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Newcastle Brewery is Spoiling American Drinkers

Newcastle Brewery is Spoiling American Drinkers

I have good news for American beer drinkers; Newcastle brewery (famous for Newcastle Brown Ale) has collaborated with Scottish brewery Caledonian to create a new ale for the US market.

The ale, called Newcastle Scotch Ale, is a limited edition ale that, according to a statement from the brewers, aims to show Americans, “the best of English and Scottish brewing: a rich, full-flavoured and fulfilling Scottish ale with toffee notes at 6.4% abv”.

This is reportedly the first in a new series of “collaboration edition” beers that Newcastle will be crafting with some of Europe’s oldest breweries for the American market. The series will be rolled out throughout the coming year with each beer becoming available for roughly 2 – 3 months.

The first of these beers was brewed at Caledonian’s Edinburgh brewery. The Caledonian Brewery uses only traditional British brewing methods such as using only whole-flower hops and heating the original copper kettles (from 1869) with open flames.

Scotch ale is usual a strong, bitter ale but with a sweet aftertaste. In America the beers sold as Scotch Ales are generally sold as Strong Ales in the UK (for example Caledonian’s Edinburgh Strong Ale is sold as Edinburgh Scotch Ale). Using open flames to heat the copper kettles causes the malt to caramelise which gives Scotch Ale its distinctive toffee flavour.  

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A Week of Good New for Beer Drinkers

A Week of Good New for Beer Drinkers

Readers of this blog will notice that I've mentioned the problems the beer industry is facing amidst declining sales a number of times. However, this week has brought some positive news for beer lovers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Earlier this week it was announced that Anheuser-Busch, the US division of AB InBev, has bought 10 Barrel Brewing Co., based in Bend, Oregon. Not too long ago the Wall Street Journal described 10 Barrel Brewing Co. as, “one of the country’s fastest-growing and most innovative breweries” and it seems they’re set to continue in the same vein.

While the news was met with quite a lot of anger by fans of the brewery, in my opinion they need not worry. The founders have said that “little will change” following the acquisition and it is likely that this is true, I don’t think a company as large as Anheuser-Busch has much to gain by implementing masses of changes at a fully functional and already successful brewery, but perhaps I’m being naive. What I think it will mean, is far better distribution of the beer allowing a wider audience to enjoy it.

Anheuser-Busch InBev is the world’s largest brewer and behind 17 well-known brands such as Budweiser, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Becks. So it seems that, for now at least, the future of American craft beers is safe.

Unfortunately it’s hard to say the same about English ales. While ale has seen a recent surge in popularity, in general ale drinkers are a dying breed and outside of the UK there is very limited interest in traditional British ales.

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What is Cask Ale and Why is it So Tasty?

What is Cask Ale and Why is it So Tasty?

My local pub has just started making its own cask ale; it’s a pretty good ale and a nice addition to the bar. However, the introduction of it prompted a debate amongst the regulars about what cask ale actually is. So I thought I’d clear the matter up (to the best of my ability).

In short cask ale is beer which is unfiltered and unpasteurised and is conditioned and served from a cask without any extra nitrogen or carbon dioxide pressure. However, this isn’t really a very clear definition unless you happen to be familiar with brewing techniques.

The ‘unfiltered’ aspect of the definition refers to yeast. It means that the yeast which is used for fermentation is still present and living in the cask. However, by the time the ale is served the yeast will have settled at the bottom of the cask and it won’t appear in the glass. The purpose of leaving the yeast in the cask is to allow the fermentation process to continue (albeit at a very slow rate).  As for unpasteurised, it simply means that the beer hasn’t been heated to kill off bacteria. While this means that the beer may have a shorter shelf life, most agree that the pasteurisation process kills off a lot of the taste along with the bacteria.

The conditioning refers to the aging and the secondary fermentation of the beer. This can take anything from a few weeks to a number of years depending on what the brewer is aiming for. The secondary fermentation can only happen because the beer is both unfiltered and unpasteurised. Basically the beer continues developing in the cask.

Finally, it is essential that cask ale is served without the aid of gas pumps. Basically this means that it should be served with a hand pump or directly from a tap in the cask using gravity. The use of gas pumps turns the beer frothy and most agree that it interferes with the taste.

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Hobgoblin - Not One For The Faint Hearted

Hobgoblin - Not One For The Faint Hearted

Having extoled the virtues of lager, I thought to balance things out I should introduce Hobgoblin, one of my favourite real ales, not least because of its motto; “What’s the matter Lagerboy, afraid you might taste something?”

Made by Wychwood Brewery in Oxfordshire , Hobgoblin is a 5.2% abv ale in bottles and cans and 4.5% on cask. It is a traditional craft beer brewed with Chocolate & Crystal malts, and a blend of Styrian, Goldings & Fuggles hops. This results in a full bodied and balanced drink with moderate bitterness and a distinctive fruity character.

By no means is Hobgoblin the darkest ale around, Wychwood describes it as a “ruby ale” and it is certainly a reddish-brown colour which light shines through very easily. As for the flavour, the hops come through nicely and the hint of chocolate is also extremely pleasant. In order to fully enjoy the flavours in Hobgoblin it should ideally be served at room temperature, 15.5°C/59. 9°F. It is never a good idea to drink ale chilled as this will completely destroy the taste.

Perhaps Wychwood brewery’s primary claim to fame is the presentation of twelve bottles of Hobgoblin to Barack Obama by the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron at the G-20 Toronto summit. However, Obama did remark that he would be drinking it chilled, prompting Wychwood to produce t-shirts reading “What’s the matter Obama, afraid you might taste something?”

There are a number of other excellent beers from Wychwood Brewery. King Goblin is basically a stronger and more flavourful version of Hobgoblin and is widely available. Those who enjoy bitterer ale might want to try Goliath, it is brewed with extra Fuggles and Styrian Goldings hops to give it additional bitterness.

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Lager - It's Not All Carlsberg

Lager - It's Not All Carlsberg

There has been lots of talk in recent times about the growing popularity of craft beers and real ales as people shift away from drinking lagers. Many ale drinkers consider lager to be tasteless, colourless and generally pointless, but the fact remains that lager is still the most popular form of beer.

While it is true that many of the more popular lagers today need to be served ice cold just to hide the complete lack of any real taste, there is actually a much larger range of types of lager than many people realise. Lagers range from dark to light and sweet to bitter, the most common lagers are the ‘pale-lagers’ or pilsners but there are numerous pubs which serve the darker, bitter variety.

What distinguishes a lager from ale is the type of yeast used during fermentation. Generally it is said that lagers use bottom-fermenting yeast while ale uses top-fermenting yeast. Top-fermenting yeast will form foam at the top of the fermenter during fermentation while bottom-fermenting yeast form less surface foam and settle at the bottom of the fermenter.

Lager originates in Bavaria, in fact the word itself comes from the German ‘lagern’ meaning “to store”. At the beginning of the nineteenth century Bavarian brewers began experimenting with techniques that involved keeping their beers in cold beer cellars for long periods of time and using bottom-fermenting yeast. After the initial fermentation the beer was given a second “lagering” period at a low temperature before being stored in refrigerated beer cellars. Over the weeks and months they were kept there the drink would mellow and clear.

When lagering first became popular, some brewers would take their beer to frozen caves in the Bavarian Alps and leave it there for the summer. The long brewing resulted in the yeast and other heavy ingredients settling to create a drink with a clean taste and pale colour, they would also have high levels of carbon dioxide. These lagers, known as Dunkel or Dunkles, were considerably darker than the pale lagers of today, but they are still produced in parts of Bavaria. Popular examples include the Ettaler Kloster dunkel, the Ayinger Altbairisch dunkel and the Warsteiner dunkel.

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Four Peaks Brewery: Craft Beer Oasis in the Desert

Four Peaks Brewery: Craft Beer Oasis in the Desert

Welcome to Four Peaks Brewery in sunny Arizona, the craft beer crown jewel located ½ mile away from Arizona State University. Built within a historic creamery, Four Peaks has been a neighborhood staple since 1996.Named for the iconic Arizona peaks, Four Peaks is quickly gaining national recognition through the Great American Beer Festival.

The open air facility is chalk-full of character, the worn brick giving it a classic feel. The simple patio space is the ideal hideaway from the oft sweltering desert heat, ample shading provided through an expansive and charming awning, high top bar tables dotted with towering umbrellas.

The gated entry leads to a gaping archway that opens up to a massive circular bar space nearly 40 feet in length. Serving as the nucleus for the massive facility, the bar is easily capable of accommodating just under 100 additional thirsty patrons in close proximity to the taps.

The vaulted ceilings and endless sprawl of dining areas would undoubtedly feel akin to drinking in a dank cavern if it weren’t for the colossal brewing tanks and equipment within. The majority of Four Peaks brews are born and served onsite, traveling a stones throw from tank to tap and providing unparalleled freshness.

Four Peaks makes great use of the space, hulking flat screen televisions draped from every possible vantage point satisfy sports fans of every creed. Although a self-proclaimed ‘Minnesota Vikings bar’, Four Peaks is a wildly popular destination for all major sports and college games.

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Beer Styles for Summer Drinking

Beer Styles for Summer Drinking

Summer's the perfect time to relax and knock back a cold one, whether you're vacationing somewhere tropical or you're tired after doing the yard work. But it's not just any beer that matches well with the hot weather, and the dark, thick beers in particular aren't well suited for summer refreshment duty. Given the huge variety of beers available these days, we thought it would be useful to provide a short guide on some of the beer styles you might want to try for your summer thirst quencher.

Bavarian Weisse

Known as Weissbier (white beer) or Weizenbier (wheat beer), this Bavarian beer has a significant portion of the malted barley replaced with malted wheat. This beer comes in filtered (kristallweizen) or unfiltered (hefeweizen). The unfiltered version might turn some people off since it looks cloudy from the presence of yeast and certain wheat proteins, but its low hop bitterness and relatively high carbonation not only balance the malty sweetness, they also make this beer one of the more refreshing ones to drink in the heat of summer.Tasters can get notes of clove, banana, bubble gum, and vanilla.


One of the most familiar beer styles, this pale lager takes its name from the city of Pilsen, in the Czech republic. If you want to taste the original brew, you'll need to find a bottle by Pilsner Urquell, the name the original company goes by these days. If you manage to find it, you'll have the privilege of tasting the clear, golden product of bright malts, Pilsen's soft water, and special hops that's been winning taste buds the world over since the 1800s.

Cream Ale

This light and refreshing ale is related to pale lager. It also experiences the lagering process that gives beer a cleaner flavor, with help from adjuncts like corn and rice, which also help lighten the body or mouthfeel of the beer. Hop and malt flavors are also usually subdued, making for very easy drinking for the summer months.

Steam Beer – California Common

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Beer: The Ultimate Confidence Booster?

Beer: The Ultimate Confidence Booster?

I'm sure you are all aware of how guys who are obviously timid and shy become loud and brave the moment they're drunk. Without a doubt, most people believe that beer is the ultimate confidence booster. But is this really the absolute truth?

I love beer and I've been drinking the stuff since I was legal enough to start drinking it (don't ask). I have to say that it's during those times when you're intoxicated that makes you do something that you would feel really awkward of doing when your state of mind is working normally. So, based on my experience, it's not exactly confidence, but more like being intoxicated by alcohol that makes guys do something that requires bravery on their part.

However, some experts dare to differ. There is proof that beer does give people the confidence to be winners. One researcher states that people who drink alcohol are most likely to solve difficult problems because of creativity. Jennifer Wiley proves that people with the right amount of alcohol content in their bloodstream are worse at solving memory tasks, but are quite excellent when it comes to creative tasks. It is later explained that the alcohol actually allowed the subjects to use constructive logic rather than linear analysis.

Some of the other great benefits from drinking beer are as follows:

  • Consuming moderate amounts of beer reduces the risk of heart disease by 30%. Of course, the word "moderate" should be a good enough warning for all drunkards out there.

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The Traveling Beer - Choosing the Right Alcoholic Beverage When Traveling Abroad

The Traveling Beer - Choosing the Right Alcoholic Beverage When Traveling Abroad

My love for beer is eternal. Yes, it's no joke. Whether I'm relaxing inside my house or going out with my friends for a night out, I always make it a point to order a nice, cold glass of beer. While I can easily buy a can of Budweiser or a nice bottle of Jack Daniels from a local convenience store, it's a whole different story when I'm traveling to another country. Of course, I can still get my favorite drinks from the supermarket, but when I think about it, I might as well try the best that international liquor has to offer.

Germany - Well, let's start with Europe. It's always been my favorite continent, since Germany's there. Germany boasts of certain beers that were made centuries ago. Besides, German beers have quite a unique taste in them. It's probably because breweries follow a very strict rule about the ingredients used for brewing. Some of the best German beers I enjoy so far are Bitburger and Warsteiner. However, Bitburger is the only one that's gotten me hooked on German Beer.

Bitburger has three unique variations, which is called beer mixes. My choice would have to "Bit Sun", which has low on calories.

And who can forget about Oktoberfest? I always make it a point to visit Germany during this occasion. Asides from beer, I also love buying beer shirt a day and Oktoberfest is the perfect time to buy them cheap! It's a drink-till-you drop marathon for me and my friends (along with a few friendly Germans, of course!

Japan - I've been to Japan three times already and it's a Wonderland for beer aficionados. Yes, I've already tasted sake, but you're dead wrong if you think that Japan doesn't have it's own brand of beer. Asahi Beer is one of the most popular beer brands in the Land of the Rising Sun. There's Suntory Beer as well as Hop Aka; these are just a few of the many beer brands available there. One particular Asahi beer, which is the Asahi Funwari, costs around 140 yen. With an alcohol content of 2-3%, it's something I don't mind drinking when walking around Tokyo.

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Pairing Beer with Food


Choosing the correct beer to go with whatever food you are eating isn't always straightforward. This week, we're featuring a couple of charts you can use to help you with the proper pairing of beer with your food.

Click on each one to get a full size, printable version. Enjoy!




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