T'ales worth knowing
Welcome to our beer blog, keeping you in the know about all the latest real ale goings-on at Nicholson's pubs - as well as any interesting news we pick up along the way.
Don't miss these 2013 beer events
29 January 2013
As we start the year with snow, sleet, cancelled aeroplanes, failed beer deliveries and the constant shovelling of snow outside our pub entrances... what do we actually have to look forward to in 2013?
The answer is lots!
It's true that 2012 was a difficult year to compete with, with Jubilee celebrations and Olympics medal hauls - and champion Mo Farah doing the Mobot outside The Coal Hole!
But the lack of worldwide events happening on our own doorstep in 2013 doesn't dampen the mood for general beer-related fun and activity.
In no particular order...
Craft Beer Rising
Pitched as an event to 'bring craft beer to the masses', Craft Beer Rising will see plenty of major players in the brewing industry popping up at The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane in London on February 22nd and 23rd.
So many new beer brands are being created from both established major breweries and young, newly formed breweries - and this is a great chance to see them all under one roof.
And naturally, with it being held in Brick Lane, you're just a stone's throw away from some of the best cask ale pubs in the city; The Magpie, The Lord Aberconway, The White Hart and The Woodin's Shades - with The Globe just a five minute stroll away in Moorgate, and The Ship and The Walrus and The Carpenter another five minutes away at Monument.
Sounds like a good day out to us...
Image courtesy of GBBF/CAMRA: gbbf.org.uk
The Great British Beer Festival
No introduction is needed, as GBBF is the UK's most popular and well-attended beer festival. A total of 47,530 people walked through the doors of Olympia last year - and without the added issue of London transport and high hotel prices (aka no Olympics!), we're sure CAMRA are hoping to pass the 50,000 barrier this time around.
Starting on Tuesday 13th August and running until Saturday 17th August, GBBF will serve over 800 cask ales, bottled ales, perries, ciders, and imported beers. And again, just like the Craft Beer Rising event, there are 45 Nicholson's pubs in London for you to frequent that week. Perfect time to take part in a Nicholson's Ale Trail, especially if you're travelling into London to stay in the big smoke for a couple of days.
There's also a rumour that our beloved Nicholson's Pale Ale might make its first appearance at the festival, shortly a year after its first birthday. Keep an eye out for it!
Music stars creating their own beer
Elbow (pictured below) were one of the first bands to get involved in collaborating with breweries to create their own beer, with Robinson's brewery in Stockport, Greater Manchester. Build A Rocket Boys was served across Nicholson's pubs in spring last year, proving really popular and racking up some great reviews.
Pure speculation, but what about these?
- Queen - Don't Hop Me Now
- Alt-J - Malt-J
- Eagles - Hotel Californian IPA
- Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Hopvine
I'm sure you see where we're going with this. But rest assured; if there's an exciting beer collaboration happening in 2013, Nicholson's pubs will be sure to be pouring it for you!
The perfect hotel for beer fans
If the above aren't enough for you and you want to explore further afield than the UK, why not book yourself in to this German hotel and sleep inside a beer barrel?
Image courtesy of Airbnb: www.airbnb.com
21 December 2012
Entry number two in our brand new beer blog... and time to throw the spotlight on Melissa Cole, who is a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers and author of Let Me Tell You About Beer.
There is a festive reason (we're getting to it...), but first, a little introduction.
We like to think of Melissa as the patron saint-ess (if that's even a word) of Nicholson's. She certainly ticks all the right boxes:
- Loves beer. REALLY loves beer.
- Supports us by being the hostess with the mostess whenever we launch an exciting new range of ales.
- In her spare time, likes to partake in the odd game of cricket.
- Always uses beer to cook with (follow her on Twitter for regular weekend beer rumblings and recipes).
- And even though we haven't asked her directly, she probably likes a drop of gin too!
Really, if you think about it, she was probably only 150 years away from being a potential Mrs Nicholson - although maybe too competitive for our founder William? Not sure he would have appreciated Melissa critiquing his cricket performance, week in week out. Also not sure her Everton-mad other half would have been too keen either, mind!
Creating our Christmas ales
Anyway, the point of focusing on Melissa is that she's been helping us engage our team and shout about some of the exciting ale-related things we've been getting up to.
We recently launched a range of exclusive Christmas ales, where our managers were packed off to different breweries to play recipe creators - and tasked with coming back armed with seven ales perfect for Christmas.
The different groups visited Andwells, Sambrooks, Oxfordshire Ales, Moorehouse, Broughton and Vale brewery for an afternoon of planning and brainstorming. Between them and the master brewer, they had to come up with the beer style, flavour profile, an ideal food match, the finish and the ABV, then the beer name and thoughts on pump clip design.
Here's what the guys came up with (see below).
If you didn't already know, Brentwood Brewery is in Essex and JRR Tolkien is from Brill, the home of Vale Brewery - hence the names The Only Way is Santa and Five Gold Rings, respectively. Some of these Nicholson's managers are rather clever, you know.
- The Only Way Is Santa, 5.2% ABV (Brentwood)
Here's one to sleigh you. A smooth and rich-ruby cask ale with malty character and accents of plums, blackcurrant and cinnamon.
- Five Gold Rings, 4.8% ABV (Vale)
One sip and you'll want to polish off this dark mahogany pint. Roasted malt, fruit and subtle spices delight your nose and taste buds, followed by a warm, slightly bitter finish.
- Santa's Oatmeal Stout SOS, 4.8% ABV (Broughton)
Bursting with more oatmeal aromas than a reindeer's dinner, this dark brown cask ale fuses five malts to produce lingering, smooth-roasted flavours.
- Ding Dong, 4.5% ABV (Andwell)
Get us to pull you a pint of Ding Dong and you'll find it rings all the right bells. Boasts a warm chestnut colour and rich marmalade aroma.
- Meads Must, 4.7% ABV (Oxfordshire)
Get a taste of Christmas past with this superb, dark ruby-red ale. Hints of honey and quince evoke the flavour of Britain's most ancient brew, loved by Romans and pagans alike.
- London Winter Ale, 4.6% ABV (Sambrook's)
Perfect with food, glorious food, from steak, venison and game to Christmas pud. Deep red and crafted with a blend of English hops for a sweet and tangy taste.
- Elves Bells, 4.0% ABV (Moorhouse)
Nothing diminutive about this chestnut-brown brew. Maris Otter malted barley and crystal malt provide a festive biscuit-and-caramel taste, balanced with spicy and floral cascade hops.
We're not sure which group of managers had the most fun, but with a name like Andwell's Ding Dong, spirits had to be high for Jamie (Pump House Brighton) and the team when they visited Hampshire. Photos and thoughts from Jamie below:
"Our aim was to produce a rich, malty ale that brought through real Christmas flavours. We were kindly invited to join Adam and his team at Andwells to brew our beer on a cold, mid-November day. Each pub in the Nicholson's district provided an eager (but cold) pair of hands and really got stuck in. A big thank you to all involved as the resulting beer is exceptional, has proved extremely popular, and personally I love it! Ding Dong!"
Paul, who runs The Lord Aberconway, led his team to add 4kg of plums to their The Only Way Is Santa brew. The team vision for this beer can be summed up with these simple words from Paul:
"When our managers sat down to discuss what we thought a good Christmas ale should be, consensus was unanimous that it ought to reflect the aromas and flavours synonymous with our memories of Christmas. Who all remembered hanging off Mother's apron as she stirred the mix for the Christmas cake or pudding - and in my case getting a warning clip with the wooden spoon for sticking my finger in? The emanation from the oven as it baked or boiled on the stove was tantalising. The spices and flavours we decided on were to be plum, cinnamon and ginger. The result is T.O.W.I.S. - The Only Way Is Santa; a dark ruby red ale with subtle spice and fruit character, balanced on the palate with a warming finish to leave you with a rosy glow."
Now, how does Melissa fit in to all of the above? Well, around three weeks ago she hosted a tutored beer tasting for all seven of these ales for an audience of Nicholson's managers, brewers, industry experts and beer novices. With her usual pizzazz, passion and enthusiasm, it was a whistle-stop tour of all seven Christmas ales, demonstrating the diversity of the flavour profile in each one. The room politely nodded while sipping more, and at the end of the tasting everyone visited the bar for a pint of their favourite.
So, massive thanks to Melissa for hosting another great event - and thanks also to all the breweries involved for letting our managers become Master Brewers for the day.
You'll probably only find these beers for the next ten days or so, before Christmas is pretty much over, and then we'll be on to our next innovative idea. Melissa also held a truly superb beer and food matching dinner for some lucky London managers a couple of weeks ago, but more about that another time.
For now, we'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Have a fantastic festive season, everyone.
Greetings, ale fans
14 December 2012
T'ales worth knowing... what are these? What does it mean?
Well, great beer is our passion - and yours - and we think this blog will be a great way to involve you in all our latest cask ale news.
Yes, that's right - it'll be your one-stop-shop for reading about all the exciting, innovative and fun real ale activity going on at Nicholson's pubs. We'll be updating this blog on a regular basis to give you a personal insight in to how some of our brews come about, who gets involved, why they get involved - and the response from the paying public! If we discover a thrilling cask ale concept (one of many t'ales worth knowing - see what we did there?), we'll share it here for all to see.
- If we send our managers to a brewery to create their own beer, we'll tell you about it (it happens more often than you think!).
- If we decide to create a coffee porter with an added flavouring of Scandinavian Yak's milk, we'll tell you about it (though it's not likely).
- If we decide to stock a beer brewed with a yeast created from the hair on a man's chin, we'll tell you about it (true story by the way - look here).
The whole idea is to bring our cask ale-loving guests closer to all the activity which takes place within Nicholson's, sharing the behind-the-scenes decisions of our managers and the brewers we work so closely with.
From time to time, we might even ask you, the guest, to get involved by reviewing a pub, an ale, or a festival. We might even offer you the chance to brew a beer for us, the possibilities are endless when you think about it!
How about those tales?
It's not as if we don't have plenty to tell you.
In the past we've (deep breath)... driven a Thornbridge VW Van around the UK wishing Thornbridge Jaipur a happy fifth birthday; brewed our very own selection of Christmas ales; sent our own in-pub Cask Masters around the Great British Beer Festival dressed for the occasion; taken some of our senior managers hop picking in Worcester to source the ingredients for the once-only brewed Moor Envy; and launched our very own Nicholson's Pale Ale (if you haven't tried it yet, then shame on you - we've picked up some 'star' fans already!).
All the latest news
Take our Autumn Beer Festival, for example, which is happening between 22nd October and 18th November. Did you know that we'll be serving 60 different beers over this four-week spell, across all 80 of our pubs - plus the regional favourites that you see on a daily basis?
That's 60 beers, from 51 different breweries. Once the festival is over, we reckon we'll have sold over 260,000 pints of festival beers alone - not quite enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, but pretty close. Wow.
During the festival, 20 of our pubs will also have extended their range of ales to over 20, following the purchase of some new cask ale equipment. If you've visited The Coal Hole, The Clachan, The Hoop and Grapes, The Globe, The Old Contemptibles, The Mitre Bar, Haymarket, The Punchbowl, The Palace, Deacon Brodies, The Mitre, The Philharmonic, The Drum and Monkey, Williamson's Tavern, The Pump House or The Carpenter's Arms in the last four weeks, you might have witnessed this with your own eyes. If you didn't, here's a snapshot of what our guys have been up to...
Annie from The Coal Hole
Paul at The Globe
Standing proud at The Carpenters Arms
How did we choose the beers for the festival? We always strive for an exciting range, balanced against covering a variety of beer styles, so we've got all our bases covered. We took on board that Halloween was right in the midst of the festival; brought in some interesting legacy beers brewed after our very own founder William Nicholson; and left the rest up to the managers, who chose what they felt were the beers best suited to their pubs and guests.
So join us on the journey through our beer blog, as we bring you closer to what we specialise in - brilliant cask ale, from cellar to glass.