News Nottingham Drinker

Published on August 21st, 2013 | by Nottingham Drinker


Diversification – Leanne Rhodes on Brewsters, Brewing and Spanish bottle-conditioned beers

The new diversification initiative is not just about increasing the number of female members; it is to increase the membership and activity of all minority groups. After the piece on diversity appeared in ND116, I received an email from a branch member who is registered disabled. She explained that she is a Parkinson’s Disease sufferer, as the disease causes her to shake it results in her spilling drinks which is a source of embarrassment for her. She feels that she should have the option to ask for her ale to be served in an over-sized glass to reduce the problem. She also said that she finds it physically difficult to hold pint glasses and would therefore prefer to drink half pints. Drinking half pints sometimes results in her missing out on CAMRA discount as some pubs on the discount scheme only offer a discount on pints. She feels that this is unfair and that discounts should be offered on half pints too, not only to improve her pub-going experience but to encourage sensible drinking too.

If you have a disability that affects your pub-going experience then we would be very interested to hear about it and ways that you feel it could be improved to encourage more disabled people to become a part of Nottingham CAMRA.

On the 4th July the Hand and Heart hosted the launch party for Venus Red, a 4.6% American Red Ale, which was brewed at Welbeck Abbey Brewery as part of Project Venus. Casks of each Project Venus brew are distributed amongst the participating brewsters (female brewers) to be sold on to pubs in their local area. Be sure to look out for other Project Venus brews in the future and support our British brewsters.

The current holder of both titles “Nottingham CAMRA Pub of the Year”  and “Nottinghamshire CAMRA Pub of the Year”, the Horse & Jockey at Stapleford, are holding a Project Venus Brewsters Ale Festival running from Wednesday 28th August until Monday 2nd September. 18 specially chosen ales from award-winning brewsters throughout the country will be available, 9 on handpull and 9 on gravity.

We have recently arranged for a diverse group of people to become a brewer/brewster for a day. Lincoln Green, Magpie and White Dog breweries have kindly agreed to allow a team of Nottingham CAMRA branch members to work with them to produce a beer that will be premiered at the Nottingham Robin Hood Beer Festival in October. A different team will be sent to each of the three breweries where they will then help to brew a beer after devising a beer recipe with the help of the brewer. To make things a little bit more interesting, beer festival goers will be asked to vote for their favourite of the three beers and the winner will be crowned ‘Brew Off Champion’. The purpose of the brew-off is to promote the diversification initiative, and as such the teams are composed of males and females of different ages.

In the last issue of the Nottingham Drinker (ND116), a letter from reader Nick Cragg about finding real ale in Spain prompted the Editor to reply and mention the range of good bottle-conditioned beers that can be found there. At a later Nottingham CAMRA meeting, the Editor offered to bring back a selection of Spanish bottle-conditioned beers (RAIBs) for me on the condition I wrote a brief review. So here it is.

The eight 33cl bottles were sourced mainly from the local Cooperativa Agricola (Agricultural Cooperative) in the Costa de Azahar area of Spain, with the remainder coming from the local Carrefour Hypermarket – apart from the Montseny beers which were on sale in the local ALDI! The Editor told me: “Bottled beers are very popular in Spain and in the larger supermarkets you can find whole aisles devoted to a fantastic range of beers, mostly Spanish, ranging from around 3.0% ABV up to 10.0%+ ABV. You have to pick them over to find the bottle-conditioned ones and keep an eye on the prices – some are very expensive, especially the high ABV “craft” beers which are often sold in 75cl bottles.” He also said that you could buy a pack of six 1 x litre bottles of San Miguel lager for 6 Euros; that’s around £5.20 – or less than 90p a litre…  But that’s another story.

The beers featured here cost between 2 and 3 Euros each, so the price for a quality bottle-conditioned beer from some of these small independent breweries is quite reasonable. Here’s what I thought of them.

Cervezas La Gardenia – Carmen is an effervescent 4.8% pale ale with smooth mouthfeel and a subtle bitter finish, making it very moreish.

FLARE  – This 5% pale ale was extremely lively, resulting in the sediment at the bottom of the bottle being disturbed with some entering my glass. This only served to damage the clarity of the beer but not the flavour. It had a fruity aroma to complement the malty/fruity taste of the beer. The finish was quite dry and it was certainly a good thirst quencher.

Montseny – Lupulus is a 5.4% blonde ale brewed with pilsner malt. The ale was well carbonated, crisp and provided a dry, sharp finish.

Montseny – Ecolupulus is a 5.4% organic version of Lupulus. There is a definite difference between the two, it is paler in colour and I found that it had a lighter body and a smoother mouthfeel.

Cervesa Montmira – Penyagolosa is a 5.9% IPA. I found that the beer was fairly sweet and the dominant flavours came from the malt, it slightly lacked the hop bitterness in the finish, differing greatly from the IPAs that are brewed UK and US.

Cervesa Montmira – Columbretes is a lightly carbonated 4.9% malty ale. Like the Penyagolosa I feel that it would have benefitted from the addition of a few more bittering hops to reduce the sweetness coming from the malt. Having said that, it would make a great winter warmer and would be best enjoyed during the cooler months.

Cervesa Montmira – Tombatossals is a well-balanced 5.4% stout. It has a light body with a dry finish and as such it provided refreshment that a heavier stout would not have done in such warm weather.

Cervesa Montmira – Bresca is a 5.5% ale brewed with wheat, rosemary and honey. The flavours were subtle and well balanced with the honey coming through in the finish and in the aroma. Due to the addition of these different ingredients it stood out from the other beers.

Out of all the bottles I found the Montseny beers were the easiest to pour and I was left with a glass of sediment free, crystal clear ale on both occasions.

Due to the good weather that we have been enjoying recently I had the opportunity to appreciate the beers in the climate that they would normally be consumed. There seems to be a considerable difference in the way hops are used in the Spanish beers when compared to modern British and American beers. I found the hop aromas to be very subtle and the flavours from the malt were much more prominent on the palate. These differences added to the experience, after all the whole point in seeking out products from other countries is to enable us to experience something that little bit different to what we are accustomed to.

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