Birmingham Beer Bash 2015

Birmingham Beer Bash 2015

On Friday 24th July 2015 I attended the 3rd Birmingham Beer Bash at The Bond Co in Digbeth. This was also my 3rd time visiting the bash and I can honestly say that it’s my favourite beer festival of the year. The Birmingham Beer Bash (Or bCubed) is an independent beer festival that was created and run by a small team of beer fans, writers, bloggers, twitterers. What they’ve achieved the last three years is nothing short of incredible. They have created a fantastic must-attend beer festival bash that’s very friendly, fun and exciting.

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I managed to try quite a few beers in the evening session I attended. Most were exceptional. I think the great thing I like about bCubed is the range and quality of the beers on offer are exceptional. This isn’t your standard CAMRA festival with 20 different types of generic bitter available. There’s all different styles: IPAs, Stouts, Sours, Lagers, etc. A massive range for all tastes to try. Plus they mix cask and keg seamlessly without making it an issue.

The beers I was lucky enough to try…

Disfunctional Functional IPA – Offbeat Brewery – 3/5

Fullhouse Tripel IPA – Black Jack Beers – 4/5

Pot Kettle Black – Yeastie Boys – 4/5

Reddish Rye – Thirst Class Ale – 3/5

Breakfast Stout – Founders Brewing Co – 3.5/5

Graveyard Eyes – Hopcraft Brewing – 2.5/5

Barrel Aged Papa Pils – Beavertown – 4/5

Rye IPA – Runaway Brewery -4/5

Spanner IPA – Liverpool Craft Beer Co – 3/5

Little Thinks That Kill – Weird Beard – 4/5

We also had a great burger from the Original Patty Men. I love a burger done right and theirs are spot on. It’s easy to see why they are winning Best Burger awards. The other food sellers on site also looked great, but unfortunately we didn’t get chance to try them.

Finally, a massive thank you to all the volunteers that made the festival happen. I can only imagine the time and effort required to pull something like this off, but the guys did a great job. Looking forward to next year. Cheers.

Bungalow – Kyoto, Japan

On our recent visit to Kyoto, we discovered a small craft beer bar near our hotel called ‘The Bungalow‘. This small bar is positioned on a street corner in the Shijo area of Kyoto about 5minute walk from Kyoto Shijo subway station west along Shijo Dori. The really interesting setup of this is the building has no walls facing the corner and is open for people to just walk in and out as they like, (Except in cold weather, when plastic sheeting gives cover). This provides a really cool street vibe with people coming and going.

The small bar area is standing only with a few small tables and chairs dotted around in the bar area for seating for those that want it. There is also an upstairs seating area available, however I didn’t get chance to check this out as we stayed on the ground floor.

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The Bungalow is a really cool hip place to visit, without it being pretentious. They have a varied selection of Japanese craft beers available to try (10 taps). The prices were maybe a little on the high side but what you’d expect for craft beer and it was comparable to other bars in the area. It seemed on our visit that a lot of locals popped in for a drink, a chat and most had some food. The bar staff were also really friendly. As with many places in Japan, their English wasn’t great (But much better than my Japanese) and we managed to communicate fairly well. They even provided a good beer suggestion when my first choice was unavailable.

Bungalow Bar - Kyoto Japan

They also do some fabulous bar food here that is prepared fresh by the staff in a kitchen which is part of the bar area. We tried the food on our visit and it was superb (I forgot to get a picture of the menu). I tried the chicken which was really good and Collette tried the Steak which was cooked perfectly. We also tried some fries which were nice. Watching the guys in the kitchen area prepare the food was great. They were putting in so much effort to make good freshly cooked meals. The whole operation just worked really well.

Bungalow Bar - Kyoto Japan

While there, I managed to try the following beers…

Shonan IPA Palisade by Kumazawa Brewing Co. – 3/5 – Nice IPA, very balanced. Did everything right, but didn’t blow me away.

Minoh (Koi-Koi) Stout by A.J.I. Beer Inc – 4.5/5 – Fabulous beer. One of my favourites of the whole trip. Lovely roasted malt taste, lots of cocoa. Spot on stout.

Ise Kadoya Hime White by Nikenjayamochi Kadoya Honten Co. – 3/5

Ise Kadoya Pale Ale by Nikenjayamochi Kadoya Honten Co. – 3/5

Bungalow Bar - Kyoto Japan

As well as beer, they also did a large selection of wines as well as some spirits in the shape of  Mikkeller Gin and Mikkeller Citra Vodka (Which I meant to try).

If you happen to find yourself in Kyoto, I highly recommend seeking this place out. You never know what beers you’ll find on and the food is certainly worth a try.

Bungalow on Facebook

Google Maps

Beer: Bad Seed South Pacific Pale Ale

Bad Seed - South Pacific Pale AleSouth Pacific Pale Ale (5.8% Abv) from North Yorkshires Bad Seed Brewery is one of their core beer ranges. It highlights a selection of hops native to New Zealand (Green Bullet, Pacifica, Pacific Gem.)

This beer pours light, and very clear. The aroma is a little fruity with plenty of citrus notes. The taste is pretty bitter with a slight citrus tinge. I’d say in general this beer is very light/thin, and maybe a little too watery for my tastes.

Overall, on a nice warm day I could see this making a really refreshing beer. Personally, I expected a lot more bang from this. Your mileage may vary.

Source: Bottle from Cotteridge Wines

Score: 3/5

Beer: Padrino Porter

Padrino Porter

Edge Brewing is a brewery based out in Barcelona, Spain. Established in 2013 by two Americans they are looking to bring US style craft beers into Europe.

The Padrino Porter (6.9% ABV) is the first beer I’ve tried from these guys, and I have to say it’s pretty good.

It pours a lovely dark black colour with a nice aroma of liquorice, berries and some cocoa. The taste is very much roasted malt, liquorice and cocoa. It has quite a bitter taste, but I also found it to have a really refreshing taste. This beer is also very smooth but maybe a little too thin bodied.

I’ll certainly be on the lookout to try a few different styles from them (Their IPA certainly seems to be rated quite highly).

Source: Cotteridge Wines

Score: 3.5/5

Beer: Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja

Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja is described by the brewer Weird Beard Brew Co as a Citra Pilsner. It’s brewed using a normal lager process, but has the addition of Citra hops added. This produces a slightly odd beer that’s a little difficult to understand, not that it’s a bad thing.

This beer pours a dark orange/amber colour with a small white head that dissipates pretty quickly. The aroma seemed very much what you’d expect from a Pilsner but I could pick up some interesting grassy notes too. There was also a small hint of some tropical fruit aromas in there too.

This beer has a nice sharp crisp taste that I was expecting and this is followed up by an interesting citrusy bitterness. There’s a nice tropical fruit hit in the after taste, I got a lot of melon and grapefruit from this.

Overall, it’s an interesting beer. I found it pretty easy to drink once I got used to the slightly odd citrus after taste. Certainly worth giving this beer a try if you get a chance.

Source: Can from Cotteridge Wines

Score: 3/5

Beer: Straffe Hendrik Heritage 2013

Straffe Hendrik Heritage 2013

Let’s get this out upfront, the Straffe Hendrik Heritage 2013 is an insanely good beer. It’s rich, it’s boozy it’s fruity, it’s just amazing.

I watched one of the Craft Beer Boys latest videos and Jonny reviewed this Heritage 2013 beers. I knew I’d got a bottle of this and the video inspired me to crack it open and give it a try. (You should click here to watch the video)

This limited edition 11% quadruple is aged for one year in oak barrels. I picked up a bottle of the 2013 edition back in December 2014 on a visit to Bruges. It was for sale for around 12€ in a Karrifour store near to the Halve Mann Brewery.

Once the cork is popped off the bottle a lovely boozy cognac and oak smell hits you in the face. Theres also a lovely dark berry aroma.

This pours a lovely dark red/plum purple colour. It’s a little thick, but very smooth. a small tan head gathers at the top.

The taste of this beer is super smooth. A lovely boozy taste hits you at first with the oak aged taste really hitting the spot nicely. I picked up a lot of dark fruits, raisins and prunes. Plus, there was a taste of red wine mixed in there too, There is a lot of sweetness in the after taste, It doesn’t linger and ends quite dry. This is a very complex beer and I only see it getting better and better with age.

This is a beer that needs to be sipped slowly and enjoyed. Each mouthful was wonderful and I’m glad I was lucky enough to try a bottle.

Source: Carrefour, Bruges.

Score: 5/5

Belgian Beer Drinking 1

A couple of weeks ago I spent a Friday evening trying a few beers that I’d picked up while in Bruges in December last year.

Photo 20-02-2015 13 31 27Kasteel Hoppy (6.5%)

This beer by Kasteel is brewed using only hops from Belgium. I was very interested to try it. It pours a clear dark amber colour with a nice big frothy head. The aroma was quite spicy, and a little bitter. Not much hoppyness that I was expecting. The taste was pretty sweet, with some citrus flavours. From a beer thats’s called Hoppy, it was no where near as hoppy as I’d imagined. The aftertaste was fairly bitter too. Overall, a little disappointing.

Score: 2.5/5

Photo 20-02-2015 13 33 21Corsendonk Dubbel (6.5%)

The first thing you notice with this beer is the bottle is ridiculously heavy. It’s a normal 330ml bottle, but the glass seems very thick and heavy. This dubbel poured a real red-ish/brown colour with a nice light frothy head. The aroma was sweet berrys and lots of liquorice. The taste was fantastically smooth, with a lovely dark fruity taste. Very enjoyable and easy to drink.

Score: 3/5

Photo 20-02-2015 22 20 57Tongerlo Prior Tripel (9%)

Pours a dark golden yellow with a frothy white head. This beer was very carbonated. There is a lovely sweet and spicy aroma. The taste was especially boozy and sweet with a fair amount of spicyness. Good example of a Beligian tripel in my opinion.

Beer: Beavertown Holy Cowbell India Stout

Holy CowbellThe Beavertown Holy Cowbell India Stout (5.6% ABV) was an interesting little beer to me. Firstly, it’s called an India Stout which a new term to me and secondly it was a beer from Beavertown I hadn’t tried before.

Out of the can, it pours a nice thick dark black colour, with a light tan head. The aroma I got was quite fruity and hoppy, with a little hint of coffee and malt. On first taste I got a lot of hoppy bitterness upfront, this followed up with a really nice roasted malt backbone. There was also a fair amount of light smokyness on the taste.

As I think many people have said, this beer should probably be categorised as a Black IPA rather than a stout (I guess they do too, that’s why they call it an India Stout). It’s got a fantastic hop profile up front and lovely roasty backbone. It’s good, but then Beavertown themselves brew in my opinion an even better BIPA in Black Betty.

Overall, a really nice session-able beer that has a nice mix of hoppy goodness and roasted malts.

Source: The Bottle Shop, Bermondsey

Score: 3.5 / 5

Beer: Wild Beer Co Millionaire

Photo 13-02-2015 14 22 14I had high hopes for this beer. I’m a big fan of Millionaire cake slices and hoped this beer would be a liquid boozy version of one of those. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a little too salty and sweet for my tastes.

The Wild Beer Co Millionaire is a 4.7% ABV Milk Stout. The beer is brewed with sea salt, lactose, caramel and Valrhona cocoa nibs to give it a sweet salty chocolatey flavouring.

This beer pours a dark black colour. The aroma is a real milky chocolate aroma, almost chocolate milkshake in texture and aroma. Very nice, but I would have liked more caramel on the nose.

On tasting, I found this beer to be very sweet, perhaps even too sweet. The initial sweetness of the chocolate and salt was maybe a bit too much up front for my tastes, although the strong milk stout backbone that kicks in was very nice.

If you like milk stouts or generally sweet beers this will appeal to you, for me it was a little too sweet to be fully enjoyable.

Source: Cellar Door Drinks, Sutton Coldfield

Score: 3.5/5

Green Duck Brewery Co Visit

On Saturday 21st February, I didn’t have any plans for the day, the weather was a bit meh, so I decided to hop on a train over to the Green Duck Brewery Co in Stourbridge. I’d tried a couple of nice beers from these guys at the Birmingham Beer Festival 2014 (The coconut porter was one of the top beers of the festival) and saw them on Twitter talking about their bar so thought I’d take the opportunity to check them out and sink a few beers.

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The Badelynge Bar is roughly about a 10minute walk from Stourbridge Junction train station. It wasn’t too difficult to find at all. (I hopped on a London Midland train, they depart every half hour to/from Birmingham Snow Hill on Saturdays). The bar entrance is on the main road on the side of the industrial estate.

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Entering through the green solid steel door off the main street you enter into a large industrial unit space. Quite a few rows of benches and tables were setup for seating, along with a small lounge area on the right hand side with two comfy looking sofas to relax on. The bar was also on this right hand side. At the end, blocked off by a clear wall was the brewing area. Visitors are welcome to sit back and watch the brewing action up close. There was a rather large selection of board games available for people and a TV was also available.

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The beer board on the wall next to the bar offered up a great selection of Green Duck beers. There were 5 cask offering, a keg IPA and a cider. The bar also offered an assortment of spirits and soft drinks, plus snacks like cobs and pork pies. Green Duck work on a token system. £10 buys 4 drink tokens, these don’t have to be used in one visit and can be shared between people.

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The place had just opened when I arrived so was fairly quiet. It soon started to fill up with couples and groups, people with dogs arrived, people with children and babies. Everyone felt welcome and all seemed to be having a good time.Chatting to the guy working at the bar/brewery he was very friendly, chatty and fabulous at describing and recommending their beers to me. He made me feel very welcome.

Apparently the night before they held a music night event which had gone down a storm and they’d been really busy. Hopefully these events are something they continue with, I’d love to attend one.

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The first beer I tried was a Duck Blonde, a 4.2% ABV pale ale (Picture at top). This was a very smooth light golden beer. It had a fantastic sweet fruity hoppy citrus aroma. The taste was lovely, very floral and tropical fruits with a lovely bitterness about it. A real easy drinking beer that I would have been happy drinking all day long. This is apparently their most popular beer and I can see why people enjoy it.

Next I tried the Dandelion and Burduck Stout (5.5%). A beer brewed with dandelion and burdock, this pours really lively but settles quickly to be a nice dark black colour. The aroma is very dandelion and burdock-esque. On tasting, you get a nice roast malt taste and then the D&B flavour really kicks in to give a lovely aftertaste. This was very smooth and easy to drink. It maybe needed a little more body to make it excellent, but it was still nice. To me, this felt more like a porter than a stout.

The final beer I tried was a Sitting Duck (4.5% ABV), another light pale ale similar to the Duck Blonde. This is a lovely floral citrus beer brewed with Amarillo hops. It poured a nice golden yellow that had a thick white head that stayed prominently. A  lovely floral sweet aroma with a nice bitterness to it. Very nice beer.

Overall, I enjoyed my short visit to Green Duck Brewery. They’ve got a nice setup there offering great beer. There’s certainly a nice consistency to their beers and all the drinks I’ve tried from these guys have been good. If I lived a little closer I’d certainly pop in more often. The music nights and showing sports events certainly seems to be working for them and I wish them the best of luck.

I’ve still got unused drinks tokens so I’ll be looking forward to returning next month for their beer festival :-)