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—though 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 (note to author: more research needed) purely for cosmetic reasons. 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 so 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 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

Update 2022

If you’re reading this, it means the site has successfully been migrated away from Tumblr to my own server. Tumblr did the job, but it has its limitations, and this move just means I have complete control over how things work and look.

Yes, it has been quiet here since that Perła Chmielowa post from way back. In 2018 I moved from London to Colchester (of which more later) to do some studying, specifically a bit of research. Which—long story short—means I’m now a published actual scientist. I’m as surprised as you are.

All of that kind of killed my momentum here, so that’s my excuse for neglecting the project. But stay tuned because there are some very nice beers coming your way—or at least, my way—soon.

Love,
Simon

170. Perła Chmielowa

After that Baltika No. 3 Classic didn’t prove too much of a disappointment, it may be worth a return visit to our new favourite Eastern European food shop, Eastern European Food, to see what else they can furnish us with.

This will do nicely. You can find plenty of canned Polish lagers in the convenience stores of South London, but Perła Chmielowa is one I haven’t seen before. Let’s take a can or two back to our park bench, as is probably fairly traditional for a lager of this calibre.

Perła Chmielowa in Dulwich Park

Perła Chmielowa is listed in The Book as a Pilsner, so it’s a can of lager then. It packs a fairly respectable punch at 6.0% ABV and perhaps that’s why there’s a distinct aroma of Special Brew about it. That carries over to the taste too. It’s pretty thick and sweet for a lager, and the booze isn’t exactly hidden.

I’ve a feeling this is probably a cut above the more commonplace Polish lagers. Faint praise perhaps, but while it was always going to be difficult to find much of interest to say about this one, I don’t hate it. That said, I’m in no particular hurry to crack open the second can, and instead head to The Plough for lunch and to see what they have on tap.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Perła Brewery, Lublin, Poland
Style: Pilsners
Strength: 6.0% ABV
Found at: Eastern European Food, Lordship Lane, London SE22
Serving: 500ml can

169. North Coast Brewing Old No. 38 Stout

It’s about time we drank this one. It has been sat in The Official Threehundredbeers Kitchen Cupboard for longer than I can actually remember. The “best before” date appears to be some time in 2015, and it was purchased from the long-closed and much missed BottleDog shop on Gray’s Inn Road.

North Coast Brewing Old No. 38 Stout

I opened this one over the sink with some trepidation: with a beer this old—especially one at only 5.4% ABV—you never know what kind of chemical reactions may have happened in the bottle in the meantime. Thankfully there’s no gushing to contend with, merely a gentle “pssssst” on opening.

What does burst out of the bottle is a huge aroma of chocolate, raisins and booze. Old No. 38 is certainly one of the finest-smelling beers I’ve come across in some time. This should be interesting.

North Coast Brewing Old No. 38 Stout

Hailing from Fort Bragg, California, North Coast Brewing Old No. 38 Stout comes to us from the same brewery that brought us that rather nice Old Rasputin Imperial Stout a while ago. It’s named after a steam engine that used to work its way up and down the Fort Bragg to Willits route, about which I know nothing whatsoever, but which I assume to be fairly picturesque.

Pouring a deep, dark, almost opaque brown colour with a smooth tan head, Old No. 38 sticks to the glass like a much stronger stout should. Perhaps on pouring the beer looks a little thin-bodied, but once you get it into your mouth, that couldn’t be further from the case.

Instead, Old No. 38 is rich, smoky, roasty and very smooth indeed. There’s a prominent dark chocolate bitterness that never becomes overwhelming, it’s full of juicy dried fruits, and it’s ridiculously easy-drinking for a stout. This is gorgeous stuff, to be frank.

This is a truly excellent beer. It’s hard to know what role the ageing played in its development, but what is certain is that if I ever find another bottle, it won’t hang around nearly as long.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: North Coast Brewing, Fort Bragg, CA
Style: Porters and Stouts
Strength: 5.4% ABV
Found at: BottleDog, Gray’s Inn Road, London (now closed)
Serving: 355ml bottle

168. Baltika No. 3 Classic

In some ways, this was a nice find: a beer I’d never seen before and was wondering how to track down. Until, that is, I accidentally spotted it through a shop doorway not far from my house whilst out for a run.

As soon as the sun finally came out, it was time to wander back to Lordship Lane and liberate a bottle or two from the fridges at my local Eastern European bodega, which I didn’t actually know existed until this point.

Baltika No. 3 Classic

Brewed in St. Petersburg, Russia, Baltika No. 3 is strangely hard to find in the UK. Strange because the No. 7—which I assume to be pretty much identical—is all over the place. It’s a regular fixture in any branch of Spoons, for a start. There are probably some other numbers in the range. Who would know.

Baltika No. 3 Classic

Initially, it’s hard to find anything to say about this beer to make it sound interesting. It simply isn’t. It’s a bottle of 4.8% lager with quite a smart label. It’s cold. It tastes of lager. The bottle is quite big. If it were more than 5°C on my park bench this afternoon it might even be quite refreshing.

But there is a little bit more than that going on in there. There’s a fairly solid malt base, a faint aroma that I guess is from a Noble hop, such as Saaz, and some vanilla ice cream notes that suggest the brewers have at least tried, even if they are owned by Carlsberg these days.

Fine. Nothing life-changing to see here, but this isn’t a terrible beer.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Baltika Breweries, St. Petersburg, Russia
Style: Pale Lagers
Strength: 4.8% ABV
Found at: Eastern European Food, Lordship Lane, London SE22
Serving: 500ml bottle

167. Marble Gale’s Prize Old Ale

Threehundredbeers is still up here in The North, but after a brief stay in Bamford, Derbyshire, we’ve moved on to Leeds. These days, Leeds is a great beer city crammed with excellent specialist venues such as North Bar, Friends of Ham and the venerable Whitelock’s Ale House, all of which Threehundredbeers visited.

If you are in Leeds though, it’s well worth a gentle stroll out of the city centre and down to Northern Monk Brewery and their spiffy Refectory, where you’ll find countless taps full of rare and powerful beers from Northern Monk and from many other breweries besides.

The Northern Monk Refectory, Leeds

Including this one. This is a slight substitution for the actual beer listed in The Book: Gale’s Brewery was based in Horndean, Hampshire from 1847 until 2006, shortly after it was purchased by London’s Fuller’s. The Prize Old Ale was a limited-numbers, bottle-conditioned Old Ale weighing in at 9% ABV, which was sadly discontinued by Fuller’s in 2011, making it nigh impossible to come by these days.

In a pleasing turn of events, Manchester’s well-regarded Marble Brewery, in a collaboration with Fuller’s director of brewing John Keeling, revived the recipe in 2017 and created four slightly different barrel-aged versions, including Pinot Noir, Madeira and Barbera wine barrels, and this one: the bourbon barrel-aged version.

All four varieties were available in bottles, but this is the first and only time I’ve ever seen one on tap. I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’re about to order a half.

Marble Gale's Prize Old Ale

Marble’s brew pours brown and cloudy, and it’s immediately evident from the aroma that the barrel-aging has done its work: the nose is all bourbon, front and centre. It’s a shade too cold straight from a keg, but at 10.6% ABV this is one to drink slowly anyway, which should give it a chance to warm gently as we sip away at it.

I’d never tried the original Prize Old Ale, so it was hard to know what to expect. An obvious point of reference is Fuller’s own Vintage Ale, though this is a little different, being lighter in body and less rich. It’s vinous and full of toffee, raisins and lingering peppery spice. There is a sweetness to it, and a stickiness on the lips.

Given the ABV and the boozy spirit notes, this is a deeply warming beer, well-suited to a winter evening in Leeds. Yet it’s hugely drinkable for the strength and style. I do wonder if the bourbon perhaps overpowers the subtleties of the base beer, rendering it a little more one-dimensional that it deserves to be, but without a “straight” version to compare it to, it’s impossible to say.

What is undeniable is that Marble have brewed a cracking beer here, regardless of how it compares to the original. I’m extremely pleased to have had the chance to try it, particularly in the pleasant surroundings of the Northern Monk brewery.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Marble Brewery, Manchester, England
Style: Old Ales, Barley Wines and Vintage Ales
Strength: 10.6% ABV
Found at: The Northern Monk Refectory, Marshall’s Mill, Leeds
Serving: Keg, half pint

166. Black Sheep Best Bitter

Exciting times, once again, as Threehundredbeers hits the road and heads for The North. Today we’re in the tiny village of Bamford in the Peak District.

It’s Sunday and we’re in The Anglers Rest, the community-owned village pub, post office, café, gift shop and of course dry cleaning drop-off point. What’s not to like?

Very little, as it happens. The pub was once under threat, but is currently owned and run by about 300 local residents, reminding me of The Ivy House, another pioneering community-owned favourite, that one a little nearer to my home in South-East London.

The Anglers Rest, Bamford

As per tradition, Threehundredbeers is first to the bar, staking our claim to a barstool before the cagoule-and-muddy-boots hordes arrive for a well-earned pint and a Sunday roast.

The bar is stocked with local treats including beers from Sheffield’s Abbeydale and Bradfield breweries, and—conveniently enough for our ridiculous project—Black Sheep Best from Masham in North Yorkshire.

Black Sheep Best at the Anglers Rest, Bamford

The beer itself? Well, it’s a classic Yorkshire Bitter and you’d be hard pushed to wander around this part of the world without finding a pint of Black Sheep Best in front of you. Not that you’d complain.

It pours a lovely burnished copper colour with a light tan froth on top. It isn’t sparkled here, so we can’t be that far north, after all. The aroma is all woody English hops and tired-but-happy Morris dancers, but it tastes better than that.

Black Sheep Best weighs in at just 3.8% and I’d say that’s reflected in the taste. This is not a strong beer and does not pretend to be. Instead you’ve got a good, sessionable pint. It’s refreshing, if a little light and watery at first, but soon fills the mouth with a huge bitterness, alloyed by a rich, caramel sweetness.

The bitterness builds to an almost numbing level, much to my surprise. You could drink a few of these, as long as it’s in good condition, as it most certainly will be at the Rest.

Threehundredbeers is starting to wonder if we could sneak another one in before the cagoules arrive with their mud-spattered dogs and tired, disagreeable children but let’s not. The Official Threehundredbeers Mother has Sunday dinner in the stove back in the cottage, and some things are more important than beer.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Black Sheep Brewery, Masham, North Yorkshire
Style: Bitters
Strength: 3.8% ABV
Found at: The Anglers Rest, Bamford, Derbyshire
Serving: Cask, pint

165. Wells Bombardier

It’s not getting any easier to track down beers from The List, but fortunately there are one or two quite widely-available ones left. Wells Bombardier, for example.

The exact relationship between Charles Wells and Young’s, who together were once Wells & Young’s—not to mention Marston’s, who actually brew this beer—is bewildering to me. But happily enough, it still seems to be the case that you can visit any of countless Young’s pubs and confidently expect to see Bombardier on the hand pumps.

Which is what we’ll do today. Welcome to the very pleasant The Clock House pub, overlooking the green expanses of Peckham Rye here in South London. Peckham Rye is known for being where wordsmith, engraver and general-purpose nutcase William Morris claimed to have seen visions of trees filled with angels and whatnot. But it’s probably changed a bit since then.

Wells Bombardier at the Clock House, Peckham Rye

Wells Bombardier is a famous Best Bitter, weighing in at 4.1% ABV and served here from cask. The colour is the classic deep, reddish chestnut that befits a Best. It’s certainly aromatic, with big, fruity notes wafting up at you from the glass.

The Clock House, Peckham Rye

And very drinkable it is too. Bombardier won’t surprise anyone familiar with the style, but it’s certainly a good example. Again it’s fruity to taste, all raisins and sultanas, with biscuity malts and a pleasing bitterness lingering at the end, courtesy of what I would assume to be English hops.

It’s a decent pint, all told, though a beer that absolutely has to be in peak condition, which it is today here at the Clock House. Perhaps not a style that’s always been guaranteed to excite your blogger, but without question this is a beer I would happily drink again.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Charles Wells, Bedford, England
Style: Best Bitters
Strength: 4.1% ABV
Found at: The Clock House, Peckham Rye, London SE22
Serving: Cask, pint