Thursday, 25 June 2009

Hops & Glory Update

As BsBB pointed out in a comment on the last post I have now finished this book, and it's brilliant, insightful, interesting, well-researched and just damn fascinating.

It's not just one for beer enthusiasts either, I would recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in sailing, history, the Empire, human nature or comedy because it's got strong components of all those things.

I wasn't originally going to update because I was embarassed to find myself mentioned in it and I didn't want people to think that I'd been shamelessly plugging it to big up my one line of infamy! But BsBB's minorly chastising comment has prodded me to do so. Enjoy!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Like Beer? Buy This Book

I am only 50-odd pages in and already Pete Brown's book charting his journey to recreate the journey taken by India Pale Ale - Land of Hops & Glory - has had me alternately captivated and laughing out loud.

And if you don't buy it for yourself (which you should) then any beer lover/history buff/sailing enthusiast would undoubtedly be delighted to received it.

Well done Pete, I thought Three Sheets to the Wind couldn't be topped - but you're doing well so far!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Roll Out the Barrel

Here's an outcome from my rum trip I hadn't expected, a couple of brewers have been in contact about flavour profiles for possible barrel-aging projects, which is really interesting and, if I'm honest, quite flattering!

I'd be really interested to hear from any of you out there who have tried other drinks that have been wood-aged or have tried wood-aged beers that they loved/loathed and why? I think it would be very interesting - I'll stick my oar in about my favourites at a later date, so as not to sway the crowd!

(P.S. Laurent, I know I still have to try the Abbey de Saint Bonn Chien - I'm sorry and I will, I will, I will soon, I promise!)

The pic is from a very useful site that offers images from books that are out of copyright.

Monday, 1 June 2009

This is a Rum One!

Well folks, I have a new drinks interest but don't worry, I'm not cheating on beer altogether just having a serious flirtation with the fantastically diverse drink of rum.

I've just been privileged enough to spend a week in Barbados learning all about the Caribbean's rums with the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Assocation for the body's True Rum campaign and, wow, I've discovered some corkers!

Now, I don't know about you but my previous experiences of rum have all been bad, I don't like Bacardi and Malibu makes me feel ill just smelling it, but the rums I've been sampling are a totally different kettle of flying fish altogether.

This absolutely amazing, informative and, at most times, side-splittingly hilarious press trip has opened my eyes up to the quality coming out of the Caribbean- and even if they aren't the slickest marketeers in the world don't be put off, because the authenticity of these products are what set them apart.

With the company of my new partners in crime - the legend that is Ben Illis, master mimic Graeme Jackson, the ever-giggling Sara, the truly gorgeous David 'Laslohoff' Laso Tabliega and puffer fish-footed Paddy (who has the most infectious laugh in the world) - I've not only discovered the absolute passion with which rum is produced in the Caribbean but its astonishing diversity too.

I'll be writing more extensively on the subject for a number of titles, including Times Online which I'll post the link to when I've done it, but here are some to look out for:

El Dorado 15 Year Old
Pretty much my favourite find was the El Dorado 15-year-old,with a slightly tropical fruit nose, backed by lightly toasted hazelnuts and demerara sugar it moves on in taste to leather, pear and sandalwood flavours that resonate through the mouth with silky ease.

Rhum Barbancourt Estate Réserve
A 15 year-old rum, made entirely from sugar cane juice in Haiti, which presents some red apple skin & caramel to the nose, with a hint of oak from the Limousin oak barrels, and a lovely leather tobacco finish.

Cockspur VSOR
Cockspur rum may be a familiar name but there's nothing run-of-the-mill about this rich & delicious number, with the VSOR standing for Very Special Old Reserve.

Recommended to me by the equally delicious Daniele Biondi, the WIRSPA Italian rum expert & founder of Rum Club Italiano all the spirits in the bottle are a minimum of 12-years-old and its rich impression starts with an intense autumnal colour in the glass and just doesn't quit from there.

With its slightly caramel orange and sweet biscuit nose, with a touch of sandalwood, it opens on the palate to a rich earthy spiciness that ends with a pleasant touch of astringence from the wood aging.

R.L. Seale's Sixty Six
Available in the UK in July, this is a really complex sipping drink with touches of raisin, charred oak, vanilla and a finish that's feels like you've been sitting in an old leather couch smoking a damn fine cigar (minus the bad breath of course!).