The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste

I don’t do beer tastings for I doubt my own judgement and taste buds.

I know what I like and some people seem to think that if I like it then they probably will too.

Myself and BeersManchester have similar tastes, I pay attention to what he likes.

Locally Fez wearer Otto is also a man who knows his stuff.

Though the most knowledgeable people I know (no disrespect to the above) are the quietest: Des and Jaz would really “kill it” if they ever did their own blogs.

These guys are “good people” but they also will tell you what is good without the need for extraneous bullshit and unnecessary verbage, well BeersManchester does go on but at least it is with descriptions the mortal people can understand and flavours that limited funds can buy.

Also, as far as I know, they hold know certificates to say just how much they know about beer.  Experience counts for a lot in this pastime.

CAMRA doles out certificates for various things in beer, now this isn’t a go at CAMRA at all but of the superfluous nature of certification.

I’ve heard CAMRA bods at the 2016 Manchester Beer & Cider festival say that a Rauchbier “tasted like ashtrays” – now whereas an ashtry isn’t the most complementary of comparisons, if the simile was to suggest it was smoky then that suits what the style of beer is about.

Likewise there were complaints that that some beers (IPAs) were “too hoppy.”

There are those who (and sometimes I can sympathise with them) claim that some modern beers don’t taste like beer and instead just taste like grapefruit – I quote Boak & Bailey as a retort to that opinion.

Likewise there is a lot of bullshit at the other end of the scale. If you’re masochistic enough to ruin your Sunday by watching Simon Rimmer and Tim Lovejoy fawn over the most average of not only variety acts but also of “experts” then you’ll know what I mean.

Yes, I have tasted nettles, but I have no idea and no memory of what they taste like let alone am I getting any hints that they might be in my beer.

I fully appreciate that some people have highly adapted palates and if a brewer describes what to expect in a beer on either the bottle or in tasting notes then I might see if I can identify them.

But most of the time I think some are doing it for either the sake of bravado or that they are just really, really bored.

In the end, every time I read or hear overly dramatic beer witterings or clueless complaints I get this in my head…



Thanks for reading.



Alternative title: White Man’s Beerden


A few weeks ago this article in “Thrillist” was doing the rounds on twitter and whereas it is written from an American perspective it certainly got hands wringing over in the UK beer blogsphere.

Given the current furore over the Oscars maybe we should also go with #CraftBeerSoWhite

I’m not going to write from the perspective of either America or of race (I can if it were my prerogative but that isn’t the point of the piece), I can write from the perspective of England and beer drinking.

The craft beer movement at this current moment in time, is a micro-environment of the general middle-class chattering classes that dominate the air waves these days, at least at a social level.

Leave your left/right political paradigm at the door and we know that the UK is shaped more by class (and also class denial) than by most other factors in life.


The three original classes of Upper, Middle and Working have been split into seven categories

But this is neither here nor there, a main driver is the notion of egalitarianism – but it is not an equality of people but of thought.

Everyone knows that people are different, you can dare to dream and obviously if you have a lot of cash you are afford a lot more opportunity regardless of any semblance of brains, skill or drive but most of the time you won’t succeed because of a great, many factors.

We also know that not all beer is equal but what is glaringly obvious is that those that witter on about wanting more diversity in beer and brewing have clearly kicked a whole social group to the kerb.

There is a social group that does not want to drink certain stuff, nor does it want to go into places that don’t serve what they want at prices they are willing to pay.

Of course in the previous sentence I’m talking about the craft beer snob, who has the same mindset as the chattering classes; they’ll happily want to see you out of the gutter but not, in their opinion, if your mind is in there.  But if it is then thankfully you don’t have enough privilege to share the same drinking spaces as them.

Craft beer has an exclusivity about it, not only on price and where it is available but also in the minds of some that drink it, those same people conversely are the ones most likely to talk loudest about the need for inclusivity.

These same people who frequent over-priced IKEA bars will sometimes “slum it” in a pub and rave about the merits of its fixtures and fittings and maybe even the beer on sale but don’t even expect them to want to share it too long with the regulars.

The art of disassociated association (or associated disassociating) (or neither, I’m just making up oxymoronic phrases).

The same can be said for food too; where street food is sold at restaurant prices and as this has proved so successful that now you can indeed eat street food in a restaurant at even larger restaurant prices while disparaging those that go to chains, because your “dirty food” is acceptable because you mind is “clean”.

Some need to acknowledged is that before we start blubbing about diversity in beer; about more equal gender and racial representation, that like much the rest of the UK is heading socially; the drive for “equality” has shunned anything to do with merit and is merely viewed as tokenism.

And that is about as far from equality as you can get.

Craft-Beeronomics: The dangers of exploitation

Drinking got me thinking...

Greed: Noun; intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.

The recent boom in Craft Beer has been a fantastic shot in the arm for those of us who crave good beer. Good, varied beer is now a thing. Previously there was a variety of beer available but nowhere near the extent that is available now. But what’s it driven by? The growth has two elements, firstly there has to be a desire to brew better more diverse beers, and also there then needs to be a consumer demand for the beer styles which have broken away from the norm.

Both of those elements are self-driving, so a good brewer will develop a popularity and therefore demand, but also the consumer demand gives the brewer confidence to try more varied beers. And if anything, I think the link between brewers and consumer are far shorter than they…

View original post 1,281 more words

Beer Hates You

It really does hate you.

It hates you for your race.

It hates you for your class.

It hates you for your Instagram account.

It hates you for your food matching twattery.

It hates you for your use of sparklers.

It hates you for your use of gravity.

It hates you for your blog about craft beer.

It hates you for your blog about beer that isn’t craft beer.

It hates you for your attendance at beer festivals.

It hates you for your mantra that beer people are good people.

It hates you for your cynicism about the mantra that beer people are good people.

It hates you for your opinions on craft beer.

It hates you for your opinions on beer that isn’t craft beer.

It hates you for your willingness to spend huge amounts of cash on craft beer.

It hates you for your willingness to buy from supermarkets.

It hates you for your drinking of real ale.

It hates you for your drinking of grapefruit ales.

It hates you for your drinking of key-keg.

It hates you for your drinking of dead keg fizz.

It hates you for your will to try to set up your own brewery.

It hates you for your hatred of family brewers.

It hates you for your CAMRA membership, or lack of it.

It hates you for drinking in industrial-chic and retro-fitted bars.

It hates you for drinking in a pub.

It hates you for serving it too warm.

It hates you for serving it too cold.

It hates you for #Dryanuary

It hates you for #Tryanuary and #TryJanuary

It hates you for drinking it in thirds.

It hates your liver.

It hates your kidneys.

It hates you because there is no safe limit.

It hates you for making it complicated.

Day 12 – #12BeersofXmas 2015

Day 12 – #12BeersofXmas 2015


Brewery – Thornbridge Brewery

Location – Bakewell, Derbyshire (historically, Mercia)

The Drink: Jaipur X

ABV: 10% – 500mL

Style: Imperial IPA

I’ve long considered Thornbridge to be the daddies of the “craft” beer movement, some will sing and dance and be offensive/take offence and bully and lull people into joining their fan club but the people from Bakewell have just got on with things and built their fan base on the strength of their extensive range of good beers.

I’ll go on record now as saying where as Thornbridge’s dark beers really can and do rock my world their pales have never quite chimed with me, well except Halcyon (*KLAXON*) which I had only for the first time last year as part of 2014’s #12BeersofXmas

Jaipur is an example of something that I never really got into, it also slightly miffed me that just because it was sold my some restaurants that could advertise that they sold “craft” beer (it also gave them carte blanche to over charge massively).

Jaipur X was released to mark 10 years of brewing and I have had it on keg twice.  Once during the initial buzz (also when this bottle was purchased) and again in October in Sheffield when either I was under charged or the bar I was in really did price it at £5 a pint.

On those occasions I found it to be a bit too punchy for me while also having an after taste that long out stayed its welcome.

A small fizz, it poured a crystal clear deep yellow colour with a thick white head that retained while drinking.

About this time I’ll link to the Beer O’Clock Show Instagram account for a better review of Jaipur X because they know what they’re talking about…

#12beersofxmas | Day 3 | @thornbridge Jaipur X & @magicrockbrewco Un-Human Cannonball | 10% & 11% | Things might have got a little bit tough for Spruce as today sees the second double up of this year's run as I go back to a couple of big IPAs that I've saved for tonight. Now, obviously I know you should 'age' these sort of beers but I just wanted to see what would happen. First up was the Jaipur X. This bottle was from the first batch that was produced and when I first had it I was a little underwhelmed to say the least. However, it has definitely improved with age and has a soft, mellow aroma with light vanilla, caramel and pine. The flavour has mellowed also and it's now very sweet with a lasting light bitter finish. There's a lovely malty backbone to the flavour with a feel of lemon cheesecake. Second up is Un-Human Cannonball from Magic Rock. A beer that creates much excitement in me and many others on every years release, I didn't get on with this one at the time. Obviously the hop hit hasn't got any better and there's nothing on the aroma, the pour is still cloudy. Flavour wise it's still fruity, like a thick tropical breakfast juice and there's a boozy burn on the finish. So did ageing two big IPAs work? Well, you know the answer to that, but the beers are still good, which is probably more testament to the skill of the breweries than anything else. #cheersguys #beeroclock #craftbeer #IPA #IPAcentric

A post shared by Beer O'Clock Podcasts (@beeroclockshow) on


I’ll add that the mellowing of this slightly aged bottle has improved it on my palate.  It feels more rounded and less harsh, more fruity and less alcoholic.


Thanks for reading.

Enjoy what is left of the weekend before the realisation of just how far away next Christmas is.

Day 11 – #12BeersofXmas 2015

Day 11 – #12BeersofXmas 2015


Brewery – Allgates & Northern Monk

Location – Wigan, Grt Manchester (historically Lancashire) & Leeds, West Yorkshire.

The Drink: Northern Gates

ABV: 8.2% – 750mL (or maybe 660mL)

Style: Barley Wine

This collaboration between the red and the white rose was a limited bottle release from 2013.  Each bottle was labelled “1 of 500” which though correct probably got a few people to soil themselves thinking they’d actually got bottle number 1.  As such this bottle has been aged by me for about 2 years.

It had to happen and when it does it comes to how we approach the situation.

In this instance I’m referring to an under performing bottle.  Choosing 12 drinks in advance for the #12beersofXmas pens you in to only reviewing those 12 and only being able to do so when near both the drink itself and a computer, hence the delay in Day 11 (and 12) of these reviews.

When I tweeted my 12 bottles one response was from a concerned follower about the Northern Gates as the reviews for it had been less than glowing.

A quick scan of Untappd showed that not only was this the case but that, rather conveniently, those most recent reviews had come from people I “know” via twitter/Untappd and beer gatherings in general and therefore people whose views I would trust.

A bit more research (and really I should have contacted the breweries directly and for that I apologise) from others close to the brewery suggest that a faulty batch of caps had lead to what was really a 50/50 shout.  Some closures hadn’t sealed properly, some had even gone rusty, others would be OK.

Funny thing is the more I think about it the more I think I may have had this on keg and Indy Man upon its initial release…who knows, this review is about the bottle…

The bottle opens with an audible hiss and pours a glorious deep amber colour and is clear as a bell.  A small, white sticky head forms but quickly dissipates.

Sadly this is where my hope that I was lucky with my bottle.  The smell was tart fruits but a pungent aroma of something that wasn’t quite right.  Perhaps all the negativity was impacting and I was just being to trepidatious but sadly upon tasting my worries were confirmed.  The taste was as it smelt, overly acidic and quite unlike any beer let alone barley wine I’ve tasted in some time.

It is a shame, less because of hope it would be good or from any money being wasted but because both breweries are very near the top should I ever compose a list of my favourites.  Allgates themselves won my 2015 Golden Pints award and I really enjoy Northern Monk beers (and even chocolates made from their wonderful Strannik) and had a great time at their Refectory.

Breweries big and small do make a duff beer sometimes (regardless of how much sycophantic fans wish to laud every beer released by certain breweries) but sometimes luck plays a part too.  You can get everything right up to delivery to the customer and still a beer will never hit 100% of the intended aim set out to achieve.

But then that is the joy of beer; if you got nothing but great beer served properly in great pubs by highly competent and attentive bar staff then I for one wouldn’t have much to talk about and you lot wouldn’t waste your time reading this amateurish nonsense.



Thanks for reading.

Enjoy 2016.