Beer Writing Flashback

A few years ago I was sitting at the bar of the Brass Taps in Toronto, Ontario, when a chap picks up the Great Lakes Brewing News and starts reading from my column to his mate. He finishes reading what follows and then says to his friend, ‘now that is pure poetry’.


From the Great Lakes Brewery of Toronto slides in the Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout with a whacking good read of 11 percent abv. Aged for three months in Kentucky bourbon barrels, this beer, as part of the brewery’s 25th anniversary celebration, pours a polished ebony colour with a creamy, dense chocolate coloured head. While the nose is rather subdued in nature, gently revealing bourbon scents, with wisps of roast and chocolate. On the palate, it comes forward with smooth booze with a roasted malt edge. There is a long boozy led finish with a kiss of roast and chocolate flavourings. This beer has a disturbingly smooth delivery of alcohol. But it is gentle sipper that is ‘black gold’ of a beer kind! There is some cellaring potential if you can dare to wait that long for another tussle with your taste buds!

Originally published in the Great Lakes Brewing News in 2013.

Coniston Brewing Company, Cumbria, Hits a Double

DSC00162Coniston Bluebird Bitter is a 4.2 percent abv ordinary bitter brewed at the Coniston Brewing Company, Cumbria, Engand. This polished golden coloured ale has a whitish head of foam. Initially, bold fruity aromas, both from hops, namely challenger, and the yeast, burst forth. This is followed by rich and vibrant malt notes from Maris Otter pale malt and crystal malt bubbling up from beneath. Body is low end of medium.

On the palate, a crisp bitterness strides forward confidently, ably backed by a stunning combination of the malts. Middle has notes of grapefruit hop bitterness riding herd on a sound malt structure. Long bitter finish eagerly delivers on its early promise of hops to the fore. Bottle conditioned, therefore yeast sediment in the bottom of the bottle. Pour gently in one steady motion, leaving about an inch of beer in the bottle, if you prefer a clear beer. CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain 1998.


Coniston Old Man Ale is a 4.2 abv special bitter from the Coniston Brewing Company, Coniston, cumbria. It is a brilliant harvest orange red coloured ale derived from roasted barley, crystal malt and pale ale malt, having an almond accented head of foa. Bold fruit aromas, with rich malt undercurrents and a hearty grapefruit tang spring forth. Medium in body. On the palate, grapefruit citrus flavourings from the Challenger and Mount Hood hops step forward in a sprightly fashion, ably supported by an established malt factor.

Middle has a defining hop bitterness on a firm malt backbone. Finish is extended with a penetrating hop bitterness that is both sharply delineated and very moreish in nature. Old Man Ale is named after the Lakeland mountain at the foot of which sits the Coniston Brewery. Bottle conditioned, therefore yeast sediment in the bottle.

Green Devil IPA Delivers Citrus

20150423_163417_006_resizedGreen Devil IPA, a 6 percent abv beer from Oakham Ales of Peterborough, England, pours a polished golden colour, releasing fresh aromatics of mango and pineapple, and a forthright and penetrating bitterness that leaves a deep impression on the palate. It’s a big and bold ale but it doesn’t kick your butt to the moon. The citrus imprint keeps on giving in the best way. I quite like this beer but Citra, also from Oakham Ales, has embraced me with an everlasting hop presence that I am unable, and unwilling, to relinquish. And while I don’t equate our beery relationship to love, no beer has quite taken my fancy like Oakham Citra has.