One woman's ale journey

A beery boozy journey with delightful snacks along the way and a book in my hand.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 24

The final day is here.  Have Beer Hawk saved their best for last?  I think I will cry if it's another IPA...


The final beer is Cortigiana from Birra del Borgo in Italy in a really eyecatching and unusual shaped bottle.  Beer Hawk do call it a pale ale but Birra del Borgo call it a golden ale so I'll let them off with this one.


Birra del Borgo's website describes Cortigiana as:

Just like a lady from bygone days, Cortigiana makes the most of her arts of seduction to conquer every palate. First she entices with her bewitching freshness, then she reveals its determined attitude that promptly leads you to the second sip. It's hard to resist her charming aroma, where the citrus and floral scents given by the hop melt with the malt's honey notes; an intriguing spicy note in the finish adds a certain je ne sais quoi to this easy drinkable beer. You can betray her, but never say farewell to her!

5% in a 330ml bottle

Buy it from Beer Gonzo for £3.50 or Beer Hawk for £2.99

Well that's all the doors of the advent calendar open...so all that's left to do now is try all of the beers!  Keep an eye on my blog as I review all the beers in the calendar over the next few weeks.


Friday, 23 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 23

Only 2 more sleeps and unfortunately only 1 more door to open after this one.  So don't forget to join me tomorrow for the final beer revelation.


Today's beer is Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Beer from San Francisco - it's not an IPA hurrah!



San Francisco’s famous Anchor Steam® Beer is unique, for our brewing process has evolved over many decades and is like no other in the world. To give this classic beer a radically traditional twist, we created Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Beer™. Made with its own special recipe, this brew is dry-hopped with a blend of new and traditional hops. The result weds the rich maltiness of Anchor Steam with the alluring fragrant hoppiness of our ales. 

California Commons are a unique American style of beer created by fermenting lager yeast at warmer temperatures similar to ales. This creates a hybrid between the two beer styles, though lager yeast is always used. Anchor Steam Beer is the original California Common made in San Francisco since 1896.

The original Anchor Steam Beer has rich caramel malt flavors balanced by an herbal hop spiciness. Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Beer, on the other hand, has flavors of light malty sweetness and a lingering, bitter hop finish with distinct aromas of citrus and pine with hints of ripe fruit and subtle maltiness. Brilliant amber in color with a tight, tan head, Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Beer is moderately full in body, smooth and velvety. Dry-hopping since 1975, Anchor was the first craft brewery in modern times to revive this century old brewing method in America. The same radically traditional techniques are still being used today.

5.4% in a 355ml bottle

Found for sale on The Beer Boutique for £3.00 or The Beer Shack for £2.75

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 22

Pretty coloured lightbulbs on the door of Day 22, but what colour beer is inside?  Pale, perchance?


Well you could knock me over with a feather, it's another IPA but cunningly disguised as a lager from Camden Town Brewery.  IHL is an abbreviation for India Hells Lager.


IHL is described on Camden Town Brewery's website as:

So this is the IPA, resurrected as lager. Sounds almost spiritual, right? In our office, this is known as “the brewers’ beer”. All the flavour of an IPA. Minus the heavy sweetness. Amen to that, brother.

6.2% in a 330ml can

Buy it from Ales by Mail for £2.65 or from Honest Brew for £2.59

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 21

There's an angel on the door of Day 21, bringing glad tidings in the shape of a bottle of beer.


Another IPA (surprise), this time from Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland, USA.


From Flying Dog's website:

Aromas of grapefruit and subtle spice meld into lemon and pine hop notes balanced with crisp cracker malt. Pair this with tailgates, mowing the lawn, and anything else that calls for a light, yet flavorful, beer.

Easy IPA is the first beer in our Brewhouse Rarities series of staff-pitched and elected limited releases to become a part of our regular portfolio.

4.7% in a 330ml bottle

Buy it from Honest Brew for £2.59 or from Beers of Europe for £2.19

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 20

It's day 20 of the Beer Hawk advent calendar so let's hope I can give a big gold star to whatever's hiding behind the door.


Today's beer is Vital IPA from Victory Brewing Company, Pennsylvania, USA.



This American-hopped IPA marries a bold and complex hop character of pine, citrus and spice with fruity notes and a crisp finish created by our German Kölsch yeast.

A slightly hazed blonde IPA with fantastic aromas of spicy pine, resinous hop character, and citrus fruit. Balanced flavor between the American hops and our German Kolsch yeast strain provides a very unique backdrop for the hops to interact.

6.5% in a 330ml can

Found for sale on Honest Brew for £2.89 or Beer Hawk for £2.49

Monday, 19 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 19

6 more sleeps until Christmas and there's a cute little penguin on the door of Day 19 - I can't wait to to see what is hiding behind him. 


Day 1 introduced me to the Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford, Connecticut, so I was rather excited when I opened the Penguin Door.  I was even more excited when I saw that it was a dark ale, namely Espressway Cold Brew Coffee Stout.  Again, I'll not knock it until I try it and some ales have a hint of chocolate, so why not coffee?



In a process unique to Two Roads, we mixed a locally-roasted Ethiopian/Sumatra blend of beans with a rich oatmeal stout under pressure (like espresso but without the steam) using our German-built “Brewnik” device. The mixture is steeped for several days resulting in a true, cold-brewed coffee stout. Hop on the Two Roads Espressway!

6.5% in a 355ml bottle

Found for sale on Beer Heroes for £2.65

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 18

One week to go until the big day - it's Day 18 of the Beer Hawk advent calendar and Frosty the Snowman is pictured on the door.  It might not be too cold outside but there's sure to be something hidden behind that door that requires chilling.


It's almost like a work of art - I've never seen a more detailed intricate can of beer and you can just about see the subtle hops engraving in my photograph.  Today's beer is Nor'Hop from Moor Beer Company in Bristol.  I absolutely love the strapline - Drink Moor Beer!


From Moor Beer Company's website, Nor'Hop is described as:

This ultra-pale ale is brewed with a limited availability hop from America to impart a pronounced floral and citric quality to the beer, with honey and elderflower in the nose.  This beer had been so anticipated that in less than two weeks of release it had won a beer festival and sold out.  Not wanting to disappoint its many fans, we have rebrewed it and added it to our list of permanent beers where it continues to be the benchmark for the style around the world.

4.1% in a 330ml can

Found for sale on Honest Brew for £2.19 or from Moor Beer's own online shop for £2.00.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 17

With only a week to go until Christmas Eve, Rudolph makes an appearance on Door 17 of the Beer Hawk advent calendar.  I wonder what beery surprise is hiding behind his big red nose.


Another one I've never heard of - Schneider Weisse Tap 7 Mein Original from Germany.


Described on Schneider Weisse's website as:

It's the art of brewing in its purest form for true wheat beer connoisseurs: "My Original" - the traditional wheat beer brewed unaltered in the original recipe of Georg I. Schneider since 1872 - and since then simply marquee.  Of a deep amber color, harmonically balanced and strong.  That's what Bavaria tastes like.  And that 's what' s going to happen in your home.

5.4% in a 330ml bottle

Found for sale at £2.49 from Beer Hawk or for £2.25 from Beer Hunter.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 16

There are two bottles on the door of Day 16 but there's only one inside - let's hope it's a good one...without any fear.  A bit too early for Christmas songs perhaps, but Happy Christmas (War is Over) just popped into my head unbidden.  That'll be stuck in my head all night now...for yellow and red ones...


It's a bottle of beer wearing a Christmas jumper!  What a very festive looking Santa Paws from Scottish brewer, Brewdog.


Brewdog's website describes Santa Paws as:

A 4.5% decadent scotch ale brewed with Scottish heather honey.

A robust malty beer packed with flavour, at a strength you can drink all (Christmas) day long.

Santa Paws is is our antidote to the chaos of the upcoming festive season. Raise a glass of this Christmas beer, share it with friends, family and strangers, and sit back and enjoy the view as the world descends into a fairy light-fuelled frenzy. And, if all else fails, just blame Santa...

4.5% in a 330ml bottle

Found for sale from Beer Hawk for £2.29 or from Brewdog for £1.70.  You can also pick one up in your local supermarket for around £2.00.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 15

Well whatever is behind Door 15 of my Beer Hawk advent calendar is sure to be a cracker, as long as it's bottle shaped, of course.


I think the explosive picture is quite apt, as it's another blow your socks off trappist ale today.  At a staggering 9.5% ABV, this Westmalle trappist tripel from Belgium is even stronger than the Trappistes Rochefort 8 on Day 13.


From Westmalle Abbey's website:

Westmalle Tripel is a clear, golden yellow Trappist beer that undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle (9,5% alcohol). It is a complex beer with a fruity aroma and a nice nuanced hop scent. It is soft and creamy in the mouth, with a bitter touch carried by the fruity aroma. An exceptional beer, with a great deal of finesse and elegance. And with a splendid long aftertaste.

The Westmalle Tripel is indeed called the “mother of all tripels”. This type of beer was first brewed in Westmalle abbey in 1934 when the new brewing hall came into use. The current formula has stayed practically unchanged since 1956, thus more than 50 years.

9.5% in a 330ml bottle

Found for sale on Beer Hawk for £3.49 or from Drink Supermarket for £3.19

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 14

Oh I love gingerbread men so it's a pleasure to see such a happy little fellow on the door of Day 14 of my Beer Hawk advent calendar.


Brooklyn is another familiar brewery that I've seen on supermarket shelves but haven't yet tried, unsurprisingly it's a New York brewery.  I've never seen Brooklyn Scorcher IPA before though, so this will be an interesting one for me to try.


From Brooklyn Brewery's website:

Brooklyn Scorcher IPA is a surprisingly sessionable IPA. A floral, piney aroma strikes first, followed by a burst of mouthwatering bitterness as the hops begin their attack. Suddenly, a hint of toasty malt and a clean, lively finish burst in to leave you thirsty for more. It’s ludicrously tasty, and at a reasonable 4.5%, it’s a beer you can come back to again and again. Try it with spicy foods, salads, grilled meats, cheddar, feta or just another Scorcher IPA.

4.5% ABV in a 330ml bottle

Found on Beer Shack for £2.49, The Real Ale Store for £2.15 or Beers of Europe for £2.09

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 13

You can keep your turkey, thank you very much; I'd much rather have a liquid lunch.  Let's see what's behind door number 13 today - unlucky for some, but lucky for me!


I'm sure this one will knock my socks off - Trappistes Rochefort 8, a trappist ale from Belgium at a whopping 9.2%


From Beer Hawk's website:

Interestingly, this beer was originally only brewed for New Year's Eve. Fortunately, this Trappist strong-dark ale from Rochefort is now available year-round! And good thing too: its rich maltiness, brown sugar, dried fruits, is not one to miss. While this beer tastes rather sweet at the beginning, some spicy notes, high carbonation, and a semi-dry finish help to balance it out. Aromas of dried fruits, caramel, spice, and a warming alcohol just add to its elegance and richness.

Rochefort Brewery is a Belgian Trappist brewery and has been brewing beer at the monastery since 1595 - to this day using water that is drawn from a well within the monastery itself. In order to be a certified Trappist brewery it must meet the requirements that excess profits, beyond the monastery's operating expenses, are to be used for charitable endeavours.

9.2% in a 330ml bottle

Buy it from Beer Hawk for £3.49 or Drink Supermarket for £3.09

Monday, 12 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 12

How quick was that?  We're half way through the Beer Hawk advent calendar already and I'm sure that's a big box of beer shown on the door of Day 12.


Today's beer is a Fruh Kölsch, a traditional German Kölsch.  A Kölsch is a beer brewed in Cologne and is similar to a Pilsener.


Beer Hawk describes Fruh Kölsch as:

The Fruh Kölsch is one of about 20 beers in the world that can be called as such since only beers brewed in the area around Cologne, Germany can bear the appellation Kölsch.  This interesting style is brewed using an ale yeast that is fermented at cooler temperatures and lagered.

The Fruh version has a beautiful carbonation that gives us a fluffy white head and a sparkling appearance.  Lovely aromas of fruit, lemons, and grains are reflected in its flavour.  A solid bitterness, crisp mouthfeel, and semi-dry finish make the Fruh Kölsch an incredibly easy drink.

4.8% in a 330ml bottle

Found for sale on Beer Hawk for £2.69 or Beers of Europe for £2.29

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 11

Santa's sack is shown on Day 11 of my Beer Hawk advent calendar and it looks like it is bulging with lovely ales for me to try.


It's really something out of the ordinary today with a pale ale from Norwegian brewer Nøgne Ø.




A refreshing light and hoppy ale.  Probably our best allrounder.  Ideal with barbequed or smoked meat dishes.

6% in a 330ml bottle

Found for £5.89 on Honest Brew or £5.65 on The Beer Shack

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 10

Day 10 is here - what will I find under the mistletoe?  No kisses for me - I'm sure to have beery breath!


Well konnichiwa little beer, we have a Saison du Japon from Hitachino Nest.  I love the red wise owl motif and the JP initials of one of my cousins.


From the Hitachino Nest website:

Saison du Japon is brewed with a local wheat and koji (malted rice) which is a vital ingredient to create sake.  This beer has a uniquely sweet flavour of rice koji and a natural acidity caused by the fermentation.

Found on Honest Brew for £2.99 and on Ales by Mail for £2.80

Friday, 9 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 9

The stocking on the door of Day 9 looks filled to the brim - I'm sure there will be a few quality beers stuffed inside my Christmas stocking.


Well there's certainly something fruity in the Beer Hawk stocking.  It's a Timmermans Pêche Lambicus.  I've heard of strawberry and raspberry beer but never peach and they do say don't knock it until you've tried it, so I'm looking forward to sampling this one.


Described extremely well on the Martin's website as:

Timmermans Pêche is made by adding 100% natural peach flavouring to lambic fermenting in oak barrels. This beer’s characteristic aroma is very pleasant on the nose, and it has a velvety flavour and a creamy foam. Timmermans Pêche is a fruity drink, very easy on the palate, to be drunk with a smile on one’s lips.

Taste-wise …

A powerful fruit aroma immediately followed by the flavour of the peach. A mature beer which shows clear evidence of its maceration with the fruit. A sweet and fruity flavour with just a hint of bitterness from the peach kernel and skin.

4% ABV in a 330ml bottle

Found for sale on The Beer Shack for £2.85 or from Beervana for £2.59

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 8

Time is rushing past so quickly, I can't believe that we are on to Day 8 of my Beer Hawk advent calendar already.  


This can is brighter than the flame on the candle.  Covered in funky psychedelic colours and shapes it's a can of Hipster Ale from Evil Twin Brewing, brewed by Two Roads Brewing in Connecticut.  Two Roads had the honour of being the opening ale of the 2016 Beer Hawk advent calendar with their Worker's Comp - Saison on Day 1.


From the Evil Twin Brewing website:

Perhaps you have heard of a worldwide beer-movement that tributes favourite hipster neighbourhoods across the globe.  If you feel excluded because you're hip but your city is not, this cutting-edge, 'hip without border' pale ale is an homage to you - the global hipster. Cheers!


They don't give much away about what delightful ale fills this can, do they?  It's ale and it's pale - that's apparently all we need to know.

There is a little more about the taste on Beer Gonzo which describes it as:

Tropical fruits and citrus are the dominant hop flavours in this superbly balanced and drinkable Pale Ale.

5.5% ABV in a 330ml can

Found for sale on Beer Hawk for £3.30 and Beer Gonzo for £3.65

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 7

It looks like this rather portly robin on Door 7 has eaten all the pies.  That's absolutely fine as long as he hasn't drunk all the beers.


Dressed like a mini bottle of champagne it's the familiar sight of a Leffe Blonde from Belgium, although I have to admit that I have never tried this one.


From Leffe's website:

In a few words: Smooth and Subtle

Leffe Blond is an authentic blond abbey beer with a slight hint of bitterness to it.

6.6% ABV in a 330ml bottle

Found for sale on The Pip Stop for £2.39, Prestige Drinks for £2.33 or £4.50 for 4 bottles in any local supermarket.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 6

Woohoo!  Door number 6 has some frothy golden beers on the door giving a hint as to what might be lying hidden behind it.  Please be beer...please be beer...please be beer...


After a grapefruit pale ale on Day 3 that I think could be marketed as a breakfast ale, I now have a bottle of Dinner Ale from Ilkley Brewery in Yorkshire.  Although at a paltry 3.3% ABV, it seems more likely that I could drink this one for breakfast.


From Ilkley's website, it is labelled as a Victorian Pale ale and described as:

Using a recipe from 1884 found in the archives of the original brewery in Ilkley, this distinctive Victorian Pale Ale was designed as the perfect accompaniment to food, being light and crisp.  We have added our modern slant using all Kiwi hops and the result is a beer for any occasion.

3.3% ABV in a 330ml bottle

Priced at £2.59 on Honest Brew

Monday, 5 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 5

Ding Dong!  What's behind the door of my Beer Hawk advent calendar on Day 5?  I'm crossing my fingers and hoping it's beer shaped.


My wish has been granted - it is indeed a bottle of beer!  A bottle of Proteus IPA from Siren Craft Brew in Berkshire at a whopping 6.9% ABV.  Proteus is a pale ale series that Siren have run in 2016, with this one being Volume II and reportedly less citrus than the first batch.


From the Siren website:

Proteus is a series devised to make the most of three hops, with this volume using Mosaic, Chinook and Cascade.  Siren have brewed three pale ales using the combination before creating this dialled-up IPA version, based on everything their brewers have learned about the hops and how they work together.

Found for sale on Hoptimism for £3.27 and on Honest Brew for £3.59

6.9% in a 330ml bottle

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 4

Striped candy canes adorn the door of Day 4 but there is sure to be something more tasty hidden behind it.  What could it be?


Do not adjust your set - it's a Hoptical Illusion, an east coast IPA from Blue Point Brewing in Patchogue, New York.  There's no magic involved here though, there really is a beer in my advent calendar and a strong one at that - this is a surprising 7% ABV.


From Blue Point Brewing's website:

What you're seeing is a hop lover's dream.

To brew this award-winning well balanced IPA, we add plenty of hops five different ways. Adding it five ways allows the "Essence of the Hop" to really shine through and give Hoptical Illusion its signature resiny, citrus-burst punch.  From aroma to first sip, this beer is sure to be one of your new favourites.

7% ABV in a 330ml bottle

Found for sale on Beer Hawk for £2.49

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 3

Day 3 has a green shiny bauble on the door, but I'm sure there's something more exciting than a bauble lurking behind this door.




High Wire Grapefruit Pale Ale is one crazy looking can of beer!  It reminds me of the ghosts in Pac Man and instantly put a smile on my face.  Of course, I did already have a smile on my face as I had a beer in my hand, but the design did give me a little chuckle.



Brewed by Magic Rock Brewery in Huddersfield, High Wire Grapefruit is described as:

High Wire Grapefruit is a fruit-infused version of our best-selling West Coast pale ale. We accentuated the original beer’s smoothly composed malt body and lip-smacking citrus character with the addition of 100% natural pink grapefruit flavour. Juicy, tart and deliciously refreshing, it’s High Wire the Same But Different!

5.5% ABV in a 330ml can

Found on Kwoff for £2.29, The Pip Stop for £2.59 or Hippo Beers for £2.70

Friday, 2 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 2

It's Day 2 of the Beer Hawk advent calendar and I can't wait to see what's behind door number 2.  I know it will taste better than the Christmas pudding pictured on the door.


It's a can of Little Rock IPA from Harbour Brewing Company, Cornwall.  I love the lilac waves - it's such an unusual colour to find on a can of beer and purple is coincidentally my favourite colour.


I can't find it on the Harbour Brewing Co's website, but it is described as:

A "sessionable" IPA that marries hoppy bursts of tropical fruit flavours with a sweet and satisfying malty base.  An exceedingly 'smashable' beer from the North Cornwall-based Harbour Brewing Co.

5.5% ABV in a 330ml can

Found on Honest Brew and Ales By Mail for £2.50.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Beery Christmas Day 1

Beery Christmas!  Day 1 of December has arrived so I ran down the stairs like a kid on Christmas morning to opening the first door of my Beer Hawk advent calendar.


The first beer is Worker's Comp - Saison brewed by Two Roads Brewing Co in Connecticut.  I do have family in Connecticut so it's a rather fitting beer to find behind door number 1.


Worker's Comp - Saison is described on Two Roads' website as:

A traditional farmhouse ale made with a very expressive yeast strain that contributes an array of tropical fruit, spice flavours and aromatics.  Brewed with a variety of harvest grains including barley, wheat, oats and rye as was likely the case with farmhouse brewers of yore.  The result is a complex, refreshing and distinctive example of this esoteric style. Intensely fruity (passion fruit, pineapple, mango, lychee), slightly spicy (clove, white pepper).

4.8% ABV in a 355ml bottle

Found for sale on Honest Brew for £2.69

Beer Hawk 2016 Advent Calendar

To celebrate my first year of beer blogging, I decided to buy a beer advent calendar.  With more becoming available every year it was hard to choose which one to go for but, with an early bird offer of £10 off and a free tasting kit, I ordered the advent calendar from Beer Hawk for £65.

I don't think I'd quite grasped just how big and impressive these beer advent calendars are!


It was like Christmas had come early as I opened the taster kit and found a handy beer notebook, pen, bottle opener, £10 beer voucher and a really unusual chalice style glass.


I found a nice spot to store the calendar and did what I was told on the box, by opening one particular non-numbered door first.  The clue was on the door, so it was no surprise to find a lovely tulip shaped branded beer glass inside.



I don't think I'll be able to sample each beer every day, but I'll hopefully be able to post what surprise lies behind each door, so keep your eyes peeled for my evening posts throughout the advent period.