“Barrel aged” – a definition

If you haven’t been reading beer-related news this week, then you’ve probably missed the bare faced lies that Innis & Gunn (a beer brewer) have been trying to get away with.

Back in around 2010, they had to stop barrel aging their beers, due to a shortage of barrels. Instead they were referred to as “oak aged” as oak chips were added to the beer to impart flavour. No-one had any problem with that.

This week they have decided to stick two fingers up to beer drinkers. Their beers will be called barrel aged again. Are they going to be aged in barrels?

No, they are not. Instead of using oak chips, they are now going to be using chopped up bits of barrels and putting them into the beer. This is not barrel aging! Putting bits of barrel into beer does not a barrel aged beer make.

Here is a barrel:-

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If you put beer in it, that beer is barrel aged. If you smash it up and put the bits into a beer in another vessel (usually some kind of metal tank), that beer is not barrel aged. At best it is “wood aged” but you can sod right off if you think you can call it barrel aged.

I’ve read a lot or articles and comments about this, and not one of them has agreed with I&G’s new “definition” of barrel aging. Because it’s not barrel aging. To call it that is pure deception. No-one should really be shocked at a company trying to deceive customers in this day and age, but this utterly cynical marketing ploy is just nasty. Publicity stunts like this remind me of the sage words from one of my favourite pieces from Bill Hicks (abridged):-

By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing. Kill yourself. It’s just a little thought; I’m just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day they’ll take root – I don’t know. You try, you do what you can.

(Kill yourself.)

Seriously though, if you are, do. Aaah, no really. There’s no rationalisation for what you do and you are Satan’s little helpers. You are the ruiner of all things good. You are Satan’s spawn filling the world with bile and garbage.

I know all the marketing people are going, “He’s doing a joke…” There’s no joke here whatsoever. “Oh, you know what Bill’s doing? He’s going for that anti-marketing dollar. That’s a good market. He’s very smart.”

How do you live like that? And I bet you sleep like babies at night, don’t you?

Back to me now. All I am saying is don’t lie and then try and defend that lie every day in the face of overwhelming criticism. Just because there is no definition of barrel aging by Trading Standards doesn’t mean that you can just make up your own which goes against everyone else’s.

Even if you had never heard of barrel aging until reading this, if I’d have asked you to define it, I’m pretty certain you would have come up with this:-

“barrel aged” – any liquid that has been aged inside a wooden barrel.

End of.

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Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton, September 2017

The start of our Skipton weekend. Mrs MOFAD and regular MOFAD companion Hazel are off to Yarndale tomorrow. We were due to be joined by other regular MOFAD companions Steve and Janette tonight, but Steve has been attacked by a chest infection overnight and is not fit to travel.

Hazel & Matt stayed with us last night, and we set off for Skipton this morning. After a coffee stop at Woolley Edge services (where else when heading to Yarndale), we arrived in Skipton just after 1pm, and decided to make this our lunch stop before checking in to our hotel.

If the Keelham name looks familiar, that’s because we stopped at the sister shop to this one back in September 2015, on our way home from that year’s Yarndale trip. Today we had some lunch before doing some shopping.

There are two eating areas in this branch, a full menu downstairs (20 minutes wait this lunchtime due to the large number of Yarndale visitors) or a soup and sandwich menu upstairs (no wait, just find a table and order at the counter). We nipped upstairs, grabbed a table and then picked up some sandwiches, crisps and drinks.

A well filled chicken and bacon mayo sub roll, a bit of salad squeezed in there too. Some Yorkshire crisps (#obvs since we are in Yorkshire) and the gentle fire of Cawston Press ginger beer. Very tasty stuff and just what we needed after our journey.

Time next for a bit of shopping. As there are 4 of us and just one car, both Matt & I had to be restrained in our choices, and kept things to just a small box each. A proper local selection of Yorkshire beers for me, BAD Co from Dishforth (first encountered at last year’s Good Food Show), North Brewing Co from Sheepscar Grove in Leeds, and a couple from from Holbeck’s Northern Monk .

As well as all of this tasty beer, there was plenty of local food as well as lots of stuff from further afield. Loads of fresh stuff as well as plenty of tinned and dried foods. A lovely little farm shop, and I’d probably shop here an awful lot if I lived in Skipton.

Needle & Pin, Loughborough, September 2017

I’ve written more than enough about my favourite pub by now. The only thing better than writing about it to get someone to go there, is to actually take them there. So that’s what happened tonight. After dinner at Centro Lounge, we took a short stroll down to the Needle & Pin for a few drinks and some games, accompanied by some good old fashioned vinyl. I’m not sure that the other customer upstairs was too impressed by our choice of Now 17, but we love the past, even if it is full of cheese. On with the night…

A pint of Exmoor Ales Silver Stallion for me, a perfectly pleasant cask bitter. Matt had the Exmoor Beast, amusingly coming in at 6.66% – thick, smooth and full of flavour.

This was accompanied by a game of KerPlunk, which is 50 years old this year, and is a game that I’ve probably not played for more than 30 years. The newer version looks a bit different to the original, but the basic premise is the same. Pull sticks out without disturbing marbles. The person with the fewest amount of marbles in their tray at the end is the winner.

Even grown adults can still enjoy this simple game, a great laugh.

We moved on to our next drink and our next game. My next drink was from San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing Company in the form of GFB. This acronym has two possible expansions. The clean one is Green Flash Blonde, the other one rhymes with Food Clucking Deer. A nice beer with good carbonation and a hint of honey. Matt had the Framework Treacle Stout, and we both struggled to spot the treacle that appears on the nose in the palate…

Our next game was the classic word game Taboo. To make things fair we played boys vs girls, and managed to get a good few rounds played in between the laughter.

Another great night out at the N&P, and we somehow managed to avoid coming home with lots of cans and bottles in tow! That won’t be the case when we come back from Skipton though…

Centro Lounge, Loughborough, September 2017

Tonight is the beginning of our weekend. Regular MOFAD companions Hazel & Matt are staying with us tonight, as tomorrow morning we’re off on a road trip to Skipton. Mrs MOFAD and Hazel are off to Yarndale 2017 on Saturday, whilst Matt & I are indulging in a cultural walking tour of Skipton, perhaps checking out the odd hostelry on the way. Other regular companions Steve & Janette will be meeting us there tomorrow night.

Mrs MOFAD and I have been to the Centro lounge a few times this year, so we chose it for tonight’s dining venue.

Drinks first, and both Matt and I opted for the Bath Ales Dark Side, which is a nice easy drinking stout when it warms up a bit.

One of the advantages of Centro Lounge is that they serve their tapas menu every day, so if you fancy a mix of different things you can find plenty to choose from, rather than just plump for burger and chips or similar.

As I’ve noted before, they aren’t too tied down by the heritage of tapas, mixing traditional Spanish dishes like chicken and chorizo, albondigas (meatballs) and patatas bravas (roast spuds and tomato sauce) with dishes from another continent, such as teryaki chicken and posh KFC style chicken goujons.

Mrs MOFAD and I shared the selection above, along with the usual freshly cooked ciabatta, and Hazel & Matt also shared some dishes. We all enjoyed our tasty dinner, and spent a lot of time examining the decor, including the painting of a weird alien/monk hybrid with a boxing glove/oven glove, and some white horses frolicking in the sea… Do check out the eclectic collection of paintings if you’re visiting.

Tasty food, a reasonable pint and a friendly atmosphere, we all enjoyed ourselves and we’ll keep coming back.

700th post!

Another 4 months have passed and another 100 posts have been clocked up. There are about 30 or so that still need writing, and next weekend will see a lot of entries when we reprise the walking tour of Skipton from 2015.

A lot has happened in the last 4 months. We’ve experienced things that go bump in the night, and it happened a second time with a Cloudwater Make Apple Pie Great Again.

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The end of May saw the first month where a pub of the month award was not presented. A trip to Newcastle a week later soon ensured that June would not suffer such problems, with visits to Hop and Cleaver (an in house brewery and all the smoked meat goodness), the lovely Box Social (beautiful beers in a railway arch) and of course BrewDog. The weather was appalling but the beer was great.

The last week of June was consumed by holiday. Lots of lovely Cumbrian pubs, including good pub pizzas in The Crown in Coniston, an unplanned trip to the ODG, a curry and some fish’n’chips.

The sours night at The Needle & Pin was one of the highlights of the summer, lots of tasty and refreshing beers and some very interesting and rare items.

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There have been four visits to The Beehive in Combs, two in July, two in September. A really lovely village pub with great food and a decent cask ale always on. July is also the time for the new home made Hooky beer festival. After the let down of last year, we decided to hold our own. It was a big success, with lots of different beers sampled, and  Intensified Barrel Aged Coffee Porter from Brooklyn Brewery winning the festival.

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Some free beer arrived, and we made five trips to The Brotherswater Inn whilst we were camping at Sykeside in August. It was supposed to be summer, but we camped in a swamp due to incessant rain. Lovely pub though. We also had a 7 hour walk to get a pizza. Well, the walk came first, the pizza was an afterthought. We walked over from the campsite via Red Screes:-

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and tucked into a very hard earned pizza!

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Another quick shopping trip at the Hawkshead Beer Hall rounded off that little break in the Lakes and we were off to our other favourite national park a few weeks later for the Thornbridge beer festival. It had outgrown its home back in 2015 and it was a much improved (although still imperfect) experience this year.

September has been a busy month already, with that aforementioned trip to Combs followed by a trip to Liverpool which has produced 6 blog posts (and bit more publicity for the MOFAD).

A weekend off last weekend, Cloudwater night at the Needle & Pin last week, and we have just returned from cake camp, an annual event celebrating cake and beer and great laughs with friends. We’ve had four pub trips (four more blog posts to come, although the last one won’t be so effusive with its praise) and a trip to Stroud farmers’ market.

I just need some more hours in the day to write more posts. Maybe I can subcontract out to Kerrie, although she is very busy at the moment, working a whole 3 hours a month. It’s a hard life, but she’s worked hard to get it!

Lots more to come from The MOFAD. Will I get to 800 before Xmas? Possibly. Watch this space!

Gloucester Services, September 2017

Another stop at our second favourite service station (the favourite being its older sister at Tebay). It was our lunch stop today, en route to our last camping weekend of the year at Slimbridge. We popped in to the shop to buy some sandwiches for lunch (Mrs MOFAD’s was a bit dull, but my chicken and bacon mayo was tasty) and also picked up a few other supplies. Which means beer.

A few from Bath’s Electric Bear and one from Warwickshire’s Purity Brewing Co. Gloucester Services is looking a bit more mature now (the grass has grown in the car park), and their range of produce has matured as they have grown older.

It retains its title as the second best service station on the motorway network…

Cloudwater Night, Needle & Pin, Loughborough, September 2017

Another themed night at the Needle & Pin. I got my name on the guest list for this one as soon as it was announced. Because Cloudwater.

My friendly Untappd list tells me that I’ve had 44 of their beers. In August 2016, DIPA v3 (a bit too old by then) got awarded beer of the month, and they’ve been clearing up in this year’s monthly round ups too.

They are making great beer, lovely hoppy beasts and the occasional darker beer such as the Christmas Cake imperial stout (with ToØl of Denmark) and a delicious Autumn + Winter Fazenda Ouro Verde Porter.

At the heart of Cloudwater Brew Co is a deep love for the changing seasons, each bringing with it an invitation to enjoy the scarcity and abundance the natural world offers. Cloudwater want to showcase the ebb and flow of nature by using seasonal ingredients at their very best, and taking inspiration from the change of lifestyle each season creates.

So we start tonight with a non-Cloudwater beer, as we had time for a swift half before proceedings began. Mount Hood by Great Heck Brewing Co was a gentle golden ale to kick things off.

On to the main event, four tasty cans of Cloudwater beer. A nice relaxed format to the evening, a card with four beers on it, take it to the bar to collect your next can and tick each one off. There was a suggested order which we followed.

First up, Spring + Summer Pale Ale Huell Melon. For a new twist on their lower strength hoppy beer, Cloudwater fermented this pale ale with a combination of Belgian yeasts. Hallertau Blanc, Amarillo, and Citra were added to the whirlpool, and it was dry hopped with Huell Melon and Hallertau Blanc in the FV.

A tasty treat to start, a little bit of fruit and pepperiness, very easy drinking. You’ll also spot my latest glassware (all included in the price), a very nice looking new Cloudwater glass.

On to a familiar face next. I had a can of this DDH IPA Citra back in July, one of my offerings for the home made Hooky beer fest.

DDH stands for “double dry hopped”. Cloudwater has doubled the amount of hops in this IPA to bring you the brewery’s first DDH IPA. Fermented with WLP4000 yeast and dry-hopped with Citra, Amarillo, Chinook and Centennial (big name American hops). WLP4000 yeast was isolated from a uniquely crafted double IPA from the the USA and produces a balanced fruity ester profile of peaches and light citrus that complements any aggressively hopped beer.

Dry hopping is the process of adding hops to a beer to add more of a hop aroma. Traditionally, dry hopping is done in beer styles like pale ales and IPAs, but brewers are utilising this process in many other styles as well. Since you are not boiling the hops, you won’t be extracting any of the oils from them, and therefore will not be contributing to the beer’s bitterness. What you will be adding are hop flavour and aroma. If you are a big hop fan, dry hopping is a must.

A hoppy juice bomb that goes really well with a spicy dhansak. I didn’t have any of that tonight though.

A collaboration brew next, ™ Life, an East Coast meets North West IPA collaboration celebrates some of their favourite ™ hops – Amarillo, Mosaic and Chinook, and of course the guys from Other Half NYC who they brewed it with.

Yeast: A38, JW Lees
Aroma hops: Amarillo, Mosaic, Chinook
Malts: Golden Promise, Flaked Oats, Oat Malt.

This was full of oily grassiness with big bitterness and a bit of a lavender kick to it.

A quadruple collaboration to finish the night off. Awkward Phase was brewed with old friends of Cloudwater in the shape of Northern Monk, and their new friends Verdant and Deya. This IPA features more of that Chinook hop, and a prominent, aromatic, and complex maltiness from a touch of Munich and Château Arome malts in the grist. A power outage shut things down in mid brew, but rapid service and repair saved the day and got the brewery back up and running in time to finish brewing.

A solid beer, the Château Arome shines through, with the hops turning up to the party a little later on.

On reflection, we would have put the DDH IPA Citra after the ™ Life, but overall it was another great night of beers at the N&P. I’ve said this before, but these are the kinds of events that are happening in London bars and pubs all the time, so it’s nice to see them in our sleepy East Midlands market town.