonderful year and retrieve todays beer from my Ales by Mail Advent Calendar, I'll give you the answers to yesterdays quiz questions.

1. Ehringsdorfer Urbrau

2. Gerard Adriaan Heineken

3. Ur- (such as in Einbecker Urbock or Pilsner Urquell)

4. Humulus Lupulus

5. Reinheitsgebot

I'm sure all you Beer Geeks got the last two easily but very well done if you got any or all of the other three, I'm tremendously impressed.

So, beer retrieved, I'll carry on as before.

Today's beer is from Fyne Ales, a brewery I whose beer I have drunk for many years and had plenty of on our recent trip to Edinburgh and even though it is a Christmas beer, it's a Christmas beer with a difference. There's no Christmas spice, no figs or nuts, spruce or holly just, they say, a 'really good stronger beer'. So let's see if it's any good.

Pouring a reddish brown with a fine creamy near-white head, there's an aroma of plums, cherries and raspberries, a twist of black pepper and shortcake biscuit. Full, rich and feeling silky decadent as it flows gracefully over the tongue before flavours of cherry, raspberry and even a little liquorice emerge and bloom in the mouth like a flower in the springtime. An initial sharp bitterness transforms into a deep red fruitiness with all the flavours incredibly clean and precise. The finish dries very quickly, gently drawing the moisture from the tongue leaving a flavour like a you've just finished sucking a cherry boiled sweet behind. This is a wonderful beer and truly lives up to it's billing as an antidote to sometimes overly sweet Christmas spiciness, so if you want a well made beer with a Christmas label but no obvious festive leanings save luxury, then this could well be the beer for you.

It is now time, as has become customary, well for the last week anyway, for todays five questions.

1. From which historically disputed region in Europe did Augustus Kuentzmann Damm emigrate before establishing the Damm brewery in Barcelona in 1876?

2. What is the generic term for a raspberry-infused Belgian Lambic?

3. The classic glass for a stout is often referred to by the name of a flower. Which flower?

4. According to German legend, the mixing of beer and lemonade was invented at a roadside inn by a barman catering to a large group of passing cyclists. What is the term often used by German breweries to brand such a mixture?

5. What is the common term for the kind of fermentation that relies on either wild yeast of residual yeast in cask dregs without the addition of fresh yeast?

Best of luck with those, let me know how you get on, or if you're enjoying these questions on twitter at @1970sBoy. If you're starting to get a bit fed up with them then I may leave them out next week just to mix it up a bit, so your feedback is very much appreciated.

One thing that I won't be leaving out, although some might wish I did (yes, I'm looking at you BeerOClockShow Steve), is the groan-inducing Christmas cracker joke. And here's todays:

What do you give the man or woman who has everything?


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