Tag Archives: Colchester

173. Kernel Brewery Pale Ale Simcoe Amarillo

Time for another substitution beer, this time replacing Bridgeport Blue Heron. Bridgeport brewery—formerly of Portland, Oregon—sadly no longer exist. What better excuse could there be to head to Colchester’s very own Yorkshire Embassy, the wonderful Victoria Inn, and to sneak in a beer from one of Threehundredbeers’ very favourite breweries, London’s The Kernel.

A pint of Kernel Brewery Pale Ale Simcoe Amarillo at the Victoria Inn, Colchester

Back in London, Threehundredbeers spent many a lunch hour enjoying eye-wateringly fresh Kernel pales ales and IPAs, taking refuge inside the wonderful The Lyric in Soho. Not to mention the 9am starts sipping Imperial Brown Stout at the brewery itself. So it’s always an emotional moment to find a Kernel brew in this modest provincial town city.

The Kernel Brewery Pale Ale Simcoe Amarillo tap at the Victoria Inn, Colchester

Quite literally every batch of Kernel Pale Ale is unique: everyone who works there, even the van driver, has their own brew day and gets to define the recipe. That said, there are some constants. This is a hazy, hoppy pale, based purely on Maris Otter malt and fermented with American yeast.

Yes, it’s deeply hazy, and that’s a good sign, CAMRA members. The beer is unfined, meaning it isn’t artificially clarified using whale sperm purely for cosmetic reasons (note to author: more research needed). Instead the flavour and beery, malty goodness go in your mouth rather than down the drain.

This batch is, as one might expect, deliciously citrussy, dry and with a crisp, bitter finish that lasts. That’s all balanced by a smooth, clean rounded body and tropical fruits from the Simcoe hops. It goes down a treat, so Threehundredbeers was straight back to the bar (mind the step) for another.

A superb pint in a great pub. There’s very little doubt that you’ll see more from both the Kernel and the Victoria in these pages in due course.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: The Kernel Brewery, Bermondsey, London SE16
Style: Pale Ales
Strength: 5.5% ABV
Found at: The Victoria Inn, North Station Road, Colchester CO1
Serving: Keg, pint

172. Sapporo Yebisu

This was a surprise. After nearly nine years of pursuing this ridiculous project, I had never, ever seen this beer. I’d scoured the Asian markets of Chinatown and beyond to no avail. And then you move to a nondescript provincial town, and there it is. In a Chinese supermarket vertically below my own sofa.

And of course, after a nine year wait, two come along at once.

Sapporo Yebisu

Sapporo Yebisu is listed in The Book as a Dortmunder Export, which is apparently a German style, although this particular example is from Japan, and the only previous one we’ve come across was Švyturys Ekstra from Lithuania. The one in the gold can—weighing in at 5.0% ABV—is what I believe to be the beer included in The Book.

It’s basically just…OK. It’s a can of lager. It wouldn’t be worth the £6.65 I paid for it if I didn’t have a stupid project on the go. But in defence of Starry Mart, they import it themselves and you’ll struggle to find it elsewhere, unless you fancy a round-trip to Tokyo. I really do, but then I also want a solid gold toilet, and it’s just not on the cards now, is it.

There is little to say about this beer. You know what lager tastes like. This one isn’t the worst I’ve had, which is damning with faint praise. Apparently the brewery take pride in the fact that this is made with all malt in the mash, eschewing adjuncts like rice. Which is, again, a fairly low bar to set.

I’ll try the blue one a bit later. I think it’s an ale, but I fully expect it to taste like another £6.65 I’ll never have back.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Sapporo, Tokyo, Japan
Style: Dortmunder Export
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: Starry Mart, Colchester, Essex
Serving: Can, 350ml

171. Colchester Brewery Metropolis

As noted in that mini update post, Threehundredbeers now enjoys the luxury of residing in what claims to be both England’s oldest and newest city, all at the same time.

Which isn’t necessarily as exciting as it sounds. Still, this little provincial town does have its moments. One of the nicest of those moments is a wonderful pub named The Odd One Out, which is basically my local. As far as I know it dates from the 1930s and is largely unchanged since then. The pub is full of character and characters (yes you, Annie), is dog-friendly—even if the dogs aren’t always unconditionally friendly unless you have snack-based bribes to hand—and is effectively the brewery tap for the magnificent Colchester Brewery.

Which brings us to the matter at hand.

Colchester Brewery Metropolis

Colchester Metropolis is a beautiful Golden Ale. It isn’t in The Book, but it’s my site, my rules, so I’m using it as a substitution for a discontinued beer.

Metropolis is always my first beer of the night in this pub, before I start to work through the guest ales and the impressive cider selection. At 3.9% it’s sessionable, utterly drinkable, yet full of flavour courtesy of the Cascade and Brewer’s Gold hops.

There’s a sturdy malt base, which isn’t always the case for certain other Golden Ales, providing a rich, almost honeyed body to the beer. It will always be in prime condition here, since the head brewer’s missus drinks it, and that’s the kind of quality control that you don’t argue with.

As always, Metropolis is served in the correct glassware here, and with that moreish bitter finish, there’s no doubt I’m buying myself a bottle to take home for the fridge.

Great stuff.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Colchester Brewery, Wakes Colne, Essex, England
Style: Golden Ales
Strength: 3.9% ABV
Found at: The Odd One Out, Colchester, Essex
Serving: Cask, pint

Colchester Winter Ale Festival 2015

It might lose me a couple of beer nerd credibility points to admit it, but until this weekend, I had never attended an actual beer festival. To be quite honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what that sort of thing really entails.

So when the texted invitation to the 8th Colchester Winter Ale & Cider Festival came through from Colchester-based Official Threehundredbeers Drinking Buddy Ben, everything else was cancelled, and Threehundredbeers steeled itself to endure all sorts of rail replacement buses and points failures to get there, all in the name of research and science.

The festival was held at the Colchester Arts Centre, a repurposed church which sits in the heart of historic Colchester. It’s a big, flexible space that’s almost ideal for events such as this. The festival started some time during the week, building steadily up to the Saturday when we visited.

Colchester Winter Beer Festival, 2015

We arrived early enough that my own CAMRA-non-membership didn’t incur even the modest £3 entry fee. A small deposit secures you a commemorative festival glass to drink from all day, which you can either return later or take home with you. You buy a little card for £10 that you sort of wave at the volunteers manning the wall of casks and they daub it with potent-smelling marker pens and give you beer.

Which is, after all, what we’re here for. Beer was in plentiful supply: four walls lined with casks, serving space and cheerful volunteers. I would estimate there was a choice of over 150 different cask ales available during our visit. Small, local breweries were particularly well-represented, very few of which I’d even heard of, so this was all very exciting indeed.

A speciality Belgian bar made for a nice extra dimension, punctuating the expected overwhelming choice of Milds and Golden Ales with some hopelessly potent brews from the Low Countries.

I started with an IPA from Deverell’s so new that it wasn’t even on Untappd yet. Hoppy and delicious, it gave the tastebuds a pounding and left me wondering whether I’d be able to taste anything else that day. A rich, medicinal Winter Skiffle from Shortts Farm proved that I would.

A fruity 6.5% Abbey-influenced Sint Niklaas from Harwich followed, as did a perfectly-balanced Black Dragon Mild from B&T.

The Belgian Bar at Colchester Winter Ale Festival, 2015

This won’t make me popular in CAMRA circles, but the beery highlight of the day was from a keg: the thick, dark 8.2% Troubadour Obscura was the perfect antidote to the snow and rain chucking it down outside, though Ben rather trumped me by commandeering a steaming glass of Liefmans Glühkriek. Warm, spiced and subtly sour, it went straight to the head in a most pleasing fashion.

To cap it all, the organisation of the event by Colchester & North East Essex CAMRA was flawless. Despite hundreds of fellow festival-goers, we didn’t once wait a second to be served, thanks to great staffing by local volunteers.

We were also really pleased to note—stereotypes be damned—the significant proportion of females and otherwise beardless people both in the crowd and manning the bars. I didn’t spot a single sandal, and I was looking.