All posts by Andy

BeerCast #35 – Not just any BeerCast…

Once again we welcome two intrepid new beer explorers into the belly of the BeerCast. This time talented minstrels Kat Flint and Nick Hirst join us alongside Andy and Jess at the Belsize Park headquarters to quaff some beers purchased from that finest of British establishments, Marks & Spencers.

Andy was positioned a bit far from the mic and is a bit quiet at times (perhaps for the better!). We also run long on this one at an hour due to a couple of interesting diversions into beers for women and Tesco which were perhaps more interesting than the beer themselves. Still, hope you enjoy it. Andy

1. Buckinghamshire Ale (4.6%)
Vale Brewery, Brill, Buckinghamshire.
500ml glass bottle

What They Say – “Copper-red beer with a yeasty, bready nose and raisin fruit and spicy hops. Tart fruit, biscuity malt and bitter hop resins fill the mouth. The finish is dry and bitter with rich, juicy malt, burnt fruit and peppery hops” []

What We Say…
Nick – Nice, fresh, but not much to it, bit like a chemistry experiment 6
Kat – Smells a bit like coriander, like putting a penny on your tongue 5
Jess – I get that tart fruit on the tongue thing, i wouldn’t reach for it 5
Andy – Quite fresh, tastes a bit like Carex 5

2. Cornish IPA (5%)
St. Austell Brewery, Cornwall.
500ml glass bottle

What They Say – “A rich golden colour, and totally clear. It has a citrus bouquet with hint of malt and hop. These characteristics are replicated in the first taste to the palate, finishing with a modicum of marmalade bitterness. Perfection.” []

What We Say…
Nick – A delicious and well mannered beer 7.5
Kat – I could drink a few of those and be pretty happy 7
Jess – it’s nice, similar to Buckinghamshire in a way 7
Andy – More flavour than Buckinghamshire, some fruits in there 6

3. Yorkshire Bitter (4.6%)
Cropton Brewery, Pickering, North Yorkshire.
500ml glass bottle

What They Say – “A big sulphury nose with strong undertones of floral and spicy hops and tart fruit. Tangy fruit dominates the palate with sappy malt and spicy hops. Hop bitterness and tart fruit dominate the finish with light malt notes; it becomes increasingly dry” []

What We Say…
Nick – Bracing, Hair-chested, a working man’s pub beer 6.5
Kat – Bready, a pie & chips beer 6
Jess – Not as nice as the Cornish IPA 6
Andy – Darker, more bitter, bit too much for me 5.5

4. Organic Ale (6%)
Broughton Ales, Biggar, Scotland.
500ml glass bottle

What They Say – “On the nose there’s a sweet and orangy aroma, with plenty of caramel malt notes, herby, nettle aromas and a little earthy whiff of silage. On the palate it has a fine, chewy, creamy texture and plenty of malty character. The hops are there, adding a bitter twist to the finish, and that earthy, quite rich quality extends through the finish” []

What We Say…
Kat – Smells like beer trampled into mud, in a nice way 7
Nick – Honeyish, meady, a bitter finish 7
Andy – Zingy, Electricy, metallicy 6
Jess – Quite powerful upfront, could’nt drink much of it 5.5

Panellists – (from top left) Andy & Jess, Kat Flint, Nick Hirst

BeerCast panel verdict

Cornish IPA (27½/40)
Organic Ale (25½/40)
Yorkshire Bitter (24/40)
Buckinghamshire Ale (21/40)

We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with BeerCast #36- a Blighty Vs Yankee IPA battle from the Edinburgh team. Keep the emails and comments coming in. Cheers!

  • Listen to the episode here: BeerCast #35 – Not just any BeerCast…
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  • BeerCast #32 – The Unrecorded

    The London office has opened it’s doors again for a second podcast, this time welcoming BeerCast newbies Andrew Hayes and Nick Fraenkel to the bar to share their thoughts. Nick and Andrew play with Jess (of Andy & Jess) in an electro-band called The Unrecorded and so it was a pretty cosy and raucus affair. So much so in fact that we’ve had to add the explicit tag to this one!

    Unusually for The BeerCast we didn’t have a theme for this episode, instead we asked Nick and Andrew to bring along a couple of beers of their choosing to sample, and we added a couple of random ones into the mix.

    We sipped and slurped our way through five beers on the night, not always staying on the beer theme – the conversation meandered into the sedimentary pork geology of Melton Mowbray, summertime wee, blackcurrant Vitamin C tablets, egg filters and famous metallic air of Bath. It was a very spirited and slightly surreal episode and we look forward to having Nick and Andrew back soon.


    1. Melton Red (4.3%abv)
    Belvoir Brewery, Old Dalby, Leicestershire.
    500ml glass bottle

    The lengthily titled Belvoir Brewery, Sample Cellar, Exhibition and Visitor Centre lies in the centre of England, near the border between Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. Pronounced ‘Bee-vor’, it was established in 1995 by Colin Brown, who learned his trade at the now defunct Shipstones Brewery in Nottingham. They specialise in malty bitters, with two of their staples being Star Bitter and Beaver Bitter – the former winning a Bronze in the Best Bitter category at the 2005 GBBF. The latter is known as Beaver Bitter when on cask, but Melton Red when bottled – unless it’s the bottle-conditioned form, in which case it’s Beaver Bitter. I think.

    What They Say – “A premium full flavoured and well balanced smooth malt beer with a subtle blend of hops leading to a pleasant rounded finish.” [Official Website]

    What We Say…
    Andy – Not as exciting to drink as it is to smell, a bit chalky 5
    Andrew – Good, but not exciting me 5
    Jess – It’s a little bit like herbal tea 4
    Nick – Tastes like soluble blackcurrant Vitamin C 4

    2. Kew Gold (4.8%abv)
    Wells&Young’s Brewery, Bedford.
    500ml glass bottle

    The Ram Brewery in Wandsworth started commercial brewing in 1581 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and produced ale for the local hostelry called the Ram’s Inn. The brewery distributed by horse and cart to the local area until 1803 when the world’s first public railway opened from Wandsworth to Croydon enabling transport by rail. In 2004 Young’s (as they had become) announced a “review of brewing operations” and two years later on the 25th September 2006 closed their Wandsworth concern and moved outside the city to Bedford. Here they merged with Charles Wells’s Eagle brewery and renamed the operation Wells & Young’s Company. Kew Gold is ‘inspired’ by hops grown at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.

    What They Say“Rather lively and fizzy, making the mouthfeel more harsh than it could be. Flavours are soft pale malt notes with a little hop bitterness and a hint of citrus. Finish is dry, but with an underlying syrupy touch.” []

    What We Say
    Andy – Quite dry, quite fresh but not exceptional 6
    Andrew – There’s a little bit of wee in there, but in a good way 6
    Nick – Grassy fresh taste 5
    Jess – Yeah, not too bad 5

    3. Hopping Mad (4.7%abv)
    Wood’s Brewery, Winstanstow, Shropshire.
    500ml glass bottle

    The Wood Brewery in Winstanstow is very much a family affair – it was founded in 1980 by brothers Anthony and Edward, together with their father Basil. Like many small English rural breweries, it began with the conversion of outbuildings near a country pub – in this case the abandoned stables next to the Plough Inn. They seem to be firm supporters of worthy causes, historically brewing ‘Hedgehog Bitter’ for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, they have now released ‘Air Ambulance Ale’ to benefit the local flying doctors. They also rescued the Sam Powell brewery, and brew for the Welsh concern that folded in 1991.

    What They Say“Hopping Mad uses just one single hop variety, Progress, to achieve its appealing aroma, its pleasingly bitter taste and its delightful sparkle. We believe the result is uniquely enjoyable. So did the judges at the Beauty of Hops Awards, who awarded it a Silver Medal.” [Official Website]

    What We Say

    Andrew – I can taste the lemon in there
    Nick – Tastes a little bit like a swimming pool 6
    Andy – You’d struggle with more than a pint of this 5
    Jess – It’s like being in a room for too long

    4. Organic Best Ale (5.0%abv)
    Samuel Smith’s, Tadcaster.
    500ml glass bottle

    Tadcaster in North Yorkshire is home to independent brewer Samuel Smith, and the much larger Scottish & Newcastle owned John Smith’s. This is no co-incidence – they were also started by the same family. In 1847 Samuel Smith (a Leeds butcher) funded his son John in a brewery takeover of the Hartley Brewery, originally opened in 1758 (and the oldest in Yorkshire). John moved his business to new premises, so his cousin – also called Samuel – re-opened the vacated original buildings and started brewing in direct competition with John, under his own name.

    What They Say“a delicately flavoured golden ale in which the subtle fruity esters from the old Samuel Smith yeast strain interact with a background of maltiness and fresh hops.” []

    What We Say
    Nick – The smell of a nice bath 7
    Andrew – Orangey biscuity, chocolatey notes
    Andy – Very floral, citrusy but there’s something in it i’m not keen on 5
    Jess – Hey there! tastes a bit like Soreen, too sweet though 4

    5. Tom Paine Ale (5.5%abv)
    Harveys Brewery, Lewes, East Sussex.
    500ml glass bottle

    Georgian wine merchant Jon Harvey produced his first batch of ale in 1790 on the banks of the River Ouse in Lewes, East Sussex. In 1838 he built a new eight quarter brewhouse on a site at Bridge Wharf which he had purchased for £3,707, going into business with his three sons. It was Henry Harvey who took over the brewing – he was producing stout, ale and porter in the mid 19th century. Today their beers are incredibly popular on the south coast – there’s currently a two-year waiting list for their brewery tour – and Harvey’s Best is a two-time GBBF winner in the bitter category. Tom Paine Ale is named after the radical writer and philosopher who lived in Lewes, but went on to become one of the founding fathers of the United States, co-draughting the Declaration of Independence.

    What They Say“Hazy golden ale with a small, creamy, off-white head. Good retention. Sherry-like nose with additional notes of caramel and red apple. The flavor is malty with esters of honey and toffee. Hopped just enough to prevent cloying sweetness. Medium-bodied with a creamy mouthfeel and soft carbonation. Lengthy, creamy finish.” []

    What We Say
    Jess – Quite metallic and bitter, but well balanced 7
    Andy – Best beer of the night 7
    Nick – It becomes more bitter & less complex the more I drink 7
    Andrew – It’s metallic but not like drinking a ship 7

    BeerCast panel verdict
    Tom Paine Ale (28/40)
    Samuel Smiths Organic Best Ale (22½/40)
    Young’s Kew Gold (22/40)
    Hopping Mad (22/40)
    Melton Red (18/40)

    Panellists – (from top left) Andy & Jess, Andrew, Nick

    We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with our next podcast. As always please leave us comments on the website or iTunes, or emails, Twitter or any other method of communication you fancy.


    Twitter update..

    It’s a bit odd that me, the Twitter naysayer, nay the Twitter heretic! is doing the twitter posts.

    Anyway i said last week (was it last week? maybe two weeks ago) that i would post back here with an update on how we were doing on Twitter.

    Well, incremental progress i’d say, we started out with 0 followers (well that’s not entirely true Twitter do lob you some randoms just to make you feel loved) but scientifically, we started out with 0, and we now have… 6!

    That’s a 600% increase in just two weeks, i’ve plotted this below.

    The only way is up for The BeerCast on Twitter, in fact if we go up any more i’ll have to increase the scale on the graph, we’d be quite literally ‘off the scale’ with followers. So join us and help us push the Twitter Totaliser off the top and into the sky! (whereupon we’d employ the use of skyhooks).

    PS: After thought, this post will appear on Twitter, and soon we’ll have a sidebar widget on this page that will show our twitter updates, surely this will set up and infinite loop into which the internet would disappear? Answers on a postcard.


    BeerCast #29 – London BOTY extra

    “A BeerCast of all the talents”

    “Ask not what The BeerCast can do for you, but what you can do for The BeerCast”

    “We have nothing to fear but beer itself”

    These are just a few of the inspirational quotes from (then minister) Richard’s call to arms when he took the high office of BeerCaster in chief in the summer of 2007. It was with this spirit of public service, that the London constituents of The BeerCast sat down to record our thoughts on The BeerCast’s Beers of the Year 2008 (or BOTY for short).

    This was our first BeerCast flying solo. The professionals up in Edinburgh have perfected the art of pre-recording warm-up beers, and so we started off a little stilted but we soon loosened up (especially after the Hardcore IPA!) and started to meander wildly off-topic, as is the BeerCast way.

    We only managed to source 3 of the 4 BOTY beers and so decided to throw in a random 4th beer for fun, with surprising consequences. Listen out for factiods from BeerCast first timer Francis Booth, meanderings into BeerCast favorite topic – labels, musings on hampster bedding and what exactly is a ‘two stemmed glass’?


    1. Theakston XB (4.5%abv) 500ml glass bottle
    Theakstons Brewery, Masham, North Yorkshire.
    BeerCast#17 scored 25½/30 (85%) 19th Jun 2008
    Originally tasted by Tom 9; Shovels ; Richard 8

    Jess – I’ve got no complaints 7
    Francis – Tastes like a 9 volt battery 7
    Andy – It’s fine, but it’s not bowling me over 5

    2. Summer Lightning (5.0%abv) 500ml glass bottle
    The Hop Back Brewery, Salisbury, Wiltshire.
    BeerCast #19 scored 27/30 (90%) 4th Aug 2008
    Originally tasted by Shovels 9; Grooben 9; Richard 9

    Francis – Less complex than XB, but perfect for summer 6
    Andy – Zesty, but slightly watery 7
    Jess – I find it very bitter 5

    3. BrewDog Hardcore IPA (9.0%abv) 660ml glass bottle
    BrewDog, Fraserburgh, Scotland.
    BeerCast#15 scored 33½/40 (84%) 27th Apr 2008
    Originally tasted by MrB ; Richard 9; Grooben 8; Shovels 7

    Francis – It’s a bit syrupy, i see what they’re doing though 8
    Jess – I find it too sweet, you can feel it on your teeth 4
    Andy – I quite like it actually, but it’s a bit full on 7

    4. Ridgeway Blue (5.0%abv) 500ml glass bottle
    Ridgeway Brewing, South Stoke, England

    What They Say – “Bottled. Copper colour with small white head. Aroma is sweet fruity hops at first, then turns quite earthy and grassy. Flavour is very dull fruity, grassy, earthy and some butter & yeasty notes. Not very pleasant.” []

    What We Say…
    Jess – Ahh, this is lovely 8
    Andy – Fruity and refreshing, but i preferred Summer Lightning  6
    Francis – This would dovetail with my evening nicely 8

    Panellists – (from top left) Andy, Francis, Jess

    BeerCasting is a fine art and the London branch has just set up it’s easel.

    We disagreed with Edinburgh HQ on the beers, scored them even though Richard told us not to and ended up almost unable to speak. It was a thoroughly enjoyable 40 mins though, i hope you enjoy it too and we’ll be back with some more very soon.

    @thebeercast on twitter

    Well there we are, it’s happened, the beercast is on twitter.

    Now i’m as web 2.0 as the next man, not quite as much perhaps as beercast panellist Elliot Jay-2.0-Stocks but you can see from the top right there, the beercast has it’s fingers in most of the web’s 2.0’y pies.

    I have to be honest though, i saw little point in twitter, and in fact i didn’t see it appealing to many folks outside it’s hardcore early-adopter web design base.

    Although twitter has not released official statistics for the number of registered or active users it’s safe to say it’s in the several millions and recently seems to have captured the attention of mainstream press/politicians/public.

    So, the beercast, never one to shy from the new frontier has dived (dove? diven?) into the whirling text pool of tweets and twits to further extend our multi-platform brand extension policy and synergise our drill-down leverage into maybe 2 or 3 more page hits per day.

    What do you say? Are you with us! If so follow us @thebeercast and i’ll post back here in a week with an update on how we’re doing.


    Pelforth and multiply!

    Hello beer lovers, 

    It’s Andy of Andy & Jess here with my first ever blog post. 
    You may remember me from such podcasts as ‘The man with the beery finger’ and ‘The beerman only rings twice’
    I normally pull the levers behind the scenes to get the podcast up in iTunes, but recently me and Shovels went snowboarding in Chamonix and accidentally sampled a rather fine local beer called Pelforth and i thought it was high time i reviewed a beer in print.
    As you may know from the podcast, i’m not actually much of a beer drinker, but the BeerCast has opened my mouth to some genuinely tasty and refreshing beers. I think i had assumed all beers tasted like Tennents poured in a coal mining town working mans club, but Pelforth really is a gem.
    Shovels was the first to try it with a pizza on our first night but i snuck a cheeky sample when he wasn’t looking. Pelforth is one of those beers that looks dark and has a fairly high alcohol content, but actually tastes much lighter on the tongue and hides it’s alcohol very well.
    It reminded me in a way of Meantime brewery’s Winter Time, a dark looking beer that’s actually very subtle.
    We started with the Brun version i have described, but as you can see from the photo there is also a blonde version.
    I don’t think i sampled that one, i think i’ll leave it to Shovels to expound on that flavour.
    I was wondering why the label bears a picture of a Pelican but a quick squiz on Pelforth’s Wiki entry tells me that the brewery was originally called the pelican brewery but was renamed Pelforth after the second world war. It also mentions that the brewery is owned by Heineken now. 
    The Oxford bottled beer database is fairly disparaging of Pelforth calling it ‘Too sweet and sterile to be classed as a great beer’ yet the comments left by fans of the beer seem to show that those who like it, really love it. It would also seem that it’s impossible to come by in Britain though.
    (Any importers reading this, get on it!)