Rah rah rah, it's really important as a blogger, to declare your interests, tell everyone if you've been sent a free bottle of beer to review etc. After all, the two people reading (hello Richy) might be wondering.
In light of that, please read the following report into a fantastic evening, safe in the knowledge that I had some free beer and thoroughly enjoyed it. I wasn't the only one.
Cotteridge Wines tell me that they have been around for 17 years, but being a Johnny-come-lately myself, I've only really been aware of their existence for about 6 months. But during those 6 months they have demonstrated to me, and perhaps to themselves also, that they are capable of stocking a really excellent range of high quality beers, from around the World.
On Monday evening they did something a bit different, or different for Birmingham at least: they held a beer tasting. Now obviously beer tastings sort of take place every evening in pubs and homes around the country, but I do mean a sort of organised tasting in which people come together to taste beers and say "hmm" quite a lot, and scratch their forelocks, and marvel at the blend of malt and hop flavours, and so on.
And so it went on Monday evening. A group comprising Birmingham Ratebeerers (The_Bish, RichTheVillan, Tomman and moi), Paul from Arbor Ales and assorted members of the Brum Beer Twitterati (@Kaufmanised, @RobertoRossUK, @CarlDurose, @tania_nexust, @MarbleTim, @nebolland) gathered at Cotteridge Wines to sample some incredible beers.
I may or may not have forgotten some of the bottles on offer, but the ones I sneaked a nip of, were as follows (in no particular order):
De Molen Bommen and Granaten
- a blindingly good 15.2% Barley Wine
Fyne Ales Jarl
- a full flavoured 3.8% UK Golden Ale
Arbor Goo Goo G’joob
- a super smooth Imperial Stout
Arbor Ginger IPA
- a hoppy IPA infused with ginger??? IT SHOULD NOT WORK. IT DOES WORK.
- a malty, nutty German Lager variant
Rogue Chipotle Ale
- a US Amber Ale, made with chipotle chili peppers - smoky/spicy
Durham St Cuthbert
- a medium strong hoppy UK ale
Haandbryggeriet Røyk Uten Ild (Smoke Without Fire)
- a deliciously smoky and smooth Norwegian dark ale
- an Italian Smoked Stout
- an exclusive sample of this Imperial Stout brewed with gueuze yeast - a blend of dark malt power and sour tang. IT SHOULD NOT WORK. IT DOES WORK.
Mikkeller The American Dream
- a Lager so good, you wouldn't even know it was a Lager
Moor Northern Star
- one of the best, most hoppiest UK 'session' beers around
The beers were clearly delicious, but honestly the beers were only one half of the evening's fun. The other half was the excellent conviviality on show, both from fellow guests and of course from our gracious hosts. The final half of fun, as an extra treat, was the presence of Arbor Ales, ably represented by Paul. Arbor are obviously one of the better breweries in the UK: even when sober (which I am now) I know that this is a fact. It was cool to get the background to some of Arbor's excellent beers - such as the two mentioned above and other top hits like Single Hop Citra and Oyster Stout.
A 'tasting' and a 'Meet the Brewer' in a single evening - a double first for me.
So then, in short, it was great to attend a fantastic tasting event, celebrating solidarity and the existence of nice beer, deep within our midst. It would be remiss not to pay tribute to our hosts for putting such a nice event on, and inviting us along, so I happily voice my gratitude here.
On a separate note, the Bank Holiday Weekend also marked a very impressive Craft Beer Festival, held at Cherry Reds in Kings Heath. Unfortunately I was not able to get to the festival, but I know several people that did attend and loved it. The beer list was very impressive, and I hereby send an electronic pat on the back for a job well done.