Beer = fun; ten random events

Whilst I've been away most weekends with my head stuck too close to a seven-litre, 570 bhp GT engine, I still found the time to sink a few beers as well. Here's a random selection of the fun beer times I had.

Sheffield shenanigans; Dave Unpronouncable's birthday beers at the Harlequin, single-hopped Alehouse stunners at the Fat Cat, Thornbridge CocoaDance in the KIT and random bottles at the Coach - all enhanced massively by the company (step forward Neil McGowan, Phil Lowry, Angelo Scarnera, Jan and Charlotte, The Brew Company's Pete Roberts, Dave Corby and the Thornbridge brewers).

Drinking with Kiwis, part 1; Epic brewing's Luke Nicholas was over from New Zealand for the launch of Epic Pale Ale at the Wetherspoons festival. He ended up in Derby and a merry night of beerage was had, to say nothing of the mini-fish-&-chips.

Bottles drank for the hell of it; Thornbridge Alliance, one too many Thornbridge Halcyon post-lawn-mowing, Brooklyn-Schneider Weizen, Stone 08 Vertical Epic, Struise Black Albert, Williams Midnight Sun...

Beer cocktailing; mixing the Jaipur mojito, created by Alistair Myers of Rowleys Restaurant with a version bludgeoned togther by me for The Session

Local pub festivals for local people; the Royal Oak at Ockbrook offered up Wild Walker (shitty), Ossett and Saltaire (tasty) and Three Cats Cider (superb). Scott and Mary Frost enjoyed them, too, in their last pub festival before emigrating to the beer-wasteland of California ;-) Just a shame that we never took those milds from Falstaff, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, and mixed them to make an Ursa Middle...

Finding good pubs new to me; in my hometown of Derby (Mr Grundys, the refurbished Silk Mill), Birmingham (the Old Fox which had some barnstorming mild) and Lincoln (Green Dragon)

Drinking with Kiwis, part 2; sharing Drie Fonteinen kriek with award-winning homebrewer James Kemp and the Tigger of the Peak, Kelly Ryan, late one afternoon at the Coach & Horses, Dronfield

Mixing rail and ale; the superlative Barrow Hill festival that brought together train rides, plates of liver & onions, great cask beers (Falstaff Wilko, Lytham IPA, Amber Samuel Slater IPA) and a longer linger at the continental bottle bar for the hop delight that is Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA.

Two fests in one day; Newark and Lincoln CAMRA, some new brewery scoops (Old Slewfoot, Andwell), some fantastic light, fruity beers (Brewsters Kiyo, Brew Company Spring Bock), proper coarse pork pie (Porter's, Newark), proper chewy flapjack (Curtis's, Lincoln) and the anti-mild that is Brewdog How To Disappear Completely.

A classic pub-fest; The Coach & Horses in Dronfield is an outstanding pub - Thornbridge beers, amazing food, superb staff, cool music and wall art - so the prospect of its first beer festival was literally mouthwatering. And so it came to pass over a weekend blessed with sunshine for its BBQ. Great keg beer (unfiltered Moravka lager, Lovibonds Henley Gold), great cask beer (Thornbridge/Epic Halcyon, BrewDog Edge), great blues music and barbequed mackerel on a stick. Grrrreat!


I am the STIG's fatter beery cousin

Some say he sleeps in a mash tun and smells vaguely of porridge. And that he once attended a beer festival and drank nothing but dandelion and burdock. All we know is he's called The Reluctant Scooper... and he's back.

A bit of a site wash & brush up, the summer's agenda set, my insatiable hop craving's still itching and I'm ready for the future (which happens to be kegged dark lager. Honest. Slap my backside and call me Mabel if I'm lying).

Welcome to those who visited in their droves during March and April, despite the lack of new content. And a twitterific hello @mynewfollowers.

This week, I will mostly be posting a few articles that have been kicking arouund a while. None of which involve tarmasalata. Warning - obscure cultural references to BBC comedy series will continue.

But, be assured - this site contains absolutely no aspinol...

WARNING: This site may contain aspinol.


We've got the decorators in

New look, same old rollocks about beer. Bear with me whilst graphics get re-jigged; an onslaught of new articles (and some I wrote months ago and couldn't be arsed to post) will start appearing here from June 1st onwards.


The Session: Beer cocktails; Jaipur mojito

Running late here, or is it early? The Session was on the first; I was getting busy at a beer festival and have then had mucho enjoyable GT racing to spectate at. Hell, I'm not even supposed to be around here for another month. But when a Session topic is this hot and the cocktail is this cool, I can't resist. So... hello, I'm Johnny Knoxville and this is the Thornbridge Jaipur Mojito.

There are three steps to making the perfect Jaipur mojito;

1) Know your history

Beer in a cocktail. Sounds wrong. Cocktail - good. Beer - good. Both together - train wreck and a waste of good booze. Indeedly, a quick Googling returns the likes of the Coors Light mojito, which seems to ring out a virtual death knell for the concept. Yes, as a straight-up cocktail it's over-exposed and drank by the bucketload amongst herds of chinless Audi-driving cocks and slack-bladdered hen parties. But - damn it! This is a Hemingway drink (perhaps) and it deserves justice. Reclaim the mojito, I say.

2) Source your ingredients

Who hasn't got the necessary knocking around the kitchen to lash up a cocktail? My freezer is full of vodka and gin, my fridge is full of vermouth and citric things. Apart from limes. And I was out of sugar for the syrup. And it's been a poor year for the home grown mint. And someone drank all the white rum at Christmas. So, a trip to the friendly neighbourhood retail colossus was required. And - yes - glances were exchanged over the contents of my basket. But only because I was the first person in the queue not laden with value pizza and pizz-weak lager slabs.

And they sold Thornbridge Jaipur too - the real reason for shopping there. But I had a feeling that my mojito deserved cask freshness, so I managed to wheedle a pint or three of the proper job out of the brewer, Kelly Ryan, making the sixty-mile round trip up to the Coach & Horses in Dronfield (via four trains, two pubs and the chip shop) to pick it up. It's sheer quality stuff, naturally. Had to have a pint of it whilst I was there. Well, you've got to quality assure your supplier. Especially when the supplier is buying a round ;-)

3) Perfect the recipe

Now, I can shake a mean cocktail. But the Jaipur mojito required deftness, clarity, balance. Not just fruit shedded into a bucket with gloopy liqueurs dumped in. So here's where Alistair Myers comes in. General manager of Rowley's restaurant in Derbyshire's Peak District, he's the inventor of the Jaipur mojito. It made an appearance at their recent Thornbridge beer and food evening and has been a labour of love for Alistair. With a prolonged gestation - he wanted a drink that worked well with the dessert course and found himself working his way through the cocktail bible to get there. Jaipur was the given base, but the ultimate guise seemed elusive - lemon & lime, brandy, iced tea, even a Jaipur Sunrise didn't pass muster. Creme de menthe made for a great look, just a shame about the flavour. The beer has assertive citric flavours delivered with balance and finesse; a mojito offers a similar level of control with carefully disguised alcohol. And so, it came to pass - and in Baslow there was much rejoicing.

Alistair was happy to divulge the recipe to me and I enjoyed a happy half-hour trying not to neck neat Jaipur whilst aiding limes to erupt everywhere except into the blasted glass.

Anyoldhow: how does it taste?

Un-nervingly impressive. It's clean, crisp, delivers alcohol with a subtle caress. My ham-fists may have made for liberal measures, yet the segue from preserved lemon to echoing mint via a bickering bitterness was sublime. Each flavour rose and danced before yielding gladly to the next.

The Jaipur mojito helps you drop down through the mental gears and freewheel into the weekend. The freshness for me was its defining characteristic - living beer introduced to just-cooled sugar syrup, bathing wet mint that strips through rum... it's alive!

If what I've concocted is even postcode-close to Alistair's creation I will die a happy man. Only one way to find out, I suppose - make Rowley's my La Bodeguita. For if Hemingway was right, and all things truly wicked start from innocence, I'm prepared to walk into the bar wide-eyed.

If you want to try the Thornbridge Jaipur mojito, you need to go here and ask nicely. But you may want to wait for the Jaipur bellini...