Mikkeller..

Kicking off April in fine style, we’ve had a bit of a Mikkeller thing happen, with some absolutely cracking beers hitting Otter’s Tears shelves. Big beastly stouts feature heavily, as do barrel aged beers, with a smidgen of sour, and a big juicy helping of Double IPA.

Beers with brewery tasting notes where available below, read on..

MBCC SpontanYuzu – This years MBCC official festival beer, SpontanYuzu, is brewed with zesty and delicious yuzu & aged in Oak Barrels. A cloudy yellow sour with a fresh citrusy character that holds 7,7% ABV. Ten cans have been marked Lucky Bastard. Should you be so fortunate to find one of these (look at the bottom), it means you are going to MBCC with a Pink (all session) wristband – free of charge.

18th Street Grapefruit Dead DIPA – 18th Street Brewery and Mikkeller collaborated and went all in on this big juicy DIPA, big on Amarillo Hops, with Grapefruit Juice and Grapefruit Zest additions.

Nelson Sauvin Brut Chardonnay Barrel Aged 9% – “This stunning Biére Brut has been one of our proudest creations. It’s a glorious combination of champagne yeast, brettanomyces and finished in Austrian white wine barrels. The nelson is dry, sweet, vinous and pure decadence.”

Nelson Sauvin Chardonnay Barrel Aged (750 bottle) 9% – A remarkable beer brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops, fermented with Champagne yeast and aged in white wine casks on Brettanomyces and enzymes creating a super dry beer with a strong white wine character and complex notes of grapes, gooseberry and oak.

Nelson Sauvin Champagne Barrel Aged 9% (750 bottle) – No tasting notes available at the time of writing this, but basically see above for the base beer, only with Champagne barrel characteristics..

Black Imperial Stout 16.1% – ‘Brewed as the strongest beer in Scandinavia’. This imperial stout was introduced  a couple of years ago as the craziest, wildest, and strongest beer from Mikkeller. Eventually, Black Fist Ran over its little brother and easily took the title. A very strong imperial stout brewed for Mikkeller at De Proef in Belgium. Made with roasted barley, dark brown sugar and Champagne yeast.

San Diego Beer Geek Brunch Weasel (can) 10.9% – *Formerly brewed by Mikkeller at Nøgne Ø, Norway, now at Lervig, Norway.
This imperial Oatmeal stout is brewed with one of the world’s most expensive coffees, made from droppings of weasel-like civetcats. The fussy Southeast Asian animals only eat the best and ripest coffee berries.Enzymes in their digestive system help to break down the bean. Workers collect the bean-containing droppings for Civet or Weasel Coffee. The exceedingly rare Civet Coffee has a strong taste and an even stronger aroma.

Brunch Weasel was originally brewed with and named for the coffee beans culled from civet droppings, but this take was made using coffee roasted at home by Mikkeller San Diego head brewer Bill Batten and his wife. Other versions used beans provided by East Village roaster Dark Horse Coffee.

San Diego Beer Geek Breakfast 7.5% – Oatmeal Stout with Dark Horse Coffee. A variation on the version below, canned and clearly brewed in San Diego

Beer Geek Breakfast 7.5% – An oatmeal stout with 25.0% oat-based ingredients and a nice touch of gourmet coffee. A beer that goes extremely well with breakfast. Brewed for Mikkeller by the amazing guys at Lervig.

Beer Geek Desert 11% – “From the beer geek breakfast series, the beer that really put Mikkeller on the map. We added cocoa and vanilla to the french press coffee trick, creating a whole new dimension to the beer that are loved by freaks and geeks worldwide. It’s dark, dangerous, sweet and incredibly tasty as you would expect, but most of all; it’s ready to conquer your breakfast table routines.

 

Some serious stuff right there I think you’ll agree. If you check each beers respective score out on Ratebeer, they all rank at between 97/100 to 100/100, so definitely no duffers.

But don’t take Ratebeerians word for it, come try them for yourself.

Cheers

Circumstances…

*“Plus ca change
Plus c’est la meme chose”

Like how to word the content, I’ve struggled to come up with a title for this post for weeks. It was last night that Chris, my good friend and partner in crime, inadvertently gave me inspiration to use the name of a track by the Canadian rock trio Rush, from which the words above are taken..

I suspect it will come as little surprise to the good people that use the shop regularly that I have decided, for the foreseeable future at least, and events aside, to stop the on-site drink in part of the business at Otter’s Tears.

This will take effect from today, right now, immediately, fin.

As you can imagine, it is not a decision lightly taken. It has been raging a constant battle within me for the last six months. I know I need to make the call, but I also know that it will sadden customers that pop in for a quick one while they choose beer now and then.

But if there is one thing that I have learned from life in recent months, it is that you only have one go it. There is no point pursuing something “just because”.

Reasons for doing so are many and not really for further discussion here, but one that is particularly important is consistency. For months now, some days I allowed drinking in, some days I’ve had to make the call not to. This means that customers now arrive feeling they have to ask and possibly be disappointed, which has happened too often. That just isn’t a good way to run a business. As customers you deserve clear consistent information on how I intend to operate full time.

I realise that some people will be saddened by this news, whilst others I suspect won’t even notice. Regardless of whichever camp you sit, there are some upsides to doing this.

The change will allow me to expand the range still further, as I will be able to move all storage down to the cellar. This creating more shelf space to showcase a wider choice of products.

I will still be hosting regular events, so all is not lost there. I will announce the next one shortly.

Draught beer will still be available. I am really keen to push the growler filling options, either by using Otter’s Tears branded growlers, or if you want to bring your own. As long as it is clean, has good seals and is suitable for a quality keg dispensed product, I’m happy to fill it with beery delights. There are some really interesting kegs lined up for you too, watch this space for news on those.

On that front, I need to get more regular news out on here. That will happen. More beer information, stock arriving, reviews, pieces of general interest. Generally material that I think beer lovers will want to read, more regularly. There are a lot more plans for Otter’s Tears in the pipeline, those updates will feature here first.

Importantly though, for now Otter’s Tears continues to grow in the right direction. I can now fully focus on my primary objective: to run a truly speciality bottle shop the way I want it to be.

Thank you for your support, long may it continue.

*“The more that things change
The more they stay the same”

Cheers

Phil & all at Otter’s Tears

Super Stanley February Fundraiser #SuperStanley

“Weʼre raising £20,000 to use #SuperStanley’s story to raise money for the Children’s Heart Ultrasound Scanner Appeal at Royal Stoke University Hospital”

Stanley Scarrat, was an exceptional little dude, loving, funny, cheerful and inspirationally brave.

Rachel and I were two of his proud Godparents and he was a regular visitor to Otter’s Tears during his short but very happy life. He loved to sit right there on the counter, playing with the till (and adding things onto our bills), messing with the mats and being a cheeky monkey, we’ll miss him terribly. Stanley was born with a complex congenital heart defect which in short, meant that ultimately he required an urgent heart transplant. This sadly never came in time and he passed away on Tuesday 10th January 2017.

In an effort to leave a lasting legacy to his memory, an appeal was launched with two main aims.

To raise awareness of the importance of registering for organ donation.

To try and raise £20,000 for the Children’s Heart Ultrasound Scanner Appeal at Royal Stoke University Hospital.

You can read the full story here on the Super Stanley website and directly on the Just Giving Page (where you can also make direct donations).

We want to do our bit to support this great cause too, and so today we launch our “Super Stanley February Fundraiser“.

Throughout February, we will be posting the details of special offers available in Otter’s Tears (or elsewhere). We have lots of ideas, but in-store these will mainly consist of varying amounts of the purchase price of specific beers being donated directly to the appeal, the first of which will be announced tomorrow.

We also have posters around the shop promoting the option to make a small donation for our carrier bags, something that we don’t normally charge for, again to the #SuperStanley appeal. This only started a few hours ago, but already people have been incredibly generous.

We hope you can find time to help us help the charity to reach it’s aims and more. If you want to get involved, get in touch, be that by your own personal fundraising event/pledge, or from fellow beer shops, brewery or bar owners and such, we’d love to hear from you.

Just use the contact us option on the website or via the Twitter or Facebook channels.

I’ll leave you with a few useful links below.

Thanks for reading.

Register for Organ Donation: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk

Super Stanley JustGiving Page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/superstanleyscarratt

Super Stanley website: http://www.superstanley.co.uk Follow this for news, updates and more.

Class in a glass!

csm_craft_beer_glasses_reddot_idea_370ce12e69I’ve always been a glassware nut, I think it stems from my many visits to Belgium. Where you walk into a bar with a beer menu more akin to a karaoke song list with page after page of wonders. A beer is chosen and the barkeep still manages to find the correct, usually branded glass, pours most of the beer and places both bottle and glass brand forward on separate bar-mats in front of you. For me it brings a degree of theatre, enhancing the drink if only in the mind.

There is definitely more to it than that though, beers like big aromatically hoppy IPA’s for example, really benefit from a glass that focusses those wonderful tropical notes floating toward your nose long before you touch a drop.

I remember a demonstration several years ago at a beer bloggers convention in Leeds, where the guys from Spiegelau set out a range of glasses with beers to suit and a standard glass, for a side by side comparison. The difference was amazing.

I still have my set from back then, and despite having cupboards full of branded glassware, day to day I use Spiegelau.

spiegelau-craft-beer-glasses-tasting-kit-set-of-4-4991697Since then the range has evolved to meet the needs of the modern craft beer drinker, with Spiegelau working with brewers and beer professionals of real pedigree to perfect a range of glasses to pretty much cover most bases.

I am really pleased to tell you that we have acquired sets of these at Otter’s Tears which are on sale right now. Put them on your Christmas list or hey, why wait, come grab a pack now and take your next beer to another level.

From this point on, the information is from Spiegelau, as there is no point me re-writing their own story, but read on as you’ll get a feel for who has designed what and what they hoped to achieve.

 

TASTING APPROVED: Focusing on beer enjoyment, members of the tasting workshop tested multiple glass shapes to find the best glass for India Pale Ale, American Wheat Beer and Stout. In the experts’ opinion, the custom-shaped glasses successfully deliver the complexity of aromas on the nose while demonstrating the optimum beer texture, balance and flavour intensity on the palate. Staying faithful to the spirit of Bavarian artisan craftsmanship, we have created these unique, functional glasses to bring out the best in complex craft beers.

4991782_beer_classics_wei_smallIPA – The Spiegelau IPA glass has a new and unique design, created to support the complex and volatile aromas in IPA style beers.

The glass has been developed in collaboration with two of the leading IPA brewers in the United States, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada. Achieved through a series of design and tasting workshops in which hundreds of possible designs were considered, the brewers ultimately and unanimously chose, by secret vote, one glass – “number 6“ – from a final lineup of eight custom-made prototypes.

Designed to showcase the complex and alluring aromatic profiles of American “hop-forward” IPA beers, preserve a frothy head, enhance taste and mouth feel, and present a comfortably wide opening for the drinker to savour each beer, Spiegelau’s latest design is the go-to vessel for enjoying IPA.

Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada champion U.S. hop farming. The breweries are donating their portion of the proceeds from this collaboration to benefit advances in hop research.

stoutSTOUT – Following in the footsteps of their hugely successful IPA glass project, Spiegelau has partnered with two of the leading Stout brewers in the United States, Left Hand Brewing Company from Colorado and Rogue Ales from Oregon to create the ultimate tool for enjoying Stout beer.

After months of design and tasting workshops, during which hundreds of glass shapes were considered, the brewers ultimately and unanimously chose as their favourite, ‘Prototype C’, from a final lineup of eight custom-made Spiegelau shapes.

Expertly crafted, tested and approved, the Spiegelau Stout glass accentuates the roasted malt, rich coffee and chocolate notes that define the Stout beer style, while maintaining the functional design characteristics for which Spiegelau beer glassware has become known.

0019194_spiegelau-craft-beer-american-wheat-beer-glasses-set-of-4WHEAT BEER – In collaboration with the award winning Michigan-based Bell’s Brewery, Spiegelau has developed a specific drinking vessel for one the world’s most popular beer varieties – WHEAT. Ever focused on perfecting beer-specific glassware, Spiegelau’s latest innovation is poised to become the new standard for enjoying premium wheat beers. As with previous tasting-workshops, Spiegelau has challenged conventional thinking and presumption of what a wheat beer glass should look like. The new glass ultimately offers the best wheat beer drinking experience, enhancing the style’s delicate floral and fruit-scented aromatic profile.  It delivers the optimal taste, aroma and mouth feel to enhance American and Belgian wheat beers.

pr_craftbeerglasses_barrelagedbeer_01_s_frei_01BARREL AGED BEER, OLD ALES, BARLEY WINES – Barrel Aged Beer represents the height of a brew masters talent and passion. The impartation of long-term wood aging on fine beer makes for the most complex expression possible with regards to the aroma, taste, mouth feel and finish of these special beers. Barrel Aged Beers are truly a connoisseur’s choice.

The Spiegelau Barrel Aged Glass is the result of two years of development in partnership with the brew masters of four of the world’s great producers of Barrel Aged Beer: Great Divide Brewing Company of Denver, Colorado; Green Flash Brewing Company of San Diego, California; Uinta Brewing Company of Salt Lake City, Utah and Cigar City Brewing of Tampa Bay, Florida.

BENEFITS OF SHAPE, DESIGN AND PREMIUM MATERIALS.

img_0341LASER CUT RIM: Crisp, clean delivery in every sip

MOUTH OPENING: Wide mouth allows drinker to „nose“ the beer comfortably for heightened aroma and delivers beer evenly across palate to enhance mouthfeel and harmony of sweetness and acidity

BOWL: Slender, bowed shape amplifies hops aroma

THIN WALLS: Maintains proper beer temperature longer

REFRESHER: Wave-like ridges aerate beer into and out of the glass to balance flavours as you drink

 

I see a Rainbow Rising… #RainbowProject16

rainbow-breweries

This weekend sees the latest instalment in what has become one of the most exciting beer events in the modern beer world, the International Rainbow Project. Last night Siren Craft Brew had the beer Twitterati glued to their screens during #CraftBeerHour as one by one they announced the beers that each collaborative brewery pairing had created, which all of you I’m sure will agree sound amazing. I’ve collated the best bits for you here, along with various links to brewery blogs where available, plus a bit of insight into the project from the Rainbow Project website for those of you who have not yet had the pleasure. 

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International Rainbow Project

The Rainbow Project began in 2013 and was initially the brainchild of Ryan Witter-Merithew (then Head Brewer at Siren Craft Brew). Since its humble beginnings this celebration of collaborative and innovative brewing has become a key fixture in the annual beer calendar, with 2016 being our most eagerly awaited yet.

The International Rainbow Project pairs seven of the best breweries in the United Kingdom with seven of the best breweries from a chosen country or region each year. Each pairing is randomly drawn a colour of the rainbow which is used to inspire a collaborative brew. This year we’re hugely excited to be working with seven of the most exciting breweries in New Zealand. Here are how the pairings and colours worked out:

On September 17th 2016 we’ll be releasing 1,500 mixed cases, which include all seven of this year’s beers along with a souvenir Rainbow Project 2016 glass. The mixed cases will be available from official brewery party launch events, which this year are being held at Siren Craft BrewMagic Rock and Beavertown.

THE BEERS!

Red: Beavertown and Parrot Dog – Universal Mind. 10.5% Adambier, aged in Marsala barrels. Read the story here..

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Orange: Burning Sky and Liberty – Descent into the Maelstrom. 6.66% Eclectic Borderless Beer. Story not yet available, I’ll add it as and when it is..

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Yellow: Magic Rock and Fork Brewing –  The Upside Down. 6% Sour Tropical Fruit Witbier Hybrid. Magic Rock blog details here..

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Green: Hawkshead and Yeastie Boys – Kai Moana Gose – Full story:

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Blue: Wild Beer Co and 8 Wired Brewing – Black & Blue. 5% Raw + Charred + Barrel Aged Sour. < Yes – Raw! Wild Beer story here..

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Indigo: Siren Craft Brew and Garage Beer – Blacklight Banana. Stout with Banana, Molasses and Barrel Aged Coffee. Read more here..

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Violet: Partizan Brewing – Royal Ale. 8.5% Barley Wine with Riesling grape juice. Read here all about the beer, plus the reasons why this as you may have noticed, is not a collaboration brew..

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Quite a lot to take in, but hopefully interesting. As you can imagine we are trying to get hold of a few Rainbow Project packs in the shop, which include one each of the beers and a commemorative glass, nothing confirmed as yet, but keep an eye on social media for details. We are ourselves hot-footing it up to the Magic Rock Tap as soon as we close on Saturday afternoon, we hope to see some of you there.

Full details of all the launch events are listed HERE. Cheers

Times, they are a changin’

We are currently enjoying a vibrant and ever expanding beer scene and it may seem to be going slightly against the grain to want to be “just” a great beer shop. So I wanted to write a few words here to give our perspective and the reasons why we are trying to be exactly that.

When I first started looking at a place in which Otter’s Tears could flourish, lots of things were in the mix for consideration. Location, footfall, space, rent and rates, general overheads as well as things like security, shop-fit and obviously stock. We considered Queen Street for a long time before taking the plunge, it didn’t necessarily tick all the boxes, but we took a ‘build it and they will come” approach and went for it. We trusted that people would travel to what is perhaps considered one of the quieter retail locations in the city, allowing us to build our reputation by having a tip-top range of exceptional beers.

shopThe biggest single barrier to get over was the awkward retail floor space, with the shop narrowing towards the back and a large stairwell that pretty much made one wall redundant. Pressing on, we worked really hard to make the beer shopping experience comfortable and relaxed with what space we had.

Having done our own fair share of travelling the country, in our minds we really wanted to replicate the fantastic beer shops frequented over many years such as Beer Ritz in Leeds, Beermoth in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, Cotteridge Wines in Birmingham and Utobeer in Borough Market London to name but a few. Where in their beginnings at least for some, bottle sales were the primary focus.

During our research, we’d also seen some establishments where customers drinking onsite made perusing the beers on the shelves really difficult.  With that in mind, we took the decision to design the space upstairs for predominantly retail purposes, the idea then to open our cellar up at weekends for the “on-site” drinking experience. Having trialled this for several months, and after taking on board customer feedback and experiences, we found folk simply didn’t want to drink downstairs that much, which then made shopping tricky for our other customers.

This brings me to the real point here. When I was planning and opened Otter’s Tears, I wanted to build a fantastic “beer shop” and not a bar. The aim, to offer an on-site tasting option, but keeping a relaxed shopping experience at the core of what we do best.

We do realise that in the last 18 months or so people have become used to getting more from a bottle shop. They have become more and more like micro-pubs but offering a huge choice to a new beer thirsty public who are fast realising that choice “is” out there. We like that experience too and love what places like Bottle Craft, The Bottle Lab and the Hopwater Cellar have done locally, but sadly it just doesn’t work well in the space we have. We have given this much thought and in order to try and strike a balance we have been trialling no drinking on site at the weekend. Saturday has proven to be our busiest day for off sales, and the trial seems to have worked well so far.

We have therefore decided to continue this permanently on Saturdays, with the drinking in facility remaining during weekdays as more of a “drink whilst you browse” offering to see how that goes and take things from there.

In terms of on-site drinking, our aim is to focus on more regular events, beer launches etc. We GDFV5374have two great breweries already lined up and a leg wobbling Christmas beer tasting in the diary. Plus we now have the option to take fresh draught beer home in one of our beautiful stainless steel growlers.

I really hope that our customers understand the reasons behind these decisions and continue to support us here. It may seem madness on the outside for a new business to seem to be turning custom away, this though is purely designed to make sure we flourish in the right direction, as a speciality beer shop.

With all the above in mind, we have decided to tweak our opening hours to that more in-keeping with a retail proposition and to allow us to be more flexible event wise going forward. These come into effect as of today, Tuesday 13th September 2016.

Monday: CLOSED

Tuesday: 12 – 19:00

Wednesday: 12 – 19:00

Thursday: 12 – 19:00

Friday: 12 – 19:00

Saturday: 11:30 – 17:30

Sunday: CLOSED

Of course we shall continue to keep an eye on how things are going. We want to evolve as a business, and to keep giving you the best experience that we can. Please keep the feedback coming! 

Cheers

Phil & Rachel

Stone Brewing Berlin

STONE BREWING SPECIAL

Stone Brewing have long been a go-to staple for any serious craft beer drinker interested in what good American brewing can offer, with beers like Ruination, Cali-Belgique and the oh-so subtly named Arrogant Bastard snapped up if found. In recent years though, they seemed to lose their edge slightly in a market with so many UK brewers bringing their own super fresh hoppy IPA’s in particular to the table. I’m not saying that Stone dropped their game at all, but when we have so much brewing talent here, it just made sense for lupulus-hungry beer geeks to snap up UK hop-bombs brewery fresh, than those that had potentially sat on a boat for several weeks.

Back in 2014 though, Stone announced it would be spending an estimated $25 million to open a brewery in the city of Berlin, Germany. In addition to the brewhouse, the two-acre location will include a packaging and distribution centre, a Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens restaurant and a Stone Company Store.

Of course, the upside of this is that beers brewed in Europe, now hit the UK shelves and fridges much faster and a whole lot fresher, so as soon as I heard we could get some I was there like a shot.

About Stone Brewing..

“Founded by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, Stone Brewing has come a long way since opening up in San Diego, California, in 1996. We have been listed on the Inc. 500 | 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies list 11 times, and have been called the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine twice. Stone has also donated more than $3 million dollars to charity.

As the tenth-largest craft brewer in the U.S. and with our breweries in Richmond, Virginia & Berlin, Germany, we join artisanal brewers across the world in the quest to show the public that there are more…and better…choices beyond the world of industrial beer.”

Stone Berlin..

“After looking at more than 130 sites in nine different countries, we found the perfect site for Stone’s European expansion. Built in 1901, this former gasworks facility resides on an amazing property with industrial and historic elements.

Stone’s Berlin campus includes a main hall with a 3.200 square meter Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Berlin and a retail store selling Stone beers and merchandise. The main hall also includes a 100 hectolitre custom stainless steel brewhouse and a 10 hectolitre experimental system. In addition, our campus includes a 2.000 square meter packaging and distribution hall for filling, packing and storage as well as a 155 square meter event space in a historic train repair building situated among expansive gardens. The gardens welcome guests to unwind in corners, nooks and gathering spaces created using the natural elements of the space and repurposed building materials.”

What we stand for..

“Known for our bold, flavourful and largely hop-centric beers, we have earned a reputation for brewing outstanding, unique beers while maintaining an unwavering commitment to sustainability, business ethics, philanthropy and the art of brewing. 

We view fellow craft breweries as compatriots, not competitors, and embrace collaboration, integrity and quality as the hallmarks of our business.”

The name and the gargoyle..

“During a routine business meeting as Greg and Steve looked over a few succinct names they had scribbled down on a piece of paper, Greg saw the word “stone” and said, “How about Stone Brewing?” The name (and its connotations—a stone is strong, natural and small yet powerful) stuck.

The gargoyle came next. Besides being carved from stone, it represents the European inspiration behind some of our first beers and is a guardian symbol meant to ward off evil spirits. In our case…cheap ingredients, pasteurisation and chemical additives…the modern-day evil spirits of beer!”

THE BEERS

Go To IPA 4.7% 

“For Stone Go To IPA, we embrace our hop obsession by using hop bursting, a technique wherein an irrational amount of hops is added during the final brewing phase to bring out vibrantly hoppy flavours and aromas while also imparting a burst of desirably mellow bitterness. The result is a session IPA that delivers all the fruity, piney character of a much bigger beer.”

STONE IPA 6.9%

“This is the IPA that initiated our reputation for hops and exposed a budding world of craft beer enthusiasts to our unique brewing style. Distinguished by bright, hop-driven flavours, this is the IPA that launched generations of hop fanatics in the U.S. We now present our hoppy standard-bearer to those in Europe eager to worship at the altar of the almighty hop.”

Cali-Belgique IPA 6.9%

“Think of this beer as Stone IPA’s identical twin raised in a Belgian culture. Literally. A strain of Belgian yeast adds tropical fruit, bubblegum and spice notes, creating a complex and surprising combination of flavours in tandem with the beer’s citrusy hop character. The gentle sweetness from the yeast also lends new depth to the bright hoppiness of our flagship IPA.”

Ruination Double IPA 8.5%

“We craft this big, bold and hugely aromatic West Coast style double IPA to celebrate all characteristics of the hop — its beauty and poetry, its boldness and might. Using modern methods of dry hopping and hop bursting, we squeeze every last drop of piney, citrusy, tropical essence from the hops that give Stone Ruination Double IPA its incredible character.”

Arrogant Bastard Ale 7.2%

“This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. It’s quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. Arrogant Bastard Ale has revelled in its unprecedented and uncompromising celebration of intensity since 1997 and will never pander to the lowest common denominator. There have been many nods to Arrogant Bastard Ale…even outright attempts to copy it…but only one can ever embody the true nature of Liquid Arrogance.”

On sale now at Otter’s Tears, so come get em, unless of course….

“YOU’RE NOT WORTHY!”

Fuller, Smith and Turner…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there has never been a better time to be a lover of good beer, certainly in my lifetime anyway. We are awash with new breweries from here and another great brew from there, so much so that it is often difficult to keep up. However, it is equally easy to lose sight of some of the absolutely stunning beers that have been around for quite a while, back even before the days when “craft” only referred to the likes of knitting, crochet and making replicas of Tower Bridge from matchsticks.

Without delving too deep into the history books, Fuller, Smith and Turner, or Fuller’s as they are more commonly known, joined forces in 1845. A year familiar with most as it features as the name of one of Fuller’s more prevalent beers, available in several supermarkets. But the history of brewing goes back around 350 years in around that particular area of London. In short, they have some serious brewing heritage…

Now as you know, here at Otter’s Tears our aim is to bring beers to you that are a little bit special, beers that you can’t bag on a 3 for £6 deal at Tesco, Morrison’s and the like. It is also important to me that I am proud to have them on the shelves, so that I can feel happy in recommending them to you, so I have put together this collection from Fuller’s that I am confident you will love. Read on..

Past Masters “Every single afternoon since 1845, the Fuller’s brewing team has diligently written out the ingredients of the day’s brews – and the Past Masters series is a great example of why we do it.

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Past Masters 1926 Oatmeal Porter: “1926 Oatmeal Porter is the seventh beer revived as part of our Past Masters collection. It’s been brewed to a 90-year old recipe from the Fuller’s archives, to celebrate the occasion of the Queen’s 90th birthday. Well worth revisiting, this is a rich, special Porter with Northumbrian oats added to the brew, giving a smooth mouthfeel and delicious notes of coffee and dark chocolate. Fans of the Porter style, or any strong, dark beer, won’t want to miss out.”

Better with age As a bottle conditioned beer, 1926 Oatmeal Porter contains sediment that allows the flavours to develop up until the moment the bottle is opened. This beer should therefore be stored upright in a dark room, and poured carefully when served for the best possible results.”

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I’ve personally not tried the 1926 as yet, but previous Past Masters beers have been really good, a world away from the Fuller’s pub favourites you may or may not love.

Fullers’s Imperial Stout: “Imperial Stout delivers roasted dark chocolate notes against a slightly fruity acidity. Sovereign and Centennial hops, meanwhile, bring floral flavour, enhanced by dried rose buds that hint at Turkish Delight. There’s a taste of liquorice there too, ahead of a lasting finish with fairly high bitterness.”

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This is a fantastic beer, bottle conditioned too so perfect for cellaring for a while if you can resist temptation, I currently have a few tucked away out of reach..

Vintage Ale: “Fuller’s has created a new recipe of Vintage Ale every year since 1997, picking the best ingredients at the time, to make a strong beer with a complex character. Every bottle of Vintage Ale is individually numbered, making our older Vintage Ales extremely rare and sought after.”

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Vintage Ale 2015: “A beautiful beer brewed celebrating the 50th anniversary of famous British malt variety Maris Otter and brewed using exclusively British ingredients. The floor-malted Maris Otter is combined with home-grown Target, Northdown, Challenger and Goldings hops to create a best-of-British beer with complex flavours, a fruitful aroma and a bitter finish.”

I’ve been buying, drinking and saving Fuller’s Vintage Ales for years and they never disappoint. The other thing to note here is these beers are absolutely perfect to hide away for a few years, knowing that they will only be getting better and better. Take a look at the Fuller’s website and you will see vintages still on sale dating back to 1997, their value rising massively in the process year on year. So whether you are buying for pleasure, an investment or maybe to celebrate a life event, these are a fantastic choice. Had a child born in 2015 for example, why not buy a couple and store away until he or she is 21, what a way to celebrate a milestone?

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There are a couple of good reads here, showing a couple of takes on how each beer develops over time, the first by Mark Dredge the other Des de Moor, both highly respected, published beer authors.

Fullers Vintage Ale: A 15-year vertical tasting – Mark Dredge

Fuller’s Vintage Ale – Des de Moor

Brewer’s Reserve

The “Brewer’s Reserve” range is now, as the name suggests in its 5th incarnation of oak barrel aged beers. No1 was a 30 year old Glenmorangie single malt whisky Cask, No2 – Courvoisier Cognac, No3 Auchentoshan whisky and No4 – Comte de Latvia Armagnac.

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Brewer’s Reserve No5: “Aged for 18 months in 30-year-old whiskey casks, Brewer’s Reserve No.5 is a full-bodied limited-edition beer, infused with the secrets of whiskey-soaked wood. Pouring a dark brown colour, it conjures a sherry-like aroma with notes of bourbon on the nose, while on the palate, it delivers sweet biscuit, fruitcake flavours and ripe notes of cherry – ending with a warm, smooth and satisfying finish. A truly special beer that every ale lover should experience. The launch of Brewer’s Reserve No.5 marks ten years since the start of the series. To celebrate, we’ve sourced whiskey casks from Glenmorangie, the same Scottish distillery we used a decade ago.”

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As you can see from both the images and the descriptions, these are some special beers we have right here. All but the Past Masters come in beautifully finished boxes, with bottles internally tape-sealed too. I really hope you guys buy, cherish and enjoy them as much as I do.

Cheers

Phil

There’s “Norway” of telling you how good these Lervig beers are…

Screen shot 2014-10-12 at 12.09.46 PM“Nor’way” of knowing how long they will last either….. 😉

Awful puns aside, take look at our current stock of beers from Norwegian brewmasters Lervig Aktiebryggeri. We hope you agree it’s a pretty epic selection including some very rare beasts, hitting the UK in VERY limited numbers. 

We have Lervig collaborations with some of the worlds finest breweries, Hoppin’ Frog, Arizona Wilderness, Magic Rock, Boxing Cat and Way Beer, the latter joining forces to brew the superb “3 Bean Stout”, up there with any stout I’ve ever had.

Lucky Jack Grapefruit: Our Flagship beer Lucky Jack gets a kick in the ass with more fruit, we simply added Grapefruit peels and Pink Grapefruit juice for the summer beer edition. Slight more pink, slightly more acidic, a lot more fruity and fresh! Unfiltered and limited for the summer!

Sour Suzy: A thirst quenching session beer, Sour Suzy mimics a classic German brewing technique (sour mashing) to impart a light, refreshing tartness. No hop bitterness & very low hop profile. Sour Suzy is not your typical session beer – rather it delivers something a bit more obscure and intriguing. It drinks as refreshingly as a glass of lemonade. The grain bill includes a healthy portion of wheat, while citrusy hops lend bright notes to the aroma which are accentuated by the addition of Makrut lime leaves.

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*Both of the above cans, chilled to perfection, they will not fail to please in this hot weather.

Galaxy IPA: A Single Hop IPA with a golden copper colour. It’s brewed with loads of Galaxy hops from Australia giving this IPA its characteristic tropical fruit flavour. Expect a big hoppy flavour with a heavy dose of up-front bitterness.

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Farmhouse IPA: This brew is the result of our unique collaboration with Magic Rock Brewing (UK). We have combined our love of hops and funky flavours to make this Farmhouse-style IPA. Belgian yeasts and Brettanomyces will make this beer more and more spicy with time.

Konrad’s Stout: A Scandinavian inspired Imperial Stout. Konrad’s is a smooth, supple stout with lots of chocolate and coffee flavour with a touch of liquorice. At 70IBU there is more than enough bitterness to balance out the sweetness.

Barley Wine Bourbon BA: This is our once a year brew of Bourbon Barrel aged Barley wine. It’s brewed with Munich, chocolate and caramel malts, and hopped delicately with Golding hops. It’s aged in Jack Daniels Barrels for a year to allow the beer to mellow out and mature. The oak provides a dimension of coconut, vanilla and even a touch of Bourbon. Dark red, low carbonation and great depth, this is one of our most special beers

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Lervig – Norwegian Mauler: An Earl grey tea infused breakfast stout. This is a beer with bags of flavour all designed to bring the best out of all the facets of the brew. Brew is the best word for this beer as the Earl grey tea really comes through and out to the fore as you drink giving a unique taste to this excellently rounded, slightly sweet stout.

Lervig – Passion Tang: A beer deliberately made not to taste like beer. Sounds fun right? This is a sour beer made with Passion fruit and ‘grains of paradise’ (This spice, commonly known as ossame, grains of paradise, Melegueta pepper, alligator pepper, Guinea grains, fom wisa, or Guinea pepper, is obtained from the ground seeds; it imparts a pungent, peppery flavour with hints of citrus, thanks wiki.) It is a brew with a soft malt base a lovely dry tang on the tongue and then a myriad of the different flavours from the spice and fruit that has been added. Definitely a beer that can be enjoyed by those who don’t like the norm but also for those looking to expand their tastebuds to new and exciting places. This beer is the Starship Enterprise of the beer world and you can be Captain Kirk or Spock or Uhura with just 1 sip.

Lervig – Sverd I Fjell: One of the newest of Lervig’s brewers reserve beers this is a triple IPA. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water Lervig come rolling in and blast those pithy ‘Double IPAs’ away. Like a warship firing hops this brew sits in the mouth and simply blasts at the tastebuds. It never gets too overpoweringly dry as there is enough of the malt character there to hold the beer just about down but this is a dank tropical experience to behold and enjoy.

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Lervig/ Arizona Wilderness – Lawless: This is a Norwegian farmhouse ale made in collaboration with Wilderness brewery from Arizona USA. They have taken a traditionally hoppy pale ale and added in juniper berries and extra oat to give this brew a distinctive taste that you won’t find elsewhere. A big rich body is helped by the added oat and then the juniper berries give a dry sweetness reminiscent of good gins.

Lervig/ Hoppin’ Frog – Sippin’ into Darkness: A sweet imperial stout straight from the creative minds of 2 of the world’s best head brewers right now. They’ve taken a rich malty imperial stout and added in Candi syrup, Lactose, Cocoa nibs and vanilla to give this quite dry stout a fresh lick of paint in a sweet facelift. The cocoa added to the roasted dark chocolate flavours and comes out on the body whilst the candi sugar and vanilla dominate the finish of this excellent bee.

*I REALLY love the 3 Bean stout, but I am being told by “reliable sources”, that the “Sippin’ Into Darkness” is a more than worthy challenger, further testing required methinks…

Lervig/ Way – 3 Bean Stout: A few Brazilian brewers came all the Way’ to Norway to brew a big giant of a stout. Keeping in line with giants, we tossed a few magic beans in the brew for good measure. Tonka, Vanilla and Cocoa beans all do their part in making this a truly complex and unique stout while delivering the dark quality you’ve come to expect from Lervig. Plant the magic beans!

Lervig – Iconoclast Quad: A classic monk’s brew reinterpreted by heathens. This big Quad was brewed with cascara cherries to give it a nice dried fruit, spice, and tobacco characteristic. It is pleasantly dry with a great, ever-developing Brettanomyces character, coupled with classic Belgian yeast profile. This is one to drink now, or place in the cellar. Label art by Error! Design from Barcelona.

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*The Iconoclast is extremely limited, please call for stock as it will go FAST

That’s all for now, but of course there are always more new beers hitting the shelves at Otter’s Tears than I have time to write about, so come see what we have for yourselves. Cheers!

Phil

 

Tour de Trappist” with “John Clarke

 trappist_logoJohn Clarke, Editor of Stockport & South Manchester CAMRA’s “Opening Times” for over 29 years, is one of the most knowledgeable “beer people” we know, especially when it comes to Belgium.

In fact, he spends so much time in Europe, he requires a VISA to get back into Stockport and often classes Bruges ’t Brugs Beertje as his local…

John will present five samples of authentic Trappist beers, talking you through the various styles, stories and rich history of these monastic brews.

Tickets £15 each

Saturday 6th August at 7:30 PM (doors open 7pm for a 7:30pm start)

Tickets on sale now. (See note below)

*Note: This event is a rearranged date and consequently is pretty much fully subscribed already. If you have already ordered tickets they are available now. If you want to express an interest in any that may be available please let me know and I will put you on a short list for any that come up.

More event news coming very soon….