Brooklyn brewery ghost bottles

The brooklyn brewerys brooklyn lager has been a beer I have liked for over ten years now, long before I was interested in real ales or craft beers I just knew it tasted nice and that was enough for me. Head brewer Garrett oliver agrees with that simple philosophy anyone can brew the strongest or the hoppiest beer but wouldn’t you rather drink a nice beer nobody would want the saltiest chips or the hottest possible curry so why should beer be any different.

Garrett grew up in Boston and studied filmmaking at Boston university organising gigs for bands including REM and the ramones before moving to London to spend a year stage managing bands at London university. After graduation he traveled around Europe tasting many styles of beer and in doing so found his calling and in 1989 he started at the mahattan brew Co before moving to brooklyn brewery,  he is currently head brewer at brooklyn as well as award winning author and beer authority.

He is a man with a great knowledge of beer but a easy going personality that males him perfect to host Brooklyn brewerys tasting nights, he jokes that he spent 15 years in america catching up with Britain then Britain has spent the last 15 years catching up with him, and he’s not too far off the mark

It was under the tyne bridge (that took design inspiration from the brooklyn bridge) at the brilliant bridge tavern I got the opportunity to taste some of brooklyn brewerys ghost bottles (rare brews and experimental one offs not commercially for sale) organised by the supurb Wylam Brewery.

Beer one lancelot

Lees are the name given to the sediment after a brew normally high in dead or residual yeast this is filtered off and often discarded and can be used for a second ferment passing characteristics and flavours onto a beer especially in naturally fermented wines that use natural rather than chemical yeasts,  in this beer Lees from a American brewed riesling are used alongside champagne yeasts to create a beer with more wine flavours and dryness within sweet cider scent, think a fruity dry white wine at 7%abv.

Beer two Galahad

a 9.2% Belgian strong style beer with a second ferment using Lees from oyster river cider mill in upstate new York a dry apple flavour and sweet fruit notes dominate this beer that hides it’s considerable alcohol content well

Beer three Bedivere

a kriek style beer with a traditional British yeast strain and a bourbon barrel aging and 9% ABV in a beer that reads like it would lack any subtilty it was very well ballanced with juicy cherry and smoky bourbon IMG_20160210_221436

Beer four

Chichicapa aged in barrels used in production of authentic Mexican mezcal this was 9.5% of smoky beer

Beer five Caradoc

a beer with a interesting tale after a second ferment didn’t take leaving barrel aged flat beer what was produced and bottle aged was a sherry styled beer at 9% that would rival most sherry in terms of flavour

Beer six Bel air

my personal favourite of the night the lightest at 6.5 a sour beer dry hopped with amarillo creating a tropical fruity sour beer that has a real depth of flavour not usually found in a beer this light.

Beer seven Saison kitaya

Belgian saison soured beer aged in saké kegs giving the sour beer a lactic acidity cutting through a fruity flavoursome beer another example of getting the ballance spot on

Beer eight black chocolate stout 2005

aging a beer is not a new concept there are books from the 1800s giving instructions on the subject but it seems to have become it’s own side subject of beer for serious collectors and brewers but very rarely in the mainstream so this mainstream stout aged for 11 years was something of a surprise on the night but beautiful bittersweet chocolate and warming boozy tastes for a cold evening IMG_20160210_221620

And the final beer hand and seal congnac edition 2013 a special way to end it was a brew to celebrate Garretts 20th anniversary at brooklyn a near 14% barley wine with champagne yeast and a year in a contact keg and two years bottle aging to create a wild tasting malty caramel sweetness and loads of boozy warmth.

All in all a night I shall not forget despite the amount of alcohol consumed and many thanks due to garrett brooklyn Wylam and the bridge tavern.


North by north yeast


What makes a good pub

DSC_0173What is it that makes a great pub or even a good pub for that matter is it a good range of beers,  the quality of said beers the staff punters decor or food?  I’m left pondering this after a recent night out in Gateshead in which I frequented four very different pubs.

The first was the Tilley stone a jd weatherspoons pub based just off the metro. Now I’m not a spoons hater yes they do tend to be a bit samey and the food may tend more to the cheap than cheerfull however they do always have a large range of beer and very reasonable prices.
Both pints were perfectly serviceable if unspectacular and I had just missed out on the golden Perry in the fridge but for under £2 a pint it certainly was a pleasant start to the night.

My second stop was at the Metropole just over the road a odd mash of vintage designed corner pub and led screened disco they served sonnets ipa as well as a three hopped beer exclusive to the chain that owns it both again at reasonable prices and more than serviceable.

Third point on the tour was the black bull a music venue and bar that is probably best described as a “goth” bar with iron maiden flags and skeletons on the wall and quirky extras like a six foot fab ice lolly and the bar parrot (yes that’s a real thing).
I had a pint of Waterloo by wordworth a dry hopped pale beer with plenty of flavour and made friends with a grey macaw not many pubs can offer you that.DSC_0172
The final stop was the central a beautiful victorian building housing a pub run by the head of steam group with venue upstairs games room and a impressive 13 hand pulls and a fun and varied selection I had a great pint if silver king by Ossett brewery and was very tempted to take them up on the offer of a two pint carton to take home.

So what is it that makes a good pub? Well it cam be any of these things really but what makes a good evening is being able to visit different pubs with different things to offer.

Beer of the month silver king by Ossett
A well balanced blonde beer with great taste

North by north yeast