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Beer & Cider

  • International Women's Collaboration Brew Day

    If you’re one of the 7 people left in this fine country that still listen to British politicians, you may be under the impression that the key to everlasting happiness is the division of ‘boy jobs’ and ‘girl jobs’. Going on the One Show (which by the way is clearly Blue Peter for the over 60s) and singing the virtues of 1920s domesticity seemed like an odd campaign choice but who are we to judge? We forgot to even run!

    Right, last week was International Women’s day and in honour of this we’d like to hail the rise of female brewers in the craft beer scene. Throughout this month we’ve highlighted some of the amazing female winemakers that are blazing trails and smashing ceilings but we thought, what about beer? Perhaps, even more than in wine, brewing is perceived as the prerogative of men. Why? Female brewing can be traced back 9000 years in fact, throughout history women typically had a greater stake in beer than men (maybe not in the monasteries).  In Mesopotamian culture, Ninkasi was the goddess of beer but in the modern day we’re supposed to accept that in some corners of the industry, it is essentially a middle-class boy’s club, naming beers things like ‘Double D – double IPA’. (Apparently that’s a coveted bra size and seemingly allows you to put a balloon chested pinup girl on your pump clip.)

    Banner-450X150-group-shot

    We’re proud to say that for the last couple of International Women’s days we’ve taken part in IWCBD (International Women's Collaboration Brew Day). Last year, our former Head Beer Buyer Sarah, along with other prominent women in the beer industry such as female brewers from Wild Card, East London Brewery, Five Points Brewing Co, Fourpure, Weird Beard Brew Co and Stroud Brewery canned a ridiculously delicious Rhubarb Pale Ale under the Unite branding. Last Wednesday, our buyer Jenny (who has taken over the beer category), went to Wild Card Brewery and under the careful guidance of Wild Card Head Brewer Jaega Wise and with the support of many other talented female brewers, they filled up those fermentation tanks for IWCBD. Keep an eye out in stores for the tropical delights of the finished beer!

    We believe that boy jobs and girl jobs are whatever the respective boy or girl would like to turn their hand to, and if that happens to be a fermentation tank then that’s hopping brilliant. Now go and put the bins out Theresa, the 20s are over.

  • L.L.A.M.A.

    Oddbins is delighted to announce the arrival of our newest ambassador, Guillermo. Although he is renowned as a hip hop artist, known as ‘L.L.A.M.A.’, his knowledge of wine is exceptional given his extended exposure to viticulture in his home country of Chile. We’re excited that he will be taking an active role, in stores, educating our fantastic staff on some of the new lines we have brought in for the Christmas period. While with Oddbins, Guillermo will be studying for the Llama of Wine (LW) qualification. For those of you unfamiliar with this remit of study, the Llama of Wine is the most challenging industry qualification a domesticated South American camelid can take, comprising of an all-encompassing theory exam and a gruelling 2 hour tasting exam. Guillermo has agreed to keep a diary of his experiences of this study process, we hope you’re looking forward to hearing about the trials and tribulations of his education as much as we are. Welcome to Oddbins, Guillermo and best of luck in your endeavours!

    Guillermo blog 1

    I imagine you’ve just read some Oddbins’ stuff, above right? Telling you how I’m a rap enigma and a sommelier pope. You can ignore all of that, the only person gifted enough to express the nuances of Guillermo’s story, is Guillermo. With that in mind, congratulations on reading my Llama of Wine blog; your reward is experiencing gonzo journalism the likes of which Kerouac would envy.

    For those of you not caught up; I recently escaped the vitriol of Chilean law enforcement on a trumped-up, ‘spit-by’ charge. Absolute sheeet! I mean, my hombre Carlos was totally guilty, but those elephant seals had it coming. So, I came to Oddbins; real hood high street heroes. Only a company that calls it as they see it and doesn’t isolate wine drinkers with esoteric bo****cks could secure the services of a true legend, like Guillermo. The Llama of Wine qualification; you ever heard of that Russian dog Laika, first dog in space? Well imagine that level of significance and difficulty and then times it by ten, that’s what I’m engaged in, wine immortality, that’s what I’m pursuing. It’s simple, I’ve conquered the music industry, now it’s time to conquer the wine world.

    I turned up to the Court of Llamas of Wine a little late for the first day, it ain’t a thing I just taste wine better when I’ve slept till 11. I kicked in the door - I wasn’t particularly angry I just don’t have apposable thumbs to work the knob - 10 camelids turned to face me. “Guillermo, I assume? You are quite late,” the tutor reprimanded. “The Sommelier Pope is never late, he arrives precisely when he means to,” (Gandalf reference, represent my boy in grey) I answered. Life lesson from Guillermo – Never apologise, never explain. “Yes well, please take a seat we’re currently engaging in a horizontal of 2004 Medocs.” I sat down because, well, ya boy loves west bank Bordeauxs. We tried some dope grand crus but for price point you know what stood out? Oddbins newest cru bourgeois they're stocking; Château le Meynieu Haut-Medoc. It was face-meltingly sophisticated fam. Rich blackcurrant, plum and bramble, perfectly harmonising with indicators of age like leather, cigar box and smoked game. Twas boom and at £19 even you non-rap-gods can afford it!

    Ch Meynieu blog

     

    “Good work everyone, let’s break for lunch. Can I ask you all to be back for 2:15 so we can start on Burgundy nice and promptly for the afternoon session?” The tutor announced to us. Most made a move for the door, however, I stayed seated; I was packing my own pino empanadas. I glimpsed a taupe-haired alpaca eye-balling me. I gave it right back, not blinking and spitting in the general direction of my spittoon. He changed direction to approach my desk, flanked by two lighter haired alpacas. “Good day. I am Jeremy Reese-Mongoose the 9th alpaca resident of the Earl of Lytton and you might be?” “Guillermo,” I replied bluntly, not breaking eye contact with Jeremy who was smirking at me. “I would shake hooves but I’m just about to eat and I’d rather not wash your new world slime off me. I doubt I’d be able to get the stench off before supper.” The other alpacas around him roared with laughter, spitting and stamping their hooves.

    Jeremy alpaca blog

    Every llama in Santiago used to come to me to pay respect, Godfather style, and now this short-ass domesticated piece of Hertfordshire is stepping to me, nah Che! This guy is 'más loco que una cabra con pollitos!'. l I stood up to impose my height advantage, “you think you know wine just because you’re wearing a monocle? What couldn’t afford two and make yourself a pair of glasses?” Their laughter stalled as Jeremy sized me up, “and I suppose you know more about wine do you, what did you call yourself? The sommelier Pope?” He drawled while fits of laughter re-erupted around him. “Prove it, beat me in a blind taste off,” Jeremy challenged. I stepped in real close and whispered, “O it’s on Jezza!”

     

    We stood facing one another, 2 glasses between us. Wine was poured from a labelless bottle. “And taste!” I got a big whiff, dark fruit, sweet spice, coffee. Same on the palate, it was super full-bodied with an amazing structure. “2014 Chateauneuf-du-Pape,” I bellowed.

    CNDP Remy Ferbras blog

    I saw Jeremy’s face and I knew I’d fragged this one, “2013 Cote-Rotie” he announced, smugly. “Correct!” The invigilator stated, while holding up the label to prove it. Even Jesus had off days but I wasn’t gonna take this lying down; like a common cow predicting rain. Sure, he’d bested me this time but believe it or not, we have other ways of settling conflict, than wine tasting, in the favelas. I kicked over the table and started swinging my neck, spraying spit everywhere, getting ready to show this posh poncho wanna-be how we throw down in Chile, neck-wrestle style. As I approached a female voice yelped “No!” I turned and was stunned to see the most beautiful llama I had ever seen, a prominent muzzle with perky ears and a round white face like a giant hamster. I started spitting for a different reason… “Wind your neck in, he’s trying to provoke you.” She said bundling me out of the door. Jeremy waved, calling after us “see you later Mo, don’t let the door hit you in your vestigial hump on the way out.”

    It took me a while to calm down but eventually managed to mutter a thank you, “no drama llama,” she replied. “What do I call you?” I enquired. “Lilyanna, Lily the Llama if you like” she responded, seeming a little coy “and you are?” “The rap enigma, that is Guillermo!” She chuckled, obviously digging my vibe. “You’re not like the other llamas I’ve met in the wine industry, who are you representing?” “Oddbins, the greatest wine merchants in the world, the only company worthy of Guillermo ambassadoring them!” She clucked again, “do you want to go share a bottle of Veuve Clicquot NV, they’re on offer at Oddbins at the moment?” “That sounds lovely,” she replied.

    Veuve NV blog

    Relax hombres, nothing happened, we just chilled, drank some dope Champagne and talked about wine yeah … You know what happens when I make my move, updates on my life, same time same place, peace!

  • A flea's hat and an otter's pocket...

    OddBeers Logo

    On paper, this box looked very interesting. Some familiar names, some new, a wealth of pales of varying styles and a couple of swerve-balls.

    The weather was almost warm enough to set foot outdoors without succumbing immediately to exposure, which is good enough for an Englishman to fire up the BBQ. With the grill loaded, the nuts decanted form bag to bowl and the tunes set to 'chill', we began...

    Overall, a good box ranging from average to sublime. Here are some bullet points for ease of digestion.

    • Scottish breweries seem to be killing it. Cromarty's 'Man Overboard' was exceptional
    • The Anchor Chilli Dark Lager is proof that gimmick led beers can enchant

    Notes from the Editor:

    The vast majority of our craft beer is small production and sourced locally. The reviewed beers are not always available in all of our stores, however, we have put a guide to availability under each review. Please use our store finder to locate your nearest branch and call ahead to guarantee stock is available.


    Cromarty Brewing Co. Man Overboard Double IPA
    This one came out a deep, cloudy, orange colour with a thin, white, lacing head.

    The smell's clean, uncomplicated and lightly citrusy - favouring the orange end of the spectrum as opposed to the yellow/green end.

    Wow! This is full bodied, with moderate, yet tight carbonation. The flavour is equally impressive; this reasonably sweet, malty gem has accents of tangerine, peach and mango.

    James Beer Score
    A good dose of caramel up front. Good depth, sweet over bitter.

    Score 4.5
    Matt Score
    A full on malty backbone holding up an array of fruits.

    Beer Score 4.5
    Availability: Scotland stores, Blackheath Beer Store


    Victory Headwaters Ale

    This was aggressively fizzy, I thought it might take the French polish off the dining room table, but I just about managed to get it in the glass before it geysered itself everywhere. The resulting pour left a big, foamy off-white head atop a clear amber liquid.

    Aromas of fresh, piney hops gives way to caramel, biscuit, malt and a hint of candied orange. It smells pretty good.

    Feels nice in the mouth, medium body, low to moderate carbonation. Flavour is fairly light, bittersweet with a dry, earthy finish.

    James Beer Score
    Very drinkable, a decent session ale.Beer Score 3.5
    Mat Beer Score
    Very hoppy, tasty and easy to drink. Smelt like a brewery.

    Beer Score 3.5
    Availability: Blackheath Beer Store, Aberdeen stores, Chorlton branch


    Five Points Brewing Company IPA
    I tend to like these bold, strong IPA's so...

    It looks suspiciously murky, like rusty water. It has a short-ish, off-white foamy head, which didn't hang around.

    The smell was a cocktail of sweetness - citrus, passionfruit and maybe a fleas hats worth of banana - and a bitter, earthy quality. The underlying earthy odour incongruous with the sweeter notes.

    Medium bodied with low to medium carbonation, on point for an IPA I'd say.

    It tastes much like it smells, there's a little citrus, a little passionfruit, a soupçon of banana, which tails off into a piney, bitter finish.

    James Beer Score
    This is just a little bitter for my palate, a solid IPA for those who like the bitter end of the spectrum.

    Beer Score 3
    Matt Beer Score
    Very bitter and it lingers, good if you like that sort of thing.

    Beer Score 3
    Availability: London stores


    Five Points Brewing Company XPA
    Admittedly I had to look up 'XPA' because...what is it? Apparently it's something like an American Pale or an IPA, and something like an exercise in marketing.

    Whether XPA exists or not, this beer does and it's hazy, straw-yellow liquid with a short white head that laces the glass.

    It smells mostly citric, lightly tropical, slightly malty and rightly hoppy.

    It felt a little like soda water, a little too watery in the body. It's a little malty, a decent showing of citrusy hops with a dry-ish finish. It's not quite as juicy and fruity as the marketing spiel implied, a little thin with a medium bitter finish.

    James Beer Score
    Not bad, a little too light to write home about, but a decent bet for a session.

    Beer Score 3
    Matt Beer Score
    Nice tropical fruit aroma. I would session this.

    Beer Score 3
    Availability: London stores


    Brauerei Heller Lagerbier
    Let's get this out of the way, it is a truly awful label. Looks like a stock Word template for a German style beer. I'm sure it's awesome though.

    As a Helles should be, it's golden and frothy in appearance. It has a pleasant scent, mildly sweet and floral with an Otter's pockets worth of smoke.

    Light on body with tight carbonation, there is however, a reasonable depth of flavour...for a lighter beer style. Clean grains, malt, not too sweet, not too bitter.

    James Beer Score
    Indicative of the style, really good session beer.

    Beer Score 3.5
    Matt Beer Score
    Good nose, not a big flavour, but what's there is good.

    Beer Score 3.5
    Availability: Blackheath Beer Store, Edinburgh stores, Aberdeen stores and our London Bridge and Chorlton branches


    Stewarts Brewing
    A deep copper coloured pour, with a short lasting thin, white head.

    The aromas of fresh, grassy hops against floral notes make this smell like a rainbow's end bathing a spring meadow in colourful glory as the birds flutter and sing. Not really of course, that would be horribly trite, unlike this beer, which smells fresh.

    It feels thick and full with low carbonation resulting in a smooth and full beer, rather than watery. The flavour has candied citrus peel, clean grains, a little yeast, sharp and bitter grapefruit, and a slight metallic quality. It's an interesting journey, starting sweet and ending quite dry and bitter.

    James Beer Score
    Not for a session, but this is interesting and complex.

    Beer Score 3.5
    Matt Beer Score
    A mix of bittersweet fruits and biscuit malts. I liked it a lot.

    Beer Score 4
    Availability: Aberdeen and Glasgow stores


    Weird Beard Brew Co. Mariana Trench Pale AleSuspiciously cloudy and yellorange in colour with a slight, white fluffy head.

    It smells pretty tasty, a good showing of fresh and floral hops, bitter pine resin and citrus fruits.

    It has tight carbonation, but not so fizzy you'd struggle to discern the beer's character. I thought this beer was really well balanced, the fragrant, piney hops and sweet malt working in tandem for a flavourful citrus and tropical, fruity ale. Not too bitter.

    James Beer Score
    Fresh floral hop odour. Light, but pleasing. A fine and tasty ale.

    Beer Score 4
    Matt Beer Score
    Sets the standard for a good, drinkable APA without impressing too much.

    Beer Score 3.5
    Availability: London stores

     


    Remember, ale's well that ends well. Until next time.

    James.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Fancy an OddBeer...?

    OddBeers Logo


    IntroducingJames-1.0

    "In the recent past, premier grape-juice peddlers Oddbins, offered up - by way of competition - the role of beer blogger, in exchange for a Twitter application. 'Erudite, well-travelled beerhemouth seeks savvy, customer-focused retailer to taste beer and review for #OddbinsBeer' was my winning tweet and golden ticket to the special sauce, hand-selected by Oddbins' own merchants of gold standard no-no juice.

    I should state at this point, that I am not a professional taster. I have no background in competitive tasting. I have never taken a course in beer tasting. What I do have is an appreciation of well-made things by passionate enthusiasts rather than cynical businessmen. In beer terms, this means I would usually avoid the flavourless, filtered fizzy water created on an industrial scale by corporate robots. It means that I enjoy complex flavours brought about by studying the process, ingredients and endless experimentation."

    "...and just to make sure James doesn't disappear up his own back cavity in a pompously grandiloquent celebration of hipster beers, I, being Matt, James' buddy has been forced to drink, opine and say "shut up" when he uses words like 'mouthfeel'."

    So, let's get going then. Here are the wondrous delights of Box Numero Uno...


    Notes from the Editor:

    The vast majority of our craft beer is small production and sourced locally. The reviewed beers are not always available in all of our stores, however, we have put a guide to availability under each review. Please use our store finder to locate your nearest branch and call ahead to guarantee stock is available.


    CampervanMutiny

    Well, this is as black as Donald Trump's heart, but fizzier than you'd expect, with a short-lived biscuit coloured head. Unfortunately Mr Trump's biscuit coloured head isn't as short-lived...

    It smells a little like cola, coffee and chocolate. I tried really hard to get the hint of coconut mentioned on the label, but I just didn't smell any.

    It would benefit from a little less fizz and a slightly fuller body, but it's smoky, roasted malts play well with the sweet chocolate. By now, I'm (or at least I've talked myself into) tasting coconut. This is what happens when I read the label before tasting. Overall, it's good. Not as full bodied as some, which actually makes it a going concern for a session.

    Jamesforscore

    I would tear through these pretty quickly. Not one you'd labour over.

    3.5

    Mattforscore

    A fine milk stout. This is fast becoming my favourite style of beer.

    4

    Availability: Scotland stores only


    OddbinsNo8

    This is the latest in a growing line of fine collaborative brews with some of the finest independent breweries. This hazy, light gold effort, despite discernible effervescence, was headless like the horseman. Maybe the...ahem...bartender was to blame.

    This, rather oddly, smells like cured ham. Not entirely of course. The smoked wood comes through loud and clear with a smattering of grains. I'm hungry. I'm getting some cheese from the fridge.

    The flavour comprises of sweet bread, smoked malts, biscuit, caramel and stewed apples. The smoky quality is less a whiff as promised, but abundant and strong. The yeast does cut through the mix a bit and it goes really well with Gruyere.

    Jamesforscore

    Have it with cheese or cured meat. Then again, have everything with cheese.

    3.5

    Mattforscore

    For better or worse, you get exactly what's written on the label, oak-smoked and blonde. Best paired with food.

    3

    Availability: All stores


    ChadlingtonGoldenAle

    Pretty uninspired presentation, but we're here to judge the beer, not the bottle. In the glass it's a nice deep amber colour with a small, lacing white head. Not overly bubbly, a bit like me in the morning.

    It's a little toffee-like on the nose, with a subtle showing of citrusy hops.

    It lacks body, feeling very watery in the mouth. It tastes malty, with a dry bitter finish. Not really fruity, not hoppy, a little tobacco maybe. A reasonable amber ale but nothing too much to recommend going out of your way for.

    Jamesforscore

    Not bad, but instantly forgettable.

    2.5

    Mattforscore

    Not tasty enough for me.

    2.5

    Availability: Oxford branch only


    MondoAllCaps

    Colour me unexcited at the prospect of a Pilsner, though I should mention that the Tempest Brewing 'Easy Livin Pils' is awesome...

    It pours a clear, light golden colour with a fast receding white head. It looks a lot like...a Pilsner.

    My nose tells me of its light, gently floral odour, with an otters pockets worth of washing up liquid. If the taste is a disaster, maybe I'll hand it to a woman from the 50's and demand she do the washing up.

    Thankfully, this is a decent pilsner. A little fruitier than average, it's bright, refreshing and not too heavily carbonated. An ever so slightly oily body, with a mouse's earlobes worth of washing up liquid. Certainly not enough to mar the experience.

    Jamesforscore

    Drink this all day long at a festival, that's an order.

    3.5

    Mattforscore

    I'd happily have this again.

    4

    Availability: London stores only


    Beavertown8Ball

    The trademark comic book Beavertown weirdness adorns the hipster 330ml can. What comes out of the can is a cloudy, rich amber brew with a large, foamy, off-white head.

    It smells good. There's tropical fruit, a bit of citrus and caramel malts. Matt's not so sure on the smell, he thinks it's minerally and a bit like you're down wind from a sewage outlet emptying into the sea. I heartily disagree. Also, Matt's fired.

    The flavour is a good balance of sweet and bitter. A good showing of malt, like a sweet bread. It lingers a little, but the tail is caramelised hops with a light to moderate bitterness, so...stay as long as you like.

    Jamesforscore

    I could session this. Dangerous at 6.2%.

    4

    Mattforscore

    Big flavour, trailing bitterness but good balance.

    3.5

    Availability: All stores


    WimbledonGold

    Oh dear, it looks like a kidney patients sample. I wonder if I should drink it out of a bag, using a catheter as a straw?

    The smell is all over the place, and as evasive and unknowable as a latter day Howard Hughes. I smelled, at different times, caramel, sherbet (though this fades after a while), grass, rubber, fish. This is a real nasal curve ball for me. A smelly blind spot.

    The taste fairs better. It's yeasty rather than hoppy, with subtle straw notes. She's a blonde with a good body on her, foamy, filling.

    Jamesforscore

    A decent, helles style. Perfectly alright.

    3.5

    Mattforscore

    I like it. It's nice. (Yeah, thanks for that deep insight - James).

    4

    Availability: West London stores only


    Remember, ale's well that ends well. Until next time.

    James.

  • Existence, Nothingness and a bottle of Oddbins No.8, please!

    A chimp walks into a bar and asks for a pint of lager. "That'll be £8 please, sir. I must say, we don't get many chimps in here.", "I'm not surprised at £8 a pint. Anyway, am I in the right store here? I'm supposed to be talking about Oddbins No.8, and you seem only to have a selection of every day beers, most of them as predictable as that joke."

    No.8

    "Oh, right," said the barman, polishing a glass. "You should be in that wine shop just across the street. Dunno what's going on with those places, they're full of monk - er, apes, at the moment." In the snug, an orangutan looks up from the crossword in the Daily Spud and nods, sagely.

    Abandoning his beer, he knuckles his way to Oddbins' Chiswick store where his cousin, Curious, is reading a book entitled '5,000 Things You Should Know About Stuff'. "Did you know," says Curious instead of hello, "that the venom fangs of a Montpelier snake point backwards?"

    "Which makes them a sight less poisonous than what they serve behind the bar down the Hammersmith Gorilla," remarked Thoughtful. "But might you not want to swot up on craft ales, given that Oddbins' new collaboration beer will be here today?"

    Thoughtful-Banner

    "I have given it some thought, actually," mused Curious looking up from his book and rubbing his eyes through the empty frames of his pretend glasses. "It sounds like a fairly recent development, but the Campaign for Real Ale has been knocking about since 1971 to protect traditional ales and pubs from the tide of long hair and psychedelic depravity. Nowadays it seems some of the craft breweries have gone so far out that what would recently have been considered real ale might now seem like..."

    "Yeah, whatever. What gets me is, what is the opposite of craft beer? I mean, what is an un-crafted beer? If it hasn't been crafted, it doesn't exist, right? So, what I had earlier, which was patently untouched by human hand, was in fact not there. It was in an existential quandary, that's where it was, and it should have stayed there!" He rubs his tummy and emits a rumbling burp. "Pardon me! Better an empty house than a bad tenant, as they say!"

    Curious-Banner

    "Tsk, really, Thoughtful! Look, here's the delivery, let's open a bottle of Oddbins No.8 and make our own minds up." From beneath the counter Curious brings a well-thumbed volume entitled 'Everything You Need To Know About Things That Haven't Happened Yet!'. Opening it at a post-it note bookmark he advises: "A blonde style, brewed with a proportion of smoked wheat, using a yeast called bastogne, as used in the Orval Trappist brewery. A collaboration with Anspach & Hobday of Bermondsey, who started with what was little more than a home brew kit in a tiny railway arch". He raises his eyes and fondly inspects his beer. "I told you things were getting far out!"

    "Mmm, thicker texture than you'd expect from a blonde," enthused Thoughtful. "Bit of smoke to it as well. Still a fairly light body, nice fruit and a lovely sort of brioche feel on the finish. Absolutely delicious, possibly their best one yet! D'you reckon we could get the Hammersmith Gorilla to take some of this, as it was obviously crafted, therefore it is a concrete entity and they won't have to do refunds on sales made in an existential abyss."

    "We could just tell them it's gorgeous, you know..."

  • BEER TASTINGS AHOY

    When it comes to beer, as with many things in life, it’s nice to explore different styles in detail, but then it can also be fascinating to gather up different styles and see how they all compare. So, that is what we have served up in our shops this weekend (May 16/17) – a buffet of beery goodness, featuring: two different styles of lager from a bigger producer; two similar styles in a Pale Ale and IPA (both local to your local shop); and a cider for good measure.

    Celia Lager

    Celia Lager (4.5%, £2.65) – T‘int right, t’int fair, t‘int fit, t’int proper that people who love beer should have to suffer from fatigue and other unpleasant complaints after enjoying a brew. Enter stage left Celia, a tasty, crisp, gently malty (and organic) lager that delivers flavour without the bother – a timely tipple for Coeliac Awareness week. Brewed with local Saaz hops and Moldavian Malt, it is the only pilsner in the world made with the benefit of being gluten-free with all natural carbonation.

    Celia Dark Lager (5.7%, £2.65) – ‘Tis a bit of a rare thing, dark lager, and its colour comes from the dark malts used in the brewing process. This one (which is also gluten-free and organic) is a beguiling mahogany colour and combines the rich, mellow flavours of the malt with the crisp, refreshing Žatec hops to produce a balanced end result.

    Local beer

    Two ‘mystery’ local brews – your local Oddbins will also be putting on a Pale Ale and an IPA of their choice. Although Pale Ales tend to be gentler and lighter in style and IPAs err on the hoppier, higher alcohol side, the possibilities, as someone once said, are endless. It’s time to see how local brews fare against the big boys.

    Angry Orchard Cider (5%, £2.25) – but you might be more of a straw-chewing, cider-lover, so we’ve included this new, friendly chappy of a cider (despite the name, it is not a red-faced Phil Mitchell-type). No, this young American is crisply refreshing, with a slightly sweet, ripe apple flavour that is hard to resist. As we say, nothing like Phil Mitchell.

    But don’t take our word for it – come on down, get familiar with them and make your own minds up.

  • BREW NEWS: ADVENTURES IN BEER

    When we started out in this business in 1963, little did we imagine that, after 50 years of selling wine and having more fun than is probably decorous, we would open up a specialist beer shop. But that is EXACTLY what we’ve done.

    Don’t panic though, this doesn’t mean that we’ve grown tired of wine – that would never happen in ten zillion years – we have just developed a massive craft beer crush. And so have you and it is in response to your enthusiastic beer purchasing habits that we decided to open Oddbins: The Beer Shop in Blackheath, London.

    Here is a picture of our lovely new beer emporium (which is in Tranquil Vale, just over the road from our wine shop in Blackheath):

    Blackheath Beer Shop News

    Most of the beers stocked are from Britain – with a large swathe of those from local breweries in London – and are a devilishly exciting cross-section of our nationwide range.

    Oddbins shops up and down the land stock many beers and ciders that are only available at their store. However, at The Beer Shop, you can find them all in one singularly tasty spot.

    Blackheath Beer Shop Shelves

    From Brixton Brewery’s Electric IPA (£2.60) to Oddbins No. 3 (£2.80), our collaboration beer with Edinburgh’s Alechemy; and from Alaskan classic Smoked Porter (£12) to the gluten free, organic Celia lager, we’ve a smorgasbord of beery goodness.

    Watch this here space for brew news, new brews and tastings galore…

  • ODDBOD’S BEER BABBLE

    This month, we release the reigns of OddBlog to our recently-appointed resident nutter Beer Taster for what can only be described as a 'unique' look at the brews-du-jour. Over to you, James...

    EPISODE ONE: THE DRINKENING

    In the recent past, premier grape-juice peddlers Oddbins offered up, by way of competition, the role of beer blogger in exchange for a Twitter application. ‘Eruditewell-travelled beerhemouth (34) seeks savvycustomer-focused retailer to taste beer and review for #OddbinsBeer’ was my winning Tweet and golden ticket to the special sauce, hand-selected by Oddbins’ own merchants of gold standard no-no juice.

    Oddbins' Beer Taster. We're told he's human.

    Oddbins' Beer Taster. We're told he's human.

    I should state at this point that I am not a professional taster, I have no background in competitive tasting, I have never taken a course in beer tasting, nor can I even name all beer types. What I do have is an appreciation of well-made things, by passionate enthusiasts rather than cynical businessmen. In beer terms this means I would usually avoid the flavourless, filtered, fizzy water created on an industrial scale by corporate robots, whilst wealthy, pin-stripe suit wearing demons rub their hands together on the side lines – not naming names, of course. It means that I enjoy complex flavours brought about by the endless experimentations of beer scientists, or artists, if you prefer.

    Just to give you a vague compass bearing: I favour top-fermenting beers, particularly browns, stouts and old ales. I am happy to enjoy a steam beer (thanks to a recent trip to San Francisco) and even the occasional lager. I am not generally a fan of wheat beers, anything heavily-adulterated with fruit or spices, highly carbonated or overly sweet beers.

    In addition to above nonsense, I am a graphic designer by trade and will be spouting off about reviewing the whole package as I believe in the ‘total experience’ of everything I do and enjoy. The look, feel, smell, taste, perceived effort and love put in by the creators of the product or experience, blah blah blah. Now take a moment to imagine how fun a day out with me is for my future ex-wife Debs.

    Below is an unsparingly honest cross-section of the brews hand-delivered to me by my new BFFs, Oddbins:

    London Field Breweries

    3 Weiss Monkeys White IPA – 6% - £2.50 - Available at most London Oddbins

    London Field Breweries' 3 Weiss Monkeys

    London Field Breweries' 3 Weiss Monkeys

    The un-boxing was a little disappointing; the label looked like a Goth had vomited clip-art and a bulky, free font hastily onto the generic, brown bottle. The accent colours were, I assume, picked out by a marine mammal (monochromatic, essentially colour-blind). Also only 330ml, who does that? Tsk.

    The bottle pour is dark amber, cloudy and heavily carbonated. I lost a ladies serving before I had the chance to swear lots and smash the rim of the bottle against my central incisors. It jumped out on me like a frog escaping a rarely used drawer, wasting precious sips as it erupted down itself. So far, so fizzy.

    Once we’d all had a drink and calmed down, it was time for the smell test. Either I had been indoctrinated by the label or I smelled a hint of banana as promised. Given that its description tells us ‘absolutely tons of Citra hops’ are thrown in, we can guess they were added late as the beer did not smell like a urine-soaked cat litter tray in a teenagers bedroom but, thankfully more of the citrus and tropical fruits (mostly mango) you’d want.

    The beer was light-bodied and summery. Tropical fruit managed to peer through the fizz, but the overly harsh-carbonation gets in the way of discerning the individual flavours. That said, the banana did come through eventually and, overall, inundating the malted wheat with those Citra hops, made it more sweet than bitter.

    Mid-review, my long suffering common-law, live-in cleaner suggested two-word reviews. So here it is, Fizzy Mutha. This is the last two-word review I’ll be doing, except the following two-word review of the two-word review system: For Idiots. 7/10

    Beavertown
    Gamma Ray APA - 5.4% - £2.40 - Available at selected Scottish and London Oddbins

    IMAG0517

    Beavertown's Gamma Ray APA

     

    I love the dated, American style comic art on the can – frickin’ laser-beams and UFOs and vaporised skulls - though maybe a tad inappropriate. I would love to have a crack at designing one of their beers (superface.co.uk), reasonable rates, unreasonably good work.

    Click. Fizz. This fizzed like a mother-flipper when I opened it and I lost some… dignity.

    The smell was all over the place. It begun nice enough with a light hoppy aroma, which developed into over ripened orange peel, maybe like marmalade.

    This gear poured a big head that receded quicker than a hairline that directly precedes a midlife crisis. Underneath the ephemeral head sat a murky dark golden amber, orange even, brew. I’m relieved/disappointed (delete as applicable) that this wasn’t bright green. That said, this beer doesn’t need any more gimmickry on or in the can.

    A tasty, tasty APA, much like Beavertown’s other output, this runs a little sweeter than the competition, but it totally works in this refreshing, flavoursome APA.

    Most of the carbonation had erupted itself onto my kitchen worktop, the rest was light in fizz and body. The flavour was initially orange-themed and a zesty hoppy madness turned herbal, almost woody. A piny, bitter finish with a slight malt backbone. Delightful, well-balanced and complex.

    I would smash this in to my face all day long. 9/10

     

    Bristol Beer Factory

    Double IPA - 8.5% - £4.80 - Available at Oddbins Bristol

    Bristol Beer Factory's Double IPA

    8.5%! As I approached this grand statement, boldly stated on its minimalist, almost industrially perfunctory label, I found myself almost relieved that this was only a 330ml serving. Almost relieved.

    She’s a bottle-conditioned Double IPA, hopped at multiple stages including two post-fermentation dry hop additions. The blend of Simcoe, Citra, Amarillo and Centennial hops really give you the full American Double IPA experience as the marketing noise on the label emits in its flowery rhetoric.

    It has a decent pour, with a hazy golden colour and timid, small white head that retreats quickly. Smells like a unicorn bathing in a rainbow. Or to put it another completely different and descriptive way; light pine hops, a little fruity on a bed of malt.

    This moderately carbonated devil’s mouthwash is initially sweet, like a caramel-ish biscuit-y malt with an orange and lemon chaser. This gives way to the bitterness of the hops and a drying finish. 8.5% abv and easy drinking should probably not go in the same sentence, but they’re about to. This is very easy drinking for a beer that’s 8.5% abv. This is deceptive and, if you’re not careful, will mug you of your ability to pronounce words of more than one syllable such as; sobriety, unsoiled or functional.

    Tame for its strength, free from the bullish onslaught of syrup you might expect from strong beer. With that amount of hops going in, timing is crucial… and they nailed it.

    Rating: An unexpected gem. 8/10

     

    Moncada Brewery

    Notting Hill Summer - 3.2% - £3.20 - Available at selected London Oddbins

    Moncada Brewery's Notting Hill Summer

    Moncada Brewery's Notting Hill Summer

    The label, much like a drag-queens changing room, has a bold of expression of pink. This, twinned with the flat, pink illustration of a Notting Hill street scene begs the question; why is ‘summer’ written in a ransom note, jumble sale of fonts.

    The bottle pour was livelier than a bag of whippets in zero gravity. It is highly carbonated and fizzed up straight-away, jumping out at me like a squalid, trench coat agitator lurking in the bushes.

    It smelled good, fruity with a little pine and floral hops. My enthusiasm for a sniff was undone by the violence of the carbonation; I was now wearing a foam nose.

    There’s an initial mango, lemon punch with a small amount of hop bitterness (good for the strength, but lacks the depth of a proper mansize beer). Hedgefruit and berry flavours develop after a few swigs. It does get fruitier the more you drink, ahem, as do I.

    Yea, though autumn be gone, Notting Hill Summer lives on.  7/10

    If you want to plunge like Tom Daley with a spring in his step into the ocean that is our craft beer range, then join the Oddbins Beer Club, right here.

  • ANYONE FOR TENNIS?

    We love a bit of Wimbledon even if it does seem to ruin the weather every year. So in this edition of Oddnews we will be exploring the fortnight’s news through the medium of tennis. Before rain stops play, lets crack on. Quiet please. Mr Murray to serve first. Play…

    It isn’t just Andy Murray who has strong opinions about fruit flavours, you guys do too. This was proven earlier this month when 8,136 of you turned out for Round One of The Palate 2013, our search for the UK’s finest amateur wine taster. We’ve now marked all the entries and whittled it down to the top 150 scores. These 150 winners will be coming back into our shops this weekend to collect their prizes and enter the Quarter Final. If you missed Round One or you weren’t one of the lucky winners, don’t worry, we are offering a limited number of wildcard entries into the Quarter Final. All you have to do is head to any Oddbins shop, or the Three Wine Men event in Edinburgh, this weekend (Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 June) and take part in a blind tasting. If your answers are good enough, you might find yourself jumping directly into the Semi Final, bringing you tantalisingly close to winning that holiday of a lifetime for two to Australia and New Zealand. To find out more about the competition and get a cheeky hint to help you with this weekend’s blind tasting click here. For the white wine in Round One, 50% of our entrants found grapefruit flavours, 38% ticked peach, 2% worryingly tasted penguin, but luckily nobody got banana. Andy will be happy (he does have emotions you know, remember last year’s Wimbledon final?).
    If you close your eyes while the tennis is on, you’d be forgiven for thinking that somebody had snuck into the primate enclosure at the zoo and was cruelly punching the baboons and poking the gibbons with a stick. When the grunting and squealing has finished, the tennis players then start shouting about themselves. Serena Williams once said “I’m really exciting. I smile a lot, I win a lot, and I’m really sexy.” We find this level of confidence quite inspirational and have decided to throw caution and modesty out of the window. Although Louis Roederer’s Cristal gets all the fame and accolades, their Brut Premier Champagne is simply awesome. A relatively high proportion of the wine is aged in oak casks, which is quite rare for Champagne. It is matured in the bottle for more than twice the length of time that wine law requires. These two factors give the Brut Premier an enormous depth of flavour and rich, nutty, toasty and yeasty flavours. And what makes it even more incredible is that it’s currently down to just £32 a bottle. Maybe Serena, Anna and the gang are on to something: it felt pretty good to shout about how good this Champagne is. But we’d better calm down before we tell you it’s sexy and get eaten alive by the Portman Group.
    Billie Jean King knew a thing or two about obsession: hers drove her to win Wimbledon ten times. One of our obsessions is beer. If you head into one of our shops today you’ll find two beers from the FIX Brewery in Athens (inspired by one of our other obsession: Greek wines), the Bavarian-style Huber Bock from the Minhas Craft Brewery in Wisconsin and an incredible array of local ales in support of Britain’s booming brewing scene. To help Andy Murray feel more at home in London over the next two weeks, we’ve brought a selection of Scottish ales from Fallen Brew Company, Knops Beer, Alechemy Brewing and Stewart Brewing down south. These are available in our shops in Balham, West Hampstead, Crouch End and London Bridge but, if you can’t make it to one of our shops, why not pick up our Local Beer Tasting Case online. The first instalment features a wide variety of styles from six of our favourite new London breweries. Our obsession may not change the world, but it makes it taste sweeter than nailing a cross court passing shot.That’s all from us, new balls please.

    P.S. Come on Murray.

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