The Silver Tankard

A taste of Scotland’s best
04/12/2010, 1:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Silver Tankard broke new ground tonight with its first live-blog: a bouquet of beer-tasting notes, banter and bollocks.

Our special guest taster was Duncan Grigg, naval architecture’s answer to James May and possible reincarnation of Buddy Holly.

A fine selection of Scottish ales

We sampled seven beers from the green hills of Scotland: Broughton’s Oatmeal Stout (4.2% ABV) and Ghillie (4.5% ABV), Belhaven’s Robert Burns (4.2% ABV), Williams Bros’ Kelpie Seaweed Ale (4.4% ABV) and Joker IPA (5% ABV), Orkney’s Dark Island (4.6% ABV), and Inveralmond’s Santa’s Swallie (4.3% ABV) – a malty medley of ales ranging from hoppy pale ales to chocolatey stouts.

Open the Coveritlive link below for a swig-by-swig account of the proceedings.

The eventual winner was Orkney’s Dark Island, a velvety dark ale with succulent notes of chocolate and coffee; closely followed by Williams Bros’ Joker IPA, a playful number with a fruity character.

Beers were procured at Rehills of Jesmond – a veritable Aladdin’s cave of ale in Jesmond’s Cradlewell in Newcastle. And there’s plenty more material where these came from.

If you have any personal favourites from the bonny land, please indulge us in the comments below…

Scottish Ale Tasting / Silver Tankard


Hare of the ‘Dog…?
30/07/2010, 12:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

At the risk of turning this blog into a publicity machine for BrewDog, I couldn’t help but write a post about its new beer, stuffed into the carcasses of small mammals.

Yes it’s a shocking publicity stunt. Yes it’s media-baiting, establishment-mocking, gimmickery. Yes it’s pretty sick. But yes, it’s also another ingenious statement from a brewery that is changing the way we think about beer… And I love it.

BrewDog's 'The End of History' beer. Served in a squirrel. And a stoat.

According to the Telegraph, only 12 bottles of ‘The End of History’ blonde ale have been made – probably for the good of the world, with a 55% volume and price-tag akin to fine champagne. Each is sheathed in a dead animal – seven stoats, four squirrels and a hare – stuffed by a Doncastrian taxidermist.

Responding to criticism from animal-rights and responsible-drinking groups, the ever eloquent BrewDog co-founder, James Watt, told the Telegraph: “This artisan beer should be consumed in small servings whilst exuding an endearing pseudo vigilance and reverence for Mr Stoat… I can think of no grander way to celebrate these animals than for them to be cherished by the lucky owners. [They] all died of natural causes – better to be celebrated and valued than left to rot.”

Surely the question is where does BrewDog go from here? Might it exhume Oliver Reed’s corpse to house a barrel of beer that evaporates before it hits your lips? I wouldn’t put it past these guys…

A BrewDog ale fit for a finger
27/11/2009, 3:21 pm
Filed under: Controversy, News

The livers of ale drinkers across the nation are preparing a mass strike tonight, as news of a mind-boggling new beer hits the airwaves.

At 32% ABV, Tactical Nuclear Penguin is probably the world’s strongest beer. And it’s a big statement from its creator, BrewDog, which is probably the world’s most provocative brewery.

BrewDog is certainly one of Scotland’s most adventurous breweries, and its high-profile tussle with responsible drinking lobbyists, the Portman Group, has given birth to a family of weird and wonderful ales. (Continued below).

Amorous penguins

Beer: getting penguins laid since 1924

In July, BrewDog infamously reported its own brand of beer, Tokyo — at 18.2% ABV, then officially the UK’s strongest pint — to the Portman Group for the irresponsible way it labelled its own bottle. Yes, very confusing. Co-founder of the brewery, James Watt, said on his blog: “Complaining about our own beer was intended to illustrate just what an elaborate and ridiculous waste of time The Portman Group really are”.

Many ale afficionados condemned this as a publicity stunt, and asked why BrewDog would shaft itself to make such a statement (Mark Dredge has a great take on his blog, Pencil and Spoon) . And the Portman Group has duly launched proceedings to ban the beer from sale in the UK.

BrewDog also makes Nanny State , a hoppy 1% ABV beer that would make a fine, responsible session ale if it wasn’t quite so harsh on the palate. The Silver Tankard detects more than a hint of irony.

So the latest offering, Tactical Nuclear Penguin, comes with a fair degree of badinage. According to the BBC, the 32% ABV ale will be sold at £30 per bottle and served in spirit measures.

A finger of beer indeed. And a finger to the establishment at that.

The Silver Tankard hits San Francisco
21/03/2009, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Pub crawl

Anchor Steam Beer

It’s been a long hiatus for the Silver Tankard.

I’ve been a busy bunny, but I won’t pretend I haven’t been guzzling a few glorious pints of real ale. Many adventurers remain unchronicled, but it’s about time for a comeback, and I’m about to embark on an expedition to the foggy city, San Francisco.

It’s got many names – Baghdad by the Bay being one of them, and if anyone knows why this is the case, please indulge me – but San Francisco is a cosmopolitan utopia. So surely there’ll be a scene for some high-quality ale quaffing, right?

San Fran is home to one of my favourite foreign beers, Anchor Steam, and the world famous Anchor Brewery. So it’s going to be a great experience which I hope to chronicle in a future post. Unless I end up in the gutter of course…

**Update (25 April) Enjoyed some stonking beers in San Fran — Anchor Steam, Liberty Ale,  Sierra Nevada and Lagunitas amongst them — but I’ve not got round to writing a full review. If you’re looking for great beer in San Francisco, head to Magnolia in Haight Ashbury which brews its own ales, stouts and lagers on site. Lovely stuff! And then head to the Page for quite possibly the biggest selection of IPAs in the land. And a bloody good jukebox.

A warm Wylam welcome
22/04/2008, 10:08 pm
Filed under: festival, Real Ale | Tags: , ,

A few Saturdays ago, as snowflakes fell on the North East, wor lass, Gordy and I were cosied-up in front of a roaring fire at Wylam’s Boathouse Inn.

Tucked away in a sleepy corner of Northumberland, on the south banks of the River Tyne, the Boathouse Inn is the award winning brewery tap of the Wylam Brewery. We were there to take part in the Wylam Beer Festival, an orgy of real ales with 12 of the brewery’s finest tipples on offer.

Gordy and Dan at the Boathouse Inn, Wylam

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Familiar sights in Norn Iron
22/04/2008, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of spending the weekend in Belfast, courtesy of the NUJ who were holding their annual conference there.

Blimey, journalists can drink.

I spent most of the weekend in the loving arms of a blonde in a black dress. Nope, I wasn’t doing the dirty on wor lass; I’m talking about the pure onyx nectar of the Emerald Isle.

I spent one memorable afternoon getting lost around Belfast’s gridlike backstreets, and couldn’t help spotting sights that reminded me of good old Jesmond…

There’s no escape from the flippin’ place!

Newcastle Beer Festival
01/04/2008, 2:21 am
Filed under: festival, Real Ale, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

This week, beer boffins, piss artists and gentleman alike will unite for the highlight of the Toon’s boozy calendar: the Newcastle Beer Festival.

Newcastle University’s Student Union is the venue for this ale fest, which takes place THIS WEEK! Between Wednesday and Saturday.

I have been salivating in anticipation of this year’s Beer Festi, but it turns out I’m being dragged whisked away to Belfast on Thursday by the NUJ… Thank heavens, then, that the doors open at 6pm on Wednesday night, phew!

Courtesy of my mate and fellow ale swigger, Gordy, here is a list of the beers up for tasting at this year’s festival; as well as ciders and perries (look out for the self-styled Twat in the Hat…).

Beer List – Newcastle Beer festi 2008

Cider & Perry List – Newcastle Beer festi 2008

I ‘m chuffed to see that Timmy Taylor’s Ram Tam (4.3% ABV) is making another appearance! This was the beer of the festival for me last year – dark and rich, a proper cockle warmer.

Hope you can make it!