Happy Boxing Day. I’ve been working on the assumption that you have been too busy to read the Herbie blog in the last couple of days. Well, I’ve been to busy to write it anyhow, Sorry about that.
(Even before the current Awards are complete,I already have a contender for next year’s Best Gadget. In my Christmas stocking I got a little USB endoscope, not for poking into bodily orifices but for peering into spaces where the eye cannot reach. There a quite a few such spaces on Herbie – in the engine bay, in the electrics cupboard, up by the water tanks stopcock, behind the built in radio – the list goes on. This little camera, complete with LED lights to illuminate the subject, plugs into a phone or tablet or laptop – anything with USB and has a nice long cable to reach awkward places. All I can say up to now is that the camera works. I’ll report back after I’ve used it in anger.)
Back to the script, and now for the Award which excites one or two of my regular readers. Where did we get this year’s Best Pint of Beer and what was it?
Well this year I’m going to split the Award into two. Draught Beer bought in a pub or bar, and because we spend so much time out of reach of such places, beer bought in cans or bottles.
Ooh this is a dodgy one, because beers come in a range of styles and I know some of Herbie’s friends like them dark or malty, but these days Kath and I like ‘em light and hoppy, especially with all the fragrant New World hops that brewers are adopting. Travelling mainly up and down the Oxford canal we see a lot of Hook Norton beers and we can’t complain about them, but they don’t win any prizes this year. Had they reintroduced the Summer Haze (??) they did a couple of years ago, that might have been a different story. My mouth waters at the thought of it.
Having said that we like light hoppy beers, I should add that quite a few top breweries now produce them, usually called blah blah Gold or Golden Blah Blah and I’m sad to say that a number of them needn’t have bothered. It ain’t the light malts and the golden colour that matters it’s the hops.So if you’ve tried a Golden Ale and didn’t like it, try another because when you find a good one it’s a revelation. So what wowed us this year? Well one stood out above all the rest and I think we knew it was a winner straight away when we supped it at The Three Pigeons. It comes from the excellent Purity Brewery in Warwickshire and it is simply named:
Purity Pure Gold
(as served at the Three Pigeons in Banbury)
You don’t make a beer like this without a lot of effort– just look at the contents:
“Brewed with English Maris Otter, Caragold, Caramalt and Wheat malts, plus Pilgrim, Styrian and Hereford Goldings, Styrian Bobek and Citra hops. “
4 different malts and five different hops! Balancing that lot must have taken a lot of tasting. It could have gone horribly wrong, but they got it bang on. No wonder it’s the winner of nine awards (well ten now).
Bottled / Canned beer
There are some Real Ales (with yeast and unpasteurised) in bottles, but a number of modern so-called Craft Beers don’t qualify as Real Ales but are nevertheless amazingly good. When we’re enjoying an evening on some remote towpath or in a riverside meadow, that’s what we might turn to. (I ought to stress that we do have booze free days). It’s strange that what makes a good draught beer doesn’t often translate into a good bottled beer. Often the name might be the same, but the recipe (particulalry the alcohol content) is different.
Anyhow, this year we have fallen back on two favourites, both in American IPA styles but from old established British Brewers. The first is Adnam’s Ghost Ship, possibly the most fragrant of all bottled beers and not too strong. The second is Marston’s Shipyard Ale which is stronger tasting and more alcoholic, but still wonderfully hoppy. You can get both of these beers on draught too, but the Adnams is better in the bottle. The Shipyard is sold at Wetherspoons as (I think) a Nitrokeg (gassed with Nitrogen rather than the souring CO2) and that works well. If you don’t think you like beer, try a bottle or can of Ghost Ship, you might be very pleasantly surprised. Sniff it and drink it like a wine.
It’s a very close call. I convened a hasty meeting of the Academy and after some debate we decided we couldn’t decide so it’s a
Marston’s Shipyard and Adnam’s Ghost Ship
So here endeth today’s lesson. Come back next time as we near the climax of this year’s awards.