Tag Archives: wood-aged beer

Sainsbury’s winning bottled beers

This blog is currently the top result in a Google search for outsize menswear chain Massachusetts. I haven’t, you’ll guess, ever written about retailers of XXL male clothing in the Greater Boston area, but I did make a joke when I blogged on judging at the Sainsbury’s beer competition in April about the name of the High & Mighty brewery in New England being in honour of the outfitters for gentlemen of a more substantial scale.

It’s not, of course, the brewery’s name comes from an alleged comment supposedly made by Julius Caesar about the ancient Britons drinking a “high and mighty liquor” made from barley and water which left “space enough for the performance of many great actions before it quite vanished the spirits.”

Sadly, I’m really sorry guys, and also sorry for the Ridgeway Brewery in Oxfordshire, which brews High & Mighty’s Beer of the Gods under licence in the UK, Caesar never said any such thing. This “quote” appears in several modern publications, and is even given a precise chapter reference as to where it allegedly appears in Caesar’s De Belli Bello Gallico by Mia Ball in her history of the Worshipful Company of Brewers. It’s not in De Belli Bello Gallico, nor in anything else Caesar or any other Roman wrote. It’s a fake quote. Somebody, some time, for some reason, made it up.

I’m also sorry for High & Mighty, and Ridgeway, for their missing out on the top prize in the 2008 Sainsbury’s Beer Competition, the results of which were announced today at Sainsbury’s HQ in Holborn, central London. High & Mighty Beer of the Gods was one of 16 bottled beers to get through the first round of judging back in April, and those 16 beers went on sale in more than 400 Sainsbury’s stores for five weeks over August and the first part of September. The top two best-selling beers were guaranteed a further six months on the shelves in 260 Sainsbury’s stores.

Continue reading Sainsbury’s winning bottled beers

Watch out for Fuller’s whisky beer

Some time in the next couple of months or so, when things get a little quieter for the summer, Fuller’s brewery at Chiswick in West London is going to be brewing its own version of Gale’s Prize Old Ale for the first time.

The current version, reviewed enthusiastically here, was brewed at Gale’s brewery just before it closed in 2006, then shipped to Chiswick for maturing, before being primed and bottled late last year and released in the spring.

It’s a deliciously sour-sweet dark Old Ale, 9 per cent alcohol by volume, in a style that almost disappeared, and I am delighted John Keeling, Fuller’s director of brewing, is continuing to make it available for future years.

John has solved the problem of reproducing the microflora and fauna found at Gale’s Horndean, Hampshire home, which gave the beer much of its particular flavours, by saving 40 hectolitres of the Gale’s-brewed POA to add to the maturing Fuller’s POA. The beer will be kept in tanks for 12 months, then bottled and released some time around October 2009 – with 40 hectolitres again held back for priming the next batch …

Meanwhile Fuller’s is also due to finally release its whisky beer some time in the coming month. I spoke about the problems Fuller’s had with HM Revenue and Customs over trying to sell a beer that has matured in former whisky casks here _ funnily, Scots brewers don’t seem to have the same difficulty in getting permission to do the same thing.

The problem is that whisky leaches out of the cask into the beer, raising its alcohol level. However, John Keeling says, the brewery has found that if it releases the whisky cask-matured beer at a lower ABV than the beer was when it originally went into the casks – water it down, in other words – then the brewery can put it on sale.

Golden Pride, 8.5 per cent abv, was the beer that went into the casks, so Fuller’s will be selling its whisky beer at 7.5 per cent, the taxman will be happy and so, I am sure, will the customers be: I see that when I tried Golden Pride matured in ex-Glenmorangie casks at the Thornbridge brewery seminar on wood-aged beers last October I described it as

indisputably changed by its experience, with an oaky sweetness, and citrus and orange more noticeable than in the “straight” beer, it would make a good “after dinner” winder-down.”

Bring it on.