The Periodic Table of M&M’s!

Somehow I have to link this title to the subject that I normally talk about in this blog. Well, I don’t have to but I would like to. So I thought that I would first mention the amazing Periodic Table that every Chemist and non-Chemist has heard of (or should have heard of). This table of beauty and magnificence was first published by Dimitri Mendeleev in its current form in 1869. As a Chemist I do admire the periodic table, the way it looks and the amazing work that must have gone into organising the elements in this way. Indeed, I have the shower curtain to proof it.

periodic-table-elements P1030478

beer-periodic-tableFollowing hot in the foot steps of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements is the Periodic Table of Beer Styles. This table as you can see is based on the familiar periodic table but with beers being grouped into families of styles. You can see that someone who likes beer very much has spent a lot of time and care putting this “Beeriodic Table” together. I think it looks great and I know that chemistry and beer geeks alike (me being both of them) have or should have a copy of this on their wall.

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This link brings me onto the subject of the title, the Periodic table of M&Ms. On a recent trip to London we were trying to kill a bit of time between finishing our pub food at the Bear and Staff at Leicester Square and seeing The Phantom of the Opera. We stumbled upon the M&M world shop in Leicester square.  It was a place of bright lights, M&M merchandise and it was super busy, mainly with people taking photos (yep, me too!). I have to say that not much floor space was actually given over to the selling of the confectionery, just a lot of stuff with M&M’s written all over it.  And even more disappointing was the fact that there was not a peanut butter M&M in sight! On the lower level, right back in the corner on the wall, past champagne bottles of M&Ms ( a snip at £17 each) and next to the ‘Mix Lab’ there was a periodic table of M&M’s. They have given it a good go: there are three sections like the main part of the chemical table, there are mostly two letters to denote each thing they are trying to describe and I don’t think they have used any of the symbols from the Periodic Table of Elements. Case in point: Gold here is Go, Gold in the chemical table is Au. Overall, I just found it funny that they had chosen the medium of the periodic table format to portray the multitude of coloured M&M’s that are available. Now to get back to writing more posts about beer.

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Drinking beer by numbers….and Beer No 100

Unfortunately this post may have come a bit too late for the first third of my beer challenge but it has come just in time for Beer No 100 (more later). If anything, this post may help others who want to take up the 365 challenge and are as geeky as me when it comes to beers (and many other things). The ‘drinking beer by numbers’ idea came from a friend, Simon Clay (comic fan and fellow geek, why didn’t I think of it?!?!) who stated slightly too late that I should drink beers with numbers in their names in the correct number order in the 365 beer challenge i.e XT3 by XT brewery should be drunk as beer No 3. That got me to thinking, what beers could I have drunk at the right number positions? Are there any beers that I can drink with numbers that would fit the rest of the challenge?

Turns out that there are quite a few beer names with numbers in that could be drunk between numbers 1 and 9. Somewhat spoilt for choice with these lower numbers. My first mention goes to XT brewery, based in Long Crendon (near Thame, Buckinghamshire). They produce a range of beers from XT1 all the way up to XT9.

XT1 XT2 XT3 XT4 XT5 XT6 XT7 XT8 XT9

XT1 is a blonde beer and XT9 is a porter with the other XT numbers pertaining to the beer categories in between from Golden ales to IPAs to rich rubys to dark malts.  What better way to drink the beers that you like! You know exactly what type of beer you are getting from the number. I think this is the ultimate drinking by numbers. I experienced the full choice of all these beers this time last year when we went to the XT Beer Festival at the Lamb and Flag (with Carol and Andy, regular drinking partners). All 9 beers were available to choose from including an XT Fresh Hop 1. I didn’t try all 9 but, if memory serves me correctly, I tried at 4 or 5. This year so far I have only had XT3.

WP_001459My second mention goes to Otley Brewery, based in Pontypridd, Wales. Otley Brewery have a similar offering to XT Brewery where they have named some of their beers from O1 to O6. But in this case the increase in number does not relate to an increase in colour like the XT beers and most of the beers also have a name. I tried O4 columbo at the recent beer festival I went to at the Royal Blenheim celebrating Welsh Beers.

Brew by numbers

My last main mention goes to Brew By Numbers (BBNo). A new brewery in London that I have not heard too much about. They have a Facebook page and the website is under construction. They have a number of beers available which include o1: saison, 02: Golden ale, 03: porter, 04: Berlinner weisse, 06: belgian blonde, 07: witbier, 09: brown ale, 10: coffee porter and 13: Brett aged. The labels on the bottles that I have seen have two numbers. I can only speculate that the first number relates to the type of beer and the second number relates to the batch number. I am looking forward to trying some of these. I am pretty sure I saw some bottles in the fridge behind the bar at the Craft Beer Co in Clerkenwell. I wonder if they do takeaways?

I have also found a few other beers with numbers which are: Ramsgate Brewery’s Gadds No 3 Premium Pale Ale, Gadds No 5 Best Bitter Ale and Gadds No 7 Pale Bitter Ale, Williams Bros Brewery’s Seven Giraffes and Magic 8 Ball by Magic Rock Brewing Co.

The higher numbers, between 10 and 100, this is where it starts to get more difficult. There is only a few to be found. If we take a look at XT Brewery again, they have done a number of specials over the last year with higher numbers. These are: XT13, a pacific red ale which I have had this year (a very nice red ale), XT25, which I had over christmas, XT42, a stronger version of XT4, XT53, a pale ale made for the Jubilee celebrations last year and XT80.

WP_001434Centurion-Ale

In my search for new beers to try I have come across only a few other beers with high numbers. These are: Ringwood’s Fortyniner, Ramsgate Brewery’s Gadds 80 Shilling, Williams Bros’ 80 shilling Scottish ale and Odell Brewing Co’s 90 shilling ale. One beer that I have tried very recently at Beer No 74 (25 beers to early) was 99 Red Baboons by Blue Monkey Brewery. I really like the name (they also have a beer called ‘Tie a Yellow Gibbon’) and the flavour of the beer. A dark ruby beer that is neither a porter or a mild and has a fruity, malty taste.

So this brings me onto Beer No 100, the beer that I have just finished on Conchi’s birthday (I thought it a fitting way to celebrate both milestones). The only beer that I have managed to drink at the right number, well sort of. I say ‘sort of’ because the beer does not have a number in the title. The beer in question is Centurion’s Ghost Ale by York Brewery. The idea behind drinking this beer as Beer No 100 being that Centurion relates to 100 because Roman Centurion’s commanded 100 men. Although according to Wikipedia they only commanded 60-80 men, I am going to ignore this and go with the 100 men misconception. Centurion after all is based on the latin for century (100 years). So in the 365 challenge I am 100 beers down, 71 days in and 265 more beers to go.

As for the question, are there any beers that I can drink with numbers that would fit the rest of the challenge? I have found only one beer so far, a black IPA by Windsor and Eton called Conqueror 1075. Maybe I could drink this beer at No 1075 in three years time! Any beer suggestions for numbers 101 to 365 will be gratefully received.

Beer heaven….or pretty close to it

I feel compelled to write a post about Saturday’s visit to London. The real reason for the visit was to go to the Victoria and Albert Museum and to see The Phantom of the Opera for Conchi’s birthday. But I managed to persuade Conchi that we should visit the Craft Beer Co in Clerkenwell for some afternoon beers. Again, I reiterate Conchi’s patience with me and this challenge (she does like a good beer too though). Craft Beer Co have three different pubs in London but the Clerkenwell one looked the closest to where we were going to be. I was very excited about this visit. From their website, the pub looked great with a big choice of cask ales, keg ales and bottled ales. I have been following them for a while on Twitter and Saturday was also going to be the launch day for beers from a new brewery called Siren Craft brew.

Craft Beer Co Clerkenwell

We arrived at the pub at about 3 pm on Saturday afternoon. On entering inside (the pub was not too busy but full of people) we were greeted by a long line of hand pumps and draught style pourers. I am used to, in your average pub in the UK, maybe four or five hand pumps for ales and beers. If you want more beer choice than this then you generally have to go to a beer festival. But here I roughly counted 16 hand pumps for cask ales and 18 taps for keg ales. It was amazing! Craft Beer Co ClerkenwellThe only problem with this (and it is quite a big one) is where do you start with so much beer choice? Fortunately, I was there this Saturday to try the Siren Craft Brew beers so I headed straight for them. You could not miss the big, bold pump clips that they had designed for the beers. I really liked the artwork. The first one that Conchi and I tried was Liquid Mistress, a Red IPA, a really dark red ale with a lovely aroma.  It was delicious and full of flavour. A malty, biscuity base with a really big hit of hops at the end.Liquid Mistress in hand This one was our favorite, mainly because of the big flavours. The second one I tried was Under Current. A more traditional IPA as I see it but made with the inclusion of Oatmeal. The taste of this one was not quite as hoppy as Liquid Mistress and was a little more floral. I probably would have benefited from drinking this one first as the flavours were a little subtler. Two other beers were also available, an IPA called Soundwave, and a Breakfast Stout called Broken Dream (a stout with breakfast flavours? or a stout to be drunk at breakfast?).

Liquid Mistress Pump ClipUnder Current Pump ClipUnfortunately time constraints did not permit me to try a third but I would definitely recommend looking out for Siren Craft Brew beers and giving them a try. They were very good. I would also definitely recommend going along to the Craft Beer Co (I will be going again at some point this year). For me it was very close to Beer Heaven, a never ending beer festival (as they call it), providing cask and keg ale from some of the best and newest breweries from around the UK. They definitely have it right for the ale and craft beer crowd. Now I just need them to open a pub in Oxford.

Four score and seven beers ago

Lincoln

“Four score and seven beers ago, I, Richard Gardner , Beer for the Year, set forth on a most excellent adventure. Conceived by my friend and colleague, Simon Peel, this great gentleman was dedicated to give me the proposition, which was true today as it was true two months ago, to drink 365 excellent beers in 365 days…..be excellent to each other…..and…..party on dudes!”

Ok, not quite Abraham Lincoln, and more like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (I do love that film), I have had the idea for the title of this post in my mind for sometime now, almost since the start of the year. Most people would probably do a review after a milestone such as 100 beers (most people would not be doing a 365 beer challenge) but I thought it would be a good time, at 87 beers (it just so happens to coincide with the two month mark), to look back over the last two months and produce some more beer related statistics.

Beer No 87 came in the middle of a beer festival (no 2 of the year), that I went to with Conchi, Carol and Andy (Carol and Andy are our fairly regular drinking partners), celebrating St David’s day at The Royal Blenheim. The theme, as you may have guessed, was Welsh beers. There was an excellent choice of 21 ales from 9 welsh breweries. I managed to try 5 different ones, steering clear of the pints this time and opting for half pints. My two favourites were Red Dragon and Honey Porter. Red Dragon by Great Orme Brewery was a copper coloured, fruity,zesty ale. It had an unusual taste in that it was a little sweet at the start but had a hoppy, bitter finish.  Honey Porter by Conwy Brewery was a dark brown porter with a dark roasted malt taste. It didn’t taste sweet at all, despite the honey, and had a nice smooth texture and with a slight bitterness to finish. Apparently the beer festival is going to be a annual affair, so I look forward to trying some more Welsh beers next year. Although I am sure there will be a few more Welsh beers drunk this year.

Meantime-LPA   Caesar Augustus    WP_001389

Here are the stats for the last two months, January and February (and March 1st):

Number of new beers tasted: 61/87                     70%

Number of beers tasted before: 26/87                30%

Most number of different beers in one night:     6

Number of lagers: 11.5/87                                     13%

Challenge progress: 87/365                                  24%

My favourite new beers in February were Caesar Augustus by Williams Bros Brewery, a lager/IPA hybrid that was surprisingly good, refreshing and hoppy, and London Pale Ale by Meantime Brewery, a pale ale full of hoppy, fruity, citrus flavours and bitterness. I also had the good fortune to try a new beer by my local brewery, Gunners Gold by Loose Cannon. This ale had a nice golden, yellow colour, not too bitter, with hints of peach and a very smooth taste. I may be a little biased because they are a local brewery but they always make a great beer.

So, as I finish writing this review, the first two months are over and done with and we are now slightly into the third month. I have drunk 92 different beers with only 65 days gone, almost a month ahead of the challenge, if you look at it that way.  However, I have only drunk 2 out of the 51 beers I have in the house, the lure of the pub having overridden drinking beers at home. In fact I have been beer free for the last three days! I am very close to Beer No 100 and have the beer ready that I would like to drink as No 100. This will be the subject of one of the next posts.