Hitachino Nest

Hitachino Nest are a Japanese brewery who use Japanese brewing techniques but with a Eurpean twist which is a very interesting concept! Japan is more famous for it’s whisky than beer but the Hitachino Nest brewery has proven to be quite popular. I tried the Classic Japanese Ale which is a bottle conditioned ale using English hops. It’s quite strong at 7% ABV but the bottles are quite small at 330ml.

Hitachino

It had quite a creamy head and was ambery/coppery in colour. It’s aged in cedar casks which is a traditional Japanese technique when brewing sake. You can taste the woodiness from the cedar and it’s quite sweet and caramelly (I don’t think that’s a word, neither is ‘ambery’ or ‘coppery’ but let’s go with it). This was quite an interesting beer so I’d definitely recommend checking out some of the Hitachino Nest beers. I really want to get my hands on their Red Rice ale so I’ll be doing a review on that as soon as I do!

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Gin…and beer. Heaven?

When I’m choosing beer, I don’t usually pick up whichever one has the nicest label BUT on this occasion, I went against my own rule. How could I refuse anything that has ‘Gin’ written across it in huge letters?! I don’t think it would be physically possible for me to say no to a gin and tonic. It certainly hasn’t happened yet. Anyway, once my brain had started thinking properly, rather than just saying ‘gin gin gin’, I began to wonder how that would work? I’m a big fan of beer brewed in rum and whisky casks, but I just couldn’t imagine how a gin-flavoured beer would work.

You’ll be relieved to know it isn’t actually gin flavoured. It is made using the gin botanicals from the City of London Distillery. This gives it a very floral taste along with fruity and citrussy notes. The aftertaste is quite odd and peppery, it took me a few sips before I properly began to like it so I recommend giving this one a proper shot rather than having a sip. It’s a very light ale and has an ABV of 4.1%.

Gin is brewed by Peter Haydon who has his own project at the Florence brewery called ‘Head in a Hat’. Gin is the only beer from Head in a Hat that I’ve tried but I’m really keen to taste more, especially Camembeer, which I will definitely pair with a fully stocked cheeseboard as intended. Mmmmm.

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Loch Ness

Another Scottish beer today. This time it’s from The Loch Ness Brewing Co. who are a small brewing company attached to a hotel. The hotel and brewery are owned by two brothers and they have brewed a selection of different ales which generally include ‘Ness’ in their name.

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The Light Ness is a summery golden ale which has quite a low ABV (3.9%). It’s very light and refreshing with a citrussy grapefruit aftertatse. It’s quite a hoppy pale ale which I really like but it could be a bit bitter if you prefer sweeter ales. This beer just reminds me of summer and the sun so is perfect for the current weather!

 

Schiehallion

Pronounced: she-hal-i-on

One of my favourite breakfast places in London is Bill’s. After the first time I went, all I ate was breakfast food for about a week after. Recently, I went at lunch time and it was just as good. I had a chorizo burger and almost went into a hooded falcon state I was so happy whilst eating it. I was slightly disappointed with the beer selection however. There were a meagre 5 (one of which was Heineken) compared to an extensive wine list. I decided to go for the Schiehallion which I’ve had my eye on for a while but never quite got round to trying. It’s brewed by the Harviestoun brewery (they have a really nicely designed website, I highly recommend checking it out), who are most famous for Bitter and Twisted.

 Schiehallion

Schiehallion is a light, refreshing lager and is named after one of the most easy Munros to climb. The name is very fitting as the lager itself is very drinkable. At 4.8% and available in 330ml bottles, you don’t need to feel too guilty about returning to the office after a couple at lunch time. It pours a light, golden colour and didn’t have too much of a head. It was quite citrussy and a lot hoppier than some lagers, so if you’re looking for something inoffensive and light, then this is the guy for you.

 

Friday Lunchtime

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Friday’s are undoubtedly the best day of the week. However, the thing I look forward to most on Fridays is our weekly pub lunch. This week we went to the Lowlander pub on Drury lane which has a great selection of Belgian ales. I was in heaven!

Since I still had an afternoon of work left, I limited myself to one beer which made choosing almost impossible. In the end I decided to go for the Orval since I’ve heard so much about it.

It really didn’t disappoint. The Orval Brewery is trappist brewery in the Abbaye Notre-Dame Orval. The beer itself is 6.2% ABV and the first thing you notice is that it has a really distinctive aroma. It’s quite earthy and yeasty while managing to smell fresh at the same time. It has a very thick, foamy head and tastes malty and sour with hints of banana. It really is lovely, a bit more dry than other trappist ales but I’d definitely recommend trying this.

Viven Porter

If you follow my blog (or know me) then you’ll know I love anything that tastes smoky – sausages, cheese, ham and most importantly, beer! The Schlenkerla Marzen is still my favourite beer ever but I’ve found another that I think is truly delicious. At the Belgian ale tasting (see my post below) I was recommended to try the Viven Porter which is brewed by Brouwerij Van Viven, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. 

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It comes in a 330ml bottle and I think the label is really pretty. You can definitely taste the smokiness but it isn’t too strong and it doesn’t overpower the other coffee, chocolatey kind of flavours. As you can see from the picture, it’s very dark in colour and has quite a high ABV – 7% although I guess this isn’t too bad for a Belgian beer! This isn’t the most summery of drinks but as the weather is beginning to get colder, this would be perfect as an alternative to a spicy red wine.

 

If you have any recommendations for smoky beers, please let me know!!