Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cracking open the Skull Splitter

Skull Splitter by Orkney Brewery
Nae use for stripping paint.
It was Up Helly Aa yesterday, so I figured to helly aa with this sodding drinking ban. And although it's from a different Viking archipelago to the firey insanity in Shetland, I chose Skull Splitter by Orkney Brewery to be my first new beer of 2013.

It's robust and rich and sweet and dark; there was bloomin' loads going on in that glass. Loads. And all of it good. In a Pepsi Challenge between Tennent's Supey and paint-stripper, Skull Splitter wins every time. By a bloody axe head.

I mentioned before the nonsense they wrote on the label about dates and figs and dried fruits and molasses, but this beer, this mighty, Viking beer was way more flavoursome, way more complex, way more tasty than I ever expected. I should probably give their marketing folks a wee bit more slack ...

... cause you know what? It was delicious. It was fruity and spicy and deep and sexy. At 8.5%, it wasn't asking to be gulped down (and after a meagre 29 days off the drink I was wanting to gulp). It was wanting savoured. It was wanting a bit of attention. It was wanting made love to slowly.

Skull Splitter, it's my first nomination for Beer of the Year.

Washed down by a good helping of Highland Park.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Twistedmouth's Beer Blog - How you can get involved!

It's not me, it's you. 
I've made a decision. It's likely my last one of January and it's a blooming blinder. It's probably the best decision of 2013 to date, and even though it's not yet February, it'll surely be a contender for Best Decision of 2013. (Betcha can't wait for those awards to swing round.)


Here goes:

This site should not just be about me and what I drink with silly musings and whinges and that. No, it should be about you. Yes, you.

So, I've been thinking about how I can get YOU involved in what is quickly becoming one of the best read and critically acclaimed beer blogs in the history of the internet, past present and future. But instead of thinking about me, I've been thinking about you. Yes, you. Yes, I've been thinking about how to get YOU involved and I've finally figured it out.

Sure, you can leave comments and Like on Facebook and retweet on Twitter and sign up with your email and share with the Google + thing and do all the other really cool social media stuff that you can do. And please do. But that's so ... 2012.

So here's the 2013 way you can become involved in this site AND help Scotland's beautiful craft beer industry AND kickstart our triple-dipshit economy. That's right, I'm going to reveal how you can be the saviour of humanity.


Here goes:

You decide what beers I'll be drinking this year.

Isn't that brilliant?!

All you have to do is choose your beer and send the money, via PayPal or postage cheque, to Hippo Beers and I'll just nip along, pick the choice beer up, and drink it for you. In fact, you don't even have to choose. You can just send the money and let the guys in the shop choose for you. Yes, you! I think it's a stormer of an idea, and the best thing is, everyone wins.

Isn't that brilliant?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Kill List

Tennent's Super Strength Lager
Last post I mentioned a couple of daft decisions I'd made recently. Starting a blog about beer and then pledging to not drink for 31 ever-lengthening days is probably one of the daftest decisions I've ever made. I may have mentioned how fun it's been.

But it means I've had time to think about what beers I want to try, and about what I want to do with this site. I've put together a Kill List of beers I'm going to try on or after February 1st.

Top of the Twistedmouth Kill List is Skull Splitter by Orkney Brewery. On the back it says:

Skull Splitter is our strongest ale: which is named after Thorfinn Einarsson who was the 7th Viking Earl of Orkney. Sophisticated, satiny smooth with a deceptively light character, it is a tribute to our colourful forbear. On the nose, this strong beer has a fruity malt character, with hints of dark fruit, spicy hop, dates and figs. On the palate, rich and complex with sweet toasted malt, molasses, fresh and dried fruit and hints of warming spices.

Molasses and figs. That's beautifully over the top for a beer that's 8.5% and is surely going to make my eyes water and leave me with some sort of UTI. I'm half thinking about getting a can of Tennent's Supey and some paint-stripper and doing a wee Pepsi challenge or something ...

Next is a strong stout by Tempest, a Morello Cresta 4 grain stout. I bought this purely for the lo-fi, hand-printed label. I love that. It's 7.0%. A session ale for Borders folk then.

What else?

Well, I got me a Cromarty Brewed Awakening, recommended by my new beer chum Magnus, who has his own beer blog (far, far superior to this one). He also suggested Cromarty's Red Rock and Tempest's Cresta Black and Red Eye Flight, but I didn't see them in my last visit to Hippo Beers. Ho hum, next time.

And just before you start thinking I can't think for myself, I've also included West's St Mungo's lager cause it's my local brewery. And a Dragonfly amber ale from Fallen Brewing Co, cause it's from near where I grew up and not because it has a nice label and a dragon in the title, oh no.

Now, a wee clarification: as well as dumbass decisions, my last post may have falsely given the impression that this January has just been a series of loathsome days that have been relentlessly tiresome, each one more miserable than the last, apart from two auspicious days. This is not true; a couple of other great things have happened.

My wife and I learnt how to play Netrunner. And Utopia happened.

Happy (late) Burns Day.

Monday, January 21, 2013

January, a right barrel of laughs

Tough Mudder
Tough Mudder looks really, really fun.
You get a beer after it though. 
January. It's a long month, a loathed month, a month for daft decisions and foolish promises. A month of broken toys and lost receipts. Thirty-one long days - each one longer than the last - overflowing with misery, regret and pain.

There are two good days in January: my daughter's birthday and the 31st. The other 29 are just passing time, waiting for better weather, longer days; days long enough so either your commute to work or journey home will be in something resembling daylight. 

In the 21 lengthening days of January endured so far, I have:
  • Pledged to stay off the drink until February.
  • Pledged to do the Tough Mudder ordeal in August.
Both very, very dumb.

Aye, this dry January's a right barrel of fucking laughs.

Please, tell me, I really want to know, what stupidity have you soiled your 2013 with?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Skull Splitting in the US

Naff viking
Real scary Viking that.
Doesn't even have a beard.
Good news in January is as rare as French vegan in a boucherie. And as much as I like beer, I also like good beer good news stories. So here's a wee one, luke-warmish off the press.

Axe-grinders Orkney Brewery have declared that their Skull Splitter ale is selling so well in the US that they've started shipping the stuff over in barrels as well as bottles.

First pub to start selling Splitter on draft is some pub on Passyunk East in Philadelphia called, err, Pub on Passyunk East. They've planning some mental Viking night to celebrate. Cause it's a classy joint, I take that to mean they'll be doing a traditional Ba' game up and down the streets of Philadelphia, seeing as the Orkadian season is over and US gun shops are doing great deals on body armour; and not a naff, daft night of loonies wearing fake beards and furry tabards and plastic helmets with horns sticking out the side of them. And going aaaargh like pirates. Cause that would never happen in Glasgow, oh no.

Anyhow, I like that a wee Scottish brewery is sending barrels of beer over the Atlantic. I like that Americans are drinking proper Scottish beer. (By the way America, at 8.5%, Skull Splitter is considered a fairly weak beer in Scotland; bit of a session ale if you know what I mean.)

I haven't drunk Skull Splitter, and remembered. In fact, last time I drank a beer that strong was a Christmas Party years ago that had gone from tedious to torturous so to take the edge offof it I nipped down the offie for a couple of cans of Tennent's Supey. Great idea that.

Anyhow, last night I nipped down to the marvellously curated Hippo Beers shop on Queen Margaret Drive in Glasgow and got me a bottle for February 1st. Also something from Tempest Brewing Co purely because I liked the label. Reviews to come you lucky duckies.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Alechemy Cockleroy Black IPA

Alechemy Cockleroy Black IPA
I didn't want my first review of 2013 to be a bad one. Start positively and that, but then I remembered my Ne'er Day review of Williams Brothers' Joker IPA. Huzzah! My conscious is clear.

I wrote a while back about Alechemy's magical Cairnapple IPA, a delicious ale I'd gladly buy again. Well, I tried their Cockleroy Black IPA in the dregs of 2012, and ...

Och I want to be nice, but it just wasn't for me. While its dark malt colour and citrus aroma are intriguing certainly, and the glass boasts of fulsome promise, I found it a tad thin on the palate and I was left a wee bit wanting. More so when I considered the other fine, chewy black beers out there. Pity.

I'll probably try it again one day, just to be sure.

Anyway, Livingston-based Alechemy's another wee micro-brewery that's opened up in Scotland's eastern lands, and like Edinburgh's Barney's Beer, it's a wee business with a heap of passion and big ideas. That, I do like.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Hippo Beers, My Favourite Shop

Hippo Beers
Sometimes my kids ask me what my favourite shop is.

Well, I quite like Forbidden Planet but it's too cramped and often too busy. I loved A1 Comics until they got rid of most of their comics. I loved Go Outdoors for the miles of aisles of ropes and boots and waterproofs and camping stuff that I really, really need but never could afford. I have a wee fetish thing for Aldi and its crazy middle row. But they all leave me, well, wanting.

Hippo Beers entered my life in November. We've exchanged glances from a distance. Had the odd flirty exchange. They have my details but not been in touch. I don't know, should I contact them? Maybe I wrote my email down wrong. Maybe they lost it. Maybe they've been too busy and not had time. Maybe their PCs are down. Or their internet. Maybe I should call them. Just to check they've still got my email. Would that be pushy? Would that just be weird?

But what if it's because they don't like me?

Their shop on Queen Margaret Drive in Glasgow has more than 300 beers in stock at any one time. About a dozen shelves of Scottish beers. A bay of ciders. Ales from England, Europe and the US. They have wheat beers and anti-allergy ales. Porters and stouts and wines and whiskies. They probably have the cure for cancer buried in there. Here's an article the Evening Times wrote about Hippo Beers last week.

It's a neat shop, an airy shop, a shop you like to spend time in, wander about in. Read the labels and not feel a twat. Have a chat with the staff and not feel a twat. Buy one beer and one beer only and not feel a twat.

I think I might be falling in love.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A Dry January? No Joker

Williams Brothers Joker IPA
It's January 1st. New Year's Day, 2013. Happy new year!

This day two years ago I gave up boozing for a month. A whole month. January has 31 days by the way. Thirty-one long days.

In truth, aside from one hideous networking event I had to attend and couldn't hide myself in drunken oblivion, it was fine. In fact, by February, I felt pretty damn amazing.

So, once again, for January, I'm abstaining from beer, wine and whisky. No joke, nor any Joker IPA until February. That's 31 days. Thirty-one long days.

I pretty much adore all of Williams Brothers' beers, but their Joker IPA was one I'd somehow missed ... until I unwrapped my present from my daughter on Christmas Day.

It's a fine, fruity IPA that's packed with flavour. A pleasant, citrus sweetness, with malty and hoppy goodness. Complex and delicious. In all honestly, I think I preferred the Alechemy Cairnapple IPA, but the difference in enjoyment was marginal.

Would very hoppily have again.