Sunday, 27 February 2011


Reading University Real Ale and Cider Society decided to make some of their own beer; I personally wasn't involved, but I managed to clear my schedule to make sure I tried some!

After getting permission to brew in, of all places, the University Chaplain's House, January was the time to taste these homebrews. RURACS made two brews. The first was a bitter using a starter pack and mix from Woodforde's, but interestingly it was decided to put in a whole bunch of fresh corriander leaves and stalks in the mix ( Picture 2).

The corriander gave it a zesty punch, with lots of citrus notes and an unusual flavour. For my taste, it was a bit uninspiring but a lot of people at the Session enjoyed it immensely. It was delightfully different from your normal bitter, and thus some of us unofficially christened it 'Zing Ding Bitter' (Zing from the Corriander, Ding being a colloquial term for Reading)!

The other home-brew we enjoyed was a London Porter (Picture 1). We didn't come up with any good names for it, but we should have because it tasted excellent. It was a beautifully dark black, and incredibly moreish. It had the usual coffee and chocolate notes to it that most porters/stouts had, but had quite a clean finish with a weak aftertaste. It was good enough to serve a pub! Unlike the Mix used for the Zing Ding Bitter, this was all made from scratch and I think you could taste the difference. Apart from my own porter/dark beer preferences, it had a warmth of character and overall a much more satisfying beer.

The next step is for myself to make my own beer. Watch this space!

Monday, 21 February 2011

I am a beer drinker.

Yes, I am that guy who buys two halves in Wetherspoons and unfortunately has to down the half that tastes like a horrifying mixture of an emptied ash tray and something called 'beer'. The one who chooses the disconcerting German wheat beer or the boring old British Bitter, an overpriced Belgian Lambic or a premium bottle of 'real ale' from the specialized off-license down the road.

Drinking 'real ale' or anything more interesting than your bog-standard Carling/Carlsberg/Stella down the pub can sometimes be a costly experience, but personally it's something that I love to do. For me, it isn't about a crusade against lager (give me a nice bottle of Cobra with a curry, or even better the rarer-to-find Nepalese beer Gurkha. It's worth the trouble), it's about championing brewers and beers that have more flavour and something more exciting to offer us.

Personally, I like a bitter or a mild. I like stout and porters and German wheat beers and pretty much any beer I'll try once. Compared to most of the (lager) beer we drink in this country, I think 'real ale' and the like have something uniquely special and something worth celebrating, and more importantly, drinking. What I don't like is people having a certain image of 'real ale' as an old man drinks, as something and watery and tasteless and something not worth spending their money on. If anything, I want my blog to encourage at least ONE person to try some ales, try going into a pub and drinking something a bit different. Real Ale is having a renaissance, it's one of the only alcoholic beverages where they are seeing a surge in demand and all of this during a recession! There's got to be something in it.

Whether it's down the pub or in my student bed desperately trying to get around Megavideo's 'you have watched 72 minutes' bullshit, I love tasting and trying to understand a beer that I've never had before or ferociously enjoying one that I love already.

This blog is about beer and anything possibly related to it. I'll be reviewing beers that I like, discussing beer topics that are in the news or in the blogosphere and chronicling my own beer adventures in the last couple months I have in Reading, where I study, and hopefully wherever I may journey next!

Coming up - a review of Reading University's Real Ale and Cider Society's own home-brews and a day-by-day review of 15 American Craft beers from Looking forward to April, also, is the Annual Reading Beer Festival, one of the biggest in the country and something I have, embarrassingly, not been to before!