THE BREWSKI REPORT Tommy Brewski: My Beer. My Life.

May 22, 2011

TBR Reviews Monty Python’s Holy Grail Ale 5.22.2011

No doubt a colorful story behind the name. But, it's what's in the bottle that counts.

A colorful story behind the name. But, it's what's in the bottle that counts.

The Brewski Report Reviews Monty Python’s Holy Grail Ale
File Date: 5.22.2011

File Name: An import that isn’t an import.
The Beer: Monty Python’s Holy Grail Ale
Type: English Pale Ale
Serving: Bottle
Stats: 4.7% ABV
Brewer: Black Sheep Brewery
Web Site: www.blacksheepbrewery.com
State/Country of Origin: United Kingdom (England)
Brewer Info: Our HistoryIt is almost impossible to believe that The Black Sheep Brewery is only 18 years old. In fact it was in October 1992 when our beers first made an appearance in pubs in and around the Yorkshire Dales. The delivery of those first casks of beer all those years ago began a new era for Paul Theakston, whose family has brewed in Masham for six generations. It also allowed him to put behind him the heartache left by the often acrimonious battles that culminated in the “old” family firm of T & R Theakston Ltd ending up at the time as part of Scottish & Newcastle Breweries. The events that led to the loss of independence  of the Theakston brewery had rumbled on since the early 1970s, with Scottish & Newcastle finally seizing power in 1987. Although offered a position in the big company, Paul decided that that style of life wasn’t for him. What’s more, it would have meant him leaving his beloved Masham. Determined to stay in Masham and being a long, long way from retirement (both age-wise and financially!!) it didn’t take long for Paul to conclude that small brewery life was what he wanted. The decision was made; create a new but traditional style brewery in Masham…

tbr-hg-labBrewer Brand Hype: Another fine addition to the Black Sheep flock of premium bottle ales. This ale was specially commissioned to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Monty Python in 1999. Ten years later on the 40th anniversary Holy Grail is still going strong. With more hops than a killer rabbit, it’s a full-flavoured golden ale with a distinctively fruity flavour followed by the Black Sheep signature dry finish. Dangerously fruity against a biscuity malty background. You can always taste the difference when an ale has been tempered by burning witches. In this respect Holy Grail certainly doesn’t disappoint with its clean zesty flavour and long crisp bitter finish. We brew Holy Grail with Maris Otter malt, an old and expensive variety that is renowned for the taste and the quality of the beer it produces. A mixture of old English Hop varieties including a touch of WGV hops gives Holy Grail its lovely fruity nose. 2009 was the 40th anniversary of Monty Python and the 10thanniversary of our Holy Grail. To celebrate we are currently supplying the beer in all theatres showing the hit musical “Spamalot” on the nationwide tour. Did You Know…
That Holy Grail is our most popular beer in the US and Canada? All our bottled ales are suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.
Label: Tempered over burning witches.

The Brewski Review: I was somewhat perplexed by this beer. When I rolled the bottle around to check the brewer it listed Rochester, NY. At first I thought the retail shelf stocker made a mistake by putting a domestic beer with the imported. But, upon further research, I learned that the beer was subcontracted to Highfalls Brewing Company – the same company who brings you Genesee (In 2009 Highfalls was purchased by KPS Capital which then merged Labatt USA, Dundee Brewing, Pyramid, Magic Hat, MacTarnahan’s as well as Highfalls under a new name: North American Breweries.). More than 50% of the production of Highfalls is contracted out for other brewers such as Boston Beer Company and Coors. According to 2010 records, Highfalls is the 8th largest brewer in North America (betcha didn’t know that). Why I mention all this is because I don’t really consider it an import. It has the name and address of the brewery who owns the name and recipe, but it was brewed in the states. To me, it’s false advertising. If I wanted a beer brewed in Rochester I go by a Genny Cream. I purchased an imported ale which, to me, was nothing super special. I was hoping for a great tasting beer and instead drank something that was average with a colorful story behind the name. The movie? No doubt a classic from yesteryear. The beer? Not a classic in my mind and probably because it’s linked to an old movie which many new drinkers now-a-days never even heard of or seen.

Drinkability: Nah. I’ll try something else.
Appearance: Darker golden/bordering on amber color. Max head.
The Buds: Smoother than other English Pale Ale’s I’ve tried.
TBR Cap Rating: 3.75 out of 5 caps.

'Tis just a flesh wound.'  No doubt a true, venerable classic.

'Tis just a flesh wound.' No doubt a true, venerable classic.

January 29, 2011

Belhaven Brewery’s Scottish Ale Beer Review 1.29.2011

Belhaven Brewery's Scottish Ale

Belhaven Brewery's Scottish Ale

The Brewski Report Reviews Belhaven’s Scottish Ale
File Date: 1.29.2011

File Name: Free will to drink whatever you want.
The Beer: Scottish Ale
Type: Scottish Ale
Serving: Bottle
Stats: 5.2% ABV
Brewer: Belhaven Brewery Co. Ltd. (Greene King)
Web Site: www.belhaven.co.uk
State/Country of Origin: UK (Scotland)
Brewer Info: While 1719 may be the earliest documented evidence of the Belhaven Brewery, there may well have been beer production on the site pre-16th century as the wells and certain cellar vaults are known to date from around the time of the Reformation. Monks (noted for brewing skills) settled in the area from the 12th century. Luckily they had access to both fine water and top quality local barley. John Johnstone took ownership of the site in 1719 and it’s widely accepted that under his ownership the brewery started brewing for commercial sale. Commercial rail made it to Dunbar in 1846 both opening Belhaven up to a wider audience but conversely exposing the brewery to competition from further afield. At this time, Dudgeons diversified the business to focus on the maltings side (while still producing beer but in smaller quantities). It is thought that this diversification enabled Dudgeons to survive the widespread changes affecting other smaller Scottish breweries whose numbers dwindled as a result of closure or amalgamation. Through both world wars, Dudgeon continued malting and brewing for the military with a notable key customer – Belhaven Beers. By the 1970s, the malting side of the business that had seen the company survive two world wars, was feeling the strain of competition from modern automated plants. In 1972, family ownership came to an end as the business was sold. But this end was just the beginning of a twenty-year vibrant and significant period of growth for Belhaven. 1993 and a Management buy-out led by Stuart Ross enabled the management team to further expand and develop the business resulting in a successful flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 1996. Most recently (2005), Belhaven was bought by Greene King. 

tbr-scot-ale-logoBrewer Brand Hype: Malty and hoppy, we at Belhaven love the classic Scottish Ale and we’ve been brewing it longer than any of the other beers we produce. Delivering a sweet, smooth and creamy finish, Scottish Ale has a stunning ruby colour in the glass. Magic.
Label: The Belhaven Brewery is one of Scotland’s oldest surviving breweries, dating back to 1719. Belhaven Scottish Ale is a fully rounded ale, a complex mix of malt and hop producing Belhaven’s easily recognised malted and nutty flavour. The Belhaven Brewery Company, Dunbar, Scotland.

The Brewski Review: I read an article the other day about free will. The article was loosly implying that we don’t have free will if, for example, we eat that delicious looking chocolate covered Bavarian cream filled straight. But, you have free will if you don’t eat it. Huh? People have free will to do whatever they want; whether it’s to commit a crime (which, to some, is eating a donut) or performing a good deed for someone in need. (Sweets, by the way, are my kryptonite.) Basically, people make daily, conscious decisions about how to manage their life: from what words to assemble into a sentence to how one reacts in any given situation. Some decisions may not jive with your moral compass but that doesn’t make it any less free will than if the final outcome did line up with your perception of what’s right. If the negative internal consequences were that great, you wouldn’t have made the decision you made. Obviously, you were willing to absorb the risk for the perceived reward. Sometimes you make the right call, sometimes you don’t. Take this beer for example. I think I made the right call. I liked the smooth creaminess of it. Sure there was a nice, roasted malty taste but it just seemed to go down so well. I exercised some pretty darn good free will on this one. Why don’t you do the same?

Drinkability: Would surely drink again.
Appearance: Medium ruby brown w/ muddy color head.
The Buds: Nice smooth, malty taste.
TBR Cap Rating: 4.25 rating out of 5.

Everyone's Favorite Scot.

Everyone's Favorite Scot.

January 31, 2010

Newcastle Brown Ale Beer Review 1.31.10

Scottish &  Newcastle Sells Out To Heineken.

Scottish & Newcastle Sells Out To Heineken.

The Brewski Report Reviews Heinekin’s Recently Purchased Newcastle Brown Ale Beer and My Den Wood Paneling.
File Date: 1.31.10

File Name: It’s Been Three Years Already?
The Beer: Newcastle Brown Ale
Type: English Brown Ale
Serving: Bottle
Stats: 4.7% ABV
Brewer: Scottish & Newcastle / Heinekin International                    Website: http://www.newcastlebrownale.co.uk/                            Country of Origin: UK (Scotland)
Brewer Info: Scottish & Newcastle plc was a “long alcoholic drinks” (LADs) company with positions in 15 countries, including UK, France and Russia. It was headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. In the last 20 years, S&N expanded significantly from its home base to become an international business with beer volumes growing almost tenfold. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index but it was acquired jointly by Heineken and Carlsberg in April 2008, with the company’s assets being split between them. The trading name “Scottish & Newcastle UK” continues to be used, for the time being, to denote the UK trading operation of Heineken International.

tbr-sn-logo1Brewer Brand Hype: The local drink with a global reputation, Newcastle Brown Ale is enjoyed by drinkers across five continents and is the No. 1 packaged ale in the UK. As the North East’s most famous “export” it sits at the heart of a local community and yet, can be found on almost every street throughout the world. The mutual respect and adoration that Newcastle Brown Ale commands can be attributed to its delicate fruit aroma and caramel and nutty malt taste which it pleasurable and easy
to drink.
Label: It’s well known that the Newcastle Brown Ale is full of flavour and remarkably smooth. What’s less well known is that the bridge over river Tyne in Newcastle was built by the same company that constructed the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia. The Tyne bridge was opened in 1928 by King George V and Queen Mary and still features proudly on Newcastle Brown Ale’s label.

The Brewski Review: I can beleive that I’m close to completing the paneling in my den. This has been a three year project. (Actually, I’ve postponed it two of those years while I torn down/rebuilt my garage.) Check out these photos of the den trim in process and all the final parts in place. Of course, there are a few issues that still remain such as filling in a few hundred brad holes. But, for the most part, the big work is done. I’ll really be happy when it’s finished. After filling the nail holes I’ll hang plastic over the walls, refinish the softwood floors (yes, beleive it or not, I have some type of ‘soft wood’ flooring – one of the SPF tree types I would imagine). But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. These few final steps may still take several weeks since I’ll need to wait for more suitable outdoor weather. As I discharge all the floor sanding dust out through a fan in the window I wouldn’t want to pull all the heat out with it. I’m sure my wife would have a few things to say about that. She would of had a few good comments about Newcastle Brown Ale if she had tried it I’m sure. But, my nursing son has wheat allergies so she’s sworn off tasting my beers until he’s finally off the nature’s own. I have good things to say about this beer. I rather enjoyed it and would recommend it to others. Nice malty taste. Smooth drinking. Give one a try.

Drinkability: Enjoyed drinking this one.
Appearance: Dark amber brown in color.
The Buds: Liked the malty taste.
TBR Cap Rating: 4 out of 5 caps.

December 23, 2009

Fuller’s London Pride English Pale Ale Review 12.23.09

Fuller, Smith & Turner's London Pride English Pale Ale.

Fuller, Smith & Turner's London Pride English Pale Ale.

The Brewski Report Reviews Fuller’s London Pride English Pale Ale and My Pumpkin Problems.
File Date: 12.23.09

File Name:  Roadside Litter Has It’s Place.
The Beer: London Pride
Type: English Pale Ale
Serving: Bottle
Stats: 4.7% ABV
Brewer: Fuller, Smith & Turner P.L.C.
Country of Origin: UK (England)
Brewer Info: London’s only remaining traditional family brewer. Based at the historic Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, between the serenity of the River Thames and the hustle and bustle of the Hogarth Roundabout, Fuller’s has been brewing quality beers and running excellent pubs since 1845.  At the heart of everything we do, you will find quality, service and pride – in equal measure. We aim to brew the best beers and run the best pubs. Our beers are brewed to the highest standards and have won a myriad of global awards. From our flagship London Pride to the exclusive Vintage Ale, they are crafted with pride and passion. We have an estate of over 360 pubs across the South of England offering outstanding cask conditioned ales, delicious food, great wines and exemplary service.  If you are looking for quality, service and pride – or just the best pint in the best pub – you have come to the right place.tbr-fullers-cartouche

Brewer Brand Hype: Fuller’s London Pride is the UK’s leading premium ale. Known and loved for its distinctive, rounded flavour, London Pride is the award-winning beer for which Fuller’s is most famous. In recent years its popularity has grown to the extent that it is now Britain’s leading premium ale: a welcome fixture in many pubs and off licences around the country, and now winning new friends abroad.  To the beer afficiando looking for the classic English pint, we say this: Whatever you do, take Pride.

Label: Fuller’s London Pride is an award-winning English classic pale ale, rich and smooth, with a good malty base and well-developed hop notes in the finish.  The Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, London, has been brewing fine ales since 1654.  The Fuller, Smith & Turner partnership, dating back to 1845, brews an excellent range of award-winning ales, many of which are available in the USA, including London Pride pale ale and the world’s original ESB.  I hope you will enjoy trying all our fine ales. 

The Brewski Review: I have a Halloween mat at my front doorstep and pumpkins on the porch.  Oh, and the Christmas decorations are now up.  Great combo huh?  On the way out the door to work the other day I took action.  Since my wonderful city solid waste department won’t pick them up that didn’t leave me with many options.  So I decided to do a little punkin’ chunkin’.  Not the trebuchet variety.  But a drive down a rural road and a quick heave-ho out the window (we’re not talking huge pumkins here).  I figure the best place for them to rot would be in a field.  Some may disagree with me and that’s okay – the world needs nay-sayers too – but my position is that they’d decay much quicker on the side of the road than in a landfill.  Now, I am a staunch supporter of litter laws but I do bend them on occasion.  I limit my road trash to apple cores and bannana peels – quick biodegradable items.  I burst a blood vessel in my forehead everytime I see someone throw a cig butt out the window or a fistfull of fast food wrappers.  Pop cans?  I’m on the fence.  These may get picked up and recycled faster on the side of the road than in a landfill but I generally don’t do this (I don’t usually drink soda anyhow).  All said, let me set the record straight – I’M NO GREEN FREAK.  I don’t track my carbon footprint.  I recycle because I think it’s the right thing to do and if it saves me money…it has my support.  The climate change theory is an amped up hoax that will create excessive taxes and eliminate thousands of jobs in this country.  Cap and Trade will be the G-man’s tour de force for generating money and controlling business.  But, back to business….Fuller, Smith & Turner sounds more akin to a law firm than a brewery but a brewery it is.  The London Pride pale ale is a decent beverage.  As with most English pale ales this one was mildly bitter but that in itself is one of the reasons you drink pale ale.  Anyway, this one was an enjoyable drink.  Try one yourself.

Drinkability:  Would drink another.
Appearance: Medium amber in color.
The Buds: Crisp taste with medium bitterness.
TBR Cap Rating: 4.25 caps out of 5.

September 12, 2009

Strongbow Dry Cider Review 9.12.09

Filed under: Ciders — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Tommy Brewski @ 6:46 pm

Yes.  I know it's not beer.

Yes. I know it's not beer.

The Brewski Report H.P. Bulmer’s Strongbow Cider.
File Date: 9/12/09

File Name: My Therapist Says It’s Okay to Like Cider And Not Soccer.
The Cider: Strongbow
Type: Dry Cider
Serving: Bottle, Clear
Stats: 5.0% ABV
Brewer: H.P. Bulmers Limited
Country of Origin:  UK (England)
Brewer Info:  Bulmer’s is the worlds largest cidermaker.  The company was founded in Hereford, England in 1887 by Percy Bulmer, the son of a local clergyman.  Bulmers makes 65% of the five million hectolitres of cider sold annually in the UK.  Bulmers was first granted the Royal Warrant in 1911 and continues proudly today as Cider Maker to her Majesty, the Queen.  Cider remains the ‘core’ of the Bulmers business, its main brands, Strongbow, Woodpecker and Scrumpy Jack, are all market leaders.  Strongbow stands at No 8 in the Top Ten Chart of UK best selling long alcoholic drinks, more popular than most major lager brands.

Founder Percy Bulmer

Founder Percy Bulmer

Brewer Brand Hype:  Strongbow is a crisp, premium imported cider from the U.K. which delivers maximum refreshment in an authentic, traditional English recipe. Strongbow is built on the promise of maximum refreshment of body and mind.  With its clean refreshing taste and striking livery, Strongbow appeals to import beer drinkers everywhere.  Served chilled, Strongbow delivers a  full bodied, refreshing taste.

Label:  Strongbow – The Authentic English Cider With A Dry & Refreshing Finish.

The Brewski Review:  Okay, so it’s not a beer.  I thought I’d do something different and mix things up a bit with this review.  Actually, I didn’t pay much attention to the label before I popped the cap and poured.  Needless to say, I was a little miffed at the lack of a nice, foamy head.  When I did read the label I cursed the retail lacky that thought stocking cider with the beer was appropriate.  Yes, it’s a golden color and it’s an alcoholic beverage but it’s not beer. 

That said, I need to go on record that this is a tasty beverage.  The brewer touts the popularity of this beverage in England so it must be good huh?  I certainly can’t qualify the European taste buds as superior to those of the North American variety so it must be that A): cider isn’t as popular in the USA; or, B): their marketing campaign needs some girls in skimpy outfits to goose sales.  Maybe it can be equated to soccer: this is also a European import that’s not as popular here as it is back home.  Then again, I don’t like soccer.

Drinkability:  A tasty cider beverage worthy of a try.
Appearance:  Pale golden in color.
The Buds:  Well recieved apple flavor.
TBR Cap Rating:  3.75 out of 5

August 23, 2009

Tanner’s Jack Ale Beer Review 8.23.09

TBR's Tanner's Jack Ale Beer Review

TBR's Tanner's Jack Ale Beer Review

Morland Brewery's (aka Greene King)Tanner's Jack in 6 Pack Form

Morland Brewery's (aka Greene King)Tanner's Jack in 6 Pack Form

The Brewski Report’s Review of UK’s Tanner’s Jack Ale.
File Date:  August 23, 2009

File Name:  The G-Man Jacks Us Around
The Beer:  Tanner’s Jack
Type: English Pale Ale
Serving:  Clear Bottle
Stats:  4.40% ABV
Brewer: Greene King / Morland Brewery
Brewer Info:  Morland was a brewery in Abingdon in the English county of Oxfordshire (formerly Berkshire). They first brewed in West Ilsley in 1711. It was purchased and closed by Greene King in 2000; and production of the Morland beers was moved to their brewery in Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk.

Greene King Logo

Greene King Logo

Greene King has operated pubs and brewing for over 200 years. Combining successful traditional ale brands with modern forward thinking, Greene King has grown steadily from its base in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk to become a leading pub retailer and brewer. 

Greene King brews all of its beers in Bury St Edmunds, where ale has been a feature of life since at least as far back as 1086. But we’ve taken the traditional art of brewing to new heights, producing what is arguably the finest range of cask ales in the country.  Our beers are as much at home in city centre nightspots as they are in the cosy lounge of the village pub; we’ve taken the traditional craft of brewing and turned it into an art form. No other UK brewer is as committed to cask ale.

Morland's Tanner's Jack Fine Ale

Morland's Tanner's Jack Fine Ale

Brewer Brand Hype:  Tanner’s Jack was named after the old Tanner’s drinking vessels, which were known as Jacks. They were in common use from medieval times through to the 19th century. Leather was used because it was more readily available than pewter, decidedly less costly than glass, and did not break like pottery. Leather was also favored because of its strength allied with its light weight.

Tanner’s Jack is “A soft reddish brown ale with a nutty/malty palette, background sweetness and a smooth finish”.  A smooth tasting cask conditioned premium ale. It has a fuller sweeter taste than traditional ales with more character in the flavor than the aroma. There is background sweetness combined with nutty malty flavors to give a fuller bodied, yet easy drinking premium ale.

The Brewski Review:  Okay, now that the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program has come to an end we can ‘officially’ say that the recession is over and that everything is going to be A-Okay.  I was beginning to worry that he $700B in government handouts wasn’t going to work.  I can only figure figure that the catalyst for the whole government TARPS program to energize the economy was the measly $3B in CARS bailout.  Go figure. Anyway, enough about all this G spending.  If I continue to ramble on you’ll get to understand my real, non-sarcastic opinion on the matter: which, I’m sure, will quickly degrade into a blue streak of profanity.  I’d rather talk about the last beer I drank – Tanner’s Jack.  A UK imported ale that was rather tasty (to which my wife will agree).  I came in a clear bottle, which, doesn’t preserve the contents very well but does make for a nice retail presentation.  It poured with decent carbonation but it didn’t retain it’s head very long.  It went down smooth, wasn’t bitter and had minimal aftertaste.  I thought it was a worthy beverage.

Drinkability:  Yes.  Good ale.
Appearance:  Amber color – resembling the leached tannins at Tahquamenon Falls.
The Buds:  Smooth with minimal aftertaste.
TBR Cap Rating:  4.0 out of 5.

The Tannin Laced Waters of the Tahquamenon Falls State Park - Paradise, MI

The Tannin Laced Waters of the Tahquamenon Falls State Park - Paradise, MI

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